Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


It was our weekend for going to Mount Martha, and a very good weekend it was too.

Usually, we go down late-ish on Saturday afternoon and come back after lunch on Sunday.  This weekend we had to leave mid-morning.  Plus we had to make the unit visitor ready before leaving.  You may remember me saying that it is up for sale and that it was  agreed that we would make the place available for inspections and open days.  We looked at a couple of places when we were rental hunting where the tenants had gone out but had left their washing on the line, the dishes on the drainer, other things lying around.  It just didn't seem right to me, so we made sure that everything was put away and that the place was ship-shape!

Then we went to Mount Martha, where also was Wendy.  We were all going to a jazz concert in the afternoon.  The composer of the music was also the pianist - and is Stella and Tony's GP.  I have long thought that he is a good GP. Turns out that he is also an extremely accomplished musician!  It was all quite traditional jazz but we all thoroughly enjoyed it.  The first half was fairly quiet; easy listening, a bit of swing, a bit of big band - except that it was played by a quartet rather than a big band.  The second half was altogether livelier, more blues than swing.  An excellent afternoon.

Wendy stayed for dinner and then went back to her place.  Jim and I stayed overnight.

Sunday was Palm Sunday and Tony went to church.  Stella and I hit the shops.  Jim stayed at home.  Then we all headed to the Dava for lunch.  Jim had the Senior's roast of the day (smaller plate of food, plus a dessert).  Tony had the Senior's fish and chips.  Stella had duck cigars. I had a not Senior's roast of the day.  I probably should have had the Senior's deal.  I struggled to eat all my plate of roasted yumminess and completely failed to eat Tony's dessert (I didn't steal it - he didn't want it!)

Jim and I came back via Tully's and had a tin of rather nice split pea soup from there with bread and cheese for supper.  The tin of split pea soup was, indeed, rather nice but it was also rather expensive.  I have reminded myself that I am more than capable of making rather nice split pea soup at a fraction of the cost.  I must look into getting some split peas. I do have some dried soup mix which has peas in it.  I made a batch for our lunches yesterday.

Lindsey and Ian had to leave Hill House rather earlier than is their habit on Monday so Jim went up mid-morning to check on the dogs.  He and I both went up early afternoon and stayed there.  The dogs were quite pleased to see me! I am down in Melbourne now, having been at work today.  Jim is at his place of work - in Mount Helen looking after the dogs, the garden and the house.

I am trying to get my head around a budget where money comes in fortnightly and monthly, the rent goes out fortnightly, other things go out monthly but yet more things are billed every two months or even quarterly.  I have spent 20 years with each bill going out on the same date every month. It's hard trying to work out what money needs to be in the Bill Paying account when it all seems a bit random to me. I expect I'll get used to it.  I'll have to!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A routine - of sorts

So last week settled into something like the routine that we are expecting.

Lindsey and later Ian went to Melbourne on Monday and Jim and I went up to Hill House on Monday afternoon to look after the dogs, the house and the garden.  I went to Melbourne on Tuesday morning, went to work on Tuesday and Wednesday and then drove back to Mount Helen on Wednesday afternoon.  I made dinner for Lindsey (left carefully so Rupert couldn't get at it!) and then we went back down to Tani no uchi.  We pottered around on Thursday and went back up the hill for a couple of hours to entertain Rupert and Hugo while Lindsey was at Tai Chi and her piano lesson.  On Friday Lindsey picked me up from our place and we both went to Reservoir, returning later that evening.  Jim took himself up the hill to do useful things in the garden and to play with the dogs.

That is, more or less, how we are expecting most weeks to pan out. Not this coming week, though.  This week has Good Friday at the end of it, plus neither Lindsey nor Ian will be at their place until later on Thursday.  I expect that there will always be weeks when the routine will be upset.  Our place feels a bit like a holiday house at the moment, conveniently located a mere 2km away :-D

I got up very early on Friday morning.  My alarm was set for 5:30 and I woke up at 4:45. I remember as a teenager that that would have been lovely.  A whole 45 minutes more sleeping.  These days I can't see any point in going back to sleep for such a short time.  And in any case, I was properly awake.  So I got up, made cups of tea and prepared a packed lunch for Lindsey and me and a not packed lunch for Jim.  I did some Japanese practice.  I was just considering what to do next when the house went "ping" - and the electricity went off.  As I was getting up to go and check the trip switches, Jim bellowed from the bedroom, where he had been sitting in bed, drinking his tea and using his laptop, "What on earth are you doing????"  I'm not sure quite why the power going off should be my fault, but there you go.  As it happens, it wasn't just us.  The street lights around the roundabout were out.  I had a text message from Lindsey saying that their power was off too.  Nothing to do with me, then :-D

Fortunately, our hot water is gas powered.  I managed a nice shower by torchlight. Lindsey's hot water is oil powered and needs an electric pump to make it work.  A cold shower by torchlight for her!  The power came back on just before it was time to leave for work.

If anyone can explain to me why I made a packed lunch for Lindsey and me, but left Jim's lunch in a bowl in the fridge, I would be very grateful.  He, off course, was also at work.  At the top of the hill!  Fortunately he had the car and could nip home for lunch.  I must remember in future to pack his food in a portable container as well

Monday, March 19, 2018

Minor irritations

So this is a rental house.  It is a condition of the lease that we can't put up picture hooks without written permission from the owner.  We can, however, put up those sticky hooks which release without damaging the paintwork when you want to remove them - if you are careful.

So I went to Bunnings and bought some sticky hooks - and I bought a recognised brand.  I stuck them up properly and waited until the next day to put things on them.

Pretty much all of the ones I had put on the wall fell off, taking tiny dabs of paint with them.

I used bigger ones.  They fell off too.

This was irritating.  Fortunately nothing was broken! But if the light things I was trying to hang weren't holding, there was little hope for actual pictures and no hope for the coat hooks we had brought with us.

Back to Bunnings, where we bought over door hangers and hooks, poster sticky strips and a different brand of sticky hooks. So far things are holding but I haven't found anything yet that is strong enough for the framed pictures.  I'll work on it.  Otherwise I'll have to seek permission to put a small number of proper picture hooks up.  It's a long time since I rented anywhere to live, and when I did they didn't care about picture hooks. I'd got used to being able to put things up at will

Oh, and we'll need to find out the name of the wall paint so we can touch up the walls when we move out!

I was absolutely convinced that there was a removal box missing when we unpacked everything.  My Le Creuset stock pot isn't here.  We don't seem to have any of our cups from the Tupton cupboard, apart from some that I brought with me the Christmas before we moved.  We have searched the garage and the shed at Hill House, to no avail.  Eventually I sent a message to Tabitha and Freyja enquiring about some of the things that aren't here.

Freyja has the stock pot.  Cally has the oil burner cow (I remembered having thought that I didn't need to bring both my oil burners but wasn't sure what I had done with the cow).  There appears not to be a box missing.

I really wonder what 18 months ago Frannie was thinking when she decided that there was no need to put a Le Creuset stock pot into the things that were being freighted over.  Why did she reject the seaside themed over door hanger that had been in the bathroom.  Why did she decide not to bring the starry cups that she and Jim had used for their first cup of tea of the morning for years. I'm sure I don't know what she was thinking!!!  (She also didn't think it was worth bringing the dining chairs. Fortunately Jim overruled her on that one otherwise we would have a magnificent dining table but nothing to sit on around it.)

Life is made up of such minor irritations, I guess.  I'll have to get another stock pot. But not right this very minute.  Right this very minute I'm going to go and have a shower and get dressed.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tani no uchi. The House in the Valley

Please remember that we haven't properly unpacked yet.  We brought more stuff down from Hill House this afternoon and not everything has a home yet.  But here are some photos of the new place:

Approaching the front as you come up the communal driveway

We have a double garage

Coming from the front door you have a little lounge area

Then a dining area

And the kitchen
Walking up the hallway, to the right you have a bedroom

To the left you have a bathroom

and a separate loo

Further on to the right you have our bedroom

and to the left a third bedroom that we are using as a study 

Beyond all that is a laundry and entrance to the garage.

We also have a courtyard:

It's not a bad size and gets a fair bit of sun

My black cat,  and the beginnings of a herb garden

And immediately across the road

there seems to be a University!

Settling in

When Jim went to unpack the freezer on Monday evening he found that the top of it was all bashed in along the front.  I don't know about you, but if we are spending several hundreds of dollars on a new piece of kit, we would prefer it to arrive without cracks, holes and abrasions on it!  Jim stopped unpacking and left it where it was - which was exactly where the delivery person had left it.

Lindsey picked me up early on Tuesday morning and we headed down to Melbourne to work.  This left the Honda with Jim so he could amble up to Hill House when convenient rather than me dragging him up there at the crack of dawn.

During a break from work I rang to arrange to have the freezer swapped for a new, unbattered one.  The bloke on the phone quizzed me quite a bit about whether we had dropped it while taking it home, despite me telling him several times that it had been delivered by them.  However, in the end he agreed that a new freezer shouldn't be battered along the front and arranged for a new one to be delivered on Thursday.

Thursday was a busy day.  I did more sorting out of the things on the study floor. We sorted out the kitchen a bit more.  The new freezer arrived and the original one was taken away.  Jim unpacked it.  It wasn't bashed or battered :-)  We went up to Hill House to play with Rupert and Hugo, while Lindsey was out. While we were there I chopped up the remains of the box of tomatoes that Lindsey bought last weekend, and the bag of onions that I bought last weekend and put them in bags ready for the freezers.  Jim brought in a harvest of zucchini and I chopped and added those to the tomato and onion bags. Not quite enough zucchini for all the bags, but we can add them as more come to hand.  Some of the bags are in Lindsey's freezer and some in ours.

We've been shopping. There is now bedding for the spare bed, which is made up ready for visitors.  There is food in the house. There is wine and whisky - but no beer.  Had better get in a supply!  We are settling in reasonably well, and a proper routine to the weeks will gradually evolve.  The bare bones of it are already in place.

Lindsey came to dinner on Thursday evening, bringing with her a bag of chicken kievs.  She was our first proper dinner guest. We used our dining table which had come from the UK for the first time.  We used our proper dinner plates (which we also brought from the UK) for the first time. It was all very exciting

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Moving In

We picked up the keys to the new place at just after 9 on Saturday.  Lindsey came with us.  The place we eventually rented wasn't one of the places she had inspected with us so she hadn't seen inside it and was curious.

Then she went down to visit Stella and Tony, and Jim and I began moving some of our stuff that was at their place down to our place.  Important things like the kettle and toaster, cups for having tea and coffee in, glasses for wine.  We went back to Lindsey and Ian's place. Ours wasn't ready for inhabitants.  No bed, for a start off :-D Emily came for dinner and Ian made a really delicious roast chicken with halloumi, mint and pomegranate and roasted veg. There was lots left for Sunday :-)

Sunday was a lovely day.  Lindsey, Jim and I went to Bacchus Marsh to check out their autumn festival.  It wasn't as big as the summer one but it was still good fun.  The advertising said that it was a celebration of the vegetable harvest but there were no obvious vegetable stalls.  The spice lady who we see in Ballarat was there.  I got extra supplies of her jackaroo dukkah in case we miss her next month!  We did enjoy it, but I'm not sure if we would go again.  The stalls we were particularly interested in also come to Ballarat.  We shall have to check out a different market/festival next year.  Spread the love and eventually collect them all :-D

After we got back, Jim and I went into Ballarat and bought a freezer, vacuum cleaner and an iron from a purveyor of electrical goods.  We went to Bunnings and got a bucket and mop, an ironing board, a padlock for the new letterbox and a few bits and pieces that Jim wanted.  We went to Wilsons and bought a big bag of onions to go with the 10 kilos of tomatoes that Lindsey brought back with her on Saturday.  I am going to put up  bags of tomatoes and onions for the freezer for the winter for both houses, adding zucchini as they come to hand.

Ian had a not so exciting day sorting out his tax stuff for his accountant.

Yesterday was a public holiday in Victoria. Labour Day, 8 Hour Day, call it what you will.  These days lots of people work it.  We worked it too, but not in paid employment.  Ian said that he was proposing to hire a trailer and to move our stuff from the lock up storage place to our new place, their stuff from the storage place to their place and other stuff into their skip.  He and Jim spent the day heroically going backwards and forwards, collecting things from the lock up and delivering things to our place, things to their place and generally rushing around.  I went to our new place and did the ironing while waiting for the freezer to be delivered.  Once boxes started arriving I began unpacking them and putting as much away as I could.  Lindsey helped out at our place, at the lock up, at their house, and kept the dogs entertained from time to time.

I made my first foray into Facebook Marketplace this week, having read about someone's good experience with it on their blog.  Lindsey and I went and collected a student desk with attached drawers and two shelves, plus a desk chair and a desk lamp for the princely sum of $80.  It's ideal for what I need.

So Jim and I had our first night in our new place last night.  Lindsey and Ian went back to their place, we stayed at ours. Jim re-constructed our bed. I went and got provisions (I must confess that I didn't cook from scratch; I bought a ready-made lasagne!)  The boxes are all unpacked and most things are put away.  Probably not in the final resting places (as it were) but at least in cupboards, on shelves, not on the floor.  There are some things on the floor in the study but I can sort them out on Thursday.

I keep wanting to call it a little place but it's not really all that little.  It has three good sized bedrooms. The kitchen/dining/lounge room is, I think, smaller than the three separate rooms in Tupton but probably not by a lot.  What we don't have is the small cellar and the capacious cupboard on the landing.  But we have quite a lot of cupboards.  We should be OK.

Our place is about 2 km down the hill from Lindsey and Ian's place, almost directly.  We have been puzzling over a name for it.  Lindsey has been calling it The House in the Valley.  It's not really in a valley, more at the bottom of the hill.  But the Japanese translation for (Our) House in the Valley is  谷のうち, tani no uchi.  I like that.  Tani no Uchi it is.  Well, until the place tells us that it already has a name and reveals it to us.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

House Hunting

Jim and I have been vaguely looking for a place to rent for the past few weeks.  We looked at a couple of places but then stopped looking until after the auction that Lindsey went to.  Had she been successful in buying that house we would have rented it from her and helped to pay off her mortgage rather than someone else's.

As you may remember, she was pipped by a more determined buyer at the auction.  She then decided that the Ballarat housing market is becoming too inflated to be of much interest as an investment location.  There are lots of business and corporate ventures coming to Ballarat so people are buying, and the Melbourne investors in particular are pushing prices up.

So Jim and I started looking for rental places again.

We looked at some units in Mount Helen, Buninyong and Mount Clear.  We looked at houses in central Ballarat and in Sebastopol. We ventured over to the other side of Ballarat but decided that Brown Hill and other places that side of town weren't convenient for going to look after Rupert and Hugo. We saw some places that immediately said "No", although it wasn't always clear why. But it interested me that those places which you might think would be OK said "No" to both Jim and me, and to Lindsey when she was able to come looking with us. Ian was away so hadn't been able to come looking with us. There were a couple of places that were a bit tempting but not so much that I could be bothered putting in an application for them.

There were two which were very interesting.  A 3 bedroom unit in Mount Helen,  down on the opposite side of the University in the forest from Lindsey and Ian's place, but right at the very top of our weekly budget. The other was a tiny, tiny house on an enormous plot of land in the city centre. At the bottom of our budget  (Go much lower than that and you are looking at complete dives and we can't see why we should have tenants in our beautiful house in Derbyshire while we are renting a rubbish place in Ballarat). No storage, no cupboards, almost no kitchen - just a tiny galley kitchen. It was totally impractical but my head was sorting out where you could put cupboards, benches, a pantry, the kitchen utensils.

We put in applications for both of them.

Yesterday, while we were in a supermarket in town, someone rang from the agency managing the unit, to ask a few questions. As far as we were aware, they hadn't contacted any of our referees or checked that any of the things we had said on the form were, in fact, true (you know, like having a pension, owning a house in England, having a part time job in Melbourne, that sort of thing).

Today we had an email of rejection from the tiny, tiny house in the city centre. At the bottom of our budget. Having not, as far as we were aware, done any checking of the things we had said. And then we had a phone call from the property manager of the unit in Mount Helen, at the very top of our budget, offering us a 12 month lease as long as we were aware that the unit is up for sale (we were) and pointing out that prospective buyers might want to look around the place (fine by us).  (They had contacted one of our referees by then, but I don't know about any of the others yet)

Bizarre when you think about it.  We don't know why the tiny, tiny house agents rejected us but it seems odd that we aren't reliable enough for them but we are for the other place.

It's all good though.  We pick the keys up on Saturday. Then we can start moving our stuff in. We will still be at the Big House a couple of nights a week to look after the dogs so will leave things like the bedding, the clock radio and other useful things there.  I have bought a brand new doona to celebrate :-D

New address available on application!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Mooching Around in the Markets

The weekend just gone was a fabulous weekend for the markets.

It was the first Saturday of the month so the Bridge Mall market was on.

The spice lady was back! we ran out of her Jackaroo Dukkah weeks ago. She wasn't there in January, but that wasn't really surprising. But she wasn't there either in February even though both her and the market's Facebook pages said she would be. I was very relieved to see her there this month. I like her Jackaroo Dukkah very much.  I like many of her other rubs and dukkahs  and spice mixes too but the Jackaroo is my favourite.

The egg lady was there and so was the sausage man and the fruit and veg people.  The pork people weren't there so we couldn't have egg and bacon rolls for brunch. That was ok.  We had sausage sizzle sandwiches instead :-)

Sunday was the first Sunday of the month. (It is very confusing in those months where the first Sunday follows the last Saturday rather then the first.  It puts all the weekends out of kilter all month!)  Anyway. The first Sunday of the month means that the Castlemaine markets are on. So Lindsey, Jim and I trooped out to Castlemaine and had a potter around the artists' market. We wandered around the farmers' markets. Then we had lunch in the Criterion. And a very nice pub lunch it was too. Then we headed back to Daylesford and caught the weekly Trash and Treasure market shortly before it closed.

Lots of market-fun!

On the way to Castlemaine we stopped at the Chocolate Mill.  We tried to go last month but it is closed for all of February. It's not February anymore and so it was open as we drove past. The Mill uses Belgian fair trade chocolate and makes gorgeous and delicious chocolates. At this time of year they are also making and selling Easter related chocolate. Lindsey bought various chocolatey things.  I will go out perhaps next month and get some drinking chocolate and some cocoa nibs.

It was a good weekend.  Lots of markets, lots of food, lots of fun. The sun shone, it wasn't too hot. What more could anyone ask of a weekend?