I found our new place quite by accident. I had my tablet with me one Saturday night in front of the telly, happened to open Gumtree, happened to check what was available, and found something nearby on offer - the only picture being of the fireplace in the lounge... Not particularly inviting! Just a column of red bricks, an old carpet, and slate surrounds. But hey, why not. Investigate all options and all that.
Turns out it was a pretty good option. It's an old house, likely built in the 60s or so, with a very large yard. It hasn't seen much ongoing maintenance, but is solid and honest. The yard.. well that's going to keep me out of mischief for a very very long time. It has been badly neglected for probably 10 years or more. There are morning glory and Mexican trumpet vines covering just about everything, to the point where you don't know what tree or bush is lurking underneath. The top corner of the yard has been overtaken by rampant vine-type spreading hedge - a double-garage worth of space. The bottom corner I can't even get to, through what used to be a vine-covered arbour but is now simply a mass of undergrowth and overgrowth and 20 foot trees!
But there's something about this place...
I don't know how to explain it, but I was glad to close the door on the previous house. Perhaps it was the resident ghost, or the leaking roof / walls / windows, or the badly-built on additions, or ... well, I don't know what. I'm just happy to be out of there for some odd reason, as much as I loved the place when we first moved in.
Here, on the other hand, things feel completely different. The atmosphere is lighter, calmer, less troubled - although we have issues with pollen and dust that have us sneezing and wheezing (to be sorted bit by bit). I'm more content here, happier. Maybe it has to do with the amount of greenery around me, or that we're closer to the mountain, higher up the hill. Perhaps it's that I like being on a mission - and here I clearly have a mission ahead of me to transform our space. Or maybe it's just the room to breathe.
But I simply can't wait to get home each day, to go water the newly planted herb garden, the variety of plants in pots from my previous homes, the newly-freed-from-the-hedge lemon tree, the still-to-be-pruned almond tree. I love checking up on what birds, lizards and butterflies are hanging around the plum and prune trees, seeing which of the hibuscus bushes are blooming today, watching the unafraid guinea-fowl peck and scratch their way up to the top of the yard and roost for the night without worrying about me nearby. I have a birdbath outside my dining room, and the bird feeder that has seen two previous residences. Not only have the white-eyes and doves discovered the water and food, but the two kinds of robins love the bonemeal that ends up on the feeder, as do the pair of squirrels and family of quiet rats that tiptoe along the hedge from the neighbour's each night to sample the bird's buffet. We have a gigantic gymnogene that occasionally drops out the sky to bend the treetops. There's a rash of gekos everywhere. There are sunbirds and sugarbirds sap-sucking the fallen plums, with a white-barred emperor butterfly hitting the ground-level stuff. There's an irrigation system lurking on the entire property - if we can just find where it starts/ends... The agapanthus are blooming in the shadows, and yesterday I found out I have an Australian Tea Tree out front, with a few hundred bulbs of some unknown plant hiding in the lawn nearby (growing one out to see what it is). Last week I discovered we had an additional pedestrian gate. The week before I found out there may be a yellow-wood in the top hedge that wants uncovering. This place is a constant surprise and delight.
Then there's the room available to plot and scheme. Once the clearing-up has happened, there is more than enough space for a good veggie garden to add to the fruit trees and keep us eating free, good food. There's room to park the Landy duo as well as our work vehicles. There's space to go watch the stars from a remarkably dark corner at night. And so very much more.
This is a challenging place to live. We have an interior that has not changed since the house was built - but it's solid and works (except for the oven, which blows the mains). We have an exterior that has been left to its own devices - but provides endless entertainment / hard flippin slog / fun. We have nice neighbours (one of whom seems to enjoy the odd Saturday afternoon live music with friends). We have a non-leaking roof over our head and solid walls that are not crumbling with mould. We have him space and her space, and us space.
This Old House, I think, is going to be a good place to live.
(the Top Gate before)