FINDING THE SITE (Building at The Bay) 1


We have our Resource Consent for building the house at The Bay! Yippee!

It finally seems to be coming together. Our own Grand Design is going to happen. At last.

It all started almost twenty years ago. One November while eating lunch at the hospital across the road from the Medical School where I was finishing my PhD, I saw an advertisement for a section of land overlooking a deep inlet up in the northern parts of New Zealand in an area appropriately called ‘The Far North’. I rang the vendors and arranged to visit the next weekend, taking my boy-friend (later to become husband) with me.

The weekend was hardly propitious – rain off and on and cool for November. We travelled three hours to the section that Saturday. The view was outstanding, a complete 180 degrees of water view. But it was a long, long drop down a cliff to the water, and we’re water babies. Discouraged, we drove to a friend’s bach at Oakura, enjoyed a social evening and went to bed. The next morning, we fixed sandwiches, in spite of the weather being not exactly conducive to picnicking, and re-visited the section to have one last look, just in case we had changed our minds overnight. After all, it was a fabulous opportunity to acquire a waterfront section with amazing views. We spent another hour looking and debating the strength of wanting a seaside section, a beautiful view, a beach for swimming – all at an affordable price. Our conclusion? We would have to compromise.

We set off north to make a grand circle of driving back to the city well to the south. Hey, why not? Lunchtime came and we stopped at a lovely bay – yes, lovely even in the rain – with black volcanic rocks jutting into the sea on either side of a sheltered sandy beach. Mike spotted a ‘For sale’ sign on the uphill side of the road. We climbed over the fence with our sandwiches to shelter from the misty rain under a gigantic pohutakawa tree, and munch and look. We couldn’t see the road from our perch on the massive tree roots as it was hidden below us but we could see the entire bay and a large tree-covered peninsula to the north. And we could look out at the arrow straight line of the Pacific Ocean’s horizon to the east (next stop, South America). Totally outstanding.

‘Wonder what they’d want for this section?’ I asked.

‘Half a mil? A million?’ Mike said. ‘Paul McCartney could build something really grand here. Or Kiri Te Kanawa.’

‘She already owns a place up the road,’ I said. But I agreed. This was millionaire territory. Still, I copied down the telephone number. Curiosity, nothing more.

The real estate salesperson told me the price over the telephone, only a small percentage of what we’d figured. I almost dropped the receiver; I just about yelled ‘sold!’ right then and there. It was not only within our budget, it was not even at the top of it! Instead, I coolly – oh-so-coolly – arranged for us to meet the vendor to negotiate.

We walked away from that meeting having brought the price down a few thou. Correction – we didn’t walk away from that meeting – we floated away with the sales document clutched in our hot little paws.


As I said. Twenty years ago. We’ve been spending weekends at our caravan on the site ever since. Really using it – every fortnight in the summer and probably every three weeks in the winter, plus spending every Easter, Christmas and other assorted holidays there for twenty years. We love it.

And now we’re going to build. We’re calming down our working lives and ready to put up a boutique (read ‘small yet uniquely designed’) home that will be tucked into our 2000 m2 (half an acre) hillside, not two minutes from the beach.

We have Resource Consent! That means we’ve fulfilled the arduous requirements of ‘Coastal’ regulations plus those of ‘Outstanding Landscape’. Yes, even the Far North Council thinks our place is pretty darn special. We do too.


To be continued…


You’ll notice I mentioned that I was pursuing a PhD way back when. My new mystery ‘Half Truths and Whole Lies’ takes place in academia. See the blog below about it.

NEW BOOK!!!!!! Coming VERY soon!!!!!! HALF TRUTHS & WHOLE LIES

half truths cover 1


Read this author interview of Tannis Laidlaw by BlogHop “My Next Big Thing…”

 1: What is the working title of your book? 

 My upcoming novel is called Half Truths and Whole Lies. It should be on Amazon in a month or so, depending upon comments from my beta-readers.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

 This book takes place in academia, an environment with which I’m familiar having worked as an academic researcher off and on all my working life. Over the years I’ve participated in a fair few research projects in universities around the globe like my character Sophie. As you can guess, it was a natural to write about some of the shenanigans in one or other of those institutions and expand them….

3. What genre does your book come under?

 Genre is one of those simplistic concepts that seems to be there for marketing purposes. Nuff said.

There are elements of this book which fit classifying it as a mystery or a psychological thriller (with a soupçon of romance) or maybe you can just classify it as a ‘contemporary novel’. Certainly its setting in academia would intrigue anybody who’s been around universities or higher education. There are many tales hidden within those hallowed halls.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

 Mmmmm, maybe Merryl Streep as Sophie. Maybe Kenneth Branagh as Jeremy. Noreen? What about Joanna Lumley…or is she too pretty?

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

 When American psychology researcher Sophie Rowan is head-hunted to a prestigious English university, she expects both stimulating work and relief from family pressures. Little does she know that she would be entering a world of lies, intrigue and sexual manipulation, hidden behind the façade of respected research publications and academic books.

Oops, that’s two.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

 Our consultancy company, ‘Forth Estate Ltd’, has published my last two books (my novel Bye Baby Bunting and my non-fiction book FULL STOP – eat until you’re full and stop gaining weight). Yes, I’ve decided that Half Truths and Whole Lies will be published by Forth Estate too.

I do have a great agent who is handling several more of my unpublished books and he is now in serious negotiations with a major publisher. So, fingers crossed. I’m busy writing the sequel to the book that originally piqued their interest. As you can see, I’m straddling the line between traditional and indie publishing with a foot in each camp. I love the idea of indie publishing but sadly, as a reader, I dislike the lack of quality control. I guess we all have discarded a fair few half-read indie books that have failed to capture our interest or contain serious flaws of one type or another. But we also have read many which are very good reads indeed  – and that hope keeps me, as a reader, still buying indie authors in between buying books I’m more sure will be of a high standard from traditional publishers.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

 The first draft took about a year to write but I was working at a full time ‘day job’ at the time. Now that I’m writing full time, a new book-length story is not taking that amount of time, for the first draft, anyway. I had put this one (Half Truths and Whole Lies) aside while writing the other two books (Bye Baby Bunting and FULL STOP) and have just come back to it for drafts two through – what? – maybe 10? Luckily I love the re-writing process. It’s great fun coming back to a book you’re writing – you can fall in love all over again!

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 There’s that concept ‘genre’ again. I love to read Minette Walters, Barbara Vine / Ruth Rendall, Nelson DeMille, Michael Ridpath… I could go on and on… but is this story like any of theirs?

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

 Well, I have to admit certain aspects of Noreen’s character came to me fully-fleshed out based on some not-so-attractive personality characteristics of a couple of academics I stumbled across in my academic career. Even though Noreen is not based on a single real person, some of the incidents described in the book did happen. And, as an aside, some actual incidents that happened to me or my colleagues were so far-fetched they could never be included in a fictional tale without readers complaining my imagination had gone ballistic!

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

We experience life in London through Sophie’s eyes, a trip to Oxford and Henley and the Oxfordshire countryside. But we have to hold on tight as life becomes a roller-coaster ride for Sophie. She struggles to survive in the university long enough to unmask the con she’s discovered and stop the exploitation of students that has persisted for too long.

Who’s next on the NEXT BIG THING: BLOG HOP?

So glad you asked!

Below you will find authors who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday, April 24th. Do be sure to bookmark the websites below and add them to your calendars for updates on Works in Progress and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!

Thomas Ryan (he’s written ‘The Field of Blackbirds’):

Bronwyn Elsmore (she’s written ‘Every Five Minutes’ and ‘Seventeen Seas’ amongst others):

Helen McNeil (she’s written ‘A Place to Stand‘):

If you’d like to read my novel Bye Baby Bunting, click here:

USA paperback: or for the Kindle:

UK paperback:   or for the Kindle:


FULL STOP – eat until you’re full and stop gaining weight, click here:

USA paperback:  or for the Kindle:

UK paperback:   or for the Kindle: