Monday, January 2, 2012

Grand Adventure -- New Zealand Anyone?

Hey, y’all!  Welcome back to Flowers on the Fence Country!  Today we’re collecting a very special flower, and the New Year is starting with a Grand Adventure!  Yes, that’s capitalized on purpose.  Grand Adventures are always capitalized, whether Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet are making new discoveries in The Hundred Acre Woods or whether the Hobbits are setting forth on a new quest.  Who better as a guide for a Grand Adventure than this native of Devon, England who raised a family in New Zealand?  Yes, we’re going to New Zealand.  Courtesy of Sue Perkins.  Sort of our own Reva’s Quest.  To the place where Reva’s Quest began.  This looks like a place to get away from it, don't you think?

X Marks the Spot!
We all want to "get away from it all" at times. Despite or because of the electronic gadgets we now use, life is such a hustle and bustle that taking a step backwards is a necessity. 

Once a year I take a ten day break to concentrate of my writing. No editing, no promoting, just writing. Being away from the phone, people visiting and the usual household and work chores is magical. I no longer prevaricate about the jobs needing to be done before I can start writing. I get up, have breakfast then sit at my desk. So where is this magical place? It's the "Michael King Writers Centre" in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. 

Michael King was a well known New Zealand Writer who died in an accident in 2004. A trust was then set up and took over the Signalman's house on Mt Victoria in Devonport. The house was built in 1898 as a home for the man who worked the harbor signal flags on the top of Mt Victoria, an extinct volcanic cone.  

The last signalman died in 1943 but his widow and family continued to live in the house until 1960. The North Shore City Council made the house available to the Trust who renovated it in 2007. The modernized but still historic, house has two bedrooms. One for residencies and one for visitors. The residency holders use the old washhouse behind the property which has been converted into a studio, while visiting writers use the front bedroom which is equipped with a desk. Both rooms have en suites and broadband available. 

So now you know where I go, but what do I do? As a visitor I have the use of the front bedroom with a view out onto the road leading to the top of Mt Victoria. I should state that this road barely is more than one vehicle wide and is extremely steep. The distance would be no more than a ten minute walk on the flat, but it takes me a good half hour to climb from the town of Devonport up the volcano. Certainly good exercise to offset sitting at a desk for most of the day.

My day consists of writing with a break to make and eat my lunch, then back to the writing. At dinner time I make my meal in the modern kitchen and after I've cleared up may do some reading for about half an hour before returning to writing. Being in the MKWC is a definite encouragement to get up to date with the actual writing of manuscripts. No distractions, no lures to go down to town (think of the hill to climb up again).

The villa is very peaceful and turns the mind to creativity. I usually take a few DVDs to watch on my laptop when I've finished for the day so I don't have get distracted by the news etc. on the TV. By the end of the ten days I am exhausted but full of a buzz to carry on when I get home.  

The cost to stay at the MKWC is very reasonable for those involved in a writing project, either doing the actual writing, editing etc., or visiting some event in Auckland which is a quick ferry ride across the harbor. I've included some photos I took while staying there at the beginning of December or in earlier years when I've visited. If you wish to know more about this wonderful place in the middle of nowhere, but close enough to somewhere, then visit

 I'm really looking forward to my next visit. My newest Middle Grade release from MuseItUp Publishing - Reva's Quest - was created at this lovely venue. 

Buy link: MuseItUp Publishers


  1. Happy New Year, Gail. I enjoyed my visit to New Zealand. Sue, the MKWC sounds heavenly! Good for you for taking time out for yourself and your writing, and good for the trustees for maintaining the house so writers can create. I've visited a writing retreat in West Cork, Ireland several times and know the pleasure of feeling free to write in a quiet and scenic environment (no volano, though). Best to you and your writing.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful writing retreat. Wishing you much success for the new year.

  3. Wow, Sue, this looks like a writer's dream vacation!! It is so beautiful there and you described it so well.

    Gail, thank you for showing my cover on the sidebar. You are such a sweetheart!! Happy New Year to Sue and to Gail and thank you both for bringing me to such a beautiful locale.

  4. I'd love a writer's retreat and you made it sound even better. I enjoyed the blog and my "virtual" trip. It's the only way I'm going anywhere these days. :) Best of luck to both of you great gals in the New Year. And, I echo Barbara, Gail...I smiled at seeing my MizGing Banner and the cover of Shortcomings. You da bom!

  5. That'd be awesome to just take 10 days and write! Wish I could pull that off!

    Lovely photos, and here's wishing you much success. :)

  6. Goodness, this does sound quite fabulous! What a descriptive treat to enjoy. Happy New Year to both you and Gail, Sue. This was lovely!

  7. Sue, you have this way of making New Zealand pop into life before our brain screens. Alas it makes one wish one could do a Bewtiched nose wiggle and transport right to your back door.

    Gail the world is our panorama thanks to your Flowers.

    Love you Both,

  8. Thank you all for your lovely comments. It's a wonderful place and I get so much done there.

  9. What a delightful place. I don't know if I could write ALL day in such a beautiful setting. I'm afraid I would go exploring..riding the ferry sounds like fun. Good for you. Enjoyed the tour.

    Gail, thanks to you for sharing our international writers with us. Oh, and yes, I spy my daffy flamingo cover for the Good Neighbors here too. Thank you.

  10. Thanks for your kind comments, Sue. We always love having you to stay at the MKWC and we are always really impressed at how much writing you get done! It's a buzz to see writers here immersed in their work and enjoying the lovely environment.