Our neighbours family have owned land in this area going back to when it was first settled in the 1800s and I got a little peek into how life was for families at the turn of the century when Pat invited me to have a look at his ancestral home. At various times it housed extra Cousins, Aunties and Uncles with the house bursting at the seams with 3 different families living there together. Verandas were enclosed to become living areas and kitchens and rooms built as formal sitting and dining rooms became bedrooms to cater for the increase in numbers. The original kitchen is now gone replaced with an 80’s built in number which must have been sheer heaven after working on a wood fuelled stove and cooking for 14 people every day! Ironically Pat’s Mum Vonnie, became one of Australia’s best known country cooks – renowned for her baking (especially her pumpkin scones) and her many award winning cakes. Now in her 90s she is a judge at the local country fairs and at The Easter Show in Sydney and is the vision of a country lady – all rosy cheeks and twinkly eyes. After seeing where and how she must have started her baking career I have even more respect for her achievements! What stories this veranda has seen over the years……if only the walls could talk……..
Their dairy has a wonderful old barn that has been used for EVERYTHING over the years, including local dances and various family christenings, birthdays and wedding receptions. It is mainly used now to house some old equipment but it has a lovely atmosphere and you can imagine how much fun the kids would have had playing there in the old days before the modern ‘progress’ of TV and video games….
We have had a couple of milestones this past week, our first dinner date with some locals which was lovely and made us feel part of the community instead of Sydney ‘outsiders’ and my first out of office function with my new workmates. It was a thank you to the team at all 3 offices – Nowra, Berry and Shoalhaven Heads for all their hard work and achievements in the recent Real Estate Awards where they scooped quite a few trophies. We went to the beautiful Wharf Road Restaurant and enjoyed drinks and canapes in front of the log fire and it was great to mingle and meet some new people from the other offices. Earlier in the week Cam and I took the hound to the other side of the river from Wharf Road and enjoyed some locally caught fish and chips in the sunshine. There is a path that tracks the river and is a pleasant way to spend an hour walking the dog although I think she may dive in once the weather gets warmer – labradors just LOVE the water!
On a beautiful sunny morning I bundled Bailey into the car and we drove to Milton for a “doggie playdate” with Corona and Chloe at Claydon Park. Seeing Corona a year or so ago had ignited my desire to get another labrador and then Karen and Phil got Chloe – a little black lab 4 months older than Bailey – and I thought ‘what is a country veranda without a dog lying on it????’ Hence our little chocolate drop’s arrival.
We had a lovely day with the three of them chasing each other around the farm and Bailey met her first cat, Felix. Bailey jumped around him prancing to and fro trying to engage him in play but he sat there disdainfully – a huge ball of white fluff – and completely ignored her, until she got too boisterous and then a swipe of his claws let Bailey know who was boss……………………………..
Phil “sharing” his pie with the three amigos………..(note Bailey sitting beautifully in the hope of a reward)
The next day I had to go to work – my alternate Saturday, and of course the weather was perfect. A million things could have been done in the garden but I was off to sit in the office. Still, as I drove through the countryside it was hard to feel hard done by. The coral trees are all starting to flower and contrast beautifully with the green fields and as I drove into Shoalhaven Heads the sun was shimmering on the water and not a soul in sight. Such tranquility, with a sigh I hopped back into the car and onto the office.
The head of the Shoalhaven River in the early morning sunshine
There is a feeling of Spring in the air and it wont be long until we are all complaining it’s too hot and driving to the beach to cool down, and despite all the dire warnings of the August winds we have only had one night of rattling windows and furniture stacked up on the front lawn in the morning. The roses are starting to bud and the lavender is blooming. There is talk of planting tomatoes and spring flowers and little calves have arrived in our adjoining paddock. Time for the next push in the garden with the front perimeter fence being targeted this coming week and hopefully the planting of some hydrangeas around the bay window. Bring it on!!!!