Mother. It’s such a simple word for an intrinsically complicated role. Charlotte Hardy was born to the loving kind of mum.
Christine Hardy (nee Ludlow) was a nurse who loved Beatrix Potter and created a life for her four children that reflected one of the English writer’s whimsical books.
Their large Elsthorpe farm in New Zealand’s Central Hawke’s Bay District was flanked by properties owned by Charlotte’s aunt and uncle, and another owned by her grandparents.
“It was a tiny community and we ran free,” Charlotte says.
“We had a pet paddock filled with ducks, chickens, rabbits, little tiny horses and peacocks.
“Mum would take us out there, looking for fairies, or tell us stories about naughty rabbits who’d lost their clothes.
“It was a lovely childhood – idyllic. I want that for my children.”
Charlotte, her father and her three brothers would pull crayfish pots in the morning.
The green, rolling hills they drove across to get to the beach were dotted with beef cattle, sheep and trees planted by her folks.
“Mum loved trees.” Charlotte pauses. “I loved my horses. When I think about my horse being led down the driveway when Mum and Dad sold the farm… It makes me tear up. It was devastating.”
Baby Charlotte with her mother, Christine.
Walking home from school is a fond memory.
“Mum loved music and as we walked the mile-long driveway home, we’d hear James Taylor and The Rolling Stones playing in the house.”
Christine was eccentric, creative, strong, beautiful and tiny.
“She came up to my shoulder,” Charlotte says.
She was also strong. Christine worked night shifts at the hospital when things were tight.
“She’d still be there every morning, making us lunches when we woke up.
“She’d still come to our sports day… she was never missing. She was awesome.”
• Read the full 8-page feature story about Charlotte Hardy in the September-October issue of WBM – Australia’s Wine Business Magazine. Subscribe here.
Photos: Mike Smith.