The Journey

TIME: Week 5, February 2016IMG_3249

PLACE: Cider Isle

CIRCUMSTANCE: Action

Feast or famine. When things start happening, they happen at once. The tank is due to arrive today. Plus the man is here to finish preparing the tank site and deliveries are made of rock that will go around the shed.

WIMG_3252hen the truck arrived with the tank on the back, we thought that there would be no stopping it and it would just roll down the hill! It took five men to put it in place. Well done, guys! I’d like to say I supervised, but that would be stretching it…

A site was also made for a small shed, which has to house the batteries for the solar power.

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TIME: Week 5, February 2016IMG_3239

PLACE: Cider Isle

CIRCUMSTANCE: Let there be light!

We got the generator serviced and now we can have some power. Let there be light! We have been using tea lights and one of those little blue hurricane lanterns. And guess what? We plugged in the fridge…and nothing… [insert your favourite expletive] What we DON’T need are more expenses! And despite the fact that we know – don’t we know it! – there are always going to be unforeseen expenses doesn’t mean we can take it. Sometimes, such as the added expense of fixing up the area around the shed to bring up the ground level, you think, ‘Oh damn, we’ll just have to incur that’ but other things just make you think in expletives and you resist spending the money. This is the case with the fridge. If we’d known the fridge was going to be temperamental we could have got rid of it in Perth and had that extra room in the container for our other things, then my new lampshade might not have been so squashed and our hat stand might have been saved from annihilation. The fridge problem will have to wait. We just don’t have the money to be buying a new one.

TIME: Week 3, January 2016IMG_2890

PLACE: Cider Isle

CIRCUMSTANCE: Vines

Progress! We visit a local vineyard – the owner of which used to be our landlord in 2012 when we rented a cottage here – and he was very helpful in talking about his experience in the fencing for the vines, the variety of grapes he’s growing and the supply. He said he is happy to give us as many cuttings as we want later in the year. When we get the cuttings, we will take them to a place that prepares them for rooting and then we can grow them on ready for planting. Next step: contact a fencing contractor to get started.

TIME: Week 3, January 2016IMG_3199

PLACE: Cider Isle

CIRCUMSTANCE: Dam

Well, it’s week 3 since we arrived in the cider isle and we have now acquired numerous items that will eventually – when we find tradesmen – become part of our bathroom and kitchen. But more importantly, we feel we have made some progress with the dam in spite that we feel everything is going VERY slowly. But finally, we meet with a consultant on site about getting a dam constructed. The site is at the bottom of the property and tends to get water logged during the winter. Greenman describes our requirements and the good news is that if we just dig a hole, it’s not a dam, so we can do that and don’t have to have any kind of permission or go through any application processes. To start with, this sounds good, because any application is going to cost money in the region of thousands. However, if we take out lots of fill, it becomes a question of how we are going to distribute that soil. Sure we can sell it, but then we will need a mining licence! You’re kidding! But some people, apparently, have done this and it has been cost effective. The next step is talking to a farm dam contractor.

As I said, things seem to be slow and it’s getting frustrating as there does not seem to be any action happening in terms of getting the shed turned out to a liveable state. But our container arrived – yay! – and it’s even in a fashionable matching colour to the shed – how chic! We bought a trolley and moved our boxes, bikes and various bits ‘n’ pieces into it making more space inside the shed.

And the spookies keep coming…

TIME: Week 2, January 2016

PLACE: Cider Isle

CIRCUMSTANCE: Visitors from Hell

We’ve been busy making endless phone calls – tradespeople, dam people, tree people – and then we get to the end of the day and have to go shopping. Since we don’t have a fridge and our puny chilly bin is not so great on keeping things cool, we have to shop every day for food and ice. Plus we don’t have a pantry. But finally our goods arrive and the shed is filled up with boxes and furniture. Once we get the sea container – to be delivered next week – we will live around the boxes, but the first thing to be set up is our bed! Ahhhh….sweet…a proper mattress.

Amongst our things is our fridge, a generator and a ladder. But who said we were allowed to have things easier?

Firstly, the generator won’t start and so we can’t run the fridge. Looks like we’re going to have to take the generator in for a service. Secondly, our longest ladder is not long enough to reach to the top of the shed roof so we still can’t block up the hole. And talking about holes, I know a shed is not meant to be a house but it’s not until two things happen that you realise how many entrances and exits there are in a shed: 1) when the wind blows, and 2) when an unprecedented number of spookies walk in at will. (Spookies are…ugh! I can’t even type the word! Errgh! This is the one thing I’m really pathetic about…I DON’T DO 8-LEGS! Especially this humongous kind that keep running all over the place and dropping down from above! Aaahhhh!!!) I attempt to get some sympathy but my grown-up daughter just tells me about karma and to ‘get over it’, so I just quote back to her one of her favourite comments she’d give me when she was growing up: ‘Yeah right’.

The first good thing about this week was that we got our contents delivered, but the second was that I found a little tree, a ginkgo, still alive from our 2012 plantings. In 2012, we planted a lot of ornamental trees but we were very naïve. We thought that, because this was Tasmania, they would get enough rain and survive in our absence. But we learnt the hard way; they did not survive and we began to realise how dry it is. I was so thrilled to find this little guy alive!

TIME: Week 1, January 2016

PLACE: Cider Isle

CIRCUMSTANCE: The Birds

This week has been spent trying to get tradesmen to come and at the very least see the job on offer. We did have some luck with the plumber, but he’s not going to be available to do anything until February. Same old story. We have experienced it before; January is slow and people are on holidays. Nevertheless there are still things to do that are keeping us very busy, such as cleaning the bird poo off of the concrete. The poo on the walls is another story; about a second storey up. That we can’t reach, or the nesting materials at the roof apex. And there is something about that point in the roof…

If it’s not enough to be woken up frequently during the night by rolling off of a blow-up mattress, it’s creepy to hear the scratching of bird claws against metal. I prefer my Hitchcock limited to the screen, thank you. At first we thought it was cockies on the roof – and there are hundreds of those – but one morning just as the sun was coming up, Greenman jumped out of bed: ‘The birds are inside!’ and sure enough, there were birds inside. They had found their way in through a gap at the highest point above the old nesting mess; now they were flying around in a panic looking for a way out. Well, I won’t relate the details other than it took us about an hour and ended in a case of ‘biggest brain wins’.

And then more got in. This time we discovered birds inside after arriving back to the shed after being out-and-about but the event followed the same pattern of panic, poo, chase and flight anywhere but to the exit, which, I might add, was a big open roller door. We started getting a bit anxious about these birds freely accessing our new home, not just because it’s creepy and not just because I didn’t fancy a new career as chief bird poo cleaner, but any day now our furniture and contents are due to arrive and that would mean it would be impossible to chase a bird around, not to mention there would be additional places for bird poo to be deposited. This was not my idea of living close to nature. The trouble is we can’t get up high enough to plug up the hole. Hopefully the answer to this one will come in a later report.

On an up note, our going out-and-about produced some results. We bought a water tank, a shower and a sea container!

TIME: Week 1

PLACE: Cider Isle

CIRCUMSTANCE: Sophisticated camping

For the time being we will be living a kind of sophisticated camping life. It will be camping – but using a shed instead of a tent. Definitely upmarket in my book, especially when the wind blows and it rains. We used to use a two-person tent and it had a tendency to blow away in the wind. Not much fun on a rainy windy night! That’s when a car comes in handy…

We retrieved our stored camping gear from under a gum tree. It was on a pallet under a tarp held down by rocks. We used this location for the last few years and thought it was pretty good despite the odd bit of dirt finding its way in over the eleven-month intervals. We have a camping stove, a few utensils and cooking gear, a blow-up mattress and a couple of folding chairs.

Now we were keen to increase our comfort because this time we don’t have to leave it under a tree! Our first acquisition: a loo! Oh wow, don’t I feel made up! This sure beats squatting in the grass, especially at my age…