August 2013

Ouch. So much has happened and I haven’t updated. We got the cottage and have moved in.

O-kay. I have finally stopped running long enough to post an update. The reason is that we are now sitting on a long haul flight from Sydney to LA. So, back to where we left off.

After little over 2 years there, we have now left the paddock.

We spent a week staying in a cabin at the Eaglehawk Park, just over the border from the ACT on the Federal Highway, while the bus was repaired from accident damage (yes, driver error, backed into a post about a year ago, then clipped a post last month at a service station, both on the same corner). We managed to wrangle the cabin furthest away from all the others, which provided us with a private area where we could let the dogs run around, supervised of course.

Kelly wasn’t particularly happy about not having the run of the place.

It was a pleasant break from the bus, during which time we were submitting rental applications, firstly for the one mentioned last month and then for another one slightly further out towards Lake George on the northern side of the highway. The bus came back after a week looking like brand new. I would certainly recommend Bill O’Brien Smash Repairs.

We were informed that we had missed out on the first cottage, shortly after we had been accepted for the second one, which turned out to be be far better anyway, with 2 bedrooms, one of which is now rather full of “stuff”. I made the mistake of mentioning that I might be working on the bus over the my mandatory Christmas to New Year work stand down period, which generated copious discussions about noise, mess, disposal of waste material etc, at which point I gave up on that idea. Coincidentally, I offered the bus to a work colleague who needs onsite accommodation for his daughter for 6 months, starting in November, so I may well be able to work on it, just not at the cottage.

The cottage itself is part of a much larger shed with lots of undercover area, including a small garden shed which we can use for storage. We moved in over the weekend of the 10th, with several trailer loads from the shed in the paddock, followed by 2 trips from the storage unit in Queanbeyan, thanks to my colleagues Frank & Evan, ably assisted by Gary from BlazeAid, while his wife Colleen helped Julie to get things organised inside. We kinda camped for a week, while we had the bus right outside our door, emptying it out, then we used the following weekend to get the place shipshape.

After taking the bus out to show it to the work colleague, I managed to get it back up the driveway, past the house and cottage, down the driveway off into a paddock, turn it around and with the help of Kara (wife, property owner), shift her father’s car trailer (yep, hitched it up to the bus, pulled it out, backed it in again a bit further over) and put the bus front in with just inches to spare on both sides. Actually, it turned out quite well, because it’s out of sight (Kara’s requirement) and partially protected by the car trailer from the howling winds we’ve had recently, but still accessible to us. While I still had Frank’s trailer, I also went out to Bookham and collected a sofa bed (couch) for free. I have become quite adept at starting a fire each night, which ends up pushing out enough heat that we can sit on the sofa, nicely warm during the evening. We love this cottage!

The owners lived in the cottage before they built the main house, just across the driveway, so it’s quite well appointed and well insulated. After a few “interesting” tenancies, they spent quite a sum of money adding a brand new kitchen and bathroom / laundry, aiming at a better class of tenant. Clearly that has succeeded, because they now have us! Julie has loads of cupboard space that even she is unlikely to fill completely! I cut a box of wood from the woodpile just outside the door each night, enough to burn that night.

I also installed a “fence” of sorts to guide the dogs from the unused door out through the side gate to the back yard, which goes all the way around behind the whole shed. While it keeps Angel in a safe environment, Kelly rapidly figured out that he could pull down on the fence enough to walk out over it. Fortunately, he knows where “home” is and doesn’t go far.

The house sitter whom we had originally arranged to look after bus and dogs, was equally happy to look after cottage and dogs. Steve arrived on Thursday, spending 2 nights on the sofa bed, and will be moving into our bedroom today. He & I were awake at various times during the night, during one of which, he said he was enjoying listening to the cuckoo clock ticking and NOTHING else. Although I miss the sound of the frogs in the paddock, I am also enjoying the quiet, punctuated occasionally by a semitrailer out on the highway that is just loud enough to hear and not enough to disturb. We love this cottage!

Steve arrived before I got home and Kelly immediately treated him as friend rather than intruder. The next day, when Julie left for work, he jumped off the bed and onto the sofa bed with Steve, promptly went to sleep, and didn’t even say goodbye. She was miffed but pleased. Steve is one of those wonderful people who just “fits in”. He dropped us off in our car at Jolimont Centre in Civic and we caught the 8am Murray’s Express bus to Sydney International. After checking in for the flight, and scoring exit row seats because the booking had placed us several rows apart, we only had about half an hour for lunch, before making our way at a leisurely pace (for a change) though Immigration and Security to the boarding lounge. It has started out as a relaxed trip. We have a week staying with April, Mike & Duncan, then we’re off on a 7 day cruise to Alaska via the Inside Passage. I fully expect my camera and its “new” zoom lens will get a major workout.

Thursday. For the most part, it has continued as a relaxed trip, with only a few minor exceptions. Our original booking, way back in January, put us on Alaska flight 465, but more recent flight changes put us on flight 467 at the same time, with 465 running the same route a few hours later. Like another couple, we had simply put our luggage into the transfer area for inclusion on the nominated flight. Which of course was not the one we were on. It worked out OK and our bags were on the doorstep when we got back from wherever we went on the Sunday. We’ve done a lot of hanging out with Duncan during the days, as he is still on holidays this week, and with April & Mike when they get home from work. We’ve done quite a bit of shopping for things we can’t get at home, or for dramatically cheaper prices.

On Monday, I went with the kids to the community ice rink for an open skating session, to coincide with a coaching session one on one for Duncan with his hockey coach. I managed to maintain my status of upright and mobile simultaneously! And learned a bit more about how to skate.

Last night, while the girls were shopping at WalMart, the boys went to the batting cage for Mike to get some softball batting practice in and for me to prove to myself that I still hit a ball. And in the back ground, I am working on upgrading April’s and my laptops with bigger disks.

Friday, the kids took a day off work and we went out to the Evergreen State Fair at Monroe. I have put up some random pictures from our wanderings.

The dragon is actually a prize winning cake.

The last thing we did was to watch the racing pigs. The first set shows the pigs flat racing.

The second and third show them taking hurdles.

And the final set shows Duncan holding the extra high hurdle and the pig taking the door in it in favour of jumping it.