Mr Tilly’s first Christmas causes knee jerk reaction

Opening his pressies

Enjoying his beef-hide cracker on Luka’s bed

Mr Tilly is settling down again after his first Christmas, and today – so are we. I say today, as we’ve been at sixes and sevens now for a couple of weeks, not knowing if we’ve been coming or going (literally).

With so many people here over the Christmas period Mr Tilly was never at a loss for attention. He loved having the two young teenagers here, Luka and Emma, who were both more than willing to play any number of games with him, including ‘chase’. He loves ‘chase’!

Our little house is situated on the corner of busy Bussell Highway. Sometimes, particularly over the busy holiday seasons (Christmas and Easter), the traffic noise can get a bit intrusive. We’d thought that the noise was the only problem with our location, and have been planting screening plants and bird attracting natives ever since we moved in. The plan has been to block out a little of the noise, and to provide a distraction from it in the form of bird song. As yet, the plants are still immature, so it’s early days yet to see how successful the plantings will be.

However, as we were to find out, there’s more problems that go with living so near a main road than noise…..

After many games of chase with Luka over Christmas, grandson Tim arrived. We usually allow Mr Tilly to accompany us outside when guests arrive, and he’s always so excited to see the visitors that there’s no danger of him doing anything except following them back into the house to say hello. However, upon Tim’s arrival,  seeing another long legged younger male, he excitedly took off towards busy Bussell Highway, I think trying instigate a game of chase.

Back in the safe arms of Emma

I couldn’t begin to relate the panic that followed, and I won’t go into  details. Fortunately, tragedy was averted, and Tilly was returned indoors to safety.

We were lucky that time, and realising we may not be so lucky if there’s ever a second time,  we had since been planning to move house. However, today we’ve realised it’s early days yet for that, and it’s probably a bit of a knee jerk reaction.

Sanity has returned, and a more sensible, less knee jerky plan has evolved. Tomorrow Paul is going to arrange some fencing to go between the posts of our front verandah. The fencing will provide a second barrier between our front door and access to the busy corner roads. Additionally, now the silly season is over again we should soon be able to re-commence dog obedience training – and Mr Tilly will hopefully learn to respond immediately to the”come” command regardless of exciting distractions.

So that means we’re not moving – well not this year anyway. We want to see the plants grow, and the birds arrive to enjoy them. Plus we’ve hardly begun yet to knock this little house into shape yet. Watch this space for improvements yet to come……

I think we’ll still be here at this time next year, and hopefully I’ll be recording photos from our little boy’s second Christmas. For now though here’s a couple more from Mr Tilly’s first Christmas:

He loved his Christmas Cracker

Digging at the beach (the only place he’s allowed to dig)

What a cutie

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Meanwhile, back at the Summerhouse

We’ve been back from our winter sojourn for approximately three months now. Whilst it feels like we’ve been back forever, when I look at how much we’ve accomplished, it’s hard to believe it’s only been three months.

Some of this years Broome beach finds have been added to Paul’s home made wall plaque.

Our front rose garden has been halved. The increased paving area has made a big difference to reducing future garden maintenance times, has increased parking space, and the half circle rose bed looks much better than the previous huge rectangular shaped bed. The roses are taking a while though to recover from their transplants, but I’m sure they’ll start to flourish soon.

Our back garden has had the contrasting paving added, and subsequently a percentage of this has since been removed – what a palaver! We started by removing just a small amount and planting a grevillea tree in the middle.

Then last week-end my ‘DOn’t waIT’ mantra came into play, and the whole native garden bed has now been planted. Everything looks so small….. But by next summer it should be starting to provide a good thicket for the birds to frolic in, and will hopefully help provide a distraction from the road noise on the other side of fence.

Tiny yet, – but they’ll grow

We’ve removed plants here and there, and added new ones. The blue salvia currently in full bloom in the above photo is last years plants that have been cut back several times, They continue to reward with a bigger and brighter show after each cut back. There’s plenty of new ones also been added, and they’re about to break out into a riot of colour, along with lots of white, easy care vincas. The red petunias in the baskets on the shed are also from last years plantings. I remember our friend, Bruce, being surprised when he learned how cutting back petunias to almost nothing rewards with increased floral displays. These baskets are testament to just that – there’s barely any soil left in the baskets, and when the above photo was taken they were flowering after at least their forth cut back. Yesterday I cut them back once again, almost to seedling size. Hopefully they’ll provide me with one last show just in time for the arrival of the first of our Christmas visitors – arriving Saturday week from the UK.

Our little part time job will conclude for the long summer holidays in just under two weeks, coinciding with the arrival of Margaret and Geoff. After that, it’s possible the company will want us to assist with the cleaning of holiday homes in the area. We hope not though. The few hours we do each week provides good pocket money, and we’ll be looking forward to more of the same when school re-commences at the end of January. Until then though it’ll be nice to just sit back with our visitors, a gin and tonic in hand, watching the butterflies and bees flitting from flower to flower as they enjoy the fruits of our labour. There’s so many butterflies and bees now visiting. Tilly loves them, as do we. The flowers, the butterflies, the bees, and next year, hopefully lots of birds as well – what a pleasure!

House living

Mmmmm, it’s been sometime since I last posted anything, and I’m realising we’re allowing ourselves to settle into mundane ‘house living’. I’ve just been through our recent photos, and the offerings are sparse indeed.

It’s not that we’ve been doing nothing. In fact, life continues to be very busy. So – why are there so few photos? Well, there’s really no excuse, just a few contributing factors. The main culprit has been the new job. What was supposed to be a two hour a day job, which we could comfortably do early in the morning, turned out to be a three hour job, which could only realistically be completed in the afternoons. We realised two weeks ago that the afternoon work was interfering too much with our ‘leisure time’, so we negotiated shorter hours. We’re now back to the two hours we wanted, 5.30am – 7.30am, then the day is our own. So far though, we still haven’t been managing to do much with it.

Next thing that’s added to this recent hump has also been related to our job. Cleaning the pre-school means working in a toddler, germ ridden environment (as anyone who has worked in a pre-school will attest). We’ve both picked up a bit of a cold virus, nothing to bad, just the sort of cold that seems to come on in the early evening so as to disturb our sleep overnight, then disappears upon rising, only to return again the next evening. We’re both tired.

We have still been managing to fit a beach walk in everyday with Mr Tilly. He’s proving to be a terrific little companion, and providing we fit a beach walk in with him sometime before mid-day he’s a well behaved little puppy for the remainder of the day. On the warmer days he’ll venture into the water, and I don’t think it’ll be long before the water will be his main focus.

Safe on the higher ground of a sand bar

He’s finished his initial puppy training, and has been quick to learn the first things a puppy should learn. So far, he sits, and lies down on command. He walks reasonably well on a loose lead, and when off the lead at the beach he comes back to us when called (most of the time). He stays reasonably near us when off the lead on the beach, and doesn’t object if we snap his lead back on when we see a need (a bigger dog approaching, or a child that we don’t want him to jump on). Generally, he’s easy to control even off the lead, but we still have a way to go before we’ll feel completely comfortable. He’s not five months old yet, so is still easily distracted.

We’ve just about finished knocking the garden into shape. The roses and annuals are all starting to flower, and soon I imagine they’ll putting on a show pretty enough to inspire Paul to get his camera out. Today while I weeded the front garden, Paul divided and repotted some of our hanging baskets.

Re-potted baskets

I love my garden, and I love having a dog. I don’t mind our little job, and I don’t mind living in a house in Busselton in the summer months. However, I do mind that we seem to have let it all descend into a bit of rut. Now that I’ve realised that’s what’s happened though, I will do something about it. So, watch this space – starting tomorrow I think we’d better get ourselves out of comfort zone and start looking for somewhere close by to explore. There’s so much in this area to see, and to do, and we’ve hardly scratched the surface.

Life gets busy, don’t it.

Have you ever heard that song, ‘Life gets Tedious, don’t it.’ Well, sometimes I wish for a bit of tedium, or at least a chance to get just a little bored. No such luck – an extra hour or two in a day, or an extra day in the week wouldn’t go astray. Not to mention what I couldn’t do with a second life time…..

Since we returned to our summer house early in September, it feels like we haven’t had time to scratch ourselves. So, what’s been occupying our time:

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Frolicking on the beach

As you know, a big part of our time is now taken up with puppy training, and puppy exercising. We take Mr Tilly to the beach most days. He loves it, and so do we. The beach is like Doggy Heaven to a puppy, and having Tilly with us as we wander along adds an extra dimension to our own walks.

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Raiding the neighbourhood Mulberry tree on the way home from daily beach walk

Then there’s been the garden to organise. We’ve removed half of the front rose garden and have had a guy in to pave that area. To get matching bricks, we removed some of the bricks from the rear paved area, and decided to add a contrasting paving to the back garden. The front garden is almost finished now with its initial tidy up – less garden to maintain, and more space for visitors to park. We’re happy with it.

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More parking space, and less garden. The annuals are planted but aren’t showing yet

The rear garden has now had the contrasting paving added. It’s only been laid for a little more than a week, but that’s been time enough to tell us our choice of contrasting pavers has been a big mistake. The ones we chose are plain coloured and show every little mark.

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New plain coloured paving – big mistake

We’ve already put plans in place for them to go….. but it probably won’t be this summer. One things for sure, by summers end we’re going to be well and truly over our contrasting cream pavers!

Never mind, what’s life without change, and now we can see clearly the solution to the disliked paving is also going to solve another problem we have.

Although we live in a quiet little estate, our house is at the entrance point. Consequently we border busy Bussell Highway with just a wide verge of natives between us and the road noise. We’ve been looking for additional  ways to either block out, or distract from the traffic noise. The wrong paving choice has shown us the way. Our intention now is to remove the pavers so as to extend the garden bed at the side of the shed, and plant the new area densely with bird attracting natives. Hopefully, the bird song will provide a pleasant noise distraction. So, next years garden job is already in the planning stages. We always seem to have a list of jobs waiting…. our own worst enemies as far as cramming goes!

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Paving which will be lifted to make way for a native garden

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Grevilleas to attract the birds, some already planted, and more to come soon

Just like our last dog, Sophie, Mr Tilly is clearly going to try and get himself into any photo we take. It’s not intentional I’m sure. He just wants to see what’s going on, so follows us around like ‘a puppy dog’.

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Just checking to see if anything’s going on

We’ve both commenced a little shared job. We’re cleaning one of the schools in town, doing the primary and pre-primary classes. It’s intense work, but is only for three hours five times a week. We can choose whichever hours suit us, any time between the end of the school day, and the commencement the next school day. Sometimes we clean in the afternoon, and sometimes we go in early the next morning. The flexibility is great, and the money helps our savings stay in tact a bit.

Then there’s the planning – we always have a multitude of plans going on. Our plans are usually lose and flexible, but extent for many years to come. Currently underway is our plans for next winter’s trip, and an updated rig to make it in. Yes, we’re marketing our much loved Travelhome. It’s a slow market, so I don’t know how long it’ll take us to find a buyer, but when we do we’ll most likely replace both our cars with just one, and it’ll be one I’m happy to drive as well. The manual Hi-lux really is very much ‘a man’s car’, so we’re thinking most likely a Ford Everest will replace it, and a smaller, normal type of caravan will replace the Travelhome.

So, that’s a bit about what we’ve been doing. Paul mentioned this morning that we’ve been back for two months now, and as yet he hasn’t had a chance to take his bike out once. Yes, we’d love to have a chance to get just a little bit bored. There’s always so much to do – the puppy, the garden, the beach, catching up with friends, and making plans for the future; we enjoy it all….. A lot of the little pleasures that make for a busy, busy life.

The crazy gardener’s been at it again.

We’re only two weeks away from leaving, so the dilemma of what to do with the front garden before we left arose. Although we know it’s not the ideal time to prune roses, we also know any pruning is better than none at all. We had decided to prune prematurely sometime over the next two weeks. Frosts are rare here so they should be okay with the earlier hair cut.

That then left the dilemma of what to do about the seaside daisies that are popping up everywhere and look like returning with a vengence. If you remember, last year when we took possession of the house, the roses were completely buried alive under the daisies. I didn’t want to return to the same thing again.

Remember this!

We’re reducing the size of the rose bed next spring anyway, and are planning to increase the paved, parking area. We’d worked out how best to to accommodate the existing roses, minus all the pretty blue salvia which have been planted to fill up the gaps, and provide a united colour scheme.  We were going to leave the transplanting until spring.

One thing led to another, and hey presto – they’ve all been transplanted. We’ve found a spot for the red roses around the back. All the pink and creamy coloured ones have been transplanted to what will be a much smaller, colour co-ordinated, semi-circular garden bed, once the pavings finished in spring. All the annuals have been removed, and the garden now looks like a big plot of bare dirt. The seaside daisies were predominantly at the front of the garden bed where the paving is going to be, and it looks like that’s mainly where they’re hell bent on popping up again. So, any that come up while we’re away can grow to their hearts content until we get back – all the roses are safely transplanted out of their way.

From this

to this in a day

Transplanted roses now looking like twigs

It won’t be looking as pretty when we leave as it would have been looking had we stuck to our original plan. It won’t be looking pretty at all!  It will, however, look a lot better in spring when we return than if we’d stuck to our original plan (I think). And, most of the hard work is behind us. The rest is now up to the brick paver. Of course, the neighbours won’t know the reasoning behind the garden demolition – they’ll no doubt be thinking i’ve lost my marbles. It was looking pretty….

Goin’ cruisin’

 

Summer appears to have ended early this year, leaving with a bang literally last night – a cracker of a storm with claps of thunder and bolts of lightning. I do love a good storm.

Autumn is upon us. The garden’s a riot of colour. The bees are buzzing, dozens of them, and butterflies are flitting from flower to flower, seemingly enjoying the roses and salvia as much as we do.

Critters adding more life and colour.

The autumn rose show is definitely on the way.

My favourite – Julia’s Rose.

Exquisite.

and the Frangipani cuttings have definitely taken.

Paul’s begun the painting of the verandah posts, only one side completed yet with two more sides of the house still to complete. The remainder will wait now till we return from our cruise in early April.

The painting of the verandah posts has begun.

A gazebo, a new addition to the back garden.

Enjoying a well earned beer at the end of a day of painting.

My oh my! how time flies. It seems like only yesterday that Paul returned from the UK and we were finalising plans for a cruise, our first. We leave tomorrow. Our bags are packed, and my finger and toe nails have been painted. (I believe you do that sort of thing when you’re cruising.

Not sure nail varnish suits these ‘gardener’s hands’.

Firstly, a night with Alice, Paul, Tim and Josh – always a pleasure. Oh, and while I remember – Josh’s band, Raksha, won a second Battle of the Bands last night, this time in Perth. The winnings – a fist full of dollars (but between six band members it won’t amount to much each). Also, I believe the recording of a single, plus some air time on one of the local radio stations. They go from strength to strength, showing a growing maturity of sound, and are accumulating a growing amount of accolades that reflect both their talent and dedication.

Then early Friday morning a flight to Sydney, and after a night there we’ll board the Celebrity Solstice for our nine night cruise in the South Pacific. I don’t know how internet access will be on board, but will definitely let you know what I think of cruising when I return, if not before. My friend Wendy assures me I’ll love it – that only boring people don’t enjoy cruising. I hope I don’t show myself up as being ‘boring’.

 

Busy making other plans

Summer draws to a close and autumn is moving in. We’re busy making plans for our winter sojourn and I’m reminded of John Lennon’s famous quote from, Beautiful Boy – ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.’

We have two trips on the near horizon, the first is our first ever cruise. Only a nine day sampler leaving from Sydney in less than two weeks. Not sure if we’ll like cruising, but so many people seem to love it, so we thought it was about time we tried it out for ourselves. I’ll be letting you know what we think very soon.

The second is a five month road trip north to the beautiful Kimberleys, this time incorporating my number 1 bucket list destination – The Gibb River Road. We’ve repaired our second hand tent. Our super duper Black Wolf air mattresses have arrived (hopefully as comfortable as per the reviews), and our new, Camps Nine book has arrived. Since the books arrival we’ve had our nose buried in it, perusing all the new campsites between here and Kununurra. Our excitement is peaking, and we can’t wait to get going.

And that brings to mind John Lennon’s famous quote. Whilst all the plans seem to be all consuming, life is still happening in the here and now.

We have a few new toys, one needed, one bought on the spur of the moment, and one bought because we were finding it hard to live without.

The first, the needed item was a new oven. I’ve always liked wall ovens for ease of cleaning without having to kneel on the floor. To replace our antiquated and inefficient oven with a wall oven would have meant an expensive kitchen remodel. So, as a compromise we’re giving a pyrolytic, self cleaning oven a go. It cooks beautifully, and is currently in cleaning mode whilst I’m typing this. How good is that – the most dreaded of house hold chores is happening on it’s own, freeing me up to write instead.

Cooked in new oven.

Bought on the spur of the moment – a new bike. I grew up riding a bike with a back pedal brake, so when I called in – ‘just for a look’ at a cycle shop’s closing down sale, and saw bikes with back pedal brakes, and now also with gears, well what’s a girls supposed to do!

Deadly treadly.

My first ride. This back pedal brake thingie that I thought I remembered so well had been forgotten on the few occasions I rode my last bike, which had twin levered, handlebar brakes. My riding confidence was lacking and my first ride was at a snails pace, fortunately. Trying to co-ordinate the braking with putting my feet back on terra firma wasn’t easy, and down I went. After Paul realised only my ego had suffered, he couldn’t stop laughing. I did get straight back on, and have had a few rides since. Slowly, I’m gaining my bike confidence back, but at the same time thinking – ‘what was I thinking’, buying a bike at my age.

And the one thing bought because we were finding it hard to live without, a new Thermo-mix. I left my first one in Tassie with my sister for safe-keeping. Since moving back into a house though, I was missing the simplicity of having such a useful gadget permanently available and waiting for use on my bench top. Wendy’s tight budget means other priorities would be prohibitive for her to purchase one for herself. Gifting my old one to her now permanently provided the perfect excuse to purchase the new updated model for myself.

Between the new oven and the thermo-mix, cooking is once again a real pleasure! The resulting additional kilos from sampling the results not so blissful. Guess that means I’d better get those bike wheels rolling.