Australia · summer · Tweed Valley

Summer…Wherefore Art Thou…?

Rain on the windows.

Indeed, summer, wherefore art thou?

This is the question I have asked, since the official first day of summer here in Australia, and the first day of December, when the summer season took on a very realistic impersonation of winter!

As odd as it sounds to me, with the summer months actually being my least favoured time of the year, I have to admit to a feeling of being conned.

I’ve literally spent hours, yes, hours, preparing myself for the heat. Light, cottony clothing hangs centre front in my wardrobe, jumpers and jeans now taking their rightful place in the less convenient and harder to reach areas. Quilts are neatly folded and packed away, along with heavier blankets, in the linen cupboard. Ceiling fans have been installed. The pool is clean and all ship-shape for the hottest of hot days.

Whilst I can readily admit to not feeling as poetic as Shakespeare, when asking summer as to its whereabouts, surely there must be some people who feel downright cheated out of their “fun in the sun”?

The patter of rain...

Here I live, right on the doorstep of the fabulously sunny and world-famous Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia, playground of the rich and famous. Even the not so rich and famous have been known to choose the Gold Coast as their preferred holiday destination at this time of the year.

And where, pray tell, is the warm weather? I’m sure the knowledgeable folk at the Bureau of Meteorology have all the answers. Being not so scientifically minded myself, I haven’t bothered to check. Please check out the website, if you feel so inclined yourself.

Pressure systems come and go; we can’t control them. Looking out of the window each morning is my preferred predictor of the upcoming weather.

And look out the window I have been. The above photos show what-I-have-been-seeing.

Even our usually shiny and dry, black and white magpie friends have had a problem with the cold and rain. I found three rather bedraggled magpies, wet feathers fluffed up, sitting on our back veranda.

A family of wet magpies.

And no, our veranda isn’t usually as messy as the photo shows, with paint cans, buckets, electric saws and pieces of wood everywhere. We have been renovating a room in the house, the veranda being our work area. The magpies are forgiven for thinking this area a free-for-all!

This summer I have plans. I intend teaching myself how to cope with the heat. Summer is to become my friend!

And when summer finally arrives in this part of the world, I’ll let you know how I’m doing! 🙂

Australia · daughter · old house · Tweed Valley

“Lisnagar’s” Famous Bamboo

Leafy Bamboo

Continuing today with the third part of my “Lisnagar” story. Part one included close up photos in and around the old homestead. Part two showed various old tractors and farming implements lying unused around the grounds of “Lisnagar”.

As you drive through the double gateway out the front of “Lisnagar”, if you look to the right you will see a massive wall of bamboo plants growing. You can’t miss it…it’s huge!

Apparently the bamboo is one hundred and fifty years old and has been a major topic of conversation between family and friends throughout the years. Legend has it that a giant snake resides in the vicinity of the bamboo. Whether he is there or not I really don’t know. I didn’t see him the day I took my photos, nor did I expect to bump into him!

Bamboo Passage

In the midst of the bamboo wall is an entry into a large bamboo cavern. Although the day I spent at “Lisnagar” was not a particularly hot day, you could feel a substantial drop in the temperature within the bamboo “room”. Apparently it is a cool area all year ‘round. I thought it would be an ideal place to set up a dining table at Christmastime, out of the sun and in an area so refreshing and cool!

Looking outside from the bamboo cavern

When my husband’s grandmother Esther (the eldest child of Edward and Ellen Twohill who built “Lisnagar”) was alive, someone had told her that the bamboo had been removed. Gran lived in Sydney at the time and was most distraught at the idea that the bamboo had gone. On our next visit north, we checked the bamboo situation out for her. It was still there.

Gran had married her husband Percival in 1912 at the Catholic Church in Murwillumbah. After the ceremony the wedding party had returned to “Lisnagar” where photos were taken in front of the bamboo.

The Wedding, 1912

This photo shows the young newly married couple on their big day in January of 1912, with Gran posing beautifully as the typical blushing bride in her gorgeous wedding dress. The distinguished grey hair gentleman standing behind the newly weds is Edward Twohill.

Not surprisingly, the bamboo cavern was the highlight of the day for my two modern daughters. They are far more interested in the here-and-now than concerning themselves about what-has-been!

For me, the whole package of the “Lisnagar” experience is a highlight in itself. The history of the home, the antique furniture, the architecture, the artwork, the grounds, the bamboo, but mostly the people, the ancestors of my husband and children, without whom I would not have the people I love the most today. 🙂

This quote, for me, pretty much sums up how I feel about the place I call home and I can well imaging it to be true for a number of people, even back in the days when Edward and Ellen shared their beautiful home with their children. These words fit perfectly….

“Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other.  It is the place of confidence.  It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defence, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts.  It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule”. ~ Frederick W. Robertson

This photo gives an idea of the height of the bamboo next to the parked cars!
Australia · old house · Tweed Valley

The Grounds around “Lisnagar”

Rous River

Today I will continue with part two of my “Lisnagar” story. If you missed part one, where I showed some photographs of the house itself, you can see it here.

The old homestead of “Lisnagar” is in the quiet country village of Kynnumboon, on the banks of the Rous River. The home itself appears upon entering to be “the house that time forgot” and the very same can be said for the surrounding grounds.

This wheel no longer turns

Various farming implements and carts once drawn into town by draught horses are dotted throughout the property, unused, weeds growing through any crevices where they can manage to find light.

An old Dray Cart

The old garden shed would have likely seen many days of hard toil, perhaps carried out by Edward Twohill himself, the Irish immigrant who built the homestead in the early years of last century, to house himself, his wife and their large family.

An old garden shed

The look and size of some of the trees within the grounds would suggest that they were already on the land when Edward chose the property for his future home. Perhaps Edward planted some of these large trees himself. Who knows?

An old farming implement

Nowadays, this tree provides shelter for farming equipment which has long since passed its used by date. I wonder whether the Twohill children and their friends once climbed this tree, back in the glory days of “Lisnagar”.

Unused tractor

Edward Twohill was one of the early settlers in the Tweed area. He is also the great-great grandfather of my children. I don’t think any of my children realise just how fortunate they all are, knowing that this property was built and owned by one of their ancestors, but one day they will, when they have children of their own to show the house to.

Here at “Lisnagar”, my children have the opportunity to not only know who their ancestors were, but to see how they lived, walk inside the rooms of the home they once called home and catch a glimpse of how their lives may have been.

I can imagine it must be quite some experience to know you are walking along the same roads, through the same grounds, that your own ancestors once walked upon!

Typically Country

I know there was one area of the grounds that both of my girls got a kick out of seeing and being in, but that story will have to wait until tomorrow. 🙂

 

Australia · old house · Tweed Valley

A Family Homestead ~ “Lisnagar”

" Lisnagar"

Remember me in the family tree, my name, my days, my strife; then I’ll ride upon the wings of time And live an endless life.” ~ Linda Goetsch.

Continuing with my recent theme of visiting old houses that hold some significance to me, I felt compelled to include a historic family homestead, situated just outside of Murwillumbah on the far northern New South Wales coast. This home is named “Lisnagar”.

To this day I can still remember the first time I spotted “Lisnagar” whilst driving past the home in the back seat of my parent’s station wagon. We had only just moved to Murwillumbah, having relocated from the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. I was thirteen years old and this beautiful old home immediately conjured up images in my young, impressionable minds-eye of women wearing lovely long white dresses, and bonnets with big ribbon ties under their chins.

Hiding among the greenery

My interest with “Lisnagar” was resurrected at the age of nineteen, when I met the man who was to become my husband. This beautiful old home had been built by his great-grandfather, Edward Twohill.

“Lisnagar” was built in the early 1900’s by Edward and his wife Ellen and is presently owned by Terry Twohill, a grandson of Edward and Ellen’s.

Upstairs, downstairs

The home has remained in the Twohill family throughout all the years of its existence, with two of Ellen and Edwards unmarried children, Emma and Kevin, being the last two occupants.

Looking upstairs

The eldest child of Edward and Ellen was Esther, my husband’s grandmother. Esther lived to the ripe old age of ninety years. (Esther’s eldest son just celebrated his 99th birthday!) Esther passed away in 1983 and during the six years that I knew her, barely a weekend went by that we didn’t spend some time with Gran and her best friend, a tiny female chihuahua named “Kelly”.

The Twohill family are an eccentric clan, to say the least! Dear old Gran, bless her soul, was certainly not the stereotypical warm and fuzzy grandmother! She remained opinionated and fiery by nature, right through to the day she died.

“Lisnagar” is an extremely beautiful homestead, with wrought iron lace work adorning all the verandas, as was the style of architecture during the Victorian era. I had the opportunity of photographing the detailed lace work close up recently when visiting the home with my husband and daughters during a family reunion.

An abundance of lace work

When I decided to add my photos of “Lisnagar” here today, I searched Google to see if I could find any links to websites to share, only to find some rather wishy-washy links available. So what I will offer is my story, my photos and my memories of the fiery daughter of Edward and Ellen, whom I was fortunate enough to know.

Gran spoke very fondly of her old family home. She had married in 1912, the same year the Titanic sank, the reception of the wedding being held at “Lisnagar”.

Detailed sketch by Gran

Gran and her female siblings were very artistic, with the walls within “Lisnagar” holding a number of old drawings and paintings done by the girls. Gran had been a very talented artist in her younger day, although her artistic ambitions had ended with the birth of the first of her twelve children.

One of Gran's paintings

The grounds of “Lisnagar” are another story within themselves, which I will continue with tomorrow….

The downstairs veranda

 

friends · nostalgia · old house · son

Revisiting Homes of the Past

Side Veranda

During my recent visit to the Blue Mountains, the area in which I spent my earliest years, I paid a visit to a number of homes throughout the area that had played a significant role in my childhood days.

At one of the homes I found more than I had bargained for, as the home had a huge “AUCTION” sign attached to the front fence.

This home had belonged to the family of my best friend in fourth grade, Christine. Standing outside of the front gate of the house, after all of these years, the memories of childhood playtime came flooding back.

Christine’s house had seemed very old when I was a child; now the old house sat among the uncared for gardens looking for all the world as it had the last time I had played there, baring the neglect.

A quick visit to the real estate agent confirmed the house was vacant and I was given permission to explore the property.

Thirteen year old Adam (who accompanied me on the trip) was a tad wary of the old home, proclaiming it to be “spooky”. I assured him that the home was indeed old, although one of the friendliest homes you could ever wish for. No bad vibes at this property!

Adam and I, with my trusty camera in hand, explored the front back and both sides of the garden, which to my amazement looked almost exactly as I remembered it.

Had anyone cared for this home at all since Christine’s family had moved away, I wondered?

Stairs to the Back Door

The rickety old stairs, leading up to the back door looked the same. The wide verandas around three sides of the home, where Christine and I would play together on rainy days hadn’t changed a bit.

Would you use this tub?

Underneath the back of the house we located an old laundry room, complete with cement wash tub.

Potting Shed

To the right hand side of the house I was delighted to find a lovely little building, which I imagine would have been a potting shed in its day. Funny, I didn’t remember the little shed, although perhaps it had been off-limits to us children, or overgrown with vines, which had recently been cleared away, no doubt in an effort to spruce up the property for its sale.

Too Spooky!

By the time the potting shed discovery was made, Adam had begun to ask if we could leave. The potting shed really gave him the spooks! But I loved it!

Lucky horseshoes in the potting shed

With a bit of encouragement I convinced Adam that it was completely safe to go onto the verandas to peer inside the windows, just to get a glimpse of the rooms with the high ceilings, fireplaces and wooden floors that I remembered.

And what exactly did we see through the windows?

That’s another story….for tomorrow. 🙂