boardwalk at the beach
Mental Health

Retiring to a Seachange

I’m ‘pulling up stumps,’ I declared.

I was announcing to friends that I was to leave my inner-city lifestyle and was moving to a Home by the Sea. A Seachange is the correct word, I believe.

“What. Why?” was the plaintive responses from colleagues and friends.

“Why move further out? That’s a long commute.”

Especially when, they continued to counsel me, a sought-after, inner-city lifestyle offers heady attractions and a swathe of facilities and friends, in close proximity? And my own kids concurred.

At the first whiff of this decision, the adult children refused to be involved. They saw it as a hedonistic move to the region’s boganesque outskirts, better known as, ‘The Peninsula.’

So why did we decide to continue with a Seachange?

Because life in the city cuts both ways.

Inner City Lifestyle is Attractive

Our urban locale of many years was idyllic, or so we thought.

Picture energetic, vegan eateries and sushi trains, interspersed with Craft beer hangouts playing Indie music, to all hours. Streets lined with cafes, punctuated by glamorous shops, awash with white and taupe furnishings, selling those ludicrously expensive cushions that are positioned for looks, rather than comfort, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of my former location. Many would find that attractive.

I have to admit the inner city life was swanky and practical. I had only a short walk to public transport, of all kinds, and a multitude of library and shopping options, as well as bakeries or gourmet restaurants, so close, that I’d never had to worry about squashing the bread or drinking and driving the car home.

So I had to ask myself again, why did I want to leave?

Because, it seemed. there was a niggling discontent in my heart.

I had begun to notice the downsides to urban living and they were becoming more and more bothersome, the closer I got to retirement age. I needed a change.

A Seachange.

But wait. I began to hesitate.

Did I really want to give up work and this urban lifestyle right now, given that one’s work and financial contribution to society forms a large part of our identity?

I had to think this through properly and reassess what I’d really miss and what might be a potential deal-breaker. Was I ready for Retirement and a Seachange? It was a big move!

Weighing Up the Pros and Cons of Hipster Life in the City

Point #1 – Endless Facilities

City living is an ongoing adrenaline rush and offers many opportunities, but it also results in an expanding waistline and other First-World Problems that triggers a level of guilt, in me, one I wasn’t entirely happy with.

I had to admit Triple-shot Macchiatos or Banh Mi Market Breakfasts with Almond smoothies, at the local markets, were really fun but also the chief suspects in my increasing girth.

Those lovely market stalls one browses, on Sunday mornings, you know the ones that feature lovely handmade items, or organic Kombucha with a Turmeric and Kale chaser and a pulled pork bun, are very hipster, but as I wasn’t exercising too much, (I dislike aerobic exercise), you can have too much of a good thing. Diet and health concerns were not the only pressure.

Add to this, I felt indulgent. This consumerist lifestyle felt privileged and wasteful, considering how much poverty, need and homelessness exists in the world. There had to be something better that aligned more with my twilight years.

Point #2 (Or should I call it: bothersome fact #2?) – Noise, Busy Roads and Traffic

There were loads of new facilities, medical centres, shops, gyms and pilates studios opening every other week in the inner city districts. However, the incessant noise from the construction was something I wasn’t getting used to. Quite the contrary, my sleep was disturbed more and more with each passing month. Sleep deprivation is the kind of torture that one can’t abide when the childbearing years are far behind you, so the noise did nothing to foster a jolly mood.

Couple this issue with two near-miss incidents with myself and heavy machinery, plus a workman’s vehicle swerving towards me, both happening at pedestrian crossings near home, were other imperatives to move to a quieter area. (Twice in one week, I was nearly run over simply crossing the road to follow the concreted footpath!)

The horse and buggy style of those dated inner-city alleys and streets, that no cat worth his salt would be found swinging in, are all very quaint when you are a pioneer in the early 19th century, but crossing the street after 6am in 2020 was akin to having a death wish.

And, don’t get me started on the lack of on, or off-street, parking. That was Point #3.

Point #4 – Sharing Space with a Growing Population Density

Exercise in the inner city constituted a 30-minute stroll in the morning down a popular shared bike and pedestrian path. Early morning walks here, had recently become a dance with death as teams of hardcore, professional cycling enthusiasts, festooned in their all-too-revealing-bodysuits notoriously rode at that same time, and usually three abreast.

Some would forget to ring their bell as a warning of their impending presence and I’d stumble to maintain my balance and calm my frightened dog, as they swished past in a blur of lycra, shouting, “Move – it’s a bikeway,” in a range of accents, or offer a very defiant ‘finger,’ if I didn’t move to let them pass.

journey

Despite all of this, it was the bruises that finally cemented my decision to sell and move to the Home by the Sea.

Point #5 – Small Rooms

In particular, the bruises incurred when my toe, or shin, connected clumsily with the bed-posts in the small inner-city Townhouse that I had down-sized to, as a potential retirement home. Low maintenance it was, but Townhouse living was going to be problematic.

Every room in my ultra-modern townhouse was so small, so confined, that it meant kicking my toe or shin, on the corner of the bed, vanity or chair, became a daily event. It might have been cute, compact and a breeze to clean, but there’s always a trade-off, isn’t there?

It was clear that I needed somewhere with a tad more space.

Not only that, but the family dog agreed with me.

Schnauzer Cam

Point #6 – Limited Yard for Pets

The small courtyard at the Townhouse gave the family dog no place to bury a bone, nor conduct her usual border patrol for illegal animal infiltrators. Her job, she thought, was to protect the premises from the likes of lizards, cats, Ibis or random Scrub Turkeys. The small astro-turfed courtyard just didn’t cut it, for my Princess.

A wild Scrub Turkey

A Home by the Sea

So weighing up the odds, we decided to move.

In complete contrast to Townhouse life, the Schnauzer loves her new home that has a small to medium L-shaped grassy yard. Now she can choose whether to sun herself or roll around in delight on the soft, green grass.

happy dog
Schnauzer discovering the yard

A bit like me really.

Retirement and the Pandemic

The Covid pandemic may have meant I retired a little prematurely, but more importantly, it has given me time to walk the dog, enjoy early mornings on the beach and not have to rush off to work, in busy commuter traffic.

To date, I have not sustained any bruises from the furniture in my new home by the sea!

A seemingly unending blue sky, fresh sea air, a comforting quietness as well as new places and friends to discover, has me feeling relaxed and content with no time constraints and nothing to do, but enjoy the rest of my life.

rubber thongs

More about my Seachange at the Home by the Sea

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Home by the Sea
table overlooking the sea
Community

A Seachange

A Home by the Sea

How does one handle change?

Change might be disruptive and jolting, a shock to the system but it also heralds new possibilities and opportunities.

I will soon be moving to a new location. A new house, new area, new neighbours. It is exciting but a little daunting.

Some of you know that we have been prepping for this move for over a year and soon it will become reality. Add to that, I will be semi-retired- whatever that means?

Have you some moving tips for me? Last year when I moved to my current townhouse, I become stressed out and exhausted. I used to be an ace at moving house, when I was in my twenties and moving flats every year or so.

Thirty years on, I am older and need some tips on making it less stressful.

I would love to hear your suggestions.

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Australia

My New Blog – Seachange.home.blog

As some of you may know, I am preparing for the next stage of my life. Retirement from work. It is a few years off yet, however I do like to be prepared.

To this end, we are building a future home at the beach. A new home means a new blog called A Home By the Sea.

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My Journal Blog Seachange.home.blog/

If you wish to follow along on this journey with me, click on the link above and you will be magically transported to my blog: A Home by the Sea.

Brighton beach

Just to be clear, Something to Ponder About will continue in its present form. The new blog will have more of a personal journalling function.

At the moment, it is in its infancy, merely following our building projects’ ups and downs. But the challenge of transitioning to retirement will bring loads more stories, commentaries and pictures, so that will come later.

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Australia, Community

The Downside to Hipster Living

Some people know I’m preparing for a seachange; I’m ‘pulling up stumps,’ as they say, in the suburbs, and have already moved, in the interim, to a trendy townhouse in the inner city’s dress circle. What is it like, you might ask?

Street

Think Gourmet ice cream and Vegan eateries, Sushi Trains on many a corner, craft beer bars playing Indie music and a variety of those glamorous shops that sell ludicrously expensive white and taupe furnishings with cushions that are perfectly positioned for looks, rather than comfort. Yep – in a nutshell – that’s Hipsterville. Right at my doorstep.

Imagine little old suburban me, walking the shared bike way in my daggy joggers, being steamrollered by cyclists festooned in those all too revealing lycra bodysuits. [Yes it did happen- several times]. The little Schnauzer was even caught in the slipstream of these semi-pros, who seemingly insist on riding three abreast and stubbornly refuse to ring their bell when overtaking. Grrr.

Or you might visualize me wandering the lazy Sunday markets where the fare on offer includes Triple shot Machiatos, Green smoothies with Turmeric and Kale or a dose of Banh mi with your breakfast falafel.

No – don’t get me wrong. The food is good and I do like it here. I do. In fact, it is easy to love this hipster lifestyle.

But…

I do have a problem with an all too burgeoning waistline and the incessant noise. It took me well over a month to sleep past 4.20 am in the mornings, due to the parade of ‘tradies in Utes’, (tradesmen in utility vehicles) heading to work.

Seriously, who needs alarm clocks when you have the roar of light commercial engines outside your windows, Monday to Friday? These guys are up at the crack of dawn, speeding down the streets, reveling in being able to drive more recklessly due to the absence of other cars and non-existent bumper to bumper traffic at that earliest of hours.

Neither do I relish nearly being run over – twice in one week.

The narrow, horse and buggy style inner city streets, that no cat worth his salt would be found swinging in, are all very quaint if you are an early pioneer, but the restricted access makes crossing the street after 6am a bit of a death wish. And it is not that I don’t like that cozy European feel. I do, but this isn’t Europe, it’s Australia and it looks and feels like Australia. The land of empty spaces, unless you are in the inner city, of course.

Austria

And don’t get me started on the lack of on street parking around here. (Thank goodness for extra visitors park when people come to visit).

Complaints to the council about the aforementioned hazardous intersection fall on deaf ears. Yet the authorities proudly flaunt “Traffic upgrade” leaflets, which were noticeably more prevalent in the run up to elections.

The mooted traffic upgrade did nothing to address the potentially deadly corner, but detailed adding another, to my mind, slightly extravagant, turning lane for cars, 400 metres away from the aforementioned deathly bottleneck. There is no common sense in Hipsterville, it would seem.

And by goodness, neither do I welcome the many bruises appearing on my body. In particular, on my shin when it connects with the bedpost. Our former suburban house had sprawling bedrooms (thanks to the MOTH’s randomized house design from his single days when he built the old house with his father). The Inner city digs are about half the dimensions, yet we have the same number of people living here.

To its credit, the pygmy like size of the Hipster house has its advantages. It’s a dream when it comes to cleaning. Every room is so small, it takes but a jiffy to clean, but of course there is a catch, isn’t there? Not immediately obvious, the downside to this small “castle” is that I kick my toe on the corner of the bed, vanity or chair on an almost daily basis.

Construction begins

Furthermore, my dressing table now doubles as a computer desk, because only one of these things will fit in the bedroom space. By contrast, the new house will have two study areas and embarrassingly, I was supposed to downsize! His and Hers study areas? Works for me. Woohoo!

The Schnauzer concurs with me. In the teency weency townhouse yard, she has no place to bury a bone and must jump into a raised garden, in order to dig up a prized potplant or effect her border patrol for illegal infiltrators, such as lizards or a random Scrub turkey. But she is a little depressed. She protests strongly each morning that we must walk out on the grassy footpath, as the astro turf just doesn’t cut it, when it comes to an appropriate place for Schnauzie wees and poos.

schnauzer animation
Say What?

For the minute though, I’ll relish the short walk to the shopping centre and library. I’ll swing by the bakery for freshly baked sourdough and pop around the corner for a Pizza and Peroni with the MOTH, at happy hour, without the worry of who’s driving home or being over the allowed alcohol limit for driving a car.

Running out of bread or forgetting the eggs is now batted away by me, as a minor inconvenience. Despite its shortcomings, the inner city hipster life does have its heady attractions.

Next stop – this awaits

Excuse me whilst I go sip some Chai or perhaps it’ll be a triple shot Mocha. Heavens, I might even take up cycling! It is all Something to Ponder About.

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Community

We are Building a House

I have never done it before.

Build a house, that is.

My husband has built a house before, with his father, so for him, this is not so special.

For me, this is my first and last time to decide how a new house might look from the ground up. I will never do it again. This is it.

new house
An example of the style of house we will build

There are so many things to decide. We have to chose absolutely everything – colours, tiles, mortar, grout, locks, window frames, cornice, shelves. For every part of the house and every single thing in it, there is a choice. A good thing, right? But it makes my head spin, just a little bit.

Sandgate foreshore

A Block of Land

First things first.

We recently purchased a block of land in a new development that was close by the water’s edge. We wanted to be near the water. Two people, done with raising a family, growing old in a house by the sea. Sunset walks along the water’s edge. Cool breezes in the sub-tropical summer. Sounds idyllic? We think and hope so.

You can almost see the Glass house Mountains from here

Selecting a block of land wasn’t as easy as we thought. I was very fussy about micro-climate and orientation. After living for many, many years in a house that was like a furnace in summer and a freezer in winter, I knew I was going to be particular about aspect. And I was lucky. I found one that ticked almost all the boxes.

schnauzer at beach
Rebel is looking forward to a #Seachange

The block in question was already registered with the governing body, as opposed to buying a pile of dirt way behind a barbed wire fence and shown only on a paper plan to prospective buyers. Whilst I was particular on the right environmental aspect, my husband was definitely not going to buy anything he couldn’t step on and feel, with his own hands. So we were lucky. We found it. First step done!

designing A house

Next we had to find a design we liked. Will the design we picked fit on the block of land, we wondered? My idea of this, might be a little different to local councils and also the idea of the land developers which is different to that of the builder. Negotiations await a pen pusher’s whim. We wait for that.

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Our land has two frontages, that is: it faces a street on one side and a smaller lane way on another. This is great because it gives us uninterrupted sea breezes and views.

However, there are certain rules about how close the house can be situated to the street and neighbouring houses, called setbacks. They don’t want you to build your house right next to the road, as they did in years gone by.

Knaegemoelle, Denmark – in this beautiful house you could reach out the window and touch the cars going by

What colour and materials will the exterior of our house be? How many windows? What type of fence will the garden have? How many plants will we get? The developer has a say in that too. It is called the covenant.

Banksia
Banksias love the coastal conditions

The developer in its wisdom, wants to keep selling their land for a good price and thus, they want to maintain certain standards for the houses getting built in their community. But when is a house really your own to design?

Soil Testing

The land was previously low lying land that was filled and raised by creating an artificial lake that opened to the sea. This is coastal land – a tidal area now filled in with soil and a lake.

Our block

This means the soil test showed the soil is saline and highly reactive. That translates to more expensive foundations for the house and raised garden beds. But who wants their house walls to crack when it rains, or doesn’t rain? It has to be done that way.

Inspired by Anne- Christine

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Something to Ponder About