Settling into ‘a new life’.

Most of the hard work to get the garden into shape is now at an end. With the mulch now on, all we have to do now is keep it watered, and wait for it all to grow.

All planted and mulched, just waiting for it to grow now.

All planted and mulched, just waiting for it to grow now.

Paul taking care of the daily watering.

Paul taking care of the daily watering.

The beginnings of our Lily Pilly hedge.

The beginnings of our Lily Pilly hedge.

Glyn (Paul’s dad) hasn’t shown any significant improvement, and has made the decision that going back to his flat is no longer an option. A care facility has been found for him, and he has moved in on a short stay basis initially. After a month’s stay he will decide if he’s ok with making Neville House his permanent home.

We had so hoped he’d be able to see out his days in his little flat, but it wasn’t to be. All very sad!!

Paul has booked a short trip over to the UK to finalise his flat and make sure his dad has everything he needs initially. He’ll be leaving here between Christmas and New Year all going well. It’ll be a hard trip to make, as we’re just starting to get our new life in Busselton started.

We’re meeting people, and making friends. I’ve joined a women’s walking group who meet for an hour long walk two mornings a week, finishing with a coffee in the local cafe. I gather it’s quite a social group, with regular lunches at local wineries in the district. I’ll go to my first of those on the 30th of this month.

We’ve met two couples in the neighbourhood whom we seem to have clicked well with. The happy hours a couple of times a week that we so enjoyed as part of our life on the road is being continued with the company of these new friends. Two of the women are in the walking group, and one of the husbands loves going out for bike rides. Paul’s managing to get out on his bike often now, and I think they’re planning to get together for some rides soon.

We’ve arranged to commence a four month beginners Tai Chi course, commencing at the end of January. Paul will make sure he’s back from the UK for that, and we’re making enquires about joining the local Bridge club, and the local lawn bowling club. Life is already starting to feel full and lively, and our calendar is close to having very few empty days.

This week Paul is going to get stuck into the remainder of the indoor painting. When that’s finished we’ll have all the major work behind us, and we’ll just be plodding along, maintaining everything and doing the remainder of the work needed at a leisurely, pottering around pace. What a pleasure!

Roses, weeds or plants?

Someone mentioned to me the other day that roses are so hardy and survive under the harshest of treatments that they could almost be a weed. And I have to agree. Bushes buried completely under a mass of other plants and not even visible five weeks ago, are now flourishing, and even providing cut flowers for indoors. Their ability to survive with complete neglect, and then bounce back in such a short time when showed some TLC for such a short time is astounding.

Blushing Icebergs from newly planted bushes.

Blushing Icebergs from newly planted bushes.

A mixed bunch, many from some bushes that were looking dismal only 5 weeks ago.

A mixed bunch, many from some bushes that were looking dismal only 5 weeks ago.

Alice, Paul and dogs (Mavis and Betty) came down and stayed Saturday night. The dogs were delighted frolicking on the beach, and Paul and Alice impressed with the lifestyle options we have being in such close proximity to a such a wonderful walking beach. It’s been inspirational I believe, and their own dreams of a little bit of paradise for themselves on the Swan River in Perth has fired up. Very expensive real estate, but with a bit of a stretch they could no doubt manage it, but it would throw them out of their comfort zone for a while. I would say, ‘go for it’, but they’re not as impulsive as I am. So, time will tell…..

House warming gift adding to the 'seaside' ambience.

House warming gift adding to the ‘seaside’ ambience.

The herb garden has been planted, and all the cuttings and plants Alice brought down have now found their way either into the ground, or have been planted into small pots to get started. Half of the Lilly Pillie hedge has been planted. The other half needs some more work before we can get that going – later this week.

Herbs and radish seeds planted.

Herbs and radish seeds planted.

Plumbago garden - still so small it's hidden behind bird bath with newly planted agapanthus.

Plumbago garden – still so small it’s hidden behind bird bath with newly planted agapanthus.

Now it’s all just awaiting mulch, and time to grow.

One of three frangipani cuttings now planted.

One of three frangipani cuttings now planted.

The sun’s shining today, and it’s warm and bright. A beach walk, and possibly even a swim is definitely on the agenda after lunch. And we don’t even have to get into the car – what a pleasure!

Our garden, a work in progress

With the worst of the inside rooms now painted, we’ve put the remainder of the painting on hold and have spent most of the past two weeks tackling the garden.

I don’t know if you’ll remember the front garden bed when we moved in. It was overgrown with daisies and whilst were clipping them back we realised they had completely surrounded some very nice rose bushes. We found eight in total. With a bit of TLC they’re responding beautifully.

Remember this...

Remember this…

We found out about a wholesale rose nursery that sells particularly good roses for a very reasonable price. It’s a bit of a trek to get to it, but we decided we needed a few additional roses, so we took a drive to check out what they had on offer – BIG, BIG mistake! They have a huge selection of the healthiest roses I’ve ever seen in a nursery to choose from. We now have an additional twelve bushes in the garden bed purchased over two trips, and I’m absolutely positive I’ll be able to find some space to squeeze in a few more.

Now with twenty rose bushes and a small border of annuals - awaiting mulch.

Now with twenty rose bushes and a small border of annuals – awaiting mulch.

When you find a rose nursery as good as this one, it’s very easy to find oneself developing a bit of a rose OCD…. I can’t wait till the Autumn flourish comes around and they’ve had time to establish. I wonder if there’ll still be only twenty bushes!

Chrysler Imperial, a new addition that couldn't be resisted.

Chrysler Imperial, a new addition that couldn’t be resisted.

The most unusual 'Julia's Rose' - my absolute favourite, another addition I couldn't resist.

The most unusual ‘Julia’s Rose’ – my absolute favourite, another addition I couldn’t resist.

I only realised today that we have neglected to take any photos of the huge and very ugly orchid/shade house that was occupying almost half of our back garden. Shame, as I can’t post the before pictures of that area, but please take my word for it – it was very big and very UGLY.

It took Paul about three days to dismantle it, and we’ve both spent several more hours each day clearing the debris and getting the soil watered and ready for planting.

The shade house removed, prior to the fence replacement.

The shade house removed, prior to the fence replacement.

We were very pleased when our lovely neighbours, Brian and Kay, approached us to ask how we felt about replacing the dividing picket fence with colour bond fencing. The fence has now been replaced providing a lot more privacy than that which was provided by the pickets, and best of all, it’ll never need painting.

A more private colour bond fence has now been erected.

A more private colour bond fence has now been erected.

Our side gardens were equally as choked with plants, many of which have been planted in totally unsuitable places. We’ve thinned out some maiden hair ferns in a side garden adjoining our shady morning coffee area. From the same area we’ve removed a flame tree – why on earth would someone plant a flame tree only a few inches away from a fence, the mind boggles! And we’ve transplanted two birds nest ferns into the garden beds. Once they’ve had time to settle in, and when we’ve added a few Elephant Ear palms to the area (Alice is bringing us some on the week-end), it’s sure to be a lovely tranquil place to sit and contemplate.

A pleasant place for morning coffee.

A pleasant place for morning coffee.

Paul’s built a raised garden bed with the bricks removed from the foundations of the shade house. This will be our herb garden.

A place for herbs.

A place for herbs.

We’ve divided the garden from where the shade house once stood into three. The middle section has been sectioned of with a defined border of white alyssum (sweet Alice). Inside the defined half circle garden I’ve planted a blue plumbago, with a few blue salvias surrounding it until it can grow and can fill the space in it’s own right. Tomorrow we’re picking up some blue agapanthus from someone nearby who has some to spare, and in time, these will form a solid border around the lacy plumbago.

Plumbaga behind the bird bath with a dividing section of white Sweet Alice.

Plumbaga behind the bird bath with a dividing section of white Sweet Alice.

Into one end we’ve transplanted two trees (also both from in-appropriate places in the front gardens). One is our favourite back yard tree, a Chinese Tallow, and the other is a Chinese Snowball tree. It’s absolutely the wrong time of year to transplant both trees, so, it’ll be good luck if they survive rather than good management. We transplanted them yesterday, and so far, so good. With a cool week looming, maybe they stand a chance. Along with a few other perennials and annuals that end of the garden is now showing promise.

Transplanted trees - fingers crossed that they'll survive.

Transplanted trees – fingers crossed that they’ll survive.

The third section of the area is currently vacant awaiting three Frangipani cuttings Alice is bringing down on the week-end. Our sturdy, useful, but ugly shed is in this area. We have a couple of jasmine creepers for that. Paul is going to try and put the framework up for them tomorrow and we’ll let them ramble over the shed to cover up the not so good paint job. The rest of that garden area is yet to be decided. I suspect it’ll be a nice place for some golden cane palms and perhaps a few ferns. We’ll wait and see if the Frangipani’s take first though, as ferns will need the shade from them to survive.

It’s been a busy week. But we did take time out for some walks along our beach. What a pleasure!

A nice day for a bare foot walk along our beach.

A nice day for a bare foot walk along our beach.

In search of the perfect Ploughman’s lunch

Another hard earned break day today following the back breaking work of clearing and stacking bricks from the shade house foundations.

First place on the list for perfect break day was a visit to the famous Margaret River Berry Farm. The Berry Farm constantly changes it’s menu and never disappoints. They always have some sort of sharing plate on, and today it was a Ploughman’s lunch. We’re always in search of the ‘perfect ploughman’s’, so our choice was simple.

Where to start - so much food.

Where to start – so much food.

A delicious sharing platter arrived consisting of hot meat balls, hot stuffed mushrooms, baked pastry pinwheels, chorizo, olives, a couple of good chunks of cheddar , feta with a small tossed salad, ham, warm turkish bread, four different pickles and chutneys, and melons, citrus fruit, pear quarters and grapes. I’ve tried to remember it all, but there was just so much, I’m sure I must have forgotten one or two things.

For me the perfect ploughman’s excels in it’s simplicity, good bread, good cheese, tasty pickles and just a few condiments. So, by it’s title not a perfect, ploughman’s. But as a shared lunch platter by any other name it was absolutely scrumptious.

Pretty cottage gardens at the Berry Farm, a nice place to walk off lunch.

Pretty cottage gardens at the Berry Farm, a nice place to walk off lunch.

Next, a couple of winery visits to admire their beautiful gardens. First, Voyager Estate, famous for it’s grand, formal gardens with trimmed hedgerows, and glorious roses. What better time to visit than mid spring. The roses were blooming beautiful. I noted a couple by name, and next week will attempt to locate them for additions to my own developing rose garden.

Huge rose arbours at Voyager Estate.

Huge rose arbours at Voyager Estate.

Formal hedgerows.

Formal hedgerows.

The Voyager rose garden in full bloom.

The Voyager rose garden in full bloom.

Close up of a perfectly formed rose bloom.

Close up of a perfectly formed rose bloom.

Then before returning home we called into Aravina Estate.

The vines overlooking small lake at Aravina Estate.

The vines overlooking small lake at Aravina Estate.

Those familiar with WA wineries may remember this estate by it’s former name, Amberley Estate. Not only has the name changed, but the gardens also. Their gardens used to always be a refreshing change from the grandeur and pristine gardens of the other wineries in the area. Not that the grandeur isn’t nice to see, but Amberley used to have a flourishing native garden supporting an abundance of bird life. It was always so peaceful. We used to sit on a bench and listen to the birds as they flitted from bush to bush. Alas, most of the natives have now been superseded by ferns and hydrangeas creating yet another winery with a manicured garden. Still nice, but we missed our little winery/native garden sojourn soaking up the ambience of peace and tranquility that used to be associated with Amberley.

Hydrangeas and ferns replacing the old native garden we loved so much.

Hydrangeas and ferns replacing the old native garden we loved so much.

Another pretty vineyard garden.

Another pretty vineyard garden.

A wonderful day. What a pleasure!

A trip down Caves Road

The day off we promised to ourselves for Tuesday didn’t eventuate until today (Wednesday). With a 24 degree day, it was just perfect for playing tourist in our own back yard, and worth the wait.

We mainly covered previously well covered ground, never-the-less, ground well worthy of repeat visits. I’m sure this will not be our last traverse of beautiful Caves Road.

Caves Road starts just outside of Busselton and winds itself west towards Dunsborough, and then south towards Augusta. It’s named Caves Road because of the abundance of limestone caves in close proximity. Today we didn’t visit the caves, or any of the many famous wineries  also in the area. Today was all about the scenic splendour.

First we drove almost to the southern end of the road to the undulating valleys of Boranyup Forest. Stopping to take photos of the tall trees, some as high as 60 metres, it was just beautiful to see the sunlight streaming onto smooth, silvery, Karri trunks. Being mid week it was so quiet, and peaceful, the birdsong incredible.

Caves Road winding through majestic Karri Forest.

Caves Road winding through majestic Karri Forest.

Next stop – a gallery that inspires dreams of a powerball jackpot win – The Boranyup Gallery. A normal lotto win couldn’t do justice to the magnificent furniture and artwork on sale in this gallery. A very grand house would indeed be needed to house any of the grand pieces on display. No – a normal lotto win just wouldn’t do it.

A $25,000 Marri Burl table - stuff of dreams.

A $25,000 Marri Burl table – stuff of dreams.

Then onto one of our favourite camp grounds, Conto’s, for lunch. We should have really found a day picnic area, but as it was so quiet we snuck into the camp ground in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and made use of the free gas barbecues there. Gorgeous and peaceful as always.

Paul cooking bacon for our caesar salads.

Paul cooking bacon for our caesar salads.

Lunch finished,  we wound our way back up towards Busselton calling into Canal rocks on the way. Striking, dramatic, awesome! Massive banks of granitic gneiss (pronounced nice) have been eroded over the ages forming a magnificent canal feature. A small wooden bridge has been built across the waters where we usually stand to watch massive waves smashing their way through the canal. However, today the water was calmer than usual, and the waters below the bridge not quite as white and turbulent as usual. Even at it’s quietest though, Canal Rocks are still a mesmerising show of nature at it’s best.

Sparkling waters at Canal Rocks.

Sparkling waters at Canal Rocks.

Next, an afternoon treat at Cape Lavender Tea Rooms. This was a first for us, on a neighbours recommendation. Our neighbours didn’t exaggerate. It won’t be our last visit.

Where we ate cake while listening to the dulcet tones of the rat pack.

Where we ate cake while listening to the dulcet tones of the rat pack.

A gorgeous day, what a pleasure!!

Time out for friendship and cards.

The house is progressing. We still have loads more to do, but the first stages are almost complete.

fullsizeoutput_12ef

TV cabinet, latest Gumtree bargain – a place to display a beautiful container of shells personally gathered for us from our favourite Coral Bay beaches.

Both guest rooms have now been painted and, along with the rest of the house, have been furnished adequately with a mixture of new and Gumtree bargains.

fullsizeoutput_12fd

Guest room complete with Annie Sloan painted bed head, and up cycled curtains rescued from lounge room.

We’ve made a few mistakes that need to be rectified, the biggest one being the lounge suite which we love, but it just doesn’t work in our small lounge. That’s now re-advertised on Gumtree and when it’s sold we’ll replace it with something more size suitable.

fullsizeoutput_12fa

Love this – but it’s too big and just has to go.

It’s been a very busy three weeks to get the house looking close to acceptable. This week-end with a visit from our dear friends, Bob and Di, & Marina and Terry, it was a perfect excuse to have some down time for fun and relaxation.

fullsizeoutput_12f1

Terry parading in his night shirt….. He’s a worry!

We drank too much, ate too much and exercised too little. We played cards, till the late hours having a good laugh as we always do. Bob, the master of derogatory name tags didn’t disappoint, (another totally unmentionable name tag – but one that had us in stitches, as usual).

Saturday we took a drive to the nearby vibrant little town of Cowaramup. Cowaramup has a current population of only around a thousand people. With it’s close proximity to Margaret River the town is now being sought out as a more viable residential alternative, so the population is expected to expand considerable in the not to distant future.

There’s a quaintness to the town that Paul and I find endearing. The town has used it’s name to create an identity for itself with statues of cows adorning the streets. The local shops have taken the cow theme on board, and all manner of cow ornaments and souvenirs are available for purchase. There’s cow aprons, cow garden statues, cow place mats, cow salt and pepper shakers, cow anything and everything. The shops are delight to walk around, and the shop owners don’t seem to have any objection to people just browsing without buying.

fullsizeoutput_12f3

One of many life sized cow statues adorning the streets of Cowaramup.

fullsizeoutput_12f5

Di and the cow.

Alas, on this visit the wind was cool (bracing) and rain was threatening, so our visit to Cowaramup was rushed, and our planned visit to Canal Rocks later in the morning cancelled.

A very pleasant day is forecast for this Tuesday, and as it’s Melbourne Cup day (the race that stops a nation), we’ve decided to take another day off. We’ve moved to this wonderful area because there’s so much to see and do here, so Tuesday we’ll make a start. It’ll be fun to be a ‘tourist’, in our own back yard, only without the hefty price tag of buying a tourist bed for the night.

Our plan is to spend at least one day a week getting out and about with our camera to take photos of the wonderful south western corner of Australia. So watch this space….

 

Family Matters

We came back today from a two day break up in Perth for grandson number 1’s 21st birthday celebrations.

We had a number of things to do for ourselves in Perth, so the first day was mainly spent shopping for odds and ends for our new house. Amongst other purchases, Paul managed to find himself a good second hand bike. He’ll enjoy zipping up and down the Geographe Bay cycle track overlooking the bay.

Saturday, the day of the big party we put in a few hours around at Alice’s helping her with the preparations. Not that she really needed much help, she seemed to have everything mostly under control.

Then, back to our caravan to get ourselves ready and back to the party.

Tim, ready to greet his guests.

Tim, ready to greet his guests.

What a joy Tim is to be around. Accolades to both of his parents – he’s turning out to be a delightful young man. It’s an absolute pleasure to be in his company.

Alice slaving over a hot stove.

Alice slaving over a hot stove.

Alice must have spent days shopping and cooking for tonights event. Spring rolls, samosas, and home made sausage rolls went down a treat early in the evening. Then, disposable cups filled with either a vegan curry or a delicious tortellini carbonara with broccoli to ensure the booze wasn’t going into empty stomachs.

Pop with grandson 2 towering over him.

Pop with grandson 2 towering over him.

I rarely have a camera at hand when around the boys. I made the most of it while I could.

Having a drink with the 'man of the moment'.

Having a drink with the ‘man of the moment’.

Raksha, Josh's band provided entertainment for part of the night.

Raksha, Josh’s band provided entertainment for part of the night.

Raksha, Josh’s band have recently released an EP called Emerald. They’re getting a few gigs now, and are due to sign up for a three month trial with a manager. No pay for tonight’s gig though, all done in the name of brotherly love.

Proud mum and son.

Proud mum and son.

Paul and Alice

Paul and Alice

I hadn’t expected to be back in the region of Perth until next year. I’m so pleased our change of plans brought us back here earlier. Such a proud night to be with our two gorgeous grandsons.

We had been debating whether or not we should downsize our big rig for something smaller now that we’re only going to be living in it for part of the year. This short trip with an almost empty van convinced us not to even think about such a thing. Travelling and staying in an uncluttered van with room to move – absolute joy, a real pleasure!