Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trying to keep going….

So, where have I been?  I promise that I’ve not been sulking in the bedroom, or yahooing around the town, or even drinking far too much of anything – be it tea or wine or whiskey!  I’ve just been at home, growing, preserving, baking and currently trying to knit and crochet – dishcloths. I’ve also re-joined my Tai Chi for arthritis group (Monday mornings at 10am), still attending the local walking group (Tuesday mornings at 10am) and once a month, usually a Tuesday afternoon, a champagne catch-up with a chum (that one’s my favourite!). In fact the next champagne catch-up will be rather exciting as the said chum has just become a grandmother! I’m still waiting for the photo’s.


Baking bread has become a bit of an obsession recently too.  I usually only bake sourdough breads, from plain white to multigrain and rye, throwing assorted seeds and grains in the mix willy-nilly!  But the above pictures show a loaf that contains no yeast, sourdough or flour. It consists of oats, seeds and nuts and is truly divine. It is also incredibly easy to make which is a big plus with me.  I first saw it on a blog post of “My New Roots” who I think must be a nutritionist and she called it “The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread.”  Well, it hasn’t changed my life just yet, but I’m certainly enjoying waiting for the said change eating this bread.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA           White and rye sourdough.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA             OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         These  pictures show what the grow house was like in Summer. See the little yellow flower peeking through the greenery in the third picture. It was meant to be a rock melon. I planted rock melon. The vine looked like rock melon, the same as last year. But, it was a pumpkin. A plain, grey pumpkin. I didn’t have any pumpkin seeds and if I had I certainly wouldn’t have planted them in the grow house. Even if it was self seeded from my compost, I usually buy butternut pumpkin as it’s so much sweeter. I do remember buying a different type, once. And now I have seven of them sitting on the back table drying out ready for storage.

I’m still collecting tomatoes from the grow house too. I still have some eggplant, capsicum (1 only), chilli and parsley in there. I’m slowly clearing beds ready for feeding and resting but I can already see baby tomato plants coming through…..  We have plenty of preserved tomatoes, frozen sauce and jars of dried tomatoes with lots of jars of spicy chutney, relish and pickle too.                 


So apart from the above my life is just cruising along. Summer here seemed to go on and on but now it just seems like a memory as it’s pretty cold and windy outside. But I have been out today and planted some bush peas and some snow and sugar snap peas too. I have yet to prune all the trees, I keep putting it off as there’s so many. A relative of the woman who lived here before us has moved back to Dover and has asked if she can come along when I’m pruning the trees as she would like to try propagating some of them as it was her father who planted them. Naturally I agreed as it’s a beautiful way to continue a memory. A friend came along and tried to name some of the many varieties of apple that we have and I was thrilled to have some names like “Crofton; Gravenstein; Geeveston Fanny; Coxes Orange Pippin; Red Pippin; Granny Smith and Red and Golden Delicious to name a few. But then there was a dispute on the Geeveston Fanny by another friend so I’m still unsure, sigh.

I also have a freezer full of plums too. I thought that I had lost most of the plums to the really HOT day in January but I still have plenty to stew and freeze for our porridge. I didn’t bother making jam this year as we really don’t eat that much jam. It is handy to have on hand for gifts though so friends will have to go savoury this year.

There are no Bali trips this year for me (sob) but I am looking forward to visiting my daughter in Queensland in September for two weeks. Hopefully it will be relatively quiet in the garden then and M will only have the chooks and Terry (the dog) to worry about whilst I’m away. Sara, my younger daughter, lives close to Airlie Beach and that’s where I’ll be staying. I’ve not been there before so I’m really looking forward to it. Sara and her family have only lived there since January 2012 as she was Adelaide born and bred. My oldest daughter Naomi is currently in Bali with her family on holiday. They all love it there too and I can’t wait to hear about it on their return to Adelaide. My son Shaun lives in Adelaide and spent two weeks here in Tassie in February when we went to Strahan for a few days and he caught up with friends and we all went to MONA.

Earlier this month I realised that I had reached the 40th anniversary of my arrival in Australia from the UK. I sailed to Australia on a Greek ship called the “Australis” as a 10 pound pom and when I stepped onto Australian soil at Fremantle, WA on 9/5/1973 wearing a t-shirt and jeans I remember thinking that if this was nearly winter I’m never going back to live in the UK. And I never have. The original plan has been to come and grab some sunshine for two years and then return. Hah, not this little black duck.  I must admit that when we first arrived in Adelaide I thought we’d been in Dr Who’s tardis because it was 25 years behind the times. I had left the north of England after many music festivals like the Isle of Wight and Reading and Bath and having access to seeing concerts by Hendrix, Dylan, Pink Floyd etc. and being a typical hippie child dancing whenever and wherever I wanted. Now in Adelaide I was shocked to be told by a new friend that if I wanted to dance in a club I had to wait until a man asked me!!!! And then there was the time I went to a work Christmas function and I was the only woman in  trousers – bright yellow ones! There wasn’t even colour television.  But things changed quickly and when we went back to the UK for our first holiday in 1980, only seven years later, with 2 daughters in tow, we found that everything had stayed the same and now our home town was behind the times and old friends seemed “suburban and settled down” and they viewed us as the “wild and exciting lucky ones”. Which I suppose we were. I love Australia, it is my home.

smoke on the bay  Smoke over the bay.

So, that’s a little bit of where I’m at. I’ll try and be more consistent.


ps. the local hotel burned down in April this year………..

                                                                                                Dover Hotel 17th April 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Could it get any better?


I feel like a bit of a cheat here.  This is not my dog. In fact this is not my photograph.

But it is my view from the local beach and the dog and photo belong to a friend of mine, Maree.

I’m sure that she won’t mind me showing you this beautiful and peaceful scene.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

How could I eat it?



When it’s so valuable in other ways …..

Let the bees enjoy it.

(with thanks to Steb Fisher for this wonderful shot of one of my artichokes)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Was that it?


So it rained – 4.4 mls.

Then it got windy and the sun came out and dried it all up again…..



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Here it is 2013 already..

So, what’s been happening? Hmmmm, well there have been weeks when this house has seemed like a busy railway station and then others when I haven’t seen one single person. Neither scenario bothers me too much. I am happy in my own company and naturally, there’s always something to do in the garden (or kitchen).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                                  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The weather has been absolutely crazy with heatwaves followed by wind, rain storms and even snow!  I’m still not smoking, it’s been three months now (the cashew jar has taken a beating though) and I still have pangs every now and again. I just give myself a good talking to and remind myself how poor I can be again if I start smoking!

M and I went to a fabulous free concert at MONA (Museum of Old & New Art) and my nose got very sun burned (just one side of it – great look!). We did the right thing and left our car in Hobart and caught the special coach to take us out to MONA. So glad that we did. Not only was it sensible for the planet but with over four thousand people there, there was no parking left and some families had to walk for quite a long way in the sun. I would probably have whinged and whined and spoiled everything if I had to walk a few kilometres in the sun. But I didn’t have to so everything was great. We even bumped into some good friends and was able to muscle in on the grass with them. (for all non-Tasmanians who might read this, when a “blow-in” such as myself actually bumps into a friend at a function or shopping centre etc., it means that you are ALMOST local. You can never be truly local unless you are born here). So I was quite excited to bump into friends in a very large crowd as you can imagine. The voices that we heard singing that afternoon were brilliant. There were a few songs that I didn’t like but it was a choir after all, singing “soul music”. Three hours of music, one glass of beer (just shows how hot it was – I only drink beer when it is HOT), sunshine and all free with no trouble or fighting. Just fabulous. Well done MONA. M has already bought his ticket for MONA FOMA in January and I will stay home and mind the “farm”. Well, I might just pop up for one concert. M will stay with friends in town to save on petrol and driving every day, it’s a one hour drive to Hobart from our little town.  

NOTE:  All of the above was first written on the 8th of December 2012.  It is now the 24th of January 2013……..

It has been a busy time, one way or another.  Christmas and New Year came and went for another year and phew we survived. I didn’t have to cook a meal on Christmas day which was brilliant and we had eaten at the local pub on Christmas eve with the family and then back to the house later for the opening of the gifts (European style). All family had left by the following day so we went to the usual “orphan’s party” which is always terrific fun and involves all those of us who don’t have family close by.  Prior to Christmas, and just after, we had our usual visit of our friends from Queensland and really mellowed and enjoyed their visits. New Year’s Eve was at home with two other couples and I actually managed to stay awake.

It would seem that my problem with Ron the rooster is no more. The addition of three extra girls just might be the reason.  A friend asked me if I would care for her “girls” who she absolutely adores, as she is no longer able to keep them at home. It is a sort of loan I suppose and a win-win situation for us both.  But, and it’s a fairly big BUT, they don’t recognise Ron as the rooster “in charge”.  In fact, they’re very rebellious and I’ve had to go traipsing next door on a number of occasions to bring them home. Putting it in perspective our back yard is almost an acre but obviously the grass is always greener. Meanwhile, Ron is beside himself, clucking and dancing and getting little nibbles for them but they just don’t care. In fact last time the girls went walkabout next door they took Ron with them! My original two, Eddie and Thelma are MOST put out by it all. They’re behaving like Misses Goodie Two Shoes and don’t wander too far away from the chook house at all. Which is another perplexing problem for Ron, as how can he oversee two lots of ladies in two completely different locations? Squawk….


In the garden, garlic harvested and hanging up; scarlet runner beans taking over the tank but leaving a bit of room for a couple of cucumber plants; the rock melon in the grow house turned into a pumpkin!  How that happened I’ve no idea as I don’t even have any pumpkin seeds……  Tomatoes coming in thick and fast now; the Tigerella seem to be the most prolific this year but the Black Russian, Mortgage Lifter and Brandywine could match them. Eggplants developing along with chillies, but once again no capsicums!  We’ve eaten lettuces, rocket, sugar snap and snow peas, pick strawberries every time we walk past them and are enjoying the blueberries from the one little bush. But our stone fruit, sob, was badly sun burned on the hottest day ever recorded in Tasmania. I think about 80% of our plums are ruined; 95% of the nectarines (we only had about 20 on the young tree), 50% of the peaches (again a very young tree) but the apricots seem okay.  We have a Moorpark apricot tree and it’s still about two weeks away from ripening.  I had a tip from one of the locals here too, about curly leaf on the peaches etc. He plants mallow around his stone fruit and even drapes it through his trees and somehow it keeps the curly leaf away as he never sprays, ever. The apple and pear trees are sunburned but hopefully we’ll still get fruit. The grass is brown and crunchy underfoot and we’re slowly dribbling small amounts of water to all the fruit trees every day until we have some decent rain. I could never be a farmer, it’s so heart-breaking when you lose a crop to unpredictable weather. But, after the fires here in Tasmania which didn’t come near us, I’m thankful to have a garden at all!

M went up to Mona Foma (music festival) last week and had a ball. He stayed at a friend’s unit in Hobart so he didn’t have to drive up and down every day.  I had quiet time at home and wow, did I get a lot done! I also had blood tests taken as the x-rays that I had done prior to Christmas have shown osteo-arthritis in both ankles and knees (I already kinda knew that anyway) and the doctor just wants to check that there’s no other nasty lurking there. She’s also checking my cholesterol, as I have put on so much weight since I stopped smoking I’m ashamed.

There have been quite a few birthdays since the new year and my son is coming for a two week visit next week. We usually have a jaunt somewhere in Tassie whilst he’s here so we’ll wait and see what the weather is going to be like then. I wonder if his eating habits have improved?

My sour dough bread baking is very popular amongst my friends which is incredibly gratifying. M still prefers the rye with caraway or fennel seeds but I usually send a couple of french sticks along to parties etc. My larger white loaves can still come out looking like mutants, one side rising and the other not, but they still taste good. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong there so any suggestions are welcome. The rye is baked in a clay pot with a lid and always rises and looks great, as do the french loaves. But the white bread, which I prove in Bannerton's, slash and then bake on a pizza stone, are always a lucky dip! I just never know.

Australia Day is coming up and we’ve been invited to a barbecue at Roaring Beach. I must remember the aeroguard! My legs are already covered in midge bites from a previous party and I was only outside for a short time!

Well, I will try and get back to this blog in a more regular fashion this year. I feel a bit more positive about 2013, everyone I ask hated last year for one reason or another, as did I.

So, have a great weekend.



Friday, November 9, 2012

This and that–a bit boring really!

It must be spring as I had a bit of a tidy-up of the seed packets! There seems to be quite a few so I tried to sort them seasonally. But then I kept forgetting which pile was which and would have to stop and recheck every couple of minutes. Obviously tidiness and logicality are not my dominant features. But, I have been able to plant some seeds and some are even poking up and waving at me! How cool is that? It was only today that I noticed that the tank that holds my garlic (which finally has some scapes) has scarlet runner leaves poking through.Leftovers from last year making their way upward. It’s brilliant as they should still give the garlic enough time to thicken up some more before I have to pull them to make way for the beans. 

I was going to get out in the garden today but the pouring rain deflated my enthusiasm. So I made some sourdough bread instead. I prepared it last night, as an afterthought, and put it in the fridge overnight. This morning I brought it back into the kitchen, plopped it into my proofing baskets and then later onto my pizza stone to bake. All done before 10.30am this morning. The round(ish) one is multigrain and the longer one is white with sunflower seeds. I have to watch M, as he loves warm, fresh bread, and quite often if I’m outside and I’ve left the bread cooling I’ll come into crusts missing from BOTH ends of the bread!

 And then I had to vacuum the floor! I seem to make such a mess when I bake. Once the bread was finished I made a batch of oats and apricot slice. But this time I had mixed dried fruit from Angus Park which includes apples, pears, apricots, peaches and sultanas. I had to have a taste test and mmmmmm. But I forgot to take a photo before I cut it all up and put them in the tin, sorry.

Otherwise I’ve not much else to report. I visited the Cygnet market last Sunday and caught up with Kate (Vegetable Vagabond) and her handsome son who is on a visit. Then we popped in to see another friend who lives there too and checked out her garden. She puts me to shame. She’s a single mum with two kids and the fruit trees and vegetables she has growing are amazing. It’s a huge garden too, so much to try and keep under control. But at this time of the year that’s going to be impossible. The grass and weeds are growing overnight down here with the mix of rain and sunshine! I might have to toddle over with my trusty brush cutter as she can’t use one due to her carpal tunnel problem.

My rooster, Ron, is on his final warning. He has started to “have a go” at me. I’ve warned him that he’s not my favourite feathered friend, the way he “rapes” the girls and then struts about. And the noise he makes! So far he’s charged my legs and attacked my feet and hasn’t hurt. But the length of his spurs does cause some concern. So if he has another go he’s gone!

This picture is about 12 months old so his spurs are thicker and longer now, ouch! I’ll ask my farmer friend who gave me Ron if he wants him first. (he probably won’t – he has a few already). Then I’ll put a notice up on the noticeboard in the shopping centre. But if nobody wants him, it could be the pot!

Anyway, the sun is meant to come out for the weekend so I’ll be able to get out there. Whatever you have planned for the next couple of days I hope you enjoy it!



Friday, November 2, 2012

So that’s it..



wine flu


But it’s not even that. Tuesday was sniffing, sneezing and feeling like s**t.

Wednesday and Thursday – not a sniffle nor a nose blow.

Today, Friday – dripping nose, blowing constantly. I’m even on to the toilet roll now!

Could it be hay fever? I’ve never had that, in all my life.

It’s not an allergy is it – to red wine?  Noooooooooooooooooo