-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Organs of the Goldfields festival

Last weekend Mum went to the Organs of the Goldfields Festival recital held in St Michael's Church in Talbot. Here's her email report, and a couple of photos:

"I went and it was a good day. We walked down to the church whilst the first recital was underway and bought tickets for the 12 noon one.

st michaels church in Talbot

Then went and had a $7 morning tea - tables groaning in the hall bit and then into the big high ceilinged hall where they have cakes etc at the Town hall market to sit and eat it. I went with Wendy from church. Cup of tea or coffee and help yourself to gfood. Sandwiches and cakes and scones and…

We walked back to the church as the previous lot were coming out and were lucky to get in. Talk about crowded. People sat EVERYWHERE including on the floor!

st michaels church in Talbot st michaels church in Talbot

Afterwards, we sat and ate our sandwiches in the memorial park - along with lots of others. We had to share a table - and most were doing that and as soon as we vacated, our spot was taken by more folk. There was also a spit roast and salad at Chesterfield House if you wanted it - the queue was quite long for that.

Up in market square they had an actress ct the part of a lady touring with the theatre, acting here at Talbot in the 1850s, did a second tour a few years later, and had the fire truck named after her. I liked her bo Peep long knickers! Like chook fluffy legs. She must have almost expired, it was far too hot for anyone in the sun let alone wearing thick velvet.

heritage tour in Talbot heritage tour in Talbot

Saturday, January 03, 2009

perhaps it won't be Septech after all

Before we can get the building permit for the old house, we need to submit plans for the wastewater treatment system. It is turning out to be less straightforward than we anticipated.

We thought we'd decided on a supplier - Septech - who were the only ones to respond to our original email queries. We had some phone conversations with them and despite the hiccup that the Council wouldn't let us store the water, we were planning to go ahead.

But now, unfortunately things have gone very quiet at their end. We need a new quote from them and input on the layout of the dispersion field, but despite Dad chasing and explaining the urgency there's been no response. So, to hedge our bets, we're now having to look at alternative suppliers.

To fill you in on the gory details...

The last news we'd had was on 28th Oct, when Michael emailed to update us on his phone call to the Council:
"Just a follow up to our previous conversations and emails. I have spoken to John Kelly from the health Department and at this stage “Central Goldfields Shire” will not endorse any Grey water systems to store or reuse grey or black water at the moment. The reason is for not when the systems are operating correctly but for when they are poorly maintained or just faulty it could pose a health threat. The new EPA Guidelines do allow for it to be reused if the council approves, so my suggestion would be to put the one system at the moment with two separate lines going into it one Grey and one Black because I can see a change in council’s attitude in a couple of years, and this would allow for an easier transition to the grey water reuse system".

I replied on 31st Oct:
"Thanks a lot for contacting John Kelly - what bad news! Oh well... I share your opinion that they will probably change their minds in a few years, so the suggestion to put in separate lines for black/grey water to allow for easier updating in future is good.

I'll let Dad get in touch to make plans for next steps, but we should go ahead with the basic system for now at least so we can get the building permit sorted for the existing house repairs. I've made some suggestions to Dad about where the irrigating pipes should go (ie: not on the lemon gums) but rather a bit further down to the orchard (provided it isn't a problem being close to the dam) or alternatively closer up to the house above the driveway (where we will one day have flower beds: and so if you can give me the parameters for what shapes the pipes can be in then I will design the garden bed layout around them)"

Dad also followed up on 6th November:
"Hi again Michael. I have been to Amherst again since getting this email from Lyn and Dave. I took measurements of the area where the wastewater effluence field can go for your calculation and design purposes:

The optimum position is in the area above the driveway (as defined by the row of lemon-scented gums) and the house. I assume you will place the tank in line with the front of the old house, but down the slope just a bit from the level of the commencement of the new house planned. The distance from the tank placement therefore and the road is 45 metres, and the width of the area is also 45 metres. Therefore fitting in a length of 400 metres is quite possible with 10-12 traverses across the slope. The road is 54 metres from the dam. The orchard is 27.5 metres X 37 metres. This is mostly off to the side of the proposed effluence field however. It should be possible to place the entire field so no water will seep into the orchard area.

Lyn and Dave have purchased a B21 Kubota frontend loader/backhoe in order to do terracing of the block. This is essential in order to retain water for garden beds. Therefore our option for installation of the pipes of the field will be a surface pinned pipe with terracing completed to accommodate the system design you propose prior to placing your pipes. It will also be possible for the hole required for your tank to be dug by ourselves if that is any savings to us in your quote for installation. You will need to specify the size of hole needed of course and it's orientation on the block to suit your system.

Could you followup this email with instructions to us as to your system requirement, ie how many traverses of the slope you need for the pipe, so the terraces can be constructed and soil installed appropriately, and appropriate garden plants installed over time. Is it possible I could install your effluence field to your specification, and thus save some money? I really don't mind having you install the pipes, however, but it would mean dovetailing our terracing and soil installation with your piping. Not a problem however either way since you will likely need an inspection by John Kelly before we backfill over with mulch material.

What is most needed now is your application to John Kelly for the septic system the old house will use, which is the same as the new house. (When we apply for the building permit for the new house, I will be getting you to apply again if required.) I cannot proceed further with the building permit for renovating the old house until this is completed.

Thanks again for time spent with John Kelly, and Lyn and Dave. John"

Then, things went quiet... We found out that Michael had been on holiday in 2nd half of November so waited. We finally got a reply in response to question about what the next steps were on 3rd Dec:

"I need to confirm the quotation in writing with you and then if you are happy with that Send the acceptance back and then I will fill out you application and do a sketch for the council and forward it to your father to submit...... Then the council will probably contact me to do a site visit to confirm"

So we waited. And waited. And waited some more but still no quotation has come.

I get that it is Christmas and holiday time. But come on, seriously. How hard is it to do a revised quotation? It's doubly bad given that they know how urgent it is at our end. *sigh*

Friday, January 02, 2009

inspiration from Sagamore Hill

We were just watching an American history documentary, when it showed a house: Sagamore Hill in Long Island, New York. It belonged to Teddy Roosevelt. It's a great house, but what struck me on sight was the colouring. We both really really liked it, to the extent that I'm wondering whether we should mimic the colours at Amherst.

Thanks to the wonders of Flickr here's some photos, showing it in different lights and seasons. (Thanks very much to those who took these photos and posted them in a form they could be blogged).

Sagamore Hill
Originally uploaded by cyclingbill2003

Sagamore Hill
Originally uploaded by halgil

360/366 Sagamore Hill
Originally uploaded by Amberture

The main house is coloured blue - of a similar albeit slightly lighter hue than the one we picked for the cottage. But what's different is that they've used a darker grey colour as accent for the window frames - whereas up till now I'd been planning to use an off-white.

I also really like how they've got the contrast with the rust red on some walls. That could work perhaps for the extension parts of the cottage - the upstairs bathroom part; the laundry - as well perhaps as the library extension on the main house? Need to think some more about this, but it has certainly given me some more ideas... Even if we didn't go with the red colour - the idea of having a sharp contrast - green perhaps? - is appealing.

daily weather during 2008

Checking the annual weather for Maryborough (nearest weather station to Amherst) is becoming a tradition - I did it in 2006 and 2007, and now here it is for 2008.

First, a graph of the maximum & minimum temperatures reached each day, in celsius:

2008 temperatures
(Click graph to see it full-size).

The hottest it got was 41 on 1st January 2008. This was the same maximum temperature as in 2007 which occurred the day before. The coldest was -1.8 on 8th August. A little better than here in London at least: we got down to -8 the other day, it is *freezing*.

Next, here's the cumulative rainfall, plotted daily:

2008 rainfall

Unfortunately we didn't have the same rain as in 2007, in fact it looked like it was going to be one of the driest years for a while until 13th December when over 50mm fell! Overall, there was only 376.8mm of rain for the entire year, meaning that the 13th December downpour represented over 13% of the entire annual rain.

To put this into perspective, here's a few chart looking at the pattern of rainfall historically:

comparison of monthly rainfall in Maryborough

historical rainfall in maryborough