Dot Smith - castle incomplete

I dropped in to see Dot Smith, owner of Riverstone Castle and 'the best bloody shop for miles'. She was busy giving advice and instructions to a succession of blokes doing repair and construction jobs, but broke off for a few minutes to tell me about the moated castle she is building.

'Last time I was here, you were about to line the dungeons,' I said.

'Yeah! That's worked beautifully! Everyone says the dungeons are the best part of the castle. Since then, we've added the gazebo.' She guided me a few metres to our left so I could get a better view. 'We're almost ready to start planting the banks now. I reckon it will be done in another year or so and then Neil and I can move in!'

'You must ask Prince Charles to perform the official opening,' I said. Dot had told me before how she met the Prince on a trip to England and had told him about the castle. 'Seriously - write to him and ask. I'm sure he'd be interested!'

Whether or not the castle gets a royal blessing, Dot plans to open it for good causes, starting with a major fund-raising event for a cancer charity.

'The first time the organiser came over to meet me, I tripped just as she was walking towards me. I blame arthritis,' she said, pointing down to her right knee. 'My visitor leapt forward to try to rescue me and we both rolled to the floor. She's not going to forget meeting me, that's for sure!'

'I hope you were both all right!'

'Yes, sure - no broken bones!

I gave Dot a copy of Penguins under the Porch, showing her the picture I had taken of the castle on my last visit. I also showed her the notepad with a 3D picture of kiwis on the front, still in use and much admired by my British friends.

'Oh, but you haven't signed it!' Dot exclaimed, pointing to the frontispiece of the book. I whipped out a pen and scrawled a few words.

It was, as ever, a pleasure and privilege to spend a few minutes with such an inspiring woman.

Dot and Dave May 2018.jpg