Artist Jenny Foster tells Elisabeth Easther about living in Whitford and getting to know the neighbouring areas.

We've been in Whitford for 11 years now, and before that we were in Howick. We moved here because we found five acres in the country. We really enjoy the space and the rural outlook, the wildlife is great too, there are frogs, pheasants, Californian quail, tuis, kereru, morepork, fantails, hawks, lizards, large spiders, pukekos and wild ducks. We love being in the country, yet really close to town, as it's just five minutes to civilisation with very easy access to the motorways at Highbrook, which makes commuting to the city easy. I was brought up semi-rural, so Whitford pushes all the buttons of my childhood. When we first moved out here, the boys were 11 years younger, and were a bit hesitant about living in the country but you wouldn't shift them now. In fact one of them still lives at home with us.

Whitford Village is very nice. There are lovely gift shops, cafes, a bakery and a Four Square, and a dairy. There's a petrol station too, although I tend to go into Howick a lot still. My favourite cafe in Whitford is Amy's Kitchen, they do fabulous mushrooms on toast, highly recommended.

There are lovely walks from Whitford Village too. There's one that goes around through the estuary. I think it comes out at the bottom of Broomfield's Peninsula; my husband Glen loves to do the walks, that one's called Wade River Coastal Walk.

We love the close proximity to the beautiful beaches at Beachlands, Omana and Maraetai. We go to Maraetai for breakfast sometimes, there's a place right on the waterfront called The Bach that we love. Then if you go further afield there's Kawakawa Bay, Miranda and the Sea Bird Coast with its bird wildlife sanctuary and visitor centre. There are 20 council reserves around here, for people to enjoy the rural outdoors and coastline


Another one of our favourite walks is Mangemangeroa Reserve on Sandspit Rd which takes you through farmland to the coast, and the Beachlands-Maraetai coastal walk and cycleway.

We're also close to the markets at Howick Village and Clevedon which are great for food and produce on the weekends. The Howick Village Market was originally called the Howick Village Bazaar, and it was a small handful of crafts people. Then the Howick Business Association took it over to include food and produce as well as craft, and now it's about 80 per cent food. It runs every Saturday morning, whatever the weather from 8.30am to 12.30pm. Our catchphrase is "find it fresh, find it first". You can get everything from Italian cheese to Dutch cheese to New Zealand cheese, and there's home baking, fresh and smoked fish, fancy lettuces, Middle Eastern foods, gluten-free foods, pates - you name it, you can find it at the Howick Village Market.

I get a lot of my inspiration for the Cult Couture from living out here. I have a studio at home, which is such a pleasant place to work. I've been an entrant in the Southside Arts Festival Cult Couture for the past five years. It's sort of like a fashion show and a wearable art show combined and there are lots of categories. One year I did an entry out of palm husks, fur, leather, wool and recycled materials. And my entry this year is made out of plastic supermarket shopping bags. It's the most amazing show, held in the Telstra Pacific Centre with Tina Cross as the MC. It's just fabulous, and so much fun to be part of. My run up to it is a bit of a mad panic, but then I go back home, to the peace of Whitford where it's quiet and there are birds, and it's so very relaxing.

Jenny's picks
* Amy's Kitchen: 730 Whitford Rd. Ph (09) 530 8308.

* The Bach: 249 Maraetai Drive, Maraetai Beach. Ph (09) 536 7182.

* Wades Walkway: The 1.2km Wades Walkway follows Turanga Creek with entrances on Wades Rd and Whitford Rd.

Jenny is an entrant in the Cult Couture Awards 2012, showing tonight, 8pm, Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre as part of the Southside Arts Festival.