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Terry and the Termites

I went for a drive down the coast yesterday, with the notion of visiting my cousin, Terry. As it happened, she’d gone into the city for the day; we’d totally bypassed each other. She suggested that I go and check out this wooden cabin down the back of her property, which she had been thinking of using as an art studio. I agreed to stick my head in.

Walking up the side of her house, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of ants in her driveway… like, a lot. Wondering what this was all about, I traced a line of them back to its point of origin, at which point it became clear that the ants were coming out of the cracks around the windows. It’s an old house, so cracks harbouring insects are to be expected, but this was ridiculous.

Seriously, this could only be described as a full-on infestation. I had half a mind to get out my phone to dial up a pest control expert near Rosebud. But I decided that Terry was probably aware of the problem, and continued on down to check out the prospective studio.

The first thing I noticed was that it was more of a shed, really. The second thing was the roof had caved in on one side, which seemed like a bit of a worry if Terry was planning to use it for anything other than firewood. After a bit of poking around, I realised that the entire thing was overrun with termites. At this point, I couldn’t resist texting Terry to advise that she arrange for a termite inspection for her house, alongside the necessary ant extermination. An emergency termite inspection in Mornington shouldn’t be hard to tee up, I told her.

Well, according to her, it is too hard. She actually got quite shirty with me, saying she didn’t appreciate me telling her how to live her life. Erm, okay, Terry. I hope you enjoy your new housemates.

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Why Prague brought us Designers’ Luck.

We’d been travelling in the Czech Republic for around two weeks when we realised that we needed to decide whether to move on and keep exploring, or extend our already over extended stay. I loved everything about the city. Prague had my heart, in a way I’d not thought possible about a city. It probably the most beautiful city I had ever seen, and that was saying something. 

It was here, in Prague, that we met another Australian, Raoul,  a broad shouldered guy with a warm grin, four kids with flame coloured hair, and a partner who was originally from Prague herself.  He told us about their business in Australia, where his wife now ran a company in Melbourne that specialises in commercial glazing, and how he had once gone from being completely clueless in hospitality to owning a restaurant on the foreshore of a river in Western Australia. His unassuming and open energy was absolutely delightful. We told him about how we’d suddenly found ourselves on the bright side having both been made redundant (through the same company) and deciding to travel and buy our own restaurant in South Melbourne. It was through Raoul that we were able to get an insiders opinion on our restaurant, and how we could make it look much more modern, without looking unapproachable.

Flash forward to three months later, and our plans are well underway, with Raoul’s recommendations truly making the difference we’d hoped to see in the restaurant we so very much want to thrive.  I wonder how many people have found the highest quality glass replacement team for their business while on an overseas holiday.

Now that our opening day is getting closer and closer, the beach-front restaurant has taken on a totally new look, with relatively minor adaptations. I guess it’s one of those fortuitous strokes of serendipitous luck- to find exactly what we needed while we weren’t even looking for it.

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Freezing cold and loving it- I love summer!

The award for the best themed party I’ve ever been to, goes to my friend Gray. He turned 15 a couple of weeks ago. His party made me realise how much I want ice skating lessons. Melbourne has this place in Docklands, where Gray held his party, and it was so much fun that I’m going to start learning there soon.

So, Gray was sick for ages, missing loads of school and training because he had glandular fever. I don’t know what glandular fever really is, but he’s been sick enough to miss my birthday. It’s been really boring without him at school

Gray’s oldest brother has been looking after him, staying at home while Gray’s mum works, she’s a safety big wig or something, and she’s hardly ever home and likely to be on a plane more than anything else.

Anyway, this year, she told Gray he could have his birthday anywhere he wanted, and he chose a party at an ice-skating rink. Melbourne gets stinking hot this time of year, and it was the best thing yet to walk into this frosty palace when the road is melting under your feet outside. But that was just the beginning- the party was amazing with great food- and they made sure there were no nuts in anything because Gray has a full on nut allergy and has to carry medicine with him everywhere he goes. I found out about it when he ate a chicken satay on school camp by accident and two bites in he started yelling for help. It was the scariest thing ever.

Anyway, I was a bit worried about it in the first place because I didn’t know how to ice skate. That all changed when I realised I loved racing around on the ice… and Dad said if I really like it that much, I can get lessons over the summer, so I’m hoping Gray will be able to come with me too.

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Office Observations

It needs to be said that summer has well and truly hit here in Victoria. The sun is intense! In fact, it’s getting to the point where I feel like I might be getting sunburnt at the office. It’s amazing having a desk that faces towards a floor-to-ceiling window – it’s one of the best positions on the go around here, especially in winter. In the warmer months, though, it can be a bit of a pain in the neck… or in the face. if what I’ve been reading about UV rays is anything to go by it’s best not to spend too much time in the sun without some sort of shade protection.

I’m going to suggest we invest in getting the office windows tinted. Melbourne CBD in high summer seems to have a strange ability to suck the heat down into a concentrated bubble. I don’t know if it’s something about the design of the commercial buildings, the geography of the city, or a combination of the two. Whatever it is, it can get pretty intolerable. I guess that’s why so many office blocks have that kind of reflective look to their windows – I’m assuming that it’s a tint that bounces back the heat and glare.

The more I think about this, the more I think it could be a wise investment. If it can keep the building cooler, we can expend less energy on air conditioning. Everyone would be more comfortable, and so more productive (at least, that’s what I’ll argue). And we can have a schmick-looking reflective exterior that doubles as a privacy-maximising device.

On the topic of privacy: I, for one, am tired of Meg from marketing glaring at me from across the way whenever I go to the photocopier. I think this office could do with a bit of partition glass frosting for our interior dividing walls. I’m not sure what she has against me; maybe she thinks I’m using up all the print toner. All I know is that, in this case, separating our different working spaces wouldn’t go astray.

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Home Decorating in the Tropics

I heard from my old pal, Rebecca, the other day. She’s just had a baby! I’d never have guessed. We’d both fallen off each other’s radar; I’d assumed she was just on hiatus from social media. As it turns out, she’d spontaneously moved to far north Queensland with some guy she’d met at a festival. Now, seemingly, they’re living the tropical dream of year-round sunshine and affordable mortgages. She’s popped down to Melbourne for the week to show off the new bub.

Despite all this life-altering stuff that’s been going down for her (which, to be clear, she’d failed to fill me in on until we met for coffee on Tuesday), she seemed pretty keen on keeping the discussion firmly centred on her newfound delight in DIY home decorating. Granted, her interest in the subject seems to be firmly rooted in her new motherhood. In particular, she’s become an advocate of self-adhesive fabric wallcoverings.

Rebecca told me she’d been found some cool-looking, non-toxic kids’ wallpaper on the internet and that, between her and her guyfriend/baby dad, it wasn’t too hard to rig up. She was so amazed by the transformative effect that it had on the room that she’s started taking an interest in decorating the rest of the house – she reckons it helps pass the time when baby is asleep and she’s wide awake (apparently, that’s a thing for her).

She said she’d been hunting for a particular type of geometric design as a wallcovering for her bedroom, and hadn’t been able to find it in any of her newly discovered online decor stores. She’d then found out about the concept of custom digital wallpaper, wherein you can upload any design for one-off digital printing on wallcovering material. Through this process, Rebecca has successfully been able to plaster her bedroom walls with a copy of this insane geometric print that had been made for her by a Peruvian shaman back when we were backpacking through South America.

It was good to learn that she hasn’t lost the adventurous spirit that I’d come to know and love!

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When you love the park more than your kids…

For a parent trying to find the perfect place for a kids party in Sydney, (especially with kids that hate being outdoors) the outset was looking like a logistical nightmare. Let me explain. Even though I am an outdoors person and my partner is very much an outdoors person, our kids, 7 and 9,  have light sensitive eyes, and actually hate bright light. While the kids’ schools have been accommodating and we’ve made adjustments that allow the kids to be a part of everything, it’s still something that we have to factor into everything we do.

We’re already regular goers-to of jungle gym, indoor tennis, cricket, swimming, everything possible that was active and allowed them to test their bodies and build their confidence.While these things are great, we wanted them to have a fantastic birthday party that they could really let loose in without us having to badger them all the time. We felt quite stuck when we went looking for birthday party venues. Sydney, however, seemed to have the pick of the bunch.

We were devastated when we realised our kids were generally just happier people inside. I mean, I know it could be worse, but to be perfectly honest, we always imagined we’d be raising outdoor kids. It’s not that they aren’t active though, which presents a whole new world of problems in itself. It was never going to be ideal to have our kids ricocheting off the furniture and destroying our rental, so we had to find a way to get them the exercise they need, and make sure they’re inside. So this party place was ideal. They did great real party food catering, and issued each kid with a security bracelet so there was absolutely no need for any parent to panic.

We all sat back in the cafe and watched the kids burn off the cake, while chatting over coffee and party fare.

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Family Adventures in Australia

We are finally doing the family trip I have been planning for over two years! It has been so hard to get everyone together, but after months of schedule arranging we have it sorted. We are going to spend a week travelling along the great ocean road, staying in lovely hotels along the way! I must have research all the best Lorne hotels that exist to find rooms for all of us on the nights we need! It is finally done and I can start getting excited for the trip. As there will be quite a few little kids it made the accommodation situation a bit harder than expected. I decided it was best to not have to resettle too much, so we’ll be spending three nights in Lorne and four nights in Port Fairy. All at beautiful, child-friendly beach front apartments. I have tried to draw up a fairly rigorous itinerary to keep everyone busy, I think that’s key to avoiding any clashes. Low GI snacks are another essential for long road trips. Sugary snacks will leave the kids hyper and unable to sit still for the many hours of travel it’s going to take.

We have morning surf lessons planned, picnic lunches and even some sand dune quad biking. I’ve built in two days of separate family time which will hopefully be enough space to keep everyone happy. I have even planned a day where we rent out a boat together. Really, I couldn’t have done much more unless I physically carried everyone on the entire trip. I am particularly excited about the accommodation in Lorne, it looks so lovely. We all have our own little family apartments but within walking distance of each other. I figure we can set the kids up with a movie while we get to the wine and whiskey in another room. I can’t remember the last time I actually hung out with my siblings without one of us changing a diaper or reprimanding a naughty toddler half way through.

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Got to Get Myself Some Walls

Personally, I’m still waiting for the great crash. That’s what it’ll be called: the Great Crash. Just add in whatever year it happens- probably soon- and you’ll have your event, which is definitely coming, in which all our electronic data will be erased. Why do you think I was so keen to get a leg up in the property market? You have to jump on this stuff really early, otherwise the Great Crash will wipe out any record that you owned everything and the world will descend into chaos. Of course, it’ll be tough defending my home from the wandering, tattooed, cannibalistic petrol heads, but the fact that I own my own property also means I have some time to shore up the defences. Maybe I’ll build a moat…

Of course, I, uh…don’t really HAVE that leg up. Not just yet, anyway. There’s a lot to consider, and I only confirmed that Great Crash theory recently. I need, like, a Melbourne based buyers advocateThose people in Melbourne who go round and tell you what high-end home to buy, you know the ones. I just need to get me one I can trust, give them a list of demands and try not to raise too much suspicion. Don’t want everyone getting wind of my theory and clamouring to live in my fortress. I’ll have to play it carefully, but I think I can give a list of demands for my dream home and just make it seem like I’m the paranoid sort.

Enough land for a moat, obviously. Very high walls. Space in the basement- must have a basement, OR  sturdy loft space- for a backup generator for when the power goes down. The surrounding land can’t be solid bedrock, because I’m going to have to build a tunnel to go out for supplies and such. Then…maybe a spa bath. Always wanted one of those.

I should make this a bounty. No property advocate in the Melbourne CBD has ever had a search this challenging. They’ll need some way to fill their time…before the end…

-Marcus

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Garden Prep For the Wedding

Having a wedding is like directing a Broadway play. Or at least it’s what I have always imagined directing a Broadway play must feel like. At the end there is a fantastic show that everyone comes to see and claps at the end, but there is months and months of preparation that goes into it that is largely ignored by those that enjoy the final product. There is a script to be written, a stage to be set, characters to be cast and so on. When it came to my wedding I had no idea the kind of tasks I would have to deal with in the build up.

We got married in a beautiful garden in Melbourne. A few weeks prior I had to deal with getting the land ready and even this involved a multitude of jobs that I was largely unprepared for, including arranging tree removal. Ormond gardens, although a magically gorgeous destination, are a little unkempt and required quite a revamp to set the scene for our fairy-tale wedding. I’d also gotten in touch with the local council to see if they could help us out in any way.

From arranging land clearing to relaying turf, it was no easy feat. The back wall of the garden was lined with overhanging tree branches but due to instability, we had to get them removed professionally. This highlighted yet another thing for me to arrange: the tree removal. Armadale gardens were looking like a more attractive option as the task list increased.

The Ormond gardens were getting a full on makeover for the day. Aside from my landscaping duties I also had to arrange the outfits for the bridal party, the menu and book a honeymoon. Its funny how so much joy can turn into so much admin. With the landscaping completed I had a little break before moving on to the next set of wedding tasks. At least now I had a beautiful groomed canopy of trees under which I could begin to detail the set for the main act.