Tuesday, February 24, 2009


We have spent a fraught week jumping through hoops for the bank. Despite assurances from the staff at the branch about the viability of our proposition, head office declined our business loan at the last minute due to our lack of experience in the industry. We are kicking ourselves for not realising that a Masters in Economics would be required before we attempted to run something as ambitious as 2 rental units.

However, after some creative accounting and faux-fraudulent assurances we have overturned the decision and received written confirmation yesterday. We had to see our solicitor last week and had conceived a plan whereby we could avoid signing contracts without revealing that we had no finances in place, but as luck would have it he proved to be an extremely fastidious and pernickety character and had several reasons why we could not sign until more paperwork had been chased up from the vendors. This would have been frustrating under any other circumstances but served our purpose admirably.

Team 8 managed a 2 sets to 1 victory last night, although losing a tie-breaker against a team with teenage grandchildren highlights how much room there is for inprovement. It was extremely humid and the floodlights attracted enormous beetles and large hopping mantis-like creatures making it difficult to know which projectile to hit in the heat of battle.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Jo has corrected my previous post- the movie she was referring to was in fact 'Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie'. Apologies for the error.

Despite the wind and intermittent rain the much anticipated tennis did go ahead last night and it is serious stuff. There are ten teams, and over the next few weeks each team plays 3 sets against the other teams in rotation. That was a bit of a shock, but after 2 hours of play I am happy to report that team 8 clinched victory 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, mainly due to my partner being younger, fitter and possessing the ability to hit the ball.

The dodgy leg seems fine this morning although many other muscle groups are screaming in outrage after the onslaught.

The Protea purchase is becoming troublesome as the bank has changed the goalposts and decided that they can only lend us the money over a 15 year term, making potential repayments a challenge. We spent yesterday working on a detailed month on month cash flow projection for the next financial year- it has been a while since I had to play with spreadsheets and I suspect some supplementary vetting will be required if we want to eat. Geoffrey may well have to be replaced by a humble caravan which will be a wrench.

More worryingly there are now questions about my status as a permanent resident rather than a citizen. We will learn more over the next few days.

The inclement weather has meant that our solar panels are not generating enough oomph to charge the batteries so Base Camp Ormiston is running the generator for the first time in months to recharge and rejuvenate Geoffrey. Bluer skies today so hopefully the worst is over.
Areas of NSW are in danger of flooding, and the Mudgee sewerage system is not smelling too clever in town. Strange weather.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

...then the rain came down

The weather here has undergone a rather dramatic change. For the last week the temperature has dropped and wind and rain predominate. All our winter clothing has been rediscovered. We witnessed first hand the famous New South Wales hailstones when we were bombarded with lumps of ice the size of golf balls- how Geoffrey remained undented is a mystery. I really do not understand how the weather works over here- how can the temperature be in the high 30's and yet these hailstones appear.What size are they when they set off? All very strange.

Meanwhile my tennis career has stalled again- the hailstones fell just before the scheduled match. Think it may be a message from above in more than one sense. Jo in the UK has pointed out that this tennis match is somewhat similar to the Louis Bunuel movie 'Angel Exterminador' where the guests at a dinner party never get to eat.

Meanwhile we are slowly sorting out surveys, accountants, banks, solicitors etc for the imprudent purchase. You forget how frustrating limbo land is when attempting to buy a property- maybe we have been detached from reality for too long and have either forgotten the rules or lost the patience to play the game.

Serena is thriving although when Vanessa tried some tough love and took her down to the chook sheds to play with the other chickens she went into emotional meltdown at the suggestion that she may be related to these strange creatures in any way. She bolted after a light pecking. We fear that she may have to be home-schooled.

Lesson 1 : 'perching'

From trek phase 4

From trek phase 4

Sunday, February 8, 2009

bush fires

The devastation of the bush fires in Victoria has left well over 100 people dead and over 750 homes destroyed. This is a harsh country. Meanwhile the floods in Queensland have wreaked havoc, and at least one child is missing assumed eaten by a crocodile.

The aerial pictures make you realise just how quickly the inferno can spread, fuelled by strong winds which constantly change direction. Frightening to see pictures of places we visited only a few months ago razed to the ground.

The saddest fact is that half of the state of Victoria is being treated as a crime scene as police suspect many fires were the work of thrill-seeking arsonists. It beggars belief.

It has changed our views of our idyllic campsite here at 'Ormiston'- surrounded by crispy dry trees, bark, leaf litter and tall dry grass. The evacuation plan is to grab the ginger dog and black chick and run like hell down to the lake and stand in the middle of it. Not a great plan, but the one most likely to ensure our survival.

Meanwhile Protea Farm has 12 acres of native bush. We will get advice from the fire services about utilising bore water to link up to a sprinkler system once we move in.

landladies of the world unite!

The recent dilemma in vanworld has been the effects of the onset of a global recession. Our plan to continue to live on the interest on our capital has been scuppered by plummeting interest rates, and it was beginning to look like we needed to find jobs......

...so what do you do when the world is in recession? You borrow an obscene amount of money from the lovely people at the ANZ and you buy a 25 acre Protea Farm.

Our offer was accepted this morning after much negotiation, so sometime very soon we are going to be the proud owners of three holiday rental properties 12 km outside Mudgee. Our knowledge of the holiday industry is somewhat limited ( think back of small postage stamp ) so interesting times are ahead. However, even if it all goes belly up, we will have our own tennis court!

The plan is to live in the van when all 3 properties are occupied, and live in one of the cottages at quieter times, so we will still be semi-nomadic.

Watch this space, further details to follow pending surveys, termite inspections, etc.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

great photo

From Drop Box


It is probably just as well that rain stopped play this week because I have been suffering with sciatica for the last few days and was nagged into limping to the doctor yesterday. I am now on 'happy pills' which are helping a little, and have a lumbosacral CT scan booked for Monday.

Vanessa has pointed out that she has suffered with back pain for many years and deals with it in a quiet and dignified fashion whereas I am the pathetic patient from Hell.

....and I am.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

a new bird moves in

In typical Mudgee fashion the Heavens opened this week and we had torrential rain ( 17 mm in an hour). It has helped to dampen down the dust but is now extremely humid. Unfortunately the rain meant a postponement of my debut appearance in the tennis competition.

During the storm a 4 day old australorp chick was orphaned, mother AWOL, and she has become a new resident in the camper. We have called her Serena in honour of Ms William's victory in the Australian Open ( and because she is a feisty black chick). James dog is singularly unimpressed with sharing her living space with a chook and is eating all the mash as a protest.

From trek phase 4

Serena pictured above doing some poultry googling.

I am outdoors typing this entry with Serena sitting on my feet, so there has obviously been some bizarre delayed imprinting going on. I have not been a chick-magnet before; first time for everything.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

feelin' hot hot hot

The relentless heat is taking its toll on all van dwellers. Ness has created a technique for keeping james dog cool using a freezer ice-pack.

From trek phase 4

We are considering going into production- little neoprene jackets in assorted canine sizes with frozen inserts to keep your pooch cool in a heat wave.

It will be marketed as 'The Chilly-Dog'