Monday, October 26, 2009

Then it got ugly

Sometimes life is a complete pile of poo and I wonder why I bother to get up in the morning. Today is definitely one of those I-am-totally-fed-up-with-coping sort of days. I trundled off to see our lettings agent because she wanted to speak to me and discovered that we have a choice: either we sign up for a full year's lease on this place (with penalties for breaking the lease) or we have to move out on January 9th 2010. Obviously we can't sign up for another year because at some point next year we hope to move into our own place, so we will have to move. AGAIN.

Since arriving in Australia just over 3 years ago we've already lived in 3 different houses, so this will be our 4th... and we'll be moving at the hottest time of year, when Coffs Harbour is full of holiday-makers and short on accommodation, and we have to find somewhere that will take our dog. Did I also mention that I'll have to pack up my studio for the umpteenth time and kiss goodbye to any chance of doing any meaningful work...?

Just for the rest of today I'm going to pretend it isn't happening, because I really feel that I can't cope right now. I'm going to give myself some time off, and then I'm going to get angry (I'm quite looking forward to that bit), which will delay the necessity to DOooo something about it for a few hours longer. No use thinking about it now because I've got to take darling daughter to her piano lesson. In the rain. Grrrrr.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Then the good stuff

Which is the Class 2 camp I went on with darling daughter last week! Three blissful days at Woody Head, which is near Iluka on the northern coast of New South Wales. Practically Queensland, in fact.

Woody Head camping ground is slap in the middle of Bundjalong National Park, and has kilometres of pristine beaches, safe swimming areas and shallow snorkelling so it's perfect for kids. There's also a fabulous rock platform with deeeeeep rock pools, places to fish, a kiosk that serves decent coffee and it's clean. It's so good, in fact, that I've picked up the brochure and plan to spend some time up there with my family.

The whole thing was new to me: I am unfamiliar with Australia's National Parks, know nothing about that part of the coastline, have never been to a formal camping ground and I've never taken 20 children (5 of whom have special needs of one sort or another) away for three days before... on Tuesday evening before we left I was seriously asking myself WHAT WAS I THINKING? I mean, I'd only got off a plane a few days beforehand!

In fact it was really good fun, if very hard work. Ruth, the class teacher, is amazing: calm, well-prepared, doesn't need to raise her voice, and completely organised. Also, we weren't in tents but were staying in the conference centre which is two huts with bunk rooms for the children and private rooms for most of the adults, plus a fire pit, a barbeque and a fully-equipped kitchen so we weren't roughing it at all. Some of you may sneer and say it wasn't really a camping experience, but for this lot it was enough. The children rose to the occasion magnificently: the tears on the first night (many of them had never spent time away from both parents before and missed their mummies and daddies dreadfully, so I got to give out LOTS of cuddles, which was nice) gave way to unadulterated enthusiasm by the next morning. Ruth had organised teams with one adult and several "helpers' each to do various tasks: prepare breakfast/morning tea/lunch/afternoon tea/dinner, clear it up, do the cleaning on the way out, serve food, make food... and they did it all with very few complications. I was really impressed actually: 8 year olds aren't renowned for their organisational skills, patience or dexterity but they completed their tasks and were able to take responsibility for things like having a shower after swimming in the sea, cleaning their rooms, packing and unpacking and keeping things tidy.

Tomorrow it's back to school and they will spend a few days de-briefing and learning from their experiences and each doing a page in a book I'm going to make for them. I'll make a box with compartments for treasure we found on the trip, and I'll turn all the drawings and writing into concertina books to go into the box. The class will be able to keep it as a permanent reminder of their adventures.

It was a lovely break from reality! Now I have to get back to the real world and focus on things like the accounts, business cashflow, getting the car serviced, the house-building project, Board stuff for the school, oh... and also doing some of my work! I'm finding shuttling between two houses very tiring as it adds a good 2 hours of driving each day, and I'll be glad to get back into our Korora house, hopefully next weekend. It will be a filthy pit but at least we'd be sleeping in the same place as our belongings.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First the bad news

I didn't realise that my darling daughter thought that the following scenes of devastation were her fault until we got home from our European tour on Friday, when actually she is the heroine of the piece!

Can't remember what I've said before (jetlag is my excuse, as if I needed one) but the potted version goes like this: just before she and dearest hubby came out to join me in the UK, darling daughter was in her downstairs bedroom, watching with fascination as a large water-filled bubble appeared under the window... After Daddy had been summoned, who called the agent, who called the emergency plumber it was established that copper water pipes buried in the concrete floor of the upstairs bathroom had finally burst.

The escaping water did what it does and found various escape routes, mostly in between the waterproof membrane that covers the concrete floors and the lovely wooden floor boards laid on top, but some flowed into the cavity in the external walls and into her bedroom where it seeped everywhere, very quietly!

Prior to their departure they had to endure holes being cut in interior walls and drilled into the exterior walls, but it was only once they'd left that the full extent of the damage became apparent: every wooden floor in the house (and there are many!) will have to be replaced, and our en-suite bathroom has to be ripped out and replaced...

So when darling daughter and I landed in Coffs Harbour on Friday after over 30 hours travel back to Australia we went to a hotel for the weekend, and as of yesterday we are the less-than-impressed inhabitants of a slightly damp, roach-infested holiday "cottage" in Sawtell. Jim, the builder, assures me that we only have to endure it for 2 weeks. Fingers crossed; that would be great, but the landlord's agent rang me earlier to ask me to come in for a 'quiet chat' early next week and so I'm not entirely sure what's going on!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


You're quite right, I have been RUBBISH at posting anything while away, but there are several reasons for that: I've been too busy eating/drinking/seeing the sights/relaxing/reading books oh, and did I mention we've had the best part of two weeks with no internet connection? It's a curiously liberating experience although after a while one begins to get the fidgets and wonder how everyone else in the Blogsphere is getting on...

I'm not trying to make you jealous, but I should tell you that I'm typing this sitting in the bar area of Antica Casa Coppo, our home-from-home in Venice. We're down to the last few days of our holiday and by this time next week Darling Daughter and I will be at home and may even have managed some sleep.

Talking of home, a new complication has arisen in our lives that I'm going to have DEAL with once I get back to Oz... just before Darling Daughter and Dearest Husband departed Coffs Harbour to join me in Europe they discovered a bad water leak coming from our en-suite bathroom and manifesting itself in Daughter's bedroom. Further exploration on the part of our managing agent and landlady have revealed serious problems in the first floor plumbing that will require a complete tear-out and re-build of our en-suite bathroom and Daughter's bedroom, plus other associated areas. Why do renovating builders not realise that sealing water pipes in concrete is a recipe for disaster...?

The implications for us are huge: naturally the insurance company is dragging their feet which means that far from completing the repairs while we were conveniently away for 6 weeks, they won't even get started until early November. As water and electricity are being switched off during renovations we are required to move out!!! Our agents are offering us temporary accommodation at a vastly reduced rate in a holiday flat but we have no information yet about whether it will even be suitable... I, for one, cannot just move all my printmaking kit on a whim: it's too heavy and there's too much of it, so I am going to have to continue to work at the 'old' place, wherever we eventually end up sleeping. I'm still trying to clarify what our agent's and landlady's obligations towards us are under the contract: if we chose not to accept the offer of the holiday flat, does that mean they have no further obligation to find us somewhere to live? And as our tenancy agreement is shortly due to expire is there a possibility that they may simply give us notice to quit..? And what about Toby: can we take him with us or...? Lots of questions and currently no answers! Bummer.


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