Hawthorn Lodge is in the centre of the Derwent Valley Tasmania. A historic lodge famous as the home of hops and now enjoyed by guests from all over the world. Our blog tells a little what has been happening.
Always great when journalists visit and write about us as part of an article on Tasmania.
The words penned by Matthew Parris in the London Times 7 April 2018.
The word “bungalow” does not do justice to Tasmania’s many sweet abodes, almost all of one storey. After Lake Pedder, Lou and Cody left us at Hawthorn Lodge, a bungalow built in 1869, a delightful guesthouse where Marie and David Hearle plied us with cream teas and samples of finest homemade tomato soup. Over sparkling wine on a veranda whose ironwork was garlanded with flowering creepers, I reflected that if the image of Australia that we Europeans have is missing anything, it’s what Tassie can offer: a certain softness, a grace and charm.
Derwent Valley Tasmania
We have had so many guests this year being active and enjoying the Derwent Valley Tasmania. The river has hosted many kayaking on the regular tour that departs from Hawthorn Lodge each day at 10am. Kayaking on the river Derwent is suitable for all levels and even if you have never tried a great place to start.
We are excited to see in the Derwent Valley Tasmania that the new Maydena Bike Park has opened. David has tried it a few times and learning how to improve his skills. He did have a lesson which helped a lot. Many guests are taking advantage of our transfer service so that they do not need to hire a car.
Great to see so many doing the Overland Track and all really enjoying. Our package makes it all very easy as being a one way walk overland track transport can be a hassle to organise.
The Fawlty Files
When people, who know David and I, heard we were racing off to the countryside of Tasmania to start a B&B – the words Basil and Sybil where bandied about. I can understand the Basil bit for David- English, tall, lanky, prone to mad bursts of panic and running around- but I didn’t see myself as Sybil. Don’t get me wrong I love Sybil Fawlty- her hair, clothes and the way she would strut through the hotel looking for Basil when she was angry- she is just legendary- I could never match her style.
I see myself as poor Polly, running around like a chook, covering all of Basil’s faux pas. However, in the past four weeks Basil has certainly shown up in Bushy Park and maybe a little bit of Sybil as well. I don’t have her phone charm- remember.. .‘Oh I know…I know…I knowwww.”
But the way she accentuated the last syllable of Basils name when she was angry with him or looking for him- well David’s name sort of has that same ring- so when I am in theLazy tearooms swamped with orders and a mini bus pulls in- and Basi…Oh I mean David is somewhere way down the back garden with mud up to his elbows- yes I pull out Sybil’s tone…DaVID, DaVID
We had a full on Fawlty moment last week when a guest locked himself in his room and after a lot of pulling on the door knob it came off in David’s hand- he disappeared and when I went to search for him he was up a ladder, bum hanging out the guests bedroom telling the guest in a very Basil sort of tone- ‘Just pull the bloody thing, Pull it’. Like Sybil I raced inside to call a professional, and when I next looked outside, the guest was climbing out the window and down the ladder. Basil—I mean David was nowhere to be seen- the guest told me David was in the bedroom with his wife, who had just stepped out of the shower!
That evening David revealed that he also dropped one of his shoes in the room and was not game to go back in to get it. All day he was trying to think of ways he could sneak back in and retrieve it- seriously… isn’t that something Basil Fawlty would do? Way too hard to just knock on the door and ask for it! I suggested to David that is what he could have done, and he replied, “I didn’t want to look like a total idiot’ and I thought ‘The ship has well and truly sailed on that one”
But why just leave it at Fawlty Towers- When I was growing up my mum love the British sitcoms and of course that love rubbed off on me. If I ever see any of them rerun on the TV , I sit and watch and I laugh so hard and loud.
Over the four weeks here, many of those have come to mind here at Hawthorn Lodge.
Some Mothers Do Have ‘em- When I see David running around the yard with a ladder over his shoulder I am so reminded of the episode with Frank and the ladder.
Keeping up Appearances- Remember Hyacinth Buckets hen pecked husband Richard? Last week I was chatting to a gentleman in the gift shop, when David came running in to tell me that someone had pulled up outside and looked like they were coming in for tea- that bits OK, but he was wearing a floral apron, slippers and rubber gloves covered in soap suds- the gentleman said ‘Wow I love the maid, did she come with the house?’
The ‘Carry On’ series- our two upstairs bedrooms share a bathroom and you have to leave your room and come downstairs to use it- I heard a few giggles and sniggers the other day in the hall, I stuck my head around to see our middle aged Asian guest running up the stairs in his yfronts saying ‘Ohhh Verry sorry, Verry sorry’ whilst our two under 25 year old female guests were in hysterics.
On the Buses- Stan’s famous “Cor blimey” s have been thrown about a lot in the past four weeks
From Death Do Us Part- I think Alf Garnett’s ‘Silly Old Moo’ has been uttered under someone’s breath a few times as well.
The Vicar of Dibly- some of my neighbours remind me of the characters in this show and I mean that in the nicest possible way- I love those guys- actually I could throw Dad’s Army in here as well!
One Foot in the Grave- David is not grumpy like Victor but he is so accident prone- he has burnt himself so many times on the wood burning stove that his hands and arms are covered in scars- hurt his knee in the chicken coop crawling around looking for eggs; sprayed himself in the eyes with oven cleaner when he had the nozzle the wrong way round, and way more accidents that I probably haven’t been told about yet.
Are you being served? I see a bit of Mr Humphries when David is flittering around the tea tables with his little tea towel asking everyone if they are being served and speaking to me as if I’m Mrs Slocombe .
Open all Hours- Like Ronnie Barkers Arkwright, we are good and getting the last drop out of things and making supplies go further- we are learning a few tricks, like cheap wine tastes and looks so much better when served in a carafe on the Verandah- very Italian we tell ourselves. And when you have a whole garden full of berries and you don’t know your boysen from the black or the logan- just cook them all up together and label it mixed berry jam- it worked, we sold 50 jars!
Steptoe and Son- we spent thousands of dollars getting our furniture moved down from Brisbane, but when we set up the house it looked half empty- we didn’t realise how huge Hawthorn Lodge is. The big excitement each week if getting to the garage sales and tip shops on Saturdays and haggling with the locals trying to fill our home with furniture, rugs and kitchenware- we even have a system set up with our Steptoe neighbours- they have us on speed dial so if they see anything we want at a garage sale they go to- they call us and take pictures and we are onto it!
And last but never least- Absolutely Fabulous- at the end of a very long day, David and I are just like Edwina and Patsy- after running around like crazy all day, we sit out the back with our bottle or two of wine or champers and talk a load of nonsense about how wonderful we are and how much we love living in Tassie…
David has been at me to start a blog about our new, big adventure- changing careers, cities, states etc- he thinks it will make a good story- and it would- if I wasn’t so busy living it and could find time to write about it. He suggested I do the writing when I have a spare minute- well I do have some spare minutes between midnight and 4am- maybe I could write then instead of wasting it on sleeping!
I am not going to start at the start- or give you the background on me- no time for that- if you do know me then you sort of know what I have been up to anyway- if not (and I am not being conceited as everyone can be found on Google) search Marie Bean or Lazy Runner- that is me.
Moving to Bushy Park in the Derwent Valley Tasmania to take over a huge 146 year old house and turning it into a B&B, gift shop and tearooms- is a bit of a challenge-but I am always up for a new adventure.
Going from Brisbane city to a tiny town with a population of 233 (last count 2011) and down nearly as south of this country as you can get wasn’t too alarming- I spent the first few years of my life growing up on a dairy farm in the southwest of Victoria- so country living doesn’t scare me- too much!
I am just going to do this blog on things that pop up in this new chapter of my life that you may find interesting or amusing…
For some reason David thinks you cannot live for one day in the country without becoming a chook owner. I felt differently, but as long as he deals with them and they don’t come near me- that’s fine. He purchased them and built their little hutch and run before I arrived in Tasmania. I’m sure he felt that if they were in residence when I arrived that I couldn’t turf them out on their feathered bottoms.
I’m not a bird lover- one step further than that- I am scared of birds- Why? Who knows- Magpies have swooped me and made contact on many occasions- that sort of thing comes with the territory for runners- and my love for running has outweighed the Maggie attacks. I’m not sure why I don’t like birds. It could be the pointy beaks, the fluttering, the way they look at me with those beady eyes- you know that sort of thing. So the thought of all of those things happening on my property didn’t excite me.
I arrived in Bushy Park after a stupendous road and sea trip. I drove my little Lazy Runner car- filled to the bursting point (and I am serious when I say that, there are five doors in the car and if you opened any four of them, an avalanche of homewares, shoes, clothes and all types of Bric a brac would of flattened you) from Brisbane to Warrnambool- so see family- 27 hours of driving- then Warrnambool to Melbourne- 3 hours- then on the ferry from Melbourne to Devonport (Tasmania)- 12 hours, then Devonport to Bushy Park 4 hours- Phew. First thing first- hot bath; cup of tea; nice soft bed- no – I had to come and meet the chooks!
They were not as scary as I first envisioned. The chickens were in their own little area with lots of wire fences keeping them in. They were walking about- not flying- and they were showing no interest in me- Ok I thought that is a good start. There are 6 brown chickens and all look very much the same.
They looked harmless enough, I deemed that they can stay- plus I do like eggs.
David suggested I get to know them – befriend them even- talk to them for goodness sake- ‘what next?’ I thought. He claims they will lay better if they feel safe and happy.
Ok, I thought, it won’t hurt to talk to them- although they don’t seem interested in anything I have to say. Each morning I go down to let them out into their run- I start calling out on the walk down ‘Good Morning Chickies’ in my best Dame Edna voice. The first morning they looked at me for a second as if to say ‘What the?’ and then they just went about their scratching business totally ignoring me.
However, on the second day when I called out their morning greeting- they started clucking in their best Dame Edna voices back to me! The next morning- they got very excited when they heard me coming and they all gathered at the fence and watched me walking to them- clucking happily.
On the fourth morning when I got in the hutch to sort out their food and drink (yes that is my job as well now) they started gathering around me and running in and around my legs and their lovely soft feathers tickled.
The next morning I tried offering them food from my hand and at first a bit tentative they would take a bit and then run like the wind as if I was going to chase after them and grab the bread out of their beaks. When they realised they were not going to do that, they hung around me a bit more necks craned trying to see what was in my hands.
A week in- after I had finished feeding them, I would sit for a bit and next minute they gathered around and start pecking at my thongs and I discovered they love bling- they zoned in on my watch and ring and hit their beaks against them- and when they peck my skin it doesn’t even hurt- tickles really.
That night I said to David, the chooks are getting friendly; like pets- do they do that? Of course they do he said, they probably think you’re their mother!
It was on the eighth day that I knew they sort of liked me. I was scratching around myself, looking for my breakfast googie. They have an annoying habit of laying them down low, under things that I have to crawl into. I know I must have looked a sight, in their pen scratching around in the hay. Next minute, I felt a tap, tap, tap on my left butt cheek, and I turned to see Rizzo (named after Rizzo in grease, she is one tough cookie) pecking at my bum. That’s it a thought, they think I am one of them, or maybe David is right, I’m their big, mamma hen. Either way, we are now family!
As coincidence would have it, on the Tasmanian ABC news there was a story about cruelty to animals and they were talking about how hens are treated quite badly, but not as badly as the poor turkeys- that are treated terribly. A Local Tasmanian Farmer had decided to rescue some of these poor turkeys who were destined to end up on Christmas lunch plates and take them to her petting farm where she has lots and lots of rescued animals that people can come and see and pet.
One thing this animal saviour did say that struck me was – most people think only cats and dogs can be lovable, friendly pets- she said all animals will be friendly and affectionate If shown kindness and are treated well- and I thought, yes my chooks are turning into pets.
So the past few mornings- I feed my chooks and they run around crazy like as if they haven’t been fed for weeks. When I run out of food, I sit on top of their little wooden hutch, very quietly and watch them. After a while, they start to come over to me and begin pecking at my thongs, and talking to me. I swear they are- gossiping away, bitching about Rizzo’s bullying, talking about the weather and I just sit and listen.
I think – that farmer lady is right- and it’s true for any animal (including this one); all you really need is love, care, food and for someone to just sit and listen for a while. I know my kids thrived on those things and it looks like chooks are no different. Now they just need to realise that mumma hen would love some more of those wonderful googie eggs they lay every so often, at the moment they are as scarce has hen’s teeth- yes sorry but I had to leave you with a terrible, terrible pun!