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Follow the story back from episode to episode and find its beginning if you want.

Story and illustration by Sandshoe.

Dog sighed, stood and padded across the floor. She was an elegant and thin ballerina on the uneven tiles of slate and each crevass she stepped over. Isobella opened her eyes to watch the quiet leave taking. The ritual at shared first light defined the barrier between them. Dog was bespoke.

Isobella sat up. She heard laughter scattering over rustling leaves and looked down through the window glass to where the hillside torn by the spear of the gully fell into its ravine. On a shelf of the base of the ridge fold opposite, neighbours were gathered on a verandah. Isobella could see their verandah top railing and glimpse the people as the wind moved the oak branches.

In homes built along the ridge by colonial developers, bankers and other invading landholders of Tāmaki, a modern gentry was in residence. The ridge road has remained witness to the domestic grace of the built environment of original bungalows and housing projects that followed. The road engineers followed a rise until past the historic site of St Stephen’s Cathedral their carriageway meets with another ridge and around that corner the modern coffee shops, places and haute couture of well-to-do shoppers, so on down into the tumult of the city of Auckland. We are time travellers. In its other direction back past the Castle’s entrance easement and neighbours the road swooped in a grand gesture like a living entity in an historic flight curve down to a tidal flat and its indigenous trees and ocean and land birds that made it their home.

The Castle built on a landward promontory of the ridge might as well on darkest nights have overlooked the darkest of seas. Its landscape was a south-east valley that had never been a built environment. A bush reserve seemed to stretch to the horizon in daylight. The illusion it and its castle had no other society was shattered only by a spectacle of lightning in those evenings when every star was obscured by cloud cover. Stormy weather made the only change to lifestyle. The windows shook in their wood frames with a ferocity that matched the volume of the loudspeakers of The Busker’s sound system.

Like a true nature’s child

We were born. Born to be wild

Sunrise on a clear morning was a mesmeric light show across the valley treetops.  Isobella threw off the bed cover to twist and turn to watch the sun’s gold rays spread across them. She could expect someone would appear on the verandah to watch it most mornings when the weather was fine. She would join them or not standing on the verandah.

The oposite side of the ridge from the Castle falls to Hobsons Bay and the original estuarine mouth of Newmarket Stream. Scholars recount every fishing ground of the Maori had a place name. English names dominate yet the Orakei Basin, place of an adorning, neighbours Hobson’s Bay. The ridge and on its leeside where The Castle’s residents were stirring is base slope of the volcanic cone, Pukekawa, hill of bitter memories.