As you have probably worked out, we must be the world's worst correspondents - so this is our attempt to keep all of you up to date with us. If you have been wondering what we are up to - hopefully you will find the answers here..........

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our animals - to date....

Rob and I have been so fortunate.We have been able to share our lives with a fantastic bunch of cats, dogs, chooks and budgies. Here they are:

CHESTER: Springer Spaniel. My darling dog. I found Chester in a pet shop at Chermside in 1993. He was a strong natured dog who loved swimming and 'fishing' along the shore line of Wynnum. He loved hanging his head out the car window and would eat anything. Chester loved his food!   He travelled with me from Brisbane to Moranbah, on to Emerald and then to Tassie. He passed away in 2008 having been a diabetic for 3 years. He is buried in the 'quadrangle' garden in Westbury and a beautiful water feature marks his grave. Chester was also know as Chester Bean and Beanie.

SASHA: Labrador Cross. Sasha Dasher adopted Chester in 1994 - she just left her family and moved in with Chester and I. Sasha was a very loving girl and she absolutely adored Rob. Her ideal day was to snooze on the couch, chase chooks, explore the surounding paddocks and have a cuddle from Rob. Sasha disappeared one morning and was never found. She often wandered off on adventures and would return hours later completely exhausted. We'll never know what happened to her but we planted a peppercorn tree in her honour and placed a plaque beneath it. The tree is growing tall and beautifully in the cottage garden at Westbury.

RUSTY: Collie Cross. Also known as Bucket, Rusty Bucket, Rusto and Bucketoh. Rusty was discovered at the Launceston RSPCA ! - we were so lucky to find him. He is just full on energy and happiness -he loves balls, riding on the back of the ute and barking at animals in paddocks. He is very photogenic and appeared on the front page of The Examiner newspaper. Rusty was such a delinquent that I took him through 2 levels of 'dog obedience' training. He excelled in the class but was like a rabid mad dog on the short walk into and out of the class room. He is becoming a little more sensible as the years pass but Rob and I just roll our eyes and love him. He is 7 years old.

MAX: Maltese Terrier. Max also known as Maxy-moo, Moo-ball and Mooter.
Max is 2 years old and was found in a pet shop in Prospect Vale Tasmania. This little boy has us totally wrapped around his small paw! What a lovable little character - a little dog with a big dog attitude. He sleeps on the bed, loves rides in the car and falls asleep on my lap every night. Max can drive Rusty mad - like any younger brother - and he is totally in charge of the 4 cats. Max regularly has his hair cut and used to suffer the indignity of a hair bow on his head when he was a puppy. He yawns more than any dog I have ever known.

KITTEN: Big black cat with 2 inch tail. Also known as Felix and Felixo-kitten. Kitten was rescued from the RSPCA in Brisbane, in 1998. They told me she was a 'Manx' but in fact she was just a gorgeous cat with a tiny tail! Kitten was a very reserved cat and spent her days sleeping on the same spot in the spare room. She moved from Brisbane to Moranbah with me but continued to have as little to do with humans as possible. Then she met Rob!! It was love at first sight for Kitten. In fact Kitten's reaction to Rob made me realise Rob was a pretty special sort of man. So I have Kitten to thank for my husband! Kitten loves to sunbake, snooze in boxes and drool on Rob's chest at night. She is the 'boss' cat.

LILLY: Tortoiseshell. Also known as Lilly-pilly, Pillow and Boot-scooter.
Lilly was saved from neglect as a kitten in 1999. She was a sad and sorry sight for the first few weeks but is now the biggest cat in the house. Lilly is a smooge and loves to pad into my neck, purr loudly and drool - this is tolerable if I have about 2 layers of collar! She is a very confident cat and has no problems bailing up the odd dog though she does seem to have poor eyesight and at times walks gingerly around a room hissing at invisible snakes. Lilly loves sleeping in cardboard boxes and can cause real damage and pain if your finger strays too close.

ROSIE: Also known as 'The Bitch'. Rosie was rescued from the rubbish dump in Moranbah in 2000. She was a tiny starving 'feral'. Rosie is the most 'human loathing' cat ever! She will allow one stroke of her back once a day however I must be accompanied by a bowl of freshly chopped chicken breast. If I don't stick to her rules I am hissed and spat at. Rosie lives quite happily on the periphery of our lives. She lives outside and never interacts. But we love her independent style and attitude - what a great life she has! Rosie is an excellent mouse, rabbit and rat murderer.

ANNIE: The shed cat also known as Annie-Pannie or Pants. Annie adopted us in 2005 when she appeared one night as I was calling the animals for dinner. She is a shy little girl who was happy to live in the shed and keep away from the other cats - who of course were not happy about her arrival on the scene. Annie copped a lot of beatings but she stayed and on our move to Norfolk Island has exerted her
personality and is now boss of the kitchen. She is an absolute delight and is happy sleeping on a chair, in the garden or in a box. Annie regularly deposits a dead rat on the door step as a token of her love.

What a full and happy house it is...............

Friday, April 16, 2010

famous last words....

Once, whilst living in a very comfortable house and no doubt under the influence of chocolate, I said to Rob that I would be very happy just living with him in a shed!! Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would ever be a possibility.... However........

We decided to renovate our little cottage in Westbury by simply knocking down a few walls and extending the kitchen and living area. The plans were drawn and approved and we thought that we could live at the other end of the house whilst the work was done. The builder started in with the 'jimmy bar' and sledge hammer and we soon discovered that most of the bearers were non-existant and that not much was actually structurally sound. When the remains of the cottage started to lean we decided that, despite loving the little place, it was best if it was all pulled down and we started from scratch.Maybe you can see where this is leading but I did not 'see the writing on the wall'. So one cold, rainy muddy weekend we packed up the household and with our neighbour's help we moved into the shed.

It is a big shed but it was packed to the rafters with a household full of furniture, a bus and a car.The cats went balistic and spent their time lost within all the boxes. The dogs (Chester and Sasha) just put up with things - they still had our bed to sleep on!
I did almost go nuts during the 'shed period'. Rain and hail poured in through the roof cap and at night to keep warm I would sit with blankets covering me, next to the patio heater, with my gardening hat on to protect my face from burning!! We actually had family willing to visit and stay with us! Kerry, Barry and Ted were very brave.

During this time we also lost our beautiful dog Sasha. She had been with me for 12 years and one morning I woke up and she was gone. We never did find her and nobody had any idea of what may have happened to her. Very sad!

After several months of greiving I decided that I would like another dog. I started a campaign to slowly convince Rob that Rusty, a dog I spotted on the RSPCA website, was meant for us.

In the RSPCA photo Rusty looks like a real terror but just so adorable and intelligent. Chester and I went to collect him and we were deemed suitable. Rob was not convinced and threatened more than once that Rusty had to go back. Rusty was a lunatic!! He was like a child full of red cordial and suffering ADD - he bounced off the walls! Of course he eventually settled down and has become our much loved boy.

The new house was completed in April 2006 and it was absolutely fabulous to move in and get settled. We looked forward to setting up the gardens and making the house our home.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

About Westbury

Westbury started out in the 1800's as a base for soldiers, the odd convict and then Irish immigrants who were escaping Ireland and starvation. The Village was designed to be the main town in Northern Tasmania but this did not eventuate and Launceston took over that title. Westbury is full of Georgian houses and buildings and boasts the only Village Green in Tasmania. Westbury is situated in the very beautiful Meander Valley - the largest municipality in Northern Tasmania. This municipality stretches from Launceston all the way west to Cradle Mountain and is predomenently rural with tourism a very important part of the ecomomy. Today over 1,200 people live in Westbury which is surrounded by the most beautiful rural scenery - its backbone formed by the mighty Great Western Tiers. Quamby Mountain (known affectionately as Quamby) dominates the main view from both Westbury and nearby Deloraine. The photo to the right is a section of the 180 degree view from our home. A rural outlook is just so interesting - its like a large patchwork quilt. Crops change colour as they grow, cows and sheep are always on the move and the tractors and utes never stop. The Village of Westbury has excellent restaurants, cafes and Deloraine is a bustling township with several 2nd hand shops, a Woolworths and loads of busy small shops. Launceston, which is a 20 min drive from Westbury is a thriving city where you can shop 'til you drop. So Westbury had everything we wanted and was only 20 mins from the major airport.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Emerald to Tasmania

We had lived in Emerald for just over 2 years when we went to Tassie for a holiday. We motorhomed all over that island and fell in love with the place. My ancestors are Tasmanian and Rob longed for the cooler weather like that of England (where he was born) and the Wollondilly area of NSW (where he grew up) - so the decision was made to move to Tassie. Luckily Rob could commute back to central Qld. We found a lovely old cottage in the village of Westbury - just 30kms west of Launceston.

The actual move to Tassie was a real adventure as we had 2 dogs, 4 cats, 4 chooks and 2 budgies and us. Rob ripped the seats out of our Toyota Cruiser (named Brittney) and in went all the various animals in cages! A bit like Noah's Ark. We travelled via the inland route from Emerald to Sydney, stopping at Roma, Toowoomba and Goondiwindi. Our last night was spent at La Perouse where the locals were stunned at the sight of chooks and cats and us bedraggled nomads. We then sailed from Sydney to Devonport on the beautiful Spirit of Tasmania.
So late September 2004 had us all settled in Westbury dreaming of gardening and being self-sufficient - a real 'sea change'. By 2005 the first flush of visitors had been and gone and the rennovations began!!

So then...

In 2001 we threw caution to the wind - we both resigned, set up our own company and moved from Moranbah to Emerald (Central Qld). As Rob kept busy as a mining consultant I tried to fit into a farming community where the women all know how to cook, sew and belong to the CWA. Excellent women. Emerald was a very hot, dry and isolated community. We often travelled 3 hours (one way) just to go shopping in Rockhampton. Life was fun with lots of driving through the magnificent Australian bush. We attended rodeos, ag shows and often went sapphire hunting on the nearby Gemfields.
At the end of 2002 we were married...

Rob happily adopted my 2 dogs and 4 cats whilst I became the 'stepmother' to Rob 3 excellent children. Sadly though Amy, Justin and Patrick could only visit in holidays. Never the less we all had action packed times together. We have certainly enjoyed watching them all develop into wonderful adults and we are so very proud of them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

In the beginning

Rob and I met in 1999 and we were about 100metres underground at Moranbah North Coal. The township of Moranbah is 2 hours west of Mackay (drive time).

I was the HR Graduate and Rob was the Longwall Co-ordinator. The members of the HR Dept at this unionised mine were treated like the 'devil incarnate' - so I went underground as often as possible to 'fly the colours'. Plus it was so much more interesting underground, with the huge machines, noise and action, than sitting at a desk doing endless spreadsheets.

Unfortunately having met him whilst underground it took me a while to recognise him again...