Wife swapping in Martinborough

Wife swapping in Martinborough

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Next stop – hiring a car with the help of the very friendly woman at the Sharella Motor Inn, then full steam ahead to Martinborough. The sleepy wine-country town of Martinborough exists for one reason only, it seems: so its townsfolk and visitors can get pissed. Or so you might be led to believe if you listened to Tania in the Tourist Information centre. “No one drives here,” she beamed. “We all drink.”

She managed to stay sober long enough to find us a place for $150 a night just round the corner: Beatsons http://www.beatsons.co.nz/.

A word with the owner and we knocked him down even further. It was lovely little place, we had our own cottage with a log fire – which was a good job as it was bloody freezing. The owner, John, was lovely and chatty. When we came back, he had been joined by a mysterious and taciturn woman, Jenny, who we assumed was his wife or perhaps his housekeeper.

There isn’t much to do in Martinborough, so I imagine quite a lot of the townsfolks’ time is taken up having sex with other people’s partners, or at least pretending to have done so and precipitating gossip about it. Or maybe they have better things to do than indulge in idle chit-chat about other people’s love lives. We certainly didn’t. So after trying to work out the relationship between John and Jenny and watching ‘The Next Top Model’ while enjoying the heater, we ventured out onto the streets – or should I say street – of Martinborough for a Saturday night on the town.

I imagine that on a hot summer night in the middle of the tourist season, the Martinborough Hotel would be packed and buzzing. On this particular freezing cold Saturday night, there were a few people in there watching South Africa against the All Blacks, but none of them appeared to be single men and thus of any interest to us, so we had a quick drink then headed across the road to Est to eat. Est is a Mod Oz-type (Mod Kiwi?) restaurant with great décor – an open fire, original artwork on the wall, and a frosted glass bar dividing the two main spaces. The staff were friendly and attentive and the food excellent, and although certainly not cheap, good value for money. Email them on est@ihug.co.nz . The Martinborough Hotel was almost deserted when we emerged with full bellies, so we wandered round looking for random house parties to crash, but obviously the good folk of Martinborough were too busy wife-swapping to oblige. Home to bed.

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