Saturday, June 27, 2009

A city girl buys a country house and belatedly starts a blog

I have always loved cities and made it my business to live centrally. I was, and still am, the quintessential urban apartment dweller, currently perched in Melbourne Australia. In February 2007, I bought a weekend country house about an hour and a half out of the city. The plan is to transform it into a beautiful haven.

From the beginning, I planned to blog my progress. Alas, my perfectionist streak and distaste for things IT snarled my blog-making efforts for several years while I prevaricated on an approach.

At first I thought that I’d make the style of blog that I often like to read, such as food blog Orangette. My version would be snappy and happy vignettes about my experience as a city girl developing a country house and garden with stylish photographs and snippets of take-away value, a recipe using my fresh picked herbs here, directions for how to brew the perfect compost there. The subplot would be my maturation as I, plucking the fruits of my labour for dinner, get in touch with the rhythms of nature and, ultimately, my own true nature. The denouement would be the entrance of a fabulous partner who is also also a mix of urban and rural, style and substance: cue photos of us with friends and home-grown garlands of garlic around our rustic pizza oven.

This kind of ‘build the tracks and the train will come’ theme had been floating around my mind since my friend Nicola mentioned it when I first bought the country house. It’s a theme from Under the Tuscan Sun, the middle-aged self-actualisation movie involving a protagonist who moves to Italy and finds self knowledge amongst the renovations of her villa. It’s the type of fairy tale where her band of slapstick workmen manage to knock down a wall yet leave a nearby chandelier untainted by dust, and where her very eligible partner walks into her life while she sits in her garden.

While my x chromosomes find this concept ineffably appealing, it bears no resemblance to my own circumstance in which small renovation tasks have been known to coat every surface and crevice of the house in plaster dust; and months and years, indeed perhaps a lifetime to date, of sitting around have not seen the arrival of a handsome stranger seeking only me.

My previous attempts to write about my experiences in the country have also been abandoned in a blaze of cliche: city girl learns valuable lesson about mulching - that if you spend a whole day painstakingly weeding a garden bed then swan off to Italy for a month, when you return, said garden bed looks as if you never touched it. Or, city girl screams at [insert any number of insects and animals including mice, frogs, spiders, or even fleeting shadows that resemble insects and animals]. Or, city girl learns that when she piles seven filthy old tyres in the back of her Volkswagon Golf and drives them back to the city, but has her plans to drop them at the recycling station thwarted, she may find herself in Friday night peak traffic on her way to a gallery opening confronted by an enormous Huntsman spider (think fist- size - almost more marsupial than arachnid) crawling up the windscreen directly in front of her.

So, here I am over two years in. At least I have made a start.