Thursday, 31 May 2012

2 weeks til settlement

The time is really flying by.  I've packed so many boxes that we almost ran out of them.  Lucky there are workplaces, both old and new, that receive deliveries in cardboard boxes.  I had dinner with some of my old workmates and collected a stack of boxes at the same time.

My car is overdue a service but it's much more difficult now than when I was working in Melbourne.  I tried to work out a way to get from Bendigo to work by public transport but the trains don't run that often and it left me with a very short working day.  In the end I took today off.  My dear mum will come shopping with me so the day isn't wasted.  I still have a list of things to do and buy in Bendigo.

It is Mick's last day of work before we move out of the house.  He's taking next week off to get the moving done.

I'll be glad when this part is over.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Shipping quote

I had my car in for a service today and had the day off work.  My mum took me to run some errands.

We went to Pack and Send to get a firm quote on shipping some belongings to the UK and to collect the boxes to pack stuff in.  We've got 4 packing box sized boxes and 8 half that size.  Together they make up one cubic metre.  I was pleasantly surprised at the price quoted of $328 which is based on 200 kilos.  We wouldn't have that much!

There will also be charges at the receiving end (Liverpool) and for a courier to take the boxes to a friends' place.  We'll have an idea of those costs over the next week but it's less than we expected.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Recipe - Quick Salmon Pie

This is a quick dinner that is good as a backup.

Mashed potato (approx 500g)

Can salmon (approx 450g)
1 small onion diced
1 teaspoon garlic from jar
1 can evaporated milk (375ml)
3 tablespoons cornflour
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3-4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated tasty cheese

Drain the can of salmon and mash it in a dish to break up any bones. 
Spray a high sided frying pan with cooking spray and cook onion and garlic until lightly browned.
Mix the cornflour into the 1/4 cup milk and add to the pan with the evaporated milk and parsley.
Stir until thickening and then add the salmon and the parmesan.
Pour the mixture into a small lasagne dish, or pie dish.
Dot mashed potato over the top and use a fork to spread it out.
Sprinkle with grated tasty cheese.
Bake in oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, 28 May 2012

If you write down your goals

Mick spoke to his mum on the phone last night and she said "What a difference a month makes".  She reminded him of how just a month ago we were feeling rather down about not selling the house.  Yet here we are just a month later in the throes of packing up our household and with our tickets to the UK booked.  She's right... what a difference a month makes!

It got me thinking so I read back over some of my early blog entries.  When does a dream become a goal?  I feel like we really made progress towards making our dream a reality when we, or I, started writing about it.  We made a plan and committed it to the www!  We didn't have much control over the time frame .  Firstly, we didn't know how long Coco would live and if it had been our other dog, Zac who lived to 16 1/2, we would have another 2 or 3 years to wait.  Secondly we had no control over how long it would take to sell our house.  I vividly recall thinking that the Christmas of 2010 would be our last in this house.  But still, we had a plan.  Step by step we would tick things off our list and one day we'd get there.

Just the other day we were saying how glad we are that we impulsively booked our tickets to the UK on the same evening we signed the contract selling the house.  At the time it seemed a crazy thing to do but it has given us a fixed time frame and we'll simply have to get things done by that date.  If we had waited to book the tickets until we felt we were ready to go it would almost certainly have dragged into next year.

I've learned a good lesson from all this.  If you want to make something happen - just make a plan and work towards it.  Talk about it, tell people about it, live life as though it's going to happen just as you plan and at the very least, write it down.  

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Caravan - not quite according to plan

Mick went and collected our temporary home yesterday.  The plan was to bring it home and keep it under our carport over the next couple of weeks so I can clean it, Mick can make a bed base, and we can finally pack our clothes, cookware, linen etc straight into the van to be towed out to the shed on the last day.  We thought how nice it would be to have a bed made up and ready to sleep in for the first night out there.

This was all very well in theory but it isn't what happened.  He arrived home after a rather daunting drive.  His 1 tonne Mazda Bravo isn't cut out for towing 18ft caravans.  He started backing the van through the gates towards the carport and realized it wasn't going to fit!  We had intended it would go on my side of the carport which is on the higher side of the slope.  So, with me out there waving my arms about and mum watching on in likely amusement, we made a second attempt but this time on the lower side of the carport.  Still no luck.  We had no idea it was so high off the ground. 

Finally in desperation we decided to back it in at a crazy angle beside the carport and take it out to the shed Sunday.  I spent a good couple of hours cleaning everything and took down all the curtains. This morning it's been towed off again and the rest will have to be done out at the shed.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Pick of the week - George Albert

It's a bit of a different feeling looking at boats for sale now.  It's a whole lot more real!

This weeks pick is listed with ABNB - nb George Albert.

There is a lot we like about this boat, starting with the price.  I now have a preference for a boat with a second cabin so I have somewhere to go and work.  This one would be perfect.  Not only that, if we took out the breakfast bar there would be space for a 1+1 dinette.  Perfect!  We like the colour, the name's ok, we're leaning towards a cassette loo as our preference and it has both central heating and a solid fuel stove.

On the minus side... it looks slightly awkward access from the trad hatch, there is no washing machine, the bed would need to be turned around to a cross bed, it doesn't have a cratch/cover.. so there's a bit of money to be spent.  At the price, that's fine with us.

I don't know who John McIntosh is and google hasn't helped with that.

Price: £42,500
Length: 58ft 0in
Builder: Liverpool Boat Co
Fitter-out: John McIntosh
Style: Trad
Year registered: 2003
Certification: BSS 2013, RCD issued 2003
Engine: Isuzu IM4LB33 diesel
Plating: 10/6/5/4
Last out of water: 2011
Water tank: 150gall (approx) stainless steel
Headroom: 6ft 5in
Fit-out materials: Cabin sides in painted oak panels, hull sides & deckhead in oak panels, all with sapele trim. Floors in wood-effect vinyl throughout.
Insulation: Spray foam
Berths: 3
Berth sizes: 6ft 4in x 4ft 0in permanent double, 6ft 5in x 2ft 0in permanent single on dinette bench seat
Fridge: Shoreline 12V 5cu ft
Washer/dryer: None
WC: Thetford swivel seat cassette wc
Shower: over bath with curtain
Cooker: Country Leisure hob & Midi Prima oven & grill - gas
Water heating: C/heating + engine + 230V immersion heater, calorifier
Cabin heating: Webasto diesel c/heating, 3 rads, s/f stove
Mains 230V: Landline, Sterling 1500W pure sine wave inverter
Other: Breakfast bar with side doors above. Centre cabin could easily be converted to an office or separate single bedroom
Location: River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire

Friday, 25 May 2012

Nine months of Winter?

Goodness it's cold tonight!  We've got the Rayburn burning in our back room/kitchen but the rest of the house is like a freezer!!!  I feel like we're in practice for the UK Winter.  When we started talking about it tonight we realized that we're going to get our Aussie Winter and then an even worse Winter.  In fact with it being cold already now in May, except for perhaps a slight easing of the weather early September in Australia and hopefully a few good weeks in the UK in October, we've got close to a nine month Winter.

I must say I'm not very much looking forward to having to go out the caravan, across the driveway, into the shed and right down to the other end of the building to use the bathroom. It's going to be absolutely freezing.  More good practice.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


The issue of water has suddenly become rather more urgent.  Out at the shed there is an old water tank that has basically just been supplying water for the bathroom and the old lunchroom (since pulled down).  Now we'll be living out there for a while that tank really isn't going to be enough.  We'll leave it hooked up for the bathroom but have been making enquiries for a new one to connect the caravan to.

I've spent a lot of time on the phone lately trying to chase up a tank or two in stock that we can have soon.  Finally success.  The same company that made the existing one (many years ago) had two similar sized ones in stock and can deliver next Tuesday.  More rushing around - paying a deposit so they'll book us in for delivery, Mick working out where we want the taps and overflows and arranging for Mick to be out there to accept delivery of the tanks.

Bring on the rain!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

HSBC UK account update

We went to Melbourne today to sign up for our UK bank account and open an Aussie one too.  It was all dealt with quickly and efficiently - we were very happy with the service.

There was one thing that I'd either mis-understood or hadn't been clear in my questions on the phone the other day when we did the phone application.  It turns out we can have a Visa/Mastercard on our UK account without having to apply for a separate credit card account.  So.... we had one less account to sort out.

As a bonus for the day, HSBC South Melbourne had a brochure on their counter saying if you opened an everyday account (or whatever it was called!) you will get two Gold Class movie passes.  Excellent!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Chores for the day

I only have Mondays off work now and they've become my busiest day.

I started out today with a list of things I needed to buy - from a shower curtain to a fan heater and a whole lot in between.  The general aim for the day was to gather everything we need to set up the bathroom out at the shed.  I spent the first couple of hours packing another round of boxes and put them in the car to take to the shed on the way home from my shopping expedition.  We don't want to waste a trip out to the highway!

I did the chores in Bendigo and had a quick lunch with my mum at my favourite Thai restaurant - Bunja Thai.  They do a great lunchtime deal with a changing daily special - a set lunch menu which is always delicious.  It's very popular with local workers because lunch appears at the table within about 5 minutes.

A passing comment from someone today turned out to be a very good idea.  We had intended to take the caravan out to the shed when Mick picks it up on Saturday.  Today someone said we should bring it to our place when we are ready to move and just pack the things we need to use over the next 3 months straight into the van and then tow it back to the shed.  We've decided we'll bring it home to begin with.  I can give it a good clean up with Mum on the weekend (thanks Mum!) and Mick is going to pull out one of the bedside tables and make a new base for the bed so we can use our queen size mattress.  All this will be easier done at home and then we can start to pack things into the cupboards.

Tomorrow we're off to Melbourne to sign up for our UK bank account.  We're impressed with the service from HSBC.  We had a phone call tonight to check that everything's going according to plan and to say to ring after we've handed in all our documents so the guy from the international department can check that it's been correctly processed.

A good days work on our plan.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Buy a caravan - tick!

Why, oh why, does time go so slowly when you're sitting back waiting for something but when you are busy and have a lot to get done the time seems to just whizz by. I feel as though we've been running around like demented chickens!

The house up the road was finished last weekend so the lease was signed, the tenants paid the bond, I filled in all the paperwork and met the tenants at the house for a final inspection.  Now just to get keys cut for them in preparation of handover on Friday.  All good.

Meanwhile I've turned the house upside down with packing.  After 10 months of it looking spotless at all times in case a potential buyer wanted to inspect it, we've now gone to absolute chaos.  There are boxes everywhere and cupboard contents emptied onto the floor.  It is so much harder packing this time than ever before, and we've done this quite a few times in our life together.  I'm taking extra care in how I pack things as I'm conscious that they may be in storage for a couple of years at least.  I've also been keeping in mind what we might want to pack in boxes to ship to England for our boat life.

The packing is often interrupted by visitors, both pre-arranged and unexpected.  I don't really mind this because we'll be moving out of this town in a few weeks so it's lovely of people to call in and ask where we'll be moving to and have a little chat.  My family members have come to check out the end result of the house up the street - my mum last weekend and my brother and his wife came up yesterday afternoon for a last visit to this house.  My sister in law in particular has spent a fair amount of time here as she's the one who looked after our dogs whenever we were away.  I made the most of them coming up by ringing before they left Melbourne and asking them to bring their Mitsubishi Triton rather than the sedan which is their other car.  We loaded up the tray of the Triton with boxes and other items and did a run out to the shed where we'll be storing everything.  It was a good load of boxes out the way.

Mick was out there for the last couple of days setting up the bathroom for us.  The plumber came and installed a hot water service and Mick's been building the shower.  We had agonised over what to use on the 3 walls of the shower as the panelling we used here at home is quite expensive and for a temporary bathroom it was a lot of money to spend.  I spoke to Rachel at sewing the other night (she works at the local carpet store) and she suggested "wall vinyl" which I'd never heard of.  Next day she sent me a message that they had enough left over from a job that would do our shower.  $30 thanks!  What a bonus!!

We set aside this morning (Sunday) to go and look at caravans.  We had found quite a few advertised but they were located all over the state.  We made a time to look at one that was just over an hour away and when I rang the lady she said they had a couple of others we might like to look at too.

We looked at about 4 of the caravans they had for sale and ended up choosing one $3000 over our budget (almost the amount of furniture we sold to our house buyer!).  We decided that we should get something we'd be happy to live in for a while and that we could use once we come back from the UK.  It also feels rather familiar to me because it is identical in layout to the one we hired 17 years ago when we were building our little house in Melbourne.  It will be good practice for living in a confined space.

Mick will go and pick the van up next Saturday morning and I'm hoping my mum will come and help me give it a good scrub.  I haven't told her this yet!!

So another item ticked off our list.  Here is our temporary home :

Friday, 18 May 2012

Bank account comments

Thanks for the comments everyone.
The reason we chose to go ahead with HSBC despite the fee they charge is so we can have the accounts set up now.  We want to start transferring money and we have 4 months until we go.  Plus we have a huge amount to do between now and when we leave so we're happy for them to deal with the paperwork.

It will save us having to mess around sorting out a bank account once we get there.  I'll do some investigating when we're there and we could change banks at some stage if necessary but this will get us by for now.  Once the cards have arrived I will change the address of the UK accounts to a friend in the UK so that by the time we get there we will have 3 months of bank statements with a UK address.  That should make it easier to change to another bank if we choose.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

HSBC bank account

I rang HSBC's international department on Monday and they took our application over the phone for a UK bank account.  The pre-filled application form was then emailed to us.  Now we print the form, sign it, and take it to a HSBC branch with our identification and to pay the application fee of $200.  We will also need to open an Australian HSBC account at that time and we'll be able to transfer from our Australian account to the UK one.

Once the accounts are opened, I don't see why we can't just use Ozforex to transfer to the UK account.

During the conversation with HSBC I discovered a major difference between Australia and England's banking.  We can have a Visa or Mastercard as a debit card on an ordinary transaction account in Australia.  HSBC said you can only have a card for use at an automatic teller machine on an ordinary account.  If you want a Visa or Mastercard it has to be a credit card.  This used to be the case many years ago in Australia.  So, we also applied for a credit card account in the UK as well.

It's all been easy so far.   The cards will be sent here to us in Australia in the next month or so.  We will have to go to Melbourne to take the paperwork to a branch.  There isn't a huge number of HSBC branches in our state and all of them are in Melbourne.  We have another item on our list almost ticked off!

  *** See update 22 May 2012 ***

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Please wait for us, dollar

We've been watching with disappointment as the Aussie dollar has crept down over the last few weeks.  With four weeks until our house settlement we just hope it doesn't tumble.  Over the last few months the rate has dropped by 5p per Aussie dollar.  That means that on $100,000 Aussie dollars we're now getting 5,000 pounds less than we could have.  It's a lot of money!!

Fingers crossed there isn't too much more of a slump before we have the money in the bank and converted.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Belated mother's day

My mum went to Melbourne for the weekend to catch up with her friends, my sister and nieces.  So today we went out for lunch together ..... after she helped me move some boxes.
Happy Mother's Day, mum!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Our house buyer

Yesterday afternoon we had a visit from the buyer of our house, Tracey.  She had mentioned to the real estate agent that she would be interested in buying a few items of furniture that we have... and we had mentioned to the agent that we would be interested in selling some of our furniture.  A good arrangement all round.

When Tracey and her friend arrived we immediately felt comfortable with them.  She was so obviously thrilled to have bought this house that we felt happy that it was her buying it.  We have a bit of a sentimental attachment to the place and I was desperately hoping that someone would buy it that loved it.

We spent a pleasant couple of hours chatting about all sorts of things and agreeing on furniture deals.  We're pleased to leave some larger items behind - it will make the moving easier and mean less in storage. Plus, a little extra money in the bank for our adventure.

So... we are very happy to be handing over what has been a 12 year labour of love to a lady who we really like. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Pick of the week - Elisa

Here is one from Apollo Duck : nb Elisa

There isn't a huge amount of information on this advertisement and we'd have to ask many questions but this is a cheapie that we like the layout of.  I particularly like the idea of the second cabin - especially now that it looks like I'll have work to do. 

There would be some money to be spent because we'd want to put in cupboards for storage and modify the second cabin to convert one side into a work space, plus upgrading the electrics.  Bit of a project for Mick!

Name : ELISA
Price : GBP 36,000
Length : 60 Foot
Stern : Semi Trad
Year : 2005
Manufactured by : Amber Boats Ltd
River / Canal Licence :  12 Months
BSS Certificate Expiry Date : 23/07/13
Engine : Diesel Barrus Shire (Yanmar) - New Engine Battery
Hot Water/Radiator Webasto Diesel Heater
Double Bed, 2 Singles & sofa which converts into a Double Bed
Bathroom : Shower, Pump-Out WC & Sink
Galley : 12v Fridge/Freezer & Gas Cooker
Wood Burning Stove
Electrics : 12v Lighting / 240v Electrical Sockets (Inverter), 2 New Leisure Batteries

Friday, 11 May 2012

More work!

Another great day today.  The job I've been doing since January looks like continuing while we cruise!  They asked me today if I'd do work for them while we're away.  YES!!!

I did tell them that I can't promise to work as many hours as I do now but even if I only do half we can near on survive on that once we've bought our boat.  We're going to work out a system and practice it in the coming months while we're still here - just to make sure it works.

Things just keep on getting better now that the house is sold.  Woohooo!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Notify employers - tick!

I've been very happy at the job I started early this year.  They've been happy too after having difficulty finding the right staff.  It was difficult today to have to tell them I'll be leaving in a few months!  I didn't resign but I did tell them we had our tickets booked and we'll be going.  They were disappointed but supportive.  Lovely people.

My one day a week in Melbourne is something we're planning with that employer that I'll continue with.  We're sorting out a method at the moment.

Every dollar of income we can earn while we're away will preserve our funds to stay longer if we want.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Walking on sunshine

Some days just feel good from start to finish and yesterday was one of those.

The day before, on my day off, I did the social rounds.  I drove to Healesville to visit my sister in law and little nephew, Declan.  He's such a happy little chap.  There's a new baby on the way (a girl this time) so that's something else to look forward to before we go away.

Next was coffee with Vic, my old school friend.  It was a boisterous hour of 3 excited kids and a dose of puppy love from Fee the guide dog puppy.  Fee is proving to be a star performer at just 4 months old.  She's great on a lead, does all the right things with ignoring food, other dogs etc and the toilet training has been a breeze.  A happy family.

Finally dinner with a friend I used to work with long ago.  Cathy's always good for a pep talk and dose of positive thinking.  It was relaxing after a couple of hours of Declan's showing off, and the after school noise at Vic's.

So.... I started yesterday on a positive note.  My Tuesday employer is happy for us making such exciting plans. Of course she'd rather I stay and keep working in the office but it's nice that she's being supportive and wants to work towards setting up for me to do this work from our narrowboat. 

I finished a little earlier and set off for the 1 1/2 hr trip home well ahead of the peak traffic time.  I've always loved the feeling of driving home from Melbourne.  I work right on the edge of the city so there's a lot of traffic in the area.  Once I'm on the freeway just down from the office there is no traffic lights for the rest of the trip.  Slowly the cars turn off the highway and there is less and less on the road.  It's a nice wind down as I head further from the city.  Yesterday was a lovely sunny Autumn day and driving home was a pleasure with the sun filtering through the gums, Garth Brooks on CD, and a positive frame of mind.

The day was even topped off by a Facebook "chat" with Diane from nb Ferndale.  I got to ask some of our endless questions and she even kindly added to my "to do list". 

A great day all round!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Recipe - Roast Vegetable Salad

My version of Recipe from 4 Week Energy Diet (ABC Books 2012)

1 beetroot
2 carrots, scrubbed
1 red capsicum
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cups baby spinach leaves and/or rocket
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas (or cannellini beans)
1⁄4 cup chopped curly parsley
1 teaspoon finely shredded mint
Dressing : 4 tbsps balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp virgin olive oil, 1⁄2 tbsp Dijon mustard

• Preheat oven to 180°C
• Line a baking tray with baking paper.
• Cut the leaves from the beetroot, leaving around 2–3cm of stem attached. Wrap the beetroot in baking paper and tie with kitchen string (to prevent the juice leaking out).
• Place the beetroot, carrots and capsicum on the baking tray and roast for 20 minutes. Turn and roast for a further 10 minutes.
• Place the garlic in the oven with the vegetables and roast for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the garlic is soft and caramelised. In total, it should take 35–45 minutes.
• Meanwhile, to make the dressing, combine the vinegar, oil and mustard in a glass jar, screw on the lid and shake vigorously. Set aside.
• Transfer the roasted vegetables to a plate and cool slightly.
• Place the pine nuts on the baking tray and lightly toast in the oven for 2–3 minutes.
• Using a knife, peel the beetroot and carrots and remove the outer skin from the capsicum. Chop the vegetables into chunks.
• Place the spinach, spring onion, pine nuts, chickpeas or cannellini beans, parsley and mint in a large bowl and add the chopped vegetables. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine.
• Serve immediately.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Pick of the week - Imagine

This one would put pressure on the budget but we really like it.  Great Haywood have it listed : nb Imagine
I see someone else really liked it too because it's sold.

It has lovely timber work and with one owner since new it's been blacked regularly.  We love the paint job, the name, we like having the wood burner in the centre of the saloon rather than a corner, the radiator covers, side hatch over the cooker, and especially the side hatch in the cabin, it looks like a great little bathroom and I love the galley tiles.  The only thing negative is that there's no inverter so there'll be money to spent on that.

Length : 60ft
Stern : Trad
Built by : Barry Hawkins
Year :  2004
Price : £59,950.00
Construction : 10/6/4 Steel,Flat hull

Source of Hot Water: Calorifier/ Eberspacher/Immersion heater
Central Heating: Eberspacher
Solid fuel stove: Yes
Water tank capacity: 100 gallon approximately
Additional Systems: Stainless steel water tank

Engine make: Beta 43hp
No of cylinders: 4
Keel, water, air cooled: Keel
Gear box make: PRM
Bow Thruster: Tube fitted
Diesel tank capacity: 60 gallon approximately
Additional Notes: Twin alternators

12 Volt: Yes
240V landline: Yes
Inverter: n/a
Generator: n/a
Batteries: 1 starter, 3 leisure
Media: TV & CD player

Type of toilet: Pump out
Bath/Shower fitted: Shower
Vanity Basin: Yes
Additional systems: Walk through bathroom

Fixed Berths: Fixed double at the stern
Extra berths: Dinette converts into a double

Cooker: Vanette eye level cooker with separate hob
Fridge: Yes
Gas, 12 Volt or 240 volt: 12v
Additional systems: Zanussi washing machine, side hatch, houdini hatch.

BSS: 2012
Maintenance: Blacked every 2 years since new
Recent Survey: n/a
Mooring Available: Yes

ADDITIONAL NOTES: Front cratch cover, spray foam insulation, solid oak flooring with tiles in bathroom and galley, 2 side hatches, one owner from new.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The first weekend

It's been a huge weekend of passing cars tooting their horns in acknowledgement of our "Sold" sign, neighbours calling in unexpectedly to offer congratulations (and ending up staying for dinner), and us just trying to get our heads around the huge task ahead.

2 weeks to have the house up the road ready for the tenants.
5 weeks to have all our stuff packed up and moved out.
20 weeks to be ready to get on that plane.

It's all rather daunting really.  Telling people we've booked a one way ticket to the UK seems to be getting the appropriate response.  Mostly stunned silence!  We have been very selective with who we have told of our plans over the last couple of years.  We still had to continue working and living in a relative small community and decided to avoid the gossip and only share our plans with close friends.  So now... the locals know the tenants that are moving into the other house, and are asking where we are going to live!  This week will bring a flurry of gossip around town I'm sure.

Meanwhile, I've started on the boxes again.

One way tickets

The last month or so we had a surge of people looking at the house.  I've been watching the flights available for September on frequent flyers with trepidation.  Every day there was less and less of them available.  I had enough points for two one-way fares and really wanted to save the money and use the points.  This last week the available flights were dropping off like flies and last night when we looked there was only 2 days in September that we could get the usual 2 leg flight to London.  There were a few other dates available but all via somewhere else first making the trip well over 24 hours.  We looked at each other and said "just do it!".  We booked our flights for Tuesday 18th September.  Wooohoooo!!!!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

All systems go

Well, it's over... we did it... the house is sold.  It's been a long time in the making!  It's like a huge weight lifted off our shoulders and now we can throw ourselves into making our dream a reality.

We have a rather short settlement with less than 6 weeks now.  There is a lot to do in that time but it will keep us busy and focused.  There's very little left to do up the road before the tenants move in.  Mick's fixed up the fences, I have to hem all the curtains we bought and the heater/air conditioner has to be installed.

The next focus will be our temporary living arrangements.  Mick will set up a shower and we have to buy a caravan.  He also wants to paint and set up our living room in one of the offices but that doesn't have to be finished before we move there.

And finally the packing.  Again.  I've already packed so many boxes but that was a year ago and now it will start all over.  How did we accumulate so much stuff?  I'm starting this weekend!

There will be some negotiating with the new owner of our house - they want to buy some of the things we have on display in the yard and also some items in the house.  We're happy to do that as it will be less for us to move.  In fact when we were discussing this with the real estate agent late yesterday she said as she walked out the door "Would you sell me your kitchen dresser?". 


I've always had a fondness for lavender and we're lucky to live not too far from a fantastic lavender farm called Lavandula.  It's a wonderful place to visit on a nice day - to wander the gardens, have some lunch and browse their little shop.

Tonight we watched a tv show called Bill's Tasty Weekends.  It has Bill Granger touring around England and showing some amazing places to visit.  Tonight he was in Norfolk and went to a lavender farm.  I wanted to remember this place so we could visit it one day.  The website says they have 100 acres under cultivation.  I'll look forward to it.  We will have to look out for other lavender farms along the way.  Does anybody know of any worth a visit?

Lavender Fields

Friday, 4 May 2012

SOLD ! ! !

Wooohooo.... yippeeeeee... hoooooray.........

The deposit is in the bank and the contract is signed. 

No cooling off period so there's no going back!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

House rented out - tick!

We're very happy to have ticked off another big item from our "to do" list.  Today we have a confirmed tenant for the house up the road.

The carpet went in on Friday, the shower screen today, the septic tank's been pumped out and next week the split system heater/air conditioner will be installed.  Mick's got the fencing to finish off and it will all be done.  The tenants will move in the last week of May.  Perfect!

As for our house... tomorrow's the day we'll be sure.  It feels like the stars are aligning.....

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Help please - online canal info

I've been looking for some sort of online version of a Nicholsons guide.  Does such a thing exist? I found this as suggested by someone on a previous blog entry of mine but it doesn't seem to tell you the winding holes, water points etc... or have I not looked in the right place.

Where is the best place to get up to date information about the necessary facilities we'll need?

Help will be much appreciated!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Memories of living in a caravan

With only a couple of days until we know for certain our house deal is done, we've started planning for our next living arrangements.  We won't have long to finish up the other house, move out of our house, and have temporary living arrangements set up out at Mick's shed.  Phew!

At first we had intended to turn a small office at the shed into a bathroom but it is a fair way from the existing basic toilet facilities.  The water pipes and waste would have to be moved a long way away.  At present there are very basic mens and ladies toilets from the days of the shed being used as a factory.  Now we're thinking we'll put a shower in the ladies toilet area and put our caravan on that side of the shed instead.  We'll only be there for 3 months.  If our house had sold much earlier we could have been living out there for a year so had thought we should have more permanent arrangements.

It will be interesting living in a caravan over the Winter.  I'm thinking it will be good practice for the cold in the UK and also for living in a confined space.  Next weekend, once we know for certain the house is sold, we'll go looking at caravans.  We have lived in a caravan for 6 months before.  We hired one and lived in it onsite while building our little house in Melbourne.  We had bought my parents' backyard so had to go outside and up their back stairs to use the toilet and bathroom.

I do have vague recollections of swearing that never again in my life would I live in a caravan.  Funny how time fades your memories because here we go again!  It was such a difficult time for us back then.  We had very little money, two large dogs, a vast quantity of paperwork to do with the building of the house, I was unwell, and to top it all off I had surgery twice while we were living in caravan.  Poor Mick was relegated to the dinette for a few nights each time because the bed was so narrow and he kept bumping into me and causing me pain in the night.  At least this time we'll have one of the offices at the shed to use as a living room and we won't be sharing the toilet and bathroom with 3 other adults.

We were in that caravan heading into the heat of the Summer of 1995 so moved into the house well before it was habitable - to escape the heat and to save the rent of the van.  By then we had only a couple of rooms in the house with plaster on the walls, not a single door in the house (including the front door or bathroom door), no running water except a hose connected to my parents' garden tap, and the only electricity being an extension cord from my parents' house with a multiboard on the end of it.  We could use only 4 electrical items at once.  The fridge used one of the four permanently and at night a light used a second one.  Add to that the tv (there wasn't much else we could do in an empty house at night with only one light) and that left one spot for a kettle, microwave or whatever else we needed.

We had a lockable gate across the driveway that ran down the side of my parents house so the front door wasn't such a security hazard.  We hardly had anything in the house except our bed, fridge, tv, sofa and a few other bits and pieces so there wasn't much to steal anyway.  I wasn't working so between the five of us - my parents, my sister, Mick and I - there was pretty much someone home in one of the houses at all times.

Mick rushed to get the toilet connected to the sewer once we decided to get rid of the caravan but we had to flush it by hand with a bucket of water.  We still had to used Mum and Dad's shower.  Our cooking facilities comprised a microwave and an electric frying pan.  With it being a sloping block and no landscaping or steps yet we had a plank from the level where we'd had the caravan (eventually becoming a carport) down to the front door of the house.  It was a balancing act to get into the house and we were living in the midst of a building site.  But..... somehow I recall finding this preferable to living in the caravan!