Foreward – There is a House in there Somewhere!



We were spoilt for seven and a half years.  Managing a country resort on 90 acres in the Gold Coast hinterland with our own sewerage treatment plant, water treatment plant and lake we (or at least my husband) learnt heaps about living on acreage, we had space, more space than we had ever had before and that got us thinking…  when we have our own place…


 So after years of moving from resort managers apartment to rental property, to another resort managers apartment, to another apartment we were finally ready to buy our own place.  The search was long and disappointing.  Prices on the Gold Coast are notoriously high and anything over 4000m2 was priced like gold.  Used to camping we figured that even if we could buy a block that was large enough to put up a big shed and a deck for our BBQ and outdoor setting we would be happy.  But even that was hard to find (at our price).  


 We put a contract on a large peaceful block on the way to Springbrook and then backed out once we worked out that by the time we put all that we needed on the block we would be bankrupt.  After months and countless trips to view vacant blocks, out of the blue an agent phoned us!  Unheard of in this real estate market, we were stunned and surprised.  The property he described sounded like just what we were looking for in fact more than we were expecting, so automatically we knew we couldn’t afford it.  I went on the net and looked at the price and sure enough it was more than our budget.  But the agent assured me that the vendor was keen to sell having bought a block elsewhere, suffered a marriage breakup and wanted a fresh new start.


 We went to see the property on a day when another agent was showing another family through, so as not to run into them we decided to start at the back and work our way towards the front.  Set on two acres, we walked down one driveway to the back yard skirted by palm trees and other indistinguishable foliage was the good old Hills hoist, a couple of rubbish bins, a chook run (SOLD), a performance stage (SOLD), and a three bay garage (SOLD). We walked further down the back to see an industrial shed (husband SOLD), further on to see a mown patch of lawn surrounded by a grove of palms, mock orange and assorted other trees, a secret garden no less (SOLD).  Up we went to another level with an additional house pad already cut!  Well, needless to say by this stage we didnt need to see the house, we were already SOLD.


But there was a house as well, in disrepair, a swimming pool, not registered and non compliant pool fencing, a half court tennis court, no net, no posts and lots of overgrown unkempt gardens.  We were home.




Chapter 28 – Peace, Love and Mung Beans Festival

Chapter 28
Peace, Love & Mung Beans Festival

A couple of years ago at one of our New Years Eve parties, the band “Pond Scum” an ad hoc ensemble of musical friends hadn’t exactly rehearsed enough prior to the evening to perform very many songs, and quite frankly after a few brews they were just over it.  Instruments left on stage they got into the sprit of the night and focused on the drinking rather than the playing.  One by one some of the invited guests both friends and family just got up on the stage (yes, we have a stage in our backyard!) and played and sung whatever they knew to the other party goers.  I looked over at my brother and sister in law, glasses of red wine in hand sprawled out on a picnic rug listening to the impromptu concert and the thought crossed my mind how cool it would be to host a Music Festival at our house.
I like a good party, and I tend to get really carried away with trying to make it an experience to remember for us and for our guests to talk about for some time to come.  Like the Cinco De Mayo (15th of May in Mexican) party with Mexican buffet, margarita bar and the stage festooned with handmade crepe paper flowers, the Halloween party with the eyeball cocktails (basically Tequila Sunrise with canned lychees floating in it) and real pumpkins carved into jack o lanterns and the Christmas lights evening with blow up Santa train and moving reindeer.  So now I had another party to focus on I was determined to make it a memorable and better still, an Annual event.
So the Peace, Love and Mung Beans Festival was born, which is actually a pseudonym as we incorporated our suburb’s name into the real title and while many of you will be invited next year we don’t necessarily want hordes of blog readers from the four corners of the world crashing our event!  So please forgive the subterfuge.  Invitations with a 70‘s Woodstock flavour were created to reflect the true spirit of peace and harmony of the Music Festival with all invitees encouraged to register to perform at the festival on the promise of complimentary lanyards and Access All Areas Back Stage Passes.  Camping grounds were provided, and the official T-shirts printed and duly advertised for sale (just to cover costs).  I even sewed up six Balinese style flags in psychedelic colours to decorate the yard and add a groovy feel,only to find them later on eBay for a very reasonable price.  Our local cheap as chips shop was selling pink lawn flamingos and I was dying for an excuse to buy a pair and now I had one!  The chickens and dog checked them out and thought they were very strange animals indeed.
If you have ever had to get people to commit to an event that actually involves performance you will understand that the registrations were very slow to come in and a bit vague when it came to how many pieces and what exactly people would be performing.  In the end we even phoned a few of our friends to see if they were actually going to come to the party regardless of if they wanted to be on stage.  It got to the weekend before and we were so close to canceling the whole thing when a few people started to RSVP.  Phew!
The day before, Benny drove to his brothers place to borrow some PA equipment and lights which we knew were going to make this back yard event as professional looking and sounding as it could.  His brother has a business doing PA for gigs but unfortunately was away on the weekend in question but happy to lend us the gear to use.  It couldn’t be set up in the yard until the last minute because of weather and chance of theft or damage which made the actual day very pressured for Benny.  I chopped cheese, celery and carrot for nibbles platters, fetched tables, put up the flags and then seconded my mother to man the Merchandising Stand and my mother and father-in-law to handle the Sausage Sizzle.
Three o’clock rocked around and the first three people arrived, put outtheir lawn chairs and esky unfolded the picnic rug and set up to have a groovy time.  Then some more families came, then more families and some of them even brought some of their friends which was awesome, and by about half past four it was time to kick things off.  Unbeknownst to some I had been learning the guitar for about a year and a half and had rehearsed a song to play at the festival.  A little nervous about my debut I coerced my sister, brother-in-law and husband to accompany me, and a little band was born.  We performed Wonderwall by Oasis and it went over fairly well except my vocals weren’t well amplified and so the crowd couldn’t really hear my singing which in all honesty is probably a good thing given the nerves.  But in Benny’s words we set the bar fairly low for the rest of the performers so we helped alleviate other people’s fears about getting up there and having a go.  

The first performance out of the way, thirteen other individuals or groups had their turn, introduced by duel MC’s our son and his friend Rory.  Each act was met with excited applause and cheers of encouragement.  We had solo guitarists, singers, a drummer, a comedian, family bands, duets etc including people that had never been on stage before.  To make sure we had enough entertainment to keep everyone engaged for a couple of hours we interspersed some competitions with a 70’s flavour.  There was an air guitar competition, how long can you hula hoop and quoits throwing.  All had prizes of boxes of chocolates so we had good deal of participation by both kids and their parents.  Some of the funniest moments were adults re-living their childhood gyrating their hips to keep their hoops off the ground and strumming the air while whipping their hair around, having a ball. I’m sure a lot of potential funniest home videos were shot on iPhones that day.
Once the actual concert was over, night had fallen and poor Benny could relax from his mixing desk and have a beer, we turned up our son’s playlist really loud and let the kids run riot on the stage.  They loved having a go at bashing the drums along with the music, lip syncing into the microphones, and having a play on the keyboard.  It was such a great time and I am happy to report there was no damage to anything.  Meanwhile other friends continued to arrive just in time to enjoy the laid back party at the end.
Because it started early, most people were gone by about nine o’clock and true stayers by eleven.  Plenty of sleep and a couple of Nurofen and I was already planning next year’s event in my head.  I reckon we won’t have much difficulty filling the bill next time with many friends over their dinner tables already discussing what they will be performing at Peace, Love and Mung Beans Festival 2014.