Thursday, June 30, 2016

Malmsbury's Small Holdings

Fridays at the Colliban Foodstore in Trentham was our special place for that glass of bubbles on our "Champagne Friday" but alas, it has been sold and new owners are dragging their feet to reopen it.

Nevertheless we have discovered a new treasure by the name of Small Holdings in Malmsbury and we think it is a keeper. It's run by the bearded Dave and with his chief chef and kitchen staff in full view of full proceedings, it offers a very friendly ambience. It's almost like being in the company of good friends who are cooking in the kitchen just for you - not a bad wine choice either and Dave knows how to make a macchiato. Small Holdings was a timber church at one time and previously was run by the "2 Dans" whom now run the Wedge in Kyneton. Previously they worked with Annie Smithers at her one hat restaurant in Trentham.

We've been to Small Holdings several times now and can't think of a better place to bring our friends from Melbourne for brekky or lunch. Dave is the most congenial host and plays an eclectic bunch of background music, mainly soft jazz and middle of the road classics.

Take the opportunity to get off the fast moving freeway from Melbourne to Bendigo and on any Thursday to Sunday, pop in to say hello at Small Holdings. We do!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Waiting for the Concrete............

Not a great deal I can report on the house project today. We expected that our slab was to be poured today but a building inspector had chucked a spanner in the works with a minor inconsistency with the metal bracing we are told so back to the drawing board. We were informed that the slab was to be poured subject to weather conditions and guess what? Today was perfect and the rest of the week, guess what? Rain predicted.

We are informed that the metal framework goes up sometime next week so JG King have a bit of time up their sleeve at this stage - I guess!!!!

I digress, sure - we did go to Trentham is check out the progress to date however I sold two of my self published books last week and needed to post them off. There is something about feeling local when sending off mail from your Post Office. Had a chat with the post mistress, telling her that I was a celebrated author and these were my books (LOL).

I also took out a PO Box which made me feel like I was more of a local - we also joined the local car club and the local Life Activities Group, so we are meeting people and becoming part of the local community.

Trentham's first Post Office established July 16, 1862. Photo taken 1869.
Trentham's Post Office today.
We are getting to meet the locals though and the town has that village feel that Kyneton does not have due to its larger population. Maybe if we arrived 20 years ago, it may have be different. Having said that, Kyneton has a lot to offer in many other areas. It is a bit of a Foodie Town with some great eating places, produce and I do like the cycling friends that I have met.

With only possibly seven working days left before the frame arrives, we expect that JG King will meet their schedule however the weather here will be a deciding factor.

Monday, June 27, 2016

A French Village Interlude

2014 we took a trip to Italy and France. We are not allowed to arrive in Europe without visiting our friends in the Loire. They are expats from around the world and have found their little escape to the country, BUT, their escape was outside their own country unlike us.

They came from the UK, the USofA and the land of down under - how brave were they. They unknowingly gave us the courage to do our own escape to the country. We only escaped no more than 2 hours by car, nevertheless it is our little village away from the rat race.

It may have been 2008, the memory becomes a little blurred after seven trips to France but we met two lovely kind people who made the move from the UK to their home in the Loire. We leased their cottage for a week in the village of Thenay. On subsequent visits we made our way back to say hello. On those visits, we met other expats and listened to their stories of how they made a new home from their roots. 

In a strange sort of way, they influenced us to make this move from "Melbourne, Our Home by The Bay" to "Our Country Life". They know who they are. We thank you.

The pictures below are from that little village in the Loire, Thenay which we hold dear in our memory.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Boys are Back in Town!!!

Can't believe that the boys were back in town (TRENTHAM that is) today in the weather conditions up here (700+ metres). The quagmire that was yesterday is no more. The waffle blocks arrived, the crushed rock has been laid and all the plumbing and electrics are completed awaiting the pouring of the slab next week. Whahooo.

Styrene waffle blocks which will be covered by concrete next week - we hope!

To the left is the Tradies Loo - in the foreground is the reinforcing for the concrete.
Front of house looking towards the bedroom and study. The white uprights are the plumbing for the en-suite, kitchen and butler's pantry.
The area not covered by screed is our Alfresco under roof area for summer outdoor  entertainment. Its L-Shaped.
There are ceiling fans for those hot days and cafe blinds for the evenings with a little chill to the air.
Just to give you a better idea what the finished product may look like, here's a brochure pic of the facade. The variations are that we are going for a colorbond corrugated tin roof and extending the eaves from 450mm to 600mm to give a more country feel to the house. We would have preferred to design the house to fit more to a country look but found that the costs left less in the retirement funds due to the cost of architects. Better in our pocket than theirs.

This is out of the catalogue and our house will be the reverse of this with the renders colours on the facade shown below.
Sue picked the colours with a palette of greys that allows us to use the colours of the accessories to  give it the wow factor. I personally love the red entrance door. The living room being the darker grey will lift with our light grey lounge suite and some bright colours with the accessories to lift the room. It is a room to relax in with a glass of desert wine and an espresso at the end of the night in front of the telly.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Moving quickly

We went up to the block again today with friends and we were pleasantly surprised that work was moving quickly. Today we found that all the screw piers were driven into the earth and the Plumbers had arrived to lay the plastic pipes for our water supply and refuse.

Things are moving quickly - we are hopeful that the momentum continues.
Next come the Electricians to install the power before the concrete slab is poured over both the Plumbers and Electrician's work. We are surprised at the swiftness of progress considering that the contractors are battling against the weather conditions recently. I suspect at this rate we may even see that frame started by early next month.

Just to change the subject a little - yes, we have had some rain lately and the creek (I refer to it as a brook which drives Sue crazy) at the back of our property is now in full flow. It is a tributary to the Coliban River which then makes its way to Trentham Falls. We have blogged the Falls before but now it is in full flow as the river makes its way to the three reservoirs below (Coliban/Lauriston/Malmsbury).
BTW, we are over 700 metres above sea level in Trentham and the forecast for Friday may offer our first flurry of snow.

This little creek/brook finds its way down to the Trentham Falls. The locals tell us that in the past it was full of trout - maybe they will come back this spring.
Last time we were here during summer, the falls were flowing like a leaking tap.
I have to say that the cold is taking some getting use to but maybe next winter we can take off to warmer climates next winter. France sounds good for next July for the Tour de France.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Next Stage

The weather here has been dismal - wet, misty and foggy, yet the tradesmen continue to progress to the stage where the concrete slab is poured. We are impressed. It hasn't always been so with a 6 month period from the day that we paid our first deposit. There has been miscommunication over that period that has caused delays. We met up with our supervisor last week and he seems to be really organized and sympathetic to our needs to be in before Christmas.

Today the Screw Piers were driven into the soil and during the week we expect that the Plumbers and Electricians will have weaved their magic to allow the slab to be poured. In preparation we have had to employ our Bobcat man to grade and deposit gravel and stone for the big truck's access. We'll post a few photos of that soon.

I thought we might bring you some of the features of the house starting with the kitchen and living areas. (Sue's domain)

For those of you that know Sue, the kitchen is her Man-Cave. It's where she designs, creates and serves her magical meals (that's my opinion, possibly shared by others). The kitchen, dining and family area is designed for family, friends and guests to enjoy the experience of food, wine, conversation and overall friendship. You'll note that there is a butler's pantry. It's like a room of its own where I do the clean-up.  It measures approx 3m x 3.5m and all the appliances sit on the benches. Rather than having two sinks in the island bench, Sue decided to move them into the Butler's Pantry along with the dishwasher and retain a single sink so that allowed for more serving area and less mess in the kitchen. We will replace the dishwasher with a wine chiller under the island bench.

The dining area takes up a space of 4.2m wide and flows into the family area with a width of 4.5m. The family area will have a wood burner on one wall however there will be two walls with double glaze glass sliding doors opening up to the L-shaped alfresco area. This is where in summer we will do most of our entertaining. It looks out over the government reserve that banks onto our property. The reserve is frequented by all species of local birds and animals. Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Parrots and Cockatoos.

The alfresco is fitted with cold and hot water taps to a sink so "I" can wash up outside. The alfresco was actually smaller however since we were "downsizing" (Ha!!!) we deleted the fourth bedroom to give us the extended alfresco.

Be tuned for the next instalment of our journey.

Sue and I would like to extend best wishes to our friends in the Loire, France with the recent floods. We know of some dear friends that had some dramas with water entering their home. Other's were more fortunate but still experiencing some inconvenience.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The House

Finally our build has started - after six months of negotiations, changes, alterations, and unexplained delays, its all now happening.
We arrived to meet our supervisor as he was about to erect the builder's board with our names on it.
We went to the block Thursday to see that the site had been marked out and then later in the afternoon  a gentleman with a Bobcat arrived to level the site for electricians, plumbers, and the cement guys to start on the slab base and weave their magic. In two to three weeks time we expect the slab to be ready for the house frame to begin.
Looking north 
Looking east
We signed off with a deposit just prior to Christmas 2015 - plans were drawn up, changes were made and a final building quotation was offered for approval. Nope, sorry but this is not correct or matching our instructions - back to the drawing board. What's the delay, what, someone is on leave???? A further delay. We are asking each other, should we continue or pull the pin and start fresh?
Here's the house plan - click on the image for a larger view.

Site Plan showing the location of the house on the block.  Our land size is 1100 squ and the house is 33 squ. So much for downsizing!!!
I became assertive (agitated) and things start to happen, we now get to the pointy end and we are seeing some actual progress.
Our supervisor whom we met yesterday vows to push ahead to ensure that the company makes up time and we can move in prior to Christmas this year.

More to come on the Blog - keep tuned!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


On Wednesdays I meet up with a group of cycling retirees - let's call them the Pedalling Pensioners. I ride 17 kms from Kyneton to Woodend a bit earlier so I can have a coffee at my fave cafe in Woodend. It's owned by two Italian brothers, Joe and John. They always say, "Leon the usual? Double shot Cappuccino?" They make the best coffee, only as Italians can and their pastries are superb.

That's Joe serving a customer from his little window to a regular passer-by.
He has a great memory for names and a wonderful personality.
As you can see there is a slight Italian flavour to the decor.
And the nibbles are not too bad either.

Click on the images to get a larger view and I'd be very interested in your thoughts on the prices.
The Aust $ is 72c to US$ and maybe 60c to the Euro.

I should take Sue there soon for breakfast but we are so spoilt for the culinary delights in the Victorian Central Highlands.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Trentham Thursday

The photo on our masthead was taken last October about the same time we bought our block in Trentham. We were just coming into spring and the brook at the end of the block was flowing. The locals tell me is use to have trout. Since December, the brook had dried up but over the last two weeks the rains have come and the brook is starting to babble again. Trent Creek as it is known feeds into the Coliban River which then cascades over Trentham Falls and towards three reservoirs that supplies the water to the Central Victorian region.
Trent Creek - the babbling brook

The brook runs through the town reserve at the end of our block giving the impression that our land is larger.
Several of our neighbours tend their section of the reserve and in some cases do not erect a border fence.

The ducks have returned.

Not only is this duck in the foreground enjoying the wet, but in the background can be seen, a magpie having an afternoon bath.

Today being Thursday, I have a ritual of having breakfast at a local Trentham cafe called Chaplin's. I think its run by a couple of women with a passion for Charlie.  There is much memorabilia of Charlie Chaplin and they supply the best croissants. This breakfast of croissants and coffee is to get me in the right frame of mind to play Petanque.  I figure that croissants and Petanque after driving to Trentham in our Citroen put me in the right French frame of mind to toss these metal balls  with great accuracy. (wrong).
So after the game we wandered off to the local bakery (there's 2 in Trentham) to have hot chocolate and donuts and talk rubbish ranging from the game, cars, retirement and the local goings on in Trentham. Today I took my tape measure with me as I wanted to suss out where we could build the mane-cave and the garden shed. While there, one of the Petanque players and a car enthusiast friend decided to join me to offer some advice on the placement of the man-cave.

Just some ideas I've seen that look interesting for the backyard shed

Incidentally I also joined the local Trentham Car Club. It has 110 members and goes by the name of "Cool Country Classic Car Club". Our 1974 Citroen GS Estate (or Break in France) gives us eligibility.

Sue is not impressed and thinks our little Citroen GS is a very ugly car but at least it will be handy to cart garden manure to the property!!!!

The other great news is that we finally have been told that building will begin during next week after several hold ups. Whahoooo!