Relish Tea Room in Mana, New Zealand

Written by Harold McNeill on February 22nd, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


“Living your Dreams” is a theme that often appears on many Facebook posts, so Lynn and I are always looking for shining new examples. On our way down the West side of the North Island we stopped for tea at a picturesque little English style ‘tea room’ called the Relish Café. Located in Mana (just north of Wellington) we were met by Allan and Anne McNair, Allan being a brother of our friend, Gill Russell, (see previous Rotorua post). There we shared a few life stories over afternoon tea.

Once again, we found ourselves chatting with a couple who made a complete life change. Only a few years back, the McNairs were running a successful saddlery store which provided a comfortable income and a high degree of security for over 25 years. In addition, Allan was an experienced ferrier. Their two daughters were just finishing school and would soon be off establishing lives of their own.

A few years back, Allan began feeling the need for change – not that he was dissatisfied with his life, it was, after all, a very good life. He just wanted a new challenge and one of his dreams was to run his own restaurant. When he shared his dream with his family his oldest daughter laughed and pointed out: “Dad, you can’t even boil an egg”. Allan reluctantly conceded that point, but was quick to state: “Well then my dear daughter, I will learn.” And, over the next five years learn he did. He and Anne continued to run their saddlery and ferrier businesses, but one day each week Allan worked a full eight hour shift in a local restaurant.

Over the five years of working part time he learned what he thought he needed to know and between them the couple were ready to strike off on their own. They found a lovely little establishment in Mana (just north of Wellington) that was exactly the kind of place they had dreamed about. About one block of the highway, just accross the main South Island Railway was a small restaurant with seating for about thirty-five. A former cottage, the tables were divided into three medium sized rooms. The period furnishings gave each room a cosy warmth and the entire “cottage” was surrounded by a delightful “English Country Garden” just coming into bloom when Lynn and I arrived.

When the deal was finalized, the saddlery business was sold and the family was off on a new life adventure. Two years later, the couple still glow with that sense of adventure that can only be seen on the faces of those who have decided to take a whole new tack (no pun intended) in life. As with others who decided to step outside their ‘comfort zone’, the McNair’s know that boundaries in life are not barriers, they are just challenges and that the world is built on the realization that ‘fairy tales can come true’ (and as the son goes) ‘it could happen to you, when your’re young at heart.’

We finished our tea, bade farewell and with a mist in our eyes about dream’s being realized, we set off to pursue a new grand new adventure in the wilderness that is the South Island of New Zealand.

Mana, NZ
2009

PS I have taken a few liberties with pictures of the Saddlery and Ferrier businesses run by the McNair’s. The pictures might be more in tune with the time of the great grandparents of the McNair’s.

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]