Real Life

Love at the End of the Road by Rae Roadley

Rae Roadley is the perfect example of finding love and happiness after stepping out of her comfort zone – so much so she’s turned her life-changing story into an inspiring memoir.

Her book, Love at the End of the Road, tells of finding the man of her dreams through a rural dating agency – a man who happened to own a sheep farm and the stately Batley House on Northland’s Kaipara Harbour.

Rae was 41 and living in Auckland when the school teacher decided to retrain as a journalist. She then moved to Whangarei to work at the local newspaper in which she has a fortnightly column.

When she first moved to Whangarei, she was 43 and needed to make new friends, so she gave two different dating agencies a go – and found Rex through both of them.

Her first experience was through Dinner for Six, and although there were eight at the table, it was only Rex who stuck out to Rae, who instantly warmed to the farmer.

“I don’t think anything would have happened if I hadn’t been looking at these profiles from the rural dating agency Country Contacts a few days later, and I saw this person called Rex who had a historic house.

“I sat there thinking, ‘I met that Rex and he was nice. He was lively and funny,'” she says.

Taking a chance, Rae decided to contact Rex, who invited her to join him and some of his friends for the weekend at his 150-year-old home.

“I’m a believer that there may be fate, but you’ve got to put yourself out there in the world.

“We had a nice weekend. They were nice people and he took me for a walk and we went and got scallops. I went back to work thinking, ‘I don’t know what will happen here,’ but Rex phoned me on oonday and asked to meet for coffee,” she says.

While it didn’t take long for Rae to fall for Rex, it look much longer for her to warm to the rather cold manor.

“The house was big and old and cold. It took a long time to fall in love with the house,” she says.

Batley House was originally built as a one-storey home in 1866. It has been in Rex’s family for almost 100 years and he bought it off his uncle in 1987 when he was 32.

While their romance was fairly smooth sailing, Rae, who’s now 56, knew that Rex’s had expressed a desire to have children on his dating profile.

“It’s been a sensitive issue and a lot of the experiences written in the book are about learning how we resolved what happened,” Rae explains.

“In the media there are a lot of stories about women who have children when they’re 43, but you don’t hear about the people who don’t.”

It was a long a trip to the altar for Rae. The pair married in a registry office in Whangarei six years and one day after they first met and didn’t tell a soul. But it was the wedding Rae wanted – a big celebration was never on her wish list.

The couple were featured in TV one’s North series recently, and Rae was urged to turn the history of Batley House’s colonial past and her and Rex’s love story into a book.

“I would never have considered writing about this, except that I started writing columns that were published in the The Northern Advocate and people suggested they could make a book.”

Rae believes several factors have helped make their relationship work.

“We were both in the same space. We probably had similar family backgrounds, even though he’d been brought up on a farm. We both had a Northland background.”

Rae wouldn’t hesitate to recommend joining a dating service to others, and says Country Contacts is still running, but under the new name of Country & City Contacts.

But she says the best thing she ever did was retraining as a journalist later in life, because it allowed her to live her dream of writing for a living, and led to her life with Rex at Batley House.

“I think it was about stopping being in a holding pattern and deciding what I wanted to do in life, and doing it.”

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