Snow (and curtains)

Tasmania is experiencing an unusual cold snap. Snow is a normal winter occurrence in parts of tasmania during the winter months, and certainly the Western Tiers surrounding the Meander Valley and Deloraine gets a good picturesque covering on their tops. Its not common though for snow to come down as far as the township.

However yesterday Deloraine, along with the majority of Tasmania was treated to some really good snow falls.

Our front yard first thing in the morning.

Our front yard first thing in the morning.

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The back garden

The back garden

A winter wonderland

A winter wonderland

I had a dental appointment mid morning. The dentists surgery is in with the general medical centre in town, so there were quite a few patients in the waiting room. What an air of excitement in the room. Doctors were lined up in the shelter of the front porch with cameras in hand. Patients were gathered behind the window looking out to the tiers excitedly watching the snow falling outside.

The dentist commented to me that, “snow makes people smile”, and indeed, he was right. Strangers all talking to each other with smiles from ear to ear.

Paul saw a man skiing downhill across his paddock, and children (and some adults) have built snowmen in their gardens.

Today, although freezing, it’s not snowing, and the expected hail and storms haven’t as yet arrived. Hopefully they won’t materialise. we still have a small amount of snow on the ground in our back garden, but most has melted away – just slush now. Im looking forward to going for a drive later to view and photograph the tiers. I’m sure they’ll be special at the moment.

2nd hand curtains, changing fashions account for good bargains.

2nd hand curtains, changing fashions account for good bargains.

As promised, a photo of the curtains in one of our spare rooms. The other spare room has the same, and as soon as our new windows have been fitted in the main bedroom, we have the same curtains for in there as well. The curtains for the lounge are different, but they won’t be hung until after the room has been painted and the new windows fitted.

Eclectic decorating is in progress

A lot of the progress made so far on the house is the progress of ideas, arranging tradesmen and preparation. However some things are well under way.

The entrance, once dark brown, has now been lightened and brightened. Firstly the ceiling received two coats of ceiling paint – goodness me, what a difference that made. I’m sure it must have had at least fifty years buildup of smoke and yellowing on it. The wood panelling had lost a good few knots from the wood, so a lot of filling was needed. Then Paul gave it all a light sand, painted it with a primer to block out the darkness of the wood, and finally top coated with two coats of warm white.

Tidied up entrance

Tidied up entrance


We purchased an old drop fronted writing desk from a second hand shop some time ago. When Paul gets the time he plans on cleaning up the hardware on it, but intends to leave the wood with the existing lovely aged patina. The writing desk resides in our entrance. We found the mirror and box of artificial lavender in Kmart – $29 for the mirror, $12 for the lavender, and the grey stone chook was $7 from an art shop in Deloraine. We’re thrilled with how its come together so far with just the floor to finish it off. That has to wait though till the rest of the house is finished.

Mirrors to brighten and lighten.

Mirrors to brighten and lighten.


We liked the mirrors so much we brought two for our bedroom. We’ve decided not to paint our bedroom, so the mirrors have gone a long way to brightening the room from the effects of the heavy brown wood. We bought the two white cabinets from a cheap furniture shop, and now we just have to find something to put behind the bed. We’ve been looking for some soft coloured canvasses at a good price. To date though nothings turned up. Im thinking of perhaps getting some nice fabric and padding some MDF to attach to the wall for a head board effect. It certainly needs something to cover the white power point stuck in the middle of nowhere on the wall. Why do people do things like that – it looks an eye-sore, and removing it from the wood in such a visible area will create further problems in need of covering up.

Sideboard and picture, gumtree bargains.

Sideboard and picture, gumtree bargains.


Soon to be white walls

Soon to be white walls


Today we found this framed picture of Horseshoe Falls in Mt Field National Park on Gumtree. We have a nicer photo of the falls which we took ourselves and may replace this photo with our own one day. For now though we have enough to occupy ourselves, so this picture will suffice for a time, and it adds a touch of something to otherwise blank walls. The walls are yet to painted, but that has to wait until after the lounge room windows have been replaced with double glazing. The windows have been ordered and should be finished ready for fitting within three weeks. We brought the sideboard before we moved into the house thinking it would fit into the entrance. Sadly though its too big, and too big for anywhere else, so we think that’ll have to go. For now though its ok where it is.

Farmyard ducks looking up at our TV

Farmyard ducks looking up at our TV


We love finding bargains, and it helps to have our eclectic taste for decorating. We loved these farmyard ducks which we found at K-mart for $9 each. They sit just nicely either side of the TV. The TV cabinet with its corrugated tin wine rack was another Gumtree bargain. It awaits a shabby chic Annie Sloan paint job when my wrist is out of plaster

Urn converted to side table

Urn converted to side table


We’re really enjoying the odds and ends we”re finding, like this mother of pearl urn. We’ve attached a small chopping board to the top and it makes a great little side table. We have two of these on either side of one of our couches.

Thank goodness for changing trends and the people who follow them. This week we found enough good quality drapes for our entire house for a total cost of $345. They’re all fully lined with heavy block out and come with either matching padded pelmets or matching valances, and all the tracks to hang them. It seems padded pelmets are now yesterdays look, and valances went by the by a good few years ago. Compared to our existing drapes these are like gold in both quality and style. So, we’re happy not to be dedicated fashion followers. I’ll post photos later in the week when Paul gets a chance to hang them.

Deloraine continues to impress

The renovations and decorating are now well under way, and Paul is doing a marvellous job of being chief decorator, cook, cleaner and bottle washer. I’m still out of action and most likely will be for at least another four weeks, although I’m now managing now to do a few more things for myself – like fastening my own bra, and tying my own shoe laces. Im still having weekly visits for X-rays to check its all healing well, and to change the plaster which gets lose as the swelling reduces.

Pauls painted the entrance and will finish painting the two spare rooms today. We’ll pick up some finishing items for them tomorrow, a mirror for the entrance and curtains for the windows. Then its just waiting for the new carpet to arrive. They look really good.

We try and fit a walk in most days which is usually either along the river, or up town to collect groceries. Whilst the idea of returning to the life of a ‘Grey Nomad’ is still very exciting and strongly beckons, having to spend some time here in Deloraine is by no means a hardship. The town is a lovely place to walk around, and to date I’ve yet to see a nicer, prettier or more interesting town.

Street Sculpture

Street Sculpture

The street has lovely metal sculptures every couple of lamp posts apart. There must be at least three dozen in total and include guitar playing minstrels, circus troops, Tai-Chi, wood cutters etc. You name it, its probably represented in the sculptures on Deloraine’s main street.

A guiter playing minstrel

A guiter playing minstrel

An acrobatic/circus troope

An acrobatic/circus troope

Then theres the multitude of arts and craft shops, and I’m not talking old ladies crotchet and hand knits, although they’re here also. Walking up and down the street there’s so many window displays that successfully beckon one inside for a closer look. One of my favourites is the Alpaca shop which has some lovely items, some crafted here in Deloraine, and some from as far away as Peru. Be warned though, you need more than small change to make a purchase there, a lot more….

Theres lovely rustic hand made wood craft, like these rocking chairs adorning the footpath outside a craft shop.

Rustic hand crafted wood work

Rustic hand crafted wood work

My favourite window display at the moment though is these three heads.

Window display in one of the many art and craft shops

Window display in one of the many art and craft shops

I love the green one which I think is titled something like ‘Entrancestress of the Forest’. The blue one has a similar name but for the ocean, and the red one is for volcanoes I think. The green one reminds me so much of my friend Toni, and I just know she’d love it.

My favourite - reminds me of my good friend Toni

My favourite – reminds me of my good friend Toni

The gaps between the shops open up to a stunning vista of the surrounding western Tiers.

The Western Tiers, providing a picture perfect town background

The Western Tiers, providing a picture perfect town background

Even the guest houses are interesting to look at, like this one with its statues of Laural and Hardy on the balcony, and a garden full of statues and memorabilia. Theres even an old push mower powered by by an attached bicycle in one of the gardens.

Lifesize statues of Laurel and Hardy

Lifesize statues of Laurel and Hardy

A guesthouse on the main street

A guesthouse on the main street

The cafes and pubs all serve very nice food, and have something special to recommend each and every one of them. I”ll post some photos of a couple soon that are particularly good – one for its wood fired pizzas and balcony overlooking the Western Tiers, and the other for its 50’s memorabilia. My brother Garry will love that one.

Yes, its no hardship at all having to stay a while here in Deloraine.

Turning 60 shaping up to be an infamous year.

I’m sure theres some pleasant memories between our sequence of unfortunate events in the year of our 60th birthday. At this point in time though those times are certainly being overshadowed, and are hard to recall.

To date:

Paul injured his left ankle on the Ottway zip fly.
Paul then injured his right ankle helping an acquaintance to fit a roof top camper.
An old ankle injury of mine has been causing me grief.
All injuries are still troubling, and we have made appointments to see if anything can be done.

Pauls birthday celebration in the Uk certainly started out with a few problems, but ended up fine with the beginning of the night almost being like a comedy of errors that, dare I say it, actually made the night a fun night.
Circumstances outside of our control meant we had to cancel our Italian tour at very late notice. We are waiting to hear if we will be able to claim the cost on our insurance.
Circumstances, this time within our control, meant we missed a second short short trip to Italy – definitely not an insurance claim event. Flight costs, hotel fees, and 1st class tickets on Eurostar all lost.
We had colds for most of the seven weeks we were in the UK. This turned to full on flu when we arrived back in Tassie. Neither of us have had a cold for around three years.
An hotel booked in Sydney for our return trip was forgotten, and we booked a second hotel. The first hotel booking was only remembered when we saw the money disappear from our account the following day. Our mistake so have to cop that one on the chin.

Then to top it all off, yesterday i was enjoying the sunshine as I pruned a creeper. Unfortunately i tugged backwards as i stepped into a pothole. Result was a backward fall and now I’m out of action for 4 – 6 weeks with my right wrist broken in three places and now in a cast. I am very right hand dominant, so very simple tasks are proving very difficult.

At least I hope thats now the topper. Anything that tops that won’t be easy to take.

Needless to say, we can’t wait to get back to the simplicity of our life on wheels. We weren’t sure if we would keep this house in Tassie empty through the winter and just spend time here in the summer, or if we’d rent it out and return to our life on wheels full time. Its ending up a no brainer – the road is beckoning big time. Alas, though we need to spend 6 – 8 months here tidying up the old place before we rent it out. That wasn’t a distasteful thought yesterday morning, but typing this left handed while my right arm hangs heavily in sling, and theres so much to do, and i can’t even prepare a meal or wash a dish for at least a month – well it certainly puts things in a different light.

1st attempt at Shabby Chic

Once begun, half done – one of my favourite inspirations. And, we have begun our mammoth reno, but it’s a long way from being ‘half done’.

I’ve completed two out of six chairs, giving them a shabby chic look. The table is almost complete as well. I’m happy with the result so far, and I should have the remaining four chairs completed over the coming week.

An Annie Sloan paint job takes dark to white.

An Annie Sloan paint job takes dark to white.

Paul’s started filling the knot holes in the wood panelling, and he’s taken the chain saw to some of the garden, removing a few unwanted trees and giving one tree that we hope to keep a massive trim up. Hopefully, we haven’t pruned it into the never, never, but if we have, it’s better gone than in the terrible state of neglect it was in.

A lot of dark wood panelling to paint.

A lot of dark wood panelling to paint.

And more painting needed in the bedroom.

And more painting needed in the bedroom.

We’ve arranged a plumber to re-do our bathroom, and will arrange all the fittings early next week. We’ve arranged a handyman to fix our carport – Paul will help him. We’ve designed a remodelled kitchen, but haven’t as yet decided on the style of cupboards etc. We’ve arranged a builder to come and quote on the removal of an internal wall, a new ceiling in the living area and a few other things. And we’ve arranged a glazing company to come and quote on replacing the rotting wooden window frames with double glazed aluminium windows. So, a lot of the ground work is under way. Now it’s just a matter of time and elbow grease to get it all happening.

The existing bathroom, comes complete with shower over a 1970s mission brown bath - picture perfect - so not!

The existing bathroom, comes complete with shower over a 1970s mission brown bath – picture perfect – so not!

Tomorrow though is going to be a caravan day. We’ve almost emptied our van, but it needs a really thorough clean and a wipe over with a solution of oil of cloves in water to prevent any mould building up over the winter months. We miss living in our rig, and are almost certain we’ll be back on the road again by the end of summer. We’re feeling the cold and damp, and we received an email from our Road trip friends Lucy and Wally today. They’re up at Cape York for the winter – living the dream. And we’re so envious…..

Back from the UK

We’re back from our trip to the UK. Wasn’t the holiday we had hoped for, or the holiday we had planned. Unfortunately Paul’s dad was sick, so we never made it to Italy for our tour. The whole holiday ended up being a sequence of unfortunate events, and it would take a book to list all the things that went wrong. Anyway, enough tears have been shed over that, and apart from trying to claim the cost of the Italian tour back on our travel insurance, it’s now best put behind us.

We have bought a cheap weatherboard (wood) house in Tasmania. It needs a lot of TLC, so we’ve put our ‘Life of Riley On Wheels’ on hold for at least the remainder of this year whilst we get this place sorted out. Most likely we’ll be here in Tassie until the beginning of next winter.

I was going to attempt to start a second blog for the Riley Renovation Project, but without my grandson Tim in my back pocket, I wouldn’t know where to start as far as setting a blog up from scratch. So, rather than sending individual emails and photos to friends and family that may be interested in how this old house progresses, I’m going to continue posting updates here. Apologies to anyone who has been following this blog for the travel information only. It will be continued one day……

And now for a little bit about the house. The house is in Deloraine, a little town of just over 2000 people located in the north of Tassie about 30 minutes drive from both Launceston and Devonport. The house is on about 1500 sq metres of land, and both the house and the land need a lot of TLC to make them presentable.

The house had been a rental property, so no money or time has been spent on it I’m sure for some time. We can see potential here though……We think!!

We’re not sure of the age of the house, but we estimate it’s probably around 50 – 60 years old. It has casement windows which all need replacing, is lined with dark pine boards inside, which we will have ripped off and replaced with gyprock. It has an internal bathroom consisting of a hand basin and a brown bath with a shower over the bath, and there is a second shower, and the only toilet in the laundry which is located in an enclosed porch at the rear of the house. The kitchen is about as old and uncared for as the rest of the house, although the oven is reasonable.

As yet, we’re still to take a look at the floorboards currently hidden by a really grotty brown carpet. We’re hoping for the floorboards to be in reasonable condition, but just in case they’re not, we’ve postponed pulling up the carpet for a good look for now. We both feeling rather fragile after the unfortunate events of our holiday, and we have the flu (and it is the flu, not a cold – up there with the worst we’ve ever had), so we’ll save the removal of the carpet until we’re better able to deal with what is underneath. Fingers crossed, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

The positives of the house – it has a long, high carport which accommodates the Travel home, although this also needs work. It’s located in Deloraine which we love. It has a fire in the lounge room. Other than that, there’s not much going for it. But, believe it our not, that’s a bonus. It means we get to do the whole house and garden almost exactly as we want it to be, instead of having to put up with something we’re not that fond of just because it’s too good to replace. Believe me, there’s nothing in this house that’s too good to replace…. LOL!!

Whether or not we do the house up for re-sale, to rent out, or just to use ourselves as a summer base remains to be seen. One thing we’re certain of is that apart from this winter we don’t intend to be spending winters here in Tassie. It’s way to cold…. We think that we managed to get the house for a price that should mean which ever way the future takes us, we shouldn’t loose.

For now though – we have a ‘project’. And what’s life without a project. Watch this space for photos.

Autumn

We’re now well into Autumn in Tassie. The weather’s cooled considerably and our warmer clothes are becoming ‘well worn’. The trees are a delight to see and the countryside is decked out in the most glorious autumn colours with the golden yellow poplar trees┬ádominating the landscape. I had forgotten how beautiful a true autumn can be.

Autumn trees lining the Derwent River upstream from bridge in New Norfolk

Autumn trees lining the Derwent River upstream from bridge in New Norfolk

After leaving Mt Field we spent almost a week in Middleton opposite Bruny Island staying with an old friend from Perth, Peta and her husband Ron. Sharing their hospitality and meeting their friends was a pleasure and gave us lots of laughs.

After leaving Peta’s we took a few days to explore a couple of convict built villages towards the middle of the Island, Oatlands and Ross. We free camped at Oatlands next to an old, heritage listed windmill, and next to a children’s playground. The children’s playground had made use of an old hollow tree trunk to build a cubby complete with intricate carvings of Australian animals. I’m not sure if children could appreciate the work involved, but it’s certainly impressive to any visiting adults I’m sure.

Tasmania definitely feels like a totally different country than the rest of Australia, and especially like a different country to Perth. Perth hardly retains any heritage seeming to prefer to knock down houses and re-build rather than to preserve and maintain any building that’s not ‘the latest style’. It’s refreshing to find places such as Ross and Oatlands where most of the houses in the villages having survived since early settlement. Some still have permanent residents, but many are now leased as heritage holiday accommodation, and are much sort after. Because so many houses are so very old in these places, the whole village gets heritage listed. They’re not the Cotswalds by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re certainly heading in a similar direction (just a few more centuries to get there yet though).

View from our rear window of the flour mill

View from our rear window of the flour mill

 

The windmill at night.

The windmill at night.

After Oatlands we headed for Tarraleah, an old hydro town now converted to an ‘art deco’ resort town. The resort has adopted a Highland theme inclusive of Highland cattle.

One of the Highland Cows

One of the Highland Cows

Whilst there we visited Lake St Clair, the deepest lake in the southern hemisphere. Beautiful – with so many walking tracks that we feel at least a week is needed there to do justice to them. One day was just a taster.

One of many walking tracks at Lake St Clair

One of many walking tracks at Lake St Clair

We took a picnic with us, which a possum insisted on sharing. Advice is to never feed the wild life, but this possum obviously hadn’t read that anywhere, and quite literally wouldn’t be deterred. Not only did he pose for us whilst munching through several of our tomatoes and an apple, but I’m sure his portrait will grace many of Japanese tourists albums on their return home. He created quite a stir sitting quietly on our table and helping himself from our picnic basket. Perhaps his name was Yogi…..smarter than your average possum.

Our uninvited lunch guest - good company though all the same

Our uninvited lunch guest – good company though all the same

We’re now in Magra again with Marina and Terry and will fly from here to Sydney on Saturday, where we’ll begin our trip to Europe on Monday. So, this will be the last post for some time for ‘the Life of Riley on Wheels’.

We expect to return to take up the story of our caravan travels again sometime in June, so watch this space.