renovation ruminations: part 6

Our latest renovation project has been a few years in the making. When we moved in, the back verandah was partly enclosed and there were café blinds further along (the first storm took care of those). Apart from being immensely unattractive, condensation would drip from the ridges of the corrugated ceiling, creating puddles on the floor.

1.before

We solved that problem with a new ceiling in 2011, adding skylights to allow light into the house.

2.new ceiling Dec 2011

We had often talked about how nice it would be to enclose the room but other things got in the way. Forward to spring 2016 when a pair of welcome swallows moved in. Each time they started to build a new nest, we would remove it. They were so persistent, we attached plastic to the cedar cladding and cardboard ‘lids’ to the coach lights. They finally got the message – and so did we. In March this year, we started by removing the existing window and sliding door in readiness for a concrete slab.

A few days later, the builders started on the formwork, under the guidance of Poppy.

The driver manoeuvred the truck past the pond

8.concrete truck

and the lads got to work.

A few turns with the whirly-gig

14.whirly-gig

and next morning we had the beginnings of our new room.

15.slab

The old sliding door was repositioned at the entrance and a smaller window installed next to it.

16.new window, old sliding door

Three large stacker doors and a slider at the other end followed. The small stacker windows at the far end will sit above the bar and will open into the BBQ area. Poppy has a new doggy door which she thinks is great fun.

We left a channel open along the old exterior wall to allow access to pipes. The plan was to build timber frames so we could cover them with the flooring but remove if we have plumbing problems. Michael’s mammoth trench-digging effort unearthed the pipes but they weren’t where we thought, they were more central in the room.

19.trench for plumber

The old coach lights were removed and down lights installed, with power points to follow. We sanded the existing window frames so they would match the new ones.

20.sanding

We carefully extricated the cladding from the old exterior wall

and after attaching the moisture proof membrane,

23.waterproofing

re-used it on the new exterior.

Insulation came next

27.insulation

and then the plumber removed the old exterior pipes, re-directed them outside and installed fixtures for a bar sink. Now that we didn’t need the channel to access the pipes, we had another concrete delivery to fill it in

and laid a slab for the BBQ and pizza oven at the same time.

30.BBQ slab

Plastering and painting made it all seem a reality.

31.almost there

We decided on a small wood heater for those cold winter evenings,

32.wood heater

and vinyl planks for the floor. The excitement of laying the first plank

33.first plank

had quelled somewhat after the second day.

34.halfway

With skirtings fitted and varnished, we are very happy with the result.

35.finished

Poppy has a new bed (she refused to smile for the camera) made from reclaimed timber.

36.Poppy's bed

We couldn’t make up our minds on furnishings so decided to refurbish the items we already had.

We bought an old pew for our dining area, it revived beautifully with some TLC.

45.pew

The dining table and coffee table – well, that’s another story. Now we just have to build the bar, a couple of cupboards, the decking, the BBQ………

snooping snake

After a long cold winter, our resident reptiles have been enjoying the summer sunshine. Once the weather warms up, we become more vigilant around the garden and when walking Poppy in the forest. We recently had a visitor waiting at the door when I returned from work. She moved off as I approached and I encouraged her direction of retreat to the other side of the house. We met again about an hour later on my way back from the veggie patch, she promptly sought sanctuary under the box hedge by the front door. Poppy and I went inside but I kept an eye out at to see where our guest would go next. Expecting to see her at ground level as she emerged from the hedge, I was surprised to see something atop a bush four metres away.

1.snake atop bush

Once my heart restarted, I snapped a couple of pics with my phone. Usually, the small birds alert us to the presence of a snake, staying well out of the way and making lots of noise. The blue wren next to the bush didn’t seem to be aware at all.

2.waiting for the birds

I raced inside to grab the camera and when I returned, the snake was no longer on the bush. Scanning the garden, a blasphemous expletive escaped my lips as I saw her on the box hedge right outside the window.

3.on box hedge

I don’t know if she was admiring our new renovations but she obviously wanted a closer look because she crossed open space, mid-air, to a pot plant nearer the window.

4.on box hedge5.crossing to pot plant6.crossing to pot plant

At this point, the camera peeked outside – I didn’t.

7.in pot plant

She then dropped to the ground and headed toward the pond, possibly in search of a tasty frog or two.

8.still searching

I don’t think she found any, she came back to the window.

9.coming back10.coming back

She may have seen her reflection as a mate or rival,

11.up close

or maybe she could see me and the glint off the camera.

12.can she see me?

I’m referring to her as a female because she wasn’t as big as some and her head isn’t that distinctive diamond shape of the males with the wide jaw.

13.can she see her reflection?

I could be wrong. It’s easy to see from the markings why they are called tiger snakes.

14.fabulous markings

Is that a smile?

15.is that a smile?

She finally got bored and moved off, hopefully to find what she was looking for.

If you would like to watch the video of this encounter, here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9PSWwWqijw&feature=youtu.be

By the way, in our experience, this is not the usual behaviour of tiger snakes. They are timid creatures and will retreat very quickly in human presence. Yes, they are deadly but only if they bite. People get bitten when they are trying to kill, catch or corner them. We prefer to live and let live and anyway,  they are protected in Tasmania.

petal pilferer

We’ve had a lovely display of water irises in our pond this year, the bright yellow contrasting beautifully with the verdant surrounds.

1.water irises2.water iris

Despite the mild weather and lack of winds, the flower heads have been disappearing soon after opening.

3.water iris

While enjoying a morning coffee in the back room last weekend, we found out why.

4.petal thief5.petal thief

The Superb Blue wrens, while being socially monogamous, are apparently the least faithful birds in the world. Although they mate for life and will share the feeding and upbringing of their young, they are remarkably promiscuous. The females have a particular weakness for males bearing a yellow petal.

6.petal thief

She may be courted by up to 13 males in half an hour and, for the right one, will leave the nest, mate with him and return as though nothing happened. Consequently, the offspring in any one brood will have different parentage. Maybe it’s because the male never presents a petal to his mate?

7.petal thief

And why a yellow petal?

8.petal thief

Billy bunny

There is a new resident here at 569. When we first saw him, we assumed he was just passing through but it seems he has made a home here, safe under a spreading grevillea.

1.Billy

Up early in the morning, he starts his day with a wash.

When he saw me watching, he tried to make himself small and thought about retreating.

Deciding I wasn’t a threat, he happily went about his grazing.

9.Phew, that was close

I assume he will leave soon to start a family of his own. Until then, I have named him Billy.

16.Billy

Seven Sheds

The small town of Railton in northwest Tasmania is home to Seven Sheds Brewery, Meadery & Hop Garden.

1.Seven Sheds

Michael had been invited to join friend, Neil Gray, to play at this year’s Oktoberfest. Arriving early, I had the opportunity to poke around and take photos before the crowds descended. The cellar door, opened in 2008, was ready for the afternoon tasters.

2.Seven Sheds cellar door

Outside, the rustic bar offered three tasty options on tap – the deliciously golden Paradise Pale, the flagship Kentish Ale and the exquisitely rich Black Inca, infused with Peruvian cacao beans and locally grown organic oats and quinoa.

2a.the bar

The remnants of last season’s hops rested against the sky,

3.hops

while below, the hop garden awaited new plantings.

3a.hop garden

This magnificent 1912 McLaren Steam Tractor made a guest appearance for the afternoon, peacefully chugging away in the background.

The music kicked off with talented ukulele maestro, John Beck, his beaming smile and obvious enjoyment were infectious.

To complement the beverages

22.beverages

there were tempting choices of wood-fired pizzas and seafood as well as the Oktoberfest stalwart, Bratwurst.

The sun kept us company on a beautiful spring day

26.clouds

while the musicians entertained with their usual outstanding performance.

Later in the afternoon, we farewelled Annie. I expect it was a very slow drive home.

36.Annie departs

As the shadows lengthened, the punters departed and a calmness settled over Seven Sheds once more.

This was the first time I had seen or heard of John Beck and I have since learned more about his enviable lifestyle in rural Tasmania. I challenge anyone to watch this video without a smile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXk3JtlWIZY