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Friday, 24 April 2015

The Australian dream … grey nomading.

I'm one of the lucky ones who, in their youth, did The Grand Tour … Australian style … in a VW Kombi van purchased in the street outside Australia House, London. Nine months travelling, nomading, across Europe into Morocco, East Berlin ... via Checkpoint Charlie, Portugal, Denmark ... No set journey. No set plan. Just wandering, soaking up art, culture, food, wine … oh, yes, lots of wine.

It was supposed to fulfil my lust for travel, but it did quite the opposite. Fuelled it instead. Plan foiled. 

And now, in what could not be described as my youth, having done lots more travel to distant lands, I want to do it all again across Europe, Australia, America. Be a grey nomad. A nomadic, caravanning, motorhome-ing, officially retired, grey haired person with no set destination and no set schedule.

But what to do it in and how and where and when? Will we venture to Europe first? Will we do the around Australia version of The Grand Tour? Known cynically by my brother as "The Lap of Honour". Will we house swap? Will we do a bit of both for shorter stints? Will it be by caravan or motorhome?

And hence I find myself, friend in tow, at the Sydney Caravan and Camping Show. Window shopping. Tyre kicking, as some call it. 

Last year, my poor Number 3 niece was the victim of this experience. She is still boasting about it to her friends. Not! Youngest person at the show by far!

Last year, I was entranced by the Airstreams but, to my utter dismay, there was no sign of them at this year's show. I mean, what is a caravanning show if it doesn't have Airstreams?!?

But there was enough to confuse me, overwhelm me, bring back memories of "not another Gothic Cathedral!" from The Grand Tour of youth or the "I'm not going into another castle unless it's almost prehistoric" from the raucous tour of Ireland.

Caravans with interiors that would shriek in terror at the first sign of sandy feet or wet swimmers.

Some even have island benches in their kitchens. When did that happen?

Where, I ask, are the red gingham curtains and tablecloths of my Nanna's tent? 

Where is the floor made from sugar bags stitched together by my mother?

The kerosene fridge?

Motorhomes are just as luxurious.

MLP's motorhome of choice. See that external barbie.

I didn't mind this one,

I could imagine it with red gingham curtains.

Luckily, we still have some time before we make the plunge, the purchase. 

For now, we continue to look and dream and way up the pros and cons. And attend the shows to see the latest innovations and search, in vain, for red gingham curtains.

What is your experience: caravan or motorhome?

Extended "Grand" style touring lap of honour or shorter stints?

Red gingham curtains or schmick modern styling?

Friday, 17 April 2015

Sydney. A day in town.

I'm not a city kind of girl. I'm more the smaller beachside town kind ...  with good coffee and a little bit of quirkiness. Cities, major cities, confront and consume. Their busyness and their noise overwhelm me. Their art, culture and architecture redeem them and tempt me. A day in town with a visitor is enjoyable ... and enough. 

Today, we were on a mission, a lunch mission, with a friend from times of being single.  But first coffee, at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place to show support and respect. 

Lindt mocha. Oh my goodness! Heavenly bliss.

Then lunch and time to wander and take in the cityscape, the shop fronts, the contrasts of old and new that tell the story of a city's growth. 

Cities are living beings. Drawing life from suits and high heels and buskers and beggars.

Living beings of extreme contrasts, anomalies.

Their hearts beat of business and finance and merchandising.

 Traffic and pedestrians flood their veins. 

I love my odd day in town, but I'm glad to board the train for the journey home

 ... not to a quirky seaside village, but to an outer western suburb; home for the time being. A little calmer, quieter, slower than the city to its east, but far, too far, from the beach and lacking quirkiness. But home for now.

Which are you? 
A city kind?
A country kind?
A smaller seaside beachside kind?
Where does your soul feel most at home?

Friday, 10 April 2015

DIY with painters' drop sheets.

Painters' drop sheets? Yes, you know those big pieces of fabric painters use to stop any drips messing up the floors and furniture as they paint. I have read about people using them to make curtains, tablecloths, upholster furniture. You name it, someone has used a painters' drop sheet to do it. Well … almost.

Why? Well, because they're huge and they look almost like linen ... Almost. And they're cheap. 

So, what did I use them for? To solve one of the challenges of renting. If you've rented at some time in your life, and who hasn't, you'll know that it comes with its challenges. Sometimes a few. Sometimes many. 

For MLP and I, renting is by-product of a career that sends him around the country to work. Our current house is brand new. We're its first tenants, and, like most investment properties, it has its limitations. Limitations on which I am not prepared to spend a lot of money.

One issue I've struggled with is countering the effect of the afternoon sun blaring in through the laundry door and into the kitchen. So much so that the laundry door has to be closed and the blind drawn in the afternoon otherwise the laundry and kitchen become unbearably oven-like . And, no, I can't just close the blind and leave the door open because then I get the clack, clack, clack of the blind in the breeze against the open door. The breeze would be good, but not the clackety clacking. Drives me nuts.

Then there's the afternoon sun blasting in on the outside sitting area. Hot. In your eyes. Uncomfortable. And the rain on the outdoor furniture. Not good long term.

So, what to do?

Initially a lot of thinking. A LOT. Many months in fact.

And then a solution … using painters' drop sheets. Drip proof painters' drop sheets. Plastic coated on one side. Some dowel, hooks and wire. Magic.

This is my solution!

Little awnings. Shade sails if you like. Drip proof painters' drop sheet awnings. Attached to the eaves and the fence. Plastic coated side up, linen-look side down.

Simple. Cheap. Effective. Shower proof. Magic.

And a little further down you can see the one outside the laundry door.

No more unbearable oven-like laundry. Yay!

Of course it involved a little sewing and a trip to my local Bunnings for a few supplies, but, for very little cost, I have solved one of my rental challenges.

But wait, I hadn't used all my drop sheet material and I had a thought, solve another problem … the pizza oven, amazing Christmas gift from visiting friends, needs a cover, a shower proof cover. So, back to the drawing board and a little concept is produced.

You can see how detailed I get with my concept drawings. And, yes, I'm old style, still prefer to work in inches.

A bit of cutting.

And a bit of sewing and I have a custom cover for the pizza oven. Bespoke, if you prefer. 

So, I have joined the clan of painters' drop sheet aficionados. And … I still have some fabric left from my one huge drop sheet … I have no idea what I will use it for, but I'm sure one day it will solve another problem.

Used painters' drop sheets for anything lately?

Think you might be able to use them to solve any lingering to-dos or rental challenges?

I'm a convert.