The first in a series of writings from the side of the road by Briar.
This summer my daughter, Jacque, and I plan to take to the road with a tent and a list of intentions. One goal is to find people living interesting and creative lifestyles, where their chosen craft or art plays a significant part.
Today, it felt as if we had already left home. Returning from a local festival which had a few good moments and lots of average ones, I suggested we cheer ourselves up by stopping at Cedar Cottage Soaps. I had visited once before, and remembered stocking up from their very reasonable ‘seconds’ basket.
The little shop is a fragrant wonderland. Bars of artisan soap sit appealingly in rows on the wooden shelves. Each bar is hand wrapped in a strip of coloured cloth, and bears appetising and wholesome names such as Peppermint Twist (Jacque’s first choice), Lemon & Almond and Gardener’s Bar. Body creams and butters, candles and bath melts sit among other tantalising products on a central table. I’m not a boutique shopper, and tend to pass such places assuming the stock is out of my budget. Yet, Cedar Cottage products manage to be affordable and luxurious at the same time.
At any rate, our shopping fate is sealed with the friendly welcome offered by Terry and Belinda Clancy. They never seem hurried, and are happy to let curious crafters such as myself peek into their workroom at the back of the shop. If arranged in advance, it is even possible to view soap being made, and blocks of beeswax are sold with recipes to enable someone to make their own products.
And there is more! Proceeds from Cedar Cottage are being used to build and maintain a 1.5 acre bird sanctuary on the property, providing refuge and respite care for old or injured birds. Belinda and Terry have planted native trees and shrubs indigenous to the area, and landscaping features such as the hand dug pond make this corner of Banks Peninsula a welcome green spot for both native and introduced birds. Terry named the long term residents as we walked a well maintained path, names I instantly forgot as I marveled at the care and cleanliness so evident throughout.
We purchased some beautiful soaps, had a wander among the birds, and a chat over coffee about important and interesting ideas. Driving away, we felt heartwarmed and inspired by the generosity and integrity of this small business. Terry and Belinda are careful and skilled soap makers. Yet, more importantly, it is their approach to their work and life that makes Cedar Cottage a place worth visiting again, and again.
Cedar Cottage is located in Kaituna, approximately 15 minutes from Halswell (at edge of Christchurch) on the main Akaroa Highway. About 9km from the Blue Duck Tea rooms at the Gebbes Valley Pass turnoff, look out for the green SOAP sign on the left.
Belinda can be found at the Riccarton Market, from 9am till 2pm every Sunday at Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch.