a very special birthday

We celebrated a very special birthday on our recent visit to Wombat Hill … our dear child’s 18th!

noah and lucy



with cake

drawing with the lightbox
mum and noah

My goodness, the years since we became parents seem both so far away – and filled with so much – and to have passed by so quickly.  One minute we were holding a dear little baby.  The next, we had a delightful school aged child as our constant companion.  And now … we share our lives with a young adult who has their own ideas and dreams.

Very importantly, it’s time to let you in on something we’ve been holding close to our hearts for the last few years …

Eighteen years ago Julian and I were beside ourselves with joy and love when this dear little babe arrived.  And now – with even greater love and admiration we acknowledge here at block-a-day – a little corner of this vast world wide web that has become a wonderful and valuable family record for us – our child’s transition from Abigail to Noah.

He is now a marvellous young man and we are so looking forward to sharing his adulthood!  We know it will be fabulous :-)

I know this may come as a surprise to some of you, but you know, the one thing I have learned over the last 18 years as a parent, then a nurse, is that every person you meet is a complex, fascinating, almost-always-splendid individual.  They have their own way of looking at the world, their own story, their own hopes.

Sometimes, as parents there are things we have to let go of.  I’ve been utterly unsuccessful in convincing Noah that folk music is fabulous.  Other things, we can look at and think yes! That’s just what I hoped for –  Noah and I spend hours together stitching and making – we have grown a shared passion for creativity that I hope will last us all of our lives.

And yet other times, what takes us by surprise – and Noah’s transition certainly did – turns out to be just fine and full of its own wonder and joy.

But at the end of the day, I have yet to know a person who didn’t seek to love and be loved.  And really, that’s all that matters.

You are such a gem Noah and we love you dearly!

the delight of working with the young one

counting out the tiles

also master tile cutter

julian looking so cute

All of my time at Merryl’s mosaic studio is squeezed into the mornings before I go to work, the evenings after I’ve finished work, and occasionally on my days off.  These hours and the fact that it’s a studio mean it’s time away from the family and home.

But on the recent school holidays, a couple of my days off coincided with Merryl’s opening hours and time when Abby and Sacha were at home.  Sacha was keen to try her hand at mosaics – and proved to be speedy and talented, making a lovely photo frame and cat teapot – and Abby was very happy to play mosaic assistant to me – my ultimate Kaffe Fassett dream :-)  I presented her with the tiles required, the cutter and the glue and she cut and filled in the already created spaces whilst I worked on the new design bits.

Utterly lovely way to spend several hours!
sacha working on photoframe

sachas teapot

And this child of mine, she has clearly inherited – and improved upon! – my attention to detail.  All those orange border tiles were meticulously spaced out and their red and turquoise mates carefully tested before being glued into place.  She cut the orange rays of sun with precision and created lovely streams of light.

Then, she sat there by my side for hours, cutting the little blue and white sky tiles into four, stacking them into neat piles of colour so I could just pluck as I created my swirly background, chatting away about school, her upcoming exams, her hopes for life after school, how she will paint and set up her bedroom at Wombat Hill, what she would like to do on the farm, what drawings she is currently working on, the anime she is watching, the books she is reading, the dolls she is stitching …

love the wheels

Now I’ve met truly lovely kindred spirits down at Merryl’s studio – let alone Merryl herself who is such a delightful, passionate and creative woman – and we have spent many hours, cutters and tiles in hand whilst we talk about our families, our work, what we love, what drives us nuts … They are good times indeed and I regularly wish I’d signed up for Merryl’s mosaic workshops years ago.  However, we have made plans to visit regularly and I have offers of places to stay when we do which I am so looking forward to.

But there is something extra special about having your child by your side and these holiday hours were some of the loveliest I’ve spent at mosaics.

Makes me think we need to set up a wee mosaic studio at Wombat Hill Farm – our own little space, shelves filled with tiles, huge work bench, some tile and glass cutters … Yes Abby and I could have good times together there indeed.  Mum would definitely be up for it.

Hmmmmm …. I think we will need to wrestle away a corner of Julian’s workshop :-)

tractoring :: a mosaic


pambula tractor

For as long as I’ve wanted a vintage caravan, Julian has wanted a vintage tractor.  This probably says something about the differences between us :-) To me, the vintage caravan is this gorgeous little cubby house that I can decorate and play in – or have visitors stay!  To Julian, the vintage tractor is a marvellous and sturdy piece of engineering that is eminently practical.

This dear little one above, was not eminently practical.  Definitely more of a collector’s piece than a working tractor.  But once we are settled on Wombat Hill Farm, finding just the right old tractor is at the top of Julian’s list of things to do.

So to celebrate his love of all things tractor, I decided to make him a tractor mosaic – as a table top on a sturdy old pedestal table I found in hard rubbish.  We can put it on our porch at Wombat Hill Farm, sit by it in the afternoons, with a beer and some cheese on it, and look out at our beautiful land and marvel at all the hard work that lays before us.
favourite tiles

sketched it out

Now the table top was separated from its base by a lovely builder who happened to be building a fence in the street in which we found it.  When it didn’t fit in the car, I was busy thinking how I’d have to go home and grab a screwdriver.  Not Mum – she trotted up the street to the builder and asked to borrow one.  He didn’t have a manual screwdriver but cheerfully came down with his electric drill thing and had that table apart in seconds.  He even carried it all across to the car and put it in the boot.  What a lovely fellow!

I gave it a coat of sealer – just to make a clean surface that I could draw on and see where I am going with the tiles.

I started off with the border – very practical of me – but before I got too far around, those delicious fat tractor tyres were calling!
get sticking

love the fills

And then the rolling green hills.  This is my favourite kind of mosaic – repeating, colourful geometric patterns.  In fact, Merryl and I are both so taken with the tyres, we think a whole mosaic of circles would be wonderful …. oh yes!

big wheel

the start

building the engine

Then it was onto the tractor body … nice and simple.


Then Farmer Boot himself.  He was a wee bit amazed at the colour tile I chose for his hair … grey!  With flecks of gold.  Yep, Farmer Boot, that’s where you’re at :-)  And it’s very becoming!

tractor light

A headlight … though I can’t imagine Julian will want to navigate the hills of our wee farm at night …

ready for tractoring

And a simple steering wheel and gear stick.
love the curves

It’s simply too much fun … Despite counting down the days until we finally leave Melbourne, I do so love visiting Merryl’s studio.  It’s one thing I will miss – shall have to tile faster!


settling in a little more


Whilst Julian worked his butt – and hands and fingers – off rebuilding a fence that divides the cottage, its gardens and surrounding fields from the paddocks –

I pottered about the cottage, unpacking china and cookbooks, cooking meals on kitchen benches that were clearly built for miniature gymnasts (our cottage was one of those used to house the athletes at the Sydney Olympics and moved to our land soon after in two pieces), gathering flowers, and sneaking in a bit of knitting on the porch.
the trailer

We’d brought up the kitchen dresser, a large bookcase and Auntie Barbara’s old pine table in the trailer, so after a little help getting them across the field, through the garden gate and up the cottage steps, I pushed the furniture (with a sliding flattened cardboard box underneath) across the verandah, over the doorway and into the cottage.  So satisfying!

tied down


Our kitchen is pretty rudimentary.  We will leave the cabinets on the stove side intact – but probably replace the stove – an inefficient electric number that no matter how high we turned up the oven, couldn’t manage more than a gentle braising. But the sink side needs redoing.

No exaggeration, the benchtops on the this side only come up to my thigh – and they bow in the middle – and when you spill coffee on them, it leaks down the inside back of the cupboards below.  Nice!

We don’t want to spend a lot of money that could be much more wisely invested in farm infrastructure and animals because in a few years time, we want to build our own strawbale home.

Nevertheless, we do want to enjoy living in our little esky cottage and as we both love cooking, a few Ikea cabinets with lovely drawers and a huge china sink (a former display model that we bought for a great discount in the bargain section!) will certainly boost our kitchen’s aesthetics and functionality.

funny assortment

But cupboard space will still be at a premium, so we removed the hideous white melamine, falling apart cupboard that filled up a third of the wall next to the kitchen, and will use the lovely old wooden dresser Mum and I wheeled 2 kilometres home for our china and glassware.  ‘Cause even more then spanky new, sophisticated Ikea cabinets, I adore lovely old wooden furniture that comes with an awesome story :-)




on the stpve

I also took up a beautiful new whistling kettle – a complete extravagance, but hey, I reckon all those dreadful night duties and weekend shifts spent in a highly stressful environment are owed a little luxury, don’t you!

Of course, the kettle was meant to sit atop our new Nectre Baker’s Oven that was to be installed whilst we were there.  Oh how many daydreams I’d had, picturing my steaming kettle glistening next to a simmering dutch oven whilst the fire below crackled and glowed and a loaf of bread baked below that.  They were such good dreams!

Alas, the fellow installing our stove FORGOT.  Hmmm … I have to confess, it was all I could do to remain civil whilst he cheerfully apologised for his oversight.  All I could think was how I have NEVER had a job where I could just FORGET to do something I alone was responsible for.

It did take several minutes of hurling ugly succulents into the compost heap, and cranky texts to my mum before I could graciously let go of my disappointment and return to enjoying the loveliness we still had before us.


with needles


Good thing we had plenty of quilts and knitting to add some warmth.  And that the cottage and garden were bathed in sunshine from 6am onwards.  Yep, it was all good.

bookshelf in the garden


dappled corners

So very, very good – and I am counting the days until we return … and that wood stove is installed.