Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mr Weekend Island

Today's renovation update is brought to you by Mr Weekend Island, Dan, who has been busy over at Karra on weekends while I have been tied up with Other Stuff.

He kindly took photos of his progress so I could share them here. Generous, isn't he?

In the end, we outsourced the rest of the sanding and exterior painting, and the end results are pretty good, although the battons downstairs still need to be done (that's a job with my name all over it).


Last weekend, Dan and his mate pulled off the railings at the side of the deck and started building the frame for the large screen that will run down one side.

We're building it because the new house going up next door is RIGHT up to the boundary line, and we like our privacy.

With bush on the other side, and water ahead, building these screens will mean the deck will again be somewhere you can wander around in your underwear.

Or less. Whatever tickles your fancy.


The screens mounted on these frames will be bamboo, in a reddish shade to tie in with the Western Red Cedar Walls of the house.


The boys also replaced the railings and are preparing to paint the deck surface.


Dan says they worked pretty hard last weekend. But they still had time out to hang out with some of the islanders, particularly of the feathered variety.

This little unit is particularly tame. Demanding, too. Particularly at lunchtime.



Monday, September 20, 2010

Relaxed, Hippy Vibes

Last weekend was Dan and my first wedding anniversary and we decided to take a weekend off from life in general.

No renovating, no housework, no friends - no anything-that-is-familiar or a typical part of our life.

In fact, we decided to leave Queensland altogether and revisit our mutual-favourite region of Australia, the Northern New South Wales Hinterland.

Dan booked us into a farmstay near Tyalgum, which was advertised as 'pet-friendly and gay-friendly.

As he put it, it looked like 'our kind of place' - we both love staying in places like this. We get to take our dog AND stay with people we invariably find to be friendly, accommodating and easy to talk to and share a glass of wine with.

In fact, half the reason we advertise our own holiday-rental as 'pet-friendly' is because we know that the people who rent it are invariably more relaxed and easier to deal with.

This time, we stayed at the home of Pete and Chris, and shared the home with another couple - also celebrating their wedding anniversary.

Between us, we had four dogs - a border collie, a kelpie, a Belgian shepherd and a pug.

We also spent quite a considerable amount of time between us out the back drinking wine and chatting.

This was the view from the house.

Tala Farm View (2 of 1) copy

See that Mountain in the distance? Dan and I climbed the nobbly nose bit on the left on Saturday.

It was pretty steep. In fact, in parts, there were chains to help you get up and down.

We both used them with the descent (pictured below), but on the way up - motivated perhaps by desire to get to the top after 1.5 hours of climbing, or the fact there was a queue to get onto the chains - Dan and I both crawled up the rock face like spiders, chain-free. It was great.

Mount Warning2 (2 of 1) copy

For the rest of the weekend, we explored the region and Chris and Pete's property. Croquet was clearly a popular past-time.

Croquet Balls (2 of 1) copy

This is one of Pete and Chris's dogs, Joey. I gotta admit, I don't usually go in for kelpies, but this one won me over. Sharp as a tack, and quite lovely. Dan bribed him with a piece of sausage so I could take this photo.

Joey2 (2 of 1) copy

We ended up revisiting a lot of our favourite little towns, places we last visited a year ago on our 'Minimoon' - the week-long roadtrip we took after our wedding.

The Northern NSW Hinterland is an unbelievably beautiful part of Australia.

I love the lush, verdant, overgrown scenery - it just reeks of abundance, tropical climate and relaxed hippy vibes....

Tumbulgum, Chillingham, Uki, Tyalgum - these are the towns we'd live in if we could make a living, living in such towns.

And you know what? Out of those four towns, turns out we've been pronouncing every single one of their names incorrectly.

"You two couldn't sound more like tourists," a local pointed out to us on the weekend.

I think we're OK with that.

Chillingham (2 of 1) copy

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

From Another Angle

I took this photo from the bottom of our block on Sunday. The house looks huge from this angle.

House From Below (2 of 1)

This is it from the road. Suddenly it looks tiny again...

House From Road (2 of 1)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cotton Harlequin Beetles

I've shown photos of Cotton Harlequin Beetles before here but I found some really nice looking examples of male beetles on Saturday, so here's a few more.

I took dozens of photos but there's a pretty low success rate when you're trying to do macro photography without a macro lens - it wreaks havoc with your autofocus.

Cotton Harlequin 4

Cotton Harlequin 3

Cotton Harlequin

Cotton Harlequin Beetle

The female beetles, which are larger and orange, weren't looking as spectacular this time around. Must be the wrong time of the year for them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tough, Amped, Mentally Prepared

On Friday night, Dan and I went over to Karra to commence two days of hard labour.

We were feeling tough, amped, mentally prepared:

The Sanding Team

On Saturday, I pulled out the old straw mat flooring while Dan rigged up his new trestles and cleaned out the gutters.


It was pretty messy work.


Next job was to use the hose to clean off the outside of the house. When I hosed off these timber slats, most of the paint just fell straight away. Some of the timber did too. Turns out a Karcher pressure hose held five centimetres from old, rotted timber is not really an even fight.

Karra - to paint

The timber that was strong enough to survive came up pretty nicely. All these slats will be painted a dark grey-blue.

We had the idea of getting rid of the karravan. It's starting to look pretty shabby, and doesn't really fit in with the fresh, clean look we'll be going for here.

We've spoken with a few of the other locals over the last couple of months and found an islander who was very keen to take it on.

He came round yesterday to investigate, and after a long session with a measuring tape, we realised that there was no way the van is going anywhere in one piece.

Seems like the house was actually built around the karravan. It must have been where the original owners stayed when the house was being built and they just decided to leave it there.

So, we'll have to spruce it up a little and leave it where it is. Or hack into it with a grinder. We haven't really decided yet.

Karra - to paint

In between jobs, Maisie and I made several trips to the tip, filling the back of the ute each time. We threw out a lot of old timber, flooring, furniture and green waste.

I like driving the ute almost as much as I like riding in the back of it. I think Maisie feels the same way.

Me and Mais

Sunday, we started sanding back the exterior. We were both stuffed after Saturday and didn't get as much done as we would have liked...

In fact, this wall is about all we managed before collapsing into deck chairs and breaking open a couple of beers.

Sanding Karra

So, now we're going to hire someone to go over in the next fortnight and finish the sanding for us, so we can start on the painting when we next have a weekend there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Here We Come

Obvious statement for the day: It's been a while since I've written.

But I'm here. I've got my typing fingers on, I'm dusting off the camera and I'm ready to start contributing again to the great, bubbling cauldron of words and photos that is the internets.

We're about to again ramp up renovations at Karra. I believe, back in the dim recesses of my mind, that that was the point of this blog to begin with, was it not?

This weekend we start preparing the outside timber work for painting and measure out walls for a couple of tiny bedrooms we plan to put in at the back.

There's lots to be done, Dan has written many lists and drawn many plans, and I have had much preparation to do for my role over the weekend.

Well, I charged my camera battery anyway.

Karragarra, here we come...