Last of “On the Reno” for 2016

November 27, 2016 - 7:48 pm 4 Comments

20161002_reno_1058Because Christmas is rapidly approaching, this blog will be in recess for the rest of the year. Here are a few photographs of the work done and yet to be done. Three more rooms to go! Have a great Festive Season!20161120_reno_1092


Victorian Ash sideboard purchased from Robert at the Artists' Market, Castlemaine

Recycled Victorian Ash sideboard purchased from Robert at the Artists’ Market, Castlemaine



On the Reno: Part 13

November 20, 2016 - 10:04 pm 2 Comments

This week I decided to take the advice of my good friend Vicki, from Banyo in Queensland, and slow down and take stock of what has been happening. The library that Dave and Scotty have built for me was also going to double as a guest room. I have put a lot of books on the shelves, trying to sort them logically into categories for ease of retrieval. Because I wanted to paint the room I have been sleeping in, I moved my old bed into the library/guest room while waiting for the new one to arrive. And guess what! I had the perfect sleep. The PERFECT sleep. Though there are no blinds on the front windows yet, the shelf nearest the door affords the sleeper complete privacy and also offers protection from the morning sun. And imagine waking up surrounded by some of your oldest and dearest friends! It is also a little like sleeping in the Captain’s cabin of a ship—with no attendant seasickness or violent storms to sink you. It’s very nice. Peaceful. Ideal for an insomniac like me because instead of worrying about being awake, I only have to lean across the bed to find the book I want. (And there are certain books I know that will send me to sleep).

Difficult to do this room justice with a normal lens. Perhaps I'll get hold of a fish-eye to give you a better idea.

Difficult to do this room justice with a normal lens. Perhaps I’ll get hold of a fish-eye to give you a better idea.

20161120_reno_1123   20161120_reno_1094


On the Reno: Part 12

November 13, 2016 - 7:48 pm 2 Comments

Last week featured some photographs I’d taken on my mobile phone of the early days of renovating this very old miner’s cottage. I guess it was also a reminder to me to try to avoid a fairly pernicious and uncomfortable disease which seems to afflict many newcomers to the goldfields: E.R.F.

The symptoms of E.R.F., aka Extreme Renovation Fatigue, are headaches, glazed eyeballs, lack of sleep, and a bad attitude. This bad attitude can actually jeopardise all your past efforts, and therefore your future relationship with the key person/s in the continuing saga of your house: your builder and his or her close associates (aka the people who are doing all the hard bits in the restoring to life  of your very own, and therefore very valuable, piece of history).

So when s/he has just created the library/bedroom of your dreams, plus the study you’ve been hanging out for for a decade and asked you whether you want to work on the guest room next or to refurbish the back shed as the studio that is also on your wish list, and your bank balance seems to have disappeared with the finality of the alluvial gold on Ten Foot Hill, and you are too exhausted to  even think about the next step in your renovations, please don’t say, “I don’t bloody know! Can’t you see I’m sleep-deprived and feel more like the walking dead than the townsfolk from that  ABC television series, “Glitch.” Smile as sweetly as you can at your Angels of Mercy and offer them all a cup of tea.

And have one yourself, for God’s sake, AND STOP BITCHING!

On the Reno: Part 11

November 6, 2016 - 9:30 pm 3 Comments

Notice here that the much of the interior walls are missing.

This is the kitchen after the partition was removed. The lower half of the walls needed to be relined, the ceiling was non-existent at this point, requiring insulation and plastering.

This is the kitchen after the partition was removed. In the  lower half of the room, the walls needed to be insulated and relined, the ceiling was non-existent at this point, also requiring insulation —and plastering.


Since this blog has been appearing now for more than 10 weeks—despite a couple of near-disasters—it might be time to go back and review the renovations that have been taking place. This will hopefully be facilitated by some photographs taken on my cell phone, which I could not access until just now, and this with the help of a charming young gentleman called Jerico, from Applecare. Despite the fact that my mobile phone is not compatible with my computer, Jerico managed to find his way through the technological jungle that had had me flummoxed. Thank you Applecare. Here, courtesy of Jerico’s technological savvy are pictures of the post-re-stumping phase of this very old house’s history, before three of the rooms were re-floored.This is part of the extraction device from the old stove left under the fireplace.dav

The picture on the far left, above, shows part of the extraction device from the old stove left under the fireplace.

This is the kitchen after I had removed the old cupboards and tiling.

This is the kitchen after I had removed the old cupboards and tiling.

This huge fireplace took up most of the kitchen space. It had been concreted over and covered in wallpaper, which I managed to peel off with a razor blade. However, when I finally decided to have this monolith removed, a veritable treasure emerged from the dust and rubble.

This huge fireplace took up most of the kitchen space. It had been concreted over and covered in wallpaper, which I managed to peel off with a razor blade. However, when I finally decided to have this monolith removed, a veritable treasure emerged from the dust and rubble.


On the Reno: Part 10

October 31, 2016 - 9:28 am 1 Comment

Another hectic week has just passed, culminating in the carpeting of the two front rooms, the release of a couple of hundred books to their new shelves, and the establishment of my office. This picture on the left, taken from the room to be my office, reminds me of something our wonderful Australian author, Drusilla Modjeska, has said about the  artists, Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington-Smith, in her books Orchard and Stravinsky’s Lunch. Both these Australian artists produced domestic interiors without people in them. She said the open doors of these studies which always lead into other spaces, reveal infinite possibilities. The picture on the right gives you some idea of the colour of the carpet. It is a dark brown, called “chocolate sisal,” and it is perfect, I think, with the green walls and white ceiling and trim. This part of the much bigger room is the far end from the bookshelves featured in last week’s blog, giving you some idea of how the space has been arranged so far.20161031_reno_1084


On the Reno: Part 8

October 16, 2016 - 9:32 pm 4 Comments

Clearly I needed help. So David and Scotty came to the rescue. Here they are at work. Dave is earthbound, Scotty up on the ladder.


On the Reno: Part 7

October 16, 2016 - 9:16 pm 2 Comments

Possibly because I am a writer, I am loath to admit that a picture is worth a thousand words. But here are a few photographs of the next part of the house that needs renovating. These are two front rooms that were bedrooms. The larger I am hoping to make into a very comfortable guest room. The smaller I would like to use as my office. Both rooms required the removal of some cupboards and the larger also contained a set of drawers. When I removed these items I was dismayed to discover that a lot of extra work was required on the walls. In the larger room I could actually see through into the kitchen. 20160921_reno_103120160921_reno_104820160920_reno_102620160920_reno_1018

On the Reno: Part 6

October 9, 2016 - 9:35 pm 4 Comments

The leeks were amazing! Not just the largest I have ever seen, but succulent, sweet and the perfect foil to roast pork. Combined with the potatoes, also purchased from the Castlemaine Farmers’ Market last Sunday, which had a dense rather than floury texture, they made the perfect Leek and Potato Soup which is a staple in this household whenever good leeks may be had. I gave one of the 3 leeks I purchased for a mere $5.00, to a loved one who walked around the market with it lying in the crook of her arm as if she were carrying a baby. (This is where the image came to me of the leek being the size of a small person). Furthermore, I still have enough left over for another ambrosial soup. Which is very easy to make. Sometimes the best things are the simplest. If you would like a recipe for this dish, let me know by clicking on the red comments line at the top of the blog with your request and I would be happy to oblige you.

With all the rain we’ve been having, the garden has become wildly overgrown and full of weeds. I spent several sunny afternoons this week pulling out weeds and pruning bushes that have grown over the pathways through it. There was some linoleum that I didn’t throw away that has become a weed discourager. It was probably an idea that Bill Mollison, who died this week, had. One of his many brilliant ideas. Vale Bill. We renovators will miss you. I have a few rooms in the house that still have their old carpet because they haven’t yet been repainted. Instead of worrying about taking this to the local tip, I will be cutting it up and putting it into my garden.

Now, because a picture is worth a thousand words—or so they say—I will show you another room that is nearing completion.
This was one seen in an earlier “On the Reno” with its floor missing and one of its walls all but destroyed during the re-stumping process. It is the one with the wallpaper on it.20160915_reno_088520000101_reno_0955

This is what it looks like now.



On the Reno: Part 5

October 2, 2016 - 8:40 pm 2 Comments

20161002_reno_1004Before the rain started again, today was a delightfully sunny Spring day for all to enjoy the Farmers’ and Artists’ Market in Castlemaine.

This occurs on the first Sunday of each month. It is a place you can buy local, organic food and original artworks, and all at very reasonable prices.

Now you may be asking yourself why I am wandering off the subject of renovating. It is simple, really. When you are working hard on your dream home, you need sustenance. And at places like local markets, you can often pick up something quite wonderful in the furniture line that perfectly fits the style of the house you are re-making, as I did today. I also picked up some delicious-looking potatoes and some amazing leeks, which, it is no exaggeration, were the size of small people!

Yesterday I pulled up the  linoleum that had been under carpet I  had also removed—but some time ago—from the largest room in the house, plus all the old newspapers which were underneath, dated 1947,  which is before I was born. Now, after I had read those items of the news that I simply couldn’t ignore, I broke the rather brittle lino into fairly small pieces so that I could dispose of them thoughtfully.  I was wearing a dust mask at the time, something you might consider using yourself when working on a very old house. This big room presents a little problem because it is so large, but I will tell you more about that later. Today was a holiday for me after all the hard yakka, and so off to the markets I did go.

The picture at the top of the page is of one of the two items I purchased from a clever man called Robert, who fashioned it. How could I resist a traditional meat-keeper that would fit perfectly into a house that was built on the Victorian goldfields? Well, I couldn’t. Especially with that delightful poster advertising Bendigo Digger Jams. It seemed to be made for my house. Serendipity, my father would have said, though I believe I was just at the right place at the right time.

On the Reno: Part 4

September 25, 2016 - 9:50 pm 2 Comments

20000101_reno_0959Since I have hinted about the awfulness of the re-stumping process, I’ll show you a few pictures so that you can get an inkling of it. The one immediately below and the picture on the lower left of the page give you a glimpse of the tunnel which the re-stumpers filled in with rubble.

The basin was left in my garden as was much of the timber  which the re-stumpers claimed they had cut up for my fire. However, I had decided that having a fireplace and burning wood was not an environmentally friendly option and too labour intensive for me, so I had arranged for a new gas heater to replace the one in the house. When the re-stumpers left my garden was littered with cigarette butts, paper and polystyrene food wrappings and even food scraps. They did remove some of the wood in the pile (which was as tall as the back part of my house) but much was left behind for me to remove. I appreciate that re-stumping a house is not a pleasant job and I suppose this is partly why it is such an expensive project for the renovator, but I couldn’t help feeling that neither the house nor myself were treated very respectfully. Anyway, the horror of it is being erased as the renovations proceed. The first picture at the top of this page shows the back of the house and the kitchen area. On the Reno Part 3 contains a picture of the kitchen that has emerged thus far. (Just scroll down a little). I think you’ll agree that things are definitely looking up.