Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sydney big day out

Well we have a final date now - the handover of our house will be on the 18th August. One of the faults was the sliding door lock which they replaced and hence my key doesn't work so no update pics this week. Only the retaining wall has gone in and our internet connection 100MBps is live :-). We opted for the 60Gig monthly cap.

We took a day off the house and went into the city for a day out:

There is a ferry terminal called Circular Quay - it is like a little bay / harbour between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. It is to the left of this little park called Herald Park if memory serves. Nice water feature though no park as such.

We had some lunch at a restaurant we've eaten at a couple of times before called Rossini, which is on Circular Quay. I took this shot from inside the restaurant looking out. Good food and well priced.
Waiting for lunch... The little fingers on the right reaching for another rice cake. Ours was a bit more flavourful!
There was a coffee festival going on - called The Rocks Aroma Festival (the area under the Sydney Harbour Bridge is called The Rocks) and featured all sorts of spiced coffee. As a non-coffee drinker I never tasted any and managed to keep the others moving along. Apologies for those who would have liked a report. That is the Sydney Youth Orchestra on the stage.
A small part of the large crowd. You can see the public recycling bins on the left - all garbage is separated here in Aus and people by and large do the right thing.

Not a great pic, but just showing the bridge on the left and the Opera House on the right.
This is the iconic Sydney Tower. I feel like a tree hugger, but they have mounted an ugly, garish red sign on top. It reads Westfields -which is the name of a large retail group of shopping centres here who have recently built a shopping centre under the tower. It is money gone nuts - I don't know how they could mar a landmark with that ugly sign! It really is jarring. If I had the time I would start a petition or Facebook site to have it taken down. It seems money can buy anything.

Just a shot I took from the train station at Circular Quay of 2 buildings I thought were quite striking.The domed one has glass all the way to the top. I really think Sydney has one of the world's prettiest skylines.

Cheers till next week!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Painting weekend

The past week has been unreal weather wise! We have had the wettest July in Sydney for 61 years so the plot is a mud bath! I should've taken photos, but didn't think of it at the time. When we move in, on the advice of G our landscaper friend we will work about a ton of river sand into the garden which is mostly clay as well as a chemical that breaks up the clay before we churn in the compost. We spent the weekend cleaning up a bit and painting the 2 studies. I vacuumed all the bedrooms and the one study where carpets will be laid down as I suspect that most times, the carpet guys give the room a perfunctory sweep and then throw the underlay and carpets down.

Carmen's study turned out really well - I am not sure if you can see on the photos, but it is in a textured paint called Suede and the colour is Sage green. Apart from the house, the other finishes like the fence and blinds etc. look like they are going to end up being around 35k so we had to make a call and decided that sadly the plantation shutters would have to wait. This room will now have white blinds for the time being and we'll save up for the shutters. :-( My study is more controversial - it is really dark - with the high window as you will see below it is what I was aiming for - I have heavy dark furniture and will have dark bookcases - I like the old look so as I have told those over here who have raised their eyebrows, give it until the paintings and furniture are in before final judgement. However, though I would like other people to like our house in general, my study is the one place where it doesn't matter what people ultimately think - it is the one piece that is entirely mine (and partially the bank's for now) on the planet - if I felt like putting in a purple polka dot ceiling, I would! Anyway. The rain prevented the fence or driveway from being put in, but the tiling is done. More shots when it is cleaned up next week.
Have a great week!

PS: Please don't mention the rugby...

Carmen's study. Although too 'girly' for me, I think it will look really nice when the carpet and her furniture is in.

Nice view of the portaloo from the study. On that subject, we have to pay $350 per quarter just for the privilege of having recycled water for the garden on top of our water bill! Time to vote the green nuts out of parliament. Can't wait till we can vote!

The entrance to the study - it was a lot of work. Photos of painted walls are not exciting, but it was so labour intensive, I am taking a moment to just appreciate our handiwork :-)
My study - awaiting the dark wood (actually bamboo cos it's harder) floors and furniture. I have to confess Carmen was a little bit cheesed with me - she painstakingly took over half an hour to put the special masking tape on the skirting boards in preparation for the painting and I even popped in to check she was doing it carefully enough, which didn't impress her. After she had finally finished and her butt was almost asleep from scooting along the hard floor, I remembered that I was painting the skirtings the same colour.... I was not popular. Ooops!

Somebody mailed me and asked for a shot of the top - here it is - en suite basins.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wet areas almost done

So we arrived back from SA and the house has progressed a little. Bathrooms are tiled, though the mosaic inlay in the main bathroom was left out, so they will have to rip out the tiles and put that in. The power is now connected and lights are in but the 8 dimmer switches are not in (I don't like harsh lighting) so those will also have to be replaced. Excuse the place - everything is still covered in grouting dust and the main tiled areas have yet to be done though the tiles are on site. Still, we're getting closer..... it looks like they will be throwing the driveway slab this week and the fence will be done as they commenced work on that as well. Back to work tomorrow :-(.

Looking down the hallway towards the front door (tiling not done yet). The red dot on the ceiling is the temporary cover for the smoke alarm. You can clearly see in this shot the 2 dark spots - the skylights will be installed directly above these to eliminate them.
The en suite shower. Not big, but 3 heads - 1 for Carmen and 1 for me - we never shower together as we fight about the water too much so this should address that! The middle one with the hose is mainly to make cleaning the shower easier.
The double basin in en suite - another place of grumpy morning battles. The handles are still inside the draws to protect them for now. The cabinet doors and draws are soft-close - for if we have little ones later on.
Hmmm - this blog is going downhill. Back to wall WC's so no dust behind - one of life's little irritants gone. The supplier threw in soft close lids as well - apparently toddlers love to slam WC lids so nice to have in case!
The guest WC off the main bathroom. Some people questioned why we put in a separate basin and WC from the main bathroom, but if we one day have kids or overnight guests and somebody is in the bath or shower, the WC is still available for use.
The bath - which we will never use but is essential for kids I guess. The waterfall spout was Carmen's request.
Window's a little too big for my liking....
Laundry. Yes it is small - I wanted basically a Laundry walk in closet size area, but architect convinced me for resale had to have one. I grudgingly gave space. Taps are normal not Grohe like the rest of the house. Probably most unloved space in the house.
Shot from other side of laundry. The bowl is over sized to allow for scrubbing of braai (barbecue) grids and pots so kitchen sink does not get messed up. Broom cupboard size designed to take vacuum cleaner and ironing boards so no clutter. One of my cheapest purchases but most rewarding were the wall bracket mounts that will be mounted inside the cupboard from IKEA to hold the irons and the vacuum cleaner hoses and pipes to avoid clutter in there as well. We have draw organisers for all our draws in kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms and draw and cupboard shelf liners as well to try and keep things tidy.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Grotto Bay

I don't know if it ever happens to you that you occasionally wonder about what your life would have been like if it had taken a different path. Today we took a drive out to one of my favourite places in the world, Grotto Bay, outside Cape Town. It is an estate on a nature reserve right on the coast. There is a brand new house (photo below) that is not quite finished and that has been for sale for a while and it always reminds me of the pictures you see in books of Cape Cod in the US. If Carmen and I had stayed in SA it is what we would have bought. This house has a fireplace and nestles in the wild unspoilt fynbos of the West Coast, with nothing but beach sand between you and the sea about 75 metres below on a pristine white beach. And then my aunt who lives there told us of a spate of of break-ins that had been occurring in the reserve - mercifully unknown up until relatively recently. Once she started outlining the upgrading of the security arrangements that had become necessary in the wake of these incidents, I remembered again that we had considered purchasing houses similar to this one prior to our move to Aus, but realized the futility of trying to outrun the blight that the scourge of criminality has brought upon this land. It makes no difference anymore if I am angry or sad at it all... it's just the way it is... and in a few days I go home to Aus...
If you click on the image to enlarge it, you can get a sense of how special this place is.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


It’s been 3 years. Just 36 months. The time it takes to do a degree. The length of the warranty on a car. The length of time to perhaps pay off a lounge suite.
How far have I travelled in 36 months? 150 000km by road and 50 000 by air?
How many meals have I eaten? 3285?
How many sunsets have I looked at? Not seen. Looked at. Maybe 3?
How many sunrises over the water have I enjoyed? Maybe 2?
How many harsh words have I spoken and written?
How many kind?

How has it mattered that I lived while you died?
Did I think that because it was you in the accident and not me Kirst, that it somehow matters? That I survived and not you? How has it mattered? That I escaped Fate’s cruel blow and you didn’t? When Plato spoke through Socrates about those that avoid death at all costs, he said: they think it will be a dreadful thing to lose their lives; as though they would be immortal if you did not put them to death (at that time)

Truth be told, I have not being worthy of this gift. I have wasted and squandered minutes and hours and days. Were you here you would have chastised me to suck in the very air I breathe, greedily and with vigour, knowing that every breath is a second chance.
And so I ask 2 things now: forgiveness from you and then the God who every moment of every day gives me life and holds me in being. That I may recall your memory and His presence which call me to account, especially in the midst of my distracted forgetfulness. As Boethius put it: we earthly creatures dream of our origin, however faint the vision.
And secondly that you pray for us that we may always head towards that true Good, the source of our life and its journey’s end. Rest in peace, dearest Kirstin. You are so very deeply missed. Until we meet again.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

What's behind the grey door?

We went to the house today to take shots of the tiled areas, but the door was locked and the cylinder missing so I could not use my key :-(. Well the front door and the luandry side door was painted so that's about as exciting as it gets this week. Should be somethings to see on our return. I am taking my camera with to SA and will see if I have a gap to blog here and there.

PS: those mysterious white blocks in my lounge last week are what they use to 'brick' the bathtub in, instead of using normal bricks. Still weird.

Cheers for now!