This big Californian villa on the Thames coast used to host tennis parties in the 70s.

"They all sat around and played tennis on the front lawn and had cucumber sandwiches and made a day of it," says owner Megan Keeys.

She says the home was built in 1923 by the Poulgrain family, a well-known Thames family, and in those days the site — which has three subdividable sections on it — went all the way to the sea.

Now it is one street back from the sea but getting to the water takes only minutes.

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The tennis court outline is still there on the ground and is itching for someone to turn it back into a court, says Megan, who has the original roller and paint marker used for maintaining the court.

Megan had plans to use part of the home as a B&B and while she hasn't had to do a lot of
work in the three-and-a half years she has owned the property, she did put in a set of stairs to give guests a separate entrance and also shut off part of the passageway to give that part of the house privacy.

"It's huge," she says of the B&B accommodation. The area would work equally well being rented, or could be used if anyone wanted to bring extended family to live with them.

Megan has always lived in and around Thames and says she used to visit next door and would eye up the house.

"I used to look at it and think, 'Gosh, that's a beautiful place'. Then someone knocked on my door in Paeroa and offered to buy my home and this one happened to be on the market."

There are huge, protected oak trees, under which she held her daughter's wedding,
and she loves the birdlife.

"There's every bird you could imagine — tūī, bellbirds, quails, fantails, lorikeets, the occasional seagull will fly over and there are even moreporks close by."

Her large bedroom has a toilet and basin and a door to a private deck, which is shared by the bedroom next door, but what she loves most is the covered veranda, which is accessed from the kitchen and dining area and runs along the back of the house.

"The best part is the veranda that's been built on at the back. It's where we do most of our living.

"It's massive and overlooks the back lawn, which is large. It's really nice to sit there and watch the birds — it's like sitting in a park."

The location is fabulous, too. The Tararu sailing club is nearby, as is the Tararu art gallery and a great fish and chip shop.

Thames is a few minutes drive away.

"There's the hospital and a good medical centre, all the shopping that you need. Lots of eateries," says Megan.

"The market every Saturday is really good."

Thames is an historic gold-mining town so there is a lot to do, from bush walks to visiting the gold mines and stamper battery.

It's also only an hour and 40 minutes to Auckland or an hour and a half to Hamilton.
Megan is sad to be leaving but is downsizing.

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