Friends with Benefits
There have been many friends who have chilled out at our place on the weekend. Soaked up the sun by the pool, enjoyed butterflied mediterranean lamb on the barbecue and copious amounts of chardonnay, champagne and beer on our deck. Hospitality runs in our veins as it turns out and I often wonder if in our latter years we should own a B&B to make sure that we are constantly surrounded by people to share our lives and home with.
Now I don’t want to be labeled for taking advantage of our friends, but they sure are good to have around, particularly when you buy a run down, over grown, ramshackle place like ours. I know it was probably a bit presumptuous and naughty of me but in the first week that we took ownership of the property I put out an invitation to friends and family, not to a “housewarming party” but to a Working Bee! I figured that many of our friends and family would be curious to see what we had purchased and some if not all wouldn’t mind being a part of the first phase of our renovations. Being able to see the “before” and be a small part of the “after”.
We put out the offer of food and grog and protective gear, accommodation if needed and a celebration dinner in the evening if anyone was up to it. They were to bring no presents but their presence would be much appreciated, as would be their spare chainsaw, rakes, pruning shears, gardening gloves, wheelbarrows etc. My hunch was right on track as it turns out and we were rewarded with a number of RSVPs from as far away as the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and of course some local friends.
We hired a big chipper and borrowed a large box trailer to cart away the debris. People started arriving early and were given their gardening gloves, a new but cheap pair of garden shears, and told where to find their refreshments which were to be provided by another friend whose back wouldn’t stand the bending, stretching and lifting but still didn’t want to miss out on being a part of the day.
There were several challenges, so plenty to keep several teams of people busy. We couldn’t actually see the house from the street because of all the overgrown trees, shrubs, bushes and weeds in the front yard. There was a bent flag pole to be removed and a stand of seven large golden cane palms which obscured totally the view of the swimming pool from the back yard. Six massive jasmine vines were entangled in the tennis court fence and at risk of bringing it down with their weight and all the floor coverings in the house had to come out before the weekend was over.
I may have mentioned that the previous owner had five cats that were allowed to live inside the house and three pet snakes. Now I don’t mind snakes and they had been kept in tanks so they didn’t leave a mess around the place but I just thought they were worth mentioning. The cats however were a real problem for me. There was remnant cat fur and kitty litter everywhere and I am totally allergic and couldn’t even walk into the house without that itchy eye feeling and sneazing all over the place. So I stayed out of the way while one of our good friends from the Sunshine Coast took the floor covering challenge over with gusto. He pulled up lino (not stuck down in many places thankfully), lifted and rolled carpet and jimmied up the nasty spiked edge strip before anyone could gouge their feet on it. The debris filled the trailer so one run was made to the dump.
A team of ladies aided by some of the kids that accompanied their parents, attacked the palm trees. It was awesome to see the difference that removing all the little low fronds and lifting the canopy higher made to the view to the pool. The downside was that most of the non compliant pool fencing was relying on these fronds for stability! Some cable ties and wire fixed this problem temporarily.
Did you know that you are not meant to feed palm fronds into a chipper? Neither did we, until it jammed! With it all turned off and the blades disengaged someone had to climb inside and release the tangled mess so that the work could continue.
One trailer load of chipped foliage was sent to the compost heap to break down over the next six months and inevitably become what filled the pumpkin patch in Chapter 8. The chipper ran all day turning all the chainsawed trees into potential mulch. I learnt the first of may valuable lessons about giving detailed instructions to the person most in charge of the chainsaw. Once I had finished helping the ladies at the back of the house I came round the front to find every plant, and I mean every, all cut to one metre in height. Now granted they did what I had asked and revealed the front of the house (although in hindsight was it such a great thing to be able to see?) but were very unaesthetic about it!
The Jasmine vines were mainly the job for tall people, my brother being one of them and he neatly pruned each of the vines down to about one metre from the ground and untangled the mess from the tennis court fence. They remained that way for the best part of six months but now, I’m ashamed to say, they are about the same height and weight as they were back then. They are extremely beautiful when they flower, the perfume wafts through the house for about a month each year, and as I am not much for pruning we just tend to let them go. Sorry brother dear!
Many weary people went home that day to bathe in Radox and Dencorub sore muscles but some hale and hearty ones came back to the Resort for beer, wine and a well earned feed. Little did they know that thanks to them the next BBQ and every one to come, would be enjoyed at our Funny Farm.