Nestled in the heart of Shelly Beach - a small, rural, sea-side fishing village on the Kaipara Harbour, is Jackie's Place... and my favourite thing about Jackie's Place, is her courtyard...
Under a vine entwined arch, wooden stairs lead down from the deck, into a rustically paved courtyard, enshrouded by lush, green shrubs, and trees, whose out-stretched twigs form a leafy canopy that twinkles with glints of sunlight.
Huge, trifid 'esque plants climb like gargoyles, up the sturdy trunk of an enormous paw paw tree that towers above, dripping with clusters of swelling fruit.
A sprawling apple tree in the corner, prolific with ripe temptation.
And hibiscus flowers, like exploded fireworks, frozen in time.
And over the fence, through the shimmmering veil of leaves, soft green hills, dotted with lazily grazing cows, roll out gently into the distance.
You can feel like you are the only person in the world in Jackie's courtyard... but never lonely... leaves whipser their secrets to you, while the breeze caresses your skin; and birds seranade you in the trees, while sunlight does a dappled dance with the hues and shades of green.
So... that's why at Jackie's Place, her courtyard is my favourite thing...