Camping at Grafton
26 December 10
It was almost dark when we finally reached the burned-out Grafton house. We gave the Pritchards a quick look around before trying to settle the kids with a bit of food.
One of Woodoo’s friends has lent him a caravan, and it’s parked outside the house with an annexe providing a bit of extra shelter. He has been using it to rest in while he spends his days sifting through his surviving belongings.
When we had last visited, we had heard Woodoo negotiating with the insurance assessor over the need for a power box to be installed at the house site. After the fire, the electricity was completely turned off at the house — all the exposed wiring provided grave dangers of electrocution.
Woodoo had to really insist on having the power put back on — he needed it to run the pool pump so he could keep the water clean. However, it’s meant that he’s had power to his caravan and extra power points for power tools.
Woodoo came out to visit us at the house, and soon after he arrived, David’s brother Tim and his girlfriend Lyla turned up too. We last saw Tim and Lyla in November last year.
Lyla (her Chinese name is Qianqian which is pronounced “Chenchen”) has a special way with our girls. Soon after she arrived, she held several on her lap and they were engaged in an elaborate pretend game where Lyla was the mummy and they were her children.
In the morning, the first job was to test out the pool, which Woodoo has been maintaining carefully. Although the sun wasn’t out, the girls weren’t put off by the slight chill and soon everyone was in.
During the day, Woodoo and I sorted through piles of his things. We made several piles — Woodoo’s pile, Rosie’s pile, good things that we wanted, Ben or James’ stuff that survived the flames, other good things that we could give to charity and the throw-away pile.
We started off putting the rubbish into the big wheelie bin to be emptied by the garbage truck. However, soon we realised that — not only was the wheelie bin too full to continue piling up with rubbish — the main house was essentially one big rubbish tip because the whole thing will need to be demolished with all the rubble removed. We changed tact to make the dining room our designated rubbish pile.
At the end of the day, Woodoo and I had made a lot of progress, and we were both covered with soot from going through everything. When Woodoo left to go back to his house with a carload of belongings, I relaxed with the family in the pool.
Although we were camping, it wasn’t very hard because we still had electricity and running water. However, we resolved to make more space for us in the morning because all the rain meant that when we wanted to be together out of the wet, we had to huddle under the annexe. Our plan was to finish cleaning out the garage and use that as our base camp.