Waste not, want not!

Since my Nan died last year I’ve been spending a couple of nights a week with my grandfather to keep him company in the evenings.  He’s not short of company during the day, my mum and her sisters visit him regularly.

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He’s doing really well on his own and likes to keep himself busy pottering around the house and garden.

Last week when I was doing a few jobs for him I noticed this washing basket trolley.

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check out the wheel!

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My granddad clearly comes from a generation where the term ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ applies to wheels.

Love you Stan the Man!!!

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June Mary

A few weeks ago we lost a very special member of our family . June Mary, our lovely, sweet Nanny.

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One of the main reasons I began this blog was so that my grandparents could be kept up to date with the renovations.  Despite the fact that they only lived thirty minutes from us, it wasn’t as easy for them to jump in the car and pop over as much as they would have  liked.

For as long as I can remember, my grandparents have always  been keen DIY’ers,  Nanny always keen to pull up her shirt sleeves and give things ago but in her element out in the garden.

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Accessing the internet was a new thing for them and a challenge at the best of times but they were always keen to know what was going on here at the house, I would encourage them to jump online and  ‘check out Old Pearly Jenkins’.  With a few hiccups here and there, they’d do it, ringing me to give us praise and bucket loads of encouragement.

My Nan was a twin, born in Derby, United Kingdom on the 29th of May 1937.  June and Valerie , the only children for Bernard and Florence (Flo).

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June met my grandfather Stan  the mid 1950s. They married and started a family.  My mother Beverley, the oldest of their three daughters.

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Stan joined the British Army, The Royal Leicestershire Regiment and together as a family had the opportunity to live in Malta and Germany as well as other parts of the United Kingdom.

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After my grandfather retired from the Army in the early 1970s the family emigrated to New Zealand and eventually to Brisbane, Australia.

In the last few months of Nanny’s life I would go to their house after work on Wednesdays for dinner.  After the dishes were done, the television would be turned off and the three of us would pull our chairs together.

Between the two of them they would talk about their lives together and I would quietly listen and record these conversations on my phone.  Both Nanny and Stan wanted their stories recorded before it was too late.  I’m so glad that we spent the time doing this.  We have captured these precious memories forever.

Never one to dwell on the negative, Nanny June soldiered on despite being so ill,  always with a big cheeky grin and a funny joke to share.  Only in the later part of the illness did the cracks being to show.

She was taking a lot of medication to try to ease the pain but the side effects were rough on her. But again, never would you hear her moan or complain!  She was just so grateful for the little extensions of time it gave her.

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Stan and June celebrating their wedding anniversary this year.

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Always full of positivity, laughter and happiness our lives seem a little empty without Nanny June.  My grandfather Stan has lost his best mate, my heart goes out to him.

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I miss you Nan,  we all miss you xox

 

 

A weekend in Auckland, New Zealand – Part One.

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Recently my mum and I went to Auckland, New Zealand to visit family but still managed to squeeze in a little shopping.  It was cold and raining when we went to Morris & James at Matakana and I decided to buy a blue pot to add to our collection  and worry about how I was going to get it home later…

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I brought  the pot home as hand luggage, at customs I was asked to explain why I had a bucket in my bag.  I told them it was a plant pot.  The customs officer looked very puzzled but let me through.  He said it was the first time he’d ever had  someone bringing a plant pot onto a flight.  It was heavy but it looks right at home now with  a Duck topiary and Viola seedlings planted in it.

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HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!!!

Happy Australia Day!!!

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It’s been a very wet day here in Brisbane today, much to the disappointment of many Queenslander’s who probably had plans to spend it at the beach or at home with  family, friends, beers and a bbq.   We’ve had a very  hot and dry Summer so far so I’m enjoying the cooler temperature and the rain.

Because its Australia Day, I feel its only fitting that I post these photos.

Twice a week I drive to Ipswich for work.  For those not familiar with Brisbane, Ipswich City is approximately a 30 – 40 minute drive from Brisbane.  I pass some beautiful old ‘Queenslanders’ on my route and some that have seen better days. Sitting on a very busy road by some traffic lights there is a house that is a little worse for wear.  But if you look really closely you’ll see an Emu and a Kangaroo in the gable panel.  It is, I believe the Coat of arms of Australia. 

I found some interesting information about fretwork gabled panels on the The Woodworkers’ Company website.

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You can still  buy something similar from timber joinery suppliers like the Woodworkers’ Company .  There are other designs available  too but not quite so Patriotic!

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So who is Old Pearly Jenkins??

Old Pearly JenkinsOnce the house was ours, I couldn’t wait to get started researching its history.  It was so exciting to receive the copy of the original Certificate of Title.  I raced off  to the Brisbane City Archives in Moorooka.  I wanted to find out when the house was built.   I was looking for any kind of record for permits. I spent many hours going through the records and found nothing!!  The title has lots of different names on it and I tried all of them.  All I wanted to know was who built the house and when.

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Old Pearly Jenkins

Meanwhile we moved in and got started on the back garden.  During this time we meet our neighbour over the back fence and to the right,  She’s been living in her house for a VERY long time.  Her parents brought the house new.  Our neighbour is in her 80’s!!  So after chatting over the fence, it occurred to me that she might just be the person to ask about our house.

I asked “Did you know the people who built the house?’

“Yes” she said “It was Old Pearly Jenkins”.  Jackpot!!  ” oh and her husband Charlie”.

She is a wealth of information about the suburb we live in too.  It’s so brilliant to listen to her talk.  Where ever I’ve lived, I’ve always had an interest in the local history.

What I found interesting about this place is that the 16 perches was first brought by Mary Jane Skinner in 1888 but wasn’t built on until approximately 1937.  So by my calculations this little block of land sat vacant in between two houses for 49 years!!

At some point during that 49 years, The family  next door brought it and used the block as a garden. It turns out it was Pearly’s sister who lived next door. …..

To be continued….

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The extended family members living in the kitchen!

Someone described the suburb we  were about to move to as a “Possum’s paradise”.
Knowing this should have prepared us but what sounded like a pack of dogs running on the roof scared the crap out of us on our first night in the house.

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Rosebush and Possum

We have two and only two cupboards in our kitchen and we don’t use either of them. Why? because the insides are gross and had a weird smell, so we just put an old ‘meat safe’ in front to use as a pantry and pretended they weren’t there.

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The top cupboard

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The substitute pantry hiding the yucky bottom cupboard

I’m not sure which member of the family opened the top cupboard to investigate one day and discovered a possum sitting inside. The top cupboard has the only access to the roof.From the state of the inside of the cupboard it looks like its been a home to many generations of possums.
Now at this point in most people’s stories about possums in the roof, a trap would be borrowed and the possums evicted!

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It just never happened. In fact they’ve become part of the family.
Its gone from asking the middle son “have you feed the cats?” to “Have you feed the cats and the possums?”

So one day in winter when we were opened the cupboard ( you have to climb on a chair and stand on the kitchen bench) we discovered that Possum had become a mummy. For the past six months we have all watched  ‘baby’ grow. It’s been really quite special and we’ve enjoyed being able to hand feed and stroke them.  We’ve learnt that they’re actually very clean animals and also very friendly. (they’re not idiots – they get feed).

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Old Pearly Jenkins

I’m sure there will be someone reading this who thinks we are doing the wrong thing and interfering with nature and prehaps we are. It’s just been really special being able to share this with my children and its something that I know they’ll remember for a long time.

Until we know what we are doing with the house, we are happy to leave them be.  Apart from coming home every morning around 4.30am and making a bit of a racket.  (I wish we could teach them to tiptoe)  They’re not bothering us at all.

A NEW CHAPTER!

I’ll start from the beginning!!

Before I do start this blog. I have to quickly say that I am a complete novice. I’ve never done anything like this before. So please excuse the odd sized photos, photos that are placed haphazardly. It’s all new to me and I will be learning as I go.   Some of the photos may not look the best either, I’ve used the camera on my phone.  So here goes nothing….

Late  2011 we brought a new house to renovate.  It’s a little house, a very little house and  we are a family of five (three sons), two cats and two possums (they were here  when we moved in).

We moved from a bland yet spacious brick and tile, four bedroom, two bathroom, media room, swimming pool etc… in an equally bland suburb. To a much smaller two bedroom + sunroom, character house. But this house is oozing with personality.  It’s in an older suburb closer to Brisbane city that’s bursting at the seams with vibrant, interesting people and beautiful older homes. We love the house and the location but the house is just a little too small for us lot.

So… the renovations began!  We started with clearing the back garden. The house has been a rental for many years.  The previous tenants had kind of  let things go.  Please don’t be fooled by the photograph above.  It was sent to us by our lovely real estate agent.  I think it has to have been taken at least five years ago.  As there is now an enormous tree by the back steps.

This is what we were up against on a stinking hot day in January.  It was quite a satisfying job. The neighbours on one side didn’t seem too impressed though, the overgrown jungle had given them privacy and she told me so.  I felt bad for a few moments, then took the opportunity to explain to her in  the nicest way possible that we’d brought the house to live in. It was going to need some work,  but hey ” No more tenants ” !!

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She   just  snorted and walked away.  But you’ll be pleased to know that since this first meeting we’ve got to know her quite well.  It took a while for her to warm to us (remember the three boys) .  so anyhoo we’re  keeping  our neighbours well-informed of whats going on and I think she’s secretly pleased that the ‘old girl’ is getting a makeover at last.

It might not  look like much when you look at the photo above  but it was a great start.

A month or two later the lovely neighbours on the other side gave us some fence panels that had been removed from their place and they had no need for them.  A couple of bottles of wine, a dozen beer and the new/recycled fence was  passed over the fence .

We cleared the mess down the back, demolishing the bits and pieces that had for many years been some sort of property divider. Then replaced it  with the new/recycled back fence.  A few trees from the house behind us  needed a few limbs cut off and one particularly ugly one that had been planted too close to the old fence line had to go. We were given the thumbs up from the owner, we just needed to find the right person for the job .

We decided to try using ServiceSeeking.com.au to find a suitable person for the job. We placed a job description and waited for the quotes to come in.  We decided to go with a man called Grady Simon.  His passion and knowledge was incredible and he was extremely well priced.  I would recommend his services to anyone needing something done in the garden anywhere in Brisbane (North and South side), Ipswich etc.

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The next job to do was to build  a low retaining wall to level out the garden.  We wanted to put a small swimming pool at the far right hand corner.  The cooler winter evenings set in and it was harder to motivate Mr F to do anything outside.  But with a little encouragement and acting as his labourer, we completed the wall in time for the hole to be dug for the swimming pool .

The new recycled back fence and the markings for the new pool.

The  company that we chose to construct our swimming pool was Thomas Pools. They’re based in Capalaba but have been putting in pools all over Brisbane for many years.  They did my parent’s swimming pool in two of their houses.  My dad, who does everything ‘by the book’ was very impressed with them and so by late August, Brian from Thomas Pools  ( thomaspools.com.au ) came over and measured up and sent the diggers in.

I think I’ll just fast forward this week. We had a few hiccups with Brisbane City Council, we had to get a permit to have a fence over two metres on the boundary. As usual the paperwork disappeared and then ended up on the wrong person’s desk. It was a massive delay but FINALLY last week we got the certification and started to fill the pool.

Woo hoo its been so hot these past few weeks and looking at an empty concrete hole was pretty rough.

We did use the time however to have Indo, from Pro Fence ( profence.net.au) build a hardwood deck around two sides and install the pool fence. In our previous house we decided to have glass panels installed instead of the standard powder coated type. We found it to be a bit of a pain to keep clean. So this time we have gone with the  standard powder coated type. Pretty boring, I know  but its one less job to do on a weekend.

It’s nearly done. We just have to clean and seal the pavers, clean up the decking (tradies just don’t seem to care about making a mess), lay some turf and we are set for Summer. Bring it on!!!!

So this is what the pool looks like currently.