But then, there were another one of ‘those phone calls’.

“Hullo. Look … I am sorry but we are being terribly cheeky because we are sitting on your veranda eating some of your absolutely delicious grapefruit and we know you have been mucked about by real estate agents (they had been talking to the neighbours) but we absolutely adore your place and we would absolutely like to buy it … is it still for sale and, if so, how much do you want for it?”

At times I can think very fast and this was one of them. It could be a joke. It could be the real thing. I sat down on the bale of hay I was about to heave onto the trailer, shifted the phone into the other hand, sweetly said, “Yes, it is still for sale,” and named my price.

“Not a problem,” came the equally sweet reply, “We can put a deposit into your bank account tomorrow if you would like.”

“But you haven’t been inside or gone through all the sheds!” I spluttered.

“Oh, but we have peered through every window and we absolutely love the way you have decorated the house. The colours and the light fittings and the wall friezes are absolutely fabulous and the kitchen décor with the remu benches and cabinets are so warm and homely and we can see there is a new ceramic top oven and a big pantry and we absolutely adore the way the gardens have been set out and the sheds and the barbeque area and the piggery are perfect for us and the big barn is an absolute bonus … we don’t need to go inside.”

My quick thinking went into overdrive as my possible change of circumstance fluttered its way through my system and I asked some questions as I formulated a plan. They had made a decision to move from Auckland (hated it) to be closer to older parents. They had recently sold their house and they had seen my place in the real estate section of an old local newspaper and they thought it was exactly what they were after – hence the drive down to the Rangitikei and the cheeky phone call – “please would I consider a sale” … of course, I would. We swapped solicitor details and arranged a meeting the following week and, as I traveled north (yet again) my head said (once again) What the hell have I done?

Nonetheless, the people were delightful and I could not have wished for anyone nicer to take over my little piece of peace in the country but, the next problem to deal with was the moving in and the moving out. The sale had gone through so we agreed to “share” as they made trips south and I made trips north. It was not something I was looking forward to. However, the easiest part was leaving most of it behind because the people moving into their house had come from overseas and they had asked them if they could buy their whiteware, a few large pieces of difficult-to-move furniture and some general bits and pieces. Would I like to do the same? “Why, yes, of course!” One big headache vanished instantly as we negotiated on the fridge, the freezers (contents included), the washing machine, the piano, the made-to-match office furniture, etc., etc. How cruisey was that? And, with the help of a couple of amazing friends, the rest was fitted into the wagon and the float while a furniture company picked up the big stuff that I didn’t want to sell.

That was it. I was no longer a North Islander … I was heading south for the last time to become a true Mainlander. Middelmost was no more.