The Garden & The Muse

cropped-apple-box1.pngIt’s 5 am and its dark. Really dark. Inside and out.

Gran, with little regard for the silence that embalms the house (because she’s losing her hearing), bursts from her bedroom door and wheels herself into the bathroom with an urgency we won’t see for the rest of the day. The noise echoes through the floorboards. The Little Fellas are restless. I can sense it.

I’m already awake anyway, sitting in the office. Planning the day ahead. Thinking. Making notes. Being aware. Practising my ‘Dad Radar’.  I have a few minutes before I anticipate hearing little feet across a big floor. The Muse shifts about listlessly in the house also. She’s been away so long now I can’t remember what she looks like. She has a habit of changing regularly anyway.

One of the Little Fellas comes in and joins me. He’s the first half. The Muse has fled by now, as he perches on the seat and begins the inquisition of questions and furtive, curious investigating of objects and pieces that litter the top of the desk.

My thoughts are with the garden. After putting it to the side for so long now I am feeling compelled to get it up and running. But there is much work to do still – and the other house needs finishing in order to put it on  the market. It’s closer. I’ve been working on it.

Autumn came so soon, and now it’s nearly gone. I implore for the Muse to return. We can consolidate our ideas over chilly winter nights and make plans for the Masterpiece that lies sleeping in the coming Spring.


A Happy Hum

tahitian lime petit paradis

The Tahitian Lime is in full swing. By that I mean it is humming! It is laden with fruit and is experiencing another wave of the most wonderfully perfumed flowers. These are being visited by hoards of bees which literally have the tree humming in the warm afternoon light. It is a joy visually as well as therapeutic to the ear. The hum emanates through the garden.

It is a pleasant corner of the what has now become ‘the old garden’ now that we have moved to – the new garden. In the corner is the lime tree, a mulberry in a pot, a lemon verbena which I use to flavour tea and a geranium which decided it liked that particular corner also and has set up home under the mulberry.

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.


April Update 2018

front pp

The front walls and earthworks. February.

How the year is moving by. . .


I have been working steadily to complete our last remaining room of the house – the utility room or mudroom. Once I get it completed we can start to move the items that are stored on the back verandah and get some resemblance of normalness occurring. Plus we can more conveniently store our preserving and gardening items and make some room in the garage. Which is one of the next projects.

After ten or so years we are down to a garage full of items – the equivalent of sorting about 3 1/2 houses worth of STUFF. I still have a couple of ute loads of items to send to auction but it is getting there. The auction has been great as it gets things out of the house and we get a cheque each week (for the mortgage!) once the items sell. It takes a lot of fuss and bother out of the whole thing. Facebook and ebay are much too bothersome at this stage and with our lifestyle to concern ourselves with. Other items have been passed on to special friends with Grans consent and blessings. Hooray!

Gran has been getting out more due to a reassessment of her activities and requirements and making a few changes. The path to the front drive-way has been completed as has the drive-way itself which has made things a lot easier. We have lightly mulched the front gardens to keep the sand down and yesterday I planted the roses that we have had in pots for nearly eighteen months, if not more. I was not sure where they would go, but the front gardens will be tended less frequently, get lots of sun, are mainly just sand and would do best with less maintenance. As a result the roses have gone in along with some butia palms and succulent ground covers. I’ve wanted to keep the theme of the garden relevant to the house and the neighbouring houses but still plant useful plants. A walk through a bunch of flowering roses on the way up the path will  be nice for Gran.

The rabbits have  been moved onto the first completed half of the raised garden bed and are doing a great job of manuring the garden. I’m not happy with the chickens setup at the moment so that is due to change. The coop is not easy to get to which means they get more neglected than the rabbits.

The garden itself has become a jungle of the highest fat hen you are ever likely to come across in your life.

The days are of course getting shorter now, noticeably so. The air is cool to crisp at night and the days are usually sunny and quite warm and the winds drop down to gentle breezes. I never really had a favourite time of year until I moved to Albany. Autumn is something special here.

Having said that, there is the faintest whispy pink clouds revealing themselves at sunrise which may mean some showers today. But not always. . . the day is shaping up to be like yesterday. Almost perfect.

Other jobs around the place which have been completed have been:

  • a new letterbox in keeping with the new house.
  • sanded and sealed the front deck and mudroom floor (which was originally part of the original sleep-out of the house).
  • fishing gear all sorted (and discarded or mended) thanks to Pop. I plan to take the boys fishing more often.
  • still steadily preparing the other house ready for selling, in my spare time. . .

Soon I hope to start making some of our first evaluations of the systems we have in place and how they are working or what we would change.


Fine, Humid, Hazy

It’s been really muggy the last few days. We had a shower of rain Tuesday night which freshened the garden up – then the sun came out.

I’d like to report that I’ve progressed things in the garden and built new garden beds, sorted out the animals and got things ready for autumn planting . . . but no, this has not occurred.


On top of the usual chores around the house, the growing list of jobs such as finishing the tidy up of the other house, and sorting things out in our new house to a respectable level . .  well, it keeps falling back. We’ve had visits and further trades folk calling in to tidy up loose ends.  Visitors for Gran to look over options for mobility and comfort and ease of living.

In essence I’ve simply given up with setting and working to a deadline for getting the house on the market. I have one, but I’m not attached to it by any means.

So really, just so you know, I haven’t gone away. I’m just mostly off-line sorting stuff out.