Home is where the heart is.

Home. Does a more evocative word exist in the dictionary? It encompasses the other top two contenders, Love and Family, all wrapped up in one word. Whether it’s a bedroom in a share house or a sprawling homestead in the country, home is where we look forward to coming back to; where our belongings surround us like cuddly blankets and we can just relax and be ourselves. In my late teens when I spent a few years travelling the world on an extremely small budget I spent many a night (and long long train journeys through India) dreaming of home and what I would ask my Mum to cook for me on my return. Other travellers I met along the way would also ponder on their favourite meals that so reminded them of home, invariably shared with their family. For all our dreams of travelling and experiencing new adventures, coming home is still AMAZING. Coming back to my childhood bedroom after spending months discovering myself in Israeli kibbutz and Indian Ashrams was strange yet oh so comforting. The familiarity and the unconditional sense of belonging that you can only ever get from being ‘home’.

Nowadays I have two homes, my old childhood home in England where my family still live and my new Australian home about which I share this blog. It is through this that I have most surprisingly met up with the couple that we bought this house from and who have now come back to the area. It is thanks to Nicky and Paul that a lot of the hard work was done on our house before we bought it. The many many hours spent reclaiming the floors, stripping back the old dark paint and repainting, laying new carpets in the bedrooms and updating the electrical side of things was done by them and we are forever grateful to them for giving us such a fresh gorgeous base to which we could add our own touch. I am looking forward to getting them over soon to show them what we have done to the house. Here are a few before and after pictures….

The hall with its old powder blue carpet and dark paint.

More of the pale blue and the old boarded up fireplace in the lounge.

The Master Bedroom with a newly restrained palette.

This used to be the only working fireplace in the house so it was used as a sitting room but it is now our dining room.

As Nicky is new to town I have encouraged her to go to everything and anything local as you never know when you will make your new best friend so to get the ball rolling we went together to the local “FUN” lunch (Females United Networking) held in Berry in the rustic old coach house at the back of the Berry Pub. A small group of lovely women with very varied and interesting stories and businesses shared their stories with us over lunch and it was a great way to meet local ladies and get some ideas for what is going on in the area and to brainstorm ways to help them grow their business and/or assimilate into the area. A monthly lunch that is worth putting in the diary!

It has been a big week for Berry with the bypass finally open (although only with one lane each way at the moment) and no more trucks thundering through town. Locals feel like they have their little town back, at least until the weekend invasion from Sydney and Canberra, and it is possible once again to cross the road without courting death. Now the next stage of works begins which will incorporate making a turning circle at the top of our lane and we will no longer be able to turn right, having instead to turn left and double back if we wish to head north. They have already started pulling down the trees, some of them have been there 50 years or so and it is with a sad heart we see this ‘progress’. The South Coast got some more good news this week with the announcement that commercial 50 seater planes will fly to Melbourne and Brisbane daily from Albion Park, avoiding the need to drive the extra 1 hour 20 mins  to Sydney and pay exorbitant parking fees at the airport there. I’m personally not too sure how I feel about little planes with memories of being buffeted about like a dandelion seed in the wind in years gone by……

The big road now bypassing the town leaving it blissfully empty.

 

I did venture half way to Sydney last week to meet up with old friends at a venue I haven’t been to before and which was a pleasant surprise. Austinmer beach is literally about half way to the Big Smoke making it a popular area to visit at the weekends and a new building – The Headlands Hotel – made great use of it’s position on the cliff to provide us with lunch with a view. On a beautiful Australian winters day it was a pleasure to sit out in the sunshine and with a little ripple of coastal breeze in our hair catch up on times old and new. How lucky are we to have these amazing beaches at every turn.

With the Man of The House away I decided it was a good time to tackle the assembling of a flat pack chest of drawers that I had bought from ALDI. So many of my friends have raved about their products and being a German company I hoped that their instructions would be marginally clearer than IKEA. I spread out in the garage and in one hour blocks managed to put it together! Not without having to pull it apart of course, as at the final hurrah of putting the drawers in I discovered I’d put the runners in upside down and round the wrong way – aaaaargghhhh!! Luckily it went together much quicker the second time around and is now happily ensconced in our guest room.

Because it has been so sunny outside and soooo freezing inside I have been taking little tea breaks every couple of hours to thaw out and have been loving re reading some of my old books. I’m having a French ‘moment’ and have devoured Jane Webster’s “French Ties” that incorporates her daily life in her beautiful Chateau in Normandy with some great recipes. Each page is a visual feast and I can’t help but have a little daydream about winning the lottery and having a little place in France closer to my family in England to enjoy for a few months a year. Jane has a website http://www.thefrenchtable.com.au   where you can see some of her beautiful Chateau Bosgouet. Instagram has a plethora of sites to follow of Aussies that have taken the plunge and made the move. It’s a great way of finding places you’d like to stay. After having struck up conversation with them online, we stayed in the countryside outside of Bordeaux last year at L’Autre Vie Guesthouse where an Aussie husband and wife team welcome people from far and wide and through another site http://www.thefrenchmanoir.net I would love one day to meet Julie at her beautiful house in Normandy too.

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A favourite book, a spot in the winter sun and oranges from our own tree. Heaven.

Food is intertwined with all things home and travel. I can love a destination but if it doesn’t give me a few good meals, however simple, it doesn’t rate. Prague was like that for us after LOVING the city but not getting one decent meal the whole trip. Best was the rotisserie ham and mulled wine from a market stall in the Old Town Square! So as my orange tree is dripping in sweet ripe fruit I am searching for recipes to use them up but as I am trying not to eat desserts it’s a bit tricky!! My veggie patch is starting to give us a few more winter crops now and I am quite happy to eat loads of them as long as they are visually appealing! I realised the other day that I haven’t added much to the kitchen section of this blog for a long time so I will be doing so gradually over the next few weeks. Our ruby grapefruit tree is going crazy and the fruit is enjoyed every morning by The Man of The House and a certain labrador…..talk about bonkers!!!

 How good does this look !!

So as my winter splodge has rather taken hold of my middle I am attempting to go back onto the 5:2 way of eating to combat our winter food choices – slow cooked stews with butter laden mash or polenta and steamed puddings or pies with lashings of cream or custard, not to mention the big reds that make sitting in front of a log fire that little bit more fabulous. So for 2 days a week I eat very little, stir fried greens and the odd boiled egg and mug after mug of green tea to allow me to eat a bit of what I fancy on the other days. Sadly this sums me up to a tee….

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