Little and Friday cafe's Kim Evans tells Elisabeth Easther what she loves about the lower North Shore.
I live and work on the North Shore and it's a great place to be. My cafe, Little and Friday is on Eversleigh Rd, which is in Belmont, and I live down the road in the next suburb over, in Hauraki, so I walk all over the place.
One thing I love about this area is walking on the Queen's Chain: you can start off at the reserve off Jutland Rd and look back over the water to the motorway, and then you can walk around the coast from there all the way back to Eversleigh Rd. The Navy houses back on to it, there's a wonderful park there and it's great for walking dogs too, as the bush goes all the way down to the water. There's a lovely pathway and if you've got time, the windsurfers are amazing to watch. And if you keep going from the end of Herbert St you can walk quite a way along the mudflats, although it needs to be low tide.
Another place I like to walk is St Leonards Beach which is the next one over from Takapuna. You can take dogs there any time of day, but you really need it to be low tide or there's not much beach. And you have to walk down 100 steps to get there, which is a great workout for the thigh muscles when you're going back up - and not many people know about it.
When the tide is properly out you can walk all the way to Devonport. Another thing we love doing is jumping off the Bayswater Wharf. I go with my two children, Isaac and Holly, they're 20 and 18, so not really children any more, but we still love to do things together. Bubba the dog loves jumping off the wharf too.
Another great thing about Takapuna is the market on Sunday, which is where I first started selling my wares. They're an iconic part of this area, people travel for miles to come to them, to buy and sell. Having had astall there every week, every single time I was there I would find a little treasure, gorgeous bone cutlery from Joe's Junk Store, and cut-glass milk jugs - we stocked much of our cafe from there. We get our honey from the man who comes in from Great Barrier Island, you can't beat his honey. And the flowers come straight from the markets and are as fresh as fresh can be; the lemons and avocados come direct from orchards in Katikati. We still stock the cafe largely from the markets, we know the stallholders and know what's what. We like to know where our produce comes from.
I don't cook so much any more - this business has killed any desire I have to go home and cook dinner - so we really like the Italian place, El Forno on Anzac St in Takapuna. Their cannelloni is amazing. We also go to Sal's Pizza a bit too.
I've thought a lot about what makes this place such a good area to live. One of the best things about the area, when the kids were little and I was a solo mum, there were heaps of things to do with the kids that didn't require any money, like the wharves and the walks, and the markets - you could have fun there without spending a lot. Also, I lived for many years in Sydney and there, on every corner, is a pub. After work you go to your local and meet your neighbours, and there was a great sense of community.
This is what you get at Little and Friday. This was a 1950s strip of shops that used to have a butcher and a Four Square, but it had been lying dormant except for a catering kitchen that had all the windows painted white. My place came along and what has sprung up is a sense of community. The local mums come here after dropping the kids off at school. I've seen friendships develop. I'm proud of that.
* El Forno, 34 Anzac Ave, Takapuna. Ph (09) 488 0179. Authentic Italian cuisine, highly regarded. Closed Mondays
* Sal's Pizza, 1-7 The Strand, Takapuna. Ph (09) 487 7257. Pizza fans say this place is hard to beat.
* Takapuna Markets, Carpark, cnr Lake Rd and Anzac St, Takapuna. Ph (09) 376 2367. If you want it you can get it here, an eclectic range of goods for all tastes.