Writers block

I promise myself every week that I’m going to get back into blog writing. The week passes, and still no posts to publish. A new week begins, and another promise to myself, only to be yet another broken promise by the weeks end.

I did a small writers course many years ago. Two things stuck in my mind from that course, firstly, “if you want to be a writer, you first must be a reader”. The second thing was, “if you want to be a writer, you must write”. I can hear those sentences in my mind as clearly today as when I heard them then.

Sounds pretty simple, and basic doesn’t it. I rarely read of late, and I rarely write. Week after week goes by with barely a page in a book turned. Very few of the much loved blogs that I used read avidly even get opened. As for blog writing, I start a draft every now and again, but become so overwhelmed with the feeling that I have either nothing to say, or so much I want to say that condensing it into a blog is impossible. The writing quickly becomes a jumbled mish-mash of almost incoherent words.

Something I realised many years ago, in the days of letter writing, was that it’s much easier to write letters to someone if you write them often. If to much time goes by between letters all those little things that make up one’s life seem to become unimportant with the passage of time, and don’t seem worthy of a mention. Without the little things there’s rarely anything left to say. Momentous happenings in people’s lives are, fortunately, few and far between. I say fortunately, as if life was full of momentous happenings we’d no doubt never get time to read, or to write. How stressful would our lives be if day after day was filled with only momentous happenings.

I’m finding it the same with blog writing. Frequent writing about the little things that happen day to day is easy. Trying to condense lots of little things, or to pick just one or two little things out of the months that have gone by is an impossible task.

So, this weeks promise to myself. I must read both blogs and books, starting today. And I must write. As always I notice that when a lot of time goes by between blogs, the posts initially don’t seem to flow well. But if I’m to get my writing mojo back, I’m going to have to get through the writing rapids of tumultuous waters until I reach the calm flow of putting words together comes again. Providing I make good on my promises, I’ll get there.

Reading between the lines

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m paranoid. In fact I’m a bit of a fatalist, believing that what will be, will be, so there’s no point in getting paranoid. In the big scheme of things there’s nothing I can do. In my little world though, which is becoming smaller by the day. I am listening, and I am trying to follow the guidelines. I am doing my best to self isolate. (Yes, this is another post about Coronavirus).

Reading between the lines is sometimes difficult, and often we read into things more (or less), than is actually there. I’m reading between the lines, and I hope what I’m seeing there is completely wrong.

Here’s how I see it.

Deciphering between the facts, and the fake news isn’t easy. We all have a duty to keep ourselves informed, and to follow the recommendations, but the recommendations change daily, sometimes hourly. It’s hard to keep up. The following fact though is un-disputable:

Coronavirus is a pandemic, it’s killing people, and it’s on the rise – fast!

Governments all over the world have declared a State of Emergency, giving them powers to implement laws rapidly in response to the developing crisis. First come the guidelines, then when they are either not followed, or aren’t having the desired effect, the guidelines, or even stricter guidelines, become law.

Time frames for the virus to peak, and then begin to decline are hinted at. Some say six months, others indicate the end of June. I’m sure you’ve heard a few possibles that could be added to that. Clearly, without a crystal ball these dates are any bodies guess. My thoughts are the governments are tossing the idea of an end time frame into our minds to try and prevent despair from setting in. I do hope the dates are somewhere near to correct, but from reading between the lines I suspect those time frames are only going to signify the end of the beginning, and I think the government knows that too.

Here’s what’s happening in our little corner of the world – the lines I’m reading between to make that assumption:

Our state government of WA has ordered the closure of Rottnest Island, our holiday island. The reason is so as the island can be used for an isolation area for those in need of it, or/and for an enforced isolation area for those who aren’t abiding by the self isolating laws. A whole island……

I believe as I’m writing this that our premier and state government are in negotiations with hotels to re-purpose the buildings as medical facilities. WOW!! Now, that to me sounds like a seriously huge number of patients that are expected. So, we can clearly find the buildings, that just leaves the problem of the medical staff to man the buildings, and the medical equipment to use. We clearly haven’t got enough of either. No-one in the world has.

We’re being told how important it is to distance from everyone. It hasn’t been working in other countries, and now several countries appear to be putting a limit of two on any gathering. There can be no social gatherings, no funerals, no weddings, and no birthday parties. Apparently these distancing measures are to flatten the curve.

My thoughts are that the idea if flattening the curve isn’t going to make Coronavirus disappear, it’s only going to postpone the inevitable. It’s a way of buying time. Time to re-purpose buildings to use as medical facilities, time to manufacture more masks, more protective clothing, more ventilators, and time to train more medical staff. I think the end of June, or the end of six months, is the time the governments are hoping to buy so as the world has a chance of caring for its sick and dying. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end to everything. I think the beginning has barely begun yet! Unless a cure or vaccine miraculously appears, I think we’re in for a long ride.

Styling a very small house – the lounge room

It’s been three years and three months since we took possession of our little seaside cottage in the south west town of Busselton. It was a gigantic leap of faith when we placed an offer on the little place, sight unseen, whilst we up in Katherine in the Northern Territory. Our offer was accepted, and we travelled down to see what we had let ourselves in for.

A lot of work was needed for sure, but we were up for the challenge. What we hadn’t anticipated was the difficulties of furnishing such a little place. There have been many, many errors along the way, mainly with furniture that just didn’t work. Finally though, I think we’re there. We think we now have the little house functioning to the best of it’s ability, and without any walls being knocked out, or any additions to the main structure. 

Our little house has no grand entrance, in fact there is no entrance hall or foyer at all. The front door opens directly into the living room. The living area comprises of the kitchen, dining room and lounge area, with the front door opening directly into the lounge. Without obstructing the access area from the front door through to the rest of the house, the furnishing area of the lounge area is 2.3 metres x 5 metres, with a second door to the outside patio area about 3/4 of the way along the longer side. The length of the room is sufficiently generous, but the 2.3 metre width proved to be a real challenge.  

Firstly we purchased a gorgeous, white leather chaise type sofa. We bought it second hand, before we had taken possession of the house. Yes, it fitted, but it was clearly completely wrong for the area, and had to go. With the limited market of selling second hand away from the main metropolitan area we could only  manage to get a little less than half of what we’d paid for it. Never mind – no use crying over spilt milk, as my dear old mum would have said. 

MMMM….. the sofa could only be positioned so as to be looking at a blank wall along the entrance way. What had we been thinking – it clearly had to go.

Next came a new lazy boy sofa, with two little occasional chairs. In hind sight I think these were purchased as a bit of knee jerk reaction to the beautiful, but too big, white leather sofa. They looked fine in the small area. The sofa was a small three seater with a recliner at each end, and the middle section folded down to form a small coffee table. For two people it was okay, but accommodating three on it felt a tad squashy. The two occasional chairs both looked and worked well in the area, but the reality was there was only comfortable seating for four people. Finally, I broached the subject. I thought the lazy boy sofa  had been a mistake, and I thought we should go back to our original idea of an L-shaped sofa. 

The problem was that most of the ready made L-shaped lounges were too long on either one, or both sides. After much research it became clear that we had to go down the be-spoke line, and so we ordered our new L-shaped lounge to be made to fit our dimensions perfectly. 

With the new lounge suite on order, we decided we’d also go back to our original idea of furnishing the house with some shabby chic/coastal style furniture. We picked up an old coffee table on line for $40 (you have to have some wins), and Paul took to it with the sander and Annie sloan, old white, chalk paint. The top has had several coats of satin finish, polyurethane. 

Perhaps here is good place to mention the window treatments, which hadn’t been straight forward either. The drapes and pelmets were removed early on, leaving the thin line Venetians for block out. Next we hung full length, white, gauzy drapes which we thought looked pretty good.  However, full length drapes, no matter how fine and gauzy, don’t belong in such a tiny house. Out they went, to be replaced with wide slatted, white, venetian blinds purchased at a half price sale from Spotlight. Our original thoughts had been to furnish the house coastal style, with white shutters and with the shabby chic/coastal style furniture. The wide slat venetian blinds provided a bit of a shutter look but without the hefty price tag. However, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.  We had lashed out on shutters for our bedrooms earlier last year, and finding them so easy to live with, and to clean, we had no hesitation in ordering the hefty priced shutters for our living area too. So far no regrets – absolutely none, I love them. 

Our lounge suite arrived, our shutters were fitted, and our newly up-cycled coffee table looked great. Next came the re-furbishment of a pine entertainment unit to replace the modern look white and chrome unit we had purchased (used, from Gumtree) when we first moved into the house. We were now up to the finishing touches. 

We both love the relaxed coastal style decor, including all the cheap and cheerful little nic-nacs that can be found in any seaside town. Our house displays a few little boat ornaments, and a third little sail boat model has been found for our lounge room.

the mirror above the TV serves no other purpose than to make the room look bigger, and to reflect light. Do you like our little sail boat collection?

Mirrors have been hung in strategic places to reflect light and add a feeling of space. A small canvas with a fishing boat on the shore is hung on the wall.

a mirror at the entrance reflects our little beached fishing boat canvas.

It was all looking pretty good, with the exception of cushions. We searched everywhere, including in the big metropolis of Perth, for cushions with the right colours. Tropical leaves and brightly coloured parrots just wouldn’t do…….  Finally, we searched on line and found what we were looking for at, The Coastal Cushion Company. 

I have to give a bit of a plug and a special thanks go to Kylie Foy from The Coastal Cushion Company (please note: this plug is not sponsored in any way). The selection Kylie has available is amazing, and very reasonably priced. Having found what I wanted, the order was placed, with the cost including postage. Kylie despatched them via express post, and kept track of the parcel via the postal tracking system, keeping me informed all the way. The cushion covers arrived from Queensland three days after despatch,  and were true to the photos I ordered them from. Originally, I had only ordered three, but quickly followed with an order for a fourth for myself, and two more as a gift for a friend. I now want three smaller, rectangle cushions in a plain, moody blue colour, (Hampton Bay navy) which currently is only available in square cushion covers. Kylie is looking into whether or not she can get them for me in the rectangular style. Finger’s crossed…..

So that’s how we managed to furnish and decorate the lounge room in our wee, coastal cottage. Almost every morning when I get up and walk into the lounge I think to my self – ‘I love what we’ve done with this room’. Yes, the shutters, the be-spoke L-shaped lounge that can now, at a reasonably comfortable push, seat six, the up-cycled, shabby chic/coastal coffee table and entertainment unit, the mirrors, our beached boat canvas, and our little collection of sail boats  – yes I love it all. The trial and errors along the way, well that just makes me appreciate it all the more. It makes it that much easier to be able to say, “what a pleasure”!

The crooked Carrot

Most definitely a quirky little eatery The Crooked Carrot is located approximately 35 kms from Bunbury on the corner of Rigg Road and Forrest Highway, in Myalup, in the South West of WA. It opens at 6.30am for breakfast, and stays open until 4pm, seven days a week.

It’s a paddock to plate cafe as much as possible with produce coming from garden beds on the premises, as well as the owner’s farms and market gardens in the vicinity.
On site garden beds

I’m told they have a dedicated cake cook. The cakes on display in the cabinet certainly don’t look like the run of mill, bought in, cakes that seem to be apparent in so many places. I gather they make their own pies too.

There’s plenty of tables, both inside and out. I particularly liked the colourful little booths.

Dogs are welcome with the usual dog rules. Apparently every one with a dog seems to do the right thing.

There’s lots of play space for the children, catering to both little kids, and the bigger kids in different areas.

Can you see the dragon in the tiny tots play area?

The bigger kids would have to be a lot braver than I’ve ever been to climb up that towering climbing net.

There’s an old Tram, which is gated off, but I believe there’s plans to turn it into an eating area.

I’m sure lots of farmers will get a kick out of recognising old tractors and farm machinery. There’s plenty of them on display.

The toilets are in another converted tram building.

There’s a set of rules posted in both playground areas.

I love the old truck. We were talking to one of the gardeners there who told us the old truck on display used to be gorgeous. Sadly the children’s owners don’t seem to be as responsible as the dog owners. Parents have been known to watch on as ‘little Johnny’ smashes the headlights, or whacks away at the paintwork, which is now in rather a sad state compared to how it was when originally displayed. I gather this isn’t an isolated event either, it happens on a regular basis.

The mind boggles – perhaps there’ll come a time when children will only be allowed if kept on a leash. I guess that’s not particularly politically correct to even suggest such a thing in the year 2019, but one does wonder what will be next. Today, behaviour such as wrecking a gorgeous old truck is tolerated without a word of reprimand. Will the same sort of behaviour be indulged when directed towards another person tomorrow. We wouldn’t want ‘little Johnny’ to get traumatised by being prevented from letting off steam now would we! ( Now back in my day….. – I think I’m turning into my parents….)

The Crooked Carrot is on the highway in the middle of nowhere. You can’t miss it as there’s always dozens of cars parked outside. It’s popular from the minute it opens until closing time. Be sure to stop in if you’re passing by. Good coffee, fresh paddock to plate meals, and be sure to save some room for one of those delicious cakes though. This place is an absolute gem!

Stats for Katherine trip 2019

This is probably the maddest trip we’ve ever done as far as covering a lot of distance in a relatively short time. It was tiring, but we enjoyed it. Would we do it again – the distance most definitely, but at least three months would be our preferred time frame. Less than five weeks was just a tad crazy!

For those of you interested in cost and distance details, I’ve put together a few stats for you.

We were away from home for 33 nights in total.

The journey was completed in two legs for each direction, with a stay in Broome to rest before continuing our trip. We stayed for three nights in Broome on the way up to Katherine, and for nine nights on our return trip. We also spent two nights in Kununurra on the way up.

The first leg
The second leg

We were at the farm in Venn for a total of eight nights (Venn is 25 kms south of Katherine.) During those eight days we helped plan a wedding, helped with the decorating, and the catering, and helped with the clean up afterwards.

All other stopping points were for one night only.

The return trip – 3rd leg
4th and final leg

There were 8 driving days in total in each direction with an average daily distance of 513kms. The longest of those days was 818kms – and yes, it was to long! Between 400 and 500 kms is a good distance on WA and NT roads. More than that is too much, less than 400kms and you never seem to get to where you’re going.

The total kms for the entire trip, including all the daily trips when we were in one place for more than a night totalled 9680 kms. The total fuel cost was $2684.

The combined costs for paid accommodation was $819.

We travelled up the Great Northern highway to Port Hedland on the way there. On the way home we came via the coast road for a change of scenery. The distance is virtually the same whichever road you take.

The average cost per km worked out to .28cents. The average cost for accommodation was $26 a night.

So there you have it. – the statistics for an almost 10,000km trip in almost five weeks.

Katherine to Busselton – days 33 and 34, Carnarvon to Home

(Amblin Holiday Park is only a few hundred metres from home)

An early start, and a long day’s drive took us from Carnarvon to Eneabba Recreation Centre for our last night on the road. A toilet stop at Galena Bridge on the way, and thank goodness we hadn’t decided to stay there overnight. We have stayed there before and loved it, but on this occassion there were about a million flies – those little pesky, newly hatched flies that try and get in your mouth and eyes, and a gentle swat does nothing to discourage them.

We continued on, and it was mid afternoon when we arrived Eneabba for the night. There’s a charge of $5 per person to stay there, and it was well worth the charge. I think we were one of four vehicles camped for the night on the big, grassed oval. I say grassed, it was really well mown weeds, but it was very neat. Each camper spaced themselves sensibly around the oval with about 1/4 of the oval distant between each caravan. We threw a ball for Tills on our part of the oval, and at the same time someone over the side was throwing a ball for their pooch. I don’t think either dog was particularly aware of the other, which gives you an idea how much space there was.

There’s no power at the site, but excellent toilets and hot showers. We had a wander around the tiny town, and were impressed as to how tidy everything was. Well done Eneabba. There are lots of public gardens full of flowering natives, and gum trees, including this tree with it’s unusual growth, the biggest growth I’ve ever seen on a tree.

A pretty inland sunset lit up the night sky, a fitting finale for our last night on the road.

Another early start the next day, and we headed for home. Our mid morning stop was at the day use only area of Regans Ford. Rather a shame that no overnight camping is allowed as it’s a lovely stop. Never mind – it’s still a lovely spot for a leg stretch. Then on to home, arriving around 1pm.

That was two days ago now. As always it’s good to be home, but the reality hits of how weeds love to take advantage of an empty house. We’ve been away less than five weeks, but by the look of the garden anyone would be forgiven for thinking the house has been vacant for at least five months. Guess we’ll be busy for a few days…..

Sometime soon I’ll try and put together some stats for this trip, so watch this space…

Katherine to Busselton – Day 32, Fortescue to Carnarvon

We set out around 8am after a refreshing night’s sleep. It had been a very hot night, so we were thankful to have access to power and could have the air conditioning running the entire night.

Our destination for our 32nd night was the Wintersun Caravan Park in Carnarvon. It was an uneventful trip with just one toilet stop on the way at Barradale Rest Area.

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