I've had a very quiet week - mostly buried under renovation work, with meetings, lots of drafting and ordering items like wallpaper, light fittings and other things that generate paperwork and take up time. It currently seems very much like a full time job. Except that I used to feel I already had one of those just with my normal day to day existence.

view through the kitchen, dining and living room

Most of the renovation work this week has centred around the first fit electrical. Wires do not make for an interesting blog post I'm afraid, but the good news is that they plasterboarding team started on Friday, so this week should see some photographically visible change in the interiors. The brickwork outside is almost finished, and with the warm weather we're having (sporadically.... I wore a sleeveless dress and sandals on Tuesday and was back in two layers of wool on Thursday) the rendering should be commencing in the next week or two.

view out the children's play room steel sliding doors

brickwork almost finished

new site shoes - 4" wedges

The imminent plastering up of the walls has meant that Mr AV and I have had to choose a sound system for the living area. We've made do with a Bose docking station for our old iPod for the past 7 years, before that I think we might have been using a ghetto blaster from our teens. I think you could say that money spent on stereos was never a priority for us....

So yesterday, we dragged the 3 children to a flash showroom to view expensive Danish sound/ speaker systems. It was a very curious experience. Firstly, it is the first sales experience I've had where the sales person tried to talk us down in spending money. After explaining our renovation, and what we were looking for (speakers in the wall, non intrusive etc), he tried to direct us toward... iPod docking stations.  No, we explained - we want a proper sound system. He then started to explain to us how iTunes works. These things suggested to me that the expensive Danish brand is used to a demographic of significantly older people than Mr AV and I - we are viewed as young entry level purchasers who might want docking stations and headphones, and older people whom the sales guy thinks will buy the speakers have no idea how to run everything through iTunes, therefore requiring a demonstration. After a while, we managed to find what we were looking for, although he was still keen for us to walk out with a docking station at the end (we are thinking about the speakers). Strange.

potentially dead rose - not a shoot to be seen

With the warm weather, I've finished planting out all the roses, there are 24 new ones and most are looking ok and putting out new leaves. One is not, so I think that one may not make it - it's a David Austin Golden Celebration in the middle of my yellow/orange rose bed. Bit sad. The rest of the garden is starting to put out Spring growth - the topiaries are shooting like crazy, the ecchium is about to put out its spiky blue flower heads, and the euphorbia is full of limey coloured flowers. In another month, the garden will look vastly different. I'm hopeful that this year the hedge along the fence will grow enough to cover it up.




grow hedge, grow!


My hellebores are looking good - I particularly love the double purple one, even if it does have slightly ratty slug chewed leaves. My camellia's are looking quite dreadful. The possum has pretty much decimated them - so I'm going to have to net them to let them recover before seeing if the possum leaves them alone. Why are Possums a protected species?? They are living in plague proportions in my neighbourhood!


In reading news, I'm currently reading Byzantium - it's excellent. I don't have a lot of knowledge of Byzantium/ Constantinople/ Istanbul, but it was the continuation of the Roman and Greek Empires during the Dark and Middle ages and into the Medieval period - keeping knowledge, art, and Roman military systems, engineering etc alive as well as the founding of the concept of  civilian government. It spread Christianity throughout Western Europe and is the foundation of the Orthodox church. It's a completely fascinating book, well written.


I know a lot of you have been anxiously awaiting me finishing War and Peace. Good news! I've finished. After the lovely blog commenter Pamela suggested I read it, and Ruth from Clothing Fixations mentioned that she needed to reread it, in Russian no less, I felt that there was an obvious and gaping hole in my literary education. I did stumble somewhat at page 271... with over 1200 still to go.

But then I finished!

Ok. Maybe I cheated a little. Earlier in the year, Romy from Diary of a Hobart Housewife mentioned that her youngest child had been captivated by the Cozy Classics version of Pride and Prejudice. So I ordered a copy for my 3 year old niece's birthday, along with a copy of Moby Dick for my baby nephew's birth (my older sister had been complaining about how dreadful she thought Moby Dick was after filling her own literary gap). They were a big hit, so for Christmas, I've ordered a copy of War and Peace for my nephew. I think it sums up the major plot points quite succinctly.




 Another book ticked off my list! Maybe I'll get around to finishing the full version later... when my brain is not quite so goldfish like due to renovations/ 3 children/ travelling husband.

Hope you had a good week xx

37 comments:

  1. Lots to comments on here Heidi!! Firstly, We've never bothered with sound system either and with this new build, that ship has sailed I think.. not sure... We've also always made do with the Bose/iphone system. But as we now have Iphone 5's, and the face that Apple has kindly changed the bottom opening, not sure how we will access our music. I suppose there is an adaptor of sorts!! .... Your garden development is very exciting.. at least you have some garden to work with... and the back garden will come later. I love Euphorbias and Helebores are a favourite. A small tip... next time you order bare-rooted roses, just plunge them into water - a pond or a big bath or whatever..... they will be quite happy. I plunged a large order of roses into a cattle trough some years ago!! I am impressed you have fininshed W&P ... and always love your book recommendations and have put Byzantine onto my list! Have a good week! Just one week to go and we'll be back home! xxx

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    1. Hi Jenny! The main reason why we've never invested in technology is because it is superseded so quickly (aside from the money of course!). The new systems just require speakers only - you can use your phone or ipad to play the music from, so it's not complicated, and you're not paying for another 'thing' as part of the sound system set (and doubling up). You could always get the new stand alone speakers if you want... I just hate stuff in a room (even if they're beautifully designed stuff - I'm sure the children would use them as weaponry of some sort) so I want them to be in the walls and ceiling.
      I'm afraid the back garden will come much later, but I've got a little patch to continue experimenting with out the front. I did plunge the roses into a bucket of water... unfortunately they arrived in the post as we were leaving for a weekend trip to Melbourne, so I couldn't get them out of their box until our return... that's why I think I've lost one! Bit sad.... you must've planted thousands of them to fill a bathtub! Enjoy the rest of your time in France xxx

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  2. Wiring, so necessary and yet as you say so unsexy. I just blank out anytime I get asked my opinion on waterproof membranes and types of blocks, I am just perusing paint colors...garden is looking lovely but I think it might be a full time job Heidi! Think you will need a proper gardener otherwise you will never leave the garden. Well done you for finishing war and peace! I am still 1/20th of the way through. I might get that children's edition might be easier for me to digest. I have already forgotten who is who but just don't want to start from the beginning! I am not even going down the speaker route...I don't want the discussions later on. Hope you have a productive week with the build xx

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    1. Oh No! I was joking!! I have finished the 8 page cozy classics version of W&P, not the real one!! I'm about 1/20th of the way through too. If you want to short cut, get the kids version!!
      The wiring has led to a lot of tedious discussion and meetings. But necessary! I just find it's a slightly... difficult... topic as I'm not an electrician. I just know where I want stuff, and where the switches are to be... as for whether it requires remote transformers and how many transformers will run however many lights, I get a little lost.
      The speakers were an interesting experience. Mr AV has directed me to continue on with it all this week - alone. Fun. You need to post on how your reno's are going??!! xx

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    2. Thank god you just clarified bc I was thinking I need to get with the program. Yes will post soon but am finding it all stressful...especially having moved and vacated and new neighbourhood etc. but will try this week! X

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    3. Haha! Would have read this before posting a comment!

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    4. Ha! Oh yes Naomi, I'm superwoman - renovating houses, writing thank you notes, reading War and Peace and keeping up housewifely duties as well. Nooo.... a lot has slipped past me. I have low standards these days. W&P in shortened form is more my style!! xx

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    5. But you are! And it's important because I need to know that it's possible...:)

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  3. This time of year in the garden is so excitingly full of promise! Twenty four new roses will be quite a sight! Made pilgrimage to Danish sound system showroom in Melbourne 6 years ago when we were ashamed of crappy cd/tape player and came away with an iconic 6 cd player which takes pride of place in the living room (wonder if they even make these anymore?) and wireless speakers for every room.....had rep from same company in a couple of weeks ago to see about plugging iPhones into the system as v keen to subscribe to one of those online music libraries.....so sad! Love those cozy classics...so glad your family enjoyed them too! Rx

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    1. I LOVE the cozy classics - so fab, my sister is a huge fan too. I'm so glad you mentioned them on your blog... It's the best way to find suff when someone gives a rec on a blog.
      I know the system you have! It's definitely a classic, but they don't sell them anymore (although I'm sure it's in MOMA or something). They really don't do CD's anymore at all, it's all interfaced from the iPad. So different. The speakers we were looking at are pretty amazing, not only great sound, but clever... which I'm a total sucker for. The sold themselves despite the crap sales guy. So funny, I grew up with a state of the art Danish system (record player though...) and see versions of them frequently through the Auction houses in Adelaide now that they are 30 years old. My sister stole the old family one, and likes to play all her collection of vinyl on it (also stolen from the family....). xx

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  4. Even without the plastering on, your rooms are looking impressive! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you that all goes quickly and smoothly from now on.
    Too funny about your trip to the expensive Danish hifi place - I think I know which brand you talking about. J and I had exactly the opposite experience when we went in to look at stuff! We were shown the most ridiculously expensive items ever! Perhaps we look more the correct age group?!

    Love your garden... I am so in love with your topiary.
    Finally, congratulations on finishing War and Peace (ВОЙНА И МИР in Russian -pronounced voeena ee meer!!!).
    Did you enjoy it? I must say, my urge to read it in Russian has wained a bit recently.
    The book on Byzantine looks v interesting. Will have to look for it to read soon. I'm trying to read more history books this year, as my knowledge of almost all history is very hazy and slight!

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    1. Oh no! I thought I'd made it obvious, but it wasn't.... I finished the cozy classics version, not the real one!! Maybe during the Summer holidays I'll manage to concentrate long enough to keep the characters in my head a little better!!
      I HIGHLY recommend the Byzantium book. Fascinating, and a really interesting part of history that is not widely known about. It's written by the Professor of Byzantine History at Cambridge - she took a tour group through Istanbul as a Martin Randall tour group, including my In Laws, who found it so interesting, so my Mother in Law recommended it to me. She's usually spot on with her book recommendations, and I have to say it's a good one.
      I think in general they'll try to upsell you in any retail experience... the sales guy was definitely one of a kind!! xx

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    2. Dear Heidi
      Really funny! Love that you finished W and P in the cozy classics version and everyone thinks you gone the full Tolstoy! Never mind, one day you'll have the time to read it all and hopefully enjoy. Your Byzantium book sounds really interesting.
      Sad about Golden Celebration but it's not quite as hardy as most other David Austins. Though the flowers are lovely with a really pretty shape and scent. I persevered with its early struggles and now ours is well established. But never as hardy or vigorous as the marvellous Abraham Darby so can understand that of all the roses you bought this one might not have made it. Just today we bought three climbers for the back fence - the Garden Centre didn't have any I'd chosen from books but persuaded us into Mme Isaac Pereire, Mutabilis and another whose name escapes right now. Mme IP is supposed to have a heavenly perfume.
      Good luck with wiring and the stereo system. Being from the older luddite demographic, we like our CDs (I love buying them on trips too and in hotel/apartment players, eg Chopin CDs from Warsaw and Carla Bruni from Paris) and even have quite a good collection of operas on vinyl in box sets, eg the wonderful young Pavarotti with Mirella Freni in Madam Butterfly, picked up for almost nothing (wanted to say, for a song - but too corny) at fetes. Though dealers generally now seem to snap these up very early. Best wishes, Pamela

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    3. One day I will definitely read it Pamela!! I promise! Although now the cozy classics version has ruined the ending for me...
      That's interesting that you think Golden Celebration is not one of his sturdiest - I suppose I was lucky with the long period that they all spent in the box, but it's still made me sad - I examine it every day looking for shoots, but so far I can see there is a lot of die back in the stalks so I'm not hopeful. Your new roses sound lovely - all green thumbs crossed for you that they take a little better than mine!
      I pointed out to Mr AV that we haven't used a CD in years - they're in a bag in the shed, and we haven't looked at it for over 3 or 4 years!! I should probably jettison them... xx

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    4. Your local Op Shop would be very grateful for the CDs. There are still plenty of us alternative demographics about. Fingers crossed for your roses. Pamela xxx

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    5. Yes, I probably will when I'm clearing out the shed when we move into the back of the house. I guess we have a tendency to keep backups of things in case we need them? But really.... it's a bit like old paperwork... xx

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  5. Renos are looking good. I wouldn't be too upset about losing one rose - I reckon I kill about one in two dozen of whatever I plant so your odds are ok.

    Hope all going well with you. All good here except I am the slackest blogger in the world.

    T

    xxx

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    1. Probably true with your odds, so I guess it's ok. Plus I've saved a lot of money with my dividing up of irises and lambs ears - they sell for $15 a pot at the nursery, so I'm doing ok!
      Would love to hear what you're up to T, but by the sound of it your busy (or just slack!) xx

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  6. Love this! Some points - we have now moved to docking station - it seems odd after nearly 30 years with big speakers in the corner...

    I have never read War and Peace. I don't think I ever even picked it up! The children's version looks infinitely more reasonable! I have tried Anna Karenina several times, but dear lord, all those names - I would need a pictogram!

    Glad you are getting walls. Walls so make a big difference, on so many levels!

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    1. I'm not a fan of the big speaker... which I'm trying to avoid by putting the small speakers in the walls. But it was funny that he tried to send us back to the docking station section!
      Yes, I suspect that War and Peace will be a long read for me. Anna K is not far behind, and it sounds like it will suffer the same problems for me (confusing names). Hooray for the walls! It's actually starting to look a little bit habitable. Almost! xx

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  7. I always found W+P aggravating because the same characters kept running into one another all over Russia (very big place) and all over Europe (not so big but at time composed of many tiny countries and duchies and counties complicating getting around in), in days before good paved roads and reliable transportation, and yet there they were! with all the appropriate 8-layered outfits and accessories, no less!

    I need to get my hands on the Cozy Classics version. Genius.

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    1. I highly recommend the cozy classics - only takes a minute to polish off one of the literary greats. I'd like to see a version of Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky ... it's entertaining to see what they decide is a plot highlight, distill it to one word with the scene and do the entire book in around 10 pages.
      I must say, I'm impressed you obviously managed to soldier on through W&P more than I! xx

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  8. We're going down the new sound system road too, but we'll be going the wireless speaker route. All of our music has been gradually sucked into our brand new computer (replacing the one dropped on our last move) and we will be mounting small speakers in the important rooms in a few months. A nice, middle of the road choice I believe, only it takes work to get all the music into the computer. Rooting for your hedges!

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    1. Thanks for sending the hedge some growing vibes! It's great the way so much is now wireless. I'm trying not to go overboard with the sounds system - we rented a place with built in speakers in every room (including the bathrooms), and we never used it. I just want the music in the main living areas, and that's it! xx

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  9. LOL at cozy classics ..great. It's very dry here too . Now I kbnow what a hellebore looks like

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    1. most hellebores are green! I have a few black ones and some purples too though. xx

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  10. keep meaning to ask re you painting the outside white?

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    1. no it will be rendered in a soft grey - sort of a stone colour (not concrete grey, a bit warmer). White will be a bit stark, so the grey will be softer looking against the bluestone of the front of the house. xx

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  11. Young sales people- got to love them!
    your garden is looking lovely!

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    1. Thanks Deanne. It's looking tidy now... I'm looking forward to seeing it all grow though! xx

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  12. Love the cozy classics, that is a cracker! Your garden is looking spectacular considering that you are mid reno. Our entire yard is trashed to compacted mud, there is not a square inch of greeny goodness and if only one rose carked it you are doing well. Good for you even attending a shop regarding sound systems, I would have just handed that one over to the other half. We still have the ghetto blaster and I feel a decade older just having typed those words, do you think all the young things even know what we are talking about?? mel x

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    1. I'm lucky that the builders come and go by the back laneway - so the front of the house is unaffected, and the garden untouched. The back is another story though... just as you said at your place - hard, compacted former mud. Depressing! And I have a feeling I'm going to hate the summer with the kids going through the dirt and then coming inside.
      I know what you mean about the Ghetto Blasters, and I suspect the kiddies haven't got a clue! But they'll probably rediscover it at some point and it will become hip again to have one! xx

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  13. We watched the old Audrey Hepburn version of War and Peace last week...my daughter and I are going through a phase of reading the old classics and then seeing the old classic matching movies...it is a fabulous story...so wonderfully written, and with the more tender side of the story captured in that version of the film.

    Sad about your golden celebration...I must say my experiences with david austin roses are hit and miss...some go crazy, some sulk...i have better luck with the french delbards generally, and am very envious of people who can get a consistent hedge of the david austins happening.

    Fascinating about the music...curious as to what you actually ended up getting.

    Heidi that steel sliding door is truly a thing of beauty...could stare at that all day long!!! What an atmospheric room it will be when all finished. x

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    1. Hello Virginia, That's interesting about the Delbard roses - I had heard they weren't as hardy as the David Austins, but maybe I will give them a go. I had one in the back garden from the previous owner, and it survived, despite the absolute neglect it suffered. I do love the stripey painterly ones, and some of their others are lovely with beautiful fragrance.
      That steel door is beautiful - my children don't realise how lucky they are!! Or perhaps I am lucky to have a playroom for all their stuff at long last, and hopefully such a nice space that they'll want to play in it, rather than drag the toys out and through the rest of the house! xx

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  14. Love the site shoes!

    Your house is looking fabulous!
    Once the plastering is done, you're on the home stretch.
    Looking forward to seeing the finishes.

    Pity about the rose - hope it recovers.

    Take care,
    x

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  15. I am loving those site shoes, I love comfort and height and am sold on wedgies. I am also loving the blue corrugated fence. We were hoping to have some corrugated iron on our house but it was prohibitively expensive!!!

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  16. Your garden <3

    You are very talented Heidi!!!

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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