Where to next….

As everyone who knows us will attest, that title will sound like business as usual. However, surprise, surprise! The answer is we’re staying put in the Summer House, at least during the summers, for a few years to come yet.

We’ve been at sixes and sevens finding it hard to put down roots again. We had been thinking we’d need to rent this little house out at some stage so as we could go over to Tassie and get our house there ready for market. That wouldn’t have been any hardship, as we would have enjoyed spending another year over there. It would have been renting out the Summer House that would have been difficult. We’ve put so much into the garden here.  It would have been hard to trust that to the care of a tenant.

We floated the Tassie house on the market not expecting much to come of it, not with a tenant in place. However, we received three offers in quick succession (one of which was from the tenant) which means we don’t have to go down that road. The sale will settle next week, so Paul is currently over there sorting through our stored goods and selecting what needs to be brought back here. The removalist is meeting him there on Monday, so Paul will be on the plane to come back home early on Tuesday morning.

We’ve found ourselves often saying, “we’ve got that – but it’s in Tassie”, high pressure cleaners, hedge trimmers, crystal glasses, coffee percolator, the good TV, the good DVD player, my jewellery…… that’s coming back now, and with it’s arrival, and the Tassie house gone, we’re hoping we’ll be able to settle to where we are. It’s felt a bit like we’ve had a foot in two different states.

We’re on our way to sorting out the other problem we have with our little house – the sometimes very loud highway noise. There’s a wide verge of peppermint trees between our house and the highway, but it could be denser. I’ve approached the shire, and they’re coming to the party. Several more trees have been ordered and will be added to the verge as soon as the winter rains arrive. We’re adding to that with our own plantings of native shrubs on our side of the fence. However, at times like Christmas and Easter holiday periods, no amount of trees come close to blocking the traffic noise. So, onto plan B……

And what’s plan B you ask? It’s taken a lot of research to come up with. This is it:

White noise machine

We’ve invested in a white noise machine for our bedroom. It puts out a noise like a fan, and we have it on our window sill. It’s brilliant. We can have our window wide open and when the traffic starts up at 5am, we hear it if we try hard, but it now sounds very distant.

Next, we’ve researched water features, which apparently will do a similar job outside of distracting from the highway noise if placed properly in the garden. However, we’d need several in different spots. Instead we’ve purchased a wilderness stream and nature sounds CD. Wherever we’ve placed it so far, it seems to be doing the trick. Next thing is to get speakers strategically placed in the verandah ceiling and get the pleasant nature sounds to all the needed places. Fingers crossed!

Yeh! I love it when solutions to problems are found. It took a while, but I think it’s going to work.

What a pleasure it’s going to be to sit outside listening to the sounds of nature and watching our garden grow. Our plumbago is now in full bloom, and by next summer it should be creating the display it was planted for. The lacy plumbago can look somewhat scraggly on it’s own, but several years ago I saw one growing full and beautiful with a solid border of blue agapanthus. It looked magnificent, and I’ve wanted to duplicate it ever since. It’s well on the way.

Hopefully by next year the plumbago will be dwarfing the agapanthus as planned

Our neighbour’s honeysuckle pokes through our fence. Rather than snip it off we’ve been training it along our side too. It’s starting to cover well now, and smells divine.

Two chairs for Paul and I, and two near by that can be brought close for a visitor or two

Paul’s painted our old chairs and we sourced some new cushions for them. We still have our big patio out the back with a big table and chairs under it, but now we also have a little veranda setting on the quiet side of our house. It’s very peaceful to sit there in the summer with our lunch and a glass of iced water.

I think we’re going to settle into our little Summer House for a few years to come yet. It’ll only be for the summer of course. Our new caravan should arrive at the beginning of winter, and that should see us hitting the road for few months of Gypsy life style, to ensure boredom doesn’t get a chance to take hold –  best of both worlds.

Not the most glamorous of footwear, except when they’re compared to a moon-boot

Oh – and I forgot to mention, my moon-boot came off on Tuesday, so I’m now seeing a physiotherapist. It’ll still be a while before I can wear normal shoes. Currently it’s either back-less shoes that don’t press on the scar (Birkenstocks), or my hiking boots for walking. I’m a way off being able to tackle beach sand in bare feet yet, but hey – compared to a moon-boot, I’m in seventh heaven.

Life’s becoming settled. Life’s good!


My orchid plant 25 years on

In 1993 Alice bought me an orchid plant for mother’s day. The following year we lugged it from Perth to Donnybrook, where it lived for six months under a make shift shelter down near the sheep paddock. We were working 13 hours a day, seven days a week in the cafe, so there wasn’t a lot of time for pampering pot plants. It survived despite the neglect.

We moved back to Perth, and the orchid came too. For a dozen or so more years it lived in relative peace throwing out at least of couple of flower spikes most years. Then we extended our Duncraig home. Whilst the extension was happening all of our pot plants including the orchid were bundled closely together with some shade cloth thrown over the top. We gave them all a hose down through the shade cloth almost daily, but quite honestly, the fact that any of them survived at all was more good luck than good management. But survive they all did, including my orchid.

We moved to Regent Waters the following year. That year we had our best ever show from the orchid plant – 17 flower spikes.

17 flower spikes

Then in 2014 we set off on our travels, donating our pot plants to Alice. I think the first year it shot off one flower spike, but that was it for the duration of our trip. When we returned to house living last year, Alice decided to give the orchid back to me in the hopes I could nurse it back to good health again. It was looking a little sad, but it was a long way from completely turning up it’s toes.

I repotted it last year, but there was no signs of any flower spikes. I again repotted it, and divided it a few months ago. This year the main plant has thrown up one flower spike so far, and the second plant from the division looks to be thriving.

Still flowering after 25 years

So many people think orchids are delicate. They’re definitely not. In fact, I’d say they’re about as hardy as roses. Neglect them, and providing they’re getting a little bit of water, they won’t do well but they’ll survive. Then give then a bit of TLC and they’ll come back rewarding you with up to 17 flower spikes in one year for your effort. Mine did.

So, if you live somewhere warm and you’ve always wanted to grow orchids, but thought they were too delicate, think again. Give them some water, afternoon shade,  morning sun, and repot them every few years in some orchid potting mix. Apart from that you can pretty much ignore them, except of course when they’re in bloom. Then you’ll want to give them pride of place where everyone can admire them and think you’re pretty talented. You won’t  need to let on that they’re weed easy to grow (I’ll keep your secret).  Give them a go. They’re really easy.

Train the trainer re-commences

Paul and Mr Tilly re-commenced obedience training last week. Tilly did his initial puppy training prior to Christmas last year.  Now it’s time for the ‘real deal’. He’s seven months old, and is ok for his age, but there’s room for improvement.

Are you paying attention Mr Tilly

One thing that becomes clear is that without formal training, both puppy and owner can get a little tardy. Another thing that becomes clear is that dogs are easy to train, providing they’re given sufficient mental stimulation. As far as I can see the main point of the training is to provide ideas for the owners to mentally stimulate and challenge their four legged friends. The interaction between owner and dog when learning tricks seems to result in such a good relationship and bond that obedience just naturally follows.

Hoops provide great training aids

Tilly gets his daily walk, usually on the beach, but that’s not enough to keep him out of trouble for a whole day. Ideas to stimulate him mentally, and at the same time help him develop into a mature dog with good social habits are very much appreciated.

As I’m still in my moon boot, the training during the sessions falls to Paul, as do his daily walks. I still attend the training and sit in the shade with our old camera (hence the poor quality photos). Whilst I’m not involved in the formal training process at the sessions, I still pick up on some things that Paul misses. Paul’s out there in the sun, trying to keep Mr Tilly calm so as he can listen.  This sometimes means trying to hear over some of the other dogs who’s owners are having even less success than Paul at keeping their canine companions calm and quiet.

Sometimes he’s very good…

And sometimes he’s easily distracted

In the two sessions we’ve attended so far this year we’re learning a mixture of important commands, like ‘stay’, and ‘wait’. And we’re learning things like how to get Tilly to walk with us zig zagging between obstacles. This involves the normal walk with me command, ‘this way’, when he’s on the correct side of us to follow, and also a ‘turn’ command when we’re going to walk into him if he doesn’t turn prior to us.

Walk this way, and turn that way

We’re also learning some things that will form the basis for more complicated commands later. One of today’s lessons was to teach him to ‘touch’ our closed fist with his nose, at which time we need an unused praise word followed by a treat delivered from our other hand. The praise word must be delivered immediately his nose touches our fist, and works like a ‘tick’ works when we ourselves as children managed to get our sums correct. Again it was stressed that this praise word must be a previously unused word. We’ve decided to simply use ‘tick’ for want of a better word. Certainly haven’t used that one before. Our homework is to let the closed fist evolve into an open hand. In time that’s supposedly going to progress to him being able to locate specific things for us, once he learns the names. The example we were given was to locate a misplaced mobile phone. Mmmm – hard to imagine, but perhaps it’ll all become clear with the passage of time…..

Sometimes it’s all very confusing – take the different words needed for different expectations to similar commands.

There’s, ‘wait up’, which means hang about for a while and relax (used perhaps when you meet someone on a walk and want to stop and have a natter). Then there’s ‘wait’, a slightly more formal version, used perhaps when we’re going out of a gate and want Tilly to wait a few moments whilst we get the gate open and check everything’s ok for proceeding forward. Then there’s ‘stay’, used as a command for staying in one spot for longer periods of time. And today, another similar command, ‘freeze’, meaning don’t move a muscle. It’s difficult for us to get the words sorted out for each situation, and not to use ‘wait’ when we should be saying, ‘stay’. If we get it wrong though, what hope has poor Mr Tilly got.

We try to use ‘here’ informally to get Till’s to check in with us when walking off lead at the beach. And we try to use, ‘Come’ as the formal command that must be obeyed, for when a potential danger is evident. Do we get them in the right place….. Haha – not a chance! Thank goodness we have a smart dog. He seems to forgive our dog training inadequacies and rewards us with behaviour that goes above and beyond our level of training expertise.

He’s a great little dog, and is shaping up to be sensible above his mere seven months of age. He’s such a joy, a true companion.


Introducing Raksha’s bass player – Clint Barrett

You may remember previous posts in relation to Perth’s up and coming band, Raksha, (our youngest grandson is one of the founding members). Several of the members of the band stayed with me early last year whilst they were competing in the Busselton Battle of the Bands competition. They won.

Topping the bill

Since the Busselton Battle of the Bands they’ve added several more accolades to their name. The competitions I’m aware of that they entered and won last year are:

Good Shepherd Battle of the Bands
Flyrite Band Comp
Pilerats Jamboree

Last year also saw the release of their first EP titled Emerald. They’re going from strength to strength on the Perth music scene, and are now topping the bills at some events.


The cover of their latest release, Feel it Again

Last week a new single was released, ‘Feel it again‘, which is now available on Spotify, iTunes and Google play. It’s good – I do hope you’ll have a listen. Shortly they’ll be releasing another single,my favourite of all their songs ‘Mindless Consumption’. And a further EP is due for release soon.

Tim from timgreenfilms.com.au considers himself lucky to have been asked to make a couple of videos of the band surrounding this latest release. There’s some footage in the videos on Tim Green’s site taken in the recording studio. The band clearly enjoyed the recording, and it’s worth taking a look to see some of the recording process…..

For this blog post on the band I’ve decided to predominantly focus on the Bass player, Clint Barrett.

Clint Barrett – the talented bass player from Raksha

Following a gig on the week-end Clint posted the following on social media,

“Yet again another gig that tops the lot. The view from the stage last night was simply incredible. Being able to see the smiling faces of friends in between the blinding phone torches, to the fist pumps and whistles……..

Then he goes on to state,

“A night I will always remember. Seriously I’m going to be doing this for as long as I possibly can! Nothing can ever beat the feeling of being on stage with these beautiful people.

Then Clint thanked all of Raksha’s supporters, and stated that, It’s changed his life!

So much enthusiasm from a such a dedicated and talented young musician was enough to inspire me to add my own praise and acknowledgments of this particular member of Raksha.

Playing to his audience

Clint started playing guitar at five, but Bass is his passion. He plays to his audience by experimenting with certain beats, and finds he can get the audience dancing in different ways. He also played sax for eight years, but admits to not having picked that up in a while. Myself, being a lover of jazz, hope to one day see Clint introducing a bit of Sax, or/and double bass to Raksha’s repertoire. Indeed, there’s already a little bit of jazz that often creeps into their songs.

He’s currently studying for his final year at Uni for a degree in Mechatronic Engineering. I believe that’s his fall back plan – Music is his first love.

Apart from studying for his degree, and giving his all to Raksha for rehearsals, gigs and recording time, Clint also plays in the Metro Big Band on the WA circuit. Additionally, he does some blues shows with a few of the oldies around Perth. Some of the names that have come up you may be familiar with: Roy Daniel and Ace Follington, (rhythm section – Dave Hole, Richard Clapton)…

The Metro Big Band consists of several honours graduates from the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). I believe that they, along with Clint on Bass, will shortly be doing an Ella Fitzgerald tribute night at the Ellington Jazz Club.

With the Metro Big Band

So, as you can see Clint is no numpty. He’s enough ‘smarts’ to be studying for his degree, and he plays a variety of instruments in a variety of styles. He plays well. He’s talented, and dedicated to his music, but as all successful musicians will attest, a bit of luck is also needed to hit the big time. I do hope that bit of luck comes Clint’s way.

I’ll be adding some more posts soon on Raksha. I’m not quite sure what their style is – they’ve entered and won competitions in all sorts of styles from folk to gozzy rock (whatever that is). They write all their own music and lyrics. They’re a talented bunch who sometimes include circus tricks in their performances (the band was originally formed by three members attending a circus school). Their lead singer, Amber Skates,  has a passion for musicals, and can include playing the lead of Maria in a Perth production of, The Sound of Music amongst her resume. Several of the members have been accepted into WAAPA, so their musical talent is by no means ‘garage only’ stuff.

I think they’re pretty good. I hope you’ll take the time to have a listen to their latest release, Feel it Again, by Raksha on spotify, iTunes or google play. I know a lot of my readers are from an older generation, and Raksha’s style may not be to your liking – in which case I hope you’ll introduce your youngsters to them. Let me know what you, or they think?


To, too or two

Do you have a problem with which witch is which, or which two is too? I know I do. No wonder English is considered one of the most difficult languages to master. It’s hard enough as a first language, imagine what it must be like for someone to learn it as a second language.

I’ve sorted out Principal (the pal at the end indicates a person – so that one’s the head of the school). That means the other principle is the one associated with morals.

I know that stationery with an ‘e’, we’ll there’s an ‘e’ in ‘pen’, so that’s how I remind myself how to spell that one. That means the other stationary with the ‘a’ means remaining in one place.

And as an aside, I know that we’ll should be well, (as in, ‘we’ll there’s an ‘e’ in pen in the above paragraph.) That’s the result of auto-correct, and auto-correct often gets it wrong. I’ve deliberately left that one in to demonstrate. Another frequent one auto-correct often gets wrong is we’re as opposed to were. Agreed though, I should proof read those ones and correct them. Only trouble is when I proof read I tend to read what I think is there.

I can give you good advice (rhymes with mice, a noun), or I can advise you (to make you wise – also rhymes).

I know the apostrophe in, ‘it’s’ replaces the ‘i’ from the is.  I know the apostrophe in their’s signifies that something belongs the them. But should I have put a comma after ‘their’s’ in that sentence?

When I write a blog post I tend to often put commas where I pause to think. I try to proof read everything before I hit publish, but invariably after I’ve hit the publish button there’ll still be at least a few spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Sometimes there’ll be more than a few….

I have a friend who has a good knowledge of written English. Wendy no doubt cringes when she reads some of my blog posts full of incorrect spelling, commas that shouldn’t be there, we’ll that should be well, and we’re that should be were.  Tentatively she broached the subject with me after my last blog post on momentum on the home front. I re-read the post, which I’d already proof read a number of times – and it was a nightmare of inappropriate commas and spelling errors. I’ve tried to assure Wendy that I’m definitely not to old to learn, and will be happy to have her as my teacher. So, yes please Wendy – I’ll appreciate feedback on my spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

I read other blog posts and am in awe as to how well they’ve been written. Not only is the content amazing, but the spelling, grammar and punctuation seems to flow from thought to written word perfectly. Kudos to all of you who get it right. I’m not sure I ever will – but I’m not beyond trying to learn. Thank you to all of you who have read my posts, cringing at the assault on the written English, and still you’ve returned to read the next post. Hugs to all of you.

Oh – and despite my opening sentence, I do know that two is the number, and I know which witch is which. I get mixed up on the other two to(s), and, I’m just not sure how many commas should be in the middle of that sentence!


New momentum on the home front

No matter how easy care a house is supposed to be there is always something that will need attending to. We don’t have a large plot of land but there’s always plenty to do to ensure it looks okay.

We go through periods of inertia on the home front, times when we have a tendency to do nothing much except the basics. During such periods it would be great if things remained unchanged. But no, it appears if the forces that keep a house developing and progressing aren’t in evidence, decline starts to set in. When we bought this house 18 months or so ago, it was clear then that although the house was less than 20 years old inertia had long reigned. The house was in a sad state of decline.

Of course, we moved in and attacked it with gusto to get things going in the right direction. Things then seemed to reach a bit of a stand still. We’ve just come through a few months of, not exactly complete inertia on the home front, but a period of time where we’ve only been keeping on top of the basics – the house cleaning, the garden watering, weeding, and dead-heading of spent flowers.

Now it’s time to get things moving forward again.

I don’t know if you remember our little scare with Mr Tilly over the Christmas period, the time when he escaped onto the highway…… We ordered perimeter fence with self closing gates for our verandah shortly afterwards so as to provide an extra barrier between the front door and the roads. Today it arrived. What a relief it is to have that erected. I’d thought it would look a bit out of place, but surprisingly it actually looks quite good and as if it belongs. Hopefully it’ll keep Mr Tilly safe until he reaches maturity and develops Road sense.

Safety fence to keep Mr Tilly safe

We’ve finally ordered our new kitchen which will be fitted early in April. We’ve also had a guy out to measure up for new flooring, which will follow behind the kitchen. The current kitchen is not only dated and dull, but it’s deteriorated way beyond it’s age too. That’s  all going to be happening soon. It’s going to be great too get all the dull, moss green kitchen updated with glossy white, and the dull, green floor tiles covered with some bleached oak look vinyl plank. I’m excited!

Freshly oiled jarrah table (WA’s hard wood equivalent of English mahogany)

Apart from organising tradies to do some of our updating, we’ve not had idol hands ourselves either. I’ve spent a few days giving our jarrah outdoor dining setting a rub back with fine steel wool, and re-coating it with protective oil. The setting was donated to us last summer by our good friends and neighbours, Kaye and Brian when they changed to a modern wicker setting. I originally had plans to shabby chic the setting with chalk paint in beachie colours of white and duck egg blue. I’m so pleased I didn’t. The oil has brought out the rich red/brown tones of the jarrah – a look that remains classical and never dates.

Paul’s commenced the painting of our side picket fence – not an easy task. It meant removing plant hangers and reticulation and working between and around garden plants. The plants have been re-hung on the section he’s completed, and compared to how it was looking, it now looks a treat.

The picket fence is on the quieter side of our house, furtherest away from the noise of busy Bussell Highway. The outdoor jarrah dining setting is too big for this quieter area, so we have that housed under a free standing pergola at the rear of the house. Although noisier, that area is good for when we have bigger groups of people here. We’re trying to create a more intimate seating area for just ourselves and perhaps a couple of others on the quieter side of the house so we went looking for a new, small, comfortable lounge (or dining setting) for this area. No such luck. Everything was either way too big, or just didn’t come close to being as comfortable as our existing outdoor seats, which are nearly 20 years old.

Instead we’ve sourced some new high backed cushions for our old chairs, and Paul’s going too give the heritage green aluminium bases an undercoat of primer followed by a coat of gloss white enamel. We have a small, round, glass topped outdoor table, you know the kind that you can pick up in Bunnings for only a few dollars. They’re not the most attractive of tables, but with a nice, toile table cloth, and with the new cushions on the freshly painted chairs we figure we’re going to be a lot happier than we would be spending a fortune on a new setting that lacks the current comfort factor of our antiquated existing chairs.

Freshly painted picket fence, with our antiquated chairs (awaiting a re-vamp). The painting of the gates at the end will follow shortly.

So, things are developing on the home front. What a pleasure it is to be in a domestic state of momentum! Watch this space – I’m sure I won’t be able to resist the before and after photos as things evolve.

Having two feet on the ground

It’s good to be able to shower without a plastic bag

My plaster was removed almost a week ago and I’m in a moonboot now for the next five weeks. The good news is I’m allowed to put tolerable weight on my foot. The bad news is I have to leave the boot on for most of the day and night. I can take it off for showering, but have to leave it on the rest of the time, including while sleeping.

So, sleeping’s not so great, but what a pleasure it is to have both feet on the ground again, even though ones not exactly firmly planted. Only four weeks to go now…..

Walking boot gives new freedom