1 August

Today it so cold the rain has turned into snow. I have come to Aireys Inlet to sand and revarnish the timber benches in the kitchen. It’s a job I have been meaning to do ever since a rental put a hot pan down on the wood and burned an ugly ring into it. Water has been leaking from the back of the tap on the sink and there is an ugly black stain on the timber where water has penetrated.

On the way down I bought half a ton of wood. It was delivered just after I arrived. The driver raised the back of the truck, opened the flap and the wood fell in a big pile … just behind my car. I stacked it neatly under shelter at the side of the house. And now the fire is pumping heat into the living room and the room smells of furniture polish and varnish.

I have sanded the benches, cleaned the dust off the furniture and the floor and painted one coat of Estapol. Later, when it dries, I will give it a light sand and paint a second coat. Then, when that dries, I will silicon around the edge where it meets the sink. It feels good to be fixing things.

This week, exactly a year ago, I came to Aireys Inlet to live. My 18-year marriage had finally ended. I told my friends, “I’ve been banished to the beach house.” At times that was how it felt. It was so cold down here. I lit a fire first thing every day. At times it was a joy to be here. From my work desk and computer I looked over trees to Lorne. At times I longed for central heating and the sound of it coming on at 6.00 am. Wet muddy sandy dogs drove me to despair. I missed swimming with the Marlins on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and coffee afterwards at the kiosk. I ran with the dogs up to the dam and back. I walked down to the paddock and fed and walked the horse. I bought the paper each morning and talked about how to deal with curly hair with the shop keeper. We compared products. I saw the local doctor about some trivial problem and I blurted: mum, marriage, dogs, failure and responsibilities. After thatphoto I started to feel better.

And now, after a year and a few days, I realise that this house was where I recovered. Sanding and painting the benches is a sort of thankyou.