Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Nearby our new home for the next 12 months while our house is being built is "Hanging Rock". It's infamous reputation comes from the book, Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay and published in 1967. In 1975, Peter Weir directed the film of the same name.
Victoria's hot summer has turned the grass to chaff but gives a strong contrast to craggy greys of the stump in the foreground and the volcanic rocks of Mt Diogenes (Hanging Rock) - Green Gum trees separate the grey. (from my iPhone)

As a child when my father owned a race horse, I have vague memories of attending the Hanging Rock horse races that are now held on both New Year's Day and Australia Day. My memories are of chasing grasshoppers all over the picnic ground and climbing the Rock. Horse racing has been run at Hanging Rock for over 100 years and its popularity continues to this day.

Hanging Rock is 718 metres above sea level and was named Mt Diogenes by Melbourne Surveyor Robert Hoddle in 1844. It is because of Hoddle that Melbourne's streets have been designed on a grid with wide streets. It's ironic that the street named after him (Hoddle Street) is one of the most traffic jammed street in Melbourne. Another source (other than Wikipedia)  tells me that it was Major Mitchell that named it. Maybe someone out there could inform me of the correct source.

The public reserve is heritage listed and all sorts of flora and fauna can be seen. Wildlife include koalas, wallabies, wedge tail eagles, kookaburras, possums among the many Australian native animals.

Today the reserve is also used for international outdoor concerts with Leonard Cohen, Rod Stewart, Bruce Springstreen and the Eagles delighting us Victorians. I'm sure once we actually settle in at our temporary house at Kyneton, we will have many more stories to tell of the local area.

I think we might enjoy having Hanging Rock on our doorstep.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

We're Moving Out

Our kitchen cupboards have never been so tidy and clean. I hope the new owners appreciate  the time I've spent making the place welcome for them. It's a matter of personal pride - isn't it?
We are moving out. Now only 11 days before the house is bare and we are living in the regional Victorian town of Kyneton until our new home is being built in the village of Trentham.

The car is packed full of memories of 33 years. Bruce the bear joined the family before Andrew, our first son was born. Both boys enjoyed rolling all over his fluffy body. He comes with us to the end of time.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Minimalist Christmas

Yep! That's what it is, a very minimalistic Christmas. Our two boys are overseas and our usual open house Christmas breakfast is cancelled due to the relocation operation to the country. I'm sure we will get our festive mojo back next year when we move into our (very) new home.

Having said that, I had my work breakup, we celebrated a friend's 60th birthday today and had Sue's brother and sister with respective spouses around for gift giving, eating and drinking and lots of laughter. The festive mojo is still lurking in the background.

Tomorrow My daughter Carly, her partner Sharn and Sharn's parents from the Gold Coast QLD join us for Christmas Lunch. It will be a great day.

So that is what I call our minimalistic Christmas (check out the Chrissy tree - its absolutely anorexic) for 2015. Sue and I wish our followers a very, very enjoyable and safe festive season and good health for 2016. If you can achieve both those goals, you will be very rich.

Thank you for reading whoever you may be out there.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Kyneton - Home to be Soon

We can't tell you how many times we have been back and forth to the central highlands of Victoria but recently it seems to be on a weekly cycle since we bought the land at Trentham and took out a lease on a rental property in Kyneton while our house is built.

Today we took another car load of bits and pieces to Kyneton, set up a guest room bed which will be our room until the BIG move early next month. It was hard work on a Victorian summer's day so we thought we would shout ourselves to a nice cold beer before returning home to Mentone, Our Home on the Bay.

We may need to change the name of our Blog next month with the relocation.

The hotel in its earlier form became licenced in 1852 to service the men on their way to the nearby goldfields od Castlemaine and Bendigo amongst the many other smaller towns that grew from the Victorian goldfields.

Note that our Citroen C4 enjoys a cameo in this photo.

The beers we had were at the Royal George Hotel - with a choice of 16 craft beers and ciders on tap. They organise a Brewer's Club and also a Beer School. We checked out their menu. 12 hour slow cooked lamb, crispy pork belly amongst the menu with some great local wines. They also have a local's Thursday night meal for $15.00 mains.
Early this year they were awarded Melbourne's radio station 3AW's Pub of the week.

I think we might like living here while our house is built.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Life is getting back to Normal

What's normal, you might ask - but life is getting back to some sort of normality. We are now drawing close to settlement of our house sale and this weekend I cleared a heap of rubbish into our fourth skip over the last three months..
This was the garage cleanup. 33 years in one house - yes, you do collect a lot of garbage in that time.

The mattress hides all below - I'm a very efficient packer if I do say myself
One of the lovely things about moving after so long in one "HOME" is that you find so many lovely memories from the past. Our boys, Andrew and Mitchell are now 30 and 27 respectively. As I was cleaning out their bedrooms, I found their school graduation bears.

This house - (more of a home) has been a place where our two boys and my daughter from my 1st marriage call home and they still do. Today I cleaned, vacuumed and packed the contents of both boy's rooms.
Memories that I felt could not go in the skip. How can you throw away a lifetime of memories.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Little Boxes

Everywhere we look, there's boxes all around the house.  We thought that getting the house all spiced up and going through the auction process was stressful - HA!

Try packing up 33 years of belongings - that's kitchenware, books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and many other things that you'd forgotten existed.

We are moving over the period of three weeks however the big removalist truck comes in on the 11th of January so we still have time up our sleeve.

Here's a little song about little boxes from Pete Seeger but I'sure he didn't mean cardboard ones.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Where too from here?

We are just starting to get our life back since the sale of the house. It's been a few weeks now and our house is returning to being our home.
There are no more open for inspection days where we had the house looking as though no one lives in the place. For the last month the house has had to look like a display home.

This is the plan of the house that we hope to start building in the new year.
Recently we had an appointment with a builder in the regional city of Ballarat before driving over to Trentham as we were invited for lunch and then to Kyneton to view three rental properties. Today we sign a 12 months lease on a rental house. We expect it will take to about 10 months for our new home to be built.

Looking at rental properties was quite depressing. The first that we looked at seemed to suit our short term needs however we were open to other possibilities so we viewed another two. It proved that it was a good idea as the first house, although not perfect does seem to tick many boxes in the short term.

With three bedrooms, a 2 car garage and a good sizes shed at the back, there will be enough storage space. It will be interesting living in the town that was on a list of choices initially. Kyneton is only 22 kms from Trentham and our block of land. We timed how long it would take to drive from Kyneton to my office. It took 45 minutes as opposed to driving from our home in Mentone to the office which can sometimes take up to 1.5 hours.

The move will create some future activity for the Blog - "Melbourne - Our Home by the Bay" may become, "Living in the Country".  I expect their will be renewed activity on the Blog with so much more to excite our new life. Kyneton and the surrounding region is littered with history. many of the towns between Melbourne and Bendigo were stop-off points to Victoria's rich gold fields. Most were a day's walk apart for those seeking riches of gold.

Today we are off to see our financial advisor to see what he has to say about our new found wealth after selling the house. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with for our future retirement.
We also pick up the keys for our rental property today and then visit the builder to start the the contract process for our new home in Trentham.

It should prove to be an interesting day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesdays in France

We've enjoyed six visits to Paris since 2006 - it's been our starting and finishing points to our travels in France. We are saddened by the recent events in the city of light (and Love). There are no words to express our emotions. Our thoughts go out to all our friends in France.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

We are Homeless Millionaires

Well its now all over and we can stop boring you with our home renovations. The Auction was on Saturday at 1.30 pm and 15 mins later it went under the hammer. Next thing we know our auctioneer had exceeded our reserve price by 20%. This makes our plans for retirement very doable.

It was quite a few stressful days of pondering over the various scenarios. What would it sell for, how much will we have available to build, and how much can we put away with our current retirement funds. Now we can relax and plan for the future.

The really nice thing is that the new owners are just like us when we made this house, our home. They are a young couple (30 somethings) with two primary school children. I'm sure they will breath new life into this home using their own personality.

Scenes from an Auction

All these B&W pics taken by our good friend Ell - Photographer of note.
One of the many friends that lent their support in labor and moral support over the many months to have our home ready for this Saturday's auction.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The House Saga draws to an end Tomorrow.

At 1.30 pm Melbourne time, No.2 Tolls Avenue Mentone will be in Auction mode.
Someone else will eventually get the keys to our home of 33 years.
We hope that they get as much joy as we have.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Friday visit to Trentham

Friday we took a visit to Trentham to see a builder and to wander around our plot of land. Our meeting was at 11.00 am at the local "Red Beard Bakery" which is situated down a small walkway. Sue loves their bread and is willing to spend what they ask for their artisan product.
As you can see from the photo, Trentham is gateway to the Wombat Forest. 

Trentham's past is known for its early gold mining and later its timber industry hence the railway to transport timber to the city.

After the meeting with the builder, we now know that we need to interview many more possible builders before deciding who will best suit us and our budget. We took a drive to the block to see what trees might need to be removed and then took a short walk to the creek that runs at the back of the council reserve that we back on to. It's so peaceful. The creek is known as Trent Creek and people use it for a relaxing route to the main street that runs through to the village centre.
On our short walk we met the local duck family - once we move in, Sue suggested that the local duck population may just dwindle. She loves cooking duck.

The residents that have property like ours, extend the visual ownership by mowing the council reserve for their own enjoyment.

Normally we have lunch at the Plough Hotel which has an excellent menu, service and ambiance. This time we thought we would give the Cosmopolitan Hotel a chance. They are two entirely different establishments. The Plough brings a bit of city cuisine to Trentham where the Cosmo is good old fashion Aussie pub food in a real country atmosphere. They both have their place in Trentham and its good that being so different to each other, they really don't compete within the same market.

A stroll down the main street took us into the small shops that cater both for the tourism and local crowd. There was a great eclectic shop selling all manner of gift ware, clothing, furniture and so many unrelated items that it took your eye through the many corridors and rooms with wonderment. Sue bought a set of five huge metal keys to hang on our wall at home.

The next shop was a book shop that would rival any other in Melbourne. Dr B's Bookstore (Brenda) runs creative writing workshops as well and told us that they are now building their home in Trentham by the straw bale method.

By this time we were coming to the end of our day in Trentham when Sue said that we have never visited the Trentham Railway Station which along with the Trentham Falls (a future post) is one of the tourist attractions of Trentham. So we took a drive to the station before heading back home to Melbourne. The drive to the edge of Melbourne CBD takes not much more than 1 hour with a speed limit of 110 kph - its once you hit the CBD and continue on to Mentone, "Our Home by the Bay" that you compete with the rest of the automobile fixated population. It takes almost the same time in peak hour(s) traffic from Melbourne CBD to home.

Trentham is becoming more familiar and comfortable to us with each visit.
Its a nice place to be.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

What Was is No More

Its come to the end of October. This time last year we were floating around Italy and France having just completed riding the L'Eroica cycling event in Chianti. This year we find ourselves in another exciting situation as we draw closer to the auction date of the sale of our house - November 14.

As I write this post, we are about to have our third open house inspection. After the first two, we've had a total of 36 inspections (some would have be neighbours) with 3 repeat inspections, 4 expressions of interest and 9 requests for section 32s. The activity looks promising however you can't help feeling anxious. We'll know more with another three open for inspection days to go.

It was 33 years ago that we walked into this house and knew it was for us. We were married in the backyard, surrounded by close friends and family. Three kids grew up in the house. Pets are buried on the property.

Melbourne - Our Home by the Bay will possibly cease to exist as we know it. Mentone will become a distant memory once sold. The bay will be replaced by trees, fields, forests and hills. Our pets will be the animals and birds of the bush.

We have been asked if we'll be sad to move on after all the work we've put into the house - maybe a little but this is softened by the exciting prospect to the next stage of our future.
We moved into our home in Mentone in the early 80s. It was almost original from the day it was built in 1929. Most of the  original features remained. Certainly the kitchen was.

Several years later we started the renovation - extension work and the kitchen was demolished along with the bathroom. In the background of this photo is the old claw foot bath.

You can see why it needed replacing - there was much mildew and rotting of timber.

You've seen this photo before - The house has gone from whites/cream to heritage greens and back to beachside whites again.

This one of our first full paint jobs in the greens.

We followed the theme inside with a wallpaper frieze under the picture rail.

As is is today - with two weekends before auction.
Bright and uncluttered.

And after the sitting room


And after - the dining room

PS: Another 19 groups came thru Saturday with two groups for their second visit - Hmmm, what should we think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Full Moon Over Suburbia

I'm sitting at the lights in our suburb of Mentone. I'm listening to Neil Young singing "From Hank to Hendrix". Cars flash by at 80 kms and faster and I think, "what would this full moon look like in Trentham? Will we see the full moon clearer, will we see bright stars in the night sky.

Do we see things clearer in the country? 
I'm being a little philosophical maybe.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

33 years and now under the hammer

We've been here for 33 years. We were married in the back yard, 2 boys grew up here, an extension after the first 10 years our house has now seen about three incarnations to this final project to offer for sale.

Saturday we had our first open house inspection with we are told that 24 groups looked through our home. Our neighbours say that there have been several cars passing by and inspecting the sale sign.
Before the Auction on November 14 we have both Wednesdays and Saturdays open house inspections.

What will we miss when we leave;
Family, friends and a house that has always been a family and friends house of entertainment. One of the lovely things we will miss is something we only just had repaired. The spot light that illuminates the iconic Australian trees - a Gum and a Jacaranda.

In the summer months we often spend the twilight on the back deck with a glass of wine with dinner. Tonight as we admired the floodlit trees, lightening illuminated the skies with the sound of thunder.
A small amount of drizzle fell on the grass but not enough to retreat inside.

I hope that the new owners enjoy the house as much as we have - whoever they may be in three weeks time.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

We Bought Land

We've mentioned Trentham in past posts on the Blog before - it sits on the Victorian Great Dividing Range at 700m above sea level and in winter it is one of the few towns than can get snow. It is a cooler climate area. There is a population of around 1400. Much the same size of the French villages that we have stayed in during our travels in rural France. Living in rural France has always been a bit of a fantasy of ours but Trentham just might be a small compromise of the dream.

It just so happened that we saw advertised, a block of land for sale during last week and so we decided to travel up to look at it Friday - only out of interest. We liked the look of it and then went to visit friends who live in Trentham. They came back to look at it with us and before we knew it, we were back at the real Estate office putting in an offer - it was accepted. Panic stations!!!

The block is a town block which is less that 500m from the main shopping hub of Trentham. Amongst the usual tourist shops are the bank, news agency bakery, two hotels and several cafes. I'll never be far from a good coffee after a ride.

I guess we have to start looking at what type of house we can build on the block. It needs to be energy efficient and sympathetic to the local environment. It might have an early style architecture, or then again maybe very modern. One thing for sure - it will have Sue's dream kitchen.

This is the front of the block facing the street. The two small trees to the right will need to be removed to allow for entering the block. The size is 1110 square metres. 
Looking down towards the other end of the block just beyond the last lot of trees you can see what is a Crown Land Reserve that gives an impression that the block is almost twice the size. 
In the fist third of the block is this magnificent tree that has come into full bloom. It could make a great summer retreat if we trimmed the lower branches. 
Now looking from the lower end of the block towards the front.
Trentham takes its name from the English town in Staffordshire with the first survey in 1857. Acreage from 99 to 595 were sold not much later. 1864 was the year that the area was surveyed for the town with most blocks being around half an acre. Trentham was built on the timber industry and prospered when the railway came from Daylesford. Timber was brought by dray to the railway and transported to Daylesford. There are still several of the early buildings surviving and although the railway has closed, the station remains as one of the town's attractions.

Much to Sue's liking, Trentham and the surrounding towns encompass a very enthusiastic foodie culture that promotes the local produce.