The Old Friendly Home Advice Agency

My days of violence are behind me, I like to think. I was quite the firecracker back in my youth, and Wagga Wonga Primary School knew it. Hattie Borden made the mistake of making fun of my stockings, so I knocked out six of her teeth. It beat the previous record (when Archie Mason knocked out four teeth in a freak draughts incident) by a whole two teeth. I was quite proud of that until I grew up a bit and realised that there are better things to be remembered for.

And while property advocates in Melbourne are now running around everywhere, I like to think that I at least had SOME part in helping the industry along. My pretty older sister wanted to be a real estate secretary (women couldn’t be actual agents back in those days). At that time I adored my sister and it was my life goal to do whatever she did. No internet back in those days, obviously, If you wanted to buy a new home, your options were limited to looking in the newspapers and having an estate agent TELL you what it looked like. Then you could go and look at the property yourself, of course. My first ‘business’ was Helena Naismith’s Friendly Home Advice Agency. Think of a buyers advocate, but a lot less formal, you didn’t have to pay for the privilege and I had no real training or expertise. People would contact me, I’d run along to the place where they wanted to buy and I’d give them a full run-down of the lovely houses I found, preferably over tea. I only ever got about eight customers, mostly friends and family (then that one fellow who fancied me and was using it as an excuse for us to chat). Anyway, I did that for a while before my pretty sister moved into her nursing training. Naturally, I dropped the buyers advocacy stuff and took up full-time veterinary services, with a focus on disabled rabbits.

And lo and behold, decades later, look at all the property advocates! Trustworthy, Melbourne-based…and I can’t really prove that the original idea was mine. Still, I like to think the spirit of Helena Naismith’s Friendly Home Advice Agency lives on, in the modern era.

-Helena

Dry Needling, For the ‘City Folk’

When the snowman brings the snow, well…you just might like to know: he puts a great big smile upon somebody’s face.

Not here though. We’re sadly relegated to a hot and dusty Christmas in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Here we sit on the edge of the outback, in a town of a hundred, isolated from anywhere interesting. You’d think since everyone knows everybody else’s name, we’d all get together for a big old Christmas party or something. Nope! Mrs Renshaw doesn’t even decorate the town hall, even though she keeps a draconian watch over absolutely everything else that goes on in there.

It’s just SO provincial. The biggest news of the entire year was Sheila Bryant going off to the big smoke in Sydney, doing a dry needling course. Everyone in town reacted like she’d come back and started brewing potions, and casting spells. Dry needling is ‘new’ and ‘fangled’ and ‘new-fangled’, it would seem, so the people of Jurumbee are suspicious of it. Some people here still get their water from a well and think that the internet is a secret government plot to steal your soul, so the fact that Sheila is now making a career out of something they’ve never even heard of is scaring everyone stiff.

I wonder how long it’ll be before Jurumbee gets dry needling? I’m going to say…never. Like, not at all. I was shocked when we actually got internet, although it’s still deathly dial-up speeds. It takes the nearest internet technician two hours door-to-door to get here and fix any problems, and yet there are so many that I’ve basically become the town’s resident technology fixer-upper.

But dry needling, eh? I bet Mrs Renshaw thinks that it’s some kind of advanced bush magic. Doesn’t matter that Sheila Renshaw is one of the only people around here with some sense. I should take a leaf and move to Sydney. I’d surely be casting off the trust of the community, but…whatever. Do dry needling courses do group bookings in Sydney? We could get the whole town in on it, make it our first actual community event. Now wouldn’t THAT be something…

-Carlos

Eleventh Hour Disaster for Christmas? Sorted.

My mother in law Stephanie has very nearly arrived for the holiday season. I’ve spent the last three weeks in a sweat preparing for it, but I needn’t have gone overboard. What I didn’t think I’d need in the last minutes of preparation, was to find Melbourne’s fastest glazier.

Stephanie was hailing a cab and would be here at any moment. This meant that a last minute swoop ( because seventieth impressions truly count) was needed. Naturally, disaster struck. I was dusting the guest room (Stephanie is highly allergic to dust) and I knocked my favourite ceramic planter off the dresser with my elbow. In addition to spraying potting mix everywhere, the planter jettisoned into the bedroom window, leaving a spidery, stretching crack through the glass.

I felt my heart rate jack up to threat-mode. I’m normally terrible in stressful situations, but these kind of conditions created the perfect storm. Racing to plug in the vacuum cleaner, I reached for my phone to find the residential glazing team we’d had to replace our balustrade last year. The gods were on my side that day, they would be here within a few short hours.

I raced around with the vacuum, thinking of ways to distract Stephanie from the fact that I’d all but thrown a pot plant through the window at the thought of her arriving.

A knock at the door snapped me out of my racing thoughts, and I opened to the door to Stephanie who air kissed my cheek and immediately announced how tired she was.

“A terrible flight. I’ve a raging stress headache.”

“I’ll get you a big glass of water!” I almost yelled.

“Water won’t do much. Turbulence shakes me to the core.”

“How about a gin and tonic?” I suggested, a little too brightly- and thankfully she leapt at the offer. Just as I’d poured the drinks, the glazier arrived. Leaving Stephanie to the particularly strong drink, I showed the glazier to the cracked window, I then returned to the living room, where Stephanie sat, reclined and fast asleep, a half finished G&T on the coffee table.

Peeping Children

I love the apartment block I live in, but there’s one thing about it that bugs me. It’s the fact that it’s squashed up so close to the neighbouring block. The blocks are staggered, so it only affects a small bit of my apartment, but it’s starting to wear thin, especially since it’s the bathroom that happens to be the problematic area. Seriously, my bathroom window is about two metres away from my neighbour’s kitchen window. You can look directly from one into the other. Major planning flaw!

Well, it’s just occurred to me that I could have that window tinted. From what I understand, it’s possible to have this done using reflective films that are pretty opaque from the outside, which means I could enjoy my bath time in privacy. Yes please! Residential window tinting, here I come.

I think there are some other benefits as well, like blocking UV rays and glare – although, in this case, that’s kind of beside the point. The buildings are so close together that it feels like hardly any sun gets into the bathroom anyway, except when it’s at a very particular angle, so I doubt I’m at much risk of getting sunburnt. Still, it might help a little bit with controlling the temperature in the room.

I probably wouldn’t be that concerned if it wasn’t for the particular nature of the neighbours in question. The woman that lives across the way tends to be pretty discreet, but she has eight year old twins who are mischievous. I don’t even know what to make of it. I’ve actually seen them point and giggle while I’m in the bath! Okay, yeah… that’s it. I need this done, stat!

In the meantime, maybe I should look into all the options. I’m sure I’ve seen windows with a kind of decorative frosting effect that makes them more opaque; that could look good in a bathroom. I’ve only seen it in offices, though. What are the best home glass tinting and window frosting services in Melbourne? Time to do some research.

 

A DIY Den for The Beast

My fifteen year-old sister, Hayley, is on a mission to revamp her bedroom (also known a The Lair of the Beast, a murky domain into which our parents occasionally make tentative offerings of food). She told me that she’s going to get her artistic friend to ‘throw up a piece’ on the wall with spray paint, but I’m not convinced that the parentals would take to kindly to the use of aerosols in such a confined space. Aside from that, they’d probably be totally fine with it, to be honest. But if I told Hayley that, she probably wouldn’t be so keen on the idea anymore, and I’d kind of like to see it take off.

I’m thinking of suggesting that she look into getting a custom graffiti wall decal instead. Her mate, if she’s as into art as Hayley claims, should be capable of drawing up the graffiti design on paper or with software, or whatever the kids are using these days. This can then be uploaded to one of these online wallpaper design tools I’ve read about, digitally printed and sent out for Hayley to install at her leisure. The outcome? Hayley gets to personalise her space with one-of-a-kind wall art, and our parents don’t have to put up with paint and fumes all over the shop.

I doubt that this will fly with Hayley, though – she’ll say it lacks authenticity. I can see the argument. Then again, being an upper-middle class teenager from Kew doesn’t exactly qualify one to comment on the authenticity of references to street art in interior decor. If anything, the decal option is more authentic – she’s constantly online, ‘redecorating’ her social media profiles, which seems suitably paralleled by the notion of self-adhesive digital wallcoverings that can be made to order via the internet.

For the time being, all that sis is aware of is a need to establish ownership over her space, while powerfully differentiating it from other spaces in the family home. Unfortunately for her, with parents as open-minded as ours, she’s going to have kind of a hard time rebelling.

Branching Out A Bit Too Far

I’ve been renting this house for a little while now, and I’m starting to get a bit concerned about the integrity of the roof. Over the past few days of heavy rain, a few leaks have sprung up – actually, there are more leaks than I have buckets and saucepans to place under them. It seems like there’s probably some pretty bad damage going on, and my nervousness around this is compounded by the fact that the old eucalyptus tree in the backyard has a huge branch hanging out directly over my bedroom.

I can’t believe I haven’t noticed it before. I can’t see what’s going on that clearly, but I suspect the branch might have actually started to break off and is currently propped up on a couple of other branches. If my suspicion is correct, then that’s a real worry, and I kind of want to get it checked out immediately if I’m going to be sleeping in that room! I wonder if there are any arborists in the Ashwood area that will come out on a Sunday?

I emailed my real estate agent about it the other day, but she hasn’t responded (as usual). As a rental tenant, I shouldn’t really have to take this matter into my own hands, but I might at least seek some professional advice as to whether this is, in fact, deadwood that needs to be removed for safety reasons. I’m not very familiar with the rules around tree pruning in Caulfield, or the finer points of how the operation works. But I would think that a professional tree surgeon would be able to assess the level of threat presented by a given branch.

All other things aside, I’m curious as to whether such an assessment can be made from ground level, given that I personally can’t make out what’s going on from down here. It’s a pretty freaking tall tree, and I’m interested to see what’s involved in climbing it. What’s more, I’m particularly keen to satisfy my curiosity if the property owner is footing the bill.

Termites? Manage the Damage

Today I visited the home of a family who had recently been devastated to find out their roof was infested with white ants. They’d noticed a few suspicious creatures and fearing the worst, chased up pest control experts in Mornington with desperation.

Sometimes part of the job involves counselling, people are often really upset to learn their house is affected by termites. But it doesn’t always spell disaster, especially if you get onto it nice and quick with a  company that specialised in termite inspections. Mornington is like anywhere else, termites can be found in every 1 in 4 homes-so,  knowing how likely it is to draw the short straw, this puts a lot of homeowners on edge.

I arrived at this home first thing in the morning after a distress call from the home owner, Andrea. They had bought the house almost ten years ago and until now, never noticed the telltale signs of termites in their roof.

I helped Andrea because that’s what I do, and I understand her grief. She was worried that it would get bad very quickly, and she was right to worry, because that’s how termites roll. The treatment I applied, however, will continue to work for ten years if the family keep an eye out and follow all the instructions. I like that in my job I can reassure people and help them manage the damage in a trusted way.

I’ve visited some truly devastated homes over the years during my career as a termite control expert. Fighting them off takes a lot of good strategy and state of the art equipment – we even use thermal imaging to detect termite activity these days. Sometimes the damage truly takes your breath away, these things are tiny and look innocent enough but their strength is in numbers and I can tell you where there is one, there are many, many more. No one deserves that. I’m glad I can help.

Captain Party Planner: The easiest Gig of all

I can’t believe that I never tried this before. When my sister had her third daughter, she actually contracted me to plan their parties every year. She knows I love doing it anyway, but I think she just felt way too exhausted to do it herself. Kudos to her for realising that enjoying the party was more important than being overwhelmed by it.

Anyway, this task left me to finding the best place to hold a kids party at in Perth. And I do believe I found the ideal place.

Listening to my sister tell me about how full on parks can be, even though you don’t have to pay for the space, the trade for open space isn’t that great. I’ve been to lots of her kids’ parties and taking on board how I see the adults, I’m not sure any of them go home feeling happy or relaxed. In fact, I think most parents leave more stressed about their kids running around, getting up to mischief and not staying in plain sight all the time. It causes a lot of panic.  Once I saw a kid lead a bunch of toddlers onto a service road. It happened in just a few seconds and although no one was hurt, they easily could have been, and the shock of it happening totally spoiled the vibe of the party. So I wanted to find a way around that, and on this venture, I found a place that have an amazing indoor play centre. Perth, you sure do have some hidden gems in town.

I did some good research and found out the play centre I’ve been thinking about cater beautifully for parties, and will even cover allergies and other concerns like that. The play space is massive and has a multi-tiered structure that kids can climb in, on, under and around. And a bunch of BALL- PITS… need I say more?

Backyard Gets a Drastic Upgrade

A garden consultant in Melbourne has been praised for his innovative methods of fruit tree installation, which include electronic diggers, hidden water channels and under-floor compost, an innovation thought to be impossible.

Frederick Jones, who recently emigrated from Finland, has taken the gardening world by storm with his impressive array of ornamental trees, which have been described as natural marvels. Since setting up his own business in Melbourne six months ago, Jones has visited hundreds of clients and installed his own brand of ornamental tree magic.

“We’re quite a green family,” says Freeman Kyle, a local resident. “We always wanted one of those giant apple trees, the ones you enjoy all year round. But we still needed a better way of getting more fruit faster, and we couldn’t choose between the two. Thanks to Jones, we didn’t have to. He made us a garden full of edibles and fruit that will be ready to fruit within the year. Our daughters can play at the same time as us having breakfast.”

The under-floor compost function, previously thought to be a dangerous, is apparently accomplished by coating the wood in a special resin of his own making. “It is a Finnish recipe,” says Frederick Jones, “I’m afraid I cannot share it. But you need never worry about heating again.”

With gerberas now ready to plant for Summer, there has been a rush to make gardens more enclosed before Summer. Many gardens have windows, awnings and greenhouses installed in order to protect from the coming heat. Other creations have included a raised blueberry garden with a hidden strawberry planter, and electronic wood panels that, when stepped on, light up the garden path.

Jones has stated that his creations are limited only by imagination, and challenges all clients to come up with a design that cannot be done.

“I welcome all challengers,” said Frederick, speaking from his Melbourne office. “I was taught to make the impossible possible. Whatever you need, I will create it.”

 

Booking the reception function room

Nothing brings people together quite like a weddings, even if they don’t WANT to come together! I’ve been planning weddings for sixteen years, and for a couple of those I had my own TV show on channel 46. You might remember Big Day With Dave? It became pretty famous at one point when one of our brides threw tantrum, threw the cake out the window and threw her fiancé into a pool. Then jumped in and tried to strangle him. The show was cancelled after we tried to arrange a marriage between a llama and a mentally ill woman, but I feel like I’ve learned a few lessons from then. And since then, I’ve just been planning weddings, nice and simple with a bit of Dave-style flair.

Of course, having been in the business for so long, I’m a master of the trade. Need a function room available in Melbourne at a moment’s notice? Oh, I’ll find it for you in half a moment. Want a cake shaped like a moose-hound, even though they’ve never been photographed in captivity? It’s just a google search away. Trust me, I’ve heard it all; in fact, I often like to challenge my new clients to surprise me. One couple wanted their function room decked out like an ice cave, and that was where they were having the ceremony. Once they got to the end and they were properly married, a giant model boulder was supposed to drop from the ceiling and they’d have to race to the exit without it crushing them. There was no actual danger, but seeing them dressed as explorers dashing down the aisle, being pursued by a massive fake rock…oh, it brought a tear to my eye. The place later complained about the actual oil-soaked torches, but I’m happy to pass the blame on that one. I can only make suggestions; if the soon-to-be happy couple have something in mind, then it’s practically out of my hands!

There you have it, folks. Challenges all accepted, because I want to make your big day even bigger than you could possible imagine! Though I would appreciate you respecting the safety measures. Knowing all of Melbourne’s corporate venue rooms isn’t all that useful when none of them want me back!