Raglan woman Maree Harris creates exciting and unique icy treats called Dizzy Blocks.
Dizzy and Lola sit on the pavement in Raglan's main street devouring multi-coloured ice blocks, blonde heads still, brown eyes dreamy, silent now they've each been allowed their favourite chocolate and caramel flavour.
Earlier, there had been something of a meltdown when their mother, Maree Harris, tried to foist a colourful alternative on 2-year-old Lola for the camera. Her screams of "chocolate my favourite" have died and Dizzy is still sticking fast to getting in first.
Maree is responsible for Dizzy Blocks. She hand crafts them in a Raglan commercial kitchen, using local products and fruits as much as possible from the markets and friends' trees. Luisa plums, for example, are layered into vanilla cream, avocados are coupled with lime, cucumber with watermelon, and strawberries with borage and elderflowers.
According to his mother, hibiscus tea and peach is Dizzy's favourite, but the 4-year-old swapped allegiances, as kids are wont to do, when Tempo showed up.
"A lot of the ideas come from traditional recipes, like raspberries, roasted peach and vanilla yoghurt is reminiscent of peach melba."
She sells them from her refrigerated cart in town, frequents the Raglan market, and the ice blocks are also stocked in cafes at Raglan, Hamilton and the Whatawhata farm shop.
Dizzy Blocks have been well received, Maree says. "I sell as many as I can make. On sunny summer days in Raglan people really enjoy them. People buy them and eat them straight away, then often come back for another one."
It all started with a friend's wedding. "I wanted to help with the wedding in some way because she's a special friend."
She'd been making ice cream for a long time, experimenting with different flavours and fruits, so, she thought, she could layer fruits into ice cream, "but how could I scoop them into cones without a shop?"
So the ice cream was exchanged for ice blocks, guests raved about them, and said she should sell them. The Dizzy Block was born.
Raglan has been Maree's place in the sun for a long time. She moved to Hamilton from Papamoa when she was 16, to study nursing. "I chose Hamilton above Auckland. I don't really know why. I had family there but I think I was in a rush to move.
"When I lived in Hamilton I had friends here and used to visit. I loved the beach and being by the sea. It felt like the right place for me to be."
Maree met partner Liam Coulden-Lavers, now a teacher at Raglan Area School but formerly a chef, when he was on a surfing trip from England.
They clicked, headed overseas together to Bryher in the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwell. "We worked in a hotel for a summer, then moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands. We did a ski season in the Alps in France too – that was probably the best part of the trip."
But there's only so much travelling a gal and a guy can take before it comes time to settle down. And Raglan was the place to be. "It was mostly me. Liam's a keen surfer and he likes the lifestyle and community here in Raglan, and we both wanted to have a family. We probably both decided to as soon as we got to the UK."
And Raglan holds her.
"We live close to Cox Bay, a beautiful shelly beach. When the tide's out I can walk along the beach to work at the pottery on Saturdays; the kids go fishing in our little dinghy.
"Having a small business and children – I don't think I could have done that in a big city."
The spirit of Raglan gets under the skin, Maree says.
"It's the connection to the land and people trying to preserve things for themselves and future generations. And the community aspect: helping and supporting each other at a community level, and at a good producers' level too. They're laid back, everyone is very forgiving and flexible yet 100 per cent organised. And it's great that Hamilton is not that far away if you need big-city things. We're not that isolated."
There's just one last burning question. Dizzy? "He's named after his great-grandfather – he was Desmond but was always called Dizzy. Dizzy is the same."
No such conformity for the ice blocks, however. They're just Dizzy Blocks.
BEST OF THE WAIKATO
Favourite coffee shop? How do you take your coffee?
Sometimes a short black, occasionally a filter but usually a flat white. My favourite coffee shop would be Grey Gardens in Hamilton East. Always lovely coffee and people, and chances are I'll bump into some familiar faces.
Favourite brunch spot? What would you order?
The Shack Raglan, and their Mushroom Hash – potatoes, turmeric cashew sauce, beetroot chips, and mushrooms. Amazing.
Warihi Park on Wallis St is a great park for a quick run around with the kids. It's reasonably sheltered, and sometimes there are grapes, guavas, or mandarins to enjoy.
Best watering hole? What's your poison?
Rock-it in Raglan, sitting out on the balcony with a friend. Whatever they recommend from wine list.
Best date spot?
We are lucky enough to live really close to Cox Bay. Occasionally, Liam and I can sneak down for a little walk or row in the dinghy. I guess that's pretty romantic
There are loads of stunning views along our coastline here, but I'm quite fond of when you are returning to Raglan after coming over the divvy, and you get that first glimpse of the ocean just the other side of the village, and you get that "I'm home" kind of feeling.
Favourite weekend/holiday getaway in the Waikato?
When you live in Raglan, you don't tend to get away; people come to you.
What Waikato product/produce can you not do without this season?
Two staples in our household are Taunga Kereru pesto (lovingly prepared with ingredients that they grow on their farm), and Raglan Honey. These are both available from the monthly Raglan Creative Market.
Favourite day trip with the kids?
It seems a bit too obvious but . . . picnic, sunscreen and we're off to the beach.
Image source: Tom Lee/Fairfax NZ