The Grand Staircase

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I have always regarded these steps as simply the steps from the driveway to the verandah but last weekend my cousin referred to it as ‘the grand staircase’ which has a rather nice ring to it.

This project has been several years in the planning and some weeks in the execution but the entrance stairway has been replaced and is now completed.

This post shows the demolition of the old steps and creation of the replacement.

We have waited several weeks for the finishing touches which were done this week.  Instead of a swathe of fresh, grey concrete we now have a textured Covercrete finish in our chosen colours.  It provides a durable, non-slip surface which tones with the surrounding landscaping and painted wall.

The addition of the railing is primarily a safety feature but also adds to the overall effect of a grand entrance.

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A closer look.

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Looking down.

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It has taken a number of years but I feel like the entrance to our home is finally completed.

Fruits of Our Labours

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Sometimes you seem to spend ages beavering away in the background with not a lot to show for it.  Then it finally comes together.  Yesterday was one of those days.

After about 5 weeks without a door on the dining room, it is finally finished and re-hung.  However, it was much more than a 5 week job if you take into account all of the time (years) that it remained unpainted and the agonising debate over what colour to use. We are both extremely happy with the result so it was worth the wait.

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And the view when it is closed.

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Of course, GMan has identified a couple of minor touch-ups which require a steady hand so I have been seconded to do those and the glass needs a final clean as there are a spots of paint on it.

Whilst not completely finished, here are some progress photos of the entrance walkway/arbour that has been in progress for a few months.

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Yesterday we added the final cross rail as well as the wire of the lower sections.

Here is a close-up of one of the mandevilla creepers that we planted. I hope that in time they will cover most of structure.  We have planted 3 and need to buy one more.

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The lawn has been dug up from beneath the walkway and will be paved.  We also need to work our exactly what size and spacing we want for the slatted roof.

 

Insourcing

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Insourcing is a term that my friend Mimi from ‘A Tray of Bliss’ uses.  I don’t know whether it is an original term but it is basically the opposite of what so many businesses and households do – outsourcing.  So, insourcing is pretty much an alternative term for DIY.

It probably sums up a lot of what we do routinely – everything from growing food, gardening, sewing and even cooking meals.  However, I am nowhere near as diligent as Mimi when it comes to calculating the potential savings of learning and using skills instead of handing relatively simple tasks over to someone else.

However, the calculating was handed to me on a plate today when we received an email with a quote for replacing the outdoor steps and installing a handrail.  Upon reading it we saw the amount which had been allocated to removing and dumping the old pavers and timber sleepers.  This included the hire of 2 rubbish skips.

“We can do that!” These 4 simple words saved us almost $2,000.  Additionally, none of this will end up in landfill, we will have a pile of pavers that we can use for other projects as well as old hardwood sleepers that will provide firewood for next winter.

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I know that pulling up pavers is not for everyone but it is definitely worth looking around and seeing if there are things that you could do and create for yourself rather than parting with your hard-earned cash for what may even be an inferior product.

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We made a start this afternoon and will finish it on the weekend before the real work begins in earnest next week.

I can’t wait until this job is completed as it will provide a much improved entrance to our home.  The new steps will be concrete with a non-slip finish coloured to blend in with the surrounding rock walls and there will be no issues with pavers subsiding and causing a trip hazard.  The handrail will provide safer access, too.

Taking the Time

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Today we met the housesitters who will be taking care of our home while we are overseas later in the year.  We invited them to come and have a look around, meet the animals and generally get a feel for the place. We spent a few hours showing them around and explaining various aspects of the property.  During that time we had lunch on the verandah as it was a lovely day.

As we discussed various things it struck me how much of our home and garden is simply taken for granted or gets forgotten in the myriad of tasks which make up our day to day routine.  Time really appreciate what we have.

After our visitors had gone GMan and I spent a while out in the garden.  Apart from the mass of sweet potato plants in one of the raised vegetable gardens we also had some which had taken root in an old cut-down water tank which is one of our compost piles.  It was becoming entwined with the raspberry canes so we began to pull them out and realised that there were potatoes growing.  I started digging and this was the harvest.

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The next job was down by the bottom fence.  We planted a new tree which we had bought a couple of weeks ago.  It is a tropical birch and according to the label will be perfect for our climate, deciduous with colourful autumn foliage.  It is difficult to see but look closely.

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A little further along the fence is a callistemon which has come up self-sown.  It was almost choked with wed and entangled in the fence so with a bit of care it will hopefully become established.

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Speaking of autumn foliage, the liquidamber is showing the first signs of colour.  A few golden leaves are peeping through the green.

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This is a broader view of the same general area with the liquidamber tree to the left of the photo.  Being in a high rainfall area, everything grows easily and well but unfortunately, that includes weeds and unwanted trees and shrubs.  Most of the foliage to the right of the liquidamber is not particularly pleasant or useful so we have finally made a decision to have a substantial swathe of it lopped and mulched so that we can replant the area with more suitable plants.  Watch this space for before and after photos.  Hopefully it will happen before we leave on our trip.

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This is a view of some of the trunks and undergrowth of the area we plan to have cleared.

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Behind the 2 water tanks is a clear area where GMan planted some pawpaw seedlings  a few weeks ago.  These had been given to us and they seem to be doing quite well.  They are difficult to see but there are about eight plants through the centre of the photo.

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Finally, here is the front verge which is a selection of native shrubs which we started planting about 9 years ago and have extended a bit more since then.  A couple of weeks ago I noticed some unusual foliage higher than the rest of the shrubs and it turned out to be a tree which we had not planted and already reached a height of about 5 metres.  I am not sure what it was but am certain it was non-native and almost certainly an invasive weed so GMan cut it down last week with minimal damage to the surrounding shrubs.  It is a reminder that we need to keep a closer eye on what is growing here.

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As always, the garden is a work in progress and we have lots of plans.  I hope you have enjoyed checking out a little of our place.