Majestic 40 at Gardener's Ridge

building a Wisdom Majestic in North Kellyville


Pool build July to September 2017




With the pool build imminent it is time to dig out the brochures and have another stab at choosing a mosaic tile before it affects the pool build critical path. Time to also commit to a pool interior finish from ‘Jewels for Pools’.

Jewels for Pools

No idea on pool finish so pick the first one that takes my fancy, bl4, and ask the very helpful lady in the pool office if they have any photos of it from completed pools.

Jewels4pools bl4

[ Jewels for Pools: bl4 ]

Strike it lucky! Great photo of the lining combined with beautiful Ezarri water line tiles.

Back to the tile shops but nothing in the included price range speaks to me. Time to upgrade for a bit of bling! Hello Ezarri! Luckily they sent out samples immediately, decision made:

Pool water line tiles:

Ezarri Iris Azur




Ezarri Arctic Light

Ezarri Arctic Light

[ Arctic light mix is 70% Iris Azur ]

Did I mention ‘we’ also decided to fully tile the spa at the same time?



Pool is ready for concreting.

The pool and spa plumbing is in plus all the lights. The formwork goes up for the concreting and a stream of concrete lorries and a pump arrive.

Prepped and ready collage


Spray concreting the pool:

Spa spray concreting


Pool & spa concreting completed collage

The pool is left to cure and we go off on to the UK for six weeks leaving our eldest son to spray the pool down twice a day to help the curing process. Before we go a quick trip to Amber Tiles to choose the pool coping and pavers:

Amber Limestone Marseille

[Limestone ‘Marseille’ 600 x 400 mm]


Landscaping starts whilst the pool is curing. Concrete footings go in for the raised flower bed and small side retaining wall. The plumbing is covered in sand and road base to protect it.

Planter box footings

Aug Cured pool & coping

[ Prepped and ready for the tiler ]

Tiler does coping, water line tiles and then the spa. Tiles look amazing in the sunshine.

Tiling under way

Spa full tiling


 Lots of work before the footings for the feature wall are poured. Plumbing for the pool, spa and rain tank is carried out plus irrigation lines are reinstalled in conduit. Work starts on the feature wall and the raised bed is finished.

Raised brick bed before render

Electrician comes to install the safety cut off for the spa and install electricity in the wall for the artwork, a metal light box from

Urban Design Systems metal artwork

warratah day

waratah night

[Waratah photos from Urban Design Systems]

The pool surround steel reo goes in to reinforce the pavers and rain tank area. Prior to the concrete being poured we pay to have all the pipe work pressure tested to ensure there are no leaks. The concrete is poured and cures then the limestone pavers are laid.

pavers concrete poured


pavers laid and feature wall bricked

The feature wall and raised flower bed are rendered and the pool fencers measured up for the frameless glass fencing.

rendered feature wall

rendered raised bed

Pool equipment installed and huge sound absorbing pool filter box to house it all.

pool equipment

[ ]

End of September

The holiday weekend saw hubby working hard and painting the new render in Dulux Hogs Bristle after it had cured.




[ The red button on the pillar at the RHS is the emergency spa cut off]

The pool glass fencing is due to go in at the end of the first week of October and then the pool lining can be done.

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Pool Build Timeline: Plans and Excavation


Here we are at the beginning of Spring and our pool build is progressing well. All going well the pool and landscaping should be completed within a month.

We signed the contract for a concrete pool and spa in March and the plans were certified in May. Below are our pool plans and initial landscaping thoughts:

Pool and landscaping plan


Construction Timeline:


Prep time for the pool build.

One lawn – slightly used – free to a good home!

Turf cutting


Rather than the lawn be dug up and disposed of by the pool company we gave it to friends up the road for their back garden. They hired a turf cutter and we spent a full on weekend cutting, rolling, transporting and then laying it before the pool build commenced. I don’t think I’ll ever get a job laying turf! I see a lot of lawn sand and rolling in our friends’ future…


Tiling and Pavers

We’ve been to a few pool and spa shows in Sydney and Melbourne to get ideas for the whole pool area. I’d created a Look Book of ideas and concepts from the glossy magazines you can pick up there to help with the initial pool design and landscaping.

For coping and paving I was pretty sure that my heart was set on Travertine right up until we chose Limestone.

Nothing seemed to leap out at me for the pool mosaic tiles, I just knew I wanted something with a bit of bling. At the shows there was too much to choose from and in the tile shops nothing caught my fancy. Decision shelved until inspiration strikes.


Action stations! Pool site supervisor marked and pegged out the site

pool excavation picmonkey

Pool excavated – fingers crossed we don’t hit rock.

We hit rock…

Fortunately, it was at the depth we needed to stop at for two thirds of the pool. The other third cost additional $ to jack hammer out.

Steelwork and plumbing went in. Due to ‘H’ class soil and a thick band of clay extra steel required at additional $.

pool steelwork PicMonkey

Next post : Construction Timeline: July/ August – Concreting and Landscaping


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One year on

Well it has been a while since I last posted but here is an update on what has been happening.

In February this year we had our last outstanding PCI and maintenance issue completed. We’ve now been in our home for fifteen months and love it. We’ve been busy bees in this time and completed the landscaping, planned the pool and installed solar power.

Landscaping and Rain Garden
Everything has taken well except for the small Kangeroo Paws. I was so worried about over watering them that I went the wrong way and under watered instead.




The grevillea seem happy and the birds are already visiting to feed on it. Next door’s bamboo seems even happier as it has spread to our side of the fence.




Check out the grass. As I’m at home all day I offered to take over grass cutting duties if we bought a petrol mower I could start. Faster than a speeding bullet my husband turned up with this Victa petrol mower with battery start ignition:


He says it is the best money he’s ever spent! Funnily enough he didn’t criticize my wonkey donkey lines or the fact I managed to scalp one of the pipes on my first attempt. I’m pleased to report that I am getting better with practice. I also now use a Ryobi edger with a lethal looking  blade to get a sharp clean edge, each time I use it I wonder if this will be the time I sever the irrigation pipes.
Rain Garden
The rain garden gets the most interest out of any of my blog posts. As far as I can tell it seems to be functioning well and I managed to catch a photo of it in action during the last torrential downpour of which we’ve had a few recently:


Next up is getting the pool. We chose a house design which is long and narrow in order to have the space to put a lap pool down the side at some future point. We’ve just signed a contract with Jade Pools for a 10.5m x 3.2m concrete lap pool and a 2 x 2m spa.
It has been harder than I thought to plan the pool and also to conform to BASIX (Building Sustainability Index) requirements.
NSW BASIX pools and spas
Once we had a plan we pegged it out in situ to see if it worked.


We even hauled chairs out to sit in the ‘spa’ and see if it felt the right size. I’m sure the neighbours thought we were mad if they saw us doing it.
Then back to the drawing board to tweak it yet again.
The pool company then hit us with all our BASIX requirements as we were > 40000 litres. So now we need to squeeze in another rain tank of approximately 3000 litres and a pool cover. Pool cover no problem but finding space for the tank was a challenge due to the size of our block.

In between all our planning the large property behind us has sold and so we are now considering putting some sort of privacy screening up, probably a pergola of some sort.

I took the opportunity to look at metal artwork for the pool area when I was on a trip to Melbourne recently.

I visited Entanglements:


and Lump:


[photo courtesy of Lump]

So my plan is to blog about our pool build over the next few months. I’ll also blog about our solar panels which miraculously survived the massive hail storm but that’s a story for another time…


Landscaping … The End is Nigh

The end of May saw our landscapers return after a slight hiatus whilst they created a show home garden at Oran Park. The irrigation people also turned up and installed a Hunter X-Core computerised system so it was all systems go.

GR May 2016 036

Meanwhile we bought a Dulux paint sprayer ready to use on the timber side fences when they are done. First up we practiced on the existing back fence where raw timber was exposed after it had settled. Next was the rendered letterbox and retaining wall which still needs a final coat of Dulux Weathershield in Hogs Bristle once all the landscaping is finished.

rendering collage

Rain Garden  

It is hard to believe that the huge pit is now a shallow depression thanks to the retaining wall and more layers of sand, gravel plus a top dressing of loam. I’ve put a lot of effort into making sure we abided by the guidelines but yet managed to have something both functional and interesting. Time will tell how successful I was.


  • Required dimensions from our Instrument 88B:
    • Area = 13.29m2
    • Volume = 1.89 m3
  • Batters: Height= 150mm, Width= 450mm
  • Separate new Outlet Pit as rain garden is now higher than the Inter-Allotment drainage pit
  • Surge pit 150mm lower than the new Outlet Pit
  • Total Depth minimum 800mm comprising of three layers:
    • Bottom layer of gravel minimum 150mm
    • Transition (middle) layer of fine sand minimum 100mm
    • Top layer of loamy sand mix minimum 400mm
  • Planting with at least 50% Carex, Sedge or Melaleuca
  • Mulch of river stone, basalt or sandstone

The layers of the rain garden make it resemble a layered cake:

three layered cake

[image from: zig-zags-over-the-rainbow-cake from]

With the extra layers to raise the height our rain garden now appears more like:

Betty Crocker six layer cake

[image from Betty Crocker:Betty Crocker Rainbow cake]

The garden has been scraped down 100mm, stones, bricks and builders rubbish removed and decent soil spread ready for the lawn of Sir Walter Buffalo turf. The Irrigation system is in with drip feed to the flower beds and pop up sprinkler heads for the lawns. The control box is installed in the garage and weather sensor will be installed once the fence is.

Enough talking here’s some progress photos:

The rain garden taking shape:

Rain Garden planting Collage

I enjoyed choosing the native plants at Plantmark and enjoyed it even more when the landscapers planted them for me 🙂

Rain Garden Planting:

Raingarden Planting Collage

[Plus Anigozanthos Bush Revolution, Ficinia nodosa and Xanthorrhoea glauca]

The 1.5m rear easement has been planted up with a mix of banksia, grevillea and callistemon (bottlebrush) which will eventually form a privacy hedge in case our neighbour’s bamboo hedge disappears. Hopefully these plants will also encourage the birds to visit from nearby Cattai Creek too.

Rear Easement Planting:

Rear Easement Planting Collage

Shaded side path planting of Philodendron:

Side Planting Collage

[standard and Philodendron ‘Gold Bullion’]


GR Landscaping 09-07-16 030

[Xanthorrhoea johnsonii & Kangaroo Paw]

I’m pleased with how the rain garden and ‘river’ of lucky stones turned out:


GR Landscaping 08-07-16 001

[Plenty of opportunities for shots of it in the rain at the moment…]

The last plant was in and I was off back to the UK an hour later, talk about cutting it fine. Fast forward a month and the fencers visited in my absence.

X marks the spot … or not.

Despite both a flag and the landscaper highlighting the irrigation pipe the fencers managed to put a post smack bang through the pipes. That turf is now well and truly watered in…

Fence looks good though and so far has stood up to some high winds.

Now I’m back and the landscapers have returned to edge the rain garden and roll the lawn. The gates are being made as I write and will be installed next week and then that is phase 2 of the landscaping complete.

Front, back and sides:

Not the first cut of the lawn but the finished photos  🙂


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GR Landscaping 05-07-16 004


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and sides:

GR Landscaping 05-07-16 007

[Austral Heron block retaining wall in ‘Limestone’]

GR Landscaping 08-07-16 005

GR Landscaping 08-07-16 007

[Now I have my Hills Hoist in the rain seems never ending…]

Phase 3 will be transforming this 6 metres wide lawn at the side into a lap pool and spa. No time frame on that yet, its not going to be in by the Summer of 2016 but hopefully by the following Summer.

Meanwhile back at the ranch …

Seven months on and PCI, Handover and Maintenance issues are still dragging on but whilst I was away the fire place was fixed and then Hubby painted it. He was tempted to follow our neighbour’s recommendation and paint it burgundy but used the Dulux ‘Gaiety Tan’ we’d previously agreed on.

GR Landscaping 09-07-16 005





Landscaping Phase Two

So Phase One is 99.9% complete.

The renderers came and did an excellent job on the wall and post box. Then just as they finished it began to rain so they had to scramble to cover everything up. That huge orange tarpaulin from the concreting came in very handy!

Coffs Harbour April 2016 172

Coffs Harbour April 2016 157

We had our quote for Phase Two and that starts this week and then with fingers crossed and a following wind we should have our landscaping finished in a fortnight. I have already been out to look at self propelled key operated petrol mowers for me in anticipation.

However as I think I have only ever mown the lawn once in my life this could prove interesting. I’ve decided that as I am now a lady of leisure I should take over this task from my hubby who is working his socks off. Our 21 year old did do it when we first arrived in Australia but after catching him mowing in thongs I lectured him on safety and the importance of wearing closed shoes against blades, spiders and snakes and he never did it again…

The landscaping being finished also means that I can have a drying area again. So off I went to Masters and came back with an iconic Hills Hoist dryer and it is a monster!

Coffs Harbour April 2016 169

So that’s two Aussie icons a Victa mower and the Hills Hoist. How long until I find my sons eyeing it up for a round of Goon of Fortune?

Goon of Fortune

Speaking of icons we had a short break up to Coffs Harbour last week and came across this Aussie Icon

Coffs Harbour April 2016 039

I’ve added it to my list, so far I’ve seen

Aussie icons 3 Collage

Speaking of Goon of Fortune here’s an icon I’d like to visit:

Stanley-Wine cask icon

Picture courtesy of fivedollartraveller



Phase One Landscaping

Phase One is nearly complete with the concrete side path going in today. I was up for both the sunrise and the concrete truck at 7am. There was no hanging around and the path took shape very quickly.

Prepped road base, reo & formwork:

RHS path formwork collage


RHS Path complete Collage

We have gone for a plain charcoal concrete path rather than the uber spray coated fleck we have on the driveway. The difference should not be so noticeable as it will be behind the gate.

I was keen to maybe liven it up with some leaf imprints and the odd gum nut impression as seen at King’s Park Botanical Gardens in Perth but decided plain was easiest in the end.

leaf prints Collage

The LHS double brick retaining wall is in and due to be rendered next week and then that will be phase one complete.

GR 16-04-16 010

Our cheapo postbox pole has died a death and the post box now lives on the garden waste bin. After a quick quote from the landscaper they bricked up a permanent one on Friday all ready for the renderer. This entailed me doing a quick tour of the neighbourhood before breakfast to see what everyone else had chosen followed by a trip to Masters and Bunnings to choose the fittings. Notice I didn’t say a quick trip as it took me awhile to choose but I’m pleased with what I came away with in the end.

letterbox Collage

I had already taken delivery of a house sign that will go on the letterbox to the left of the fittings. True to form after browsing the internet I chose the bees knees.


Then after I picked myself off the floor at the price I chose a more modest sign off Groupon. A bit chalk and cheese but I like the overall look it will give.

Blankwall signage

We’ve received our irrigation quote and walked through what we want in phase two of the landscaping. Hopefully that quote will arrive this weekend.

When we were discussing our irrigation requirements I asked for it to be run off our recycled water system. So when he went to test the water pressure he pointed out that I don’t actually have a recycled water meter.

No 7 Willandra Cres recycled water 001

So much for me being observant, I thought I’d covered all the bases at PCI and handover!

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Maintenance Inspection and Landscaping

Fourteen weeks in and Easter is upon us, on Maundy Thursday we had both our Maintenance Inspection and the PCI tradies scheduled to finally complete the outstanding work.

This required a bit of prep to distinguish between the two as little pieces of blue painters tape are still dotted around the house where the site supervisor marked flaws at both our PCI and Handover. So I improvised and bought a roll of green painters tape to highlight the maintenance issues.

Behold a selection of maintenance issues:

Maintenance 2 Collage

The inspection went well and they only refused to replace one scratched kitchen overhead cupboard door as ‘the defect cannot be seen in daylight from 1.5 metres away’. Annoying as it is only visible at night under the LED lights but hey ho they agreed to the rest of the issues raised. I did ask when they would be doing the work and that I hoped they would be faster than the SS and the PCI issues.

Speaking of which the army of tradies didn’t descend en masse but two came and completed a couple of jobs and one more is booked in for after Easter. At this rate the maintenance supervisor will complete his list before the site supervisor.

On to more exciting things – the landscaping has started!

Phase 1 Landscaping:

I was going to blog about this when phase one was finished but Tom in Brisbane wants photos. We aim to please 🙂

We are very pleased with the landscaping so far, they are working hard and setting a cracking pace. It is taking shape before our eyes. The RHS retaining wall in Limestone Austral Heron Block is completed and awaiting the ag pipe for drainage. The rear retaining wall also in Austral Heron Block is nearly completed. The concrete footings are in for the LHS retaining wall and the bricks will be delivered after the Easter weekend with the double brick wall due to be completed by the end of that week. Its all go. The RHS concrete path will then complete phase one.

Proof of the pudding:

Day 1:

Day 1 GR landscape

Rear retaining wall:

We have a 1.5 metre easement for storm water running across the back of our lot which you cannot build on hence the placement of our rear retaining wall. You can however plant on it and I will have a screening bed of Australian native bushes to attract both the birds and insects and to give another level of privacy in front of our neighbour’s bamboo.

Rear Wall Collage

RHS retaining wall:

RHS retaining wall Collage

I am busy planning phase two and hopefully next week we have a meeting to plan the reticulation system we would like to put in.

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13 Week Maintenance Period


It’s hard to believe that we have been in our new home for thirteen weeks already. Our maintenance shakedown period has come to an end and we had to supply Wisdom last week with a list of any issues that had arisen.

I’m pleased to say that the list isn’t very long and there isn’t anything major on it. The only clanger seems to be all our ceiling fans are wired incorrectly. The three speeds are set as:

  1. Super fast
  2. Slow
  3. Fast

So now I am armed with two lists of corrections: The original list of outstanding Practical Completion Inspection (PCI) jobs that weren’t completed before handover and now the maintenance issues.

In an ideal world the PCI list would have been completed in the two weeks after PCI and before handover but with the Christmas shutdown looming that didn’t happen. A few of the jobs were done after we moved in and before Christmas then it went quiet in January and picked up a bit before February. It didn’t help that we were back in the UK for the whole of February for my Niece’s wedding 🙂 . A bit of a shock going from a beautiful Aussie Summer to the British Winter but there were bright days.

UK February 2016 017

Stourhead, Wiltshire


All the tradies were supposed to be booked in for our return but so far most are conspicuous by their absence. Perhaps they will be like buses and all come at once.

So what have we been up to in the house?

The driveway and the man cave.

The driveway:

In my last post I wrote about the driveway that was spray coated that day and how happy I was with the end result. In the photos you could see how beautiful and sunny it was. Fast forward a few hours and the rain came pelting down. Unfortunately the sealant hadn’t fully dried in the saw cuts and the rain got under it and blistered it 😦

They had to come back three times to make it good but thankfully in the end it has all been sorted.

The man cave:

Actually it has been hubby that has been hard at work sorting the garage out over the last two weekends. So after a few trips to Masters and Bunnings behold his hard work:

UK February 2016 268

There is a bit more to do but my car does now fit in the garage. Shall we place bets as to when I reverse into the wheelbarrow or clip the bikes? I did notice that it is the boy’s bikes behind my car and his bike is safely to one side 🙂

What’s next?

The landscaping starts this week!!!

I am so looking forward to it starting and watching it take shape. I am keen to complete the rain garden once the retaining walls are in. The rain garden is looking rather sad at the moment but not for much longer.

UK February 2016 270

For planting inspiration I treated myself to a beautiful book called Birdscaping Australian Gardens

Trouble is I need a bigger garden for all the plants I like the look of 🙂

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Construction Timeline and landscaping

So here we are one month after handover and settling in nicely.

I have updated our Construction Timeline flowchart which you can find at the top of the page or follow this link:

Construction timeline

Tradies are beginning to come back to work and hopefully our outstanding items raised at PCI will be completed soon.

Our driveway has been completed today. We went for the same driveway as they had at the Ambassador show home at The Ponds, saw cut concrete spray painted with a textured colour plus fleck. The concrete driveway was poured and saw cut in December then left to cure. Today they spray painted two coats of charcoal then one coat of grey and one of white fleck and topped it all off with a couple of coats of sealant.

Looking pretty good if I say so myself.


Driveway Collage


1st coat:

GR 21-01-16 007

2nd coat:

GR 21-01-16 010

2 coats of fleck – bit different to my sprinkles on the epoxy garage floor:

GR 21-01-16 016


GR 21-01-16 018

Ta da! Finished:

GR 21-01-16 022

Meanwhile our thoughts are turning to the landscaping. We want to crack on with this from both an aesthetic point of view and also to protect the slab from water pooling.

We went with a split level house following the slope of the land whilst our neighbours raised their slabs. This means that when it rains heavily the run off tends to pool around our slab as we are lower. We have had rather a lot of rain in the New Year and could see where it was pooling. I ended up nipping out and digging a trench to drain it away in between showers.

31-12-15 NYE Sydney 279

GR 21-01-16 011

Once the retaining walls and ag pipes are in plus some extra drainage it should no longer be a problem. Hubby has been out with fluoro string marking out different levels in the garden to give us an idea of what it will look like. The landscaping will be done in stages as we have decided to leave the pool until later when we have saved up a bit more to get what we would really like.

So first stages will be:

  1. Side retaining walls, fences and gates plus rear retaining wall.
  2. Raise rear garden then turf it plus finish rain garden.
  3. RHS flower beds & rear hedge planting.
  4. Add pebbles to side of driveway to ease parking (I’m finding it a little tricky parking – as long as I don’t end up in the swathe or knock down the front balcony pillar I’ll be right !)
  5. Fancy letterbox (moved far away from my manoeuvrings on the driveway  🙂 . I’m rather fond on our cheapo temporary one from Bunnings but its not the look I’m after).
  6. Turf front & side
  7. Reticulation

Second Stage:

  1. Pool and pavers
  2. Tier side garden with retaining wall and privacy screen artwork
  3. Create permanent drying area
  4. Plant front flower beds once access for pool is no longer required.

Third stage:

  1. Sit back and enjoy it all  🙂


WillieWombat Guest Blog Entry: NYE 2015

Well, here I am, the first guest in Lunar’s new Wisdom home, and very fine it is too. Lunar and her family had already celebrated their first Christmas in their new abode. No mean feat given that they only got the keys on 11th December.

I arrived early to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Sydney rather than Edinburgh having spent Christmas with family in Melbourne.

The new house is lovely, and the photos posted previously do not do justice. So, it was a quick tour before heading off for our NYE celebrations at the Opera House and the NYE fireworks.

As glamping on an island in the middle of the harbour was not really my style, there was not much persuasion needed to make it a once in a lifetime experience for all of us and celebrate it at the Sydney Opera House instead. None of us had ever been inside the Opera House or in fact recall  being to an opera. Combine that with the opportunity to watch the NYE fireworks from the balcony afterwards with ample supplies of champagne and canapés – it was a win win.

A great night was had by all. Sydney Opera House did themselves proud in the performance of La Boheme and the Midnight Party afterwards. Certainly something to think of adding to your bucket list.

31-12-15 NYE Sydney 01431-12-15 NYE Sydney 057DSC03429

Interval and Children’s fireworks at 9pm:

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Waiting for the main event at Midnight:

DSC0350431-12-15 NYE Sydney 10931-12-15 NYE Sydney 14031-12-15 NYE Sydney 14131-12-15 NYE Sydney 14631-12-15 NYE Sydney 15531-12-15 NYE Sydney 15931-12-15 NYE Sydney 16631-12-15 NYE Sydney 168

In the few days I have been here, I have been treated to a trip to Jervis Bay via Fitzroy Falls and Mount Cambewarra. Weather was overcast, but brighter and warmer than a Scottish winter that I have to look forward to.


[Fitzroy Falls]


[Mt Cambewarra lookout]

31-12-15 NYE Sydney 201

[Cave Beach, Booderee]

31-12-15 NYE Sydney 212[Scottish Rocks, Booderee]

Since then I have seen the rain garden perform in all its glory, as the weather has been more Scottish than Australian this past two days.

We popped back into Sydney and out to Manly to a favourite restaurant at the beach, to find the food was as good, but the weather worse than in the winter 18 months ago.

31-12-15 NYE Sydney 262

Now it is nearly time to head back to a very wet Scotland and leave Lunar and her family to put out the packing cases in the kerbside collection, start the landscaping and settle in to their new home.

And to quote Arnie: “I’ll be back!”