Nestled in the rolling hills of Northland, New Zealand, there lies a whimsical dwelling overlooking Kaipara harbor. Massive mosaics flow intricately throughout, while beautifully crafted wooden stairs meld into a bridge over an airy floor plan, and a fanciful spire crowns an impressive tower. Rob and Marijke have been designing and building this one-of-a-kind home for over a decade, and one glance is all it takes to see how much creativity and love has gone into it.
We arrived with Rob from Ian and Marcia's, and were immediately enchanted by the abode. We met Marijke, Rob's wife; Anton, their son; and Ben, an Aussie volunteer. After a quick chat, we were shown to our cozy little cabin, and called it a night.
|Belly full of apples|
|Fish-bird gateway to the cafe|
"I am a 'eutopian' visionary philosopher who has temporarily abandoned his search for the precise meaning of 'Life, the Universe and Everything' and its ideal formulation, to spend the last 12 years writing a sprawling epic fantasy pentalogy called The Apples of Aeden; also building the domed ferrocement carved 'Dreamspace' of Cafe Eutopia, Kaiwaka, New Zealand, and writing Fantastic Ferrocement, a Passport to Eutopia, Passport to Creativity, The Nautilus Project, and Icon of Ainenia; and building a carved 'Tree of Life' idea-creation game called Eutopia: the Game."
Unfortunately his resources dried up and he had to abandon the project. Rob and Marijke had bought it several months ago and were working to make it a more viable business. We all went down every day or two and cleared brush from around the building, cleaned out the storage tent, and even helped make mosaics. Several years ago, trees were planted around the cafe, and inexplicably, each one had been planted in the middle of a car tyre. Over the years, the tyres had begun to girdle the trees, and removing the ingrown tyres was quite an arduous task. One of the perks of working at a cafe was getting to try Rob and Anton's caffeinated concoctions, they were learning the art of being baristas and made a mean "flat white."
Back on their farm, work included the usual weeding, cleaning up the garden, and planting seedlings. We also used a rowboat and nets to skim a floating aquatic plant off the top of one of their ponds. The slimy biomass was then used to mulch the gardens.
|Randy's still life: Bee, Grape, Thumb no. 1|
After the workday was over, there was plenty to keep us entertained. We got in a few games, both Hive, and a card game called Yeniv, with Ben, and a game of Rummikub with Rob's parents who live nearby. Marjike was interested in the artistic hobbies of others, and encouraged Randy to do a painting while we were there. Since they were right on the harbor and had a few kayaks, we enjoyed an afternoon of paddling through the mangroves, glimpsing kingfishers. The mangroves are quite invasive, but they do create a mysterious, maze-like environment to explore.
|Ben and Randy|
|Anton, Rob, and Marijke inside Cafe Eutopia|
|View out the back door|
|From atop the pasture hill|