The Zen of home by Jo Castro

Frangipanis grow in abundance in our WA garden in summertime

While dusting the books in my book case in our home the other day I came across a picture that had come loose from a photo album.

It was a photo of our first home, just before we got married.

And it got me thinking about Home and what it means. So today I’m having a little trip down memory lane and linking to Little Red House who’s photographic theme is “Home”.

The picture of these Frangipanis (above) I took last week will always remind me of, and bring me back ‘home’ to Western Australia. They encapsulate all that I love about living in this corner of WA; beauty, fragrance, fecundity, soft colour and openness.

What makes a house a home?

Our first house, No 17, Prinsloo Street wasn’t a fabulous house but it was a wonderful home, despite it’s lack of a conventional kitchen and mod cons. It was built of solid sandstone and had heavy yellow-wood doors and high ceilings and was once, during the Boer War in South Africa, the British Officer’s Mess in Ladybrand.

Zen of Home by Jo Castro

I swear the spirits of those officer’s protected me when He Himself went off geologising, over the border in Lesotho, for days, sometimes weeks at a time.

Perhaps it is the feeling of safety you get that makes a house a home?

Home sweet home in WA

Since then we have moved house over 19 times, and each new house has, after a while in a process not dissimilar to osmosis, become a home.

I know only too well the thrill of moving into a new house in a new place, often in somebody else’s country where the culture is different, the food is different, the climate is different and the light is something else altogether, and I’ve looked forward to creating new homes.

But the day we moved into our current home in Western Australia, on a blazing hot late summer’s day, I didn’t for one moment think that we would be in WA very long, and to tell you the truth, to begin with, I didn’t care very much for the house at all – although it was all that anyone could wish for.

The Zen of Home
The view from our old sitting room in Africa

You see, I’d just left Africa and a quirky somewhat decrepit house with a view across vineyards to the Hottentot Mountains, it was a house and a place which had rooted itself deep into my very fibre, like a lover not wanting to let go.

In Western Australia the harsh sun and the iron-like temperature of a heatwave in January made the stark environment of a nearly new house in a suburb seem unwelcoming and uncharacterful.

My eye searched in vain for something familiar to anchor itself to, but found nothing.

We had to settle, to relax, live and learn about our new surroundings and the house, and bit by bit the house became a home and the little garden became a sanctuary.

Zen of Home

Four years later and I have come to love this corner of the world, and my own small, quiet space within it –  in a new suburb close to a beach.

My home has become both my refuge and my muse.

The Zen of Home

I embrace our house with it’s zen-like calm, its newness and its practicality.

I enjoy the garden we have created almost from scratch where frangipani trees bloom during the summer months, and the grass grows green in the winter. How I love our neighbour’s tree which has entwined its roots deep under our fence and now looms like a forest monster providing shade for us, and refuge for a number of tweeting birds including parrots.

Inside, bamboo floorboards and the light from many windows keep the style welcoming, modern and bright despite the contrast of our old furniture picked up over the years in markets and down town shops in places like Stanley Market in Hong Kong, or the dusty second hand shop in Bloemfontein, or from the old woodcarver selling furniture under the Acacia tree on a lonely stretch of road in Namibia.

Home by Jo Castro

Yes, I love our home and I’m very grateful to be able to live here. It exudes peace, and calm and it’s safe and sound.

I like it that way.

I especially enjoy smelling the frangipani flowers each day – which puts a new twist on remembering to smell the roses, doesn’t it?

What do you love about your home?

Living in WA Tips

You will find many new estates in Western Australia with solid, modern houses – but beware, the prices may be more than elsewhere in Australia.

A new house in a new suburb will come with a back yard and a fence, but not much landscaping, so be prepared to plant trees, shrubs, flowers or veggies.

Architectural history is scant in WA, although little weatherboard cottages with wooden floorboards and high ceilings may date back 80 or so years if you’re after ‘character’.

It’s very hot in WA during summer and in the south west temperatures can drop considerably during the winters, and wood burners become a practical investment. Look for a well designed house that is cool in summer and warm in winter. Reverse cycle air-conditioning is also a good addition in a house.

For much of the year living outdoors is something West Australians do and love. If you are near a beach you probably don’t need a swimming pool, but you will be glad of a shady outdoor area where you can barbie at the weekend.

OK, it’s your turn – What do you love about Your Home?

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  1. Pondside

    I love how my house – my home – welcomes me as I come up the drive after a week of working on the mainland; how it nestles under the giant cedars and in turn wraps its veranda around me; how it says ‘welcome’ to all our guests; how is is a magic place for our grandchildren.
    Speaking of magic – the word frangipani conjures up magic and mystery to me. Oh, to see it for real!

  2. Your home sounds absolutely gorgeous and so welcoming 🙂 I wish I could send you a Frangipani tree – they are so beautiful 🙂

  3. Hi Jo
    Well I’m so glad that you feel it’s “home” where you are now!
    It’s the people, love and security that make a house a home wherever we are – not all the trappings – however having some familiar things around us sure help to make us feel settled.
    We lived in Queensland for three years, i found it very hard to put down roots, however where ever the four of us were – meant we were at home!
    Shane ♥
    ps that view from where you lived in Africa was very special….

  4. Hi Shane, yes you are so right, it’s having the people around who you love that makes a home a home for sure. Now my kids have flown the nest I think the actual house becomes a bit more important than before, almost like a living entity! I still do miss ‘that view’! Thanks so much for your thoughts and comments:)

  5. What I love about your home Jo is that is a collection of wonderful memories from all your homes around the world. And it exudes such a wonderful welcoming calm and joy for life.

  6. What a lovely post! I am always in awe of world travelers. I am such a homebody, and I have lived in the same place for almost my entire life, but I love reading of the wide world through other’s eyes. Thanks for sharing your beautiful homes in Thursday’s Inspirations! xoxo

  7. Thank you Mary. I’m also a little in awe of people who live in the same house all their lives and I love visiting your blog for a dose of stability and tranquility and of course your wonderful photos.

  8. I live in a completely different WA, Washington state in the US, and have a drastically different climate but the same affinity for the outdoors, we just dont swim in our ocean. My home is constantly evolving while we pray for children. It feels warm and comfortable and inviting, and there’s always a project to tackle.

  9. Lovely to hear from you in the other WA, on the other side of the world, Rosalie! Your home sounds a wonderful place to be, and I hope your prayers are answered.

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