Monday, 21 July 2014

Glorious weekend

What a stunning weekend we had.  The Winter has been unexpectedly cold the last couple of weeks but then we got a weekend like this.  The sky was clear blue and it was mild enough to be out in short sleeves as long as you kept busy.  And we were.  Mick was keen to get the chook house ready.

I went out to take some photos and noticed a magpie on the back fence with a few twigs in its beak.  I paused and watched where it went - up into the tree by our back door to continue nest building.  Looks like we will have baby magpies right there.  I was down at our old house yesterday and was thrilled to hear the kookaburras in the trees at the back of the block.  They nested there once about 4 years ago so it's lovely to find them back.

So here are some photos of outside our house.  There have been a few requests and I keep promising to take them.   The inside ones next time.  This house is right in the middle of our half acre block so there is plenty of space all the way round.  There is an old "dunny" out by the laundry door and a little garden shed beside that.  There was also a woodshed built on the side of the garden shed and that's what became our chook house.  It's worked out well.

Sunday afternoon we were ready for the feathered family so I drove off to collect them.  When we let them out of the crate one of the girls was a bit quiet.  This morning she didn't come out to eat and huddled in the house.  I had to return the crate to the breeder, who lives about 2 miles away, so rang and told her about the unhappy chook.  She said to bring her back and she would swap her for another.  Seems she was in shock. 

I returned with the new girl, tucked in our neighbours cat carrier, and discovered the breeder hadn't zipped the side up properly and I hadn't checked. I discovered this the hard way with one expensive free range chook!  I was certain we would never be able to catch her and having never been in our chook house she was hardly going to take herself to bed once it got dark.  I tried to get her heading to the back corner of the yard so she would be furthest from the road.  As she rounded the corner of our wonky carport the little rooster (named Wilbur) spied her.  He called frantically and the hen raced down to the chicken run.  Despite her best efforts she couldn't get in.  I couldn't open the gate as surely Wilbur and the other two girls would come out rather than the new girl going in.  She was keeping well away from me.  I rang Mick, who was down at our old house doing a little job, and he walked up the hill to come and help.  We got Wilbur and the girls into the house, blocked the pop-hole so they couldn't come back out, and opened the gate from the run into the backyard.  It took only a little bit of herding by us and a bit more calling by Wilbur to get the hen to run through the gate. When we released the others they ran out to join her.  One happy family.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Tough 6 weeks

It's 6 weeks since we arrived back on Aussie soil, and what a challenge it's been.  I really didn't expect to be still feeling so unsettled after this long.  Our long list of "chores" is nearly complete and we can start to settle into life.

We have held off a bit from really making this house our home as we have a potential project in mind.  After discussing how unsettled we were both feeling we decided that since we will likely be here for a year at least we really should get pictures on the walls and bring over some knick knacks for display and some books and bookshelves.  At the moment we have our sofa and chair perched in the middle of the living room as the room is much bigger than the one we had at the old house.  They look a bit lost sitting there.

This week I do feel like we are getting our act together a I bit.  I'm sure it is because we took the first steps towards a new feathered family.  We decided it might perk us up to have some chickens in the garden so drove out to a friends property to pick up some old fencing materials.  Mick could then make a run and sort out the little shed that was to become their house.  On the way home I got chatting to a lady selling chickens at a farmers market and we arranged to go and visit her that afternoon.  She has 400 chickens!  We spent an enjoyable time walking around her property looking at all the different breeds.  In the end we chose Barnevelders as she had three pretty hens and a smallish rooster that would suit us well.  We will hopefully collect them this weekend if the henhouse is finished.  Now we just ned to come up with names for them!

The other day I drove to my mum's place and on the way passed a pretty area set back from the road side where there are often caravans or mobile homes parked up enjoying the lovely location.  That day there was a couple of nice setups with washing flapping on a rotary hoist and an outdoor setting by the other household.  I had the most overwhelming urge to go and talk to them.  I really felt like I wanted to ask them about their adventure.... where they'd been and where they were heading next.  I've been missing talking to new people all the time.

Mick has been doing an enjoyable little job at our old house.  The lady who bought it was waiting for him to get home to insulate and line the walls and ceilings of what used to be Mick's workshop.  She will use it as a studio.  We had a brainstorming session to come up with ideas for what to line it with.  The ceiling is now lined inside with old corrugated iron.  It's looking really good so far.  He has also put a door through to her guest room next door.  It used to be my office and has a little ensuite bathroom.

I've had a few people asking for photos so I'll try and remember to keep taking them.  The other day I drove to Melbourne for the first time since we've been back.  I came home on the country roads as I started the return journey from the East of the city.  There was plenty of new bushfire scars since I last drove this way.  It was a dreadful Summer that we just missed.  This one was a grass fire so the tree tops still look fine. 

And finally, a photo of a couple of our new neighbours - there's four of them on a regular basis.  I think Mick thought I was exaggerating when I've been telling him how sharply the roo population has grown while we've been away.  He followed me on my 60km drive to the office Thursday morning to have a look at where we need a section of kitchen counter in the office.  He then drove on to Melbourne to visit his old work partner and collect some tools and equipment that he'd left with him while we were away.  On the drive to the office I was disappointed that there weren't as many kangaroos out as what I see most days.  But, when I got home from work the first thing Mick blurted out was "Did you see how many roos were on that hillside!".  Shame he didn't get to see a busy roo day.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Parisien Star goes cruising

We received an email from Tore and Kirsten on the eve of their Summer cruise on nb Parisien Star.  How exciting to think she's out doing what she does best.  We wish you all a wonderful cruise and hope Kirsten's mum likes her little room.

Meanwhile... we are slowly settling in.  There's been some ups and downs with sometimes one of us having a bad day of it and then the other.  Thankfully never both at the same time.

I spent hours searching for the electric blanket for our bed until I stumbled upon a note I'd left to myself before we left, with a list of what we'd need to buy when we got back.  That list included an electric blanket.  I've driven to the wrong house..... before realizing that the car in our carport belongs to Tracey, the lady who bought the house. The grocery shopping has taken much longer than usual.  We're become accustomed to the English supermarkets, the price of food items has gone up, and we have been agonizing about what to buy now.  This week we have begun to get back into our old routine with cooking from our favourite recipe books

Mick's found it difficult with me having a job to go straight back to while he has been at home and trying to sort out some work.  The first day he was waiting at the door for me to arrive home.  I don't think that's happened for about 20 years!  He has something to keep him busy for the next week or two with a friend who is in Antarctica for a year wanting to sell his property while he is away.  So Mick is going out there to do some maintenance work and tidy up the property ready to go on the market in a couple of weeks time.  He also has a project to do for the lady who bought our previous house.  She wants to insulate and line Micks enormous workshop to to turn it into a studio.  That's a job that's nice and close to home.

We both encounter constant reminders of the lifestyle we've left behind.  As I threw out the remains of a candle Mick said "Barry wouldn't be throwing that out".  I brought home a couple of items we used in our kitchen on the boat.  Every time I pick them up to use them it's like a flashback to that little galley.  And, we now have a constant reminder on top of our TV cabinet!  The other things that remind us of our home for the last couple of years is the luxury of a full size shower, the novelty of being able to get out of my side of the bed, and the feeling that this house is just enormous when in fact it is only a modest size by Australian standards.  We are definitely enjoying having time to ourselves away from each other.

It does feel a bit strange to read about the summer weather on boaters blogs.  Our own weather has been chilly.  We haven't had freezing nights yet but daytime temperatures are hovering around 10-13 degrees.  The other day at work it only reached 6 degrees which is pretty extreme for us.  We have the heating on whenever we are home and miss the wood fire from the old house and the coal fire from the boat.  Our electricity bill will be well above what it was before we left two years ago.  If we stay in this house we will definitely get a wood fire in time for next Winter!

We have regular visitors to our back fence.  

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


I've been harbouring a secret from Mick for the past few months!  I had arranged for a model to be made of our boat.

His birthday was Monday and this parcel arrived today.  Not bad timing.

All the hours of measuring and taking photos whenever Mick was off for a walk has paid off.  We are thrilled with the model of nb Parisien Star.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

First week at work

Work brought the first signs of a routine to our lives this week which is just what we need.

Mick was happy to be working close to home for a couple of days building a verandah.  He loves it when he gets to come home for lunch and it's nice for our fuel bill.  He is still desperately trying to get onto something more permanent as he hates not working.

I had my first day at the office in 21 months.  It's a different office to the one I left with them having moved across the road.  When I arrived the bosses wife, who works in the office too, said they had something to show me.  She lifted the blind beside my desk and revealed the surprise.  They had a huge collage printed of some of the photos I'd been sending them while we were away.  I got a bit weepy to see so many photos of our adventure in an environment so totally away from it.  I couldn't stop looking at them.  The first few days of work were enjoyable and it was nice to catch up with everyone.  It was a treat to have so much space to work in and spread paperwork across the large corner desks that are mine. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Photos - walk and drive

For everyone who has asked for photos of the area where we live, here is a start.

We went for a good walk the other day and I took my camera along.  I'm so used to having it in my hand all the time that it feels strange to be without it!  It was a lovely Winters day and we headed off from home with the magpies singing.  We saw a flock of sulphur crested cockatoos.  So destructive they are.... look at what they've done to the branches of the dead tree they're sitting in.

We also took the new car for a drive on the weekend.  I took a few photos of the roadside views and one of the road itself.  This is one of the roads into Bendigo.  We drove 20 minutes without seeing another car.  Such a contrast to the UK traffic.

And, yesterday's drive to work on the highway at 8.30am.  No traffic here!  It's an easy drive on wide sweeping roads.  It takes me 40 minutes to drive the 60 kilometres (37 miles).

Today was a totally different day.  It was foggy when I left home and it was even thicker at the office.  I went out during my lunch break for a walk and got a shock at how bitterly cold it was!  The fog was still heavy and it was only 6 degrees!!  On the way home it was prematurely dark and the driving was hard work with visibility so limited.  What a cold, damp, pea-soupy day it was.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Glad to be home

We are both feeling better now that we are sleeping through the night and the house is feeling a little more familiar.  We know where to find the light switches and door handles in the dark now!  Although we still have a way to go, the house is beginning to look a little more homely.  We have caught up with several of our neighbours, chatted by phone with friends, and I've spent some time with my mum.

Friday we collected my new car.  What a relief it is to have my independence back.  It's sheer luxury to go where I want, when I want, and shopping on my own is bliss.

I had a lovely day with my friend Tammy. She came over after taking the kids to school and I don't think we stopped talking until it was time for her to collect them again.  We went to our favourite Thai restaurant in Bendigo for lunch.  It will take us some time to catch up on 21 months of gossip. I've missed her!  While we sat drinking coffee at the kitchen island a kangaroo jumped along on the other side of our back fence.

I called in at my favourite quilt shop.  How nice it was to see the girls who work in the shop and I was thrilled when they said there was a sewing group Friday night and did I want to come along.  Yes!! I do!!  Something else to look forward to.  

Mick has been back in his element.  Dressed in his work boots and Yakka trousers and mowing the grass... his idea of heaven.  We spent half an hour chatting with our dear Wintons Folly friends on Facetime.  We showed them our house and the garden.  It was funny talking to them in their pj's before bedtime when we had just had our breakfast!

Tomorrow is my first day back at the office.  It's a different office to the one I left so that will be interesting.  Mick has been making phone calls and visits looking for some work.  He has something to keep him busy the next couple of weeks and I'm sure something more will come along.  Going to work will help us settle into a routine.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

I Still Call Australia Home

Stumbled across this today, the song by Peter Allen.  How appropriate.  The song was used in Qantas advertisements for many years and hearing it again now sent a shiver down my spine.
I've been to cities that never close down
From New York to Rio and old London town
But no matter how far or how wide I roam
I still call Australia home

I'm always traveling, I love being free
And so I keep leaving the sun and the sea
But my heart lies waiting over the foam
I still call Australia home

All the sons and daughters spinning 'round the world
Away from their family and friends
But as the world gets older and colder
It's good to know where your journey ends

And someday we'll all be together once more
When all of the ships come back to the shore
I'll realize something I've always known
I still call Australia home

But no matter how far or wide I roam
I still call Australia, I still call Australia, I still call Australia home
But no matter how far or wide I roam
I still call Australia, I still call Australia, I still call Australia home

Friday, 13 June 2014

End of an adventure

The adventure is over and we are settling in again at home having been back a week now.  We have met so many lovely people and seen such beautiful places during our time in the UK.  It's been an experience we will never forget.

We have received heaps of messages from well wishers and "welcome homes" from family and friends.  I'm sorry I haven't been able to reply but will slowly respond to each of you as time permits.  Our last week in the UK and first week back in Australia have been busy, emotional and exciting by turns.

It was heartwarming to receive a very nice email from Tore and Kirsten, the new owners of our beloved Parisien Star, and to know all is going well and they enjoyed their first cruise.  We wish you both many happy cruising days and hope you enjoy her as much as we did.  We couldn't have found nicer people to pass the boat onto.

It feels like something's missing to not sit down at the end of each day, sifting through photos and writing a blog entry.  I will continue with updates on where we are at but it won't be a daily thing!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Photos back in Oz

A bit of a catch up with a motley collection of photos from our first few days back in Australia.  I've also added a couple on "Homeward Bound" from our last UK day.

1. Waiting at Melbourne airport for Peter to come around the corner
2. This put a smile on Mick's face - his beloved rusty truck
3. So did this - the shed
4. Arriving at the house on a sunny winters day
5. Horrified at the price of salmon.  We won't be making our favourite salmon salad very often!
6. Sure fire place to see a kangaroo near us.  Locals call it the "roo paddock"
7. Bliss driving on our wide open roads
8. Visitors on our first morning