Last weekend, the Whitings and I took a little trip up to Dunedin to visit our friend, Martyn and Lynda Howells at their winter home:
Psych! This is actually Larnach Castle - a luxurious old home steeped in as much scandal as grandeur. It was a fun way to spend part of a cold wintery day.
Fountains and symmetrical gardens are a nice touch to any house.
Home is where your lion and eagle statues guard your entryway.
Once inside, the stained glass was all the rage.
And I think there must have been other forms of rage in this house back in the day. Apparently the owner, clearly a wealthy dude, had quite the problem with wives. The first one and second one (sisters! conveniently the 'marriage to a dead sister's wife act' had just passed when wifey #1 died at age 38, and it was suddenly legal for him to marry her younger sister). Then as fate would have it, Sister #2 ALSO died at age 38! spooky. So along comes unrelated wife #3 - Constance. Well, you see Constance was much younger than Richy Rich, and karma just kept coming around for Richy as Constance traded him in for a younger model - Richy's SON!!!
That sounded very creepy at first - the stepmom and the son hooking up- but it turns out they were actually age-appropriate and the rich dad was just a touch of a creeper.
As fate would have it, It was just all too much for Richy Rich, and he ultimately committed suicide.
and years later, I think that same son also committed suicide?
And like many tycoons of the era, finances were difficult for the family to maintain. When you build a lavish castle on top of a hill and import all the material from all over the world, money goes fast. A lot of money-shifting ensued. He transferred everything to his second wife?'s name at one point, then she died, and everything was willed to their children, so he forced them all to blindly sign documents, which actually said they had to give it all back. Dirty Dealins...
Anyway, back to the house. Scandal aside, they had pretty fancy taste in home designs.
For example, this ceiling took 6 years to hand carve. I'm sure that chandelier is worth a few bucks too.
This mosaic floor was a shout out to the initial settlement on the property they called The Camp.
Not sure where the cat theme came from. Cats were featured on that stained glass pic up there too.
Who doesn't love a giant sweeping staircase?
And here's where the self-guided tour got a little weird. This is in 'Constance's Boudoir'. All the other rooms are light and airy. This room had a dark black velvet curtain over the door that actually had 'Constance's Boudoir' printed on it. Then inside, the windows were all blocked out and there were weird mannequins.
See? Bizarre. Not sure what they were trying to say about Constance with this wild room. They did have her wedding dress there, and I have to say her waist was about as big around as my ankle. Apparently people wore corsets so tight they would have to use smelling salts to not pass out as they kept tightening them... I hope it was all worth it, Constance.
Across the hallway, out of the boudoir, this room had a great view of the harbor.
This tub is apparently modeled after a tub found in the ruins of Herculaneum, and weighs one ton.
This tub is also on about the third floor of this house, which is perched very high on the hills of Dunedin.
What I'm trying to say is that this tub was probably a lot more trouble than it was worth.
After climbing the tiny spiral staircase to the roof, you can get to the lookout tower and have commanding views of the peninsula and harbor. Easy to see why they chose this spot for a house.
Here's the rooftop view of the gardens.
Whitings on top of the castle.
And that concludes our tour of Larnach Castle!
The rest of the weekend consisted of a lot of eating, including some fajitas Lynda made us since she knows we miss Mexican food. she also got her hands on a pecan pie for us - made from a local bakery - the only place you can probably get a pecan pie for hundreds of miles. She acts like it was no big deal, but I've heard you basically have to go all Black Friday on people when the doors to this bakery open, so I can only assume she trampled at least a dozen people to get us that pie. And it was delicious.
We took a quick trip over the coast to watch the waves for a little bit.
We also played some games like Balderdash, Jenga, and Lightning Reaction. What's Lightning Reaction? Good question! It is only my new favorite game. there are four hand-held devices attached to a central unit that has a red flashing light and plays intense music. When the light changes from red to green, you have to press the button on your controller. The last one to press their button gets an electric shock!!! And if you press before the light changes, you get shocked and everyone else is safe! The interval for the light changing is always different, so the suspense is almost too much to bear, then you get shocked. It's awesome! I already bought it on Amazon and had it shipped to the Scherder residence back in New Hartford, MO.
Sunday morning we made a quick visit over to a market, where we met New Zealand's best cheese salesperson. The cheese was good too, so he's really got a winning combination of a quality product and a good personality. I think he sells a lot of cheese. He sold us some, anyway.
And the market was held in the stadium where we went to watch the All Blacks Rugby Test several months back. It was fun to be down on the field.
And that just about sums up our weekend. The only thing I haven't covered is how great Martyn and Lynda have been to us - always checking in and keeping tabs on us. Thanks so much for everything, guys!
You're the best!