Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hitting Rock Bottom

Ben has been keeping a private stash on the front verandah.
A little collection that he's put aside for the future.
He showed it to James this week ... and revealed all.

Our block sits on top of an old volcanic flow, so you can imagine how rocky the ground is.  
Ben's stuck plenty of rock during the excavation. He's saved some of the best bits from the top of the reef. 

And the plan?
We'll use the rocks at the base of the fireplace in the living room, as if the fireplace is coming out of the ground.  The basalt will come up beautifully once it's scrubbed clean.  A real natural look ...

A Perfect Slab

The rain stopped long enough for Ben to lay the perfect slab.
And no that's not some kind of dirty talk!!

All that sticky mud has been covered in cement - which will ultimately be covered in spotted gum - the floor of our new living room.

Ben's put a layer of crushed rock on the ground - so the crane has got a solid base when it comes to lift the steel into place... next week.

It's all happening!
Concrete for the bored piers which extend down to the bed rock have been finished.
(That's fancy talk for the cement stumps are done to give the house a solid foundation.)
The steel has been fabricated off site.
The windows are also being made.
The roof will start going on the week after next ....  so we'll see some real progress in the next fortnight.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow

We popped up to check out our plot this afternoon.
We're lucky enough to have a little pocket in the community garden at the end of our street.
Our winter crop of snow peas, red cabbage and rainbow chard is flourishing.
We picked some fresh vegies to see us through the week.

About to Blossom

While we wait for our new house to blossom, the fruit trees in the garden are about to burst into bloom.  
Little by little, the days are getting longer.
It's no longer pitch black when I get home each night.
There's a hint that Spring is on the way.

James sprayed the white nectarine today to prevent another year of curly leaf.

Tasting the first fruit of the season, warmed by the summer sun is a sensation I'll never forget.
It doesn't get much better than that.

Icky Sticky Mud

The rain, the rain, the rain.

It's been coming down all week.
Ben the builder and Ash, his offsider, have been doing it tough.  

They've been digging in  heavy clay.
Icky sticky. Erky perky. Soggy boggy  mud.

It's the kind of mud that you can't scrape off your boots.  It sticks to them in great heavy clumps  ...
and the clumps get bigger and bigger the more you walk around. 

It ain't pretty ....  and nor is the great pile of dirty clothes we came home with after visiting the site today.
Yes, more bloody washing!

Something to sit on

My new job has taken me across town to Chapel Street and on an orientation tour of the area last week, I spied some furniture in a shop window, as our group whizzed past in the bus.

James and I ventured back to the shop last weekend to check out what I thought I saw in a blurry few seconds.
 Half an hour later we had a new lounge suite.

It's a three seat lounge + two arm chairs. Danish in origin from about 1950.
 The suite is in pristine condition and arrived in a shipping container from Copenhagen just a week ago.

It's stunning!
We're thrilled.
It will look amazing in the room.
And it's so comfortable.

The sofa dilemma has been resolved, without bloodshed or divorce!
(I can't believe it was so easy!)

Beware The Limbo Dancer!

Eliza says she'd like to answer a few questions about her favourite things - 

Favourite drink: Water
Favourite meal to cook: My famous scrambled eggs
Favourite building: The Birds nest at the Olympics
Favourite movie: The Princess Diaries
Favourite TV show: The Farmer Finds A Wife
Favourite holiday destination: England and America
Favourite tool/gadget: My hands
Favourite room in the new house: My bedroom 
Favourite thing about life right now: Being alive!

A Big Ball of String

There's no building as such .... yet, but Ben has been busy with his big ball of string - marking out where the new lounge room will be, the new deck and the new dining room.  The space is a cross cross of string and hot pink and fluro green spray paint.

It's pretty hard to imagine this code actually means something ...  but James and Ben look and point knowingly at the ground.  They speak in a secret language.  They tell me the next step is to excavate the area for the footings.

It could be a slow process.  There's rain on the way ....

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ask The Architect

Hmmmmmm .... in an effort to keep things on an even keel, I posed the same questions to James and he reveals his favourites:

Favourite movie: Paris Texas
Favourite TV show: Spooks
Favourite dish to cook: Warm vegetable salad
Favourite drink: Mornington Peninsula Pinot
Favourite place to holiday: Italy
Favourite way to spend time: Reading the paper
Favourite building : Ronchamp by Le Corbusier
Favourite tool/gadget: Apple Mac
Favourite thing about the house (prediction): The deck
Favourite thing about life right now: Moving on!
Thanks darling ... xxx

Concrete Jungle

The concrete Ben found under the section of the house that's been demolished was as thick as you could get ... the stuff you make swimming pools from, the stuff that you can't break up even with a jack hammer.

Alfredo reckons the Yugoslav family who lived here 30 years ago loved concrete ... and the husband came home every week with more of the stuff.

He'd mix it up and apply it to whatever needed concreting.... like just about everywhere in the back yard! Too much concrete was never enough!

Well, now it's gone!

Ben has been on a thing that looks like a mini bob cat, carting the concrete to the skip. Don't know how many trips he's made in that contraption .... but it's been very effective in getting rid of it all the concrete ... and generally cleaning up all the debris from the demolition.
Ben has dug out a couple trees we're saving .... and now the space is just about clear .... and ready for the foundations for the extension - living room, deck, dining room, which will extend right into the garden (or 'float' .... as James puts it!)

Meet Ben The Builder

Poor Ben. He's trying to lift massive piles of concrete into the skip and I'm asking him to smile for the camera. But he's a bloody good sport and is happy to oblige!
So for all the fans who are reading this blog .... it's my pleasure to introduce Ben The Builder.

And so we can get to know Ben a little better .... I asked him about his favourites:
Favourite movie: What a Wonderful Life
Favourite TV show: Seinfeld
Favourite dish to cook: Braised lambs necks with a lemon and mushroom risotto
Favourite Drink: Beer, wine , vodka (in that order)
Favourite place to holiday: Europe - especially Poland and Italy
Favourite way to spend time: With family and friends
Favourite building: (I'll have to check back on my notes; I know it's a church in Denmark, but I can't remember which one sorry!..ed)
Favourite tool/implement/gadget: kitchen knives
Favourite thing about this house (prediction): The kitchen
Favourite thing about life right now: "I got a baby on the way!"

Thanks a million Ben!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I hear ya!

To friends and family who have demanded to see a picture of Ben The Builder ... I'm heading on site this afternoon to take his photo.
So ... watch this space!
And no, he's nothing like Bob the Builder!

Monday, August 4, 2008

History Under the Floor

When Ben pulled up the old lino, under the carpet in our lounge room, he found a bit of history.

Old newspapers from 1964 - The Age, The Australian, This Sporting Life, The Herald and an Italian paper - already being read by Pino and Alfredo. The newspapers are in pretty good nick ... yellow with age and a bit dirty - but very readable and very interesting to see what was making news.

James loves the sporting pages. I''m fascinated by the Ladies pages - filled with a combination of tips on beauty, how to be a good hostess, social gatherings, society weddings and recipes. The ads are fabulous too.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Beside The Creek

The house is half a house right now - with the back missing.
We popped over this afternoon to move a couple of plants while we still could.

This week the demolition will be finished, then Ben wants to pour the slab for the new living room ... I got my first real sense today of how the renovated house will sit on the block and the scale of the kitchen, living and dining rooms.
The design will lead you into the garden ... and of course out to views of the creek.

The creek looked beautiful this afternoon. A potent reminder of why we love this place so much!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Neighbourly Chat

Our neighbours Pina and Alfredo love it when we pop in for a visit.
They ply us with coffee, grappa, biscuits, chocolates ...
We miss them!

They're enjoying the activity at our house and have adopted Ben as a long lost son.
'He a hard worker.
He numero ono
He like his cafe with no sugar - same you.
He very speciale.
He take his shoes off when he come inside.... mama mia '

Ahhh Ben - you've made friends for life!