IELTS Cue Card 989

IELTS Cue card

IELTS Cue Card 989

Describe a beautiful house/ home you have been to.  or
Describe the most beautiful house you have ever seen

: You should say

where it was
how it looked like
when you visited there and why
and explain why you think this was a beautiful house

: Model Answer

Ok, so rather than tell you about a ‘typical’ home I know, I want to share with you the story of possibly the most amazing house I’ve ever been lucky enough to visit. I only went there once, and it was a very, very long time ago, but it made such an impression on me that I feel I can still visualise it really well. I’m going to try and explain who the property belonged to, where it was, what it looked like inside (this is the real surprise) and try and explain what it was that made such a strong impression on me

So, the story was, I was travelling in Australia. An elderly relative of mine now living in the UK, had spent many years working there, and was really keen I look up an old friend of hers who lived ‘in the rainforest’ in a quite remote part of Queensland, near a coastal village called Cardwell. I was a bit apprehensive about doing this. The woman it was suggested I meet was in her eighties and I knew nothing about her other than that she used to work with my cousin and that she was recently bereaved. To my shame, I imagined a rather lonely and aged woman and I wasn’t looking forward to the visit

I interrupted my coach trip up the East Coast of Australia to get off at this remote and tiny tropical coastal town in Far North Queensland, Australia. When I visited in the early 1990s I think the population was only just about one thousand people. I got off the coach and my heart sank a bit, there seemed nothing there, and I didn’t even have the phone number for this woman. It wasn’t a usual tourist drop-off point and I was the only person to disembark – I think I may even have had to request that the driver made a special stop at the settlement just for me. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I made my way to the only accommodation available (a sort of cheap camping/ hostel/ motel place) and quickly people started to ask me what I was doing there. I explained hesitantly I was looking for this woman ‘Margaret’, feeling silly for doing so. How on earth would I find her? Well, it was amazing. Everyone, literally everyone, immediately knew who she was, I was warmly welcomed by association. She was clearly something of a local celebrity, very well-regarded and described as indeed ‘living in the rainforest’. Within a couple of hours of my arrival, a forest ranger turned up. It seemed he had somehow heard I was looking for her, so he’d come in his off-road vehicle to pick me up and take her to her home! I had no idea what to expect, but clambered into the truck, and off we went, bouncing down rutted tracks, deeper and deeper into the rainforest

After a little while, we arrived at her ‘house’. Oh! my. I have never seen anything like it before or since! Imagine a little wooden house, raised up on stilts, with a veranda completely encircling the structure, a rather crude slatted wooden roof and wooden interior walls. Imagine all of this, but with no external walls! It was as if the property had just grown organically from the forest floor. The weather was warm year round in this part of the world, and clearly, my host felt very safe in the forest. Rather than have a barrier between her and the forest, she chose to have no exterior walls, her living space merged with the plants and animals that surrounded her. I think there may have been a low wooden fence at the back of the property, but really this was mainly to stop things falling off her platform, rather than give privacy or security

I sat and joined the ranger and my relative’s elderly friend for tea in her ‘living room’ which was open to the forest. It was extraordinary. Birds could flap through, the noises of the forest were all around us. It was completely magical. I heard all about my host’s work and career. It turned out she was a passionate conservationist, who, together with her late husband, had been instrumental in securing World Heritage Site and Site of Special Scientific Interest status for the beautiful uninhabited island of Hinchinbrook which lies off the coast of Cardwell. She was also very active in working to preserve Cassowaries, a bird I’d never even heard of, but which I came to learn is a large, flightless bird most closely related to the emu, and terribly endangered due to loss of its natural habitat. Being in her house was complete sensory overload. The house was just a shell of interior walls that essentially served as a viewing platform for the forest but it was where she lived. No phone, no electricity, but home all the same. The interior walls separated her bedroom area from the living area where she welcomed guests, but the whole structure was exposed to the elements on the outside – apart from the roof which overhung the planks of the porch quite considerably. It blew my mind that you could make a home in such a way and in such a place. Also, that although you might think she’d be isolated, clearly the ‘bush telegraph’ meant even living in the middle of the rainforest as she did, it was just a couple of hours from me getting off that coach unannounced to a message reaching her that I was looking her out and she arranging to have me as a guest in her home

What did I like! Well, feeling part of the rainforest. It was an unobtrusive dwelling, probably we would call it ‘eco-friendly’ in the language of today. She told me that sometimes she’d be having an early breakfast on her porch and see cassowaries wander past. They are incredibly shy and rare so that is a remarkable thing. I loved the quirkiness of the house, the minimalism of her furnishings. You really don’t need very much in the way of material things to have a good life. Also, I suppose there’s a very little point in having lots of possessions when the rainforest might encroach on you at any moment. I didn’t like the mosquitoes, though! I was wearing shorts when I visited and I’d swear I still have the scars from the many bites to my legs from those pesky insects feasting on me on that day. I don’t mind, I even like them in a way. They are a physical reminder of a memory that otherwise seems almost too extraordinary to be true

I wish I’d made this visit when I was a little older and wiser. I’d have asked far more questions about what her life was like and how the house came to be built. However, the important thing is that I had the chance to visit at all, and to be reminded there are many ways to live our lives and many different dwellings from which to do so. Not all of us will be lucky enough to create our little patch of paradise, but it is heartening to think some will. It also reminded me not to rush to judgement and to listen more carefully to what people say. I had stereotyped what an ‘old’ person would be like, but in her eighties here she was living independently in very basic accommodation but full of passion for new projects and with an energy that put me to shame. I also wondered in retrospect what it was I expected to find. Everyone I met told me ‘oh Margaret, you’ll find her in the rainforest’ and that was literally where she was, yet somehow I hadn’t expected to take that statement at face value. It was no short-hand, it was her spiritual and physical home. I hope she had many more happy years living there and carrying on with her one-woman campaign to save the Cassowary too. One day I’d like to find my own quirky dwelling and make it my home. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so at peace with their surroundings

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