2013 was a big year, on a number of fronts. Much of the year was devoted to creating our new home – we still have a few things to do, but it’s becoming what we want it to be. My year at work was crazy, with a long period of uncertainty following a restructure. It was also a fairly big year for travel, as this post will reveal, and there were a multitude of other happenings, both positive and challenging that punctuated 2013. I was tired by the time that Christmas rolled around, but I also knew that I am more resilient than I used to be. We miss our home still, but Australia has been a good move for us. It’s funny to think back to when we first arrived, how we said that we would only stay for three or four years. It’s been two and a half years already, and we still have so much that we want to do! 2014 is going to be a great year, I can feel it in my bones…
January: In January Colin was recovering from a ruptured bicep and the surgery required to reattach it. This injury is why I was driving the car during a mid-January day-trip to Boonah – the day that we decided to seriously start looking for a property to buy. We found the perfect apartment a few days later and decided that our short search was over. Our offer was accepted, and the very next day we flew to Perth to see Colin’s family. Slightly stunned with the speed of it all, Perth felt like four days of celebration, with this sunset seen from Gooseberry Hill, the equivalent of fireworks and champagne.
February: February was the month of shopping. One consequence of bringing only eight cartons of possessions with us from New Zealand and living in a furnished apartment for a year was that we needed to buy almost everything to set up our new home. It is astounding what it takes to set up a house from scratch, and we couldn’t help feeling the odd twinge as our old life, barely burdened by materiality, slipped from us with every swipe of the debit card. Moving also meant saying goodbye to Colin’s custom Night Train as our new apartment came with a car space only, a pain not felt for too long, since he soon discovered that he could rebuild a Sportster in the space between the wall and the car, using the boot of the car as a toolbox.
March: March was for nesting, and for pinching myself every time I woke up to the sun streaming into the lounge. With the expert help of Peter at Matt Blatt New Farm, we embraced a retro vibe, choosing a palette of dark brown, charcoal and burnt orange with flecks of mossy green. I started visiting local op-shops and antique stores on a weekly basis, seeking out little relics of the 60s and 70s, such as brown glass tumblers just like Nana used to have, pottery mugs, and a serving platter in the shape of three sunflowers. Amidst all the shiny and new in the apartment, these slightly battered bits of nostalgia add a much needed homey touch.
April: In early April we did a three-day road trip to Rockhampton while our kitchen was being painted, staying the first night at Hervey Bay, the second at Yeppoon, and the third at Agnes Water. Unfortunately the weather was horrendously bad, with Yeppoon in particular experiencing such a gale that the windows kept up a constant rattle all night. The weather began to clear during our last evening at Agnes Water and we were able to take a long walk on the beach (see photo above) – much needed after nearly three days cooped up in the car and in hotels. On arriving back in Brisbane we discovered a disaster in the kitchen (for the full story, see here), which is finally, thankfully, being rectified.
May: In May I got a new camera and spent the month revelling in the clarity of light and jewel-like tones it produces. This photo was taken part-way through building a winter salad of crisp persimmon, raw beetroot, avocado and mint. It was delicious later, eaten with a mild chèvre and grainy bread spread with tapenade. In May I also had a trip to Sydney for work, finally getting to see a little of the city.
June: By June we were beginning to relax. Weekends became more about enjoying our new space rather than trawling through eBay or roaming the aisles of Bunnings. We started to spend more time outside, listening to bands at the Valley markets, going for long walks around the area, and frequenting local cafes. This photo is of my favourite winter breakfast at Flamingo; homemade baked beans over spinach and parmesan toast, topped with a fried egg. In June we also attended our first Australian wedding (Katy and Jason’s). You know you have integrated when you started getting wedding invitations!
July: In July we took a week off work and flew up to beautiful and balmy Cairns. We did a Barrier Reef snorkelling trip, went hot air ballooning in Mareeba, spent a day exploring the Atherton Tablelands, and another up in Port Douglas. It was lucky that I had a break away, as a few days after returning to work I had a whirlwind trip to Melbourne, then found myself appointed to “higher duties”, aka acting for our team manager until the role could be filled. With not a shred of management experience under my belt I found myself managing a team of 25 people for two and a half months. Oh, and without backfill for my existing role. Did I say that 2013 was challenging?
August: By late August weekends were taking on new significance as recovery time from long hours at work and an aching neck and back. Yoga classes, massages, sessions in the steam room, and sleep were top of my list, with the occasional foray outside into the sunny Brisbane winter. This photo was taken during a Sunday morning tramp around New Farm after waking up too late to make it to yoga. August wasn’t all work though, as I did manage to have one amazing and joyful experience at an anti-gravity yoga and acroplay workshop with a group of lovely people. Hopefully more of that to come in 2014!
September: I can’t really remember much of September, as work pressures became all-encompassing. We did enjoy a visit from Kerri and Stuart and their gorgeous girls, Jorja and Pippa – these guys are the kind of old friends with whom you instantly slip back into place, no matter how long its been since you last hung out. The annual Riverfire event attracted a huge crowd as usual in late September. This time around we watched it from Wilson’s Lookout in New Farm, getting a great view of the Story Bridge (photo taken on my iPhone, hence the grainy texture).
October: October brought relief with our new manager starting work early in the month. Our annual pilgrimage back to New Zealand was well timed to give me some downtime that was desperately needed. This trip back was more work than play and we didn’t get to see any of our friends, but we had a great week seeing family, doing a little fishing, and stocking up on our favourite goodies to bring back over the ditch. This photo was taken at Mum and Dad’s place early in the morning with the sun flooding the bottom paddock.
November: We were still in New Zealand for early November, and on our second to last day I was able to get out west to Te Henga (Bethells Beach) with Amy, Lucy and Monte. Bethells is my favourite beach in the world, really, in the whole wide world, and I’m not being merely gushy. There is something about wild and rugged Bethells, some energy that it holds – everyone can feel it. In November I also had another work trip to Sydney. This time Colin flew down on Friday afternoon and we stayed on for the weekend.
December: One of the highlights of December was a Sunday afternoon cruise courtesy of A Band on Ship, chugging up and down the Brisbane river, listening to the funky sounds of local band We All Want To, drinking cheap gin with Jimmy and Meg, and watching the sun go down over the city. If it sounds awesome, that’s because it was! December was of course also the countdown to Christmas and a summer break. We celebrated Christmas in the Hunter Valley this year, a wonderful trip that was over all too soon, but more on this in a post to come soon…
Thanks all for reading Chez Moi in 2013! Have a wonderful 2014!