07 July, 2015

14 July 2015 - Celebrations

Recently, a phone call from a friend was accompanied with the question, "What does 14 July mean to you?". Without hesitation, I replied with pride that it was on that date in 2014 that Patricia and I relocated from our home of 54 years in Cheltenham to an apartment in nearby Highett. After a short chat about this anniversary, he reminded me that 14 July is also Bastille Day or La Fête Nationale. Knowing of my interest in all matters French he invited Patricia and me to a luncheon which commemorates the French Revolution at the Sacrebleu French Café, Rye. The suggestion of a luncheon was timely as it would also allow us to celebrate the first anniversary of living in our apartment.We accepted with gratitude the invitation.

Details of the café and the menu for the commemorative luncheon are on Facebook.

An article in The Age prompted us to reflect and comment on our experiences of living in an apartment. The article was aptly titled Yearning for the simple life  (Domain: page 8, June 19-20 2015, words by Lorna Edwards):


Large apartments with plenty of room to move and spare bedrooms so the children and grandchildren can stay over.

When considering purchase of the apartment, a lot of time was spent planning the placement of furniture as we didn't want to live in a cluttered environment. We have ample space in the living area, the two bathrooms, the study, and, in particular, the two bedrooms. I was not impressed with the small bedrooms that I saw in apartments elsewhere. Small bedrooms mean that the occupants have no option but to share the living room.

Our two spacious bedrooms suit admirably the individual needs of Patricia and me. Patricia has a single bed, an armchair, a bookshelf, and a television; my bedroom contains a double bed, cabinet, bookshelf, and a recliner chair. We had a similar arrangement at our old home.

Over the years it has been one person rather than a couple who stayed overnight. Thus, a visitor is welcome to stay in Patricia's room, and, for a bonus, have access to the ensuite. Our grand-children are beyond the age of wanting to stay over.

Modern apartments with very high-quality fixtures and fittings and greater energy efficiency than the older houses they are leaving.

That statement sums up our situation. Our home of 54 years had well exceeded its use-by date. The house was neat and tidy, but was begging for renovation (carpets replaced, rooms painted, kitchen modernized etc.). Given that we live in a brand new apartment, it will be about 10 years before we need to concern ourselves with thoughts of renovation. Double glazed  windows and air-conditioning ensure ideal constant internal temperature throughout the different seasons. Air-conditioning is economic as we do not have to have it running all day. Having seen our apartment, a friend of ours commented, "You have set yourself up nicely".

Apartments without stairs and buildings with an adequate number of lifts for residents.

At the front of our building there are 5 steps and a ramp, and a lift to take residents from the car park in the basement to the sixth level. It is certainly a delight to not have to climb stairs.

Low-maintenance residences with good security to enable them to lock up and leave when they travel for extended periods or head for their weekenders  along the coast.

Ticks for low-maintenance and good security. At our old home we had to rely on neighbours to keep an eye on our house while we were away. This is not the case now that we are living in an apartment. Storage of odds and ends in the basement is secured behind a locked roller door.

Now the kids are gone, they can live it up a little and want to be close to cafes, restaurants, city attractions, and great  parks for walking. 

When we moved into our apartment we brought with us four kitchen chairs, and placed them in storage. The idea being that if more than four people were to dine with us then the table could be extended, and  the addition of four kitchen chairs would provide for a table of eight. There has only been one occasion in the past year when we needed two kitchen chairs for a family get-together. Perhaps it's time to give the kitchen chairs to charity.

At this stage of our lives we are quite happy to treat friends and family to a meal at one of the many nearby restaurants. This removes a burden from Patricia who no longer has the energy to cook for a large number of guests, We are ideally located for travel by train; a 15 minute walk places us at Highett station, and in 2016 the government intends to build a station adjacent to the Westfield Shopping Centre, Cheltenham, which is only 10 minutes or so from our apartment.

We were quite proud of the Australian native garden of our old home, most of which had been dug-up and redesigned in 2010. The garden was lovingly cared for up to the time relocated to the apartment. The loss of this garden was offset by a large park which is adjacent to the three blocks of apartments. It is with pleasure that we can look out on this park from our lounge chairs and the porch. It takes 20 minutes or so to walk the perimeter of the park; walking around the medium sized lake is popular.

Sharing walls with neighbours is often a new experience for downsizers, who aspire to buy into buildings with owner-occupiers in similar situations and age groups to themselves who won't be partying until 3 AM. 

We have observed that the residents living in the 8 apartments on the fourth level belong to a range of age groups. Thankfully, the insulated walls protect us from sounds in adjacent apartments. At times low level sounds can be heard in the hallway while waiting for the lift. There were only two occasions on which the corporate body had to act on two complaints - cigarette smoke in the hallway and a barking dog.   

For more details of our apartment see the article Downsizing which is listed on this blog.


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