Blenheim does it for us

We sat on the front deck of the White Swan Country Hotel having lunch and watching the traffic drive along the main street towards Wellington.

A four-wheel-drive Porsche went by, many BMWs and Mercedes, a Lexus, something I didn't recognise that turned out to be an Aston Martin, a fairly new bright yellow Camaro, an old John Deere tractor . . .

Yes, a slight double take, but the tractor went surprisingly quickly and the guy on the next table made a comment about "only in Greytown".

It could happen in any rural town; we just happened to be in Greytown, that smart, reinvented town between Featherston and Carterton on the Wairarapa plains.

It is more than 20 years since I was last over the Rimutaka hill from Wellington. Back then, Featherston was a place with lots of shops and some good cafes. All that has moved to Greytown, which seems to have more fashion shops, decor stores and antique businesses per head of population than most places in the country. Apparently it's all the passing trade to and from Wellington on weekends that keeps it alive.

It was pretty busy this weekend, possibly because of the Carterton A&P Show, one of the biggest around, with more of those massive mobile home/horse floats than I've seen in one place.

We were there for a double birthday celebration, catching up with friends who moved from the south about the same time we did. It's a rural area and a commuter base for Wellington, only an hour over the hill or by train.

Our friends enjoy living there, particularly the proximity to the big city and there's enough good wine being made close by to satisfy that need.

But walking the dog after we got home last night, we agreed we are more than happy in Blenheim. The geography is more interesting and the sun shines more regularly.

We're not as close by car to Wellington, but we agreed we are not city people - we couldn't deal with that traffic every day.

Ah, give me Maxwell Rd in peak traffic any time. And I have yet to see a tractor going along there outside of show time.

The Marlborough Express