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The weekend just past saw VBG in full flight – Shakespeare in The New Zealand, Healing Festival in the Meadow, Commodore’s dinner in the cafe, and Art in the Echium. The full car park was a welcome sight.
As some of you are aware, the development of a cafe offering gathered pace on Friday with some excellent and timely input from the day’s Design Walk. The concept is to bring Chef Martyn Cutler’s creations to the top level in a light lunch and afternoon tea menu. Think a barista’s coffee machine in the morning, loose leaf specialty teas in the afternoon, and well selected South African, Mediterranean, and Australian wines in the evening.  We also hope to create a more comfortable reading space, so botanical books can be more used and enjoyed. It was interesting to note that setting out the magazines in the Exhibition Room attracted many to sit and peruse them over the weekend. Ideally the rare books in the Library can be displayed under glass so more can enjoy their illustrations.
Temporarily books have been moved to the Exhibition Room while works are underway. After the gardening team made short work of the carpet and built in desks, an original wood floor reappeared. With the new entrance better showcasing the Library building and the interior space cleared, the light, symetrical space is already attracting interest. Tables extending under the eaves of the porch and along the wooden terrace which overlooks the Palm Garden should add more activity to the herb garden where the path will be rerouted to encourage more meandering amongst the edible and aromatic herbs.
We visualse two phases for the cafe – the first to be completed soon and the second to build a more substantial kitchen using the two offices at the rear of the room. The second phase would allow Martyn to offer fresh and wild evening meals in a lovely setting throughout the year. A woodstove could add to the winter welcome and be removed for summer.
As always input is very welcome to the design of the new cafe and the improvement of the use of this wonderful building.
Hats off to the staff who have worked hard, squeezed into remaining space, and hunted high and low for items shuffled about during the move.

Dean Miller (in welly boots) oversees the floor of the new library cafe as it is sanded down