House Vs Home

As many of you know, I have just made the big move interstate for my fiance’s work. I’ve packed my whole life into brown boxes, put my dog in a pet crate, pulled up all my roots and hopped on a plane to Adelaide, South Australia.

Moving makes you realise how much a house is really just four walls and a roof. When we first arrived we felt completely disoriented – culture shocked even. Because we knew no one here and nothing was familiar. But after a week, the quaint converted cottage I’m blogging from is starting to become a home, and I’ve discovered it’s all about the little details…

I love:

  • The high ceilings, fireplaces and wide creaking floor boards
  • That it smells and sounds like an old english house from my childhood (my dad was British so we spent a lot of time with his family over there)
  • The quirky trio of black bantam chooks painted on the power pole just outside our house, so when I drive down the street I know I’m home
  • The massive fig tree in our backyard heavy with fruit, and the strange little green gnome who sits under her
  • The sound of my pup’s toe nails clacking on the floorboards as he follows me around the house
  • The wind through the ivy that creeps down the side of the house
  • That I have blank walls to hang fresh canvases on (as we speak I’m doing a new painting specifically for this house)

But I don’t love:

  • The too-creepy-for-words cellar in the floor of our dining room. A wooden trapdoor lifts to a rusted metal ladder that leads down into something straight out of Silence of the Lambs. If I haven’t blogged for a few days, then you know where to suggest the police look…

It’s all these things (except the cellar) that have imbued this place that was once foreign with a feeling of homeliness. And when I think about it, it’s the very same details that make a story feel real and familiar, too. The small observations that ground you in the world of the story – that make it a novel you want to curl up with, one where you sigh when you open the pages.

I wonder what the details are that make your four walls and ceiling a home?


20 Responses to “House Vs Home”

  1. 1 Sheryl Gwyther January 31, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    How fortuitous to have those chooks on the pole outside your house! That’s a good luck symbol if ever i saw one. I love the sound of your new abode, Kath and wish you many lovely days and nights in her!
    As you’ve experienced, the beautiful back deck overlooking the trees in our sub-tropical Brisbane garden is one of the things that makes me love coming home.

  2. 2 Lynn Priestley January 31, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    So happy you are in and getting settled. It feels so good when you put down new roots and day by day can feel them taking hold. Here’s to an abundance of creativity within her walls.

  3. 3 Sybil January 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Yay for Chickens!!! It looks like a great backyard for Frank to run around in, and is that grapevine baring any fruit?? Looks beautiful and it won’t take you too long to learn your way around and to find inspiration in your new surrounds (horror story maybe??)

  4. 4 kathleen noud January 31, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    You have to write a short story about that cellar. It sounds awesome :)

  5. 5 Katherine Battersby January 31, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    That cellar has already crept into my nightmares! Actually so has the airconditioner – it’s quite powerful and last night I had a creepy dream about snow.

    Anyway, thanks for the support! I’m starting to feel more at ease and settled although it might be a little while before I get any good work done. My body feels more settled than my mind, but it will get there…

  6. 6 Julie Nickerson January 31, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    That cellar would creep me out, too. Put something really heavy over that trap door. The chooks, high ceilings, and everything else sound wonderful though. Glad you’re able to refer to it as ‘home’ so quickly. Hugs to you all.

  7. 7 Helen Ross January 31, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    All the best in your new home. I think it sounds wonderful, even the cellar. Happy writing, and I’m sure lots of lovely or great creepy stories will evolve.

  8. 8 Raynor January 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm


    You’re blog was recommended to my by a friend, and already I’ve enjoyed it, thank you! I love Adelaide and would love to move there; your new home sounds wonderful! I think I even like the cellar, but I guess I have a guilty pleasure for horror films. hehe.

    Kind regards,

  9. 9 chrisbongers January 31, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Kath, I love the sound of your new home, because it sounds a bit like mine! The creak of the floorboards laid more than a century ago, the click-clack of Huggy’s claws as he follows me about like a shadow, the secret door in the attic wall that leads into the roof space where my children found toys and a teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle costume circa early nineties that had been left by a previous owner’s kids. We also have a butler’s pantry and an under-stairs cupboard like Harry Potter’s bedroom. Swear to God, it’s hide-and-seek heaven. xx

  10. 10 Katherine Battersby January 31, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    So many people who like creepy cellars! Every time I walk over it, it makes a different sound to the other floorboards and I picture what’s down there. I’m a goosebump circus.

    Raynor, thanks for stopping by and glad you’ve enjoyed my blog so far. Popped over to yours and loved all your gorgeous photography and words.

    Chris – sounds like we’re in sister houses! I would have loved your place as a kid. I loved small spaces and hiding out from the world.

  11. 11 Lyn January 31, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    What a lovely inspiring place for you to write, Katherine! A sweet cottage in the city of churches with a creepy cellar, what a place! And as with the others, I look forward to reading more about that cellar!

  12. 12 Sharim January 31, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Aw I think that celler sounds pretty cool. Love the chooks, and i’m glad you’re settling in alright. How is Frank coping with the whole change?

  13. 13 Carole Poustie January 31, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    How lovely to be welcomed home by those chookies! May your new home and workspace provide you with much happiness and creative moments! It sounds wonderful.

  14. 14 Debbie Johansson January 31, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I just love the sound of the cellar – deliciously scary! It sounds like you can get plenty of inspiration at that house. Good to hear that you’re settling in – it sounds wonderful.

  15. 15 Trudie Trewin January 31, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Glad to hear you’re settling in, Kath. What you should do with the creepy cellar is chuck rejection letters into it – what you shouldn’t do is look back through newspaper archives for articles mentioning your address!!
    Seriously, your place sounds wonderful, cellar and all. I’ll bet you’ll end up writing lots of great stuff with all that conflicting stimuli!

  16. 16 Tina C February 1, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Hey Kath

    Sounds like you are settling well – and creating your own space within your environment. Your new cottage has an almost magical feel to it when you describe it. Must be the artist and story teller in you…

    Congratulations on your adventure – and I hope you will continue to explore the big-wide world!

    Miss you this end.

    Bye 4 now

  17. 17 Raynor February 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks for returning the visit, Katherine! Glad you enjoyed it. :D

  18. 18 Katherine Battersby February 1, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Sharim, Frank is settling in slowly. He was very snuggly the first few days, not wanting to leave our sides, and now he’s super vigilant to any neighbourhood noises – I don’t think he trusts the neighbours! But he’s getting there.

    Trudie, I love your cellar idea! I now dub it the Cellar of Doom, where I shall cast all rejection letters to live out their fate in the dank, dusty depths.

  19. 19 Angela February 1, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    That is a cosy nook of a backyard if ever I saw one. It’s like a little country retreat in the city. Love the chooks, of course. Your office set up looks raring to go too.
    Pop over to my blog if you have the time. I can’t remember if you heard my news what with your move and all.

    Angela x

  20. 20 Katherine Battersby February 3, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Just popped over to your cosy corner of the internet, Angela, and am THRILLED with your news! So well deserved.

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:


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