Category Archives: Personal

And so we’re back…. from outer space… etc

Yes after months of absolute and pointless inactivity we’ve finally returned to plague the world with our rambling. By ‘we’ of course I mean ‘I’ but we I mean I thought it was a bit presumptuous to claim all the credit for my idleness, but there ya go. So, where have we been? Quite simple really… we’ve been moving… we’ve been settling in… we’ve been trying to work out how the hell we’re going to generate some sort of income and what on earth possessed us to buy a place so far from anywhere that it’s actually *called* the back end of nowhere!

You may think I jest but if so you’d be wrong! The little farm we bought (see last post) is called Erehwon Orchards and as I’m sure you’ve worked out already from the clues, Erehwon is Nowhere backwards… i.e. the back of nowhere. Obviously it *is* ‘somewhere and that somewhere is about an hours drive up corrugated dirt roads from the one time bustling fishing port of Eden. Where is Eden you ask? Grab a map and head down to the very southern tip on NSW and Eden will probably be the last town you’ll see. It’s a quiet little place these days. There are still a few fishing boats working off the wharf but there’s little else happening. At one time there was a huge fleet, a cannery, and even a thriving logging business in the hills surrounding the place. Now however it’s almost all gone and the Eden community is struggling to find its place in the modern world.

One thing that’s happened to liven the old place up is an influx of ‘sea changers’, people who are fed up to the back teeth with the rat race and house prices of the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne and have headed out to where the sun shines yellow, the seas are still blue and you can see an abundance of wildlife on your doorstep. This is pretty much what we did and this is where we are. We gathered together our possessions, our animal friends and ourselves and headed off to the place I mentioned earlier, 65 acres of bush with a few acres of olives and hazel nut trees. There’s lots of scope for improvement and lots of opportunities for small producers to make a living, perhaps not a highly paid living but certainly enough to keep body and soul together and what more does anyone really need??

The Curse.

There is something strange about this house. Well, I *think* it’s the house, it could, of course, be me that’s the problem but that’s a *way* bigger issue than I want to cope with right now and the implications are more horrendous than I want to consider.

So, moving on, why do I think the house is cursed? Just to begin, perhaps I should tell you that the previous two owners of the property (immediately before us) both had serious issues that forced them to sell. The first of the two we know about, was a building company  called “Gentry Homes” … ho went bankrupt and had to close down. The place was then bought by a couple called ‘Batty’. Well, that might have been a clue but, nevertheless, they opened a couple of fishing/sports supply shops and… yes… went bankrupt. To try to get finance the husband relocated to Indonesia, but when there he got involved with another woman and, they split up. With no money the property began to get *very* run down and eventually they were forced into what was, for them, a fire sale.

We turned up with a bucket of money from the sale of our ‘old’ house in Rouse Hill, bought it (for what I still considered a hundred thousand dollars over the natural price) and set about renovating the entire place. Assuming this was a forever house we started at the far end of the circle intending to work out way around to the main house. Which we did.

We had the usual run of things going wrong, as you do when you renovate, but we also lost some stock… for example two lovely Alpacas, two beautiful geese, and about 30 really lovely chickens that were so friendly. Actually, they were just the sorts of things that could happen to anyone in the country, but they were a ‘taster’, the *really* bad stuff came later. To begin with, my daughter’s behaviour suddenly began to slide downhill. She’d always been ‘difficult’ but her behaviour deteriorated so severely that we were forced to seek help from a number of professionals but… to no avail.

The sequence of events was pretty sad in itself. The stress, compounded by 60 years of bad eating and little exercise compounded to send me to the hospital to get 4 stents. After they were inserted I was told to take anti-coagulants, (i.e. blood thinners) and they caused an existing oesophageal ulcer to ‘burst’ sending me back to the hospital. Whilst I was there, my daughter took her own life. We had no idea she was so badly disturbed, nor have we ever found out what pushed her over the edge. I blame myself, but I suppose that’s what all parents do when faced with something personally horrific and inexplicable. Even finding her was a fluke because I shouldn’t have been ‘mobile’… yet something drew me to where she’d killed herself and I found her.

That was the worst of all the things that have happened but there have been other things. For example, we needed to get the pool area tiled as we were renovating it so asked the son of a friend of ours (both of whom are tilers.) to do the job. As it turned out he was not only short of work, but needed somewhere to live so we let him use the old house on the property for no rent on the understanding he’d work to renovate it and we’d pay the going rate for his actual work on the pool. Well to cut a long story short he *also* began to slide downhill to the extent that one day he simply downed tools, walked off the job and never came back… leaving all his tools behind!

Shortly afterwards my wife lost her job. No job means no income. No income means no mortgage payments… and trouble.

Well, she managed to get a consulting role three days a week at Cochlear which was enough to keep body and soul together as long as we took things a little easier. So it was with some dismay that we learned that she had a tumour on her pituitary gland. She’s due to be operated on next week (more on that soon as well) but while she’s off work… no sick pay so more stress.

This last setback has finally ‘pushed us over the edge’  and so, much as we love living here, we just have to move and give it all away. From one perspective I’ll be really sad to leave the place, but from another I want to move before something even *worse* happens for example that *we* end up bankrupt like those two previous owners!!. 🙁

If we get our asking price we might walk away with some dignity and enough cash to set ourselves up somewhere far away, South Australia maybe. Otherwise… who knows.

Dogs and Mountains

I originally started writing this post when I remembered an old dog I had called ‘Charlie’ (another story there) who was a lovely strong animal that I really loved. At the time I was married to my first wife, Fenella, who I called Nelly much to her family’s disgust..

Anyway, the occasion I was remembering was going for a walk with wife and our toddler, Matthew in his pushchair. We decided to walk along St Martin’s Road and up the mountain past the Watford, around through the forest and back to our home in Lansbury Park. It was a long way but we were young and fit (well Nelly wasn;’t as she had Type 1 diabetes… another story to come). We set off and all went well until we came to the upward stretch of the mountain, at which point the sheer weight of child and pushchair began to tell. We moved slower and slower until, by the time we reached the reservoir, it was almost impossible to go further.

Then inspiration struck and I tied the dogs lead to the front axle of the pushchair and let him go. Wow! He took off like a bullet. He’d always ‘pulled’ but now he was clearly enjoying the effort to the extent Nelly and I had to *trot* to keep up with his as he dragged us up the hill!! Sadly I was forced to give Charlie up when Nelly and I fell out. I have no idea what happened to him in the end but I still see his face in the back window of the car that took him away and the big floppy tongue waving as his questioning eyes looked back at me. Still miss him. 🙁

More leg stuff.

The leg still hurts, no two ways about it. I went back to Raj, on Monday, and explained I’d been cleaning the wound, taking it easy, changing the dressings etc but not a lot was improving. In fact it felt a lot worse. Put simply, he gave me stronger antibiotics for two weeks, and said take painkillers.

To be fair, two days later my leg *has* improved tho not as much as I’d have hoped, still I’m no child and healing takes longer. I can wait awhile. 🙂

Early memories.

For most of us, recallable memory begins with speech. Few of us can recall anything before we are able to speak and verbalize our experience. This is obvious really because otherwise we have no way of telling ourselves what we’ve seen. Images, cloudy and unformed, may appear but without words to describe what we see, they can’t be understood.

I have no firm memories of my time in Bartlett Street. I’ve seen a photo of my sister and I standing outside our house where an itinerant photogtapher took a picture.

As an aside, my mother hated that photo. My sister’s underwear was hanging down on one side and neither of us was dressed for success. Still, she’d paid for it so she kept it.  🙂

Oddly I *do* have a cloudy memory of having the photo taken but it’s not firm enough for me to claim it as a first.

The first time I’m sure I actually remember an event was standing outside the old Cooperative Butchers shop opposite the castle (for anyone unaware, Caerffili has a huge castle in the centre of the town). The run of Coop shops has long gone but they were a valuable profit sharing resource for families for many years!! Anyway, my mother had been shopping and had met a friend outside and was chatting. I was examining a Belisha Beacon (now there’s a subject for another post) and ignoring the world as was then and is now my usual modus operandi  My mother called, I paid no attention, she called again as mothers do and said if you aren’t coming I’m going without you… and started to walk off. Being me, and stubborn, I both refused to move *and* had a meltdown that I was being left behind. I’ve no idea who bent, or how the situation resolved itself but it did. There’s nothing special about this memory other than it neing the earliest. Having said that, in retrospect it set the scene for many repetitions of odd behaviour through my life.

Memories – issues.

There a few things to bear in mind concerning ‘memory’. To begin with they are for the most part flawed. Apart from the annoying human habit or reconstructing memories, even that reconstruction can be compromised by the insertion of foreign material. This may come from other people’s reminiscences, old photos, and even from media!!

Also those twin bugbears of perspective and bias (unconscious or otherwise) intrude without preamble on our mental records meaning we have to be extremely careful deciding what is actual fact, and what we’d wish was fact.

Pretty much I’m suggesting that my ‘memories’ may not be as accurate as I’d like, but with that caveat… and as that’s all I really have to be going on with… we’ll set off again. 🙂

I was born at a very early age.

I always wanted to start my biography that way, but as it seems it’s never going to be written I thought it would do as the first post in this ongoing series of reminiscences… i.e. self indulgent ramblings.

So as usual , where to start? The beginning seems as good a place as any.

I’m told I was born in Glossop Terrace Maternity Hospital in Cardiff, Wales. Clearly I have no memory of that so I just accept it.

I’m also led to believe that in my early years, until I was five or so, we lived in a liitle house in Caerffili on Bartlett Street to be exact but without checking I couldn’t tell you the number. All I really remember of the place is that we lived next door to a cobbler called Cyril Grono who used the front room of his house as a business premises and the remainder as a home for himself and his sister.

Around the corner, on White Street, lived my grandparents, William and Sarah Emily Knight. That’ll do for background and context for now. No doubt more will emerge later as we move forwards.