Saturday, May 3, 2014

And unto us a Carport / Shed appeared

A man needs a shed, and a truck needs some cover, or so I am told....

Graham gave great thought on where to position a carport/shed as well as what shape, colours and materials would blend in best with the environment and view and still be functional.



View before construction

And from the table, where we spend so much time


the slab goes in

The frame takes shape



Frame from above





 At times to me the structure looked huge, but when I thought about parking the truck beside the boat... it seemed it might be a bit tight.



The roof skeleton appears




Our jolly workmen, at work.


The roof gets filled in
The fellows putting up the shed, from Rainbow Building were great! 

Whew, all done, and still happy with the view

Protection from the elements, and yes there is room enough, even I can park

And a work shop for Graham



Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 Our Holiday to the Mainland

We started our trip stopping in Bernie to see the TasArt show. There was some interesting Art displayed and we were pleased to see Graham’s paintings were nicely hung and lit well, which gave us a nice vibe to start our trip with.

We took the Spirit of Tasmania ferry to the Australian Mainland (an overnight trip) walking into our home for a night cabin, chose which single bed we wanted, looked out the portlight (window) and stowed our overnight bag and headed to the stern bar to watch our departure over a drink. Having your own toilet and shower is a nice thing. We settled in for a lumpy but uneventful trip, well… other than when we were woken around 11 pm as our car alarm went off with the motion of the boat. Oops, we didn’t notice the tiny signs advising people to disable car alarms when we parked. However the staff that woke us up took our keys and sorted it all out for me while Graham snoozed away. He does love his ear plugs.

We've decided Friday is the best day to take the ferry to Melbourne, as there was no traffic when we got off at 6 am which gave us a clear run through town, making navigating a breeze. As a matter of fact, we probably saw 20 cars all up until we got to Mount Gambier via the inland route. Hooray for us.

We swung back to the coast to stay in Robe for the night. Robe was as delightful as we remembered it. A picturesque lazy little seaside town, tidy and flat, which oozes relaxation and holiday. We had a little drive around the suburbs before we checked into the Lakeview Motel, and tidied up before we met our friend Trish’s mom Ros and friend for dinner at the local Pizza place. It was a really pleasant evening, and listening to them chat about their lives in Robe certainly raised it up on our “could we retire here” list. Ros invited us for breakfast at her place before we looked at a little property we were interested in. It didn’t suite us in the end, but we had a good snoop around the town, and outer suburbs before we left.

It was a fairly swift drive to Adelaide. Our plan was to spend the first half of our visit with Ilea and Glenn in Morphettville while visiting the northern part of the family, then move to Graham’s sister Jude & hubby Lee’s while we visited the southerners, and went to the Art Show opening.  But then plans are made to be broken aren’t they?

We relaxed at Ilea’s for a day after our three days of driving, just hanging around the house, working in a trip to the Orange Spot for a pastie, taking the dog for walks and putzing around in general before our visiting schedule began. Graham even squeezed in a doctor’s appointment on the Tuesday to get a referral for an appointment with a throat specialist for Wednesday. Both appointments he got were cancellations, how’s that for kismet?

Monday night Ilea prepared delicious Barramundi burgers – perfectly cooked, on soft rolls with sweet potato chips (that’s YAM to you North Americans) and salad.

Tuesday we met Graham’s sister Kath, brother-in-law Ian and mom Helen for lunch at her favourite café, Domain Décor. Our eyebrows rose as we drove past the little shop and noted the extremely busy windows. I couldn’t repress a little smiled as I looked at Graham fairly sure what was coming. We opened the door and stepped back as a wave of potpourri enveloped us.

“Oh no, This is a nightmare for me” groaned Graham as we entered a little shop crowded with shelves, all overflowing with little figurines, lacy hankies, quilts, tea cups, doll house miniatures, soaps and hundreds of sachets of potpourri.  I scoured my purse and found one antihistamine, which I gave to him so his head didn’t explode, as potpourri is his sworn enemy.



We carefully navigated our way into another room with tables, eyes wide in wonder at the vast array of knickknacks as we wound our way amongst these treasures to undulate into seats a table laid with loving attention. Gold plated cutlery, lacy place mats and beautiful delicate stemware, understanding how this would be Helen’s favourite restaurant, as we joined the blue haired clientelle.

When they arrived we enjoyed animated conversation, and the food which was simple and very tasty.

Graham's Mom Helen, Sister Kath, Graham, Me, Ilea, Kath's hubby Ian

Tuesday night was Glenn’s “Duck Night”.  I loved that even though he was nervous about cooking under our scrutiny, Glenn let us sit at the counter while he prepared his duck dish. When I can sit in a kitchen while someone cooks I often feel like I’m watching a cooking show. Wine in hand we sat back to enjoy an episode of “Cooking with Glenn” – “Balsamic Duck Breasts” with sou chef Ilea preparing yam towers with broccolini and snow peas. The duck breast skins were scored, then set to marinade in balsamic vinegar for 20 minutes then baked. Glenn pulled off the perfect breasts, rare and juicy, Ilea the perfect accompaniments. Well done Gunders Team!

Wednesday Ilea and I went one way, and Graham and Glenn the other, meeting up for Yum Cha in the city before we headed to Kath & Ian’s to see the Northern families for a BBQ. It was a lively large crowd with some other of Graham’s siblings, their kids and grand kids, and Grahams Mom all coming.  We were pleased we managed to speak to almost everyone present, no mean feat with almost 20 people there.  We enjoyed the classic Aussie BBQ of chops, snags, chicken wings, and a good variety of salads, rolls & deserts.  Delicious!! Hats off to the Manson’s for feeding such a large crowd so well.

Thursday is where our plans went amok.  Graham had an uncomfortable night with knifelike cramps and gastro, which just got worse and worse so we had to start cancelling/postponing our plans, so the shuffle began. We deferred our move to Jude’s, and postponed a reunion with Keith a friend of Graham’s from his gymnastic days as a kid, as well as dinner to meet Jasmine’s boyfriend and family.  Prada, Ilea’s dog did fairly well out of this, as she and I spent some quality time together while Graham slept on the couch.

Saturday he was no better so we went to the local medical centre where a doctor spent a half hour with him then gave him a letter to take to the hospital.  Here is where I started to feel nervous. We went to Flinders hospital, where they “contained” him in emergency. Everyone who came near him “suited up in a yellow plastic gown and gloves”.  Increase in nervousness. He was there for 6 hours, hooked up to a drip hydrating while they ran blood tests. They let him go so I’m guessing he wasn’t contagious.

This is where I got really nervous
We arrived at Jude and Lee’s with just enough time to change, and leave for the opening of the Fluereu Art Prize.  Graham felt better after the drip, but was really in no shape to go out, however his strong will carried him, determined he’d go but wouldn’t risk anything to eat or drink.

The event was in McLarenvale, a beautiful winery area of Southern Adelaide. The day was warm but the wind was bitingly cold. We started at the Hardy’s Tintara winery sipping wine while we moved about the finalists art on display then moved to d’Arenberg’s winery for the winner announcement/cocktail party. Normally I think we would have enjoyed sipping wine looking over the stunning views, but the biting wind moved us into the marquis where we snafued stools, and with the men on the hunt bringing us nibbles, we did quite well. I was thankful I’d brought a heavy wrap.  We didn’t stay late, conscious of Graham’s uncomfortable state of well-being.

Me, Glenn, Ilea, Jude - Lee & Graham must have been getting us food
Sunday was road trip day to view the other works on display for the Fleurieu Art show scattered amongst other galleries in McLarenvale. Lee carried on to the farther galleries in Gawler and Strathalbin, stopping at the very well known Flying Fish Café in Pt Elliot, (excellent fish and chips by the way) which was terrific although the little trip totally exhausted Graham.

Rescheduled reunion night. We went to the Marion Pub for dinner with Keith and Sue, Graham’s friend from his youth. Keith told Graham he had done the math and they hadn’t seen each other for 42 years. They both lit up as soon as they saw each other, Keith is an easy going fellow and the two of them nattered away as if they’d only seen each other yesterday. It was a lively night. The added bonus was Sue, who is also delightful.  In fact, we enjoyed each other’s company so much we planned to meet again before we left.  I know - I can't believe I didn't take a photo!!! AAAUGHH!!! Well I guess that goes to show how messed up we were by that point.

Monday was our rescheduled “meet the Mason’s night”. Jasmine and Jayden came early to Jude’s for a short visit before we left for dinner at her boyfriend’s parents - the Mason’s. Jude and Lee had put together a lovely antipasto platter so just time for a drink and wee nibble and we were off.  Jayden looked lovely, was cheery and engaging and has grown up considerably since we last saw her.

Heath’s parents, Jan and Ken live in Port Willunga in an impressive stone house Ken built himself. It’s quite a house – large, 3 levels around the outside walls, with a high ceiling in the middle.  Jan cooked as if for 20 or Royalty. I was delighted she let me hang out with her in the kitchen while she finished preparing her canapés, and again while she served up. We chatted in the living room over a drink and nibble, and found them very interesting, and easy to talk to.  Jan called us to a groaning table of roast beef, legs of lamb, 2 marinated chickens, and a rolled stuffed chicken breast.  Roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic cloves, a green bean salad as she’d heard beans were good for Graham’s condition, salad, mango salsa, rolls, potato salad, and on and on… followed by a plum cheesecake. Too bad our bodies won’t let us just keep eating when something tastes good!!

They were lovely and interesting to talk with. It was a most enjoyable evening and a delight to know Jasmine and Jayden are enmeshed with lovely people.

Keith and Sue had us over to their home on Tuesday. They have a nice little oasis with a beautiful garden, and two friendly dogs to greet us. It was another relaxed evening, and terrific to see a friendship reborn.  The smell of the lasagne Sue had cooking was driving me somewhat crazy and tasted as good as it smelled, served with salad with garlic bread. Poor Graham smiled weakly when he turned down balsamic strawberries with ice cream.  It’s been hard for “Mr I love diary”. Balsamic strawberries, yumm!

Wednesday Lee made us his secret hamburger recipe.  We sat in the kitchen discussing how these hamburgers could be so different from anyone else's..… Ah, that's because the ground beef came from cattle from the Adelaide hills, who only feed on clover grown on northern facing hill sides, with soothing music played from speakers in the trees to keep them calm and happy which causes better marbling for the best intensity of flavour. The buns baked with freshly ground grain, and the produce plucked from his garden moments before serving. Crazy kid. The burgers were great, and the “shoo us out of the kitchen” to make secret artistic home cut fries towers was a nice touch.

Sadly everyone was cooking wonderful food which Graham could only pick at, knowing it would cause him great discomfort in a short time. Although that was hard for him, and I felt sympathy at his continual discomfort, personally I loved the food.

30 Oct – Farewells are always hard. This trip we'd missed seeing several folks, due to Graham's illness, but what can you do. We had a slow start, chatting with Jude & Lee while Jude packed a little picnic for us and we set off, making our farewell calls while we were on the road out of town to others we hadn’t gotten back to see.

We stopped in Talem Bend to enjoy the gourmet picnic lunch Jude provided then carried on. Our planned trip to Naracoort to see the caves changed as we reached the turn in the road. Graham was pooped so we chose the shorter trip to Nhill. If we wanted to stay and rest for another day, we could check out the Star party public night. Our thinking? If the public star party was a wash, we’d cancel our reservation and go home early.  We checked the rooms in several motels before we booked into the Motel Wimmera.  Small and older, but clean and tidy and the owners couldn’t have been more easy going, and nice. They even gave us a plate of warm muffins when we checked in. Her advice on where to eat?
“It’s schnitzel night at the hotel tonight.  You can’t go past their $10 schnitzels.”

So we unloaded the car, ate our muffins and snoozed before we relaxed into the warmth of the evening strolling back to the hotel in town.  Our motel host chased us down in the truck on the way to see if we wanted a lift. How nice was that?

Schnitzel night in Nhill is HUGE.  The dining room hummed as generations of families lined long tables, kids scurrying around climbing under chairs and tables, as we sat as if in the middle of a reality show enjoying the buzz of a small close community. 

31 Oct – Friday – We asked to stay another night, wandering across the road to have breakfast at the truck stop before we drove to Mount Arapiles through the Little Desert National Park where the red dirt on the roadside made me think of good old Australian movies, as did the mallee bush country we travelled through. 

Soon the scenery changed to thriving fields of wheat, oats and canola on our way to the Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park. The locals told us after a 10-year drought, they were hoping for a prosperous crop this year. We stopped at the “Mitre Rock” and decided to climb it. To be frank, I thought there was a path to the top however it appeared we were in fact rock climbing, with me relieved to see only skinks and not snakes as I found handholds in the rocks. I was convinced there would be an easy path down for us to take on the other side. The view from the top was stunning, a green patchwork of crops with a central great lake oneway, Mount Arapiles the other. 
“There is a quicker way down on this side, but I don’t think you’re going to like it” Graham called as he looked over the jagged edge.  His legs were burning after the exertion of the climb and being ill for so long. We opted to return the way we came up.

Mitre Rock

Mount Arapiles summit was an easy drive, but sadly we enjoyed the view for only a few moments, before travel belly signalled me and we had to head back. Our multi stop trip home took us through the small village of Natimuk where we found people decorating the tree-lined meridian down the centre of town with all manner of unusual things. Life sized figures on bikes, girls running fairy lights, and streamers through the trees and marquees piqued our curiosity.  Turns out Natimuk has an annual fringe festival where the town numbers swell from 500 to 3000.





We stopped at Dimboola for smoko and wandered around this town, which looked to be struggling to survive. Shops were closed, the hotel burnt and windows showed real estate for sale at bargain prices.  Graham found an Art Gallery and someone to chat with for a time before we headed back past “Pink Lake” which was in fact a salt lake and truly looked pink.

Our Motel hosts let us use their washing machine, then invited us for a drink and nibbles in the garden with a couple of others. It was nice to chat with locals about the area before we headed to their recommendation for Friday night’s dinner, The “Trucker’s Trailer Exchange” food trailer which pulls up 6 nights a week. We chatted with a trucker in the heat, swatting the hundreds of sticky flies while they made up our steak sandwiches.
“They make the best steak sanga on the road, always tender and none of that chewy gristle. Worth coming for Mate.” He assured us in his broad Aussie accent. We decided to take them back to the motel to eat ‘sans flies’ before heading out to the Little Desert Lodge for “public night” star viewing. 
It was interesting to see how everyone organised their equipment, from trailers for carting, to special slider chairs, computer hook ups, light set ups and covers. I was surprised to see someone utilise a little en-suite tent. This was a celestial gadget head’s dream.  We wandered around chatting, and admiring the equipment as it was being set up. I was interested to find they had a talk organised for the public where they tell them about the ‘etiquette’ of looking through the very expensive equipment there, and  great cross section of people came to hear it, and look through the equipment available. We left around 10 feeling comfortable the star party should be good.

1 Nov – Saturday – We packed up and collected our laundry from the line, just after an early morning shower had dampened it. Our plan was find a laundry-mat and breakfast. Clothes in the dryer, Graham popped across the road to see if the hairdresser would give him a trim, which she did without charge along with some local gossip and breakfast advice.

We stopped in Horsham to pick up a couple of cheap deck chairs, and a tarp to use to ‘lay out Graham’s ground’ for the star party, then set off to enjoy being tourists in the Grampians. Mckenzie waterfalls called us to stretch our legs, watching the water twisting it’s way through its rocky path, foaming down into sparkling pools drew lots of holiday makers. I felt cooler just listening to the dull roar from the shade of our viewing platform, the sounds of excited children laughing and the local birds added to the serenity of the moment. Halls Gap was packed with tourists, a nice little holiday town, tree lined and lush with shops a plenty.  We made the turn and headed back to Horsham for a Chinese  dinner, then settled in for a good night sleep. 

Sunday – we got a few nibbles, and headed to the Little Desert Nature Lodge, stopping at the “Nati Fringe Festival along the way. We parked beside a yarn bombed walkway, and enjoyed the yarn bombed bridge and other areas encased by those crazy knitters. 
Yarn bombed bridge

Crazy yarn bombers, even knitted a little fisher man

Natimuk was hustling with people wandering around the town enjoying the festival air. People were still engaging with the performers at the various sites, even while they were deconstructing their events. The market was thriving with a fair section for the kids, and a good cross section of produce, plants, foods, locally made products, as well as the usual second hand stalls.  We nibbled at a thing or two then tried to get a takeaway coffee at the only café. Not willing to wait 45 minutes, we carried on our way arriving at the lodge at Noon. Our accommodation is serviceable, not luxurious with 2 single beds, and an en-suite bathroom. That alone makes me happy and Graham relieved. There is a tea & coffee making room for the en-suite stayers - beside our room, and a lounge area in a separate building.


The cold wind had people hiding indoors, but Graham doggedly set up on the lawn before dinner, tarp pegged into the ground, tripods set, then back to the room for a rest before heading into the dining room for 6:00 when the bar opened pre 6:30 dinner.  It was a standard Sunday roast, with potato, carrots and peas. The desert was a damn good sticky date pudding with caramel sauce and ice cream.  The people here stampeded to the bar then stampeded to the food service.  It’s like being a kid in camp, only with liquor.

There were movies starting at 8:30 for those who didn’t want to be outside, but Graham was chomping at the bit. Out we went, finished setting up and wandered amongst the others. Thankfully the wind settled as the night got darker and colder, dewy and damp. Hot coffee helped, and so did the sleeping bag to snuggle in.  The viewing was good though, we managed to see Andromeda which is not visible from Tassie. The binoculars worked really well, the different dimension was good.  The photography was terrific too. We’re looking forward to loading them onto the computer. 


1:00am we packed it in. I thought I was never going to get to sleep I was so cold. Socks and PJ’s and an extra blanket didn’t cut it. It wasn’t until morning I found out there’s a heater in the room.  Doh!

Graham got a shot of something unusual, and I took the opportunity to ask about it, while meeting people. We had a lot of interest in his photo, and it opened the way to meet a lot of interesting people. We were pleased to be invited to look through other's scopes, and Graham was happy to invite people to look through his binoculars, and discuss his equipment with others. 

We left pleased people had warmed up to us in the end. I wondered if they were a little stand offish as we weren't there for the first 2 days.

One last night to our mainland trip, a stop at SDM Scopes to meet Peter Read, the fellow making Graham's scope in Bunbartha. We slid up to historic Echuka for a quick look, and to watch the Melbourne Cup along the way. (No winners at our table).

Peter and his wife Kim were good fun, and have a nice spot. No viewing the sky for us though as we had a huge bonfire. We laughed a lot and enjoyed the tour of their little property. What a work shop, and an observatory built over a water tank. Very ingenious, and a great indication of what staying in one place can do over 25 years.  Peter took us to Broken River, a beautiful spot which would be a great place to paint or write. 

We had just enough time to do a spot of shopping before the ferry, and our holiday was over. We had a quiet sail back to Tassie to find Elwood, slim and fit looking fantastic. He was a little subdued for a day, I think in case we were going to take him back to the "other place" but he's back to normal now.

Next time I think I'll go to the dog sitters, and see if I trim down as much. 


Friday, September 27, 2013

Trip to Strahan Oct 12


Day 1 - Elwood seems to be a psychic when it comes to us leaving on a trip. He was more than a little excitable yesterday, and last night was glued to my leg.  

To try to tick him, we packed the morning we left, an interesting ploy, but I discovered I wasn't very organised when I looked for things I should have packed, later in the day.  However, he'll be happy with Jake looking after him at home I'm sure.  

Now to us. We left early (as the Elwood alarm went off as usual at 5:30 am)  Packed our gear and Graham's work stuff into a 3 ton budget truck and stopped by Parks HQ to check on the weather as it was cold and snowy in Kettering/Hobart. The forecast was … well it seemed OK for us stalwart Canadian drivers, but they were forecasting weather Armageddon, however  we left with the caviat, if it's too snowy we'll stop at Derwent Bridge.


The weather was cold but the snow had stopped so it was winter wonderland magic along the way. We travelled through beautriful snow laden branches, which released their burden of snow in slurpy plops as the temperatures increased. It was warm enough we stopped for a snow squeaking under our feet walk along the way... where I saw a snowman who looked a lot like Graham!



It was wonderful.


We came out of winter to the crest leading into Queenstown where you'd never know it had snowed.


We made the turn to go to Rosebery to find Montazuma falls to install a sign on our way to Strahan. Rosebery is a mining town with a wonderful bakery (the best coffee eclairs and puff pastry like my dear Mom used to make) which made us ponder if this was a place we might want to retire to?  Part time at least, as it was a picturesque town in the mountains, beautiful scenery, the people were lovely, with a real community feel. However we did laugh and wonder if it was too good to be true, sparking made up stories of what 'could' happen 
     "No one comes out after dark, at 7 PM the zombies and vampires come out." or something like that.


The city decorated itself with mining doo dads - which I thought looked great, it sported a golf course which looked good from the road, beautiful scenery and stunning mountain views. If only we knew about the local hunting and fishing… we'll have to think some more on this one.

We made the turn to Montazuma Falls and the drive in reminded me of seveal places we've been over the years. Paluma outside of Townsville, Cowichan or for that matter, almost any old forrest areas in Canada, with a range of beautiful scenery along the way.




It's physical work, this sign installation, I felt a sweat coming on just watching. Graham is mister "leave no trace" and even crinkled leaves and grass around the bottom of the sign so it looked like it had been there for ages. Job done, we carries on our way to Straham, via Zeehan - although the turn off was before we got into the actual township of Zeehan. Drat!! 

I cannot believe the difference in scenery we experienced in a day as we went from our village of Kettering, through the big city of Hobart, along the mighty Derwent river, through the central plateau, the forested area of Tarahlea, then the snow laden highlands, barren mine stripped Queenstown, more mountains, then coastal scrub to Strahan. Yikes, what a feast for our senses.

We finally arrived at Risby Cove in Strahan at 5:30 pm, to a wonderfully welcoming woman who apologised that she upgraded us to the waterfront top floor unit as there had been a cancellation. The suite was already warmed up, and on her advice, we opened a Tassie Pinot from the mini bar. Well, actually she gave me a 'taster' of the wine which I carried up to the room and finished, then opened the bottle.  Graham had pre booked us into their restaurant for dinner at 7 which gave us lots of time to relax on the deck sipping away while enjoying the amazing view of Strahan village, by sunset. (To be truthful, we quickly moved inside and enjoy the view from the couch as it was stupidly cold.)



Dinner was nice, but we were pooped, Graham having such a big day driving then digging through the rocky ground to install the signs, and I was exhausted from watching.  What can I say? I had sympathy back pains, as I'm a good wife.



Day two he'll be installing a sign for Hogarth Falls somewhere in the city, but I suspect instead of writing, I'll wander into the village, pick up a few things, check out his installation then have dinner with Mandi and Charlie our friends from Hobart, who coincidentally are also in Strahan on Friday night.  Re my writing - I think it's becoming apparent, I need to book 3 weeks away alone somewhere secluded, with no adventures or anyone to speak to… as I cannot ignore a new adventure…

Day 2

Even without "Elwood the alarm dog", we were up early as the sun brightened our room. I wandered through the living room, to the kitchenette appreciating the ocean view as I filled our little suite with the wonderful smell of coffee. We sat in bed sipping away enjoying the view. After our lazy start, we went on the hunt for somewhere to have breakfast in the Village. Clearly there is no early start in this lovely holiday town.

While Graham left messages to track down his Parks brethren, we settled on a coffee and toasties at Banjos, watching with interest as the tourists gathered on the docks for boarding on the first Gordon River cruise of the day.

Next we killed a bit of time, wandering through the cruise centres, then the wood turning centre waiting for Graham's calls to be returned. Being so drawn to the warmth of wood (and I do so love the amazing burl bowls) we discussed picking up some small trinket of wood to take home.  Once the door to the shop opened I closed my eyes and breathed in, my senses  overwhelmed with the wonderful smells of the exotic woods. I could sat on the floor and just breathed it all in, but we had a job to do so didn't linger. Mind you there were some lovely pieces, but the price tags were in the thousands. Yikes!!

"We should get our own chunk of wood, I could carve my own piece."  Graham murmured as we admired the words. Hmmm… the thought burbled in the back of our minds as we focused back on the reason for our trip here.

My planned two days of writing had already gone to pot with yesterdays adventures, and I knew I wasn't going to leave Graham to work on his own when there were no Parks folks on site for the day, so I put my little laptop aside, rugged up and was Graham's "off sider" for the day.  Interestingly enough, the sign install for Strahan ended up being about 400 meters farther along the road from our accommodation - in "People's Park".  While Graham tackled taking the old sign down, I wandered back to the Gallery in our accommodation to ask a few questions and put on warmer socks to battle the cold. By the time I wandered back, when Graham spoke to me from the cool of the shade as he wielded crow bar and shovel, I marvelled at the sweat running down his brow as puffs of steam formed from the cold as he spoke. 



My job then, was to locate a water source and hold tools as required. We both chuckled as I finally figured out the giant "P P" ornately worked into the iron gate of the toilet block actually stood for People's Park and not the other options which came to mind.

Install completed, we turned left to explore the other end of the Esplanade eager to see the shack we had thought of buying 8 years ago when we were in Townsville.  What a funky little community we discovered.

Next we drove to the opposite side of town to off load the old signs at the tip, and what do we drive past?  A large site filled with massive piles of Huon pine.

Note to selves - stop on the way back.  After the tip we took a short side trip to look at some waterfront lots, and scratched our heads as the water was visible waaaay off in the distance, then noticed a small sign which said in a high tide, water covered the planes in front of the lots.  Just goes to show, you have to do your homework when looking at land for sale.

Back to our wood yard, Graham pulled out his phone and dialed the number. As luck would have it, the fellow was 5 minutes away, so we looked through the fence at the masses of wood on the other side while we waited. What a coincident to find he's the forestry fellow Graham needed to contact about removing the signs at Montazuma Falls. Small world eh?  We wandered around the stockpile of salvaged Huon pine looking for the perfect piece.  They were piled in different lengths, but we focused on the off cut pile, where they were all manner of shapes and sizes,



Graham scrambled all over the great piles of wood, and of course the piece which caught his eye was in the very middle. Once discovered and pointed out, our new found friend went to get a truck with a crane to lift it out, and put it in the back of our truck. Funny how somethings are just meant to happen.


Try as I might, I couldn't convince him to take a second piece, he was totally focused on this big beauty


Graham's piece

To me this looked like a giant pair of pants.  However at home it's reversed (legs in the air so to speak) and he is working away taking off layers of old wood, bringing out the spirit of the wood within.

We did a quick grocery shop, on the way back to the hotel, made a sandwich - Graham had a shower and tidied up, then we headed back to the People's Park to do the 40 minute walk to the falls. Walking amongst all the lush green plants was beautiful, and humid although it seemed somewhat tropical with the man ferns fauna, it was still quite chilly in the shade. 



Our friends Mandy and Charlie arrived in Strahan and came over for a couple of drinks before we all headed into the village for dinner at a quirky local spot, The Bushman's Bar and Cafe. The food was home made, plain and good. Also full of locals, which is always a fair recommendation The owner warned us before we sat down

      "We have a table of local women who are celebrating a birthday, they've already drank 4 bottles of wine. It'll be noisy if you choose to stay".  We liked the honesty of that, and while we were there, watched as another bottle of wine disappeared, they were clearly having a fabulous time.

We called it an early night and wandered back to our accommodation along the waterfront path. Cool crisp air kept us moving briskly, and gave us a clear sky and lovely view of the stars Graham is really missing his telescope viewing nights.

Day 3 - Again an early wake up, but today with excitement in the air, as we were taking the Gordon River Cruise on "the red boat" with World Heritage Cruises. 

We met Mandi and Charlie for a coffee, then they carried on their journey to Corinna and we boarded our boat. We had window seats with a table as our home base. The cruise left at 9 am and the weather was absolutely perfect. We were lucky enough to spend some time in the wheel house, where the Captain tapped the 1st Mate's seat for me to occupy for a time. How fun was that! The ocean conditions allowed us to go through Hells Gate all the way out to Surging Point - his first time there since last summer the Captain assured us.  What a crazy little opening for anyone to try to go through in a commercial vessel or in the old days any boat without a motor.

We went back through Macquarie Harbour (the second largest harbour in Australia, twice the size of Sydney harbour) to Sarah Island were we went ashore for an hour with a tour guide who brought the horrendous life of those days gone by alive with a fabulous theatrical tour, very interactive as she drew tourists into the story giving them characters, mostly against their will. It was great fun.



Aquaculture is huge here, with Atlantic Salmon and Ocean Trout being farmed by 3 different companies. It almost looked like a marketing ploy as a rainbow appeared over the spray of feed pellets they shoot out over the pens with a pressure hose.  The water boils as the fish feed. 


Back on the boat for lunch (A buffet of assorted salads, smoked salmon, smoked ham, silverside, Tassie cheeses, fruit, bread and crackers) as we cruised along the Gordon River, where we went for a short environmental walk (a loop trail) at Heritage Landing. I was impressed to see a massive Huon Pine log which supports over 147 different species of plants growing out of it. I love the filtered light through the leaves, lots of mosses all looking very similar to old forrest growth in British Columbia.


Wine (and beer for Graham) in hand we snuck up to the top deck to enjoy the sun and calm waters before anyone else thought of it as we idled our way back up the river - then moved indoors as the winds picked up when we quickened our pace to return to Strahan. The Captain gave a lively and informative patter of information throughout the trip, finishing off by putting on a DVD called "The Oldest Tasmanian" - being a Huon Pine tree of course - for the trip home. 

When we docked, we pulled up to Morrison's Sawmill (a family operation) where they had a demonstration of an old saw running, and loads of little doo-dads of wood to look at or purchase. I did pick up a 'hot pot stand' which I somehow convinced myself had the shape of a wombat.. well, you know how it goes... $5 burning a hole in my pocket.

All in all, It was a great day! 

Day 4 - early to rise, early to leave. We hit the road by 6:30 and only saw 6 cars by Derwent Bridge. What a different view with the snow all but gone. Only the odd little patch in the shade to confirm it had actually been there. We hardly saw any traffic at all until we hit New Norfolk and Hobart. We were welcomed enthusiastically by Elwood when we pulled up the drive at 12:30 - which made coming home and laundry seem not such a bad end to the trip after all.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Garden update and my take on the Medieval Romp and Stomp



My Garden designer (Graham of course) got 1.5 yards of gravel delivered Friday for the inside of our Garden. It was hard work as we had to shovel it into a bucket then Graham walked it in and spread it around the garden beds as the door to our Garden isn't wide enough for our wheel barrow.  However, a few hours of hard labour and the garden enclosure looks as swish as any botanic garden.  time to show up and the 3 of us went to get Elwood's bones and some libations as I was determined to have a glass of wine in our beautiful enclosure. To be frank, after a glass of wine, we had a quick comfort food dinner of cornflake chicken and sacked out in front of a movie.






Saturday Graham went the extra mile and put tiles at the doorway and gravelled the entrance area. Lucky veggies. Elwood isn't keen on the gravel but he perseveres and follows me around hoping for some ball tossing. Next we went to the ....

The GrandvEwe Medieval romp and cheese stomp.  I was soooo looking forward to this event and had plans of throwing myself into the day with great abandon!! 

Hooray costumes!! I immediately gave them high marks for ambiance. We were greeted by a Monk who directed us to the sheep shed for the Romp and Stomp, and advised us to find “Conan the Barbarian” to find our seats.  Passing several 'wenches' and ‘peasants’ bustling about, we entered the shed.  

It had been set up with long trestle tables, aligned with hay bales with rough wooden planks on top for seating. It crossed my mind-to wonder how many slivers were discovered later. I have to say I was a little nervous when I noticed a spider running in and out of the hay at one of the seats at another table.




The tables were set with a very heavy whole-wheat plate, a knife and a plastic goblet per person, and salad with mice shaped blue cheese, and herb encrusted hard-boiled eggs set upon a rich red runner down the center of the tables, with chunky candles spotted here and there. We looked along our assigned table for our place tags, and grabbed our goblets.


Blue Cheese Mouse with Liquorish Tail
 The back of the shed had about a dozen sheep behind a fence, with one of their relatives on a spit at the other end - (I'm not sure what the sheep thought about that) – however the spit was supervised by the black hearted hangman who alternated his accessories between a giant wooden sword and beheading axe.


As we entered, in the entry corner was the grape stomping station attended by a Medieval milkmaid. A hay bale to sit on while you washed your feet, 2 half wine barrels filled with grapes (grapes and mark were supplied by the local Hartzview winery) ready for stomping with a clean water bath to rinse off your feet when your stomping was completed.  






Graham and I stomped with glee and abandon. OK, I stomped with glee and abandon, I had to cajole Graham into it, and although he started with nervous anticipation, he was soon stomping like a pro and I watched as his smile grew with his enthusiasm! 






Then you were given your cheese to wrap in calico and a permanent marker to write your name on with. 


Next step was outside to the Cheese pit, which was a square hole dug into the ground, lined with hay, ready to receive the cheeses. Thankfully there was a bucket of "Mark" to pile over the cheese - which is the end bi-product of wine making (also donated by Hartzview) and still having a fairly high alcoholic count - so no foot stomped grapes were actually used in the process.  Whew. When all the cheeses were put into the pit, at the end of the day the hole was filled in with hay and the lid closed. They'll call in 3 - 5 months when it's time to take them out.


Our “Mistress of the Manor” told us the history behind this came from Europe where villagers used to bury their food to hide it front raiders. Apparently the villagers found they preferred the flavour of the aged buried chess so much, they just kept doing it. Well it's a good story anyhow. Adding the grape 'Mark" was a new thing the GrandEwe people were experimenting with. (On our cheeses. Go us guinea pigs, and fingers crossed).

Back inside were tables of local wares for tasting and sale (as well as the regular sheep cheese tastings in the restaurant).  A woman from Margate had some jams and chutneys - one outstanding dish was cherries with hot mustard. Wow!  Pagan Ciders were there from Cygnet with a new cider with 40% cherry juice - my personal favourite, Elderberry drinks, and the Harts Winery with their meads and fruit wines and liqueurs. Well, we couldn't go past a hot mulled mead now could we? The plastic goblets with their jewels were a nice touch - you brought you goblet to the stall and they filled it for you.

It’s a top spot to stand around with your goblet of grog – watching the activities amongst lush green fields with the stunning view of the channel behind. I loved the 3 dogs which wandered about as well, and secretly hoped for a bone to toss over my shoulder.


They called for everyone to take their seats at noon – telling us, everything on the tables was edible including the plate. We had our knife and fingers, so could figure out what to do, or something along those lines.

A recorder band (who knew recorders could form a band?  I would have kept up my school recorder practice had I known) dressed in period outfits, with recorders like I've never seen before, arrived and set up in the corner. One huge wooden recorder was as tall as a person with a curled brass mouthpiece – which they told us you had to start blowing well before you played the note to get the air flow going. All very interesting and certainly added to the ambiance. Several guests came in costumes, which also added to the festive air. 


Unfortunately the banquet was disappointing. It was quite disorganised.  I would much rather have had  the most excellent centre salad starter setup to be clearly shared between each 2 opposing diners (to avoid confusion on who was sharing in what part of the table centre-pieces) Also a platter set down between the opposing diners with the whole roast dinner components at once would have worked nicely. 


So, the concept was good, the set up interesting, we'll see how our buried cheese turns out, but our feast was disappointing.  An enjoyable afternoon overall.