How my grandmother would have loved the internet

Hi All,

Steve's new camera view from over our deck

Steve’s new camera view from over our deck

I always remember my grandmother as a very strong and resourceful woman. As children we used to love visiting her house as she always had some new and most interesting thing for us to do and if she hadn’t gotten around to getting grandad to make us a small loom or some other craft, we always had a large box of the most interesting puzzles and homemade games to keep us amused. If we weren’t in the mood for a game or puzzle, we had their wonderful garden to explore or we could always push off in the bootle bumtrinket, a tiny little rowboat that we could explore the small island that was just off a point not too far from their home on the inlet. My grandmother was a most interesting person and it showed.

What do you have for tea when it is 37C inside the house and you really don't want to cook and heat it up even more? You cook good old fashioned Aussie sausage rolls on the bbq! ;)

What do you have for tea when it is 37C inside the house and you really don’t want to cook and heat it up even more? You cook good old fashioned Aussie sausage rolls on the bbq! 😉

Steve took this lovely shot of some lichen on a branch at Hollybank

Steve took this lovely shot of some lichen on a branch at Hollybank

Another "Wait a minute while I take a photo!" moment...This is half a cooked artichoke that I am actually in the process of eating prior to being used as a hand model ;)

Another “Wait a minute while I take a photo!” moment…This is half a cooked artichoke that I am actually in the process of eating prior to being used as a hand model 😉

We no longer dread taking down the decorations as our "Ikea flat pack tree" makes it such an easy process. It's now under the spare bed taking up NO room at all :)

We no longer dread taking down the decorations as our “Ikea flat pack tree” makes it such an easy process. It’s now under the spare bed taking up NO room at all 🙂

She always had some kind of interesting thing that she was learning. She knew how to knit, to crochet, to tat and much more. She grew herbs in her garden and she was always learning as much as she could. I am sure that the local library gave her a gold card she used it that much. My grandparents weren’t wealthy but they had a wealth of knowledge between them. Grandad was a carpenter and could make just about anything to do with wood and Grandma was one of the most resourceful women that I know.

Steve using some kind of "mode" on his new camera that makes things look extra teeny tiny from high up. All you tech heads probably know what this function is but whatever it is, it looks pretty shmick ;)

Steve using some kind of “mode” on his new camera that makes things look extra teeny tiny from high up. All you tech heads probably know what this function is but whatever it is, it looks pretty shmick 😉

Lunch that consists of onion lightly sauteed in olive oil with lots of garlic, peas and beans and covered with water, brought up to the boil and some veggie stock powder added and then some ground brown rice flour. A most interesting and tasty lunch

Lunch that consists of onion lightly sauteed in olive oil with lots of garlic, peas and beans and covered with water, brought up to the boil and some veggie stock powder added and then some ground brown rice flour. A most interesting and tasty lunch reminiscent of polenta

A nice shot of moss from Hollybank

A nice shot of moss on an old dry stone wall at Hollybank

A tiny (1.5cm) frog on raspberry leaves at our friends house the other day

A tiny (1.5cm) frog on raspberry leaves at our friends house the other day

I was hunting for information about natural dyes this morning and found this amazing link

http://maiwahandprints.blogspot.ca/p/guide-to-natural-dyes.html

Practically a whole library book of information available to moi, sitting here in my early morning fuggish haze tinged with excitement from my glorious find. Anything that I want to learn about is online. I just have to do a bit of sifting and hunting for the quality stuff. It is getting harder and harder to sift through as so much utter garbage is being shuffled about in the name of twitter, hash tags and links that don’t actually lead anywhere but that’s the minefield that is the net. If you want quality information, you are just going to have to go out there and find it and that’s where I step in.

Bezial would like it to be known that he is NOT fat, he is big boned!

Bezial would like it to be known that he is NOT fat, he is big boned!

A Tasmanian trigger plant (Stylidium graminifolium) that Steve took a photo of with his new camera

A Tasmanian trigger plant (Stylidium graminifolium) that Steve took a photo of with his new camera

 

I love learning. I am also a penniless student hippy who lives a fair way away from the library. I adore the library and use it a lot (although not so much recently) but the internet allows me to hunt from my inner sanctum and save this information to my own little library of great happiness. As soon as I get interested in something (and lets face it, just about everything interests little old me 😉 ), I go hunting. My 3am starts are part RSS Feed Read and part “lets just see where this will take me…” a most delightful way to find things out.

A lovely young Tasmanian fairy wren sunning himself early the other day when we walked the dogs in the park over the Batman bridge

A lovely young Tasmanian Superb fairy wren sunning himself early the other day when we walked the dogs in the park over the Batman bridge

Steve headed over to the Gorge restaurant site in order to see if he could get some nice pictures the other day when he was in the city doing the shopping. This male peacock was most insistent that he take his photo. Isn't he lovely?

Steve headed over to the Gorge restaurant site in order to see if he could get some nice pictures the other day when he was in the city doing the shopping. This male peacock was most insistent that he take his photo. Isn’t he lovely?

My grandmother would have adored the internet. She would have immediately realised it’s intrinsic value to her as a long standing magpie. Information…for free…that you didn’t have to drive to town to get? SCORE! Grandma didn’t drive and my grandad only had his motorbike license so they had to wait till mum drove them to town so the internet would have given my grandmother a degree of freedom that she couldn’t have thought was even possible. She would also have been able to keep in contact with her sisters and other family in the U.K. for free. OH what an amazing resource we have at our fingertips for pennies. My grandmother would have called me a “lucky bugger” and I am fully cognisant of just what a lucky bugger I am.

New Years day cocktails

New Years day cocktails. Enough fruit and veggies in this one to call it lunch! 😉

Hot days = cold beer and shandies

Hot days = cold beer and shandies in our redneck drinking mugs 😉

Me sorting through my beer bottle caps that I have been collecting for a year

Me sorting through my beer bottle caps that I have been collecting for a year

(do you see what I have to put up with! ;) )

(do you see what I have to put up with! Apparently this is motion blur and focal points 😉 )

Getting jiggy with the hammer and flattening out the remaining beer bottle caps to turn them into teeny tiny alcoholic bunting for Stevie-boys music room

Getting jiggy with the hammer and flattening out the remaining beer bottle caps to turn them into teeny tiny alcoholic bunting for Stevie-boys music room

We have been very busy little beavers this week.  On New Years Eve I stayed up and both Stevie-boy and I welcomed in the New Year for once. We had a little basket with coal (that my mum had given me on her last Christmas here, I must have been naughty! 😉 ), bread and money in it and as Steve is naturally dark haired, he had to walk in to the doors (both opened up to let out the bad and let the good in) and receive the basket. By the sound of it, we were the only ones in Sidmouth up at 12 to see in the New Year. NO idea why we did this aside from sticking with someone else’s tradition and then we popped a cheap bottle of peach flavoured passion pop that Steve picked up as he thought that I wouldn’t stay awake for 12 and we wouldn’t need it. OH how wrong he was! It was pretty much undrinkable so we had a sip each, grimaced and then went to bed.

My prototype drop spindle until Steve can get around to making me a Turkish drop spindle

My prototype drop spindle until Steve can get around to making me a Turkish drop spindle

Gorgeous caramel coloured alpaca fleece for spinning on the drop spindle

Gorgeous caramel coloured alpaca fleece for spinning on the drop spindle

Even lovelier kid alpaca silvery grey/white fleece for spinning

Even lovelier kid alpaca silvery grey/white fleece for spinning

Steve has been taking SO many photos since he got his new (baby) camera. Here you can see me attempting to eat breakfast whilst being coerced into being a "model" for his practice ;)

Steve has been taking SO many photos since he got his new (baby) camera. Here you can see me attempting to eat breakfast whilst being coerced into being a “model” for his practice 😉

New Years Day arrived and we decided to spend it crafting. I hammered out bottle caps to make beer bottle bunting and a beer bottle lamp shade for Stevie-boys music room and researched how to nailbind. Nailbinding is an ancient Nordic craft that preceded knitting and crochet that the Vikings used to make clothing. It involves using a “nal” or a kind of long needle made out of bone or wood. Steve knocked me up a “nal” and I am ready to go once I start spinning my alpaca wool…alpaca wool?! Yes, Stewart and Kelsey came out and gifted me 2 enormous garbage bags of the most beautiful caramel and silvery white alpaca fleece for me to learn how to spin on. Stevie-boy had made me a drop spindle and they were out hunting for more wool for Kelsey as she is learning to spin on a drop spindle as well and thought that they might get me some as well. MUCHO happy guys :).  Now I just need to find the time to get started!

It always looks like Steve is doing all of the work around here but someone has to duck away to take the photos! ;)

It always looks like Steve is doing all of the work around here but someone has to duck away to take the photos! 😉

After hauling the 2 long sections of garden bed up the hill and into Sanctuary we hammered small star picket stakes into the ground in front of the bed to keep it in place when we loaded it up with soil

After hauling the 2 long sections of garden bed up the hill and into Sanctuary we hammered small star picket stakes into the ground in front of the bed to keep it in place when we loaded it up with soil

Looking back from the mountain of manure and oak leaves to the site where the new garden bed was being built

Looking back from the mountain of manure and oak leaves to the site where the new garden bed was being built

We then decided to create the next 2 gardens from the great and mighty mountain of aged horse poo and rotted oak leaves. Steve and I cobbled together  a garden bed out of old half rounds that we had found on the property and bits of rubbish timber that we had been storing for “a rainy day” (or a garden bed 😉 ). We then used it as a sort of terrace in Sanctuary. Steve headed off to do the shopping on Monday and I shoveled the second of the two new garden beds into place. We had generated some “char” in a recent burn off of branches (after we cut off any usable wood). I wouldn’t call it “biochar” as it wasn’t produced properly but most of the pile was charcoal so “char” it is and I am sure it will be good for the garden so after it cooled down I hauled it up to Sanctuary in a wheelbarrow and tipped it onto the ground before I dug the second of the new beds.

My wheelbarrow of "char". Nothing gets wasted around here!

My wheelbarrow of “char”. Nothing gets wasted around here!

Earl "helping" in Sanctuary

Earl “helping” in Sanctuary

Earl helping some more...

Earl helping some more…

Steve noticed this really wonderful way to make a good water hand pump out of PVC pipe and a few easy to get hold of cheap items (to make the valves) on Facebook the other day. I will share it here with you all as you can never have enough hats, bags and good cheap water pumps!…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaho7JSVS1I 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG6own141z0&feature=youtube_gdata_player 

The first video shows you how to make the pump and the second one shows you how to make the one way valves. The pump can be used to pump water or air. I am going to make 4 of them, one for each limb 😉

King Earl of the dung heap ;)

King Earl of the dung heap 😉

The sweet potato cuttings that I got from our friend Jenny's house last Friday. I read that the best way to grow sweet potatoes was by cuttings.

The sweet potato cuttings that I got from our friend Jenny’s house last Friday. I read that the best way to grow sweet potatoes was by cuttings.

I am in awe at how quickly these roots grew. This was 3 days after I put them into some water in the kitchen and just before I planted them out

I am in awe at how quickly these roots grew. This was 3 days after I put them into some water in the kitchen and just before I planted them out

My new large bench and a potted up cucamelon for a friend

My new large bench and a potted up cucamelon for a friend

Yesterday Steve and I pruned our 7 little grape vines that I grew from cuttings from our muscat grape vine in the city. We researched how to do it and we staked them up so that next year we can start training them to grow on a trellis. Steve made me a lovely big bench to use in Sanctuary and then knocked up another one because I said that I could carry the bench around with me and sit down and water (and Don Burke thought that HE was the lazy gardener! 😉 ) and now I don’t even have to lug the bench around :). It got pretty hot then so we hunkered down inside and spent the rest of the day relaxing. Today has been spent out in the garden potting up my 10 long suffering artichoke babies that desperately needed moving to bigger pots to grow on before I plant them out in the main garden. I also planted out my cucamelon/mouse melon (Melothria scabra)  babies (and potted one up to give to a friend). I was sent the seed by the wonderful Bev from Foodnstuff on the mainland after lamenting that I would never find the seed here in Tasmania. I then found out that my son was growing cucamelons as well. When asking him where he got his seed he said “Bunnings”…oh well! 😉 I had 19 of them germinate and gave 8 of them away so I have 11 left. That was my mathematics lesson for the day folks! (Did I pass?) If you would like to know more about this most interesting of fruits/vegetables (one of the two 😉 ) here is an interesting link that also contains a recipe for how to preserve them…

http://homegrown-revolution.co.uk/savoury-fruit/growing-cucamelons/

The top new garden planted out with potatoes that had gone to seed and sweet potato cuttings (that you can't see but that are already growing leaves :) )

The top new garden planted out with potatoes that had gone to seed and sweet potato cuttings (that you can’t see but that are already growing leaves 🙂 )

The new garden bed planted out with all kinds of seedlings from the glasshouse. I have since added basil and bergamot seedlings to the mix.

The new garden bed planted out with all kinds of seedlings from the glasshouse. I have since added basil and bergamot seedlings to the mix.

The second new garden bed is very long. I didn't have enough manure/oak leaf mix to fill it all so the last bit is now my new compost heap where I will create my own soil for another garden. I love the possibilities of gardening :)

The second new garden bed is very long. I didn’t have enough manure/oak leaf mix to fill it all so the last bit is now my new compost heap where I will create my own soil for another garden. I love the possibilities of gardening 🙂

I also planted out basil, bergamot and some chilli’s that had been languishing in with the artichokes as now we have room to plant them. I had already planted out eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos and capsicum plants. I am not really bothered that it’s a bit late for them, I just didn’t want to waste them in the glasshouse and now they at least have a chance to grow out in the sunshine. Steve and I often walk our dogs over in Beaconsfield, a small town about  10 minutes away from here and on one of our walks we noticed an old cast iron bath out the back of the local council buildings. We kept seeing it on our walks and so I decided to phone up council and ask if we could have it. I got a phone call back today to say that I could pick it up whenever I wanted it and so Sanctuary is just about to get a nice pond. I have been lusting after a bath ever since Bev from the amazingly informative permaculture blog “Foodnstuff” posted about storing water in the garden in non-conventional (and cheap) ways…

https://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/storing-water-for-the-garden/

Can you see one of your baby pepino's in the jungle that is Sanctuary Bev? ;)

Can you see one of your baby pepino’s in the jungle that is Sanctuary Bev? 😉

Towering 8ft tall Jerusalem artichokes dwarfing rhubarb that has gone to seed and raspberries in a compost heap

Towering 8ft tall Jerusalem artichokes dwarfing rhubarb that has gone to seed and raspberries in a compost heap

Potted up artichoke babies and one of the chaotic garden beds that forms the bulk of Sanctuary

Potted up artichoke babies and one of the chaotic garden beds that forms the bulk of Sanctuary

My little tiny loquat seedlings that I dug up from the road verge last year are growing like crazy now that I have planted them out inside the new dog compound. Nothing touches them and the fruit is delicious :)

My little tiny loquat seedlings that I dug up from the road verge last year are growing like crazy now that I have planted them out inside the new dog compound. Nothing touches them and the fruit is delicious 🙂

Cucamelons ready to plant out

Cucamelons ready to plant out

The new cucamelon enclosure. Apparently they can grow to 3 metres high so maybe I should have planned a bit better but they are over in the top of Sanctuary where not much else exists so if they want to invade Poland they can knock themselves out ;)

The new cucamelon enclosure. Apparently they can grow to 3 metres high so maybe I should have planned a bit better but they are over in the top of Sanctuary where not much else exists so if they want to invade Poland they can knock themselves out 😉

A regular sweet cherry and a sour cherry that our friend Jenny gave to us. She can't plant them on her property as the possums would simply hoover them down. Now that we have an Earl protected (at all hours of the day) inner sanctum compound, these cherries should grow and flourish free from possum invasion

A regular sweet cherry and a sour cherry that our friend Jenny gave to us. She can’t plant them on her property as the possums would simply hoover them down. Now that we have an Earl protected (at all hours of the day) inner sanctum compound, these cherries should grow and flourish free from possum invasion

So we have been busy as beavers here in sunny Sidmouth on Serendipity Farm. Hopefully you have all had a most excellent first week of the new year. We have certainly started out as we mean to finish up. I have even been writing things in my new day to day diary to make sure that I don’t forget things (that probably won’t even last till February but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 ). I am tired but in a good way and very excited by all of the different things that we are contemplating this year. Have a great week everyone until we get together again next Wednesday to have a chat and a cuppa and catch up where we left off 🙂

Earl had a hard night on the bottle ;)

Earl had a hard night on the bottle 😉