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Kay Phillips recounts the pleasures of a weekend away in Wanganui. 

Twenty people took the opportunity to have a fun and fascinating time in Wanganui at the weekend. This was the Rotary Club of Plimmerton’s third annual trip away.

As well as surveying beautiful gardens, and golfing, we seemed to consume a great deal of food. Friday night saw us meeting with members of the Whanganui North Rotary Club at Coopers where we had interesting conversations and a particularly tasty grazing table.

Saturday night was our main dining experience together at Maria Lane Eatery which was a wonderful four course meal created by the Chef who kept the menu a secret. And what a secret it was. We were wowed by the quality of the meal. On Sunday we had two groups – some visited a local Thai Restaurant whilst others had Food Runners takeaways at the Motel where the motelier had gardened in the corner we used and brought out chairs for our comfort. Topping this off were excellent lunches and breakfasts at local eateries.

The golfers, being a smaller group than usual, seemed less competitive than in previous years. As Bruce said, “Fellowship was the winner”. After a cold, windy day at Marton on Friday, the other two days were spent at Castlecliff and Belmont in sunnier conditions. 

On Saturday morning, the main group began at the excellent market before wandering up the road to watch folks learning to blow glass. On to Brown and Co where celebrated glass artist, Katie Brown, spoke to us about her work, which was greatly admired by all.  Our next stop was at Virginia Lake where most of us walked around the lake which is a superb location with abundant gardens and birdlife. The nearby local Winter Gardens are always worth a visit for the potted colour. Lunch at a nursery was followed by visits to shops or to the well-known, beautiful Bushy Park Homestead for a special afternoon tea. Some took a voyage on the Waimarie Paddle Steamer while others walked the tunnel and lift-through-the-hill to enjoy the panoramic views from the Memorial Tower.  Some actually had a little rest…

On Sunday, Penny Daddy guided us around her glorious garden while husband Andrew baked scones for us to enjoy with jam and cream. Afterwards we visited Elizabeth and Evert van Reenen who own a villa which is one of Wanganui’s showpieces. Around their garden are a number of areas created in bricks which were apparently gathered from around the world by the garden’s creator with some even travelling in his hand luggage.

This was another great weekend away from the stresses of daily life. Illness prevented a few couples joining in this year but the fun and fellowship still thrived. A wonderful weekend was had by all.

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