Katoomba, August 2015

picturethis

mountainssign

It’s no great secret that I have a love-hate relationship with Sydney and sometimes I just need some space from it, so I can tolerate it on my return.

We’ve been breaking up and making up for almost 10 years and I’ve started plotting ways to leave, for good. I’m sorry Sydney, it’s you, not me.

On Sunday and Monday, B and I both had time off work, which almost never happens two days in a row anymore, so we decided to go to the Blue Mountains for the night.

The Blue Mountains is one of the many places we’re considering moving at some point. It has the advantage of being within a commutable distance from Sydney, as well as being somewhere you can see the stars (which is actually on our “must have ” list for future moves).

We stayed in an amazing Airbnb place B found. I love that Airbnb is competitive price-wise with motels, but allows the luxury of a much more informed choice and far nicer accommodation. Gone are the days of hideous matching art works over twin beds, which are clad in doonas patterned to hide all manner of stains.

We stayed at a place in Katoomba called Little Burrendong, which was a studio built over a garage in a lovely backyard. The space was so well thought out and furnished perfectly. Were I not a collector of books and the owner of a small fur family, I could easily live somewhere like this.

bed2

chair

bed

sink

ceiling

I really like Katoomba. It’s a little far to commute from to Sydney every day, but I would move us here in a split second if we worked from home, or only part-time in Sydney. It’s big enough that it has everything you could want, but there’s so much space, and it’s so quiet at night and the bush is stunning.

moss

light

street

flower

corleen

fluro

car

storm

The next day we stopped in on some of the other villages on our way home, so we could get a bit of an idea about what they’re like.

Breakfast was at Wentworth Falls.

brunch

mountains

Then we spent an hour or so in Springwood, just wandering.

crayon

crayon2

I was sad to get home, luckily there were three furry faces waiting there, happy to see us and have cuddles.

Accessories.

“It’s too big”
“It’s not too big! It’s actually smaller than I’d like.”
“What the hell do we need four bedrooms for?”
“Are you joking?”
“No, I’m serious. It’s ridiculous. Give me one good reason why we need a fourth bedroom.”
“…Uh, for my scarf collection, duh!”

scarf

The Tail of Snoopy

Dogs are like tattoos, once you have one, you immediately want more; however, unlike dogs, tattoos don’t need to be walked, fed and they don’t pee inside.

After we bought Delilah, we discussed getting a second dog, not straight away, not even in the medium term, but we decided that at some point, we would like a flock of corgis.

We knew we weren’t ready for another puppy yet. Puppies are no walk in the park, unless you’re actually walking them … in a park, so we wanted to wait until the time was right, maybe when we next move and are settled down in one spot.

Still, we started to sense Delilah might respond well to a buddy. When we lived in Newtown it was dogs galore, all the time, but in our new neighbourhood, we don’t see many at all, not even in the dog parks. People just seem to have dogs that stay in the backyard and we can go for weeks without even meeting another dog on a walk.

So we thought about what we wanted to do.

And we decided on this: we wanted to find an older dog. An older rescue dog, a dog that might have trouble finding new owners because of their age, a sweet, old guy looking for a retirement home.

I started the hunt. I found one old gentleman, a corgi cross, who’d been in a foster home for over a year. Turned out he was a bit bitey, so we crossed him off the list.

I tried to convince B that adopting an older Papillon didn’t even count as adopting a dog, because they’re basically just a set of fluffy ears.

One day I was scrolling and a saw a guy.

I scrolled past.

I scrolled back.

I clicked the link and read a little about him.

I scrolled some more.

I scrolled quickly back and copied the link and send it to B.

The link was for a old beagle … an old, old beagle, all of 12 years, which is 64 in beagle years!

His name was Snoopy and in the pictures he was relaxing in the sun.

Now, I know beagles, the dog I grew up with, Bill, was part beagle.

I knew they have noses like magnets for smells, that they are water dogs and hunting dogs and that they’re sturdy and like to eat (like corgis!) and that they have soft, floppy ears and have a nice temperament and a deep bark.

I emailed his foster mum. She was a bit cagey about the details, and had only had Snoopy for three weeks herself, but we arranged a time for me to meet him and bring Delilah along.

On Thursday, in the pouring rain, I loaded Delilah into her carrier and we headed to the Central Coast. It was a stressful drive and traffic was awful. Just as we reached the outskirts of Gosford, Delilah managed to unzip her carrier and suddenly popped up next to me like, “Hey! How’s it going? What are you doing?”.

We went to the meeting spot, a horrible little park with nothing besides a grim toilet block, a graffiti-ed basketball court and a sheltered picnic table. Three young guys stood around a car parked outside the toilet block. I started to feel like I’d made a huge mistake.

A few cars drove up slowly and did U-turns and left.

Finally a black car came to a halt, and in the back was the face of a curious beagle, ears pricked.

It was Snoopy.

We introduced the two dogs, Delilah was far more excited than Snoopy, who sat near his foster mum’s feet at stared off into middle distance.

She told me a bit about him, there’s no obvious history of physical abuse, but he shows behaviours that suggests he was yelled at a lot.

We sat in her car and filled out the transfer of ownership forms, both dogs in the back.

She gave me a quite substantial discount on his advertised price, because he was so old and she didn’t expect much interest in him, then she handed me his leash and he was mine.

I loaded both dogs into the back seat, Delilah into her carrier, but  Snoopy moved up to the front passenger seat, sat down and stared quietly out the window.

I felt a pang. I remembered one afternoon many, many years ago when my family first adopted Bill. He sat on the seat, staring sadly out the window the whole way home and it was weeks before we even heard him bark.

This wasn’t going to be like getting a puppy, there were heartstrings involved in this one.

We began the drive back to Sydney, Snoopy alternating between looking out the window and trying to sleep.

I chatted to him a bit and gave him a few pats.

We were almost home, heading through a tunnel in slow traffic and I had my hand resting in the gearstick.

Suddenly Snoopy sighed, and shifted closer and rested his head on my hand.

Here was a guy who needed us.

+++

It’s only been a few days now, but Snoopy is doing much better.

He’s shy and scared, so he never leaves my side, but at the same time, flinches when I pat him.

Delilah likes to jump on him and Wuz, after a brief moment of “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT AND WHY ARE THERE TWO OF THEM?!”, doesn’t seem phased at all.

Snoopy has quickly chosen a place, on the couch, under the heater, so we spend time there and I watch TV or read and he just chills.

He’s really enjoyed going on walks and has sudden bursts of excited energy where he skips along.

Last night we went to an enclosed dog park and he and Delilah both made a beeline for a giant muddy puddle and splashed around.

From the word go, they’ve taken to sleeping curled up together and sharing a bed.

He’s not great at always making it outside to pee, but for now we’ll put that down to living in his third home in three weeks and being nervous. He’ll sort it out.

It’s a very different relationship to the one we had with Delilah. We needed her, whereas in Snoopy’s case, he needs us.

IMG_8656

And then there were two.

Top 4: Scents

I am obsessed with perfume and, besides jewelry, it’s the optional extra I wear every day.

(Before you ask, pants don’t count as optional).

I’m very particular about what I like, for example, since L’Occitane discontinued Eau des Vanilliers about eight years ago, there has never been a vanilla-based perfume that has met my standards.

I just read a review which mentioned it had bourbon notes, which probably goes a long way to explaining why I loved it so much.

Recently I’ve been wearing a lot heavier scents, the kind that used to suffocate me during long car trips with my mum, whereas softer scents with floral notes seem too sweet now.

So what have I been wearing lately? We count down in order of preference!

Four: Naughty Alice – Vivienne Westwood.

This is about the sweetest I can handle these days and I think the rose base is offset by the musk, which makes it creamier than a straight floral scent.
naughty-alice EDP

Three: Dalissime – Salvador Dali

71qJHAiwJRL._SL1500_

When making this perfume, Dali was inspired by his wife, Gala, which I’ve always thought was lovely.

My mum gave me a tiny little sample bottle of Dalissime years ago and I didn’t particularly like it, but I’m glad I held onto it, because in later years as my preferences evolved, I grew to love it.

Again, this one is sweet, but the fruit base notes also have something earthy in them.

Two: Tobacco Vanille – Tom Ford

T0-TOBACCO-VANILLE_OC_50ML_A

This is a new discovery and I am obsessed. For a month or two, B and I had a friend staying with us and this is their scent of choice.

It is heavy and delicious and dark and spicy.

One: Lady Vengeance – Juliette has a Gun

juliettehasagun_ladyvengeance_900x900

Juliette has a Gun was only founded in 2006 by Romano Ricci, Nina Ricci’s grandson.

This is it, my one true love, the mecca of all perfume.

I discovered this by accident on a visit to Perth, where I wandered into a boutique store and was drawn to the packaging.

I sprayed some on my wrist and was distracted for the rest of the day, which began an all-consuming hunt to find a bottle when I was back in Sydney (hint: David Jones is the only major retailer who stock it in Sydney).

The magic is in the patchouli.

It’s a really heavy, dominant scent and if you’re not faint-hearted, there’s an evil sibling scent, Vengeance Extrême.

The Wedding: Part 1 – Not Off to a Good Start

IMG_8534

Yesterday I got a wedding planner in the mail … as in a book in which to plan, not as in a person, somehow shipped to me and stuffed in our mailbox.

It is very … traditional, but the least frou-frou one I could find, after extensive searching that may have started before B even popped the question, using my full name.

I’m going to have to change some pages, for example the page for the flower girl’s dress is clearly going to be used for Delilah.

We were sitting at home the other night, discussing the kinds of questions people get asked when applying for marriage visas. We could tell you all kinds of horrendously personal things about one another but and this is dreadful … it turned out neither of us knew the other’s birthday.

At least I knew B’s was in January, he was struggling to even come up with a month for mine.

If the authenticity of this relationship is ever called into question, you’d be far better off asking B to name the most embarrassing thing he’s ever had to buy for me from a chemist.

To The Rest Of Forever

Many years ago, I started hearing about a man, B. Everyone seemed to know B: my friends, workmates, friends of one of my sisters, he was the type of person with 500 Facebook friends.

I first saw him at a picnic in Camperdown Park. I’d say “met”, but I’m not sure we actually spoke. There’s a great photo he took that day: me, sitting with my friend P. It’s not only one of the only photos of me taken by someone else that I like, but I also have a very distinct, “I’m studiously ignoring the very interesting man taking my photo” look on my face.

It would be years before we would meet again, I was dating someone, as was he, and our paths never crossed.

We would chat on social media, I posted him a book I had two copies of when he was ill, I very much appreciated him reaching out when I was really sick with depression and anxiety, so I didn’t feel like it was particularly strange to go out for dinner with him and several other friends on a Tuesday night a few years ago. We drank a lot of tequila and had so much fun, I walked home across two suburbs just to come down from the post-dinner high.

A month or so later, he invited a small group of people to his new place, the perfect bachelor pad in the city, with a pool on the roof. I was nervous about going. These were attractive people in attractive swimwear. B assured me it was fine, I could hang out with him.

The night was a lot of fun, many alcohols were consumed and at one point I could see B had given up trying to get everyone’s attention to organise dinner and was ordering food for us. I listened in as he ordered two pizzas. Two seafood pizzas. Two seafood pizzas on gluten-free bases.

“This guy is crazy!” I thought, “I like him even more now! Who orders two identical pizzas to feed a party? Who orders two of the grossest pizzas to feed a party?! I need to make him mine!”

I followed him to the pizza place to pick the order up and told him pretty much that exact thing and then kissed him.

We’ve been together ever since. At first it wasn’t super serious, neither of us had expected or maybe even wanted a relationship right then and there, but we had fun. We watched a lot of movies and played a lot of video games, tried a lot of different food and drank a lot of gin.

I realised quite quickly that something huge was different with B. I was not anxious at all, beyond the first few standard new relationship hiccups. I knew much earlier than he did that I loved him and I felt absolutely fine and safe and secure waiting to see if he felt the same.

Moving in together was a similarly easy conversation, as was getting a dog.

It turned out getting married would be the same. It just kind of happily came up in conversation about a year ago.

It was something we both thought we might actually be interested in with each other.

We went to visit my parents last winter and he asked my dad to go for a walk with him. They were gone for a while and it started to snow. I thought it was slightly strange.

Various things happened and changed (Pneumonia scare! Moving house! Going back to uni! Changing jobs!) and before we knew it, a year had passed.

We went to B’s parent’s farm last week, for a holiday, for some time away from the city and on the 25th of June, B proposed and I said yes, because I’ve known for a long time that he would ask and I would say yes, because it’s always seemed like that would be the perfect thing to do.

engagement

So, to the rest of forever, with my best friend.

Real Estate Reality.

As should be evident now, trawling real estate has become a new favourite hobby of mine, or an ‘Internet happy place’ as I like to call it.

Previous Internet happy places have included Tumblr and Etsy, but the first is a bit too distracting and the latter a bit too expensive, so Domain is where I mostly go for kicks.

It serves two purposes: the first being that I love real estate photos. I get such a kick out of seeing what other people do with their homes and what accidentally ends up in some shots if you look close enough.

Secondly, we’re taking the first teeny, tiny steps in home ownership, not a sentence I ever thought I’d type.

B and I have been lucky in that we have very similar goals to one another. We both grew up in the country and want to end up back there one day. B wants goats, I want a flock of corgis and both of those things require space.

At the moment work ties us, B in particular, to metropolitan cities, so we’re having to factor that in.

Life for me is slightly easier, I can go wherever I can study.

Like almost everyone I know, we’ve been priced out of Sydney, even the very edges of it now and we pay so much rent in our current place that it’s not super sustainable as far as saving for a house deposit goes.

So we have discussed other options: the Blue Mountains or another, less expensive metropolitan centre.

I feel like it’s one of those things that’s going to bubble along until something changes and it all happens at once in a flurry of activity.

Until then, I’m obeying B’s rules: no crazy buying a house without telling him and if I really need to show him 50 houses a day that meet our criteria (wood floors, backyard, minimal renovations required, sunny), then I email them to him and stop forcing him to browse Domain with me after work.

 

The Work Experience Kid

*walks over to work experience kid*

“Hey, I’m just looking at the photos you took of the newly listed properties this morning.”

“Yeah?”

“So this place here, is this photo taken from the backyard?”

*puts photo down on desk*

block1

“No.”

“Oh.”

*picks up photo and looks more closely*

“Is it the front yard?”

“No.”

“Is it actually even on the property we’re selling?”

“No.”

“Oh. Did … did you get any shots of the actual property, then?”

“Yeah. That one.”

*points at second photo*

block2

“Oh, okay! That’s not a bad shot! We can work with that! Did you take any of the interior?”

“No.”

” … So just these two then?”

“Yeah … I’m going to lunch.”

” … Okay.”

The Water Feature.

“You know what I love?”

“What’s that, babe?”

*sound of the Sunday Telegraph rustling*

“I really love the sound of bubbling water.”

“Mmm hmm.”

” … “

“Do you think we could put a pond in?”

“Sorry, love?”

“A pond. Could we put a pond in? Like a water feature thing?”

“Oh yeah, we could do that. There’s that bad patch of grass out back, we could pull it up and put in a pond. I’d have to duck into Bunnings and maybe wait for Steve to have a free weekend, but we could do that.”

” … the backyard means going all the way outside, though. I just want something nice where I can sit and have a cuppa and just listen to the water. Just somewhere relaxing.”

“I’ll have a think about it, love. I’m sure we can come up with something.”

pond