Tardis or Big Top?

At last I am home, after the journey I’d like to forget, via Hakodate and Perth. From the outside, my home is an unprepossessing low-set cottage in beautiful undiscovered Keppel Sands, complete (you’ll note) with colourful wheelie bins.

But go inside, and it’s another world entirely.

Like the Tardis, of Dr Who fame, the outside is deceptive. Nothing more than a public telephone box – these days an antique collector’s item – the Tardis looks small on the outside. But go inside, and a whole Bunnings store meets the eye.

Likewise my home. The outside is the low-set cottage as per the photograph, surrounded by sheltered decking on all four sides. But get inside, and you’re greeted with a sight you never would have expected in your wildest dreams, and that looks far too big to fit inside its frame. It is like a second big bang. A vast universe suddenly appears before your eye.

Specifically, you are immediately confronted with a soaring cathedral ceiling supported by imposing polished wooden beams covering what is mostly an open plan of six rooms. The whole effect takes my breath away even today.

This effect is, holistically, like that of a circus tent, a ‘big top’, but with extraordinarily solid beams in place of canvas. The beams radiate out to the perimeter, in a geometric formation that – in its precise formation, brings to mind the ordered structure of crystals or something of similar blueprint. They radiate from two central points supported by wooden poles six or seven metres high. You cannot but feel like a giant in such surroundings. A giant among men (and/or women). Leave low ceilings and the like to dwarfs!

The immensity of the space and its airiness conveys an impression the house is afloat on a benevolent and ambient breeze. This is an illusion. Those laminated beams are bloody heavy. And the poles are anchors going deep into the ground. This house survived Cyclone Marcia in 2015 with barely a shudder.

The warm colours – the varieties of red and brown – the colours of sunset – colours inevitable in an interior predominantly of wood and wood laminate – delight my senses, embrace me, and make me feel instantly at home. It is the prototypical warm welcome for me. There is not a trace of cold or chill to be found in these benevolent premises.

And on the inside looking out, you have a view through glass and through magnificent greenery to the pacific ocean and to multiple coastal islands seemingly afloat on the blue. What more is there to like?

And who designed this amazing house? Janet Ward, my late partner, much loved and lamented, who always was a frustrated architect.

I was very much afraid I might encounter ghosts when I returned home from Perth recently. I was dreading the possibility of finding Janet in every nook and cranny of this house. It didn’t happen. Certainly, the house itself is one huge ghost, but a ghost that smiles on me. It is a ghost I can live with. It is a ghost I want to live with. And I feel it wants to live with me.

These might seem strange and superstitious sentiments coming from a professed atheist. Please cut me some slack. These are feelings I have that, in the course of the daily grind, seem unavoidable – perhaps essential – to me. They are not yet outright beliefs, and may never become such.

But they are a comfort to me in the exceedingly hard times I am experiencing at present. Let me hang on to them for a bit.