Posted On 19 May 2021
Nikk Carmichael

It’s Wee Waa like “War” not Wee Waa like “Wah” (baby crying). Get it? Good!

An update from Wee Waa.

Welcome to the next update on my adventures in Wee Waa. To catch-up and read the first instalment click here.

So, I’ve started to have guests arrive at the house/studio. Actually a flurry of them!

Marama and our daughter Emily just came for the weekend, then a dear friend and long time customer came up for a few days to record some demos. My parents will be coming up soon to take their first look at the place plus my brother is threatening a flyby at some point. That’s a lot of traffic. Especially for a small town out this far!

Obviously I’ve been working to get the place looking nice (and de-moused) and comfy for my visitors.  I’m putting in more beds and such….  The many bedrooms that have, up until now, not needed to have people sleep in them have been rather handy for storing things.  I had dedicated one entire bedroom just to cables,  all neatly laid out on the floor.  Now I’m tidying all that away in place of the more BnB side of things to start taking shape.

I’ve gotten used to being alone here though – it will definitely be a little strange to have guests! So I’ve decided to instil a little Wee Waa tradition for whenever someone comes to stay.

Visitors are to bring these three things: 

  • A picture for the wall
  • A book for the library
  • A bottle for the bar

I wonder whether that sounds a bit presumptuous. Oh well. I like it! Let me elaborate.

A picture for the wall.

This is a big house. I mean, it’s no Downton Abbey but it’s pretty big! It has three-metre high ceilings throughout most of it, so there’s a lot of hanging space. I’ve hung a few pictures that have meaning up on the walls, but there’s a LOT of room for more. 

I’m not suggesting that my guests need to bring some major work of art (although they can if they desire!)  I’m saying they should bring something, in a frame, for the wall.  It could be a photo of them (hopefully autographed) and even better if it’s of them and me.  It could be a picture they painted, a CD that I worked on with them, a crayon scrawl that their kid drew,  a photo that came with the frame (if done in irony could be a statement.  Once again, more points if it’s autographed).  

It should say something about the person who brings it that will live on in memory and add to the history of this already historical house.  Whatever it is should be a statement that you want to leave standing in Wee Waa.  I intend those pictures to be here for a very long time.  I don’t want to cover the walls in things that have no meaning to me because they look pretty.  I want to point it out to future guests and tell the story of the person behind putting it there.  I’ll even let you decide where you want to hang your framed keepsake.

A book for the library

There’s a small room in the West Wing… 

Okay.  I should back up.  I may have over exaggerated the size of this house but, to make matters worse, I’ve also perhaps over compensated in the names I call things.  The whole house is known as….

The Grand Old Duchess.  

I know, right? You’re totally forming a picture, aren’t you!

Quick tour.

There’s the main section in the centre of the house, once past the formal entry (a four metre square space from front door to the grand arch.  There are two doors off this space that lead to bedrooms), that houses both dining and living areas.  This is known as The Grand Ballroom.  

I mean, obviously.

To the east of this lie three bedrooms:  The first, aforementioned entrance within The Grand Entranceway has two doors.  It’s just that cool.

We call this room, La Parrissienne (This is the master suite…though… umm.  It doesn’t have an en suite so I don’t think it’s technically a suite at all but it’s big and it’s got those floor to ceiling cupboards and two sets of french doors that lead off to the enclosed, twelve foot wide verandah that runs the length and breadth of the house…..)  It feels kind of French so I’m calling it a suite..

Follow this pathway onward toward the back of the house and you’ll find the kitchen and the laundry, second toilet, and the entrance to the control room for the recording studio (previously The Billiard Room because.. I saw a picture of it on the real estate website when it had a pool table in it.)

To the west of The Grand Ballroom is The West Wing.  This is where the main bathrooms are (there are two, kind of.  One has a toilet and shower plus a tiny, weeny sink and the other has a claw foot bath (masssssive!) and a reasonable size vanity.  

THEN there is ANOTHER vanity in the hallway (I know, right?) in between them with a towel rail for, like, eleven people.  It’s all a bit odd layout wise but we’re talking about over a hundred years of changes and additions.  

It must have survived the great Wee Wah flood of 1910  

Who knows when plumbing was put in?  

It’s had all sorts of extensions and such and I’m struggling to track down all the history of it.  

Anyway, Come up the hallway in the other direction from the bathrooms and there’s a double bedroom on your right we shall call The Havana Room, and then down the end of the hall is my office.  A big space with a workbench and built in cupboards and, strangely, a window into the last bedroom which is off the front entrance on the other side from the other bedrooms (lost yet?). 

That bedroom is known as The Presidential Suite.  

Back to the office, I have a roll top desk in there and a full on security setup that monitors the whole property.  Sweet.  

BUT, between that office and the aforementioned double bedroom is this pokey little “study” type space.  It’s a room that’s big enough for a single fold out bed/lounge so I guess it’s classed as a bedroom but it has these old built in book shelves in it.  

So, this is The Library. But a library needs books and there is a lot of shelf space to fill.

It doesn’t have to be a Dickens first edition (though they will be gratefully accepted), it can be a dog eared and meaningless trash novel you found on a bus. Or a book on the life of someone you find inspirational or something that you’d feel that someone should read. Someone you don’t even know, somewhere down the track, will pick it up off of the shelf and read it, curled up on the lounge in that little library so far away.  And you should write an inscription in the front. Dedicate it to whomever you like as it is my plan that it will stay on these shelves in Wee Waa for a long time.

There are two books on those shelves right now and I brought both of them with me.  

The first on the shelf was a small photo album of my parents and my grandparents and my siblings as babies.  All black and white stuff.  Really touching and the most random thing ever.  

I don’t know how it got packed for Wee Waa. I kid you not! I don’t remember putting it in a box.

Amongst all the stacks of audio gear and office stuff and instruments and basic living things and what not, that photo album appears!  Spooky stuff.

The second book is The Lexicon MX200 User Guide.

Any sound engineers out there get that one? Yeah?  

Crickets.

Sorry. Fair enough. Inside joke.  

But basically, I want to make it a funky library filled with things of true interest to those people that I love that make the journey all this way.

A bottle for the bar

This would appear to be a no brainer.  Most people bring a bottle (bottles) of wine when they come to Wee Waa and by all means BYO! But this isn’t about that kind of drinking.  

This is a bottle FOR THE BAR.  

It might be something you have a drink from on the night/s you’re there but it’s something you want to be left behind that can be shared with the next traveller whilst their host tells them the tale of the person who brought it. It’s a story. I want this house to be all about stories.  

When I was a kid my parents had a rather fancy in house bar in an upstairs section of the house. It was the whole 70’s deal with mood lighting, barrels sticking out of the wall, copper inlays with roman chariots. Completely full on with velvet topped barstools and little lights and knick knacks and stuff. They’d owned a restaurant for a while prior and they’d brought home a lot of glassware and a whole cocktail range of stuff when it closed. It was properly kitted out. Not your usual daggy den bar.

I loved it. Totally loved this space. Apart from anything else, it housed the big, all in one record player/radio. It was a huge piece of highly polished timber with a single (I want to say) 18” speaker in it attached to both a radio and a record player.  It was my first portal to recorded music. How could I not love this space. Plus it was just super groovy and funky and Sinatra-esque and out of bounds.

I’ve been wanting to recreate that space all my life.  

In that bar was an array of odd bottles.  It looked like Doctor Frankenstein’s laboratory.  All kinds of colourful things in odd shaped containers.  

One bottle that always stuck out was something called Inca Pisco.  I have no idea what was in it but the bottle had the face of what is probably now what I would consider, an incredibly inappropriate 3D depiction of what I expect was someone supposed to be of Mayan descent.  The bottle was jet black.  Rough to the touch, like touching concrete.  At the neck there was a piece of rafia tied and a little red wax seal on the top around the cork.

I’ve asked my father about it and he doesn’t remember where the bottle came from. He does remember that it was bloody awful and that’s why it stuck around so long. No bugger could drink it apparently.  

So the bottle sat for years amongst the blue curacao and the creme de menthe and the myriad of potions on the shelves. Next to the toothpick holders from San Francisco and the German beer steins and porcelain Bundy bear….

…..until they sold the house and it all got pulled out and we sold everything off in a garage sale. You can’t get back that lost history, but we can create a new bar similar to that one with a new mission.

So, bring a bottle for the bar in Wee Waa. Even if no bugger can drink it.

(until next time!)

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