redlands – dream garden

There’s a place just outside New Norfolk which I’ve always wanted to visit, and last weekend Wayne and I finally found the time to go and have a look around. Its called Redlands and used to be a huge farm with lots of outbuildings like its own blacksmith, bakery, distillery, etc.

It still has a distillery where they make their own whiskey and schnapps. Good stuff. Oh, and the bakery is also a going concern now – its not open for visitors but it bakes artisan bread which is sold through some local shops.

You know I’m a sucker for old signs.

And old buildings. The distillery shop is inside what looks like it may have once been a dairy, wonderful stone floors and thick stone walls. Unfortunately the photos I took inside suck.

This is part of the distillery.

Then of course there are tons of old buildings, some in better conditions that others. I’m not sure if they’re in use or not.

This is the old oast house.

This is the workers’ quarters. Amazing. There’s talk they want to restore these rooms as tourist accommodation. 

I love it all. Especially the garden. Its the kind of garden I dream of… the kind of garden I would have loved to grow up with. Its the kind of garden fairies flit around in and leprechauns live in.

There are trees with branches which hang down to the ground, creating ideal secret hiding places… love the sitting area comprised of tree stumps under these birches.

The ducks enjoy a bit of shade on a hot day.

No garden is complete without a cubby house!

And the flowers! Huge trees with hydrangeas growing happily underneath them.

Stone wall fences and more hydrangeas… old fashioned and new varieties. Beautiful. And much happier than mine in the shade of the big trees.

If I had this canopy over my garden I’d spend more time sitting in the garden reading or just relaxing.

I love Redlands. Our garden will never look like that. But hopefully I’ll soon have a garden full of pretty flowers and interesting corners. And an area to sit and relax in the shade.

making do and interesting things

 My cousin Zefi’s house in the commune that’s known as ‘Souvlia’ used to be the boat shed and garage. It was built on a slope so the front is a couple of steps down. As a result its darker than most of the houses on Souvlia, but no cooler. In fact, being at the back of the block, with other buildings as windbreaks, it doesn’t get the full force of the wind – great when you want to sit on the porch for a drink, terrible if you want a cool breeze to cool down.

Despite that, Zefi has made it into a gorgeous place. Thanks to her mom’s fossicking, her husband’s good taste and Zefi’s practical mind, the place is pretty, traditional and totally user friendly.

I love her old island couches. I’ve tried to find this type of couch in Australia as its the ideal outdoor couch. Its not so comfy as a living room couch, but so pretty.

I love the big dresser as well, in the traditional dark timber. Zefi’s grandfather on her mom’s side used to be a carpenter and he made some beautiful pieces.

 I love the lace on the shelves inside the glass cabinets.  My aunt Dora has it in her kitchen in her house as well.

 One thing I love to do when I’m here (or anywhere for that matter) is look at shops. I love looking at shops. Sometimes I see things I want to buy, something I see things which inspire me. Whatever. I love to look at shops.

In the market street in Parikia there’s a traditional old homeware/grocery store. Its been there as long as I can remember. They now sell more stuff to tourists than to locals I’m sure, but its the only place I saw one of these:

 Its apparently a dough bowl of some sort. You put the bread dough in it to rise. I find myself needing one of these… I never make bread, but I’m sure I’ll find a good use for it.

I also love these things:

Sieves of all sizes with all different wire thicknesses… from flour sieves to lentil and bean sieves. Pretty cute.

At the other end of the shopping scale are the home decorator stores… not very different to the type of stuff I see in Australia. Still pretty displays and colours though.

Colourful outdoor cushions with jute and bling tassels and fish, naturally.

Burlap mini cushions and a jute string bowl on a lace table runner.

A beautiful simple white bowl.

A rope and sailcloth lamp.

Table centre piece of sea urchins minus spikes, shells and starfish.

I found an antique/second hand shop which has some beautiful things in it but this one was right up my alley: old windows with photos in them.


I even found a shop which sells marble things. Like a marble sink… why have a ceramic butler sink when you can have the real thing? And this slab of carved marble which you can put in your garden and run a tap through.

 A tap like this! Isn’t this a beauty?

Or, if you prefer, you can buy marble columns. Cause no house is complete without marble columns.


 Of course, there are tons of places which are done up beautifully whether they’re shops or cafes or restaurants. Sometimes its something simple like these fish at a taverna by the sea:

Sometimes its way more elaborate, like the boat/couch at this bar in Parikia.

And these door coffee tables.

There just aren’t enough door or window signs though, like this one on a closed antique shop.


And I love this sign on a cafe.

I haven’t been inside many hotels, but the couple I have been into have some interesting items in their lobbies and bars. Like this lamp …

This wooden trough is now a frame for a wooden boat.

Obviously made by the same artist, this boat wall clock at the Paros Bay Hotel.

And a ton of these fishing boats.

This is my favourite. I love the humour in the little paper sailboats.

A couple of little shops in Naoussa, a small town on the other side of Paros, have gorgeous displays. Right up my alley.


Closer to home, I found some interesting ways to deal with the small issues life throws at you. This is my uncle’s solution to the wind taking his umbrella along with the small table.

It might take up a bit of table space, but it works.

My fish bowl has a new spot among the shell collection in my aunt Flora’s kitchen.

The oven in the main house has a dodgey door, so the kokones (a name we call the aunts) have found a simple solution.

Aunt Marisa has found a cute way to cover the electricity panel in the hallway using a hand woven mat.

In her house a little down the road, my aunt Dora has a small corner where she keeps her ancient sewing maching, which she still uses, and a few items from her mother’s house.

You can always tell a greek house, cause there is always an icon somewhere in it. I now have my own icon, my very first. My aunt Xeni gave it to me. I’ll have to find a spot in my home for it when I get back. My decor will be shabby-greek…

Love the old irons with the big base to hold hot coals.


antique on a greek island

I’ve been walking through the old town and looking around. So far all I’ve seen are the main ‘streets’ – the old Agora (‘market street’ to all you non-greeks) and some of the bigger side streets with shops.
I’ll soon start exploring all the old streets I explored when I was a kid, during the imposed siesta time. My brother and I would sneak out and explore. I know the streets of the old town like the back of my hand… Oops. When did I get that scratch?
Whenever anyone new would visit I’d meet them at the ferry and walk them to my grandmother’s house. Approximately a 6 minute walk. I’d take them up one narrow cobblestone street, down another, doubling back and winding around till I wore them out. I knew they’d never find their way out again…( insert evil laugh).
We moved back to Greece in 1970, ostensibly cause I got bad asthma living in the Riverina area of NSW (aka the marijuana growing region to everyone who’s watched Underbelly). The doctor said I was allergic to fruit bearing trees and grass. Years later I began to wonder what ‘grass’ he meant.
Whatever, the result was that dad packed us up to move back to Greece and its dry climate. Mom always said that after God created the world he had a pocketful of rocks left over so he tossed them in Greece. Its a rocky land but much greener than you’d think, or than I remember it.
But back to wondering the streets. I’ve been unlucky so far in locating a tip of any sort where I can rummage and find old bits and pieces, but I have located one antique shop which happened to be open when I walked past yesterday.
Inside I found tons of stuff I’d love to take home with me… apparently they do post things all over the world… in case you’re wondering.
These old corner roof tiles are gorgeous. Mom has some dad collected years ago, only dad did what most people did back then – he painted them terracota so they look new. I wonder if I can sandblast the paint off them…
I had no idea what these were so I had to ask – they are the stamp/moulds bakers use when baking ‘arto’ for the church. Arto is a blessed bread handed out at services and it always has a pretty pattern on top. Now I know how they get it!
They had antique coffee grinders… the square more regular looking types and the tall brass ones which look like pepper mills.
I wonder if Wayne would like one of the brass coffee grinders for his morning coffee?
Brass coffee grinders sitting in a dough kneading bowl.
No greek antique shop would be complete without part of an old fishing boat or ceramic urns.
A lot of people put a round slab of marble on top of these and make them into tables. My uncle has one on the verandah outside the big room. I’ll be doing a tour of Souvlia soon – that’s the country house on Paros.
Then I found something for Wayne – these old metal curry combs! Aren’t they cool? They look more like instruments of torture though. When I asked the shop owner what they were she said they were horse brushes….
“But wait” she said, “that’s not a brush. THIS is a brush!” and she held up this:
A wool carding brush.
That has got to be the biggest slicker brush I’ve ever seen in my life!
So, reckon I should get this for Wayne? I could hang it on the wall and hang my necklaces from it! I mean, how unusual is that?!
Hey, he got me a nail gun which he uses, why can’t I buy something for me to use? huh?
Antique greek chests.
 This old coat rack reminds me of some relatives house… not sure who’s but I know I’ve seen them before. Wickedly big hooks huh?
I collect scales. I don’t have one of these though…
What about this old dough kneading trough? I can surely use one of these in my house!
My passion of course, is old metal things with rust and patina. Like this old thing from over a heavy iron door.
And more iron – bedheads and grates.
I had no idea what this was either, but its from an old mill – the timber has bits of rock in it which have been worn down. It was used to grind wheat. I guess its an old ‘grindstone’!
Beautiful isn’t it?
The little wooden pouch is what herbs were kept in.
Now these things I’ve fallen in love with. I don’t ever remember seeing them before, at least not in this shape. They’re little icon cubbies – you put an icon and a candle in them in your home.
I want one. Or both.
This I do remember. Mom had one somewhere. Of course it was painted (thanks dad) with anti-rust black. Its an old iron. Unlike the old irons I’ve seen in Australia which are solid iron and were placed on top of hot coats, these irons opened up and you would put hot coals inside them.
I wonder if mom still has hers…
An old press. Not sure what it would have been used for originally.
Antique chips anyone?
 I love these wooden spoons. They’re actual spoons made of wood, not wooden spoons. If that makes sense. They’re not for cooking but for eating.
Some cute three-legged stools.
These were used when spinning yarn. Don’t ask me how. I just photograph the stuff! Notice the wacky coat rack on the  right? I didn’t. Or what looks like some kind of insulator bottom right. Man. Good thing I take photos!
I wonder how much stuff I can fit in my suitcase?
The antique shop I took these photos in is called Kamara and you can contact them on
But you can’t buy the little icon thingies! Those are MINE!

grandma’s house

On the way to my grandma’s house.
 This morning mom and I went to my grandmother’s old house to do a quick clean cause Petro is coming tomorrow. He always stays in the old house in town.
This house is where my mother was born and grew up. Its in the old town of Parikia on Paros. I’ve already mentioned that my grandfather was a fisherman and my grandmother was a seamstress. They raised 7 children in this old house.
The house to the four daughters but mom said she was happy to sign her share over so we don’t have a share in the old house. However while my grandparents were alive we spent many years staying there during our summer holidays.
It holds a lot of memories for me.
The narrow cobblestone street I know so well, grandma’s house is the one behind the overgrown vines.
The old house is a typical one in the old town. At least for the struggling classes. It has hugely thick stone walls, a cement floored downstairs room and a timber floored upper storey. Downstairs is one big room which was kitchen, living space, dining room, and bedroom. I’m not sure what the upstairs looked like when mom was a kid, but when I was growing up it was one large room with a dining table in the middle and 4 single beds around it, 2 small rooms, one with a single bed and one with a double bed.
The front door to grandma’s house. So many of the old doors have similar curtains in the windows.
My grandmother would roll over in her grave if she knew I was sharing photos of the house in such a mess, but she’s long gone and it belongs to my aunt now. Besides, the house has been empty since last summer. We can all excuse a bit of a mess.
The downstairs room as seen from the staircase in the back.
There are two ways to get upstairs. An outside staircase made of cement and an inside narrow timber one. Unfortunately the inside one’s been replaced. All that remains of the original is the trapdoor and ceiling. My aunt is nothing if not handy. She’s fixed, tiled, rennovated and updated the house within an inch of its life. Luckily she appreciates the past so she’s not into throwing out the old things.
The narrow steep stairs and the trapdoor. Made for very short people.
At the top of the stairs is the tiny store room which I’ve mentioned before. I used to sleep in the little room the trapdoor opens into and this little storeroom was opposite my bed. When I couldn’t sleep I’d go sit in there, in the breeze from the open window, and look through my grandmother’s old fashion magazines.
The tiny store room. The cement sink and the cupboard underneath with a cute curtain. Love the greek curtains.
Mom tells me this was originally a storeroom. Then when my oldest aunt (Xeni) was being courted, they made it into a small kitchen so they could give her the upstairs part of the house to live in. She didn’t marry any of the young bucks chasing her and the tiny kitchen ended up a store room again.
What’s odd is that the sink in this little room (and the downstairs one for that matter) is cement. I’d never thought about that before.
The ceiling in the store room has limed white beams and bamboo above the old chimney.
A small cupboard in the little store room.
A cupboard over the trapdoor in the room I used to sleep in.
Another cubbyhole cupboard in the wall with a cute curtain door.
Downstairs my aunt has kept things pretty much as my grandmother had them, with the addition of a bathroom and toilet in the tiny store room, a new fridge and some new wardrobes. She sleeps on my grandparent’s old bed at the far end of the room. Its a cast iron bed with brass details.
I like my grandmother’s little bed ‘doily’ to protect the brass.
Naturally there are tons of photos, some in newer frames, some in really interesting old ones.

Mom’s family minus one.
 One thing I really really want (well one of the many things) is one of these old door handles. They used to be everywhere but so many people have thrown out the old doors and the handles with them. I keep asking and no one has one for me. 
If only I could find where people throw their old stuff!
This one’s a little cat!
You already know I’m a sucker for old hardware…
Wonder if this one will fit in my suitcase?
This ‘goodmorning’ mirror was a gift to my grandparents for their wedding.
 You gotta love the ingenious wardrobe solution…
The old ‘tapestry’ over the bed, and the old cotton mattress my parents used to sleep on.
None of these things have changed as long as I remember the house.
Like the old worn floorboards which creak badly and which are full of gaps and holes that my brother and I used to use to spy on people downstairs. We used to feed fishing line down the holes sometimes and tickle people sitting on the couch or at the table, making them think there were flies around them.
Ah, the old days when we were young and not so sweet…
Downstairs when you look up you see the underside of the floorboards. The huge beam holding up the roof (or floor depending on which side of it you’re on) used to the mast of an old ship which sank off the coast of Paros.
I love the old house with its old flaking walls and timber that’s almost more paint than timber now.

a trip down memory lane part 1

I spent some time visiting with my aunt Xeni yesterday (Thia Xeni to us). She lives downstairs from our home in Athens. The two sisters (my mom, Mary, and Xeni) bought this block of land in the 50s and built a duplex, two houses side by side. 
Thia’s house has not changed since we arrived in Athens in 1970. In fact, it probably hasn’t changed since the day she got married in the 60s sometime.
I looked through her house and found all kinds of memories. Like this great photo of the family. Don’t ask me why its in colour. Someone, somewhere along the line got it blown up and colourized. This photo is from the 1930s.
My grandmother sitting in the middle holding my mom’s second youngest brother. From left to right: my aunt Anna in blue, Xeni in white, no idea who the one in gold is, then most likely mom’s oldest brother Yianni, Giorgo on grandma’s lap, mom on the right in white. At that age I think I looked like mom.
 Thia Xeni’s house is full of her old furniture, as I said. She knows I love old stuff so she says “When I die, cause you know I have heart problems, I could go at any time” (she’s always ‘going at any time’, she’s 86 and she’ll most likely outlive us all!) “I want you to come and take anything you want”.
Then she proudly shows me her gorgeous old lounge suite which has never had its covers off. Its in mint condition. The old buffet and dining table and chairs…
Everything is always covered. I couldn’t get decent photos!
I love her crystal chandeliers in the living room, dining room and even a small one near the door where the original hallway would have been before they opened up the space to make the house more open plan.
She has the original double bed she bought when she got married, in that spotty laminated timber, with its matching bedside tables, wardrobe and vanity. “They’re fine” she says, “why would I need to change them?”
She’d probably have a fit that I’m showing her bedroom to the world… Don’t tell her!
Notice the retro wallpaper? Its so kitch its cool!
I told her I’d be back for her chandeliers and her furniture. She’s resting easy now.
But it was when I went into the bedroom that I started planning a trip to ransack her house. She has my grandmother’s old Singer!

And she still uses it!
My grandmother on mom’s side was a seamstress. I remember spending many siesta hours on Paros, where house rules were you lay down during the hours of 2-5 whether you liked it or not, going through all my grandmother’s old fashion magazines. I bet they’ve all been thrown out now, but back then there were piles of them in the storeroom and I’d go through and read the articles from the 50s and 60s.
Maybe that’s where my love for old stuff started. I was warped at a young age.
My aunt has our old bookcase. My uncle Yianni made this for us when we moved to Greece in 1970. It was made for the bedroom my brother and I shared in the old house downstairs. Its a bookcase with 2 pull-down sections which served as our desks.

Ah memories… Sharing a room with a little brother who loved onions… who’d come into the bedroom and breath over my bed to stink it up before bedtime.

I really didn’t like my brother that much back then. I love him now though. He’s my little brother.

I definitely believe we appreciate our family more the older we get. I know I do.


decorating with imagination

As you know, I have a thing about decorating. I love looking at decorating books, websites and magazines. Last week I checked some books out of the library hoping to find some inspirations for our home (it pays to plan in advance) so I thought I’d share some photos from one book which really struck me as things to keep in mind.

Since I can’t link back to a website for these photos here are the book details:
Hand Made Home – Living with art and craft by Mark & Sally Bailey, Ryland Peters & Small ISBN 978-1-84975-155-1

Of course the book was jam packed full of great photos, textures, colours, spaces and wonderful ideas. I couldn’t include them all, but here is a taste.

This bathroom wall made from vintage ceiling tiles holds a collection of vintage garden tools. I just love collections of things. I have a few collections and I’m always expanding the number of collections and the collections themselves. So far, of course, the hands-down winner is the poodle collection. I don’t think any of the others stands a chance against the poodles.

But then, there’s only so much decorating you can do with poodle figurines and stuffed toys… unless you’re aiming for “early Sandra Dee”…

A wobbly handcrafted bowl holds a wonderful collection of old coppy and brass watering can roses. Now I feel the need to find and collect watering can roses!

A weathered old table, a new sink & mixer tap, an old framed mirror stripped to bare wood create a rustic feel in this bathroom. Gotta love that combination of new and old.

Ditto here, new sink and tap on an old cupboard for the kitchen.

I probably won’t do this in my kitchen, but I do want a butler’s sink, a long gooseneck tap and chunky timber benchtops with white timber cupboards. I don’t want a modern, all built-in kitchen, but I don’t have that kind of space to play with.

I just love this free, expressionistic painting of chickens. I am inspired…. I want to make one of my own featuring our own chooks.

Below, gorgeous simple curtains made from stitching together natural linen towels with pieces of gingham for a bit of colour. And a curtain made from pieces of sheer fabric sewn together in a graphic pattern to form a sheer curtain which allows filtered light into the room.

Love these handmade apples made by artist Eiko Yoshida, using twigs, recycled paper, magazines, envelopes (complete with stamps) and corrugated cardboard.

Clever and very pretty. If I had the patience I think I could make something like this.

Now, that I’ve lulled you into a false sense of security regarding the beauty of this blog contents, here is a reality check.

I went into the office to find this the other day:

Yep. That was the new, still in its box, magnetic flyscreen I bought to try out on the outside door. And yep, Barney got bored and ate it.

This is Barney – a wiry haired black mut of mixed parentage.

This is Mischa. His poor long suffering mother. She lies in the office doorway, guarding and being good while Barney finds things to chew.

If he doesn’t find some manners soon this house will once more become a Barney Free Zone.

Meanwhile, our plumber is finally here, replacing all those pipes. The yard actually looks worse now than when Wayne started digging up pipes over a week ago. Its rained this week, and let me just say, the poodles who were formerly white are now a dusty brown.

Hopefully this is it for the big jobs around here. For now at least. We’re both over the big stuff. Oh, I know there is more big stuff to come (don’t tell Wayne, but I have plans…) however it’d be nice to have water that runs out of the shower when it should, doors that close as they should, etc.

Then I can concentrate on the smaller projects I can take care of myself!