1880s blacksmith becomes rural cafe

By Hayley Gastmeier hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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Isa von Ohlen (left), Danida Baiti and owner Andrea Didsbury behind the counter at The Land Girl Pirinoa Coffee House, a former blacksmith's shop on Lake Ferry Rd. PHOTO/LYNDA FERINGA
Isa von Ohlen (left), Danida Baiti and owner Andrea Didsbury behind the counter at The Land Girl Pirinoa Coffee House, a former blacksmith's shop on Lake Ferry Rd. PHOTO/LYNDA FERINGA

AN 1880s blacksmith shop has undergone a make-over to become Pirinoa's first coffee house.

If all goes to plan, The Land Girl Pirinoa Coffee House will be grinding fresh beans and serving up hot brews from Thursday, says owner Andrea Didsbury.

The blacksmith shop-come-coffee house is located on Pirinoa Station -- of which Mrs Didsbury's husband, Guy, is the fifth-generation owner.

She said that in the 1930s the resident blacksmith left town, but the building was used by a visiting blacksmith who came once a month to shoe the horses. The building hadn't been occupied for some time, and the couple have spent the last few years earthquake strengthening it. The mother of three said with her youngest off to school this year it was time to bring her shop vision to life.

"We're going to have really good coffee -- that's top priority for me," Mrs Didsbury said.

"The food's a biggie too. I want to start off with simple and delicious things -- start small, get it right and grow from there."

The former Wairarapa College science teacher admits she's "addicted to upholstery" and her pieces will be for sale in store.

"I just like covering and restoring things, and I love old stuff and retro furniture."

This is reflected in the coffee house's fit-out. Cafe seating is retro tables and chairs, and locally made arts and crafts are "dotted around" the shop for sale.

There's also Pirinoa's own cookbook, children's books by Martinborough author Phillip Percy, Mrs Didsbury's own handmade lampshades and her mother's hand dyed wool on offer.

Outside is a bathtub veggie garden, and a basket of old-school wooden toys and a playhouse for visiting children.

The forge where the blacksmith made his horse shoes is still standing -- now filled in and a fireplace installed on top -- and the original bellows still in place. The old blacksmith shop boasts its original rafters, which were scrubbed clean by a "rockclimber woofer".

Over summer, Mr and Mrs Didsbury have had a team of travelling "cool, creative girls" from Germany, America and Switzerland helping them knock the old building into shape.

One, 21-year-old German traveller Danita Baiti, has extended her New Zealand stay to join Mrs Didsbury behind the coffee machine.

The Land Girl Pirinoa Coffee House will open Thursdays to Sundays. Hours are still be to be finalised, "but will definitely be 9am to 3pm -- if not longer".

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