Thursday, July 19, 2012

The new hoophouse workshop



This is what M has been working on since we’ve been home from Bali. It’s the new improved model of hoophouse. It has the wooden floor to enable him to lay plastic out to cut to size. The plastic is then welded together and a hem sealed on the ends to have rope slid through to tighten the plastic around the skeleton hoops. This will make for a much tighter (and neater)fit and when the summer months come along and the plastic has more “give”, it can be easily tightened again. Plus, if the plastic needs to be removed for repairs or replacements, it is just a matter of releasing the ropes and slipping it off. No more staples, brilliant.

Now I’m sure that it is a lot more technical than how I have written it above but I don’t have a head for that sort of fact. My head is full of trivia and I know that one day I will need one of those little bits of trivia in a hurry! So there’s no room for other stuff. But M knows what it is all about and is very excited to have finished this workshop. Now he can get onto producing the new proto-type of his relocatable, rural and commercial hoophouses (although he has said he would like new names – sigh).




         Relocatable                                                                         Rural

He wasn’t happy with my suggestion of “Condom” (well it is plastic and slips on and off…..) so I’m still working on that one. He has had a number of enquiries from his website but had to complete the workshop to be able to build them through winter.

The new system will make transporting them a lot easier too, so trips all over Tasmania will be coming up soon. It will be soooooo good (not to say reassuring) to have some business happening again. I’m sure our anxiety will soon be lifted.

So fingers and toes crossed and I’ll let you know.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

But the day before

we had travelled south to check out some of the spots that are so popular with the Australians. When M and I had visited Bali in 2010 we had no interest in checking out Kuta or Seminyak because it seemed that they were the popular spots for a. the surfie crowd and b. the general Australian public. We wanted to be with and experience the Balinese people. But this time we thought well, we’ll go with the flow and some of our group did want to visit Seminyak in particular for the shopping. I have said it before and no doubt I will say it again, but I do not like shopping. Particularly if I don’t need anything and it’s just a “spend money cos I can” sort of affair. Anyway, we loaded into the car and headed south. Putu dropped us at the main shopping drag and we split into two groups, serious shoppers and lookers. Well, was I impressed? NO! I could have been in any Australian tropical town, with shops aplenty and bars advertising the weekend’s coming AFL matches to watch with a huge plasma screen in the bar. I don’t watch football at home, never mind when I’m on holiday on a beautiful island. So I dragged myself around, and I’m sorry to say I wasn’t being that gracious about it, and finally stopped at a cafe for a drink where we met up with the serious shoppers.

We called Putu and he picked us up and took us to another beach at Sanur. This is known as “the old people’s beach”. Yes, we did see quite a few more mature people there but it was a pleasant place to stop for lunch, almost on the beach and enjoy the sea breezes. I would say that there are a number of Australians living there as we saw quite a few with dogs walking, jogging (yes they must have been crazy) and generally being ignored by the usual Balinese hawkers. We wandered the beach, enjoyed watching the local families having a good time and chatted and just enjoyed being there.

The next stop was to be Jimbaran for our evening meal. All along the beach there are seafood restaurants, on the beach itself. What a magical spot. The waves were coming in, the sun was setting and the menu was amazing. Putu had told us to order the “family bucket” (shades of KFC I thought) but it was just a translation malfunction. I can’t remember the term now but it definitely wasn’t bucket.


We ordered drinks and decided to try the local Arak, which mixed with orange juice was called an Arak Attack. This is not a drink that I could honestly say yum to. There seemed to be an underlying taste of diesel somewhere in there. However, four Arak Attacks later I was probably enjoying them no end!

When the food came it was unbelievable. There was lobster, snapper, mussels, calamari and prawns, accompanied by rice and spicy vegetables. We ate and ate and ate. And all the time we were eating we were aware of the musical group that was visiting each table to sing a song.


The musical groups at bars and restaurants all seem to know the same songs and perform them very well. We were serenaded with an assortment, from Cold Chisel to Johnny Cash.


The photographs cannot do justice to the evening. If I had the choice, I would love to dine there every night. Not for the food so much but the sensation of being connected to the beach, sea and sky. When the stars came out and we were able to watch the twinkling lights of the planes coming into land at the airport, and at the same time dig our feet into the sand and listen to the children frolicking in the sea, ah bliss.

But we had to leave as it’s an hour’s trip back up to Ubud so we called for the bill. I have never had a bill that cost over 2 million before. The rupiah is crazy, there are a huge amount of noughts to worry about. About one million of the bill was for the drinks, that’s about $4 per drink for 5 people and the meal was $21 per head. For so much seafood that was wonderfully cooked and presented, there were no complaints.

We all slept well that night.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A special day

Whilst we were away we had a regular driver called Putu. He is the cousin of Suri who looked after us at the villa. She cleaned up after us all without a single complaint – even the dirty ashtrays! Anyway, Putu is a new Dad and his little baby girl Emita (apologies for any wrong spelling as I’m sure that’s not right) was one month plus one week old. This means in Hindu that it’s time for a ceremony. We were given the privilege of attending on a sunny afternoon at their compound.


The proud grandfather

When we arrived the main man who was to conduct the ceremony was about to start. There was incense, lots of it; offerings and oil. At one point Putu’s father came to the table with two young chickens in hand. Oh, oh, what was going to happen here? Well, nothing as far as I could tell. Maybe something happened to them behind the scenes but we never heard or saw anything.


The main table and offerings


Guests looking on

   This was a very casual ceremony. We couldn’t help comparing it to an Australian christening, where everyone is smartly dressed and children are kept quiet in the church etc. Here it seems that every day life continues around the prayers, even the dogs wandered in and out. Towards the end of the ceremony we were warned that Putu would be lighting three pieces of bamboo which would explode with a “Very Loud Bang” and is meant to warn the evil spirits to stay away.


So we were all ready for it but it wasn’t that loud, didn’t even bother the baby! Notice in the photograph the hand holding the cigarette. That’s the grandfather who is a chain smoker. He is also a school teacher and we did wonder what the school rules were about smoking!

And then it was all over. We all had a cup of tea and some snacks and a cuddle of the baby (of course), who had been very good throughout and we were then invited to have a wander through the compound. It became apparent that this family compound was pretty substantial and that they were not a “poor” family. In the next photograph you will see rice, which had been sent to the compound from around Bali, to be dried and bagged.


Laid on the ground to dry in the sun (with the odd chicken having a bit of a nibble)


Gathering it together to be covered under tarps.

Further along in the buildings to the left of the picture were the piggies. All 68 of them and all different shapes and sizes. I did ask some questions about how old before they go to market or local restaurants (I think I may have eaten a bit of one the day before in Ubud) but in typical fashion I can’t remember the answers!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA      Finally it appeared that Putu and his friends were going to have “a bit of a session” in the local garage next door. There would be beer and food and the local arak. I decided that maybe this should be a bit of a boys thing and declined the invitation and the other two girl friends said the same so we left M and W with the boys to finish off the day in true Balinese fashion.


They had a ball.

More to come……..


Sunday, July 1, 2012

What happened to June?

Well, June has been and gone and with it my wonderful holiday in Bali and my 60th birthday. That was the point of the holiday, I had decided two years ago that Bali was the place I wanted to be when my body clock ticked over to the big 60 (which I’ve heard is the new 40 in the USA – hmmmm).

I wasn’t up to a big hee-haw of parties, presents and probably hangovers. Two years ago when we were first in Bali, staying in a villa in Ubud with a lovely family to look after us, it just felt right to be in the sunshine and surrounded by rice paddies. So, despite the lack of finances, we managed to get there again this year. And it was bliss. It was warm, serene, friendly and did I say warm? If you know Tasmania in June you will understand where I’m coming from.                     


You see, I have been battling depression for a number of months now, not very successfully I might add, and I’m still trying to work out what it’s all about with the help of a psychologist. It’s early days yet but I am hopeful that I will be able to unlock this stupid head of mine and return to the land of “almost sanity”. Even in Bali, which is a place that I love because of it’s gentleness, I had moments of despair and intolerance. My friends who were with me and have known me for almost twenty years were concerned with the difference in my demeanour. These are friends from South Australia so they hadn’t seen me since Christmas. So I was open about it and we talked but no quick-fix was found – unless I choose to go down the road of medication. I’m not ready for that yet but I’m keeping an open mind.

But, back to Bali.       KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA   This is a photograph of my birthday lunch that Wayan and Suri prepared for me and my friends. It was absolutely delicious. Wayan and Suri and Putu (the driver) joined us for lunch and I was given the “birthday girl tiara” to wear for the afternoon. This tiara will be passed on to the next friend with a significant birthday so I will not be the only one to look ridiculous!


We had only been there for a couple of days which is why I still look Tassie milk bottle white!  Check out the next picture which was taken on our last day.


Looking a bit healthier I think!

In between those two photographs were days filled with sunshine, swimming, some shopping (not a lot, I hate shopping), sight-seeing, sauntering and salivating over so much fantastic food! The Balinese people are such a delight, even when you can see that they have to work sooooo hard they do it with a smile.

So a typical day in Ubud; well, up out of bed pretty early as the sun rises around 6am and the curtains are pretty thin, and make a quick cup of coffee in the kitchen whilst Wayan is at the market buying the fresh tropical fruit for our breakfasts. I take the aforementioned cup of coffee to go and sit with the others under cover in the “bale” by the pool where we might discuss what we will do that day or alternatively sit quietly reading whilst watching for the white herons and the squirrels in the trees.  Breakfast is at 8.30am and we wander around to the dining area which is in the courtyard between the villa and the staff house, by the peace pond which is filled with koi. Some of us wear sarongs, some in shorts and t-shirts, but none of us are wearing a lot of clothing! I will hasten to add at this point that M has a new thicker sarong and has finally learned how to wear it the “boys” way and not the “girls”, hence making it more discreet, although I did have to remind him that when you are not wearing trousers it’s imperative to take care whilst sitting!

Breakfast always began with fresh fruit; water melon, honeydew and rock melon, mango, pawpaw and bananas, the sweetest butteriest bananas I have ever tasted. There was then a choice of eggs and toast or Indonesian. Accompanied by either coffee or tea. Wayan even went and bought some vegemite for those in the party who were desperate! Whilst we were eating, Suri would be whipping around all the bedrooms, making beds, picking up towels and sweeping and washing the floors, all ready for us to mess up again after breakfast. Then we would swim, read or get ready to go out. The masseuse came to the villa about four times to give hourly massages to those who wanted them, all for $10 each.


If we had decided to go out we would walk down the path alongside the rice paddies (no road to the villa so no traffic noise) and meet Putu at the road to be taken wherever we wished. I’ll talk about different trips another time. We might have lunch in town and then return to the villa later in the day for another swim and then send one of the guys into Ubud later (on the motor-bike) to collect take-away for dinner. We did drink an awful lot of Bintang beer but it was the most thirst quenching drink we could find and at $2.50 for a large bottle, the most economical.


The evenings were complete, sitting back by the pool, watching the geckoes and frogs and listening to the local ducks and something that we weren’t quite sure about. It sounded like an enormous frog crossed with a sheep. M can do a terrific impression of it but that’s not much use to you reading this! We never found out but all I know is that it was very, very loud.

And then off to bed.

It was the most relaxing, lazy, enjoyable, fun and friendly holiday that I hope will become a regular habit. Maybe in five years time we could go for three months. We wouldn’t be able to stay at the villa but I do know of a lower cost, long-term place with a pool that could be available……….

Talk again soon,


ps. I’m still having problems with Blogger, sigh