I facilitated a workshop in Christchurch this week. Finally, getting some consulting work in New Zealand. To tell you the truth though, I’ve been more than happy to work overseas in Italy and Bhutan. Why? Because for YEARS I was locked into full-time jobs and could never take up the opportunity to work for a short time in another country. In the late 1990s, I was offered a great job in the United States and would have lived in my fav American city, Boston. At the time, I was enjoying a great job in Australia and my mother was living on her own – so I turned the job down. Have often regretted that decision I must say but the timing just wasn’t right.

As much as I love working overseas, I have to admit I get tired of airports, airport security and the long hours stuck on a plane. Not to mention, I miss Zeph and Zsa Zsa terribly and my horses. So when this local consulting opportunity was offered, I snapped it up.

I facilitated a workshop attended by engineers, architects, developers and some local residents. The project discussed was a mixed-development area along the lines of an Italian piazza or city square. It was a great day but what I really enjoyed was the venue – Ilam Homestead. Talk about a gracious old building in a majestic setting of azalea and rhododendron gardens!

Ilam Homestead was originally built in the 1860s but burnt down in 1911. Local identity, Edgar Stead, established the wonderful azalea and rhododendron gardens. When he sold Ilam to Canterbury College, he requested that the gardens be maintained in perpetuity. The University Staff Club (University of Canterbury) occupies the premises as well. There’s a huge fireplace downstairs and wood was crackling away as I left the homestead around 5.00pm. Such atmosphere! In 1994, Ilam Homestead was used for Peter Jackson’s film, Heavenly Creatures, starring Kate Winslet.

I had to get to the venue pretty early so the photo below shows you the homestead on approach. I can just imagine how grand it would have been to live in such a stately home, which I’m told was built in the English Domestic Revival architectural style.