Friday, 29 August 2014

More Grandkids

It's great being here to exercise the joy of being grandparents!

Son (James), wife (Lisa), and 3 grandkids came to discover the joys of Northam, and test out our newly-purchased sleepover facilities.

Seb reckoned the egg chair was a great place to be.

Reuben was really taken with the old people chairs - the electric lift chairs.

Bethany discovered her love of gardening with Poppy - and this is best when wearing Nanna' gumboots.

Lisa and Bethany were excited to meet the friendly Unicorn.

Of course we all went op-shopping, and tasted the delights of the Toodyay bakery.

There's nothing like an early morning walk to the river with Poppy.

Loving living in Northam!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

In the 'Big Blue House' at last

After what seemed like the longest month of waiting, finally it was time to move into our new house. We were very excited, having not owned a house for the last ten years or so.

So here it is - home at last! Verandahs all the way around - that was what attracted us to it at first.

The yard is a little unkempt - but full of Spring flowers.

And out the back there is a big blue shed (powered workshop), a 'granny-flat', lots of vege garden area (uncared for up till now) and a large open deck area. The missing corner of the deck is designed to take a spa.

Settling in 
 Peter has obviously been itching to start digging in the garden. So far his only tool is a tiny trowel - we'll get him some more bigger tools soon!


We were buying furniture, and we saw this item. Looks like it was made for us. It came in a great big box.

It's a Peter Pod!  Commonly called an 'egg chair' - you can see why.

Comfy? Oh yeahhhhh! Great  place to hang out on our deck.

Go away now. I'm comfortable and I've got a book to read and no pressure to do anything else. Ahhh.

Sunday, 10 August 2014


So what happened to 'the inexorable march of time'? Has it stopped, or just slowed right down?

Why are we still living in this house-with-the-outside-water-closet and not in our own house?

Today is Settlement Day! Today it will belong to us.
But we still can't move in for a few more days ...

Spring Arrives Regardless

Ignoring the general slowness of time right now ... Spring seems to be on its way.

Our back yard here is incapable of producing grass with patches of moss on the hard-packed gravel-and-clay surface being the only green in evidence. The front 'lawn' patch however has sprouted a marvellous display of wildflowers/weeds. Quite pretty, it is, really.

Because of the dry climate in these parts, most people (and the council) have given up trying to grow grass on the verges and, like our back yard, they are hard-packed gravel.

However it has been raining a fair bit lately, and you just can't stop the weeds - sorry, wildflowers - even here. Our neighbours have a lovely crop along their fence-line.

Even the power-poles are beginning to feel excited about the coming spring!

Just three more days ... come on Time, move along there!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Northam's Big Weekend - The Avon Descent

It's a WestOz thing, the annual boat race down the river in the winter when the river is full.

The race starts in the Avon River in Northam and continues over 2 days all the way down to Bayswater, a suburb of Perth on the Swan River - 124km.

But First - a Parade!
With the town full of extra people, it seems like a good idea to have a market - and bouncy castles, and musicians, and all that stuff. And fireworks - at least we hope that's why these boxes of explosives are out in the river!

And a parade ...

Excitement mounts as the first vehicles come into sight - emergency services with flashing lights and wonderful noises!

This is what the children were all waiting for - people handing out balloons and lollies!

The theatre group had some interesting characters. Actually, those chaps have got lollies in their big trousers, too.

There was a breathless marching band - it's not easy to march and blow at the same time!

The floats, as such, were a bit disappointing, hardly decorated at all. This one was probably the best.

The Race Start

So around 7am (when we heard that the race was due to start) we headed down to the river, across the suspension bridge with its icy patches, and along the river bank near the weir.

 Mist was rising off the river ... and it was very very cold.

Along with the extreme cold, the river was at the highest it has been for ten years. This is the weir the boats have to go over right at the start - and that's not snow, it's foam!

We walked down and stood near the weir to watch the boats going over. We could hear the loudspeaker announcements from further up where they started by the suspension bridge.

We watched as hot-air balloons rose slowly into the air.

A few minutes later we were amazed to see this one come back down over the weir. With incredible control the pilot (is that what he is?) balanced his burner with short bursts of opening the flaps on the balloon itself until he was just above the foam ... all cameras were trained on the basket, waiting for these chaps to get wet!

There was a bit of a delay - the start would not be until 8am we heard (not as bad as last year when thick fog delayed it for 3 hours, we were told) - so we stamped our feet and wished we had a thermos of coffee with us.

Finally the first two boats set off - they were started two at a time. They raced across the calm, clear water ...

...and over the safe part of the weir.

The person not holding the motor then needs to move forward and lean side to side to help guide the little boat through the rocky patches.

A few boats had engine trouble, and the driver had to climb out and restart.

And some of them were got by the foam! A few boats capsized at this point too, and the drivers had to get into the freezing water, right the boat, and get the motor started again.

Then we headed back up to the restaurant for a coffee ($5 each - because everyone is desperate!) in time to watch the 'paddle' boats - canoes - starting. They set off in heats from a standing start, very quickly one after the other.

The ones over there are lining up for their start, the closer ones are waiting their turn.

The first day involves more white water and possibly some portage (carrying the boats past difficult parts), but the second day will be harder on the paddlers with long smooth areas of paddling.

Looking forward to next year - we should have purchased a thermos by then, and we'll know the best places to stand!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

The world is my oyster - where to go?

We have been living and working overseas in various countries for about 10 years, and now we could go ... anywhere (almost), but we feel that we want to get back to Oz, and be near our kids and grandkids ...

So, on returning to Australia at last, we choose to come to Northam. Why? (That's what everyone keeps asking!)

Here are some of our reasons:
  • Why not?
  • We wanted to live out of the cities, in a country town.
  • There are some job prospects for us in Northam.
  • Our children and grandchildren are (mostly) only 1-2 hours away.
  • We found a house that we like here.
  • The more we look at it, the more we like Northam.
  • We have found that people are really friendly.
  • So - why not Northam?
So we arrived in Western Australia with nothing but a couple of suitcases. After a couple of days with daughter Jo and family, we came up to Northam and booked a few days in the 'Avon Valley Chalets' - a fancy name for some metal boxes!

One kitchen, one bedroom, and so so so cold after Malaysia! But the reverse-cycle air-conditioner eventually warmed it up, and although it was a bit squeezy it was comfortable enough.

The view was beautiful, and the nights were quiet.

But we need somewhere to live for about a month while we wait for our house purchase to settle. Our agents found us a little old house near the centre of town.

 This old house was recently vacated by an elderly lady who needed to move into an aged care facility.

It has a fairly generous backyard - with no grass anywhere, just gravel and moss! - overshadowed by a large bird-popular tree, the traditional Australia rotary clothes-line, and a back shed that protects our new trailer and half (the back or the front) of our car.

The huge old-fashioned kitchen is the most important room in the house, a place where the family would have gathered. With the old wood-stove being replaced by a modern gas stove, the reverse-cycle air-conditioner keeps this room toasty-warm, and the kitchen table is where everything happens!

There are two large bedrooms - this is the one where we have our new mango-tree-wood bed! - and a living room.

Unfortunately both the toilet (left) and bathroom (right) require an outdoors dash. The solar hot water system doesn't do a lot this time of year, but the electric hot water booster provides a wonderful shower. Unfortunately the toilet does NOT have a heated seat!

One really good thing about this little old house is the Location. It's really close to the town centre, just across the river. And Northam boasts a special pedestrian bridge - a suspension bridge.

As well as providing a lovely view of the river and the ducks, the bridge wobbles about with every step. It's long and quite narrow, and there are special wide places where you can move over to pass someone - which is good, because there is nearly always someone on the bridge, often with a pusher or bicycle.

Northam Knights
We have a couple more weeks to live here, and then we move into our own house in Knight St.

When we were thinking of a name for the blog, we thought about the 'Northern Lights', and then 'Northam Lights' ... 'Northam Knights'. And our new house is in Knight St. So  ...

Northam KnightSt.