Monday 28 July 2014


Since last weekend we have been receiving, bit by bit, a lovely daily log of Parisien Star's first big cruise with Tore and Kirsten and Kirsten's mum (I really must ask her name because I know she reads the blog!).  The dinette has become Kirsten's mum's room after having been my office for so long. It's good to know she is finding it to be a comfortable spot.   We have enjoyed reading about their adventures and we are happy to know they are loving having their own boat.

We heard the iPad tinkling one evening. It was Carol calling for a chat.... Barry still asleep in the bed beside her (yes, she showed us his slumbering form).  He appeared sitting up beside her after a few minutes... blinking eyes like a big old owl.  We caught up on our news and had a look at their mooring location.  We even took them outside to meet Wilbur and his girls.  It feels so strange talking to them from so far away.  We are meant to be just a few feet away.

We are finally starting to feel a bit more settled.  Having the chickens to care for has given us a boost and we enjoy the early morning call of Wilbur the rooster.  They've settled in really well and Wilbur rushes to the fence whenever he sees me approach.  I'm sure it isn't just my company he seeks but hoping for a treat.  He is a lovely placid boy.  We even got an egg the other day but so far no repeat performance.   The large pile of mulch that Mick put in their run has been spread out nicely already.  It didn't take them long!  Inside their house they appear to be excavating their way to China.  The hard compacted dirt floor is now a moonscape of dust bathing potholes.

The weather has been lovely this week with only a little rain on one or two days.  Otherwise it's been mostly sunny and mild enough to fling open doors and windows to air the house in the nicest part of the day.  The days are getting slightly longer again.  It's still light at 6pm now which is a far cry from the extremely short winter days in the UK.  I leave work just after 5pm for the 40 minute drive home and I have been home before full dark every single day.

Mick has been happy as a lark, dressed in his grubby working gear, and pottering outside.  He has thought up a new improvement for the chicken house as soon as he has finished the one prior.  They now have a wire "window" with a lift up cover that becomes a little shade cover in Summer but let's the breeze through.  When it's cold it will stay closed.  I think next weekend we will begin letting them out into the back corner of the yard.  Mick has fenced in that corner to confine them but they will still have plenty of space and good shade in the Summer from the nut trees growing there.

We are starting to plan a veggie plot too.  Our dear friends Kevin and Bernice came to visit and it seems there is a bit of a deal being done involving removing a fallen tree in exchange for an old water tank (that will make fantastic raised garden beds). So there's something else to look forward to.  How nice it will be to have salad straight from the garden again.

As promised, here are some photos of inside our house... a big L shaped kitchen (there is a separate walk in pantry next door), dining, living area.  I love the room as it has windows all the way around.  We do need to bring some more furniture across from the shed.  We don't have a huge television and the lounge room is much larger than our previous one.  We sit in the middle of the room with vacant space behind.  I'm sure we will find something to fill the space.

This is proving to be a rather cold house and we have the heater running a lot.  We had a lovely wood fire at our previous house but here we have an electric split system heater / air conditioner (ugly thing on the wall in the dining area). There is no insulation in the outside walls and we certainly feel the difference.  If we decide to stay living here we will definitely do something about that.  Something else we have discovered about this house is that there is no drafts whatsoever.  That sounds like a good thing but it's the first house we've ever had where we get condensation on the windows.  It's only when we have wet washing hanging on racks but it reminds us of a much smaller living space we had over the last couple of years!

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.