Yesterday we enjoyed a day of free travel using our Gold Cards. These are given out when NZ citizens qualify for NZ Super. Robin has only just reached the grand old age of 65, along came his Gold Card in the mail, and the Govt coffers now deposit money for him regularly into our bank account. With our business completed yesterday, we discussed where we would go for lunch. How about upstairs in the iconic Kirkaldie and Stains Tea Rooms?, I suggested, I always enjoy going there. It is very popular and there was a long queue of customers waiting to order their lunches. No problem, I’ll put my cardigan and shopping bag on a chair to reserve a table. Robin was horrified. What if someone pinches my things? It won’t happen here, I assured him, this is Kirks! (Don’t trust anyone I say!)
Kirkaldie and Stains is one of New Zealand's oldest businesses still trading under it’s original name. The business was started by John Kirkaldie and Robert Stains back in the 1860s. The bustling Tea Room is hung with photos from the early elegant days when shopping was quite a different proposition.
The Team Room has a past, it seems, and was the scene of a notorious shooting of 1898. The headlines of the day read “Three shots fired, one advantage of wearing corsets”. Frequent customer Mrs McWilliam entered the Tea Room with her daughter and a friend. She then drew a revolver from under her cloak and fired three shots at manager Mrs Dick, one struck her in the side and the other two hit the door. Whether her two lunch companions knew of the intended killing was not reported. The long standing feud was not over a straying husband, but over a money venture gone wrong. Mrs McWilliam rightly or wrongly believed that Mrs Dick had robbed her of thousands of pounds. Subsequently, the manager tried to keep a low profile whenever Mrs McWilliam entered the Tea Room. Mrs Dick’s doctor later confirmed that her corsets had deflected the bullet and saved her from injury. Luckily we can report that not a single shot was fired in anger yesterday while we were were lunching upstairs in KIrkaldie and Stains Tea Room and presumably no-one was wearing a corset!