It started in the dead of the night. Lying in bed, with my partner snoring gently beside me, scrolling aimlessly through property listings. It's a sport of mine, searching for houses I'm probably not going to buy. My eyes were dry and half-closed with fatigue, and just as I was about to submit to sleep, I saw it flash up on the screen. A derelict cottage on 90 acres, in a place I'd never heard of, not far from the historic town of Braidwood.
I whispered into the almost darkness. "I've found something". Ten minutes later we'd agreed to take a look at the place and the sound of relaxed breathing carried on.
Now I'm standing, gumboots partly submerged in the mud and an insect net draped over my head, vigorously swatting away a March fly that's mistaken my dark tracksuit pants for a Black Angus. This is our new life, or part of it, amidst the photo shoots, site visits, fabric swatches, childcare drops, spreadsheets and Zoom meetings. And it's the best thing we've ever done.
Let me introduce you to Juniper Grove. A ramshackle colonial cottage with tin strips ambitiously covering gaps between the timber slabs, a draughty hayshed wrapped in a patchwork of rusted corrugated iron sheets, and an overgrown orchard that stands stubbornly between the two buildings, crowded with cherry, apple, plum, pear, nectarine and quince trees. Neglected, yet flickering with charm and promise.
The empty paddocks, once occupied by dairy cows, will be shrouded in flowers and planted with trees, gently coaxed to form enchanting, fragrant, edible gardens. The old buildings will be given new life, reimagined as spaces to slow down and reenergise. This is a story about chasing dreams, celebrating good design and enjoying simple pleasures.