Grateful to Mother

With Mother

My Mother was a big influence on my path in life , her interests, enthusiasm and sheer joy has helped to mould the person I am.

I’m grateful to have my Mother still able to come and stay with us and enjoy the Autumn garden here at Jester House. Now 78, and waiting for a hip operation later in the month, she doesn’t really garden for herself anymore but still enjoys a perambulate around ours.

When I was growing up I remember her spending every free hour in her garden. I think that is where I got my love of gardening from and my idea of horticultural imperialism, pushing the frontiers of the garden back and back like a true imperialist. Going from nothing to be just as big and beautiful as you want it to be.

I’m also grateful to her for my love of cooking.  Helping with dinner parties and then socializing with friends around the table is a very fond memory of my teenage years in Marsden Valley. I think it is the responsibility of every parent to teach their children to cook as part of independence training and I know our children appreciated having a repertoire of dishes they could cook when they left home. Of course I took it more seriously than most and went on to train as a chef, something my Mother encouraged.

She is only staying a few days before going home to Golden Bay again before Mother’s Day on Sunday so I’m grateful we are spending some time together this week.

Autumn Scavenger Hunt


When our children were still at school, well actually Harriette(28) and Pip(27) are both still studying, the school holidays were always a time to kick back and relax. Being at home with no morning schedule was what they looked forward to most, that and having special time out with us.

It was always a bit of a challenge to find different activities for them to do. Something that was fun, energetic and that they subliminally learnt something in the process.

So when I had this clever idea of putting on school holiday activities at Jester House these 3 key points were firmly in my planning process. Create a fun activity that children of all ages can enjoy, that has them running around the garden in search of something and has an educational element.

I have to say I am very pleased with the outcome and this holidays activity – An Autumn Scavenger Hunt is no exception. Yesterday it was a pure delight to see so many children and many parents scooting around the garden in search of mushrooms, walnuts, autumn leaves, counting chickens and finding hidden animals.They learnt things like the difference between chestnuts and walnuts, what a persimmon tree looks like and what a rose arcade is. And for all their running about with clip board in hand they finished with a free autumn jelly treat.

My reward is seeing the pleasure on the children’s faces and watching whole families having a fun time together. I know Pip and Harriette would have loved doing this type of thing in the holidays when they were young and it is with them in mind that I create each school holiday activity for the pleasure of our young guests.

The Autumn Scavenger Hunt runs for the duration of the holidays and Jester House is open everyday (except Anzac Day) 9am to 4.30pm until the 25th July.

At Loggerheads


It is amazing what you find when you start filling the woodshed for the winter.  I started cutting up a big branch trimmed of our gum tree when I came across this smile.

As sometimes happens when you are dealing with wood, it will talk to you. It said “I’m to good to burn, I need to be seen. I have a job to do.”

So the firewood mission was put aside for another day and I put on my creative hat. Following some research into te moko and noting the recurring patterns I made a few sketches.

It was then a process of fitting the patterns to the faces and using a plunge router to carve te moko. Some black paint, paua shell and a couple of coats of oil finished the faces. They were then mounted on robinia posts and set to stand as  nga tutei (sentries)

These two now stand as tutei on the path to the Enchanted Forest making sure your games are fun.

Now it is back to the firewood.



Bees Come A Calling.


Labour Day and the cafe is closed as it is a Public Holiday but that didn’t stop the arrival of hundreds of guests looking for somewhere to alight. Fortunately they didn’t need feeding, just a site for a new home and they found our crab apple tree the perfect resting stop.

As much as we love bees and plan to have a hive in our garden in the not too distant future, this particular arrangement didn’t really suit us. So a quick call to our trusty gardener Nick who has a great working relationship with bees and also happened to have a new empty hive waiting for a colony. He duly arrived, the bees had well and truly settled and Steve had made a box ready for the transfer.

It is incredible how calm the bees are when they swarm and it required no protective clothing to take them from the tree and into the box. A bit of strategic branch clipping was needed and  with one last snip they slid into the box, the box was sealed for the journey to their new home and the job was done.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         It was rather amazing,that during the process of moving the swarm  Steve only sustained one sting and Nick none at all.                                                                                                           IMG_8221IMG_8224This is the second occasion we have had a swarm of bees alight at Jester House so we think there is a message in that. Steve now has the perfect excuse to get his design hat on and draw up a bee palace so that we can have a hive here. It will be situated up the hill where it is a little warmer and also away from our visitors who are sometimes a little frightened of bee hives.

We hope the bees are happy in their new home at Ngatimoti and we look forward to a wee jar of honey someday.

WITH HEART – The Core Values of Jester House



With Heart












Over the last couple of months Steve and I have been working with a business coach. It is exciting, challenging and daunting at times but above all it is focusing. We have a desire to make the Jester House experience as good as it can be and with the help of our coach we will achieve it. One of the topics we recently discussed were our core values. We knew what they were and even had them written down and then nicely tucked away in a drawer. We now have them proudly displayed in my office were I can refer to them easily, we have shared and worked on them with the staff and now I would like to share them with you.

Sharing them makes them stronger and commits us to delivering them everyday in every way and that brings us one step closer to providing you with the best Jester House experience that we can.

 Our core values  W I T H  H E A R T

Well being of staff – We value and encourage learning, feedback, coaching and mentoring.

Individual ownership – We take individual ownership of our customers’ needs and are accountable for delivering an emotionally delightful experience.

Teamwork – We have a supportive, co-operative workplace where customers and staff are all respected and that it is a both a safe and fun environment.

Hospitality – We depend on and enjoy our guests custom so they deserve the best possible service – timely, responsive, proactive, meeting or exceeding their expectations and aiming to delight.

Honesty – We are honest and open in all our dealings and maintain the highest level of integrity at all times.

Environmental Care – We appreciate and advocate for environmental awareness, care and responsibility both onsite and wider environs. We strive for maximum care and aim to have a positive impact.

Art and Humour – We support the local art community and integrate art and humour into all aspects of Jester House. Guest will be amazed, amused and intrigued.

Recognition – We recognise and reward each others contributions and efforts at every level.

Transperancy – We aim to live our values and communicate them clearly to ensure that they flow on to our staff,customers, suppliers and community.

Winter Dining

IMG_4424The joy of sitting by a roaring open fire cannot be denied. Egypt, our 17 year old cat can testify to the benefits of warmth and comfort. I would go one step further and add a meal to the experience and that experience is complete.

The fire at Jester House is guaranteed to be blazing everyday in the winter months and it warms the whole cafe with such efficiency that guests who start by sitting next to it have to move a little further from the flame. So no matter where you sit you are going to be warm and comfortable while you enjoy your lunch or coffee. It is one of my pet hates – going out for lunch or dinner and being cold, it puts me off to the extent that even if the food was great I would only return in the warmer months.With that in mind I can guarantee that you won’t be cold dining inside at Jester House.

Also our winter menu is bursting with hearty meals ideal to warm you from the inside. Check out our winter menu at . One of my personal favourites is the Krishna Surprise Salad, it is really tasty with the combination of lentils, brown rice and roast vegetables with the added zing of feta and dukkah and of course our secret dressing that makes any salad worth eating. My other winter standard is soup,and Cat and Louie have been creating some very delicious flavours. Last week it was a creamy curried roast parsnip with apple and cashew nuts. Sounds odd I know but it was truly scrumptious, so much so that I had it, 3 days in a row, for lunch.

Winter is definitely the time of year when you can indulge in those heavier types of food that give us comfort in the colder months and what better way to enjoy them than by a roaring fire? My idea of winter bliss. Is it yours?

Pink Ribbon Breakfast 23rd and 24th May.



May is the month for Mothers. Firstly, Mothers Day on the 10th and then throughout the rest of the month all sorts of different groups holding Pink Ribbon Breakfasts to raise funds for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.

This year will be our fourth Pink Ribbon Weekend. The first year we just held it on the Sunday for breakfast but now we have extended it to run on Saturday and Sunday all day so we can raise a serious donation for the NZBCF.

A special Pink Ribbon menu runs alongside our usual menu and 15% of all sales from the special menu go into the donation pot. We are also running a raffle with 4 prize draws and for a gold coin donation you can take a pink ribbon and tie it to the White Tree of Remembrance on the terrace. For extra fun there is a Guess the Number of Spots game and Pink Lady apples for all guests.

It is a lovely weekend to come for breakfast, lunch or morning/afternoon tea and really do some good at the same time.There are not many families in NZ that haven’t been affected by cancer in some form or other and this is one way we can help in the ongoing challenge of finding ways to mitigate it.

So gather your girlfriends, put on your pink and enjoy some time out over breakfast or lunch this weekend ( book a table at ) while helping the NZBCF to help those fighting this sinister disease.

We look forward to pinking up your weekend.

And the Winner is…..


School holidays are a fun time at Jester House as we run a free school holiday activity for all our younger guests. As Easter marked the beginning of this school holidays we ran with the Easter theme and held an Easter Egg hunt. Over the 2 week break we had had over 550 children take up the challenge and hunt for eggs and then enjoy an Easter treat from us.

While they were munching on their well earned treat they could then design their own Easter Egg and go in the draw to win a Jester House T-shirt. There were many entries and some fantastic designs.

The lucky winner was Olivia from Christchurch and she was thrilled to win, she wanted to come here straight away and collect it! Rather a long drive for that so we will pop it in the post and when it arrives she will be the most stylish girl in town.

We have a free holiday activity each school holidays. If you would like to know what is coming up you can either check out our Events page on the website or sign up to our Birthday Club and you will receive our newsletter and a free meal on your birthday. You can sign up on the Eat For Free website page.

We love seeing the enthusiasm of the children as they race around the garden and hearing their squeals of joy as they discover the next hidden treasure. It brings a big smile to our faces too.


Share a Cup of Kindness


Last year Steve and I explored Sri Lanka over our winter break.It was a fantastic 4 weeks and I can throughly recommend Sri Lanka as a wonderful holiday destination. One of the main reasons for our choosing to go there was my interest in tea.

Not being a coffee drinker I am always seeking out places that offer a proper tea experience, not the tea bag in a latte cup thank you very much! I am after loose leaf tea in a tea pot and a fine china cup to drink it out of. Not too much to ask I think but it is amazing how few places fit the bill. The most common excuse I get when I ask about their tea service is “there isn’t enough space for all those tea pots and then we have to deal with the leaves.” This leaves me somewhat puzzled when you consider how much space and effort is involved to make a cup of coffee.

I digress, this in not a rant about trying to find a decent cup of tea but an introduction to the Dilmah Watte Single Region Tea promotion we are having over the next 4 weeks. We have choosen this range of Dilmah teas and matched them with some of our tasty sweet treats so that you can Enjoy a Cup of Kindness.You will also have the opportunity to win a delightful Dilmah Tea Package when you order a pot of this delicious tea.

We like to build relationships with our suppliers and while in Sri Lanka we were fortunate enough to visit the Dilmah  Kataboola Estate in Nawalapitiya near Kandy. We were treated to an extensive tour of the tea gardens and the factory and it was wonderful to see the passion and dedication put into producing the best tea possible. This estate has for the last seven years produced the finest tea in Sri Lanka. We completed our Dilmah experience by visiting the factory in Colombo. Here the tea is tasted (an exact science that is more tricky than it looks), selected for different markets and packaged. We felt honoured by the hospitality extended to us by the Dilmah team and are now more knowledgeable about the production of tea.

While at the factory we were lucky enough to meet Dilhan, the son of Merrill J. Fernando, founder of this family business. For twenty one years the Dilmah family tea company has embodied the vision of its founder, to take tea grown and harvested in Ceylon, pack at source and ship directly to consumers. This ensures that the earnings from Dilmah remain in Sri Lanka to be shared among the workers and the community.

Merrill J. Fernando’s desire was to make his business a matter of human service. Today Dilmah is recognised as the world’s only genuinely ethical tea. Steve and I felt very inspired by the Dilmah company ethics and practices and are incorporating similar practices, on a somewhat smaller scale, into the  Jester House business model.

Share a Pot of Kindness – relax with a friend, a pot of Dilmah Watte tea and the problems of the world disappear. A simple pleasure, worth its weight in gold.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt






Everybody loves Easter. It doesn’t come with the stress of Christmas, there is a 4 day holiday, long enough to go away and relax and there is of course all those delicious chocolate Easter eggs and hot cross buns. Steve, Harriette, Pip and I have always been lucky enough to be visited by the Easter Bunny who has hidden eggs in our garden and delighted us with the thrill of having to hunt for them.

With this in mind we have created The Great Jester House Easter Egg Hunt which started on Easter Saturday with a hiss and a roar as over 50 children throughout the day hunted for the beautifully painted eggs hidden in the garden. They recorded their finds and were then treated to an Easter cookie that they munched while designing their own Easter Egg in the      hope of winning a Jester House t-shirt.

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It was wonderful to see the children rushing hither and yon looking for the eggs with other children or their parents helping them out when they got a bit stuck not being able to find that last one. The designs they have drawn are gorgeous and inspiring.

The hunt will continue through the school holidays giving the children a fun activity to do while their parents can sit and enjoy a relaxed coffee.

Happy Easter/School Holidays to everyone from the team at Jester House.IMG_6203