Hot, hot HOT down in sizzling Sidmouth

Hi Folks,

Back to my normal posting style (if, indeed, I have one) for today’s post. My life lessons for this week have been tangled up in painting and hacking through blackberries and walking Earl at a somewhat brisk pace, sometimes doubling back on ourselves at an alarming speed and with humorous results but that’s another story…The temperature continues to rise on Serendipity Farm and all over Australia. I got back from walking Earl this morning (Sunday) and found Steve and Bezial sitting on one of the rugs on the deck. It’s a lovely place out there now and an additional “room” that we can take advantage of over the summer period. Our local government gave “cash back” incentives to people who had their fireplaces removed and who installed electric heat/cooling pumps in order to “minimise pollution”. For a government who is pushing this pulp mill like flogging a dead horse and who can’t be bothered policing anything environmental you have to think that there might just be an agenda involved with that decision and you don’t even have to poke it with a stick before you see that as the primary shareholders in our power, the government has somewhat vested interests in us all cashing in our solid fuel heaters and paying through the nose for electricity.

Garden Advisory Service

I pinched this from Mr Leunig. I love it 🙂 If you feel like suing me Mr Leunig, I will pay you in zucchini, the legal tender on Serendipity Farm 😉

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If you don’t believe me…here I am, using Earl’s not inconsiderable bonce as a size comparison for this monster. Last week this was a tiddler. A week later it is over a foot long

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This is to show you how hot it has been around here of late. This candle was artistically doing duty out on the front deck. It had been doing duty out there for years. Not even Earl had bothered with it, but this year it decided to take one look at our summer and gave up the ghost. It melted. THAT is how hot it is here folks!

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Aren’t these bumper stickers amazing? Linne of the eclectic and most crafty and world wise blog A Random Harvest sent these beauties to me so that I can put Trogdor in pride of place on our little 4 x 4 battle wagon’s tailgate. Every time I look at these stickers I smile because I am reminded of how amazing it is to be able to share a good friendship with someone on the other side of the world. Back when we were kids, Linne and I would have had to send snail-mail letters and be pen pals but now we can chat, send messages and comment almost instantaneously…and they say that technology is bad! Thankyou from the bottom of my little Trogdor infused heart Linnie and BIG (hot sweaty) hugs from Sidmouth to you 🙂

The catch 22 situation involved with that is that Tasmanian’s are sooky la-las when it comes to any variations in Temperature. They have real problems when the temperatures go up any higher than 25C and down any lower than 0C and those heat/cooking pumps and air conditioners start humming like a swarm of bees on the move. Tasmania is a relatively small state but when the entire population turn on their electrical cooling at the first sign that it might just be a warm day, something’s got to give and what happens is that we have rolling power outages. We just lost power for about 15 minutes. I could care less because everything that we need for the duration is gas or “other” powered. It is more of a nuisance for us to be honest but think of how later in the day when it really IS hot, those outages are going to impact on when the coolers are really needed…numpties tend not to think. That is my explanation for a “numpty”, “People who try their very hardest NOT to use the brain that God gave them”. Simple…and the sad thing is that ¾ of Tasmanian’s are like that through no fault of their own and through a systematic and most nefarious  population control by corrupt state government and big business (predominately the forestry industry and its key players).

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This is matcha green tea powder. My wonderful daughters purchased it for me. By the way girls I found that small baggie I pinched from you! Want it back? 😉 I used some of it to make myself a delicious hot matcha sesame milk sweetened with date paste. It was delicious 🙂

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This is how we Earl proof Steve’s music room in order for him not to roast every time he wants to play guitar in there

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We didn’t have the luxury of more of those gate/door thingo’s to put on the middle room but it needed airing out and so we had to formulate an Earl proof plan…do you like it? I call it “Chair…like you are going in THERE sunshine!” 😉

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I shall show you this once. We shall speak of it no more after this one time. This…is the letter “P”. It once took pride of place between the “O” key and the “{[” key on our keyboard. I closed Earl and Bezial in the house when I was painting the deck boards and when I came back inside I checked for collateral damage (like you do) and couldn’t see anything. I sat down to check emails and was oblivious to anything until I attempted to type the letter “P” and found an empty space. I went hunting for the letter and discovered it on the floor with these tell-tale tooth marks on it. What I want to know is how the heck did Earl manage to extract this key from a keyboard without moving the keyboard from its original position and without doing any other damage to the keyboard?!!! (Be afraid… be VERY afraid!)

When education is pushed down to sub-necessary, it is very easy to fool the population most of the time when half of them can’t actually read or understand how to fill in a form. So when the state government tells them to “get a heat pump” most of them mindlessly “baaaa” their way to the nearest Harvey Norman store where they can hock themselves up to the eyeballs for the next few years. Don’t forget, most of we Taswegians are unemployed or underemployed and thus expensive new heating and cooling systems represent a large proportion of our income. The poverty cycle in Tasmania means that many Tasmanian’s are unable to pay the huge power bills that are being accrued by their adhering to state government urging and a spiral of poverty is forcing people into heading to charities in order to make ends meet.

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Here you have Serendipity Farm partially completed…

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Then we painted the weather damaged cedar…

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Then I decided to paint this old bench that Steve and I built years ago with timbers on the property…

You won’t hear about that on the news or read about it in the newspapers. You find out about it by living here and seeing how things work. It does foster a sub culture of resilience however. It is amazing to see how people get by, get around and just “get” themselves from A to B when they need to and there are none more generous than people who know how hard it is to be down and out. Tasmanians are very generous givers to charity. They help out a mate and they will share what they have. I have found that this occurs wherever there is a welfare belt or when people are subject to living below the poverty line. My grandmother would have said “needs must…” and she was right. When you can’t get what you want with the folding green, you have to find another way. There are good and bad things about every situation and learning how to be resilient is right up there with the best skills you can learn in life.

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Then after what felt like an ETERNITY we ended up with this 🙂

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Which turned into this. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it suits us just fine 🙂

While the power was out I headed up to water the veggie garden (triffids). Steve hooked up the Mumbly Cumumbus and headed out with a spring in his step, his battered old straw hat with an imported beer logo on it a past gift from our generous daughters and a 20 litre bucket just in case he actually catches anything. Steve loves to trawl around the Tamar in the sunshine with the smell of the salty air, the breeze blowing up his shorts (why do they call them shorts when they are down to his knees?!!!) and as many fishing rods in the water as he has digits to hold them. Much like a “mans shed”, a “man’s tinnie (small aluminium dinghy)” is vital to his happiness when he lives in close proximity to any body of water.

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Knowing that we had an impending visit from Kym and Bruce I decided to tidy up a bit. I moved a lot of things and simplified and this is the new kitchen setup. Nice and simple and clean lines. No doubt it will take me all of a week to take it back to cluttered but I now have this image to remind me how nice it looks when there aren’t bits of sea glass, stones, seed pots, plant material etc. littered all over the place 😉

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Here we have Stevie the fix-it-man wonder boy (who is turning 49 at the end of January) putting the “new” shower door on the shower. We got given the door by a friends wonderful mother and it certainly makes our lives happier. Now Earl can sit and stare at me as I shower…not disturbing at ALL! 😉

I started to sketch down ideas for this post but as usual, I am free forming. I need to check out if choko’s (Chayote’s) are annual, biannual or perennial because my choko from last year is still in a pot in the glasshouse and I have a nice spot in the garden for it to climb up one of the supporting poles (circus poles) so that it can grow with impunity.  I just went and checked and it is “a long lived vigorous, tender herbaceous perennial vine with tuberous roots”. “WOOT!” so that means I now need to find someplace it can grow happily in perpetuity. I also found out some interesting and useful information about it…”The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and infusions of the leaves were used to dissolve kidney stones.” Always good to know that your food has other uses

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Here you can see just how bewildered Stevie-boy can get when faced with an appliance that is more bolshie than I am. He eventually got this hot water system to go but he can’t tell you how or he would have to kill you

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This is what is left of our 900 potted plants that we ferried here as wide eyed city folk. We had SUCH plans! Those plans have faded into obscurity and we are still trying to work out where to put these last few plants on Serendipity Farm or if, indeed, they have a place here at all. They are revelling in water here. Narf7 forgot that she had put the overhead sprinklers on and came out about 2 hours late (I know CRINGE!) to find the duck wading in water and quacking merrily. At least someone was happy with all of that water gone down the proverbial and literal drain 😦

I also wanted to share this paragraph from a post that I read this morning from the blog Zenhabits. It came from a list of shake-up’s that the author had given himself to get himself motivated out of a blue funk. It affected me predominately and made me really think about living each day to the fullest…

“I remembered that this day counts. I only have so many days left on earth. I don’t know how many that is, but I do know it’s a very limited number. I know that each one of those limited days is a gift, a blessing, a miracle. And that squandering this miracle is a crime, a horrible lack of appreciation for what I’ve been given. And so, I reminded myself this morning that this day counts. That I should do something with it. That doesn’t mean I need to work myself into the ground, type until my fingers are mere nubs, but that I should do something worthwhile. Sometimes taking a break to nourish yourself is a worthwhile activity, because that allows you to do other worthwhile things, but just sitting around in self-pity isn’t helpful, I’ve found. So I got up and did something.”

Often, just getting up and doing something is enough to get you someplace where life looks and feels a bit better. I looked out over the Batman Bridge at the expanse of water below and the gorgeous countryside I was walking through and the beauty of the early morning tinged with the warmth of the sun’s rays and felt truly blessed.

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I took this shot this morning when I was walking Earl to show you how overcast it was. Overcast, foreboding and humid out the wazoo! Not my favourite kind of day but at least we have a nice breeze blowing and that makes up for too many degrees on the thermometer (almost…)

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We saw this lovely little fellow taking a rest on the road. You can see how dry the soil is in this image

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We also saw this…”EEK!” Council have been mowing the grassy roadside verges and this little fellow appears to have been “reaped”

I discovered a food blog yesterday that made me sit up and take notice. I am a bit of a habit former when it comes to what I eat. I develop a repertoire and tend to just plod along eating the same old same old because by the time I get to my evening meal I am usually semi-asleep on my feet. Not anymore! I have seen this blog in my peripherals as I wade through the morass of vegan food blogs and “alternative” foodie sites in my early morning exploration of “grub”. I discounted it for 2 reasons.

  1. “Veggie num num”.  I REST MY CASE! Anything with a name as ridiculous as this is likely to drive me insane in the first 5 minutes of perusing it.
  2. It is a “vegetarian” blog, not vegan

So I have been sliding around the edges of this blog for a while now. It keeps coming up and waving at me from a distance and I keep putting my head down and walking in the opposite direction. Yesterday we collided. You know when you see the love interests in a movie collide? Well it was like that. I think I just found my new passion on a wholesome tasty stick. I stumbled over one of Trudy’s scrumptious looking, most inventive recipes on Pinterest and it piqued my interest to visit the site ostensibly to plunder the recipe but also to have a stickybeak around. It was love at first site! I don’t think I have found a single recipe yet (and there are legion) that I didn’t want to race out to the bbq and cook. I will be working my way through this amazingly creative ladies recipes for the foreseeable future. My wooden spoons will be redolent of spices and interesting flavour combinations and I will be substituting buckwheat for rice, rice noodles for wheat noodles and mucking around with the components of the recipes that are vegetarian and turning them veganise.

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I love Shasta daisies 🙂 I HATE Osteospermum daisies. Not much difference between them really but the Shasta’s are welcome here, welcome to spread all over the place but I frown whenever I see an invading Osteospermum daisy. Horses for courses folks… horses for courses 😉

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The ONLY way we are going to get sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes on Serendipity Farm is to protect them like this. Apparently wallabies love artichokes of any kind and even though they are hardy and drought tolerant, being chewed down to stumps makes it awfully hard to survive 😦

I learned about perseverance and the power of extreme passion when it comes to overcoming adversity. Narf7 + blackberries = “adversity” on STEROIDS. The extended wet winter that we just had combined with our inability to get out into the garden has seen the blackberries and spear (scotch) thistles take over Serendipity Farm. While I was focussing on the forget-me-nots I forgot that there are worse things than having your upper eyelids stuck to your hairline. Spear thistles are not my friend. I don’t care that you can make vegan rennet from them because to get that rennet you have to allow them to grow and my mission in life is to hamper their growth at all costs. I wasn’t intending to tackle the spear thistle and blackberry problem that now inhabits the second garden almost completely when I headed down with my trusty secateurs yesterday. I was going to spend 10 minutes pruning a few stray tendrils of blackberry and a lot of plectranthus that went feral with all the rain. I didn’t even take gloves…

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New growth on one of  the Brachychiton discolor that we planted out. They are all adapting well and none of them have died yet

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Coming up the driveway today…

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Part of the tea-tree garden where Steve whipper snipped. It might be full to the brim with forget-me-not seeds but at least it looks tidy now 😉

You would have thought that I would have realised that this task might be a little more complex than was immediately apparent when I couldn’t actually see through the archway to the garden behind it, but not narf7…I am not known for my observatory powers, and so I headed into the battle completely unaware that I was going to have to fight tooth and nail for my tiny patch of ground. I also should have known that it was going to be a hard slog because Steve had abandoned his hedge trimmer in the immediate vicinity and was in his shed “cleaning up” and whistling in a most nonchalant way… I started by noting that some of the blackberry canes were HUGE! I was a bit bemused because last year I cut them all back and wouldn’t have thought it possible for them to have grown so enormous in the space of a single year. I was wrong. The blackberry mother (like the alien mother…) is a very protective creature. The worst and most thorny canes are usually on the outside of the blackberries boundaries and are the fruiting canes. You have to tackle them first before you can breach the mother and she ALWAYS puts up a good fight.

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Here’s that little choko that I have yet to find a forever home for in the veggie garden. He seems to be very happy at the moment in the glasshouse but I am sure he would rather be climbing up one of the garden poles or a tree on the side of the garden

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Avocado trees grown from seeds, turmeric starting to shoot (in the black pots at the front of this photo) and over to the right, my little mango trees that I grew from seed. Aint nature grand? 🙂

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A closer shot of those turmeric shoots absolutely loving the conditions inside the glasshouse now it is covered in protective netting and feels like tropical North Queensland inside

2 hours later narf7 was in the blazing sun, howling like a banshee at each small victory. Cut to ribbons with blood streaming down my arms and each cane cut and thrown onto a large tarpaulin felt like a major victory in the war. I managed to get the archway opened up and was faced with a dense forest of spear thistles that were equally as defensive of their territory…add to that the blackberries had spread to most of the gardens in the area, everything has grown exponentially over spring and no-one has mown the grass in this area and you can probably see why I decided to decamp back to base to plot my next move. This coming week will see me triumph. I know I will triumph because unlike blackberries, I don’t have to rely on my spines, I have a mind so sharp you could cut cheese with it and I am formulating a cunning plan (hopefully not as cunning as one of Baldric from the Black Adder series “cunning plans”…) The blackberries and spear thistles may be heavily fortified, in possession of the territory and heavily outweigh narf7’s in this war BUT I have my trusty secateurs, a pair of welding gloves (that I WILL remember to take down with me, “forewarned is forearmed”!) and a trusty pair of loppers to bypass those nasty reaching canes that grab you on your nether regions when you bend to pick up their fallen brethren. I SHALL triumph!

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The ubiquitous weekly compost shot. I know that some of you poor polar vortex infused Northerners are living vicariously through my compost heap so here is a gratuitous shot just for you to print out and put on your fridge 😉

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Not “Where’s Wally?”…”Where’s Bezially?”

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One of 2 cardamom plants that seem to be tough as nails that are still surviving here on Serendipity Farm after years of neglect

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The view of my fecund vegetable plants (trifids)

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Beetroots! 🙂

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Tomato “weeds” that seeded outside the garden. Best kind of weeds methinks

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I dug this red clover up from the side of the road last year and lugged it back home in my bag. It is now almost a metre across and loving it and flowering prolifically. Weeds? Nope, very useful plants 🙂

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My potatoes are all starting to flower. The only think I know about potato flowers is that if they are white, the spuds are white and if they are pink, you have pink skinned spuds. That is ALL I know. I also think it means I might get some potatoes this year but I am not holding my breathe 😉

Well it looks like this is a long post and I am going to finish up here for the week. At the beginning of the week, my zucchini plants had small fruit on them about as long as my little finger. At the end of the week they are pick able. The yellow zucchini appear to be much slower growing but I am going to have to watch the green zucchini and the patty-pan squash as they are off the chart when it comes to exponential growth and now that Veggie num num has come to my rescue and suggested some excellent recipes for me to try that use the humble zucchini and I noticed this gorgeous Chocolate, cherry and zucchini cake on Angela of Canned Time’s blog and am going to have to make it because it looks like moist, unctuous, dark chocolaty heaven on a stick that I can use up zucchini in and that I can actually eat…and no doubt I am going to have to think of ways to preserve it for later use. I will be fermenting some, using it in just about everything and offloading it to my unsuspecting children (girls…you don’t suspect alright? ;)).

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It’s too hot to cook indoors so tonight Kym, Bruce, Steve and I are having a bbq. They are having narf7’s homemade beef burgers with the lot – bacon, Serendipity Farm eggs, cheese, sliced pickled beetroot (its an Aussie thing 😉 ), salad and tomatoes with condiments. I then decided that I should probably go out on a limb and provide some kind of nibblies for when we have drinkies… so I bought some bbq crisps, made some narf friendly hummus with rice crackers and veggies and made this strange 70’s hedgehog. I have NO idea why our mothers were not all neurotic and insane for having to produce these hedgehogs at a moments notice right through the decade of the 70’s. They were haute cuisine at the time and I have my suspicions that they were made out of processed cheese as feta and crumbly tasty cheddar do NOT like to be forced onto cocktail sticks!

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Lastly, I found this wonderful delight on the interweb…I was contemplating making it for Kym and Bruce’s meal tonight. I just KNOW they would have loved it. I might save it for when the queen comes to visit Serendipity Farm. She looks like someone who would truly appreciate this delightful vintage 70’s dish. I will stick with the hedgehog 😉

I just found an awesome book that I am trying to request from the library (but those rolling power outages seem to have hit their site so I will have to wait a bit and retry) and that I am going to buy ASAP called “Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles” by Eric Toensmeier. I used the Google book format to find out the information about the choko/chayote via this book and just had a little look at it and it is wonderful! Book Depository, here I come! I just found the book 25% off at a local seller called Fishpond.com.au so narf7 is even happier! Have a great week folks. To my northern friends suffering under the umbrella of frigid cold that the Polar Vortex has brought to you all, enjoy your marshmallows and hot chocolate because sooner than you know you will be back up to your armpits in the heat of summer again 😉

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