Time to Plan

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Even though we have been home for 3 weeks since our holiday the legacy lives on.

We returned fresh and invigorated with lots of ideas and plans.

I don’t know about contempt from the phrase, “Familiarity breeds contempt” but I do know that being away from your normal environment allows you to consider things with fresh eyes.  We had time to really ponder and discuss all sorts of possibilities including what we want to do in the garden, future holiday plans and retirement activities as well as some of the smaller things we hope to achieve around the house before the end of the year.

There seemed to be so many times in conversation that GMan would comment, “We need to do/get/make……….” that I would simply respond with, “Add it to the list”.  Although we did not have a physical list, we certainly remembered plenty of things and have actioned several since we have been home.

  • 3 new chickens bought
  • Clear at least one vegetable garden and plant seedlings
  • Empty compost from compost tumbler
  • Ordered and installed a new modem for the computer
  • Taken the computer to be repaired/replaced
  • Painted the outdoor table (a work in progress)
  • Repaired the washing basket
  • Taken a bag of bits and pieces to the op shop


I know there have been others but this gives you an idea.

Then there are others which are earmarked to be done this week.

  • Gather tax info to send to tax agent
  • Buy a new DVD player – DONE today
  • Buy a new batter charger – DONE today
  • Remove dead shrub from front garden – DONE today
  • Advertise some furniture which is no longer required
  • Follow up on a rejected refund claim
  • Contact electricity provider re solar refund

By planning very specific small projects/goals it is very satisfying to work through the list.

I wrote this post last night and today we managed to cross 3 more items off the list.  I am sure there will be more to add by tomorrow.




Behind the Scenes

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Just because I have not posted very much recently does not mean there is nothing going on here at ‘The Castle’.

We have had 2 phone calls in the past 48 hours to confirm that some of our plans are coming to fruition.  The first was from a tree lopper to confirm that he will be here early next week to remove a couple of very large trees and mulch them as well as the smaller ones that GMan cleared recently.

2016-04-24 02

Once this is done we will be able to consider the next step in some of our long-term landscaping plans.

Yesterday we received a quote from the builder for the next major renovations.  This will include replacement of some of the verandah floorboards, new railings, cafe blinds and screening and gate to provide added security to the verandah area.  Some more concreting to finish the path near the steps and provide a base for an additional water tank will also be done.  We will discuss the finer details with him this weekend and hope that the work will be completed with the next couple of months.

It is great to feel that some of our planning to beginning to come to fruition.

Making it Happen


Late on a Sunday afternoon The Duke and I can often be found strolling around the garden or sitting on the verandah.  The topic of discussion is invariably our plans for our patch of paradise.  Both of us working full-time means that our time is somewhat limited but we have so many grand plans.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to create an action plan.  In reality, it was just a matter of writing down all of the things that we regularly talk about.


Paint fenceposts


Fence vegie garden area


Buy & plant shrubs outside fence


Create rockery in V outside fence


Finish retaining walls under verandah


Buy and lay pebbles under verandah


Revamp compost area


Create 6 new garden beds


Extend concrete path to gate


Paint stairs and railing


Create corner garden outside the gate


Build a gabion seat in above garden


Make & erect lych gate


Rainwater tank under house


External plumbing/taps


Cut up and stack excess wood


Mulch wood as required


Build extra chicken roost/house


Trees cut down


Develop snakepit


Irrigation for fruit trees


Clear/replant along driveway


Plant rainforest on upper level


Slash top of the block


Battens/screening under house/verandah


Lighting under the house


Build pergola outside garage


Repair/replace verandah flooring


Build shed at end of driveway


Renovate downstairs shower/toilet

The list is by no means exhaustive.  Some of the items are long-term projects, some require external help and yet others are beyond our budget at the moment.  However, it is good to see where we are heading.  We have roughly allocated priority to the tasks, however, that may change.

We do not necessarily plan to refer to the list or stick to it precisely.  Without even looking at it, yesterday we made the decision to take the first step towards item  number 1, painting the fenceposts.  We retrieved them from where they had been stacked after the demolition of the previous chicken run.  Using the high pressure cleaner, we cleaned the mud and mould from them and they are now stacked on the scaffold.

Some posts have already been painted and we now worked out how many of these are required to be able to complete the fencing of the vegetable gardens.  There is still a bit more preparation to do before we can start painting.  We need to cut some of the posts to the length we need and also remove the metal bolts which you can see at the end.  The posts that are not required for the fencing project will be stored for future use.

The posts were still damp today so we made a start on one of the other items on the list – creating a rockery in the ‘V’ outside the boundary fence.  When The Duke and my brother-in-law replaced the front fence last year we thought we would have t remove a couple of trees that were growing immediately adjacent to the fence.  However, a bit of creative thinking led us to detour the fence around the tress which we did not want to lose.

I did not take a ‘before’ photo but here are a couple of shots to give you an idea of what we are doing.  The first view is looking down the line of the fence with the ‘V’ to the right.  We cleared all of the leaf debris and small branches and set them aside to be mulched.  Then we created a rock border along the fence line and also to create an edge between the proposed rockery and the grass on the footpath.

New garden
Finding rocks is never a problem here as there is volcanic rock everywhere.  We have all sizes from boulders that are over 1 metre high to pebbles and everything in between.  It was a simple matter of collecting enough of the size we wanted and then positioning them.  This has had the added benefit of blocking one of the escape routes for the chickens when they are free-ranging as the fence did not exactly follow the contour of the land.

New garden - view 2
Here is a better view of our handiwork.  It is taken from inside the fence and looking towards the road.  The point of the ‘V’ is on the left of the photo.  There is still some leaf litter and twigs to be mulched.  There are some quite big rocks around the base of the trees  and they will remain.  This should add structural interest and height to the finished area.  I hope to clear some of the debris from the pockets between the rocks and fill them with soil to plant some groundcovers.  A bullet-proof suit might be in order for that job as some of the biggest, nastiest ants I have met live in that spot!!

The next step will be to spread several layers of newspaper over the entire area and then cover it with mulch.  We will plant an assortment of native shrubs and ground cover plants and before long the area will be much more aesthetically pleasing.

It is great to see the first results from our planning.  Watch this space as we work through the list.

A Quiet Christmas


You may or may not have noticed the lack of posts about getting organised for Christmas.  That was because I really have done very little.  We are going to be travelling interstate so it will be somewhat different to most years.

Things I have done:

Made a cake
Organised gifts for our children and granchildren
Attended the annual Christmas drinks with neighbours from our road
Sent a small number of cards and emails
Had a BBQ with my mother and siblings before we all head in different directions for Christmas

Things I have not done:

Put up a tree
Rushed around buying gifts for lots of people
Attended work Christmas functions
Planned a huge feast

2013-12-17 01This evening we called in to visit our daughter and family and give them their Christmas presents.  The highlight was explaining to Miss O and Izz that we will be going to Sydney on New Year’s Day to see “The Lion KIng” for their Christmas gift from us.

The Duke and I will not be exchanging particular gifts but instead we are saving towards our planned trip to the UK later next year.

We will be spending Christmas Day with my mother and our younger daughter in Melbourne.  We are staying in rented accommodation so I will decide on a menu based on the weather and also availability of kitchen equipment/utensils.  We will have access to an excellent of fresh food from the market and we will enjoy creating a special meal without over-indulging.  A laptop and the internet means that I will be able to use virtually any recipe I could possibly want.

I will spend some time reflecting on the year that was.  2013 has had some challenges which we have survived and I am looking forward to a fresh slate – 2014!

What are your plans?

Home Sweet Home

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There is nothing I enjoy more than a weekend at home without any major commitments.  After a busy week (and this week has been busier than most) I am ready to take my time doing simple tasks at home.

My plans were thwarted slightly this evening as the train is running late.  This was due to congestion from an earlier police incident at on of the central city railway stations.  I made a conscious decision not to let this stress me but I have used the extra time to catch up on some internet reading and now writing my blog.

I am tired after a full week of work and a late night last night, as we went to see Ross Noble, a very funny and irreverent comedian.  I have an easy dinner planned, we will be eating baked potatoes topped with bolognaise sauce and served with some salad.

Tomorrow I intend to get the house back into order now that the bathroom is finished.

Apologies for the lack of posts over the last couple of days along with the brevity of this one as well as no photos.  I promise I will make amends over the weekend.

Have a fun and fulfilling weekend.