Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The year that was in Donnybrook 2014

We have been in Donnybrook a year now and do not regret our decision to move out of Perth into a small country town.  Donnybrook has ticked all the boxes for us. It has been a jam packed year moving house twice, never again, have decided I hate moving, I am a typical cancer.  John had his surgery and has fully recovered and not looked back, certain things he cannot do ie lifting heavy things but healthwise he is great. My health is also great but then I have Johnson genes ie peasant stock. We have rented this lovely old house below for a year and have now got living in an old house out of my system, quite happy to have the mod cons now, also don't regret living in this quirky old cottage with its bountiful birds and even the skinks that lived under the house in summer and in the roof for winter.  We where constantly amused by the cattle in the paddock outside the kitchen window.  Now we see them across the highway on the hills.

Building our own home without a mortgage was amazing, loved making the payments when they became due knowing it was our money paying for it.  We where under $5,000 over budget but we made informed decisions to get the heat pump hot water and extra on electric fittings.  Our new home is not large 113 sq metres living and 26 sq metres under roof garage. We got everything we wanted, compromised on some things like building underneath. Now we are living in the house we can build under later if we want.  Decided we didnt need extra bedrooms, toilets and bathrooms and we are quite happy with what we have.  I walk down the hallway and glance in the bathroom and feel like pinching myself, this is ours.  The parts I love the most are the bathroom, and of course the lovely pantry, the back and front verandahs, the wide hallway, the spacious kitchen (don't need a family room or lounge) hell I love the lot.
I even like the fact everything wasn't finished when we moved in (still not) its like a whole new appreciation each something gets finished, like finally getting the power on after 10 days and we could get rid of all the extension cords snaking across the floor, and I could cook in the oven.  Then getting the gas bottles and discovering how to use the elements. Going from view above to view below.

 and from this above to this below ( a new challenge, wait and see what I plan to do with it) will eventually look amazing.
We still have doors to paint, floor covering to be done and ongoing gardens to landscape, which will not be started until well after summer, that ground is like rock now.  I have made a token effort and hung some artwork discovered removable picture strips and hooks.  Still have heaps of boxes to unpack but they will wait until floor covering has been done.
Thank you for following me on our building journey and will keep you up to date with living in the country and my garden efforts.
I wish you all the very best for 2015.  Some family and friends have had a terrible year and I hope 2015 is kinder to you and those who had a good year hope that continues. Be kind to each other, treat those less fortunate with respect and understanding, be the very best you, you can, peace and happiness 
From Down in the valley

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in the New Home Down in the valley

 Our first Christmas in our new home after moving in on the 10th December we finally got there.  Above is my only attempt at Christmas decorations.
Julian Burgess owner of Southern Built Homes and Aaron the everything man who did so much extra for us.  We are so grateful to SBH for building our dream home and their team of contractors who never made us feel like a nuisance (I am sure we where at times) and never hesitated to explain things to us.This gratitude was not extended to Western Power who took 10 days after moving in to connect our power.  We got quite creative stepping over power cords zigzagging on the floor.

 The lovely Jenny who worked in the SBH's shop and was always so helpful.
 Our first Christmas here was relaxed and laid back.  No table settings or Christmas decorations.  Both daughters and all their families joined us for lunch, 15 altogether, most driving down from Perth that morning and staying the night. Lunch was at 3 oclock so we didn't feel like tea. Our lovely new neighbors invited us over for breakfast with other neighbors which was really lovely to be included and made to feel so welcome. A wonderful Christmas day.
The great grandkids had a good time, can you see the men out on the verandah with a row of empty corona's.  A few of us took the little ones down to the Donnybrook fun park after lunch to walk of our lunch and their energy.  The back verandah got a good workout later that night with about 10 of us out there enjoying the evening breeze, proved strong and stable.
We still have work to do, ie painting doors, floor coverings and in autumn the gardens a new challenge and one I am looking forward to.
Sorry I didn't get to wish you a merry Christmas but I do wish you all a wonderful, exciting and full of adventure New Year.  Enjoy the holidays and if you are on the roads stay safe.
Best Wishes

Sunday, December 14, 2014

challenges of building in the country

One of the challenges we have faced building in the country is a septic tank.  The shire was very pedantic insisting on leach drains going 9 metres, consequently, as there are other regulations i.e. 3 metre from boundary, 1.5 metres from house leaving no option other than going into the orchard.  Also the leach drains cannot slope down.
 Chris the installer started digging, these machines are amazing the way they rotate around and balance when you are sure it will tip up but Chris had full control.  It would have been much easier for him if it had been done before the house was built.
 Four apricot trees had to come out, but we still have two and thats more than enough when the blimey parrots leave you no fruit, not even waiting until they ripen.  Netting will definitely be going up next year.
 Just like a fox terrier with a rat, shook the tree to death and out it came.
 All this had to go down the back, the big round ones was virtually rolled from side to side, being to heavy for the machine to carry.
 Balanceing act dropping it in the hole and making sure it was level.
 Two of these babies, bit of overkill for 2 person house.
 And the leach drains stretch out like runways.  Shire took time coming to inspect then insisted all soil between the two be taken out and a metre each side, tricky business!
 As they have to be level and our block is sloping they are below ground closest to the house and when covered ended up a metre above ground.

 And the end result, challenge is to cover, looks like a burial ground, I am thinking of growing creepers around the sloped sides.  Under the soil there is 6 truckloads of sand.
The earthworks guy did a wonderful job and he excavated the front area ready for retaining next winter or spring.  Will need to make sure no water seeps through from up the hill, I am hoping no water.  Lot of bare dirt, my feet are constantly dirty whenever I do anything outside.
Challenge number two is that we have been in the house for a week and only have one power socket on the pole at the boundary with leads all over the floor.  But we have risen to the challenge manage to get the heat pump hot water going so we can now shower, do a couple of loads of washing, become quite creative cooking meals in the electric frypan all the time hoping we are not overloading the switch.  Maybe tomorrow they will connect the power to the house, you cannot rush Western Power.
Monday morning we had five different contractors finishing off and the removalist truck arriving at 12.15 to move all our big furniture, we did the rest, and all the time trying to sort out Western Power, chaotic is an understatement.
However we are now able to start sorting ourselves out in our lovely new home which has everything I always wanted large walk in pantry, large walk in shower, big country style kitchen, John has his theatre room and I have my studio, downstairs studio will have to wait for a while. Love sitting out on the back verandah watching the world go by.  We are learning to be patient and not stress the small stuff.  It will all get done eventually.
I cannot believe it is Christmas in eleven days, have eleven coming down to stay for a few days for Christmas and haven't even thought about Christmas dinner, it will be fun though having them all stay for a while.
The one room that is finished, the bathroom, walk in shower at the far end under the window is great.
Hope you are all enjoying the preparations for christmas, fortunately I made most of my presents so haven't had to go near the shops.  Happy hunting for the perfect presents and your preparations are stress free.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

House nearly finished

Spring has arrived in the valley and I have picked lots of bunches of roses and lilac from the house where we are renting.  I have never grown lilacs and have  got a cutting growing at the house.

 We are totally over house painting, after painting all the outside, all but the roof, thank god for colorbond. We have been painting the inside for weeks, working around workmen, but we are so grateful that they have allowed us to do this.  Project homes do not allow you in the house until it has been completed.  We have enjoyed the process also, because we are retired, we are able to be at the house every day and watched different tradesmen doing their bit.  Have a renewed respect for building contractors, they work so hard, no lunch breaks eat as they work.  They have done a wonderful job and we are very lucky.  We have 9 foot ceilings throughout and beautiful skirting boards in all rooms including the garage.  Never had skirting boards in any of our other houses, always an extra cost.
 Boards being painted in the garage.
 John painting in the passage, he is so fussy, we are total opposites, we drive each other crazy, he wants a perfect job and I just want to get it done.
 So over stepping over all this timber, but all part of the process, just got to work around it.

 Kitchen cabinets going in, exciting things happening now most of the timber gone from the floor in this room.
 And this is Kane who is responsible for getting rid of all that timber for door frames, shelving and skirting boards, only took him 3 days plus an hours drive each way each day, long days.
 Kitchen cupboards waiting for dishwasher and stove.  Tiling started should be finished end of next week. Have gone for a neutral palette, looks fresh and clean, just needs all my clutter to make it look like home.  Poor John he would have it minimalist, just rolls his eyes.  Havent got a photo of my studio, that is more creative in a butter colour.
 My dream pantry almost Johns bedroom.  Have got a trolley to bring stuff out as needed.
 Bathroom with shower across the width of the room, no door just a screen.  Dark stuff is scree, like a cement mix which is used on wooden floors.
 Close up of the kitchen counters, I wanted something that looked like concrete and just fell in love with this one that looks like stone, always a bit nervous until you see it all come together, just going from little samples is a challenge but worked out beautiful and the kitchen cupboard doors have the effect of tounge and grove.  Have black pendant lights over benches and will have black utensil racks to break up all that white.  Also having some of my old stuff just to mess it up a bit and make it more interesting. John rolls eyes again!!!
 This is the view from the back verandah now, the hills are getting brown.   Can you see the black cows on the hill, love seeing the cattle. Just a countrygirl at heart. The road below is the South West highway and is entertaining watching all the traffic, from grey nomads in their caravans to logging trucks and everything in between passing through.
 Heres whats happening in the orchard, seems like we have lemons all year round, I have to find something to do with them.  Will look up the recipe for Limoncello when I unpack.  We have two lemon trees and a lime.
 Six different varieties of plums, just as well as we like plums, we have six apricots but the parrots got all ten apricots off one tree and only one other has fruit on it.

 I planted two raspberry bushes and we have had some fruit off it, you have got to be quick as the birds like these too.  have another berry a bit like a cross of blackberry and boysenberry, we have had a few off that too.  Its so nice to have fruit out of your orchard.
 The vege bins are doing well, I have tomatoes not far off ripe, but the white butterfly has anhilated the kale and broccolini.  Will need to net them when I have time to keep the butterfly out.  The pumpkins have come up from the vege scraps that I buried in them.  Will let them go this year.
 One only peach not sure what sort but for a small tree has plenty on.  No nectarines, so will plant some white ones and white peaches.
 This is fascinating to me, I have never grown pears before and this tree has a good crop, have six pear trees two of which are Nashi.  Need to find out what and when to spray them for fruit fly as last year we couldnt eat them, full of fruit fly.
 Not a great photo but had to share, this is my favourite plum tree, a prune plum and i got buckets of it last year and freezed heaps they where beautiful.
 Down in the orchard this rose had gone wild, absolutely huge and it took John days to cut it back, and I gave it the word that it better be good or it will be getting the total chop, and now look at.  Have to work out a way to build a structure for it to climb over as it is sending long runners across the ground.
I built this wig wam type structure next to the rose for the wisteria to grow up, has dried seed pods and leaves and long strings of silk torn ribbon to make it look pretty.  Now it is almost covered with the wisteria twisted around all the poles.  At one time the roses and wisteria formed an archway, would be nice to be able to form that again.
If you have read this far, thanks for sticking with me, such a journey and not long to go now.  Two weeks until completion, electrician, plumber to finish off, garage door and septic tank to be installed.  Son in law Anthony to do all the floor coverings, I know we will have the very best job from him, and then we should be able to move in, moving again is daunting but will be the last time as we have got a beautiful home and no mortgage this time, yeeha!!!!  We have had help in the painting mostly Peter, Kirsty and Jack and we are grateful to be able to call in return favours.  
Catch you later, hopefully not such a long break.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

House progress

 I cannot believe I havent updated for nearly a month, time has gone so fast, we have been so busy and the house has progressed at amazing speed.  Our completion date is 27th November only a little over 5 weeks, yeeks, still so much to do. To save money this couple of 70 year old pensioners have decided to do all the painting and all this week we have been working our butts off to get the exterior painted while the scaffolding is still set up, and this 5ft 1inch dame has to use all her leg muscles to climb up and down about 10 times a day onto the scaffolding, the bottom ramps are about 3 feet off the ground nearest to the front going to 2 metres at the back, takes me back to my days of playing the first game of netball of the season without training, boy those thigh muscles where screaming for a couple of days, but, soldiered on.  Bit scary up on the top ramp out the back looking down, thank goodness that one has hand rails.  The first day I must of cracked my head on the rafters 20 times until I worked out to stand back a bit before standing upright.  If I did this for too long I would have a permanent stoop from bending all the time to avoid hitting my head.
 Scott the head of the building team (what a great group of boys) doing business on the top of the roof, I swear he is like a mountain goat, and there is no getting away from the phone these days.
 John surveying the workmanship, think he enjoys doing this each day, think he was impressed how quickly and efficiently things where done, went like clockwork. It was a great day seeing the decking done on the verandahs.

 You may not be able to see it but all the rafters have been painted with two coats of paint, one great thing was that with the new Solver paint you don't undercoat or seal, saves so much time.  Pete, son-in-law turned up yesterday on his day off and got up and painted the gables on the roof, we where worrying about how we where going to get them done, we where certainly not up to climbing up and painting over 6 metres above the ground at the back, or the front for that matter, we where so grateful.  We are paying another pensioner to help us with the painting of the rafters, while I painted all the walls, only one coat so far and not the front, hope to get the exterior finished by the end of next week.  Did you notice the lack of building materials on the ground, all the left over material is under the house so it can be used for studio at a later date, thought might as well as we have paid for it.
Wetting the roof with the building structure team Tom, Trent and Scott.  These three boys, seem so young to me, travelled over an hour each way each day starting at 7 am each day.  They finished up on Wednesday, miss seeing them each day.  Yes I did bribe them with cake but there favourite was the savoury bacon, cheese and onion pinwheels.
 Electrician and plumbers where in week before last laying cables and pipes and come back later to do the rest.  It has been great for us as we have been involved in each process and being country builders they are happy to see us, when we built in Perth once it was at lock up stage we couldn't get in and also we where working and could only go around when they weren't working.
 Gyprock guy started Friday week ago, we have a new appreciation for how hard these guys work, no morning or afternoon tea breaks and only stop long enough to eat their lunch before getting back to work. The plasterer didnt even stop just ate while he worked.  He has another week to go then the doors and all the fittings are done, cabinets, lights and plumbing finished.  I think we will be able to start painting inside once the gyprocking is finished. Dad would be proud of us I think.

The other evening these white cockatoo's swooped into the tree at the house we are renting, something they like up there.
It is beautiful down south in spring, blossoms all along the highway where a lot of the fruit orchards are. This lovely little tree in our orchard is a mass of white blossoms, somewhat later than the other trees.  It is a lovely prune plum and we where lucky enough to get heaps off it last season.  Its very green down south reminiscent of our homeland.