Sunday, 3 January 2021

Taking a while to settle

 I've been in George for TWO MONTHS already! It feels both longer and shorter. I'm not quite settled but am getting there.

I spent the first five weeks living in a magnificent, big house just outside of George - with an amazing view. It was fully furnished (a holiday home) and so all my stuff went into a storage garage. I spent the 6th week at a self-catering guesthouse and then moved into the house that I'm renting in mid December. I've been here for 2.5 weeks now.

While I moved in with all of my boxes from the storage garage, I borrowed a table and mattress from a friend in town to work at and sleep on. These, and other furniture items, arrive tomorrow. I got my couch a few days ago from the garage. I've got odds still in boxes (mostly office stuff) in my home garage and a few items, like gazebos, in the storage garage. I've felt like I've been camping.

The night I moved into this house, I was ready to move out. I discovered that the kitchen was infested with cockroaches, there was no shower door or curtain so water went all over the floor (it is not a 'wet bathroom' design), there are no towel rails, no toilet roll holders, the garden is mostly weeds and the lawn has been grown on top of building rubble, the back paving area was covered in mud that washes down from the retaining wall when it rains, spots of damp in some walls, loose toilet seats, garage door doesn't lock... For a house that really is beautifully done inside, they just didn't finish it off. 

I'm not the first tenant. A couple of guys lived here for about 18 months after it was built. I'm the second tenant.

The house won me over because it was the best of two I saw in November (in a market of limited availability), the kitchen is divine (gas hob in an island, open and lots of space), it had tiles throughout and its location is superb. 

I notified the estate agent of the issues on the Thursday morning. Within a few days I'd fumigated the kitchen and bought roach bait (they're still a problem but less so), the owner had put a seal on the roof and sanded the damp spots indoors to be painted and dealt with in January, I spent a night putting some veggie plants into the retaining wall, I'd started pulling out weeds and cutting invasive alien trees (bugweed) and the estate agent brought along a curtain rail and curtain for the shower (apparently there was one, that the guys must have taken). It took me over two hours of intensive sweeping to brush the mud/dirt off the back paving - removing around 50L of soil. Every time I stepped outside the kitchen, my shoes were filthy - it was driving me insane!

There is lots to be done here to gain some kind of 'control' over my environment. I find these niggles unsettling. I figure if I put in an hour here and there each evening, I'll get it done.

The moving truck arrives tomorrow so I'll have work ahead of me to get things in their place. 

I am delighted to have regular visits from peacocks, peahens and peachicks that live in the area. As a bonus, I have a peahen nesting in the garden. She is sitting on four eggs, which she barely moves from. Rusty keeps a protective eye on her.

The issues here are not insurmountable (there are a couple more that have come to light) and it seems like the owner is prepared to fix the problems.

Still, the kitchen is a dream (except for the cockroaches that I'm slowly getting the better of!) and the house's location is just perfect.

Rusty watching the peahen

Exposing the tree trunk goes a long way to making the tree look lovely and creating a space underneath to sit in the shade.

Left = before, Right = after - some vegetation trimming

Tidying up trees down the side. They are so the wrong type of trees to be planted here...

The start of making a dent in removing weeds from here. That's a pompon tree at the back, which I'll reveal. I'll also deal with this crazy tangle of ferns. I've done more work since I took these photos - and more clearing to the right of the photo.

Top is before, bottom is after. I planted these the second night I moved in. I needed something green to look at outside the kitchen window and to get some plants into this retaining wall. They have grown really well in two weeks. Tomatoes, green peppers, celery, basil, lettuce and spinach. A good start. I've put some succulents (I collect cuttings while out walking with Rusty) into other slots along the wall.

Work-in-progress in cutting down the bugweed tree -  a nasty fast-growing, alien invader. Loads of weeds below and around the tree. What I did discover underneath is a Cape Gooseberry, which I'll keep.

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