We spent yesterday in the Countryside, around an hour and a half's drive from Adelaide visiting our friends A & A on their farm. The farm has been in A's family since they took up the lease on the land over 140 years ago. While it's not common these days to find a house built by and still inhabited by the original family in the city, in the Country there are still properties that are owned by the same family, with the house and farm passing down through the generations.
We had a long, lazy lunch with a group of our friends and a large number of children, eventually returning home to the city late in the evening.
The house itself is late Victorian, my guess would be around somewhere between 1880 - 1900 based on the Architectural details (I forgot to ask exactly how old it is). Peeking inside homes that have had continuous family ownership is a very interesting thing - to see an old house preserved in a specific time period, as the National Trust tend to do, can be a slightly soul-less experience. Here there are layers of family decoration and memorabilia, overlaid with modern living. Many of the rooms have been left untouched, just as the generations past used them, but in the back A & A have recently completed a renovation that joined the old servants wing to the main house. This has brought inside the beautiful old exterior sandstone walls, and by leaving some of the original features in place, there's a strong sense of the old and new and they've created a beautiful new light filled, modern family living area.
back door and farm dog
In the old part of the house the room that fascinates me the most is an upstairs bedroom, which is a print room. It's covered in prints - this was something Ladies used to do to keep themselves occupied. They'd cut out pictures from magazines and arrange them on walls. This room is completely covered in illustrations and photographic reproductions from Illustrated newspapers of the time. There are a lot of pictures of Queen Alexandra and King Edward, along with Victorian/ Edwardian era beauties, etchings of cats dressed up in bonnets, race horses, scenic landscapes… it's a very quirky little room. A & A use it as a guest bedroom now.
The house also has a Billiard room, filled with Taxidermy, such as this giant deer… there are some squirrels on another wall, a fish…
Mixed in amongst the family photographs there are a few signed photos of the Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor after he abdicated the throne for Wallis Simpson) from his 1920 trip to Australia, the Duke of Gloucester, and Queen Elizabeth. Some members of the Royal Family visited during their tours of Australia.
The front hall is particularly beautiful with a triple arched entry. A put a colourful rug down, and has done this throughout the house - some rooms are left as they've always been, other spaces have modern Art and bright furnishings reflecting the young family that now live there.
Outside there are numerous outbuildings - old farms were like little villages 100 years ago. This is the smokehouse, which is a tiny little building near the back of the house. A has done this up for their Children to use as a Cubby house. I don't know if you can see the scale, but there's a garden bench next to it which shows you it's tiny - it makes the perfect little house for the children with a window and chimney as well.
It was a lovely day.
It's school holidays here, and we spent the first week skiing at Falls Creek in the Victorian Alps. This was a slightly spontaneous trip, we only booked in after seeing the snow report on television the week before. It's been absolutely dumping snow, and we had probably the best skiing I can ever remember (particularly given it's so early in the season).
This was the first time we've been skiing where all three of the children were old enough to go to ski school… which meant that for the first time in 9 years I was able to ski as well, without having to juggle baby/ toddler duties. The children all loved skiing. 4 year old S has no fear (as they tend not to at that age), and behaved as if skis were a natural thing to be on. Aside from the 12.5 hour car ride to the snow from Adelaide (and the fact that the in-car DVD player became jammed with Tinkerbelle in it, which nearly lead to a riot from the boys), it was a fantastic family holiday.
We arrived back home to find that the rain had finally cleared just enough for them to lay the lawn down. I can't even begin to describe what a relief it is to see greenery out of the windows, rather than mud and dirt. Next up are plants...
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