First week in the new house
Well, almost. It’s six days tomorrow and it’s beginning to feel like home. Tonight the rain patters on the roof, there’s a fire burning cheerfully in front of me, and Bach is on the stereo. James is reading and the dog has his nose tucked under his tail. All is well.
We’ve had a busy couple of days. Jo and Paul went back to the city on the weekend. They’ve found a shared house for the next six months while they are temping and enjoying Melbourne awhile. (In case you don’t know them, Jo is James’ step-sister and Paul is her partner. They’ve been travelling the world for seven months and landed on our doorstep three weeks ago, broke, hungry and supremely, supremely helpful. They packed zillions of boxes, washed the dishes and have been wonderful company. They are welcome back any time!)
So, the old house is all clean and empty. We scrubbed and scrubbed yesterday and we’re back to finish up and hand in the keys tomorrow. Bittersweet to stroll down the street – we’ve been so happy there in the pretty neighbourhood with all our Italian neighbours. But it’s changing, and the Italians are leaving as the cars get newer and the talk is all investments and rates, not Buon giorno, how are you and do you fancy trading some lemons for your beautiful tomatoes? Time to leave and let it be.
Out here, we already feel like we’ve met half the neighbourhood. Somehow we forgot that we might be a topic of interest, and so it came as a surprise when people dropped in to say hi (and check us out). We’ve had visitors every day we’ve been here – sometimes several. And of course, Bob, who was visiting Kathy and Denis, the landlords, and wanted to see inside his old home.
Today we went to Castlemaine, one of the bigger towns in central Victoria. A lovely goldfields-era town, it was once the centre of extensive diggings that brought it a period of incredible prosperity. A bustling country town with some beautiful mid-18th century buildings and many little brick and stone miners’ cottages, it has real character. The leaves are starting to turn in a few small patches and it had the lovely feeling of Sackville in fall or a small country town somewhere in rural Ontario or New England. We shopped hard: a fire poker and a big garden fork, a good stiff doormat for the mud and grass, and hunted in vain for a spider catcher. We’re going to need it. Sitting at the table in the amazing café with the to-die-for lemon tart, we astounded the waitress by brandishing our garden fork when the tart was brought to our table. ‘You’ll need a bigger tart!’ she laughed.
Speaking of good, I unpacked my cookbooks and remembered that I’m signed up for an Italian autumn cooking class in a couple of weeks. I was reading a long description of how to make cheese, and ricotta, and optimum coagulating temperatures for your sixty litres of fresh unpasteurised milk….
… I wonder how James would feel about getting a cow?
Just kidding! We’ll enjoy the bats and the birds, the ASTONISHING stick insect that took up residence inside the lean-to during last night’s rain storm (17mm in 24 hours). I’ve got a list of the local farmers’ markets, plans for the garden, and now, a garden fork for my tart, or my potatoes, whichever comes along first.