That Was Quite Some Year


Tasmanian Devil at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Hobart.


It seems strange to think that a year ago, almost to the minute as I post this (time zone difference accounted for), Mike and I were taking up our allotted seats on Hobart’s waterfront in Tasmania, eagerly anticipating the fireworks to welcome in 2019. We’d already come face to face with cassowaries in Far North Queensland, driven half way round the south coast of Victoria, sipped wine in McLaren Vale, cohabited with sixteen kangaroos on the island of the same name, bought a fitbit in Sydney and still had the outback of South Australia and WA’s glorious Margaret River region to come. Now many of those places are threatened by fire. Or smothered in the palls of smoke that the wildfires also bring. It is heartbreaking to think of the devastation and the catastrophic impact on the wildlife. Nor is the burden of responsibility lost on me.. we burnt up an awful lot of fossil fuel on that journey. (It all started here.)



On the home front it hasn’t been plain sailing either.

Prior to this Christmas Eve the last time we actually sat down in the sitting room was back at the end of March. Then it looked like this:



Oppressive black painted beams and wood chip wallpaper, three layers thick in places.



Between then and now we’ve had no shortage of surprises, some of them even nice ones: an old brick floor hidden underneath a thick layer of screed. It took Mike several days with a hammer and cold chisel to uncover it all.



And an even older cobbled hearth, likely original to the earliest part of the house.



The builder initially reckoned it would take three weeks. “Just a bit of patchin’ ‘ere and there..”



But you know how it is, the more you delve into something the more trouble you reveal.

(The Makita boom box radio was an early casualty. If it had stayed the distance either it or I would have ended up in the river.)






But you never know when a live-in building site is going to come in handy. If there’s a late frost the very same week you choose to demolish the greenhouse.. well, then it becomes very useful indeed. No carpets to spoil.



Along the way the sitting room became a desert.



A minor tsunami deluged the dining room.



And, good grief, even a tornado?

No. Just duct tape that’s lost its stick!



Whatever would we do without the sanctuary of a garden?



We built a wall..



And then took most of it down again, a project that may feature strongly in the months to come.



Strelitzia reginae. A bird of paradise raised from seed.

There’s another flower spike growing for next year too.


Much remains to be done to get the sitting room back to rights, it was a project that surpassed even the most pessimistic projections of time, cost and disruption. Even more so in the dining room which we mothballed a month or so ago in an effort to get at least one of the rooms habitable for Christmas. Yet more beam cleaning, wall painting and floor scrubbing, three doors to hand make from scratch, four roman blinds, a full length double curtain and enough cushions to fill a design emporium.. we may still be here this time next year.

But I know you won’t let me leave it just hanging in mid air. So here’s a sneak peek of work in progress:


March 2019December 2019


Whatever awaits us through this coming year I hope 2020 will be a happier, healthier and a safer one for you and yours.

Take care, Jessica x


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