The Highly Productive, Professionally Engineered Leaf Trap

petit paradis leaf trap

Our Professionally Engineered Leaf Trap has risen to higher levels of productivity with the recent winds. Days of high winds have started stripping the local park trees of their precious cover of leaves. These in turn have been deposited into our handy and convenient Leaf Trap at the base of our steps.

petit paradis leaf trap

So we have managed to bag up several bags of leaves to have ready for the compost bins and worm farms as they break down and drop their levels. What a great resource to have.

We also had to remove tree branches from a fallen limb at the other house and in the process tidied up a couple of fallen branches from the local park. Mainly eucalypts and some Common Coral Tree Erythrina x sykesii. These we mulched up for use in the garden, once they had decomposed a little over the coming months.

So the house and park got a tidy up and we have a nice store of carbonaceous material ready for the raised garden beds once completed.

The Evolution of Tillellan

evolve pp

And so, little by little, the house becomes a home once again . . .

The main entrance and stairway were altered to allow for a less interrupted living area and a double car garage (to make the most of the available space under the house).

The Kitchen area was brought to the front of the house from the back and the two existing bedrooms and the existing kitchen area were modified to create three bedrooms, laundry and bathroom. Plus a dry sauna. Well, why not?! 

We have both travelled and love a dry sauna for the nostalgia, the health benefits and the way it fits into the house and climate. Though a temperate maritime climate, we are on the Southern Ocean and a good southerly wind can sends reveries of Antarctica.

We had talked about colour scheme ideas for over a year but even right up until the absolute hour of final decision (so the painter could purchase paint!) we were only just coming to terms with the colours. Even then, original colours needed changing to make them a bit darker, as once on the weatherboard and rendering material it was still so pale and appeared washed-out. The picture below shows our final impression of how we envisaged the end result.


Our consideration was not only to the colours we liked, but also:

  • what would keep in character with the house and its era.
  • what would assist with the solar passive abilities of the house.
  • a colour to reflect the location of the house near beach, park and mountain.
  • and what would also blend in with existing neighbouring houses.

The roses out the front in the middle picture replaced what were originally hydrangeas. These roses were transplanted from Petty French rather than have them bulldozed after the sale of the property. The same roses were put in pots for the renovation and have since been replanted in the new front garden.

The steel frame staircase in the 2015 photograph was moved up the back to enable us to access the back garden beyond the retaining wall. Another was constructed to allow access to the house from the side, enabling a nice open area to permit the double garage.

With the recent completion of all the major work we are now focussing on the project of reducing our debt, clearing more stuff and setting up  the garden and outside area. We are coming into winter now as the recent rains remind us, though this should not stop the progress for if we do things right during winter, we’ll gain in the coming of Spring.

We have found that after three and a bit months already – the solar hot water, solar panels, greywater and rainwater systems are operating really well and appear to be adequate for the size of the house and the 3 adults and two Little Fellas contained inside! I’m curious to see how it all works over a good twelve months to two years as we go through different seasons. Heating is going to be interesting as there is no specialised heating source for the house as yet. We wanted to see how the house was to live in. We have noticed however the incredible difference that good insulation has made.


What on Earth is it?

I’ve finished the Mud Room. But I don’t think its a Mud Room or a Utility Room.

We’ve got the preserving jars in it (stored) and our seeds (stored) and some frozen goods (stored) – so maybe it’s just a Store Room.

Although that seems a little bland, but it has a practical element to it. But it surely must be deserving of something a little more in context with the house and its uses.

mudroom pp

I snuck off to take an afternoon nap. Or rather, to catch up on a lack of sleep. But that didn’t work so well, so I came back out to finish off revealing the back verandah which has been covered in black plastic to protect it during the last stages of the renovation. I’ve kept it down until the last room was finished and happily removed it today. Hooray!

pp verandah

Gradually, ever so gradually, the place is progressing. Even as I pulled out the nails and timber holding the plastic down it felt like a small accomplishment. With any luck the decking will cut down on the sand near the back door as it can disappear between the panels.

Note the recently delivered fruit trees awaiting their turn for a bit of attention!

So, Mud Room?

Utility Room?

Store Room?

Room of Possibilities?

Any ideas?

Petit Paradis in Collage


The Eighth instalment of our annual bit of artwork tracking the Two Little Fellas.

This year, on a whim, our youngest Little Fella takes the stage given that he’s played smaller roles in previous pictures and I loved how he embraced his nature playground in the garden – quite literally.

Over the years friends and family have wanted to know a bit of the story behind the artwork so this is a little about this years . . .

In the New Year we will move to Tillellan, the long-term project that is finally nearing completion. The landscaping and backyard will be a project within its own right. In anticipation of the move this years art features some of the elements of the original petit paradis abode.  A kind of thank you and goodbye for our first family home.

This place has seen several families of guinea pigs and chickens pass through it. It was pivotal in my adventures in seed saving and building up varieties, quantities and experience in locally adapted edible species. As a result, much of the growing space was for seed production and really only supplemented our kitchen from time to time with food. Moving to Tillellan we plan to accommodate both requirements.

There was a whole lot I could have put into this picture, but some of the highlights are the Pitaya flowers that made a showy display the last couple of autumns. Our eldest Little Fella is feeding Pinky, Brownie and Missy Miss – some of our current guinea pigs. Our original g-pigs Maiki & Jazz can be found in the picture as well along with various pet chooks that have been on the adventure also.

One of the favourite things about the house that I will miss is seeing the flocks of ibis and pelicans flying past the house on their way out to feed or returning home in the afternoon. Quite regularly we’ve had a half dozen or more pelicans glide low and slow over the houses and past our living area window in the early morning. It is a magical site, especially when they are low enough to hear their wing beats, and I missed it when we rented briefly so I know I will when we move.


There are various flowers and the quail, some of our container gardens and goldfish and koi. Fruit trees and crops that we’ve had. The garden itself was different with every passing year as it adapted to the needs and requirements of the family and whatever we were doing in preparation for the eventual move. Whether it was sorting out salvaged resources or propagating varieties of plants.

It will be a little sad I imagine to part ways, but we’ve also out-grown it rapidly and its very much a natural transition for us. It would have been just right with the Two Little Fellas, but with the addition of Gran and her various requirements we’ve definitely overstayed.


Ultimately we need to recognise that while humans continue to build urban landscapes, we share these spaces with other species.

                                                                                                                          – David Suzuki

With the renovation of Tillellan and the clearing of the back of the block we have taken over stewardship of a part of the family history and a piece of urban land that despite its urban-ness, prior to the clearing of the block, was a real refuge and welcome habitat for local animal species.

Gradually these have started to return despite the fact that the earth is still relatively ‘bare’ to my standards. We have nearly accomplished a temporary  ‘skin’ over the ground of various edible plants, weeds, groundcovers and of course kikuyu. This will hold the sand in place until the next phase of development – hopefully to come early next year. In  the meantime the creatures have begun to return. Insects and birds were some of the first, although the birds are still moving through the garden area rather than living in it as such.


The King Skinks never really departed. They took shelter under the house during the extensive renovations and eventually set up residence in the various piles of salvaged timber and rocks. They are increasing in numbers which did occur as a curious thing. We only really had a few living under the house previously, but talking to one of the neighbours he revealed that he used to catch them and relocate them to the golf course down the road. He quit doing that some years back, so it now makes sense that the local population in the backyard has grown and we are actually seeing young skinks around the place.

As the vegetable garden grew and created a small jungle I started to notice a Western Green Tree Frog had also taken up residence. Probably after being kicked out of a previous home during a bit of clearing near the neighbour’s boundary. Also known as the Motorbike Frog due to the male’s mating call sounding much like a motorcycle changing up gears in the distance.

Next came the bobtail or Blue-tongued Lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) It also took up residence amidst the rockery where the morning sun hits early and there is plenty of nooks to hide in.

The current bird list for the block can be found here.

Over time we will no doubt see more and more life return to the garden as specialised pockets of land begin to take form and attract specific species.