Home was in Castlecliff by the sea and work was at the local meatworks until two years ago.

Woodcraft and restoration artist Mike Irving decided it was time to live a long-held dream before he got too much older.

He and wife Katrina headed for rural climes and found the perfect house with two huge workshops and 0.4 of a hectare (an acre) of land in Waverley.

It took endless backbreaking work to clear out the large garage and workshop of junk and the massses of weeds from the land but the result was spectacular, Mike said.

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"We love this place. Our kids love it and I'm set up in my studio and have a small shop/showroom as well."

Mike said he found it disconcerting working alone at first.

"I was bit worried about the silence and I talked to myself."

He quickly moved into his creative rhythm and is underway turning out handcrafted wood pieces from sumptuous bread boards made of native woods, childrens toys, jewellery boxes and special small caskets for the ashes of a loved pet.

He only uses recycled wood and works the wood all by hand using no power tools at all.

His studio is called White Rabbit Workshop in honour of every white rabbit he has owned.

Flossie is the third and latest white beauty and she is huge, completely dwarfing a small brown rabbit rooming with her in the run.

Even though he goes off to a market most weekends in Sanson, local residents have started turning up for a chat and a look.

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"I restore old furniture and there's a few pieces in for me to resurrect. It's very satisfying ,especially when my customers are so happy with the result."

Wife Katrina has a full time job and is able to work from home but needs to travel away for two days.

"We're so well set up here we're running like clockwork."

Mike said it's still hard to believe he's doing what he loves every day.

"I mean, I didn't mind working at the works but this is special and I can have kids in here with me after school."

He laughs his small son is always full of ideas for a new toy.

"We've made them all, from a bike to a trolley , aeroplanes, boats.
"And there will be more, much more."