Sunday, 23 April 2017

Bucolic pleasantries




I mentioned in my last post that we recently bought an acre of land in the country, so I feel that I should introduce it to you!


 * * * * * *


Towards the end of last year we were thinking of moving to the island of Tasmania.
Tasmania


We spent a couple of wonderful holidays in Tasmania.  We motored around the island, checking out the lay of the land, considering our options, and deciding upon possibilities.  It is a lovely part of the world and Mr. A. has close links to it as some of his ancestors went there as free settlers in the 1810s, but when we considered all the angles we realised that, alas, it would not be feasible to move to Tasmania at our time of life.  There is not a lot of work to be had, especially in our chosen fields, and it would be difficult for our family and friends to come visiting.  Reluctantly, we shelved the idea.

We then decided to look in our own back garden: the fabulous state of Victoria.  What a wonderful part of the world it is.  We checked the real estate web sites and discussed the possibilities of the various regions, eventually deciding that we wanted somewhere that had a high elevation, high rainfall, the sorts of things that we like (good food, nice countryside, civilised activities etc).  After visiting a couple of properties we decided that rather than buy an old house and renovate it, we would buy land and build our own. 

It was then that we came across the perfect piece of land upon which to establish our ‘estate’.  Mr. A. put in an offer to the owner on the very same day, and that is why we are now the proud owners of a block of land in the Daylesford-Macedon region. 


Here it is:



The above photo shows the line of Spanish Chestnut trees.  The tree closest to the camera is a walnut tree.
On the other side of the Chestnut trees there is a long meadow:


 And at the end of the meadow one walks into a small forest of Chestnut trees.

The trees are somewhat spindly, but we like them.  They will need some care and attention.  We have big plans for this little copse.

Within the copse is a well:
As you can see it is somewhat primitive, being nothing more than a hole in the ground with a pump attached, but we have had plans drawn up to have it beautified with a proper well head.  Mr. McGregor (the builder) is in charge of that and we shall see what we shall see...
I rigged up a bucket and rope system for drawing up the water, which after testing is deliciously drinkable!   This is good because there is no running water to the property (and no gas either)  At least there is an electricity supply!!

The land itself is part of an old dairy farm which was subdivided some time ago.  Apart form the well, our block contains an old, ramshackle cow shed which is used to store fire wood, and a rather characterful hut that has 'possibilities':


Mr McGregor's wife informed me that the hut was used in the 1940s as a potato pickers hut.  I like that.  The cowshed (which is on the right in this photo) will have to go, but the hut is going to become our very own dacha of sorts.
Those are hazelnut bushes surrounding the buildings and the old water tank,.  So what with chestnuts, and walnut trees, we should be quite okay for nuts!!!  

I hope that you enjoyed this rather rushed trip around our new purchase.  Last week was Easter and social commitments here and there made it difficult to find the time to visit my blog, but here is a simnel cake that I made to celebrate that special time.  
Do help yourself and while you are at it you can look at this website which show what the Daylesford Macedon region has to offer!

http://www.visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Daylesford-and-the-Macedon-Ranges




Sunday, 9 April 2017

Awakening from our slumbers

We’re back. 

Finally.

Although I made a couple of earlier attempts, the past two years have proven to be far too difficult (and there has been far too much going on) to properly think about, and concentrate on this, my bijou blog, and I’ve missed it. 

But now, with Autumn slowly gathering momentum in this part of the world (and life becoming much more sedate), I feel the time is right to unlock the doors, through open the windows, take the dust covers off the furniture and chandeliers, lay out the cups, saucers, cakes and tea things,;and make sure that all is in readiness to receive visitors once more.  


Sit back (please help yourself to a cake) whilst I acquaint you with what's been going on.  To be honest with you, such a lot has happened in the interim that it’s hard to know where to start - but I’ll do my best.

* * * * * *

I think that you would agree that moving from one house to another is a big undertaking.  

Moving from one town to another is tiring.    

Moving from one country to another is stressful and time consuming.    

Moving from one side of the globe to the other is enough to give one a permanent attack of the vapours!!!!

* * * * * * 
On the 31st of December 2014, Mr. A and I went to the airport to catch our flight for Australia.  We arrived in Melbourne on the 1st of January 2015.  Our minds were filled with all sorts of plans, but there were foundations to be laid before we could even think about putting anything in to action.

Apart from our suitcases, all of our possessions were packed in boxes, somewhere in England, awaiting shipment.

We had no jobs to go to and our old life was left far behind

Ahead of us lay a certain degree of uncertainty.

What we did have however was determination, and so we moved in to the house we own with my mother, Madame O, and started to readjust to life on the opposite side of the world.

It took a while but we found work.

We bought George – our car.

We welcomed Miss Angelica in to our lives.

(Miss Angelica in true aristo pose.)

It was hard to leave our old jet-setting life behind - we had enjoyed it a lot - but we knew that we needed to think of the future and if we didn't set our plans in motion now, then we never would. 

We slowly settled in and settled down.

* * * * * *

Moving forward to March 2017 and we are happily ensconced at ‘the Grove’. 

(Part of the garden at the Grove - at the beginning of last summer)

Our possessions are all here (albeit in storage) and Madame O having recently purchased a new house for herself (which she is as present renovating), we will soon have the Grove entirely to ourselves.

We have also bought ourselves an acre of land about an hour's drive from Melbourne.  Here we intend to build a house, settle down, and potter about doing the sorts of things we enjoy.  

We are in no hurry as we intend to take our time so everything 


I do hope that you will come and visit to see how we are progressing!!

Now it is time to sally forth and visit other blogs that I used to enjoy reading so much.  We have been gone for such a long time that I doubt anyone will even remember us!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Waiting for the word.

Our container should have arrived this week in Melbourne.  We were told the ship would dock last Thursday but we haven’t heard anything yet.  

We are hopeful.  

Mind you, it will be at least another two weeks before we get our hands on our stuff because quarantine officers will be giving them the once over.  Australia is very strict when it comes to importing anything into the country by private individuals and so all of our beautiful things will sit around somewhere waiting to be checked; and it isn’t cheap either.  $750 up front just for the normal processing.  I hope they don’t kick up a fuss about our thirty-five clocks, or the mirror collection, paintings, books, teapots . . .

Of course, there is nothing that can be done to expedite matters and so one is forced to sit tight and wait to be contacted.


And so while we are waiting, why not grab your sun hat and come with me for a walk around our garden.

I purchased this house in partnership with my mother (Mme. O) a little while after my father died. We did not want a big garden as we both had busy lives but we did want somewhere to grow roses and a place to create a terrace for outdoor dining and general lounging about.
That was then but all these years later I find that thanks to AGA I have grown to love gardening and this is one of the reasons that AGA and I will be buying land upon which to build a new house and a new much bigger garden.

But anyway . . .

The roses are looking lovely:

When we moved to this house I planted the roses along the driveway and up to the front door.  The recent rather hot summer days have burnt some of the petals but all in all it has been rather a good year:


This rose, which we believe is 'Queen Elizabeth' was presented to my parents by a neighbour when we first arrived in Australia.  Do you think that this is the correct name? On moving house I made sure that part of it went with us:

I do like French marigolds.    We have a lot of them at present.  They always put on a good show.

Now this is a pineapple lily.  I have to say that I don't like it.  AGA on the other hands, loves it.  I have promised faithfully not to kill it as I did (accidentally) his Mother-in-law tongue plant while we were in Germany . . .


Foxgloves are always so lovely.  This was a self seeded one that popped up one day.  My grandmother used to say that it was wrong to bring foxglove into the house because it would make the fairies angry and the milk would always curdle.  In the corner of this photo you will be able to spot some 'Johnny Jump up' violas.


A cherub who in the dim and distant past suffered a French revolutionary accident, having his head accidentally knocked off.  Luckily it was able to be reattached.


The Meyer lemon is enjoying itself in a large terracotta pot and I must say that the perfume from the flowers is heady to say the least!  Given that lemons are sold for $1 each in the supermarket I can't wait for own ones to get a move on and grow:


This rhubarb was termed 'French' when I purchased it at the local Farmers' market the other week. My father grew champagne rhubarb and as a child I hated it!  As an adult my tastes have changed and I like it a lot.   I do not know why this is called French Rhubarb.  Perhaps they put the word 'French' on it to attract people like me!  At the moment it remains in the pot while it acclimatises to the garden.  I went to a website called Rhubarb Central to see what varieties there are but the term French Rhubarb was not to be found.  Perhaps it is an old name...  When my old gardening books arrive I shall look it up and see.  That wilted leaf stalk has been removed.

This is a stone pine.  It is only a baby at the moment but it is part of the group of plants destined for the acreage we intend to purchase.  It is a plant that reminds me of the South of France and Italy.

We are able to grow bougainvillea in Victoria although it is not as prolific as it could be.  I do enjoy this plant.  I have seen them grown as hedges.


The garden in full swing:

The man-next-door gave my mother (Mme. O) this dahlia.  Under the care of AGA it has blossomed and looks lovely!

The bijou herb garden is coming along nicely.  Basil, Mint, Apple Mint, Tarragon, Chives, Rosemary, Flat-leafed parsley, Curly leaf parsley, Mme. O's tomato plant; all presided over by Apollo, basking in the sun.

I hope you have enjoyed having a poke around our garden!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

At long last...

It’s been a long time.

Actually, it's very long time.

I last made an entry on this little bijou blog back in June of last year.  Since that time so much has happened that I have had little or no time to even think about my blog, let alone write something in it.

This is what happened:

We returned to Melbourne to spend time with AGA’s father who was slowing dying of the cancer ravaging his body.  We went to see him in the hospital almost every day and we were able to play our part in taking care of him and his needs in those final days.  We then attended the funeral of the father of a dear friend, which took place in Country Victoria, and upon on return AGA’s own father died.  The death of a parent brings with it a lot of responsibilities and AGA and his siblings (with us spouses as support) had a very difficult couple of weeks sorting things out.

Then it seemed that one minute we were at the funeral and the next we were on a 'plane and returning to Germany. 

Once back in Kaiserswerth we had to prepare for our permanent move back to Melbourne.  There were forms to complete, the moving of our possessions to organise, the gradual withdrawal from all those things that we normally did, and all this while attending to our usual duties!

We employed a company in England to move 'us' to Australia because our German is not expert and we wanted to be certain that we would understand all that was taking place.

We had a lot to move.

When I write ‘a lot’ I really do mean it.  A 40 foot high cube shipping container – the biggest there is for domestic use – was required.  We had to prepare the inventory as well as working out what was going to go and what was not.

This photo was taken in the midst of trying to get everything in to a couple of rooms for ease of sorting out what stays and what goes with us to Melbourne.  All of this was going...

Seven chandeliers, thirty odd clocks of different shapes and sizes, chairs, cooking equipment, the croquet set, copious cushions, lamps, chairs, tables, and I-don't-know-how-many-books to name but a few: it all adds up!  And then we had to organise a storage facility for when it arrived in Melbourne.

In the midst of this we were able to travel to Stockholm for a week's holiday as well as a weekend in Paris and another in London to catch up with friends.  They provided small windows of sanity in our suddenly frenetic lifestyle.

And of course there were various hiccups along the way.

The moving day arrived and there were hold ups because the moving men were stopped at the port of Calais due to a spot strike by dock workers.

The upset and upheaval of seeing one's possessions being wrapped up and sent over the balcony (via a conveyer belt) to the van that would wind its way through the streets of the village to where the moving van was parked was somewhat distressing.

I didn't like returning home to see  this. . .


The moving men were rather young (the ‘boss’ was twenty-one) but they were extremely helpful and understanding.  We felt most confident in them but once everything was gone it all seemed rather forlorn.  
The once beautiful apartment was but an empty shell with mattresses on the floor for sleeping, some old bits of Ikea furniture that were not going with us, together with a ancient garden setting that was to serve as our table and chairs.  We felt like Romanoff princes deprived of everything after the revolution!

 Our apartment was somewhat empty after the moving men had cleared it all out.

In Germany it is the renter’s responsibility to have the apartment painted to the satisfaction of the landlord, prior to leaving.  Failure to do so will mean that the bond money one put down will not be returned.  So we had that to organise as well.  Luckily a very nice chap from the school was able to be employed to attend to it.

The apartment was not the same any more.  All of our 'stuff' was gone and the rooms echoed.  I was not even sure that Fritz, our name for the ghost that lives in the building was even bothering to visit.  I don’t think that he would have liked it.  AGA said that perhaps he had decided to go with the furniture.  If he did then he is in for a shock as he spends a few weeks on the ocean waves.

And, as I said previously, while all this was happening we had our day-to-day work to attend to.   I found the emotional aspect of saying goodbye to the school children extremely draining.  It was very hard going I can tell you.

So there we were in an empty apartment. 

No books. 

No harpsichord. 

No paintings. 

No beautiful things.

It was all somewhat depressing.

Having attended Midnight Mass at St Swidbertus for the last time, we spent Christmas Day in the apartment, and had a simple meal to celebrate; inviting our good friend Susan B to dine with us.  It was awkward with no good cooking pots and only garden furniture to sit at but we managed to create some semblance of a festive repast and Susan is always good company.

It was cold!
 
And then it was time for the hand over.  
It felt strange to walk away from the apartment we had lived in for over seven years, knowing that we would never return to it.  We had enjoyed our time there and while we were ready to begin our new adventure, we could not help but be a little sad.

We spent the last week of our time in Germany staying at the apartment of friends who had gone to London for the hols, and had kindly said that we could stay there rather than in our own, empty apartment.  

Once again we had a proper bed to sleep in rather than sleeping on the floor.  AGA was particularly pleased because the moving men had accidentally packed his pillow and he had been using old, rolled up towels as a substitute.

On New Year’s Eve we boarded the plane at Dusseldorf airport and late on New Year’s Day, after a fairly uneventful flight, arrived in Melbourne to be greeted by my mother, sister, and niece.  It was nice to be back amongst our families once more.

Of course the arrival was followed by the inevitable bout of jetlag and I find as I get older that it takes longer to get over.  Someone told me that one should allow a day's recovery for every hour one flies but that would be twenty-one days!  I am pleased to say that that was not the case although it did take about ten before we were sleeping normally once more.  

Another shock was the weather.  We lunched with a friend on the day before we flew out and experienced a high of -2c.  Two days after arriving in Melbourne, the weather soared to 40 degrees C.  Needless to say we were rather worn out.  However since that day the temperature has sat mainly in the twenties, which has been much better – with the occasional early to mid 30s thrown in for good measure but then it is summer so one should expect it.

So there we were in Melbourne and feeling rather happy when a calamity occurred.  We had just sat down at table for lunch when a cracking sound was heard coming from the ceiling.  Next thing we knew we were busy propping the structure up as for some reason it chose that moment to come away from the building structure.  Luckily plasterers and electricians were on hand and after a week all was back to normal.

But not before some rather unwanted dramatic moments.  The following photos show the scene prior to the arrival of the workmen (with a pensive mother in the background).  The second one is in the midst of the work when it looked as though a bomb had hit the room.  The final photograph shows the room back to normal and looking as if nothing had ever happened:

And so my friends, what with one thing and another I am only now returning to the calm and tranquility of my blog.  

Here at the edge of the Yarra Valley, the garden is looking lovely:


We are experiencing the delights of summer in Melbourne:

 We bought a small barbecue until we get a brick one constructed.

And all would appear to be right with the world once more.

I do hope that you will forgive my absence (given the circumstances).  We are motoring over to the country town of Daylesford this weekend and I shall take some photos to share with you while I am there.
I also hope that you enjoyed this post!