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.