It's exciting times for us, as we look forward to moving into The Old Bank in Franklin next month. It's a building we've admired over the years, as much for the huge shed immediately behind it with so much potential as for the very solid brick building that is part of the village streetscape, and heritage registered for that reason. One night over pizza at the Aqua Grill, David raised the idea of buying it. It was on the market again after selling to a lovely couple a few years back. Before that it housed a Naval Museum which we visited with my parents some years back.
As much as David and I love all the beautiful old homes in Tasmania, when we first moved here our choice was to move into a newer house, for a few reasons. We were bringing a (small) house full of modern furniture with us from Sydney, such as a huge glossy white bookcase that wouldn't fit into an older home with low ceilings and cosy rooms. We couldn't afford to replace everything. We also needed to get back to work immediately and couldn't spend time renovating. I really admire the lovely renovated farm houses and historic homes we've visited here over the years, but I'm not sure I could do it myself. And so many older homes on the market at the time seemed so draughty and dark, with lots of wood panelling and small windows. So we bought an almost new colourbond home on 9 beautiful acres up in the hills, where we could move right in with all our existing stuff and get straight back to work. Almost nine years on, we're thrilled to now have a little piece of local history to take care of.
People keep asking us what we're going to do with the Old Bank. To be honest, we don't know. There are so many possibilities, lots of ideas floating around. So to start with, we'll be moving in and doing exactly what we are now - working a corporate job (me) and running a business (David). We'll have a mortgage again, so we can't go crazy! It will be a significant lifestyle change for us, living on the main road in the village. I'll miss the sun first thing on winter mornings, the silence and delicious tank water. I have to sell my chooks. But we'll be right across the road from the river! We'll have bin night! We can walk to buy a coffee, a pizza or a cider! There's a bus stop at the door, hardly any garden and so many rooms! It's time for a change and I'm looking forward to it.
It was a long weekend, and boy was I grateful for this one. We needed the time to adjust to our new one-dog household. Just to give ourselves some space, without obligations. Yesterday we took Gretchen on a short outing to Cygnet. We picked up a few things, popped into a couple of stores that we hadn't been to, had coffee and cake at Lotus Eaters in their nice dog friendly outdoor area. Gretchen is having to get used to being solo dog. Over the weekend she kept looking out the door or around the garden for her missing sister, which was a little heartbreaking. But at least she gets the whole back seat of the car to herself now. We couldn't face going straight back home, so called a kind friend who had offered support and popped in for a chat. It did us both the world of good.
Today we left Gretchen at home alone for a few hours while we headed to the Taste of the Huon. The weather was beautiful, and loads of people came from Hobart and beyond to sample a huge range of food and beverages, a much needed boost for local businesses affected by loss of income during the recent bushfires. We had coffee and doughnuts, sampled some Indonesian fare, bought some local saffron and wine and a take-home pack of ginger beer, then settled down with a Simple Cider to watch a performance artist called Samora Squid pass his entire body through the head of a tennis racket, then swallow a sword. That guy is a true entertainer.
Finally over the weekend, the alert levels on the Tasmanian Fire Service web site for the Huon Valley areas around the Riveaux Road fire that started in mid-January were dropped. Hooray! You could almost hear everyone breathe a collective sigh of relief.
On Thursday we heard a number of enormous explosions as fire affected trees were felled in the forestry area behind us. The house shook and my PC monitor wobbled dangerously on its stand! Fire services vehicles are still patrolling up our road regularly. We are grateful for the huge amount of work that has been done and still continues to keep our community safe. I haven't been far into fire affected areas, but you can see below what it looks like just 1km from our house. The burnt smell sure penetrates the nostrils.
I'd forgotten how grief creates physical pain. There's now a great aching hole in my heart, shaped like a Bernese Mountain Dog. Yesterday was a very rough day for us, as we said goodbye to our beautiful girl Bärli , after more than 12 wonderful years. I've already said all I wanted to in a post on Facebook, reproduced below, but wanted to share it here too, so that when I print my next annual blog book these beautiful photos of her will shine from the pages. Next, I plan to write down the happy memories, the small things, in case I forget anything. I don't want to forget. RIP my bear.
Today we said goodbye to our beautiful girl Bärli (“little bear”), originally Zanzebern Q T Pie, aged 12 years and 4 months. That’s a pretty good innings for a Bernese Mountain Dog, but it doesn’t make it any easier to lose her. She was a grand old lady but in the last few days life had become a struggle for her and we had to let her go. Our late friend Alan once said that I look at Bärli like a mother gazes at her newborn – and he was right. I absolutely adored that dog. She was my first dog and the best cuddle ever. She was funny, gentle and placid with many facial expressions and not an aggressive bone in her large 54kg body. Many people (even folk who know Bernese) mistook her for a male due to her size – she got that from mum Orsa and dad Denzel, both gorgeous Zanzebern dogs. Thank you to breeder Nicole for letting us have her. Bärli had a happy life, first in Sydney then in Tasmania since 2010 where she got to enjoy the snow like a proper Swiss dog. She loved the water too. And car rides, head out in the wind. We thought we’d lost her a few years back but thanks to some quick action from the kind vets at Southern Tasmanian Vet Hospital we got to enjoy another three years with her. Much of that time she spent on the lounge, as you’ll see in these photos! The second you turned your back she was up there, even during her very last night. Bärli was on TV, in the paper and magazines and even in an advertisement for chicken coops (see photo). She once won a “greediest dog” competition in a group of around 30 Bernese, because she gobbled up celery and snow pea sprouts that other dogs spat out. She’s had millions of pats and cuddles from us and thousands more from strangers, especially hordes of little girl fans everywhere we went. Goodbye sweet girl. We love you so much.
Escaped Sydney in 2010 for a piece of paradise in Tasmania's Huon Valley. I'm a keen walker, remote worker, incompetent gardener, Bernese Mountain Dog owner, fan of almost anything German (food, language, cars, beer), amateur linguist, chook fancier, childfree.