Friday, April 30, 2010

Adorable, but crazy

So, a word about the dog then.

Maisie is a four year old red and white border collie, also known as an ee red or Australian red and white.

She is also a bit crazy. Adorable, but crazy.

Maisie sees dead people - or dead insects, anyway. She stands on the deck at home and at Karra for hours and pounces on figments of her imagination.

Maisie Jumps-2

One time, I put her in a hat and she seemed to like that too. See? Crazy.

Maisie in Hat

She hates riding in the back of the car and always leaps over into the front. There, she is refused entry and is sent to the back seat again to have a long hard think about herself.

Maisie in car-2

Maisie loves playing fetch more than anything. If it's fetch at the beach, even better. Fetch with DAN at the beach is the best of all. He can throw good, you know.

Mais and Dan at karra-2

Must be hard work being a dog.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Friday Fertiliser

Today I am 'Friday Fertiliser' on the lovely Sharni's inspiring website, Sharnanigans. Sharni has a very clever philosophy that she lives by:

"The grass is not greener on the other side, it's greener where you water it."

This COMPLETELY makes sense to me. I mean, I am hopeless at actually LIVING by it most of the time, but ever since Sharni introduced me to the concept through her blog, I've tried to do better.

Bring that watering can on.

It's quite exciting being the fertiliser on the lawn (ok, the analogy really shouldn't be taken THAT far, should it?) because I've come to really appreciate the new contacts I make through blogging lately.

I started blogging with my last blog, Maisie and More, and like many out there, I really explored others' blogs in the hope they'd come and look at mine too.

Often, I commented because I wanted people to comment back.

Something has changed about the process for me. I love reading people's thoughts, seeing their photos, hearing about their lives, learning their lessons.

I've also come to terms with the fact that there will ALWAYS be bloggers out there with more beautiful homes, more exciting lives, better cameras, nicer blog designs.

There'll always be better writers, deeper thinkers, people who can express themselves more clearly, people whose lives look more notable.

I'm OK with it.

I've come to realise now that the things I've learned about other ways of living have been a far greater gift to me than sharing my own thoughts and images with others, or trying to compete with the wonder bloggers and their beautiful content.

So that's why I'm happy to be the fertiliser today. New readers = new things to read. Simple.

But now it's Friday afternoon, I'm getting excited about another long weekend which will be spent partly at Karra and partly at the Weekday House, which is URGENTLY in need of a good clean and a bit of TLC.

Maisie has no desire to stay at home though. Her heart belongs to Karra. She even manages to look whimsical on the barge on the way over.

Clever dog.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Karra Lights-2

Sparklers on the deck, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

More hard work

So, aside from getting seriously festive and meeting some new friends - Karra locals - this weekend, we actually Got Stuff Done too.

Serious in-roads were also made into the yard work thanks to our kind neighbour, who took pity after seeing me getting stuck into the driveway with a mattock and offered to swing by on his 'Kanga' and help.

Here's a before shot:


Enter our kind neighbour. Dan was overjoyed at not having to do all this hard work himself with a shovel.


Here it is at the end. Tree? Gone! Pile of dirt? Gone! It just needs a bit of gravel now to tidy it up.


We ended up with an excellent new pile of dirt too. No sure what we'll do with it all, but hey- the dog enjoyed it.


As an aside, Dan and I generally consume gin and tonic just about constantly, but we've discovered these handy bottles which are perfect for gardening sessions.


I am happy to report my veggie patch is going strong... one week in. Plenty of time to kill it still.

Next weekend is another long weekend in Queensland and weather permitting, we'll be working on detroying termites and starting to sand down some of the timber work. More hard work, but the place is starting to look better already, so it seems worth it somehow.

Sky bright pink

It's late afternoon, the sky bright pink and streaked with clouds. There's sand in your hair and you're starting to feel slightly hazy after a couple of glasses of champagne.

You take a drive down to the foreshore to show your friends a block of land you'd just LOVE to have. You notice dozens of locals gathered on the beach, all standing still and staring out at the water.

Curious, you park the car and wander over to see what they're looking at. At that moment, a PA starts playing Last Post and you realise these people are gathered in honour of Anzac Day.

You stand at the back of this frozen crowd and gaze together out to the water as the sky turns bright red, the palm trees sway in the breeze, the water laps softly next to you.

You think to yourself that you wouldn't be anywhere else for all the money in the world.

Thursday, April 22, 2010



Maisie after a walk on Karra. 2009.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lighter and brighter

It's raining outside my office and I have to go to a meeting soon, a meeting I have to walk to, a meeting that I will be drenched by the time I reach. Too close to get a taxi, too far to stay dry.

On the weekend, we were going to have a party at Karra but it's meant to rain then too and I've just sent out a text message calling it off.

Partly I'm sad about that, partly the thought of pulling together a party by Sunday night - Queensland has Monday off - was also making me a bit angst-ridden. Because that's the thing about Karra, you can't just rock up there at any time you please with no supplies and expect to order take-away or drop down to the pub for dinner.

On Karra there is no take-away and there is no pub.

Lists have to be written, jobs and meals delegated, cars arranged and barges booked. Mattresses found, sheets washed, eskis packed, people instructed, consulted, informed, mediated.

All jobs that inevitably fall into my lap because they stress Dan out too much.

The idea of it was bogging me down almost as much as the weather at the moment.

I think we will still go over this Sunday but perhaps we'll just take a couple of friends, not 10. That way, we can curl up in front of the fire when the skies open, crack a few bottles of red and relax.

We'll save the party idea for a time when the sky is lighter and brighter.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bugging out

These little guys are called Cotton Harlequin Bugs. There were hundreds of them in a tree next to where the ferry leaves from and I spent a good 20 minutes shoving my camera into that tree at bizarre angles.

Everyone waiting for the ferry clearly thought I was mad.

The orange ones are the females.

Cotton Harlequin Beetle

This female is protecting her eggs.

Cotton Harlequin Beetles

This little green one is the male.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Problems and plants

I'm back from a day at Karra, having achieved a few things (planting, mainly - and some photos for a sign that's going out the front) and uncovered a scarily long list of new problems.

Termites, would be one. I lifted up a corner of the carpet and there they were, scuttling through their tunnels in the plywood. Luckily, the damage to the floor doesn't SEEM to be to severe yet but, really, who knows? Dan's going to have a closer look next weekend.


You can also see some evidence of them in the timber base that holds up the water tank.


Next problem: The power is not working. The lights are, but nothing else - no appliances, no power points, no nothing. I really have no idea why. Flicking the switches in the meter box a few times did nothing, which left me all out of ideas.

Unfortunately, the hot water system is not only not working (see power issue above), but is also leaking water under the house. It's leaking quite a lot of water actually, which makes this problem kind of serious too.

So, in a nutshell, we need a plumber and an electrician urgently, we need to spray for termites and I need a stiff drink.

On the plus side, I did get a few new plants in the ground. That's rosemary in the corner and the little guys are basil and mint. Will they still be alive next time I go over there? Beats me. With my track record it's highly unlikely.


I planted this bougainvillea next to the driveway, where hopefully it will creep up this tree and provide a bit of colour. I know it's damn near impossible to kill bougainvillea, which makes this my kinda plant.


We're hoping to have a party at Karra next weekend, which means finding an island plumber and electrician this week... Better get cracking.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Karravan

I will be doing a solo mission over to Karra on Sunday to continue the driveway construction project as well as think about beginning the Karravan makeover project.

The Karravan (some might call it a regular, rusty old caravan) sits downstairs underneath the house and sleeps four. At least, it would sleep four had we ever been cruel enough to suggest anybody try it out.

It's rickety, full of cobwebs (and their eight-legged creators), it smells weird and last weekend a SNAKE CAME OUT FROM UNDER IT. A real, honest-to-God snake. I am so glad it happened at the end of the weekend and not the beginning, or I would have aborted the driveway project, mixed a strong drink and gone to sleep for two days instead.

And I'm not even scared of snakes (much).

I suspect the Karravan just needs a bit of love. And a sign. Like, for example, this one:

I also suspect it needs a nice kaffir lime tree near it, because I was given one for my birthday yesterday and I want to find a home for it:

On top of that, I can't help feeling some cheap vinyl tiles and a splash of paint would do it the world of good... I see a 50's kitsch style, like perhaps this one from Happy Loves Rosie.

Ok, maybe not QUITE this cool, we're just not hip enough to pull a caravan like this off, but you can appreciate the idea...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Slow going

There are challenges in renovating a place on a small island, not least the fact the beach is five minutes away and sooo much more appealing than an afternoon spent sanding timber or cleaning out gutters.

One of the first obstacles to overcome is actually getting there. There are two ways to get over to Karragarra if you don't have your own boat - the vehicle barge and the ferry.

The barge takes about 45 minutes and costs roughly $100. The ferry takes 15 minutes and costs about $20.

No prizes for guessing which we end up taking most of the time.

Travelling over without our car leaves us with some ongoing challenges, namely juggling a 'granny trolley' full of groceries - loo paper, insect repellent, olive oil - a couple of bags of clothes and clean linen, an eski full of wine, milk, cheese... and an exuberant dog wearing a compulsory cloth muzzle that she loathes and fights against every inch of the way.

Getting it all onto the ferry is one thing. 

Getting it all off is another. 

Getting it all up to the house is an entirely different kettle of fish.

We're getting better at it now, keeping our linen and some basic clothes and shoes over there, refining our lists of things that need to be carried back and forward. 

But building materials? That's a whole new problem. We may end up taking a truck over later this year, but in the meantime it's a question of taking little bits at a time: a pot of paint here, a tool kit there, a seedling, a sapling, a pitchfork, a trowel. 

It's slow going, but apparently good things come to those who wait. 


Dan on Karra-2

Wandering home, 2009

Monday, April 12, 2010


Walking on Karra

Picking wildflowers for the table, 2009.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I love vinyl wall decals - can't get enough of them in fact. My 'regular house' has a bird decal theme going on, but I think a few nautical decals might work quite nicely for Karra'd Away...

These ones are from Etsy shop Sea Lubbers.


The List

I have laid out a list of some of the things that need to be done at Karra'd Away over the next year or so.

It's quite daunting actually.

1. Lay colourful native plants along the side of the driveway.
2. Finish building the herb garden and plant it.
3. Dig the tree out of the middle of the newly-widened driveway.
4. Put in stepping stones from driveway to herb garden.

1. Paint the outside of the house.
2. Oil the deck.
3. Paint the doors to the bathroom and wardrobe.
4. Paint the bathroom wall, currently a lurid yellow.

1. Pull up old carpet and lay a floating timber floor.
2. Build two walls to turn back section of home into two bedrooms.
3. Build in bed frames in both rooms.

My god, I feel stressed just writing about it. Here's a nice relaxing photo of some more of the wildflowers(Ok, weeds) that grow around Karra, picked and displayed on the deck.


Saturday, April 10, 2010


The colours on Karragarra are so vivid they're almost overwhelming. We plan to use very neutral colours when we re-paint and decorate inside - light bamboo floating floors, almost-white walls, white curtains. Because who would even try and compete with the natural colours of the place? Photobucket

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Making A Start

After a month away, last weekend I made a start on the garden. This will eventually be a herb garden.


I pulled a stack of timber sleepers off the sides of an old pathway that went nowhere, and lined and widened the driveway.

Only problem is that tree, which now needs to be dug out. I didn't have a shovel though, so I did most of this work with a pitch fork and an oar.

I know, not the best recipe for success.

Next weekend is our next trip over to Karragarra and I plan to take a pack a shovel this time.


It wasn't all hard work.


We'll see how we go

There's a little island near Brisbane called Karragarra, on which sits a little house we like to call 'Karra'd Away'. It's available for holiday rentals, in case you're interested. We've recently decided to start fixing the house up a little, to make it a more contemporary beach house and more attractive to holiday renters. I plan to chart the process on this blog, from slowly developing the gardens (and it will be slowly - I'm a terrible gardener), to painting and re-flooring and building new internal walls. I'll also be posting photos of inspirational beach houses and ideas. But first, a few photos of the house to begin with. This is the house from the driveway, although I'm ashamed to say that I took this picture a year or so ago and the garden has definitely gotten worse since this was taken. A lot worse. Amazon worse. But all that will be fixed soon.


Round the front is a deck, perfect for wiling away the hours and taking in the views.


It's hard to do the views justice in a photo, but I like this photo because of the dramatic colours. And it was a dramatic day. Remember that awful storm a year or so ago that took all those roofs off in North West Brisbane? This was that storm coming up from the South. When we got back to our house (in North West Brisbane) a few hours after this photo was taken, we realised the full extent of the damage. At this point though, it was just beautifully dramatic.


This is the house from the side, although once again, the garden has really gotten out of control since this was taken. Painting this timber is a project I plan to take on soon.


This is the kitchen. (I know, the fridge and the pans weren't a giveaway at all were they?)


The house is all one big area currently. That's something we plan to change with the construction of a couple of walls at the back. The bed is screened off from the house with blinds and curtains. It's super-whimsical, not so practical. Also, that carpet? That's going to be replaced with a floating timber floor. Photobucket There's no shortage of ideas for fixing up this place, but there is a shortage of free time and money. We want to have it fixed up by the end of the year. We want to do it ourselves. We only have the weekends. We'll see how we go.