Friday, 23 May 2014

A Fresh Start?

Old News

I am a little late in delivering this post so for me this is old news, but a picture needs to be completed.

Some time ago I wrote a post here advising that my life was about to be temporarily disrupted by the need to move home, to  ...who knows where?  I made somewhat of a big deal of 'doors closing' and an expectation of 'other doors opening', though I really did have no more than vague ideas of what I really wanted, nor what opportunities might be available, nor where (regionally) I might end up living.  I was open to, and at the mercy of, whatever market forces, or the gods of fate and fortune, may have in store for me.

As is my wont, I didn't bother sitting down to make lists of where, why, what, how, who or when.  Well, not on paper anyway.  That is what the brain is for.  At least that is how I usually operate.  Thinking.  Making mental notes.

I am also not big on tripping around, eating up the miles, wearing out shoe leather or tyre rubber, looking at things.  That is what the internet is for.  And very good use of it I made.

I quickly realised that there was not very much on offer, locally, ie. in the same hamlet in which I was currently residing.  I also quickly realised that there were not very many options open to me at the price (rental) that I had been paying or wanted to pay in the future.  Nor did any of the available options fit my wishlist of expectations for a place that I could call home.  Visions of me sleeping in my tent or going on the road in my little car crept into my re-imagination of thoughts from times past.  I began to look further afield.  Tasmania, Dunolly, Mansfield, and I saw (still on the internet) places at the right price which in other circumstances I would have jumped at instantly.  A beautiful, newly renovated little cottage with solar power and solar heating right on the edge of Devonport.  A large straw bale house, equally sustainably equipped, with more than adequate land but on the Dunolly flood plain.   A gorgeous, strong, very old country home with ready made orchard up near Mansfield.  There were a few other places, far afield, that I could have happily aimed for,  but a stern rebuke from my daughter about moving any further away meant that I had to close off such ideas as these.  For now at any rate.

This left me really with only one option that I could consider, without compromising my wishlist of ideals, my comfort factors and my preferred financial limits.  Could this be the door I was looking for, to providentially open for me?   It didn't look promising.  There were hurdles to cross.

Good News

Suffice to say that without any unpalatably difficult, dramatic episodes or debilitating worries, or even excessive effort other than the actual job of shifting from one place to the next, I am now settling into my newly adopted home with some degree of satisfaction and gratitude.  Not to mention, Ah say, not ta mention,* the hope that I will not have to repeat the process any time soon.  I am looking forward to a nice long stay here.

* Imitating Foghorn Leghorn

So, what about those hurdles I spoke about?  The first was that the owner would not permit any inspection or even entry to the property until I was holding a fully completed and approved Rental Application in my sticky little hands.  The owner I was told is a business, so I was not dealing with an individual or a family but some impersonal entity.  The agent did tell me however, that the owner was looking for a long term tenant.  That was a plus factor.

Things have changed in the rental market since I last tested the waters three years ago.  This time I was required to jump through hoops just to get the application form filled out and accepted.  It was necessary for me to obtain references, payment ledgers and details of all of my accomodation history going back to the late '80s.  I am not sure if this is a legal necessity or just an over-zealous real estate agent intent on protecting their reputation.  Anyway, it took me a couple of attempts, many phone calls and emails, in order to satisfy them and eventually obtain the owner's approval and get to see and go through the property for myself.

With my feet now standing on the property for the first time I could see that it ticked a number of my boxes but there were also some disappointments too, chiefly that a piece of land to the back of the property which housed some empty chicken runs, another small animal shed, and an area that I thought would be the best place to start growing produce, was not included in the lease.  I think the reason for that may be that while the rest of the property was well fenced and gated, this area would have needed some investment in extra fencing on one side.

While I felt that I could be happy to live there I couldn't bring myself to make a decision on that day because of the reduced expectation from the unavailable land and a few other things which I may talk about at some stage.  However, having slept on it I called the agent the next day and set the wheels in motion to move there as soon as possible.

A Fresh Start

That is probably more than enough information at the moment so I will just describe my new home a little and load up some pictures.

 This is a fairly old building which stands on part of a ~1500 acre farming property and was for some time the residence of the farm manager.  The owners of the property lived in a big house, not visible from here, just over a hill.  Some years ago the farm property changed hands to be owned by a business and now the manager lives up in the big house.

Most of the farm is given over to cattle pasture but just over 100 acres is a vineyard that provides a variety of grape types to local and international wineries.    
The vineyard is adjacent, but not close,  to one side of the land I lease.  On the other major side  is part of the pasture land.  Below is a picture of some of my neighbouring beasts on an early misty morning.

The house has three bedrooms, one of which now houses my gym equipment which I haven't in the previous three years had the room to spread out sufficient to make it useful, nor really the desire to use it.  I am hoping that will change a little now.

Just over a third of the house is taken up by the kitchen and lounge room which have been opened up to form basically a single living area.  The kitchen area is large enough to also house my 6-8 seater dining table with more than adequate space to still operate as a kitchen.  This cosy, open living area is one thing that sold me on the property.  I still smile and feel grateful every time I enter there.  Nothing is new of course, but it has a nice feel to it.  Feels like a home.

Adjacent to the house is a three bay agricultural shed which means that my long-suffering little A160 now has a roof over its head and I have a huge area to store all my stuff out of the weather.  There is also a lockable shed attached.

My water supply comes from rooftop rainwater run-off stored in two 25,000 litre tanks so I should hopefully never run short.

Another thing that sold me on the place is that there is no-one else around.  My nearest neighbours are some 300 metres away in any direction.  I am happy to be living practically on a hilltop instead of down in the bottom of a gully.  Hopefully any winter frosts up here will be very light.  Happy thought: I may even try to grow some coffee again.  Whether by accident or design I do not know, but the house has been built facing due north with most glass on that side and practically no glass to the south side.

From the shed the driveway curves around for some seventy metres to the property gate and then by a shared driveway with the vineyard another forty metres or so to the road.

Even set back at that distance I can hear traffic passing by, something that I will have to get used to.  It was usually so quiet where I came from.

The photographs show the quite extensive grass area that I have undertaken to keep in order.  I fully intend to reduce this area by introducing fruit and vegetable gardens as time goes by.  I will talk more about this and the grass problem another time.

For now, I am just happy to be settled again, somewhere I think I will be happy.  Well, getting settled anyway.  Lots of things are still in boxes just now.


  1. Glad you have found your new home Bernie.

    1. Thanks Darryl, and I wish you all good things where you are.

  2. It looks nice, Bernie. Hope you'll be happy there.

    1. Thanks Bev. I bought a scythe online in the week, to help me cope with all the grass. I expect it will arrive during the next week and when I have had some 'fun' with it I will be posting about the experience.