(16th May 2011)

Last Sunday, we were all sick. In fact I think half of Alstonville was. There is this dreadful gastro-flu virus circulating, and it appears to have attached itself to every slippery-dip, every shopping trolley and every other surface in the village.

And it was COLD! Now, I know it sounds strange – we live in Northern NSW, home of sunshine and warmth, where you can swim in the sea in July. But seriously, it was very cold. Maybe as low as 15degrees celcius. And even three layers didn’t cut it. Or ugg boots. So we lit the pot belly, which was heavenly.
The house we live in used to be my Grandma’s until she passed away last year and we bought it from the family. It’s a tile and brick town house in Pleasantville Boulevard, where every lawn is manicured, and every hedge it pruned, but you never see a sole. But Joyce (my Grandma) always took great pleasure in the fact that her trees grew like a rainforest in front, her lawn was roughly mown, and no plant was ever pruned. Where her house could be different, and still keep within council regulations, it was. And in my memory from childhood, the best feature was the pot belly stove in the middle of the living room.
The architecture of the house is designed around the pot belly. There is a very strange brick wall smack bang in the middle of the house, that separates the kitchen from the living room. Its purpose is to be a platform for the little stove. The rest of the living room circulates around. It is an odd design. But made even more odd by the fact that in recent years, Joyce swore the pot belly was broken. Sorry, Joyce, but it actually works fine. We tested it this Sunday, and have spent every evening since curled up beside its warmth. As the Dutch always seem to say say, it is “gezellig”, which in some sort of way means cosy, but apparently doesn’t translate very well.