Country living, empty water tanks and other stories…


Country Living. Photo by Jules Kyle
Country Living.
Photo by Jules Kyle

Our week began with an empty water tank. Surprise! We had only pumped three weeks ago, and a full tank should last us at least 6 weeks, so we must have a leak somewhere. The Bear will start the process of elimination of finding the leak by changing all the washers in the taps today. My children thought it was hilarious that I was the only one who missed out on having a shower, and were even more amused when I had to wash myself with a washer dipped into a sink full of water. Brats :).

Living where we do, in a rural area, we rely on tank water for our water supply. We have one tank for river water and one tank that catches rain water. At this time of year, with August being our driest month, there isn’t any water in the big rain water tank, so we rely completely upon the river water tank for water.

When we were looking for a house to buy, there were some basic criteria that I laid down:

1. No dirt road. I grew up on a dirt road, and it’s not much fun. It’s really hard on your car, and depending how close you live to the road and the direction of the wind, your house will get covered in a fine coating of dust each time a car goes past.
2. Garbage service. If a truck doesn’t come and pick up your rubbish each week, you need to store all your rubbish somewhere and take it to the rubbish tip every month. This is not as much fun as it sounds.
3. Ability to pump water from the river. Relying on rainwater alone is tricky, and it means that you will have to buy water from the water tanker in dry times, which is expensive and often not particularly good quality. It’s definitely not drinkable.

This dear little property that we bought fulfilled all of those criteria plus a few others, like price. The section of the river that we pump from has never been known to go dry. It is deep with a rock wall and bottom and has beautiful quality water. We have to cross our neighbour’s land to access the river, and they have very kindly given us permission to do so. We hook up our firefighter pump to the pipes that run from the river at the bottom of the hill all the way up to our tank at the top of the hill, a distance of about 300 metres. A good pump will fill our 10000 litre tank almost to the top.

The Bear, hard working man that he is, came home early from work on Monday afternoon and made sure that we had a full tank of water. As supplier of water, chopper of firewood, landscaper and main breadwinner, it is through his efforts that we are able to live here at all. There are some women who can live out here alone, but I am not one of them. My talents lie in other areas, apparently.

It is much more likely that work will be separated along gender lines out here, although there are some very impressive pioneer-type women that would put plenty of men to shame. A particular woman I know manages to work two jobs (school bus run and maintenance person at the school) as well as helping to run her and her husband’s butcher shop, growing the livestock for that shop on their farm, exercising their polo cross horses daily as well as all the domestic duties. I am totally in awe of her.

I was transplanted into the country from the city when I was a seedling of five, from generations of city people. My parents still laugh about how ‘fertiliser’ was the only word I got wrong in a 100 word spelling test in high school. Gardening was an onerous chore, I was terrified of cows and living so far away from people made me anxious. I longed for the bright lights and action of the city, and headed there as soon as I could.

But I came back, 11 years later. I will never be a pioneer woman, although I have great respect for their capabilities. I have no interest in farming animals and I still hanker after art and music, cafes and the hum of urban life. I fantasise about walking or even riding my bike places, rather than driving the long distances it takes to get anywhere from here. But there is something about this place that feeds my soul. I am a mountains and river woman, you see. I love the hinterland of any place. The coast holds no charm for me compared to the hidden depths of forested hills and the cool, clear river.

When it comes to living, my soul knows where it belongs, what feeds it. Underneath all of my urban fantasies, a river nymph lives in my soul, and if she is too far away from the river, she dries up. I love the Earth just as she is, you see. I don’t want to farm it or even garden in it particularly – but I have a deep connection to her. Her heart beats my heart. Out here, the connection is clear and strong. I see no reason to change my list of criteria for a place to live: they are eminently practical. But I would add one: our next place must be a mountains and river place.


Morning pages and carrying a notebook. I have long been wanting to use a notebook and incorporate morning pages back into my daily routine, but was having trouble figuring out how to do it. And then, this week I read not one but two inspiring articles on carrying notebooks – one from Jamie Wallace for Live to Write, Write to Live, about her lifelong love of using a notebook, and one from Brain Pickings on Oliver Sacks and his writing life. By the time I read both of those articles, I had a notebook sitting next to me, and I have been using it ever since. Love! On the same day, I read an article by Marian Schembari for The Write Life on how she uses morning pages both as a writing warm up and a way to move from professional writing to personal writing. Totally inspired, I have done morning pages every day this week. It is like coming home to an old friend (me) and just talking shit, in the way that only you and your bestie can; which then frees you up to do some good writing.

Do you carry a notebook or do morning pages?

Brene Brown. Of course, we all love Brene Brown, but the reason I am loving her this week is because of this article from O Magazine: How to Reckon With Emotion and Change Your Narrative, which is an excerpt from Brown’s new book, Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumbling. The Revolution. Simply, Brown is talking about the bullshit stories that we tell ourselves, the narrative that goes on in our heads, that un-noticed and unchecked creates havoc – and what to do about it. The article began with this graphic:

Illustration by Lauren Simkin Burke.
Illustration by Lauren Simkin Burke.

Sound familiar?

Book Day. Now, what I love about Book Day is this photo. What I don’t love about Book Day is choosing a character, wardrobe malfunctions, and the last minute panic because I have no idea what I am going as and I have to go as something because I am working at the school on that day…anyway, it all magically worked out :).

Alani is the snowdrop fairy from one of my childhood books, Flower Fairies of the Spring. I am Maid Marian and Nick is Angus Young, of course :).


About life from Leunig.


I read about this beautiful, simple breathing technique from Uncharted Ground called 1-2-3 Breathing. It goes like this:

No matter who you are, you can make this your daily practice. It can be done anywhere, at any time.  Here it is: pause in whatever you are doing and take 3 deep mindful breaths.

The first breath is to remind yourself that you are here and now.

The second breath is to wake up every cell of your body. 

With the third breath, extend compassion toward yourself. 

Practicing self-compassion even for one moment is a powerful practice. Don’t wait until you think you’ve earned it. You can’t afford that kind of time.

Wow. Powerful stuff! I’ve been playing with this all week, and it’s beautiful.

How to apply for a student ID card. Yes, I am eight weeks into my University degree and I still don’t have an ID card. This is because of the cold war-style level of identification required to apply for one, and because if I don’t actually have a pressing need to do annoying, boring things, then I don’t do them. This is not a quality I am proud of, but to be truthful, I need to admit it. Surprise: I need an ID card to access the library. I need the library to do my second media assignment.

  1. Get a passport photo from the local Post Office. Note to self: do not go in the afternoon at the precise time that the sun shines through a high window onto the side of your face, requiring a customer to block the sun with a large envelope, with mixed results: A photo good enough for an ID card but not good enough for a passport.
  2. Get 100 points of identification – my birth certificate and drivers licence, copy them, fill out the form, fold neatly. Write a slightly pleading letter explaining my situation, and my need for a quick turn around on the ID card process. Send the letter away.
  3. Take a phone call from the lady in the UNE security office – I need to supply verified identification documents. Rather than sending the whole lot back to me for me to fix, which is what they normally would have done, is it possible for me to get the documents verified by a responsible member of the human race, and then email them back to her?
  4. Why, yes, it is possible. I get the copies verified (I am so lucky to live across the road from a school) then I scan and email them off. Simple, right?

My dear friends, that is my week. I hope something was of benefit or enjoyment to you, or, as is my preference, both :). I am off to have breakfast with my children, and then my daughter and I are going to a friend’s house for a thermomix demonstration. I can’t imagine spending $2000 on a piece of kitchen equipment, but I am looking forward to catching up with friends and seeing how such an expensive machine works 🙂 What about you, do you have a thermomix? Do you think it’s worth it?


  1. I’m a mountains person too. Only this morning it made me happy driving into town, that far in the distance beyond the edge of town I could see the ranges. 🙂 I read The Artist’s Way years ago and tried to write morning pages. It took way too much time out of my day. I much prefer typing, though I still enjoy using longhand sometimes and have always felt there is a special connection between my mind and what comes out of my fingers. But for getting ideas down I prefer typing, much faster, and I have a better chance of reading it later. I have seen a Thermomix in action and wouldn’t have one, because you basically have to start over to learn to cook in a completely different way, which isn’t so bad in itself, but the ingredients I see used are mostly things I can’t eat. So, there didn’t seem much point for me. Tried the breathing exercise; on the third breath I got a set of chills down my spine and out my arms. It’s a keeper. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t timed how long it’s taking me to do morning pages; at a guess it’s about 20-30 minutes. There is a morning pages website/app which looks pretty cool if you prefer typing and digital technologies. I mostly do prefer it, but going old school with the notebook and morning pages feels good. I sort a lot of stuff out in my pages, plus I did more writing last week doing it than not doing it. I rarely read my pages. It’s just a brain dump. The notebook is different; very helpful for writing this post too!
      I was very impressed with the thermomix machine, although it does seem a little extravagant. I don’t need it at all. But…I want it 🙂 Very tempting. My issue with it was that it would teach people how to use a thermomix rather than to cook, which doesn’t seem helpful.
      I hope you enjoyed your weekend Ardys ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There is something about Taylors Arm and the Nambucca Valley that feeds my spirit. Although neither born nor bred there it feels like home, meant to be. So I can relate. And while I love the beach and dream about being able to walk out the door to walk along a beach I wouldn’t swap our country possie with the outlook to the paddocks and hills.
    Yep, water, lovely when it falls from the sky and into the tanks and waters the garden but not so much that it overflows the rivers… for too long anyway. I love having a shower when it’s raining and the tanks are overflowing. There’s only 2 of us but we’re adding a couple more tanks and have a plan B for supplementary water from town (not the tanker!). Your criteria makes sense to me. We tyre-kicked properties further out, but even just maintaining an old house on a town block is enough work, particularly as for us also much of it is divided along gender lines. I just don’t have the necessary physical attribute/skills. I’m not a pioneer woman either and am in awe of what they do. Plus we want to enjoy other aspects of life more than being tied to a piece of land et al.
    I would have to get up very early to dedicatedly tackle morning pages. I have the Artists Way on my shelf, so maybe one day… For now I jot notes & inspiration into a notebook but like Ardys a keyboard is quicker and neater. I inherited Dad’s messy handwriting. The G.O. also bought me a mini tape-recorder to record stories. It lives in my handbag but never seems to be handy to my hand when someone is telling one. Must work on that.
    We’ve pre-packed the ute, just 2 work days to go until our mini roadtrip and a few lovely days at TA.
    Those 3 deep mindful breaths are part of my morning blessing… I just didn’t realize what it accomplished until I read the words.
    Love Leunig. Always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dale ❤️
      Interesting about the typing/ handwriting thing – my hand writing is okay, but I don’t read my morning pages anyway. My notebook is different – I read that. It was very helpful for doing this post actually!
      I guess we can always go and visit our fantasies, right? You can go and holiday at the beach, I can go on urban holidays 😊.
      It’s great that you have thought about the water thing so thoroughly. So many people don’t. Lots of water tanks and a plan b sounds perfect. Alex would like more rainwater tanks. Our tank has a small catchment, so takes a long time to fill up. One day…
      I so don’t want my whole life to be about work, which is what it becomes when you live on a farm. Sometimes one acre and two houses seems more than we can handle.
      I hope your weekend was enjoyable…❤️


  3. Being in the US, I have never heard of a thermomix. I’m guessing from the name that it can heat things up and it can mix things, perhaps like a blender? Reading about where you live and how you live, with the water tank, is fascinating. Around here, if you don’t live in town and are hooked up to the town/city water supply, you dig a well. We have a well. However, a girlfriend of mine, who gets her water from her very small town (and thus pays monthly for it) has a few rain barrels for watering plants, adding to their little created pond if needed, and filling their little swimming pool in the early summer. If I could live anywhere, it would probably be on the ocean. I seem to have salt water in my veins. But currently, we live in the country, but not far from town (6 miles to the nearest small town and 15 miles to where I do most of my shopping). And we have a small river transecting our back yard, with a small stream running behind the house and dumping into the river. The treat with the river, other than being able to cool off in it during summer, is watching salmon come back and spawn during the fall and winter. We look out at 2 small mountains, and are only a 35 minute drive to salt water. It’s a great place to live. Lots of lakes and rivers around to enjoy, and we have been. I love Brene Brown and will have to read that article. Have a lovely week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would be surprised if the US hasn’t got a thermomix thing going on – it’s European, not Australian. Maybe you guys call it something different over there. You’re right though: it’s a high tech kitchen gadget that prepares and cooks your dinner for you. Very impressive.
      Some people have wells – we call them bores – but you have to apply for a licence to have a bore, and there are only limited amounts given out. Bores are good, but I would vastly prefer rainwater and anyone can put up a tank.
      Wow, I love the description of your place. it sounds amazing with the creek and the spawning, leaping salmon. You’re going to tell me you have bears next! All our mountains are small in Australia, ancient land that we are :). You sound like you may have the best of both worlds!
      Enjoy your week – I’m looking forward to hearing about how your son is settling into his new school.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. thank you for sharing your skill
    at enduring the unpleasant
    conditions with lightness & grace!
    i’m happy to vouch for you
    getting that ID.
    may you have adequate water
    for drinking and a hot shower 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Missed out on having a shower, and were even more amused when I had to wash myself with a washer dipped into a sink full of water”

    This may be where urban California is headed with climate change!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, and Australia too. The seasons are changing here as well, becoming much more unpredictable. I’ve heard that the drought in California is very bad. I hope it breaks soon, or washer baths will indeed be what everyone will need to do!


  6. Your home sounds wonderful, though it obviously has its practical challenges! I love mountains and rivers but it’s when I’m away from the sea that I feel most unhappy – I lived in towns / cities for about six years and strongly felt the need for the sea. I carry a notebook everywhere and I often use it to jot down ideas or the beginnings of posts and stories. I’ve been thinking of doing morning pages after doing them some years ago, but I fear that more sleep may win out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the sea water seems to run in many people’s veins, for sure. Certainly in Australia, we cluster close to the coast. We live about 40 minutes away from the sea here.
      The notebook is wonderful! I want to get one of those nice covers that I can slip an exercise book into :). Now I just have to remember to bring it with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love morning pages! It’s how I get my day going. That whole time to myself with my pen and coffee is THE BEST! I don’t carry around a notebook, but turn to my notebook app on my phone when I’ve got something burning inside that needs to come out. Lots of blog post ideas get jotted down this way…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Elysha – that is sacred time, morning pages with a cuppa. Plus…I’m more likely to write afterwards now that I’ve blown all the cobwebs off! Not sure why I had trouble with bringing it back…I think I thought I was going to have to give something important up. Turns out that wasn’t true…


  8. Nah to the thermomix, not my gig…what did you think of it? I appreciate that it does one hell of a lot, but bottom line? Nahhh.

    “…a river nymph lives in my soul, and if she is too far away from the river, she dries up…” Loving this. Go you good thing. Love reading your words Sara. Feels like too long since I really sank into my words and let them wash over me. I’ve missed them…probably should do something about that…in the morning is good time to start me thinks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, let some words wash over you – you have a beautiful way with words Brydie.
      The thermomix…well, I was very impressed at what it could do – as a piece of machinery, it was awesome. I kind of love it and hate it at the same time. And maybe it’s the future of cooking! Who knows. For people who don’t cook and want to, it’s perfect. I love how user friendly it is, especially for kids, but it worries me that all they’re learning to do is cook in a thermomix. I think that could be problematic. Better than a microwave though! A thousand times better 🙂


  9. Ok – how did I not know the extent of your “rural-ness?” 😉 I applaud your ability to thrive in such an environment. I live in a small town, but I don’t have to deal with things like pumping water. As much as I love being in the natural world, I think that might get to be too much for me after a bit.

    I’m so glad that you’re back to enjoying your morning pages, and I thank you for sharing the Leunig cartoon and the lovely meditation. One of the things that I’ve learned over the course of my three-year house hunt is that much of the angst and stress I felt was related to anxiety that any decision I made would be permanent. The upshot of this assumption is that I wound up worrying that saying “yes” to something (anything!) meant saying “no” to everything else. Silly me. Even though buying is a much bigger and more binding responsibility than renting, nothing is permanent (as Leunig’s cartoon points out so beautifully). I always have options to change my mind, my circumstance, and anything else I want about my holiday on Earth. 😉

    Always nice to hear what’s up in your world. TTYS!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jamie, it must be the deep sophistication and urbanity of my writing that fooled you lol 🙂 yep, we’re as rural as can be here. I can assure you that if it wasn’t for the Bear, chopping wood and carrying water, I would be living in some semi detached unit somewhere urban, as that is where my skill levels lie :).
      Nothing is permanent…that’s right, even a mortgage. Congratulations on your new house – I hope it gives you what you need. I remember bring terrified by the thought of a mortgage as well, but the reality has been a lot more freeing in some ways than renting. Now, I don’t like the thought of my life being at the mercy of a landlord!
      Lovely to catch up with you, be well xo


  10. What an amazing read Sara.. Living in such rural conditions has many plus’s as well as lots of hard work too.. And Water consumption I am sure you have to keep on top of.. And I can imagine how quickly the rubbish starts to pile up..

    I know when we were children living in our village everyone then had open fires so everything that could burn was often burned on the fire back.. Today we have 3 large Bins.. One for garden waste, another for household waste and another for plastic and paper..

    Lovely to see you as Maid Marion.. and I am smiling broadly as I live on the edge of Sherwood Forest and only Yesterday took our Granddaughter for a Picnic there to the Major Oak.. 🙂

    It is also good to know the place you pump from in the river has never dried up.. and I can see why your are a river nymph.. I am a wood Nymph.. 🙂

    Enjoy the rest of your week 🙂 and your children are lovely 🙂 xxx Hugs Sue xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Sue, there are positives and negatives for everywhere of course…when we were growing up, we used to burn the paper rubbish…but we have three bins now, just like you.
      It is wonderful to see how other people live: we all think there is nothing remarkable or interesting about our lifestyles, but to other people, it’s fascinating, like your allotment.
      Glad you enjoyed your visit 🙂
      Have a good day xo

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sara, here I am, living on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of America’s Great Lakes–five lakes joined together in the middle of America that have 1/3 of all the fresh water on earth. So you see, we here where I live never run short of water. So it strikes me that in that regard and many others, your life and mine are so different. I grew up in a very big city, with people, trains, and cars everywhere. Maybe that is why I enjoy reading about your life so much. It exposes me to a life that I find so interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I/3 of all the water on Earth! I was only looking at the Michigan Lakes area in our atlas the other day with my daughter. She had to plan an overseas trip for homework and we have very good friends who live n Michigan, so we thought we’d visit them :). We also thought we’d visit Chicago and New York while we were there because it might be a while before we come for another visit :).
      This is one of the fascinating things about blogging – learning how other people live. Of course, to me, my lifestyle seems perfectly ordinary and a little dull, but to others it’s different and interesting.
      Which is why I love your weather reports so much :).

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for reminding me of the power of morning pages. Oh, it’s been a long time since they slipped out of my routine. And I remember destroying them all, without even reading them. I was frightened someone else might read them. Crazy. Maybe I will be inspired to take up that practice again.
    And second thank you for the Oliver Sacks link. Great reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, my pages would be alternately dull and horrifying if someone were to read them…I keep them for some reason, but I should probably burn them like you did! I never read them, I don’t think that’s the purpose.
      I’m glad you enjoyed your time here – I always hope that all my readers find at least one thing that inspires them ❤️


  13. Sara, the Great Lakes have 1/3 of all the fresh water (not all the water) on the earth. Your daughter’s homework assignment is interesting, and I hope she finds Chicago interesting. It would be wonderful if this is more than just a homework assignment and you and your family are really coming here for a visit. Chicago is known for its architecture. It has been called a “visually stunning city.” Also, the Art Institute of Chicago was named the best museum of any kind in the world. The Louvre was sixth on the list. Whatever you do, avoid coming during the our winter, which I have described to you. But summer, spring, and fall are lovely. It would be wonderful to see you and meet your children and “the Bear.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh silly me, I did read you right – I knew that you said 1/3 of all the fresh water on earth, I just wrote it wrong. I will definitely pay you and Diana a visit if we ever do come to that part of the world. It sounds wonderful; although not in winter!


    • You’d be surprised at what you could handle if needed, my friend 🙂 However, I find aspects of city living unpleasant as well…like all the people, noise and pollution. But not unbearable if taken with all the positives of city living as well. Same with rural living; I just take the good with the bad.
      Glad you liked the photo – I was pretty happy with how my last minute costume turned out!


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