A retrospective of 2014…

The old girl is coming together nicely and enjoying the attention.

It’s been just over a year since I moved to Kandos permanently. And over two years since I discovered the Convent and Kandos. What was a fortuitous realestate.com search certainly changed my life dramatically. I had never intended to make such a substantial permanent move, well, at least not straight away. The plan had been to live the “balanced lifestyle” and maintain my Sydney property and corporate life in the CBD for a few days a week and then chill at the Convent for the other days.

From this disused verandah..
To this - the verandah outside my bedroom. And now is Popcorn's favourite place.
To this – the verandah outside my bedroom. And now is Popcorn’s favourite place.









The dogs were the first to decide that there was only one life for them and within the first six months of purchasing the Convent, it was pretty clear that Kandos was going to be my permanent home. The first year saw a lengthy settlement before the property was mine, but thanks to the generosity of the Church (who still owned the Convent), I camped on an air bed until all the legals were finalised.  Then came, painting, floors, curtains and furnishings and I moved in permanently last November – on my 55th birthday to be precise.

My abundant berry bed.
My abundant berry bed.

Of course there are many more plans for the Convent – one day …. bathrooms, kitchen, but I’m just enjoying it as it is. The garden has had a major makeover and has been a joy to put such effort into. I’m now waiting to see if I manage to get some cucumbers this year. There are lots of zucchinis, my berry bed is going crazy and I could live off the lettuces and carrots at present. Oh, of course cherry tomatoes are also kicking in. My family and friends are making the Convent a regular getaway, which fortunately lessens the wrench of leaving them. And I was so lucky that one of my best friends decided to join me here and has also moved to the town and lives around the corner.

Re Kandos itself and its community, I’ve been made so welcome. We spent New Year’s Eve at the local club and I was pleased to recognise so many familiar faces and be included as one of the crowd. I’m endeavouring to help with community activities (which also helps in meeting people) and have really enjoyed being part of the Kandos Museum through its renaissance as well as the local CWA.

Popcorn - such a beautiful boy.
Popcorn – such a beautiful boy.

Other highlights through the year have been including the wonderful Popcorn in the Convent family – he is a joy, holding the Best Knitting at Show for the second year at the Kandos Rylstone Show (which is adding to the excitement of this year’s Show), being part of the Kandos Centenary celebrations and opening the Convent doors to somewhere between 400 – 600 people and learning the ins and outs of online auctions which have furnished my home and now finding their way into the shop collectibles.

Whilst I had thought I had retired, it hasn’t taken long to find myself running my own wool shop which combines a longtime passion with the skills I’ve acquired through many years of corporate life.

That's us at the new shop.
That’s us at the new shop.

It’s been a good – no great – year. And 2015 looks as though it will also bring its share of surprises and pleasures, with no doubt also some sobering moments. However life is good, It takes work, decisions and actions to make it happen, with also some risks. But it’s worth it. If you’re thinking of making a change, don’t just think about it, also plan and do it, but be prepared for lots of surprises along the way.

Settling In

Popcorn has made the adjustment well and is a happy resident
Popcorn has made the adjustment well and is a happy resident

A couple of months down the track post the permanent Sydney move and the place is beginning to seem more like home. Rooms have been established, including plenty of guest rooms, furniture is all in place, boxes (mostly) unpacked.

I have always wanted plenty of animals (or creatures) around and it gives the place such a greater sense of permanence. Popcorn, the border collie, was an unplanned but very welcome addition and has made himself very much at home. He is a lovely boy and fits in well with everyone, even Roxy and Tango who very much ruled the roost.

IMG_1962Speaking of roosts, I have just added five pretty little canaries in an aviary. I owned canaries when I was little and loved them, so the chance to take some in when offered was too good to pass up. They only arrived a few days ago but appear happy, chirpy and are already using their nests. They will also be a good interim step before the chooks arrive. I wasn’t sure how the dogs would react, particularly Roxy who is fascinated by birds and loves to chase them. She is equally fascinated by these new residents but given the threat of being sprayed with cold water by me, just sits and watches them by the hour. Hopefully they will take the edge off the excitement of chooks when they arrive in the next month or two.

I’m also spending some time propagating plants. Whilst it’s exciting to get new plants, I also want to have more of what grows well here. It will also be a more economical approach to gardening. Anyway, this means I’ve been collecting seeds and cuttings. I’m also now growing more plants from seeds rather than seedlings. I have a feeling there will be a few failures along the way, but lots of learning will be involved and the results will be rewarding.

One of the next activities for me is to start joining some of the local groups. I’m looking forward to meeting up with some of the spinners and knitters in the not-too-distant future. Kandos is fast becoming home.

The Convent Steps Up

If I’ve been a little lax with posts lately it’s because things are pretty hectic just now. I will be packing and moving out from Sydney in just over a week and this weekend the Convent is open for the Kandos Gardens Fair. Tomorrow the Convent opens its garden and the Chapel as part of a local gardens exhibition for the weekend – going public for what has been a very private building.

It’s been dry here for months with barely a shower – but, of course, rain is forecast for the next few days. We’ll have to see how this works out but I’m hoping the visitors will get a chance to have a good look-around.

I have a bit of latitude given my garden is positioned as “in progress” as the sale only went through earlier this year, but I’m hoping people will find plenty to interest them and enjoy in the work that’s been done so far. I also have amazing sculptures, food, tea and coffee and a plant stall to provide additional interest.

I’ll post pics and a debrief later, but just now hoping I have everything under control. Things should settle down in around ten days (I hope) as my new life kicks off.

A Short Break from the Convent

I’m about to spend the longest time away from the Convent since owning it. A weekend or two away may not seem long but I’m usually there every three to four days and now I’ll be away for 10 -14 days (or more) whilst the floors are being done. I’ll hardly be welcome whilst the floors are being polished and sanded. Nor will Roxy and Tango. And I’ve been warned that the smell is more than unpleasant.

My neighbours and the tradies have promised to look after everything and will water but it’s hard to explain that I really wanted to see the Manchurian Pears flower for the first time, the scruffy Prunus, that I’ve pruned and fed and loved, flower and those Freesias that I’ve watched for months are just so close…

Anyway, the Convent is progressing very quickly now and this also means I’ll soon be up there permanently. It’s a big change and one a rare decision which has been all mine and for me. The enormity hit me when I was driving back from Mudgee over the weekend and thinking how beautiful and truly rural the countryside was, when I realised it wasn’t just a country drive – it was now where I would be living and these were my neighbours. This is probably a good time to digest the quantum of change.

The next few weeks will be full on – I finish up handing over my job at the office, I clean up my Sydney home, get some jobs done to get it on the market, check out some auctions for furniture and fittings, buy some of the plants that are harder to get in the country (eg the “Saint” roses from Swaynes) and get ready to start carting movable items to the Convent.

The Sydney home has been great for the girls and me and provided a lovely welcoming place for us all when we needed it. It has also seen many friends through the doors and I will be sad to see it go, however it will also mean an new start and many more opportunities going forward. I’m already booked into soft cheese-making classes and have promised the local craft group I’ll be a regular. It’s just a very big change in so many ways after a long corporate career in the city and suburban family life to going it alone in an ambitious move to rural central Australia – well except for a whole community, friends and family and, of course, Roxy and Tango who have been with me every step of the way.