I’m writing this from the Waikato Expressway, just east of Huntly. It’s the Thursday night before Queen’s Birthday weekend, and the kids have a teacher-only day tomorrow so we’re sneaking away for a few nights.
Hannah is driving, and the kids have an audiobook – The World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams, if you must know – and I’m in the front with a laptop, doing a little work. The light is pretty, a kind of a purpley-apricot, and it’s been raining so the whole landscape seems washed clean.
At the same time, our design director Sarah is at her desk in Sydney, sub- editor Alex is in Blockhouse Bay and our partnership manager Rochelle is in, um, Venice on a working break that seems to involve a relentless search for Italy’s finest Aperol spritz. A host of cloud-based apps keep us connected: this blows my mind sometimes.
We go to print a week from tomorrow and everything is in hand. I’ll work from the beach tomorrow and Monday while the kids muck about, and then I’ll knock off and we might go to the pub for a beer and some chips. Or maybe we’ll just sit by the fire.
I think about moments like this a lot these days: two years ago, in a maelstrom wrought by Aotearoa’s first lockdown, we started a magazine in a pandemic. It seems quite extraordinary that (a) we run a magazine at all and (b) we do so with such flexibility. As a business, it works; as a family, we have gained hours more in the day, and a relative lack of hustle for which I am very grateful.
I started thinking again about this when I went to see Mike Hartley at his house in Beach Haven, on the North Shore of Tāmaki Makaurau. It’s a classic 50s bungalow, with a clever renovation that is neither heroic nor grand: it’s not a big house, but there is a room for each child, spaces to withdraw to and an interplay between things off the shelf and custom-made. It’s one of the most charming houses I’ve seen in a while.
Mike talks about “the luxury of enough”, about relatively simple things actually being the most transformative. I’ve shamelessly nicked his phrase because I think it’s relevant right now, as we all work out where we stand and what we really need. Do we go back to the old ways, or do we find better, simpler solutions?
In their own way, all the houses this issue respond to that question. I hope you enjoy them.