Keeping up with the Jones’s …really?

A young friend (McMansion-child) of my daughter’s walked into our then house and exclaimed, “Oh, this is the smallest house I’ve ever been in!”

It probably was. Our house was built in 1920, and from then until the end of the Second World War it was the local house women went to have their babies. Apparently labour wards didn’t exist in hospitals back then, they’d just pop down to the local mid-wife’s abode. Our lounge room was the three-bed ward, my eldest daughter’s bedroom the delivery room. New mothers stayed for TEN days! (The mind boggles how the midwife managed the washing, and cooking … )

Our chirpy young visitor was correct in her real estate appraisal, and we added a second living area and indoor/outdoor deck on later. But I was often comparing us against the Jones’s mothers with their architect designed, well-appointed homes at my daughters’ school, trying not to. It was an affluent suburb, and we didn’t have a ‘normal’ house.ย But I discovered it was a blessing, a good lesson in life – march to the beat of a your own drum, ie don’t apologise if your drum is smaller, or different, or a bit quirkier. Are you happy with your drum? Well, then …

Besides, did other, fancy homes have –

1. – a tree house?

Treehouse 2

2. – a flying fox?

flying fox

3. – feral Cabbages roaming the garden?



4. – a kookaburra window made by arty brother-in-law?


5. – not a man-shed to die for, but a man-shed that refused to die.


Please note – shed, not house. It wasn’t THAT small.

6. – TWO shower-heads in the shower? (it was like that when we bought the house, I swear!)

7. – wonderful neighbours? (You know who you are :))

8. – ghosts? We didn’t either, but we should have!

9. – a frog pond whose inhabitantsย made ‘other’ neighbours complain, and hardly any visiting children fell into.

After renovating and narrowly avoiding an owner-builder-style divorce, we moved to Canberra. Our current home is a plain-Jane type home. I now write in my spare time, so poor Jane is neglected, incontinent during wet weather and has annoying wool carpet which collectsย stains, but she’s comfortable, and my husband makes wonderful wine in the cellar.

Unfortunately said husband (please note – I said the wine was wonderful, not the husband,) has stamped his different beat on to Jane, and the neighbours are talking, but I’ll keep that story for the next post. I never said the beat of your own drum had to be embarrassingly eccentric.



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25 Responses to Keeping up with the Jones’s …really?

  1. Looks like a kid’s paradise to me. I bet that shed had a few Redbacks lurking in it. I adore that kookaburra in the window. What a talented brother-in-law. My kids grew up in a very similar type of house that used to be the residence for the Christian Brothers. We even had a chapel which the boys all slept in. It didn’t endow them with any ‘holiness’ though.

    • Chapels…’ve just reminded me – I had a boyfriend from a prominent funeral home family, with a holiday house south of Melbourne. Whilst ‘holidaying’ there we slept in beds made of coffins. Thinking back, I think they were pulling my leg!
      Thanks, our house in the post wasn’t two storey and we didn’t have a huge 4WD or trips to Paris, but the flying-fox earnt the girls some playground kudos.
      Thanks for your lovely comments! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. ChristineR says:

    Lovely old house you used to live in. Perfect kids playground. ๐Ÿ™‚ I spent 10 days in hospital with both my children and that 1920 midwife would have employed local help or used family members to cook and clean and wash babies. Though, actually, the women themselves probably helped out – after a few days.

    I shouldn’t try and do two things at once! Listening to the evening news with one ear, towards the end of your post, I began to wonder about Jane. Incontinent, but only in wet weather? Dog? Then the wool carpet confused me. The penny dropped. So, your husband is planning drastic improvements? I await your next post with bated breath.

    • You are right, the women would have helped. The midwife had a husband with shell-shock so he probably helped as best he could too.
      Yes, our roof has leaks in certain downpours but I’m hoping a new skylight will fix that.
      My husband has already performed his drastic, embarrassing act. I might leave home before the next post… ๐Ÿ™‚

      • ChristineR says:

        My kitchen roof is incontinent in heavy rain. I’m never going to get that thought out of my head now, whenever it leaks. LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    What an interesting place to live. So much history. That trumps extra space. At least somewhat, anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hello Carrie. It was interesting. You wonder that there isn’t more sense of what happened in a place before, like fields of war etc. My daughter’s bedroom had no ghosts! Thanks for visiting! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’ll take a small place with interesting history…love and my own touch any day!…BIG does not mean happier!

  6. I adore small, simple, efficient. It’s just enough and that feels like plenty. When it doesn’t, then it’s time for change, but I love that it’s home and it’s meaningful to you. Plus, there are the stories that are generated from such quirky living, right?
    Love it, Susan!

    • We are still living quirky, as I’ll explain in next post, just getting worse now the daughters are colluding with their father…Thanks for your lovely, generous comment, as always! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Su Leslie says:

    What a wonderful house; I bet your kids will grow up with amazing stories to tell their kids while poor old Mc-Mansion child … well!!

    Your opening line reminded me of a kid who came to play at our house one time (only one time actually). I use the word play loosely because he didn’t really know how to play, he just demanded to be entertained. After about 30 minutes he whined “where are the TVs” – whilst actually standing in front of our one and only television set. Turns out in his house every room had a TV and that’s what the family did for leisure (though not together presumably). He didn’t “get” Lego, the treehouse (not as elegant as yours, but built by the boy-child himself), the trampoline, football on the lawn, etc. He literally didn’t know how to play. At the time I just couldn’t wait to get rid of the little brat, but now I feel really sorry for him.

    • I read it’s healthy for kids to get bored, that’s when they learn to entertain themselves. That poor kid probably had so many extra-curricular activities to take up his time too.
      A tree-house built by boy-child himself trumps mine. My girls aren’t nesters (yet?) I loved making my own cubby-houses.
      I agree with you, toys that encourage imagination, like Lego, even Barbies with their role plays are enriching.
      Thanks for stopping by. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. suzjones says:

    Speaking as a Jones, I would have to say that one of the houses I grew up in had ghosts…. and prowlers…. and break ins…. and two large brick walls and a college that overlooked the backyard. But we also had a chookhouse (that we never used), home made football posts, a handmade brick bbq and backyard cricket. I reckon it was pretty good. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Wow! Such scary drama! The closest I can come to such excitement is the alleged ‘Chainsaw Man’ who my drama queens swear lives behind us now. Poor guy.
    All that backyard cricket and football sounds like good, clean fun, Sue. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Lee-Anne says:

    These pics exude such joy! More soul than 10 McMansions! xx

  11. I live in a little corner of Wales where all the houses are quirky, but over the years some of them (belonging to wealthier and more skilled members of the community) have become fantastic archeological creations that put my little ‘shed’ to shame. So I was heartened to read your post today!

  12. Hi Annabelle. I LOVE your photo posts of your neck of the woods. I read that families in new big homes spend less time together. They don’t have to negotiate what to watch on the one TV in the one family room. So no ‘shame’ please. Are there shots of your quirky ‘shed’ on your blog? If so, can you please send me the link? ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Would love to see. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Debbish says:

    My childhood best friend moved to Mt Isa (as a teacher) just after she married. She was there for over 12 years from memory and I gather that posh houses were kind of the ‘thing’. Her kids would visit her mum (who still lives next to my mum) and be horrified at her weatherboard house (like my mum’s). They didn’t know ANYONE who didn’t have a pool and games room and the like.

    She said her oldest son was once went to a party where the host hadn’t hired a jumping castle or entertainers – they just played games and he was gobsmacked.

    That sort of stuff makes me despair….

  15. There can be a lot of parental competition, like who can have the fanciest birthday party, who was toilet trained fastest, who holidayed at the most exotic summer destination, grades at school etc. Worse for the kids, poor things.
    What’s wrong with a good party game anyway, except Musical Chairs, the competition freaked me out… ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. jbw0123 says:

    What a teaser. You had me with the ten day lie-in. Looking forward to chapter two.

  17. Thanks for visiting! Have been reconsidering chapter two, feeling a bit mean sharing my poor husband’s attempts at home decorating. He does try very hard on a good day, but if he pushes me too far…. ๐Ÿ™‚

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