Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Willowvale" - My sister's beautiful home

About ten years ago my sister Caroline and my brother-in-law Mike found this wonderful old 1880's sandstone home called "Willowvale" in the N.S.W countryside just past the Blue Mountains in Australia. It it was to be their little bit of country, a place to get away from the City on weekends and holidays with their four children.

We were all so excited for them when they found it and I couldn't believe how beautiful it was when I first saw it. It became a wonderful place for all our families and children to spend some of their holidays together. My two children learnt to ride motorbikes and drive a Ute around the paddocks, and yes, there were a few little accidents around the farm. Caroline, who is the only one in my family with a 'green thumb' was aways gardening and has created a wonderful garden and planted some gorgeous trees around the farm.

The only thing missing from all these images are all our children playing everywhere, on bikes, playing tennis, swimming and just running around, it is a perfect playground for children.

Visiting them over the years we have watched the place change. We have been there through many different seasons and my very favourite...spring... it is absolutely delightful with bulbs and blossoms everywhere. I spent many holidays helping Caroline decorate and re-arrange the furniture around the home.

After a day to settle in, Caroline would say, o.k. Coty what should I do with this room. I was thinking.......... and a couple of days later we would have together totally re-arranged the entire house.

With lot's of muscle, lot's of fun and laughter and some crazy ideas and the odd glass of wine and you can create anything.

Caroline would call Mike before leaving Sydney and say, Coty wondered if you could just fit a couple of chairs and a lamp in the car to bring up to the farm tonight, she needs them in the sitting room. Mike was always so gracious and would fit them in somehow.

Winter, the willows are bare

While I was helping Caroline, Andrew (my husband) was helping Michael set up his own woodworking workshop in the old barn. Andrew didn't really get much of a chance to relax under the willow tree when ever he came away to "Willowvale" (he never does) as there was always something that Mike and Caroline had planned around the house to do and Andrew was always delighted to join in and help. Timber plate racks, woodwork repairs on furniture and around the house and many other things that boys find to do in the workshop. They spent hours and hours in Mike's workshop and the kids just loved visiting them and seeing what they were up to.

My darling Andrew is always in demand when he arrives somewhere. He just loves to get in and help and he is so good at it (except around our house). A couple of weeks ago he did the most amazing job pruning all the hedges at my parents home. He doesn't really mind as long as he is near me of course (ha ha) and all the family. I raked the grass and made coffee and breakfast while he shaped a perfect hedge, it was something different to do and I know he loved doing it.

Caroline and Mike transformed a little two story timber cottage on the farm (below) into a gorgeous little guest house as well as there was always lots of visitors to sleep. It has a lovely little loft area upstairs and the main bedroom downstairs with a beautiful view across the tennis court to the hills. This was perfect for the families with little babies and for very tired parents who needed to escape from the main house for an afternoon nap.

"Willowvale" countryside is very different to the Southern Highlands where I live, both beautiful, both quiet and both filled with stars at night time. I'm not sure what it is about their farm, it must be the history of this property, it is filled with a wonderful Australian style energy and charm that I am so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of.

Sadly Caroline and Mike have decided to sell "Willowvale" and put it on the market, so I thought before it goes I would show you this beauty in the country before someone else buys it and moves in. My only wish... that if they ever go looking for another farm they come down near us in the Highlands, we would just love to see them more.

Thanks Mike and Caroline for all the fun times we had at "Willowvale" we will all miss it, but no where near as much as you will, we know you loved it so. You added so many lovely touches to to this beautiful place.

To see more about the sale of "Willowvale" click here....


Welcome to everyone from Susan's outdoors Wednesday Party at A Southern Daydreamer