Only the very BEST turn 50

Hi All,

Today I am going to depart from my usual post format because aside from being under the influence of a haze of white wine that seems to have settled upon me (curiously and most coincidentally) shortly after Kym set foot on Serendipity Farm, I have a plethora of photos to share with you that too many words would negate so here is the past week in images and captions…


The hero who managed to stop Serendipity Farm from drowning single handedly. We had torrential rain that didn’t let up for days and suddenly backed up all of the drains at once and Steve headed out into the deluge and shovelled out all of the blockages single handedly…my hero :o)


Kym and I stayed in Hobart on Saturday night right on the waterfront in Salamanca Place in Hobart. Here you can see the kitchen taken from the stairs leading up to the loft.


Kym managed to capture the spirit of the evening (well the wine of the evening anyway! 😉 )


Kym at least accompanying her wine with some food


crawling up to bed…


A HUGE bathroom with a washing machine and dryer…my kind of luxury!


Small mugs? No problems! Just give me 2 Kymmy and everything will be fine 😉


Delicious breakfasts and another cuppa (or two) set us up for the day


One of the biggest dogs (or smallest horses) that I have ever seen…he managed to slobber all over my coat and leave his hairy calling card behind after I gave him a cuddle…dog lovers don’t care about their clothes when a big cuddle is on the horizon


The coat in question being used to ward off the frigid air of a cold Hobart morning


I doubt they would get many tourists hurrying to sit upstairs on this double decker bus in the middle of winter


At the first lookout point on the way up to the top of Mt Wellington to see the snow


Kym asked me what I thought about the steady stream of cyclists attempting to ride to the summit of the mountain…actions speak louder than words folks!


A typical facial expression that Kym likes to effect…I am starting to get used to it now but if the wind changes Kymmy…you’re stuffed! 😉


“Well looky here…what seems to have found it’s way into my hand?”…


“It’s SOOO heavy…so VERY heavy…”


“OMG did you see that Grizzly bear behind you Fran?! I just tried to stop him from eating you alive!”




“There’s that Grizzly bear again Kym!”


“Hang on…I will get him for you!”


“Narf7 saves the day! Another crisis averted…my job here is done!” 😉


“Hmmm…Frank Zappa said “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow”…”


“No yellow here!”


“MMMMM Snow!”




“Here’s lookin’ at YOU Kym (kid)”


Anyone can make a snowman…we made a snow duck :o)


Just to show you how far away Kym was standing because of my AWESOME ability to throw snowballs 😉


At the summit…Kym decides to become a Kymscimo or is that a Kymcycle?


Almost frozen to death after waiting for Kym to find her keys (again…)


Look…Bjork! (and yes…I am thinking about renting Kym out for impersonations…any takers?)


Bezial waiting for his new BESTEST EVER friend to get back from Hobart


Me trying to stop Bezial from drowning Kym in slobber while Earl looks on


Kym fitting in on Serendipity Farm completely 🙂

How was that for a post? A bit different to usual and a bit later than usual but we have a delicious roast chook dinner to cook with roasted veggies, gravy and a HUGE homemade sponge cake to decorate for Kym’s 50th birthday TODAY FOLKS! Feel free to wish her happy birthday through the blog here as she will be here for the next few days (albeit plastered). Now that we are both 50 we are free to be as reprobated as we want to, in fact, we tag teamed on some wineries today and they didn’t know what hit them…”Look out Launceston…you’re next!” ;). See you all next Wednesday when I may (or may not) have recovered from Kym’s visit. I doubt Kym will EVER recover from her visit…sorry Bruce, she might be a shallow husk of the woman that you sent away but she certainly had a good time! 😉


Invasion of the Choko

Hi All,

It’s 3.13am Thursday morning and I have decided to tap away here for a little bit because I am waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to load. After it reached 525 posts and my eye started to twitch involuntarily I decided to head off for a bit and distract myself. Steve and I are juggling studies and dog walking with our annual winter wind-down. I have almost knitted a pair of gauntlets. I live in the knitting world between day and night. I spend a few short moments of my time knitting furiously before I start to fall asleep and have to lay my needles down and go to bed. Usually I am pretty tired by this point and have to make sure that my half asleep brain remembers to put the knitting back into my knitting bag and hide it in the spare room. There are always a pair of eyes watching me when I knit. I must admit, the pair of eyes has learned not to jump on me and steal my wool while I am knitting. I figure the pair of eyes turning 3 this year might be part of it but it is a small victory and something to be celebrated. When I was untangling the wool that I got from my daughter earlier in the week (and no Bethany, you STILL can’t have it back! 😉 ) he trotted past the tangled heap on the table and did a classic double take. He trotted back in a most interested way and after I told him “NO” he trotted off to a safe distance away (obviously my “NO” has a personal space…) and proceeded to watch me like a hawk for any signs that my defences were down and he could launch in to take possession of the delicious tangle of fun on the kitchen table. Alas…my defences didn’t drop and he didn’t even get to sniff the wool.


As soon as Earl realised that I had picked up my camera to take a picture of him completely upside down with his legs in the air, both he and Bezial decided to turn away…party poopers!


Steve thinks I am not going to use this photo and the next one. Earl is looking decidedly demented in this shot 😉

Earl isn’t like other dogs. Earl is as close to a wild dog as you are going to get without adopting a wolf. Up until now we have often felt like we are walking a tightrope with him because he just did what he wanted to do and we didn’t know how to deal with it. There were times when we first bought Earl when I would look into his eyes and see “alien”. He just felt completely and utterly foreign to me. Not a dog, sort of a bunch of muscles from mars. After numerous attempts to try to train him he seemed untrainable. It would be easy to think that Earl was stupid. He doesn’t listen, he eats the furniture and even after the humans go spare he still does what he wants. Nothing worked and unlike Bezial, he didn’t learn from his mistakes, he just kept making them.  He obviously thinks he rules the roost but something has happened to Earl over the last 6 months. He has decided that he loves us. He even loves his fat old sofa buddy Bezial. In allowing himself to love us he has also allowed himself to start fitting in to the hierarchy here. He is starting to listen to commands. “NO” is something he understands now. I don’t ever think he didn’t understand “NO” I just think he chose not to worry about it. Now he wants to please us and get cuddles and have us say “Good Dog!” and pat him. Earl is an attention hog. He loves nothing more than being loved and it’s lucky that Bezial could care less about cuddles because Earl is always there to lap up any attention that anyone wants to give him.


I think this is priceless…all 3 of my boys looking completely and utterly doo-lally! SHHH! Stop laughing…Steve will hear you! 😉

Now the following image isn’t going to make an OUNCE of sense to anyone outside of Australia and of a “certain age” but here it is anyway…doesn’t Milo bear a canny resemblance to Steve in this image?! 😉

Milo with guitar

If Steve EVER finds this post it could be enough reason for a divorce! 😉

Where I said earlier that it would be easy to think that Earl was stupid I meant that he never seemed to learn anything. We spent 6 months trying to teach him the benefits of shaking hands. He eventually learned it and if you pull out a treat bag that little front paw is straight up in the air. Earl is the least “stupid” dog I know. What Earl is, is his own dog. He might have a feral edge a mile wide but that edge is completely tempered with how a dog should act. The problem is that Steve and I aren’t dogs and Bezial doesn’t think that he is one either and Earl is trying to teach us the ways of the pack. Obviously he is top dog in his pack order but after 3 years he is starting to see that there are benefits in allowing the pink hairless ones to think that they are the boss. There are some quality games to be had when you drop the toy that you are holding. Dropping prey is foreign to a dog. Why would you drop your hard won fluffy squirrel for another dog?! Earl recently showed me how clever he was. He often brings a toy in to the computer in the afternoon and presses it gently onto the knee of whoever is using the computer at the time. It’s his way of saying “a game would be nice around about now, you obviously need to check off that seat before you start to resemble Bezial…” it is also the precursor to his long and convoluted series of stages that he goes through before his meal. He brought the toy to me and pressed it onto my knee looking up at me with enormous doe eyes. Earl is VERY good at doe eyes. Nature gave him Chinese eyes but he has learned to open them wide and can melt hearts with those eyes. I think it’s the fact that you don’t expect that adoration and innocence from that body.


Admittedly this doesn’t look tasty. It looks like something that might once have been tasty but that has passed through the digestive tract of the enjoyer and is on it’s way to the sewer. It is, however, delicious! This is date paste that has had a good slug of Jack Daniel’s, a splosh of Hazelnut liqueur, a glug of Stones Green Ginger Wine and a gargle in some delicious maple syrup (all with the complete acceptance of my daughters who owned all of these ingredients 😉 ). It tastes like scrumptious smooth fruit mince and I am going to make some coconut vegan vanilla ice-cream and swirl some of this gorgeousness through it.


This is a choko that has broken it’s banks and that is growing. I am happy for it to grow, in fact, I am ecstatic! Jean of the wonderful blog “allotment adventures” has been waxing lyrically about choko’s for a while now and has reignited my memories of these humble tasteless vegetables. I have eaten them boiled and this is what turned me off them BUT I have also enjoyed them immensely without even knowing that they were in what I ate. They are carriers of flavour, sort of the green vegetable equivalent of tofu (except nothing like it 😉 ). They work well in jams, marmalade and eke out the prize tasty ingredients by being content to stay in the background while the prized fruit shines. Love them or loath them, Serendipity Farm is about to have a choko vine :). Those strange looking things underneath the choko used to be red Jerusalem artichokes. For some reason once I put them into this bowl and they all deflated! The white stuff is not mould but is flour (Steve is a messy cook 😉 )

Earl and I have a special bond. Apparently he sees me as his property. He knows that as “property” I have my disadvantages. One of them is that I go ballistic at a moment’s notice. To own property like me you need to be dedicated. I am like owning an old degrading WW2 bomb, I am unstable and I am dangerous. I might look barnacled and benign but beneath my pock-marked surface I am ticking and Earl knows it. I would like to think that he has decided that I am his mistress. That I rule the roost here and that I am to be listened to but I fear I am barking up the wrong tree and Earl has just decided to let me do what I want to do so long as I keep scratching him in the right places, cuddling him and telling him he is a good boy and I let him sleep at my feet on the bed. There is a whole lot more to Earl’s love than that. I am doing him an injustice there. When Earl loves, he adores. If he was a human he WOULD be a Viking. He would be all man muscular and handsome and when he fell in love it would be that amazing real deal. There would be roses and feet being swept off and forever and lots and lots of fluffy squirrel donations but he isn’t a man, he is a dog and that makes him a little more manageable. He is satisfied with his lot aside from a constant need to be the cream that rises to the top. He knows that Bezial was here first and that Bezial has a part of Steve’s heart that he will never be able to fill. I give Earl that love that he craves and as the only “bitch” in the family I qualify for his undivided attention and Earl IS learning to fit in now. I wouldn’t trust Earl with anything other than a human but with a human I would trust him implicitly. Earl is the sort of dog that you could send your 10 year old child off with and KNOW that nothing was going to happen to them. He instinctively knows how he is supposed to act. There are no fears in Earl (aside from squirty water bottles and a strange terror of noises that come out of mobile phones that send him running) and I know that if any of us, Bezial included, were ever to be attacked he would fight for us to the death. I know that like I know the morning will come. I love Earl and my early fear of his animalistic alien-ness has mellowed to acceptance and real love. We have an understanding now that runs much deeper than the here and now and Earl and I navigate through our day’s one fluffy squirrel at a time.



Lastly…you tell ME how you pronounce that without the library lady jumping over her desk and washing your mouth out with soap! 😉

Sorry about the bad photo but it was raining and a bit dark today so the flash kept going off. Here’s todays library haul. James Wong is a legend and the other 2 books are some recipe books that I have been interested in messing about with. The black book has some most interesting recipes in it “crack pie” and “cereal milk ice cream” are only 2 of the choices but I am having fun going through the yellow book that has recipes for making your own ramen…now who wouldn’t want to know how to make good quality ramen!

It’s windy and rainy and thundery and lightning and absolutely LOVELY! It’s great to have a bit of foul weather for once and to know that it really is winter. The weather worldwide seems to have become somewhat confused. Steve and I have been so grateful that we bought Brunhilda when we did. She is certainly paying for herself now with endless hot water, free cooking and house warming. We have been cracking through our media course and are learning heaps about Adobe Flash and have recently been animating household objects. Steve animated his coffee cup and I animated a set of 3 Babushka dolls that I picked up somewhere. Lots of fun and another feather in our caps should we ever need to look like Indian Chiefs. I am lusting after getting out into our new veggie garden. I need to source some hay but at the moment we are starting to prep ourselves for the impending visit of friends and family for my rapidly approaching “big” birthday. There is snow on Mount Wellington Kymmy! We can go up together and make a snowman. I want to post a picture of Kym and I making a snowman and throwing snowballs at each other (not sure how I am going to take a photo of us BOTH throwing snowballs but hey, leave it with me! 😉 ). My sister Pinky is coming over as is the son-and-heir and his Texan sweetie Kelsey so there will be quite a few more than usual hovering around Serendipity Farm.


Here’s my gauntlets so far. It’s just about time to swap over to that brown wool so I am going to have to bite the bullet and cast off!


These are my daughter Bethany’s. I forgot to take them off when I borrowed them the other day and only remembered halfway home so Steve will be taking them back on shopping day. I wonder if anyone out there would know where I could find a pattern (and the knitting ability) to make a pair of these? I LOVE them!

Steve headed off and took a few motion blur images of Glad’s little waterfall that runs through her property. She was out raking leaves (not bad for 91) and said “Knock yourselves out!” when we asked her if she minded us taking photos. She recently burned the junction where the waterfall meets the outflow pipe (into the Tamar River) to remove all of the oak leaves that were clogging it and its lucky that she did because this recent rain has caused the stream to flow wonderfully and it would have backed up into her garden if it was full of leaves. The roosters are crowing in unison under the deck. I wouldn’t care so much if they weren’t situated directly underneath me. They are big roosters and those large lungs are apparently there to increase the noise. We just discovered that one of the smaller “hens” is a rooster. It is going to be a most beautiful rooster because it is a cross between Big Yin (a standard golden Wyandotte rooster) and one of Effel Dookarks offspring (She was a blue Wyandotte) and it has a lovely grey tail. We might even keep him and see what he looks like. The other 2 are living on borrowed time. We were recently given the bones from a piglet purchased from a local producer by our friends. They were ostensibly for the dogs but Earl is “funny” about bones and when he saw how many bones were on offer he started to strut around and we decided to stop a problem (with Bezial) before it occurred. He got a couple of bones (that he promptly ran off to hide with his nose) and the rest went into a stockpot with lots of water while I was away. If I had been here, I would have done something with them but Steve just let them simmer till they reduced down to about ¼ of their original weight and the next day they had turned to jelly. The dogs didn’t want to even contemplate eating it. They are VERY fussy for big dogs. The feral cats got it all and enjoyed every single jelly filled mouthful. I think Steve just made instant canned cat food…”Jelly meat anyone?” 😉


Here’s the back of them. Note the cute mitt conversion kit that…


Flips over when you need your fingers to be warm

I am just finishing off todays post whilst waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to download todays haul. I have dumped a few peripheral blogs that I no longer read and am tailoring my blog feeds to what I am now interested in. My interests tend to evolve on a regular basis but revolve predominately around vegan food and recipe blogs and baking sites along with some gardening and environmental sites. Most of the blogs that I follow post infrequently which is amazingly lucky for me because I have so many of them. I have almost managed to get back to a maintenance level where I empty my feeds every day. It takes me about a week of intensive shuffling to do it after a weekend away. I am going to have a LOT of feeds after my week with Kym but there is an option called “The Panic Button” that you can press that eliminates all posts older than a specified date (you choose) so I might just have to get ruthless on them or die trying to eliminate them. My choko is sprouting nicely, my gauntlets are almost finished and now I found a tutorial reminding me how to cast off, I should be able to finish them soon :o). That should tell you how long it has been since I last knitted! We are enjoying using rainwater in our kettle to make our daily beverages now. I also use it to make my kefir. I have been batching up my excess non-dairy kefir and freezing it in ice-cube trays ready for warmer times when I can get back to drinking green smoothies for breakfast without sustaining frost bite of the lip.


These are my lovely rainbow wool socks that my son bought for me one mothers day a few years ago. Earl “redecorated” them :(. I am in the process of pulling what is left of them apart, re-joining the hand dyed wool together and then I might just attempt to recreate a pair of those lovely hooded mitts. I know that they will probably be HUGE and I won’t be able to do or feel anything with them but as they are chunky wool, at least I won’t have cold hands!


The biscuit barrel is starting to get low…time to bake some more! That’s my non-dairy kefir doing its thang next to the bickies

I just found an excellent blog site (that I promptly added to my feed 😉 ) all about making and using worm wicked water beds. An excellent resource and here is the website for anyone interested in this wonderfully water-wise way of vegetable gardening…

And here’s another great blog with free PDF’s about soil mycology and how to build and use water wicking veggie garden beds. You can now get an idea why I never manage to get entirely through my RSS Feed Reader…I keep finding new and amazingly useful sites! 😉


This is one of Steve’s sponge cakes. He just tossed this one together for a friends birthday tomorrow. He will be taking orders when he recovers from the effort 😉


I KNEW this choko had designs on taking over Serendipity Farm! This image was taken this afternoon…the image at the beginning of the post was taken about 2 hours earlier…it is growing exponentially! By Wednesday we will all be trapped inside and it will be demanding to be fed…actually…look at the end of it. it bears an uncanny resemblance to “Audrey” from The Little Shop of Horrors!

It would seem that I have fallen prey to the dreaded lurgy folks. Not bad, but definitely making me feel tender and sniffy. How lucky am I that I can settle down next to Brunhilda and fall asleep over my knitting or a book. Steve is off hunting Aurora Australis somewhere in Deviot. Apparently there are sun spots at the moment and that means a greater than average chance (60% if you care) of seeing the Aurora Australis from the Southern states of Australia. As Tassie is about as far south as Australia gets (apart from our vested interests in Antarctica…) we have a good viewpoint. Steve has plans for taking some time-lapse photography tomorrow involving the river and some yachts. This wind brings the yachters out en masse. I think I might be just about to call this post done and dusted folks. Today has been “smooth”. Not bad to be smooth when you are sick, just coasting along and nothing major…just “smooth”. Tomorrow will hopefully be just as smooth and won’t have me crusty and with a handkerchief permanently welded to my nasal area. Wish me luck and see you on Wednesday :o)


At least if the choko manages to eat me, it will get its just deserts! 😉

No spam today, the spam has gone away…

Hi All,

It has been a very eventful few days since I got back from my daughter’s home culminating in us having to take a detour into Launceston today to hand our computer over to the P.C. MacGyver’s to detangle a nefarious viri from its intestinal tract.  We had planned on erecting the fence around our garden today. Yesterday it was cold and windy and rainy so we put off fencing the garden because the forecast was better today. Instead, we decided to finish off some of our studies to get ourselves a little bit ahead in advance. You would think that after being saturated in info about how viruses travel around in Flash that we would know better than to download a seemingly innocent little “free game” but we stupidly did and found ourselves in a world of hassle where our virus protectors weren’t all that much good. We pretty much shut the virus down as soon as we found it by unplugging our P.C. from the net and turning off our modem but a quick phone call in the last few moments before the computer shop shut had us booked in for today at shops opening and pacing the freezing cold wind ridden streets of Launceston with 2 very excited pooches who had a strong desire to tag all of Launceston with “We Woz Ere”. Paying someone $80 to free up our P.C. was the least painful part, we had to get back home and change ALL of our passwords…sigh… better safe than sorry I suppose. I have mixed old and new images to share with you today because what we could come up with ourselves from Serendipity Farm today was somewhat sad…enjoy the nostalgia 😉


A rare patch of sunshine on wintery Serendipity Farm. As you can see, there are leaves everywhere, the grass is overgrown which is amusing because up until the end of April we didn’t HAVE anything but dead bone dry dirt and the eucalypts are shedding their bark (and in some cases, their branches) like crazy. Couple this with both of the humanic variants that live on Serendipity Farm wanting to stay inside near the fire and out of the cold and you have a recipe for guilty sloth 🙂


A late winter/early spring picture taken at our house in town when we lived there about 4 years ago


I probably should have put this photo in before the last one because this shot is of autumn. This leaf blower was doing great service as a leaf sucker on the day. I managed to suck up and mulch all of these leaves in one shot and used the results to mulch the garden 🙂

I have noticed a steep increase in spam comment content on the blog but as it still amuses the heck out of me I am not concerned. Today, a spammer tried to get me to indignantly reply to their comment by insulting my spelling. Anyone who knows me well knows that I accept that I spell atrociously but that as most spelling is automatically corrected these days, my spelling mistakes are my own. I have a chuckle at the spammers who promise me increased blog followers if I will just let them put some of their “special videos” in my posts. We then have the spammers who want to sell their Louis Vuitton bags but all in Japanese… some of the spam should be listed on it is so hilarious and WordPress does a pretty good job of catching most of it before it gets around to me having to choose whether it is spam or not. I am well behind in reading my RSS Feed Reader thanks to a large pile of blogs that were waiting for me when I got home from my daughters that I still haven’t managed to get through and as I couldn’t use the P.C. on Friday morning the pile started to increase alarmingly. I am going to spend the weekend wading through posts and doing my level best to start next week off with a nice clean (and manageable) slate.


This is “Tickle”. He was named after one of the moonshiners on a hillbilly television show that Steve likes to watch. In the show, Tickle is prone to bad luck. So is this kitten. Earl almost killed him when he managed to squeeze under the gate to attempt to get one of Earls meaty bones and it was by sheer luck that Steve was outside at the time and saved his life. Steve has a soft spot for him now.


Another photo taken when we lived in town of a particularly bored Bezial. He still likes to lay in this chair affecting boredom, only the location has changed

Jenny, our previously “anon” friend who inadvertently outed herself recently by commenting on the blog using her name, allowed we pathetic, cold, computer-less creatures to visit her yesterday while we were waiting for our P.C. to be inoculated was telling us about how she had been planting pansies and stocks and that they had been disappearing. She had decided that the culprit was rats as there were small neat holes at the base of her missing plants…on closer inspection (and after talking to gardening friends) she realised that the holes were too perfect and after sharing her dilemma with her horticultural workmates they told her that the culprit was sure to be freshwater crayfish! Our good old Aussie yabby was crunching up her flowers! She had been planting leeks and potato onions etc. and none of the vegetables had been touched, only the flowers that she was planting to fool the pests. Now that it is winter the creek that flows through her property will refill and the ground is starting to get quite damp on her property and the yabbies have taken advantage of the newly softened ground to start tunnelling and pinching the tasty results of her hard work. I think it’s time to have a crawdad hunt with the kids this weekend and get some sweet tasty revenge on her flower pilferers!


I am not all that sure what this plant is. All I know is that it is a tall shrub that manages to take the dry difficult summer conditions here on Serendipity Farm and bounces back in winter with these lovely flowers when just about everything else (except the azaleas that are still flowering like crazy) has given up the ghost.


The Myrtus communis berries are finally ripe. They still taste acerbic (like unripe persimmons) but should we ever want to get experimental we could make a type of alcohol out of them that the Greeks prize.


This is a winter iris…it’s winter…it’s flowering…

Jenny gave me some snow pea seeds to plant out in our new garden. Our milder conditions here allow us to grow things that might not be possible in other Tasmanian areas. We don’t often get a frost and so I am going to plant out some snow peas and see if they will grow for us in the new garden.  It’s Saturday morning and we started the garden! I am very excited about how quickly the rope and the netting went up on the first part of the garden. We have roped all of the poles and will be putting netting up over the next few days. We realised that our massive (6 trailer loads) pile of well composted horse manure is outside the perimeter of the garden and unless I want to barrow 6 trailer loads of manure around to where the gate is going to be situated, (conveniently on the other side of the garden to where the manure pile is now…sigh…) I should get shovelling BEFORE we put the netting up on that side of the garden. I have a couple of days to shovel it all as well as cut the branches from the sheoak and wattle trees that we had to remove when we created the perimeter of the garden. Both sheoak’s and wattles are nitrogenous so lets hope that’s not just their roots and that they add something back to the garden when they are used to line the base of the garden beds. We noticed that the huge winds that we had yesterday have stolen almost all of the leaves that were waiting to be raked over at Glad’s place next door. It’s a definite case of “fool me once” that has made fools out of us. Last year exactly the same thing happened! Next year I will be raking nice and early. We had decided to wait till all of the oak trees had lost their leaves and they were just about ready for us to harvest and now most of them are clogging up Glads little stream and I fear that yours truly is going to have to get down and dirty into the creek bed to shovel leaves out all over again. Consider me educated in the ways of Tassie winter now…I won’t be doing that again!


Here is Steve the chameleon. That’s his natural hair colour by the way folks…we made this cake as a thankyou to a good friend at Polytechnic for all of his help.


This is what it looked like inside and that was YEARS before those rainbow cakes became de rigor… we penniless student hippies are inadvertent trend setters 😉


Another incarnation of Steve. His hair might naturally be black but it is also naturally curly (not that you are going to see it any day soon aside from here 😉 ). This photo was taken of us both when we were in Melbourne in 2010 at the Melbourne International Flower Show.

I am just about to dehydrate a large quantity of milk kefir grains. I figure it is the best way to preserve them for storage and if anyone wants any kefir grains I can send them to them. I will be using the instructions I found here Dom is the kefir king here in Australia and has been sending kefir worldwide for many years so I would imagine he knows his preservation technique stuff and has honed it to a fine art. I am first going to wash them in rainwater which we now have access to. Our little 600 litre rainwater tank is full to the brim. After the grains have been washed clean of milk curds clinging to them they get put on a dehydrator sheet lined with baking paper. I just need to ensure that the grains don’t get heated higher than 85F which is almost 30C until they are dried out and then I store them in milk powder. I have some organic milk powder that I store in the freezer that will give them the best chance of being viable once they are rehydrated. Managing ferments and cultures is a very interesting process and it’s good to know that you don’t have to just let your little helpers die if you have too many of them.


You might initially think that this was a photo of some seaside daisies over some rocks…you would only be partially right there…


Look a little bit closer and you will find a hidden stash…well I found the stash and I am starting to despair of finding the rest. The hens are getting crafty (the hens that aren’t currently clucky that is :(…)



I made some soy milk yesterday, heavily fortified with date paste and will be dunking my regular kefir grains back in non-dairy milk after a few days soaking in regular milk. I had left them in the fridge for the 5 days that I was away which slows their activity down and after 2 days refreshment they are back to the coalface culturing my non-dairy kefir for my morning green smoothies. I didn’t expire after consuming almost 3 litres of semi-explosive kefir (rather than wasting it) before I headed to my daughters so I figure that gives me impunity to mess around with my milks and see just what I can make. So long as I add date paste the kefir seems to be happy with my experimentation. There doesn’t appear to be much difference between the appearance of the regular milk kefir grains and my hybrid non-dairy milk grains aside from the non-dairy milk grains seem to grow faster. I am creating mutants! You can call me Dr Fronkenstein ;).

Another cake! This one was a rich coffee mud cake covered with chocolate ganache, white chocolate ganache and milk and dark chocolate covered coffee beans

This wonderful contraption was captured by Steve when he had volunteered to take our daughters to an arty festival in Launceston. That tent in the background had regular acts and there was a wonderful display of wicker art including furniture. This wonderful sculpture was towed around by this man for hours. The teapot on top went around and around and it was fully articulated. Kudos sir but next time you might want to find a few friends to help you tow 😉

I just sent Steve off armed with his camera to try to find something of worth to photograph to share in tonight’s post.  Winter tends to rob bloggers of photo opportunities and where we have no snow, rain or anything else noteworthy to report, we have had a lot of gusty wind over the last few days that has peeled the remaining loose bark from the trees, has stolen our leaves and has made a mess of any grassy surface so I need to rake up those valuable leaves before I take photos of the mess that the pesky wind has made. I haven’t made much of a dent in my RSS Feed Read but that is what Sundays are for. We have a really good head start on next terms studies (that start again on Monday) and so we figure that we should be able to get our garden sorted out next week and once we get the perimeter up, I can start creating my keyhole gardens. I am going to use the existing gardens (after pulling them apart) to start off the new gardens but then I have to get creative with what I am going to use to form the perimeters of the gardens. Rocks are abundant and free so I dare say they are going to figure predominately in the new garden structure. They also allow you to create more organic shapes and so I should be able to form my keyholes. Keyhole gardening is a more efficient way to use the space that you have available. I have space amounting to a double tennis court so I should be able to grow a considerable amount of our own food in spring. Here’s what keyhole gardening is all about…


Steve’s hand hammering the first “U” tack to hold the rope for our new fully enclosed veggie garden…


The first piece of net going up. Please disregard the interesting debris littered landscape…I did 😉


Over the next week this entire area will be fully enclosed. I have to shovel a tonne of horse poo before the final side goes up but at the moment, the possums are as intent on staying home as I am. Note the beans in the uncovered veggie garden that we left for the chooks and possums to clear out for us have kept growing…when they were covered up the possums couldn’t wait to scarf them…now that they are out in the open their natural bolshie suspicion must have kicked in and they are refusing to eat them…sigh…

I finally got around to putting the dried beans that have been languishing in egg cartons on the spare bedroom floor away. In doing this I had to also clean up the spare room. I have more seeds that I have been saving in various states of “dry” all over the place. I have a dormouse desire to collect seeds and stuff them everywhere and now I have finally made a place to put them all in the spare bedroom cupboard. The idea that I will be able to actually grow real beans this year and that they will be able to climb as tall as they want to with impunity (and no small furry tooth marks on them) is starting to make me excited. I scour gardening websites like other people scan expensive gardening magazines. My preferred sites all revolve around my own personal ethos and all of them give me hope that someday we will produce most of our food here on Serendipity Farm. Steve is under the influence of the photography bug at the moment and is taking alarming red images and converting them to smoky black and white shots that then become pastel coloured 1950’s style images. I keep expecting to see a Studebaker or a petticoat skirt in the pictures. He is having fun messing around with different filters and at least it is keeping him off the streets ;).


Apparently carob trees and bay trees are persona-non-grata with possums and wallabies as these delicious young specimens have not been touched by the dreaded tag-team twosome. I am NOT going to be fooled by this apparently immunity. I will be protecting these babies when they get planted out after we finish the veggie garden…”Fool me once possums…FOOL ME ONCE!”


This is Joanna Griggs. She is famous. She was once in the Aussie Olympic swim team and now presents Australia’s version of “Better Homes and Gardens” and she was posing for photos at the Melbourne International Flower Show when Steve got this wonderful shot of her. I really like Joanna but not because of her association with the bright lights. When the cameramen all went away and only a motley crowd remained behind a little girl with Down’s Syndrome ran up to Joanna and hugged her and she reached down, picked up the little girl and gave her a huge hug right back. Now THAT is my definition of a star 🙂

The dogs are careening around the house with a 3 litre milk container that I had to bribe Earl with when I was vacuuming the spare room. It’s getting close to their meal time and they are well aware of it. The level of noise increases exponentially as the time to be fed approaches. I think we could set our watches (if we wore them) by Bezial and his stomach ;). I have decided to use a few images from the past to pad out the poor sad efforts that we were able to take today. Steve did a montage of cats but as this post hasn’t got much to do with cats I will only use one of them. I have a sneaking suspicion that the cats were close to the house and he didn’t want to venture further afield into the cold afternoon and so took enough pictures for me to think he had put an effort in…it’s that kind of weather around here at the moment…the sort that makes you want to pull your head into your jumper and just snuggle up and do sweet nothing. The problem is that we have to get a fair bit accomplished here over the next few months. It will be interesting to see how we manage to motivate ourselves into doing it because not doing it isn’t an option.


This lovely shot was taken at Hollybank, a nature reserve about 15 – 20km away from Launceston city. It’s a lovely place to visit and you can walk your dogs here as well. This is Earl and Bezial’s idea of heaven 🙂


Another shot from Hollybank. We used to walk here a lot when we lived in Launceston. We haven’t been there for ages now but we are making plans to remedy that pretty soon


Isn’t this pretty tea? A friend of ours gave it to me as we were walking the dogs the other day. Her partner had bought the wrong kind of tea accidentally and she is quite particular about what she does and doesn’t like. This wasn’t the right kind so I got a wonderful present. It’s very light and has a lovely fruity floral perfume and I just had a cup of it 🙂 Cheers Roxy, it’s lovely 🙂

I have given in to the sad puppy dog eyes and am going to feed the dogs. I might leave this rumpled post there for the day. Sometimes posts come easy and sometimes they don’t. Today was harder than usual but hopefully it contains enough to stop you, my dear constant readers, from feeling jipped. I am quite glad that this week has come to an end. Tomorrow I will clear out my RSS Feed Reader and will emerge triumphant at the end of the day with an empty post box and ready to face another week. I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend. Somewhere in the ethos it is sunny, indeed it’s hot! Not here…here it’s lovely and cold and I am enjoying every single moment of it :o).

Short but full of flavour

Hi All,

Thanks to Queen Elizabeth 2nd I stayed at my daughter’s house for an additional day which means that I am behind the 8 ball with my posts. Steve did a sterling job on Saturday’s post but now the baton has been passed back to narf7 who has been studying all day and who isn’t cram packed full of words. Let’s see what narf7 can pull out of the recesses of her mind to amuse and entertain you…I headed off to my daughters on Friday morning. We had walked the dogs and were talking to a friend on the way who mentioned that it was the queen’s birthday holiday on Monday which ensured that I had to stay another day because most of the shops that I needed to frequent were shut on public holidays…bollocks! I did have a great time at my daughters house and we had a lovely Korean takeaway and created some delicious food. I attempted to capture as many of the meals as I could but by the time we got around to eating we were starving so a couple of them slid down our throats before I could remember to snap. I would like to point out that I think that the queen is a bit greedy to be honest. I was chatting to “quarteracrelifestyle” this morning and she mentioned that the queen had actually had her birthday in New Zealand last week…I get the feeling that she is mooching for extra gifts and as she is officially the world’s richest woman I think that is a bit cheeky.


This is Qi. She is our daughters Staffordshire terrier and lives with them in town. This photo was taken just before we left her at home to head out and pick up Korean take-away for our evening meal…Qi decided to pick up take-away of her own and rifled through my things till she found a bag of dog treats that was supposed to last her all weekend…they didn’t 😉


Some of my daughters indoor chilli’s and spring onions that seem to be growing just fine by the well lit windows


Breakfast on Saturday. Note the Chinese red dates and I discovered that “Aztec Berries” that are quite expensive dried fruit are actually Chinese Gooseberries that grow like topsy here on Serendipity Farm…kudos to the entrepreneur who managed to con someone into marketing them for him 😉

We didn’t get around to making waffles like I was planning to make because by the time I was able to get my youngest daughter out of bed it was closer to lunch time than breakfast. To her credit, she did have to adapt to my early rising habit although I did limit my emergence from my room till after the sun rose which I think was pretty big of me ;). The enormous Liquidambar tree in the front garden of the girl’s home has decided that it doesn’t want to be deciduous anymore. It has been taking longer and longer to lose its leaves and this year they seem to be firmly welded to its branches. Our poor sorry possum chewed specimen lost its leaves weeks ago but the girl’s tree is going strong. I remember our horticultural lecturer telling us that we must have been living in a microclimate. I think we must have been living in an alternate universe sometimes…strange things happen wherever we Pimbletts settle in a district. Glad next door has told us that we can have free reign over the leaves that have fallen from 2 of her enormous oak trees and we just have to find a spare day to head over there with our trusty trailer to rake and collect them. This will be our third year collecting leaves from next door…I am starting to feel quite nostalgic :o). Along with the enormous pile of horse dung and the remainder of the stall hay that we collected prior to now we have a good start on being able to fill our new veggie gardens with more than just chopped up branches.


On Saturday night we had a chilli night. My contribution was to make guacamole


My serve before the girls added beef mince to their portions


My daughters have a most eclectic range of staple foods in their house. Here is the Asian quotient of their fridge…

We are almost ready to start putting the netting up around the perimeter of our fully enclosed garden. We had forgotten to get any strong rope to contain the netting and had to wait till I shopped to pick some up but now we are armed with more rope than we could possibly envisage needing so the next phase of our garden is just about to eventuate. I have decided to dismantle our existing veggie gardens and start using the material that they are built of to start forming garden beds around the netting as soon as we get the netting mounted on the poles we set into concrete a few weeks ago. Why pfaff around with limbo dancing my way into our existing gardens when I can rebuild them (like Steve Austin, the 6 million dollar man) stronger and better. We have enough netting to cover the gardens and protect them from the possums because the wallabies will be officially out of the equation once we get the fences up. I bought a chocko (cheers Jean for reminding me that they are useful food sources :o) ) when I was grocery shopping and plan on getting it to sprout and planting it out against the new fence. I also picked up some red coloured Jerusalem Artichokes that I was assured by the grocer were “just like the white ones, you know how some spuds are red and some are white? Same here…” That was enough to get me to buy a bag of them to plant out alongside their white counterparts…no racism here on Serendipity Farm!

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Steve took a photo of the small tins of loose leaf Chinese tea that the girls gave me

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And here is an artistic shot of the tins…

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The red coloured Jerusalem artichokes that will soon be under the ground ready to sprout for spring when the time is right

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Doesn’t this happy looking choko look like it is hovering over our bamboo countertop! I don’t know how it happened but lets just be happy that most choko’s are content to remain grounded 😉

Our rainwater tank is full to the brim! Steve checked the other day and discovered that there are actually benefits to rain aside from watering the garden. We have been drinking our tea and coffee made with rainwater and it does taste different. My daughters gave me some small tins of Chinese tea leaves along with a large friand pan, some Matcha green tea powder and a lovely reversible blanket to wrap around myself when I am up early before Brunhilda heats the kitchen up in the morning. I have to find myself a recipe for vegan friand’s. There is bound to be some clever clogs out there who has found a way to replace the 5 – 6 egg whites with some vegan equivalent, I just have to hunt them down. I am going to make some vegan green tea ice-cream with some of the Matcha powder and I made a cup of the Chinese loose leaf tea this morning. Thankyou girls, I most certainly appreciate my gifts to the max :o).


Some more of my daughters pantry cupboards…


And this one is a bit messier than the others but still laden with interesting ingredients


The noodle cupboard…


And this cupboard contains various “stuff”

Steve and I noticed something when we were out checking what we had to do with the veggie garden today. A pane of glass had been broken on the roof of the glasshouse…on further inspection we were able to deduce (just like Sherlock and Watson…bags I being Sherlock!) that something rotund had either fallen off a branch from the sheoak tree that towers over the glasshouse or attempted to negotiate a landing on the roof that went terribly wrong. We know this because exhibit A was the inside of the glasshouse where just about every single potted plant that remains inside was upturned. We figured out that one of our erstwhile possums had made an error in judgement and had found itself trapped inside the greenhouse with no way out aside from the way it came in. We also noticed that there were large shards of very sharp glass pointing inwards reminiscent of one of those fly traps where they can’t crawl out once they venture inside…we have NO idea how this possum managed to get out without cutting itself and there isn’t any blood visible so we have a mystery on our hands (and Steve had to use one of our chook food bags and some silicone and some logs to ensure that nothing else ventures into the glasshouse). Somewhere on Serendipity Farm there is a possum with a bad headache…


There are a lot of unusual condiments and herbs and spices ready to be used to add interest to everyday meals


The large blocks of milk chocolate to the right of this image are Belgian chocolate that gets grated into warm milk for “real hot chocolate”. It certainly is fun to cook at my daughters home 🙂


My evening meal on my last night there consisting of Seasoned sushi rice topped with ingredients of your choice also known as “Chirashizushi”. My bowl contained rice, finely sliced carrot, daikon radish and cucumber, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, half an avocado, pickled ginger, toasted black and white sesame seeds and nori squares. It was delicious!


My daughters added egg and raw fish to their bowls

The days are getting decidedly shorter on Serendipity Farm. It’s dark by 5.30 and it’s still dark at 7am when Steve wakes up. They are also getting a lot chillier and Brunhilda hasn’t had a break since the beginning of May when we broke her out of her somnolence and press-ganged her back into service. We have finally learned how to feed her and are no longer wasting wood and ending up with a house that feels like Florida in a heatwave in the middle of winter. Steve got an infrared filter in the mail today. He has been hunting for interesting camera equipment online and so far has managed to pick up a good quality table-top tripod, a timer that Steve can use to take long exposure images with his camera with and that allows him to manipulate shutter speed and remove camera shake completely. After that he ordered an adaptor ring that will allow him to use his old Nikon lenses with his new Canon camera. He also ordered the infra-red filter he received today and a set of U.V. polarising filters and 3 variations of neutral density filters. Buying them online saved him a fortune. You have to wonder why we Aussies have to pay so much for what the rest of the world seems to get for a lot less. We have been most pleasantly surprised to find that buying from Hong Kong hasn’t been an issue. The infra-red filter took a week to get here as did items ordered from the U.K. and the U.S.A. The postage from Hong Kong was also free so we just need to see if his filters get here along with the adaptor ring (both ordered from the same company) for a clean sweep of happy online purchases. Even if they didn’t turn up, they cost so little we were willing to take the gamble.

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Thanks to Lizzy having her birthday on Monday Steve ran out of bread to give the chooks for their morning treat so he whipped them up a delicious looking damper

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Look how fluffy and light the crumb is…more like scones than damper!


This is a peculiar predilection of the Londoner…this is “Pie, Mash and Liquor”. Pies, mashed potato, peas and a liberal splattering of white sauce containing parsley was just what the doctor ordered for Steve apparently

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Apparently this is what men who are forced to feed themselves eat for tea on a Saturday night…homemade oven wedges and fried rice 😉

Time is fleeting folks and although this might be a shorter post than usual, I can justify it because most of my dear constant readers are from the summery north and have more interesting outdoor activities to undertake than reading blog posts about some southerners winter activities. To my Southern readers, you can count yourselves lucky this time that narf7 has managed to contain herself and keep her post to a comfortable 1 cup of tea/coffee length this time. Have a great rest of your week everyone. I will be attempting to wade through my RSS Feed Reader blogs but thanks to it being summer in the north, I didn’t have over 1000 like I would usually have and it would seem like summer has rendered you all externally restless and thank goodness for that or narf7 would still be here next week trying to climb the equivalent of Mt Everest of blog posts ;).  I returned to lots of new followers on my Pinterest boards so that should tell you what a busy little beaver I was in my week of addiction. I have settled down to a steady hum that encompasses both blogging and Pinterest in a less manic way. I can’t promise that I won’t get addicted to Tastespotting and FoodGawker in the coming weeks but at least I know that my addictions are as fleeting as this post and everything should be back to normal within a week. See you all on Saturday when hopefully we will have this external netting fence up, some of the garden borders created and filled (and hopefully planted out) and I will have had time to do a post a bit of justice.

History 101

A long time ago in a world that has changed a lot , a lot of very brave Englishmen discovered most of the world, what they didn’t discover the Italians and Spanish did, some French and Dutch did find some places to .

Ok so to Tasmania , well once upon a time the world was one , we (Tasmania) belonged to Chile and Australia was Italian, yes it was  I have looked on the maps of old and we fit .  I will fill dates in as I go here but a man called Tasman  who was very able came here in a boat , much like my mumbly cumbus but it was not powered by a mariner engine and was a little bigger. Ok he came here and said oh lordy that’s a place that has a lot of strange things and he wasn’t talking about the native or the land, he apparently saw a tiger and a devil and a few odd marsupials which are like a duck but live in weird places. He discovered Sidmouth by mistake as he was heading off to Hobart and got lost along the way , any ways we will talk more of him later. Now we English owned most of the world , you can all say you stole it from India Canada America blah blah but we didn’t it was ours and we paid for it in beans much like the Indians get beads . ok so the history of austral is from a humble cook, he came here and had a barby and the ate a natives pet and they didn’t like that much so he had to leave fast on his boat that he had an endeavour to board. Ok he came with some Italians and left them here to make stuff.


Not an itailan at speed it Fran and I was playing with my timer machine lol

Frans off for one more day now and we are just trying to find some cloths that she still fits lol, the boys are not happy , ok where was I on my history lesson. History was never a strong point with me and was along with many of my school lessons a good time to put my head on the desk and sleep, I never got in trouble for this for some reason, maybe I was just to good at the subjects as is now proven in my potted history of Tasmania. Ok back to the boring history lesson. Tasmania is a land founded on trees and apples, we love to cut trees down and make all sorts of things with them , a lot of people in Launceston don’t like that we burn them as it makes smoke and smog and as it’s a basin they don’t like it much, I don’t like that we have brown outs as the power gets shifted from us to them but they don’t know about that . ok stop the whinging and political stuff Fran said no lol. Gold was found in Tasmania and we have it here in Beaconsfield but it costs to much for us to get to it so we now have a closed mine and lots of holes under the ground. When Tasmania was joined to the rest of the world we where pretty insignificant , not a great deal has changed in that respect. We have had some very famous people come from here Errol Flynn and some other dudes that play sport , they (Tasmanians  remember im English) love sport. I don’t understand a lot of sports as they involve weird rules and if you are to kick a football then so be it but off side and all that ehhh ok yes I do understand that one its all to do with where the player was when the ball was booted , but aussie football is weird it rugby crossed with jumping and fighting , much like WWE I guess but with a ball and a lot more men in the arenas at one time usually. Ok  history again….. We make a lot of wine and that’s part of what I love , we make wine , but we have a snobbery with wine and its getting like that with beer and food, alcohol is to make you drunk , merry and stuff like that , food is to make you not hungry and make you go emmm nice , its not how the grapes and hops and things where hand stroked by virgins and how the cow was rubbed with baby oil by the farmers wife every day for 6 weeks and then massaged with essential oils till it was humanly KILLED . ok back to the wine ( I don’t have any)  if I drink wine I sleep a lot more for some reason. Now in Launceston we have a lot or really nice old places , they have a lot of history about them and there are even some ghosts  around, I have seen a ghost before it was a old woman in a field in the pissing rain  on a country road in Essex , ok folks go look up Essex and ghosts and you will see we had heaps there. Headless carriage men army men and all sorts . A famous thing in Tasmania north is the beer, we make a good drop here called Boags and that’s been here for ages to , they make some in a place called Hobart but we in the north don’t know much of this Hobart apart from its got a mountain and a green part office there and  a lot of tourists go that way before the come to see us on the river.


Cold has come and it was nippy this night

We live in a place called Sidmouth , I think that maybe a Englishman called Sid lived on the mouth of a river and when the earth split apart he was over on this part of the earth and came over in the great float of old, he missed his mouth of the river in the part that is now called the uk  and he named a lot of places here with the names he knew, like Exeter,Tamar, Sidmouth ,Launceston,,, get the idea, like Americans calling places after English places , same story all over , remember I told you we  owned everything at one time and just gave it all away like bill gates is doing with his riches.


Pretty and pretty cold lol

When I first came to Tasmania I saw a lot of English things , I think that maybe birds  brought them over in there beaks as we have Hawthorns here and Sloe berries and lots of other uk trees, we have sparrows and starlings and other English birds so this backs up my theory. We have a lot of nature here and apparently we don’t have many foxes which is a shame as if we had more we would have less possums Earl hates them (possums). When we became a island we had a lot of migrants left on here from the great splitting of old and we had a lot of Italians left here , we have a vast Italian community in Australia and I think that they like Tasmania to , we have some Dutch and Germans and lots of other races in our little community but I have only met German and Dutch and English and the odd native so far. Ok history facts now.. did you know that…


Good pics but I got a little chilly taking them lol (theres a theme here)

1816: First emigrant ship arrives with free settlers from England

We send our skilled people over here after the split from the world and they like it here and keep coming.

1834: Launceston “female factory” completed

There where not enough women so much like god we had to make  them we made lots as there are 4 to every man  im not sure what the Tasmanians used maybe apples and stuff like that ?

1842: The Weekly Examiner begins publication in Launceston

It’s a news paper that has articles about politics and sports and is bias nuff said.

1869: Submarine communications cable successfully establishes link between Tasmania and Melbourne.

Theres a sign for this at paper beach, haven’t seen the submarine yet.

1877: Gold discovered at Beaconsfield

See I was right

1888: Launceston proclaimed a city

Big deal its really not that big ok

1909: Irish blight wipes out potato crop

A black day for fries and crisps indeed


Getting warmer now folks 🙂

Ok so I think that history is a long subject that I am not that interested in , I could go on here and make stuff up about the region being like France in the terwah and how we have the best area to grow grapes and how it is very like France as we have MAMIL everwhere ( I have been itching to use this an _acronym) Middle Aged Men In Lyra lol yes cyclists, I don’t understand this here I am older now and have a lot more about me than when I was young but I am blessed with a fast metabolism and cant really say im fat , ok now I wouldn’t dream of wearing lycra but I see them all the time beer guts wiggling in the breeze and there  2 wheeled perambulators propped up at the café and there they are looking like a pod of over ripe peas ready to explode out of there  rubber clothes , ech why it doesn’t make them attractive to anything else apart from other MAMILs ok so that’s my thoughts on them , they do annoy me and get in my way when I head into town. If any of Frans readers are of the mamil persuasion then forgive me , I just don’t get it , ride a bike in jeans and a t shirt and enjoy it and  just remember there are middle aged men like me looking at you and saying oh man do you have any idea what you look like..


Nearly fire like eh

So I have come to the end of my Fridays posting and will do some more tomorrow but now I have a mission to animate something for Frans blog , wish me luck


A bit cooler now

Saturday is here I have waled the dogs feed the birds and animated a flashing neon sign in my flash assignment (way ahead here ) and have made an animated stick man and if I was assed I would finish the rest of my animation but I am ahead enough for the day , I have some wood to chop and some fires to make , the cockys are out screaming and I also have to try and get you guys some pics to put in this post emmm ok I think that’s what I will do in a bit , you may yet get pics of chainsaws and stuff lol , ok thanks for listening to my blog hope you enjoyed it and come back some yallllll.


Winters here in Tassie


Bezials not to happy with Earl laying on him and Fran taking pics

Talking of Fran heres a vid for you all to watch and Christi you have to show the B>O the hootchi cootch lol

Enjoy your week and Frans home a day later so I will maybe start a guest post she can finish .

Ps All the pics seen here have not been photoshopped beyond belief they actually looked this way 🙂

Sunny side up please we are Rebels with a distinct cause!

Hi All

We rumbled you Yin! We have gotten tired of waiting for the hens to come to their senses and start laying in the nesting boxes again although after finding a couple of suspicious eggs in the corner under the hay yesterday (and disposing of them somewhat gingerly…) one of the first golden laced Wyandotte girls that we initially bought decided that after she laid her egg today that she would take advantage of the nice new scented hay and go clucky! After picking her up…liberating the egg and releasing her into the main body of the coop she trotted over to the communal food bowl and spent about 5 minutes eating and THEN came out and lamented the loss of her egg much to Yin’s chagrin. Yin is incredibly suspicious of Steve and I now. We spent the morning cutting back and removing the old tendrils of the clematis that covers the side of the deck in spring and summer and then dies back to look tatty in winter. Earl and Bezial love their new view from the deck and can keep an eye on the feral cats and the chickens. After we dumped the pile of dead tendrils over the deck and swept it, I headed out with a trusty wheelbarrow and secateurs to snip up the tendrils to throw back under the clematis as mulch. I dare say Pingu will spread it all over the place but at least I am trying to do the right thing for the garden. While we were outside, me with the clematis and Steve cleaning out his shed and evicting its new chicken residents, Big Yin was strutting around watching us. We discovered 2 nests today loaded with eggs that he had made away from the coop and will be keeping our ears open for that tell-tale “I laid an egg” song that all of the girls sing once they have deposited their egg in Yin’s latest camouflaged nest. Once we hear them we can at least isolate where on Serendipity Farm they are in from the deck and we can head out to find them. They stop clucking as soon as they see us but by then it’s too late! We know where they are so we know in what proximity the nest is and Big Yin is WELL aware of this. No doubt today’s nests will be abandoned tomorrow and we will have to listen very carefully for the new egg laying calls. Yin was trying to stop his girls clucking today and it was quite amazing to see the lengths that he was going to, to distract us from heading over and checking the nests for eggs. Steve had eggs on toast for breakfast today and Bezial and Earl had a large omelette of some of the older eggs.

This is to show you all what our soil is comprised of…clay and rocks. As you can see this eroded bit on the side of the road is being held together by a most tenacious tree and you can see why it’s hanging on so tightly…if YOU had to dig through all of that you would demand the right to stay put too!

Just off to the right of this dirt road (a.k.a. Auld Kirk Road, just up the way from our home…) there is a massive drop down to the Tamar River. Steve would like it to be known that he has called this area “Dead mans gulch”…why? NO idea.

True love is sharing your pair of fingerless gloves when its 0C and there’s a wind chill factor. The only hand that needs a glove is the one holding the lead 😉

I just made a “Date luncheon” from an old Australian staple cookbook The C.W.A. Cookbook.  It was a tossup between the “luncheon” and a “meltaway”. I am unsure what either of those descriptions brings to the party but a date slice is the end result. The C.W.A. is a group of women who get together to form community in their small Australian towns and give each other support and solidarity. It stands for “Country Women’s Association” and thanks to our small population and the massive distances between some of these tiny little outback towns, this group of women may have been the backbone of many a “do” in Australia and are still doing their bit (albeit sometimes from a backseat position nowadays) to help their towns and communities. A “do” is when most of the town get together for some sort of communal event that involves “bringing a plate” (each family brings some form of food on a plate to share…I think the American word for it is Potluck?) and there is usually music, dancing, eating, drinking and hangovers the next day). It was an Australian woman’s right of passage to get one of these cookbooks given to her by her mother or close woman family member back when I was younger. If you couldn’t find a recipe in the C.W.A. cookbook there was something wrong! The book that I have was my dad’s partner Val’s with no daughters to pass it onto I would like to think that at least it is being used again and not languishing in a tip shop somewhere. By obvious deduction because of the inscription it was given to her by her mother, as was my copy that I have since given to my daughters. This one is actually from back when ladies (women were actually called “ladies” back then…) used to submit recipes to be added to the book and it comes from Western Australia where I hail from. It’s somewhat nostalgic to open its well-thumbed pages and see a recipe from “Barbara of Merredin” and feel an instant camaraderie with her. I know where she was (as no doubt Barbara may no longer be with us due to the age of the cookbook and the average age of C.W.A. members) and I know how hot her summers were and how dry it was. I know that the blowflies were almost as bit as the sheep in summer and that they clung to the screen doors in droves waiting for you to head off running to get the washing off the line before it crisped like overdone toast in the heat. I know how precious that tiny little patch of grass and usually mint growing underneath the tap near the tank stand was to Barbara’s psyche. Nothing like a Western Australian summer to teach mint where to grow and where NOT to grow. I KNOW that place. I have been there and I have had its dust on my feet and I have wondered way down in my heart just what makes people want to stay in places like this…but stay they do and I have had to live in places like this on more than one occasion in a past life. The modern copies are more generic and give you less of a sense of place than these old ones but there are still all sorts of useful hints and tips and it gave me my recipe for mum’s “Date sloice” and for that I will be eternally grateful.

When we were in Launceston on monday Steve spotted these old appliances in an electrical retail shop and ran across 4 lanes of traffic for your entertainment so please at least pretend that you are interested in them…

Imagine how excited someone once was to get this amazing contraption to help them do one of the most mundane tasks that would have taken most of the day to accomplish pre-washing machine.

This was the deluxe version and who wouldn’t want this amazing piece of last century technology gracing their laundry!

Last but certainly not least, this fridge would have probably cost a small fortune back in the day. I bet it still goes though! No built in obsolescence at the turn of last century.

The sun is coming up on another Tuesday on Serendipity Farm. I see most mornings settle in these days but the sun is starting to come up earlier. It’s now peeking over the windowsill at 6.30 rather than the respectable hour of 7 which is causing me some consternation. Sometime soon it’s going to get up before me and I will miss that magical time sitting here with the light on peering myopically at the enormous computer screen in front of me (“I DON’T need glasses!” 😉 ) and pondering the meaning of life, the universe and everything on my own while I slowly wake up with my first bucket cup of tea. It will slither under the door jamb before I wake up and the chickens will be restless in their coop at 4.30am in the middle of summer. Good luck to them getting me out of bed at that time of the morning to let them out! Crow away Yin, I AIN’T coming! I have been contemplating giving Big Yin lessons in how to open the coop door himself to make life easier around here but I can’t help picturing in my mind (and you won’t believe how pictorial my mind can be at times!) a midnight out breaking of chickens who then head off with kerchiefs full of grain tied to sticks (no shortage of them around here) to greener pastures. Or in layman’s terms…they will all head over to Glad’s place and move in! We haven’t had the heart to head down to Glad’s place to tell her that our chickens find her place more attractive than ours at the moment. It’s a bit of a sore point as we give them the best grain, the freshest bedding hay and constantly toss goodies over the deck rail for them. I am trying to reconcile it in my head and have come valiantly up with the fact that they have most probably eaten every insect on our property and hers is humming with them, but it’s more a matter of “the grass is greener for ingrate chickens” if the truth be known and we have to wrangle their protesting fluffed up feathery bodies back over a sagging fence with numerous holes underneath that the wallabies keep making despite us shoving rocks into each hole as soon as we find them. The wallabies want in which facilitates our chickens breaking out! Perhaps they are laying eggs at Glads place? If so she is welcome to the eggs and I can negotiate that around my guilt at being bad chicken herders as payment for the odd deposit left in a tell-tale place on her side of the fence.

The sun is coming up on another Tuesday on Serendipity Farm. I see most mornings settle in these days but the sun is starting to come up earlier. It’s now peeking over the windowsill at 6.30 rather than the respectable hour of 7 which is causing me some consternation. Sometime soon it’s going to get up before me and I will miss that magical time sitting here with the light on peering myopically at the enormous computer screen in front of me (“I DON’T need glasses!” 😉 ) and pondering the meaning of life, the universe and everything on my own while I slowly wake up with my first bucket cup of tea. It will slither under the door jamb before I wake up and the chickens will be restless in their coop at 4.30am in the middle of summer. Good luck to them getting me out of bed at that time of the morning to let them out! Crow away Yin, I AIN’T coming! I have been contemplating giving Big Yin lessons in how to open the coop door himself to make life easier around here but I can’t help picturing in my mind (and you won’t believe how pictorial my mind can be at times!) a midnight out breaking of chickens who then head off with kerchiefs full of grain tied to sticks (no shortage of them around here) to greener pastures. Or in layman’s terms…they will all head over to Glad’s place and move in! We haven’t had the heart to head down to Glad’s place to tell her that our chickens find her place more attractive than ours at the moment. It’s a bit of a sore point as we give them the best grain, the freshest bedding hay and constantly toss goodies over the deck rail for them. I am trying to reconcile it in my head and have come valiantly up with the fact that they have most probably eaten every insect on our property and hers is humming with them, but it’s more a matter of “the grass is greener for ingrate chickens” if the truth be known and we have to wrangle their protesting fluffed up feathery bodies back over a sagging fence with numerous holes underneath that the wallabies keep making despite us shoving rocks into each hole as soon as we find them. The wallabies want in which facilitates our chickens breaking out! Perhaps they are laying eggs at Glads place? If so she is welcome to the eggs and I can negotiate that around my guilt at being bad chicken herders as payment for the odd deposit left in a tell-tale place on her side of the fence.

One of the pretty little streets that we walked down the other day with our overexcited dogs in Launceston

When life hands you lemons…head off to the internet to find out what the heck to do with them all! I now know how to make lemon furniture polish…lemon curd… lemon syrup…lemon barley water and something called “Skeeter Pee” that I will share with you all in a future post…

Aren’t these 2 little pony’s cute? No doubt the next time we walk around Kayena, Steve will have hidden a couple of apples cut up for them. People must think that Steve has some sort of allure with animals as they tend to come running whenever they see him…I know why 🙂

Well another post comes to a close and I still haven’t explained the “Rebel” in the title. Well, today is Tuesday. Most people work on Tuesday. Today Steve and I are NOT going to work. We are being rebels. We are going to head out and enjoy our day doing whatever we please as yesterday we had to put our plans on hold and head into town to get another car battery as ours was threatening to boycott Serendipity Farm completely and we need a reliable car out here in the sticks. We spent the day pounding the pavement, drinking white mocha’s (Steve) and soy chai lattes (me) with the boys and doing our bit to educate the public about how loving they can be. We didn’t get back till late and we decided that we wanted a day off today and as such we are rebelling against our indentured study slavetude. Sorry Nick…we usually work like Trojans but today is OURS! See you all on Saturday when I will be able to share a day spent in town submerged in a series of Tamar NRMA sustainable living lectures (the first of a series of them this month that I will be attending and sharing with you all) and hopefully some photos to boot. Wish me luck battling the felt hatted brigade who will be out in force and hope beyond hope that the valve that keeps my trap firmly shut whenever I am confronted by people speaking bollocks is able to withstand the welling tide of retribution that floods up demanding to be heard! 😉

We invented this pie last night when Steve decided that he wanted a “Cheese, potato and spinach pie with fetta and ricotta made with home made butter shortcrust”…doesn’t look bad if we say so ourselves 🙂

Nothing puts fear into Bezial faster than the removal of furniture from a hitherto fully furnished house and today we emptied the kitchen living area due to an impromptu bout of wooden floor mopping…

Bezial forgave us for removing the table and chairs (that’s Earls recliner in the shot) because he could bask in sunbeams.

Christmas in July the first “NO Earl!”…

Hi All

The first “NO EARL!” was probably around about this time last year (mid-July) which would have been very closely followed by the second “NO EARL!” and we are probably approaching our 175 000 “NO EARL!” about now. The angels didn’t sing…in fact the only thing “singing” (if you could call it that…) were the dulcet fisher wife tones of yours truly echoing obtrusively throughout otherwise quiet valley of Sidmouth, fighting its way aggressively out to Bass Strait to terrorise an unsuspecting penguin colony somewhere. I am going about this post upside down today…nothing to do with traction and everything to do with today…Wednesday being effectively “Wrong”. I can’t tell you what, exactly, is wrong with today but it started with a headache and no feral cats meowing under the deck for something to eat, chickens that didn’t want to eat bread…dogs that didn’t want to eat meat and Bezial getting sick in the car for no apparently reason (other than extreme anxiety brought on by a total of 3 walks. An unheard of reason to barf with excitement…). We didn’t want to work on our latest AutoCAD plan today because being what it is, it would have ended up not working for whatever reason and I might have had a prospective future meltdown. We decided to let today be wrong. If it wants to gyrate itself into oblivion sideways it’s not our business and we are just going with the flow for the remainder of this unusual day and so posting the end of the post first seemed somehow most fitting.

This photo just goes to show you how “Wrong” today is. I would normally not show you our back yard (or more to the point…the dogs back yard) as its not very aesthetically pleasing due to Earl’s plant eating habits

Who wouldn’t like to live in a lovely house like this with a beautiful garden leading out to the driveway…

It’s nice isn’t it? Well this is the front facade and a most manicured facade at that. We walked the dogs around the back of this house today and the back yard is littered with bicycles, the garden is a shambles of overgrown trees and shrubs and you wouldn’t be able to match the front facade to the back if you were asked to “match the front to the back yard”…sometimes what you see isn’t all that you get!

It’s a wise person who takes stock of what they have in their lives and who they are and are able to not only come to an amicable agreement with themselves to accept this, but actively enjoy their lives. As penniless hippy students we exist on the breadline. We are happy with our lot and enjoy our way of life incredibly; however we don’t have a lot of leeway with the ability to purchase whatever we want. We have a list an arm long of what we want to get for Serendipity Farm and a moth eaten sock with a few coins in it under the bed that we are loathe to raid for even the smallest purchase. We are proud of how we are debt free and able to live on a shoestring, but it makes it all the more important that we are able to access information online about how to make our shoestring stretch exponentially. I have found some amazing websites and blogs that share all sorts of hints and tips and am eternally grateful to everyone out there who shares what they know and how they do it for free. We can learn how to upholster a chair, how to recover a book, how to make strange and wonderful ferments and recipes to use them in. We can learn how to do simple home renovations and get comparisons of various articles before we pull that long suffering sock out from under the bed to spend our precious savings. It’s not easy living on next to nothing but there is a stoic satisfaction in being able to not only make do, and save as well, but enjoying the process is the most satisfying thing of all. It’s all too easy to get scared about the world around us and all of the changes that are slowly starting to happen. Peak oil, G.M.O. crops and all sorts of large headlines in the papers making us wonder if our homes and lives are safe but economies rise and economies fall and always in the background are the people living day to day…adapting and changing and learning and rising and falling and living around the outskirts of the headlines and the war and the famine and the fear…communities working together to share and foster hope and I can’t help but feel that we humans are probably due for a bit of a shakeup within our consumerist fragmented society. It might not be so bad if we have to live with our parents…it would certainly be cheaper and returning to some of our past community ways can only be a good thing. Ensuring that the elderly are treated with respect as the keepers of the ways of the past and seeing life and death up close and personal can only be good for our children. Forget shielding them from the world, they are only going to get hurled out into it eventually so they should be able to see reality and ask questions and get valid and caring answers. Life is tough but it is also beautiful and humanity as a whole barely live their lives any more in the pursuit of the elusive consumer “happiness” bird.

Autumn demolition of the side garden has resulted in this decidedly underwhelming vista but as you can see, the little Luculia that we planted out is beaming from its new position in the earth and to this day, still hasn’t dropped a flower. It is an example of how being grateful for what you get is a beautiful thing

This is Beauty Point in the middle of winter and the greyness is echoed all around our local environment

Another grey picture showing you where we walked today. Despite the colour scheme being pretty monochromatic, there is a dignity and a sense of place that comes with winter that gives it an austere beauty all of its own

“What’s she on about now!”…well…my son just got back from America and Ireland with his new partner Kelsey and he is just about to head over to visit us on Serendipity Farm. Steve and I met online when he was in the U.K. and I was in Western Australia. Life online is a fantasy and pictures that we post on blogs shield reality. Who wants to post pictures of dog chewed rugs and piles of decomposing branches in the top paddock? Who wants to share that they sweep the floors at least 5 times a day to ensure that you can actually see wooden floor under all that dog hair and who wants to admit that they haven’t got a clue how to go about washing that wooden floor that they so thoughtfully decided to wax rather than polish with high gloss chemicals…not I! Reality has a way of pushing its way to the fore and giving you a shove. Earl is real…he has a way of pushing you with his nose and letting you know that something isn’t right in the state of Kansas. I don’t want our reality to be something that Kelsey isn’t comfortable with. We choose to live frugally and simply and are incredibly happy with our lot and can only hope that she will see that and realise that happiness isn’t always wrapped up in expensive wrapping paper and tied with a credit debt bow. One day Serendipity Farm is going to be Stewart’s and perhaps Kelsey might be right there with him when he moves in and I want them to see hope and prospective happiness and a life close to the ground and the ability to choose their own destiny that is tied up with owning your own home. We are incredibly thankful and grateful for that chance and hopefully they will be too. Does this smack of a bit of self-flagellation? I think its more fear of the unknown. I am a quintessential magpie AND a bit of a control freak. I don’t like the unknown precisely because it is just that…”unknown” and I can’t plan for it. Just come and visit us Kelsey and don’t have any preconceived ideas…we can make some bread together…we can go for a walk with the dogs and have a chat about life, the universe and everything…we can roast one of our chooks and you can have as many free range eggs as your heart desires (here’s hoping that Kelsey loves eggs!) and in the process of unwinding, I hope that you will slowly look around you and think…”I could do something here…”…that’s all I ask :o)

You may remember Pingu, our little hen who started life out on the wrong foot. No-one wanted her and we found her almost dead on her own in the chicken compound. We put her in a basket on top of Brunhilda (before you call the R.S.P.C.A. we had the plate covers down!) and Earl has tried to dispatch her twice now but she keeps coming back. She will never be a normal chicken but again, whoever is normal on Serendipity Farm doesn’t belong here! We take waifs and strays and the fringe dwellers here and Pingu has earned her place here especially as she lays a lovely brown egg every two days :o)

Pingu submitting to human interaction for the sake of her continued breakfast each day of bread and butter…

The indignities that a poor long suffering hen has to go through to live in the shed on a large flowerpot and get fed a mangy bit of bread and butter in the mornings!

You often hear about a lonely cuckoo singing in a tree somewhere that sets the tone and the mood in books…we have cuckoo shrikes here. They are about as far from a real cuckoo as you can get and spend their lives looking in my kitchen window and yelling out on the deck for us to deliver small cubes of cheese into their gaping maws. The insects have apparently gone into hibernation or hiding to escape the hens rabid beaks and the cuckoo shrikes have stripped as much bark from the eucalypts as they dare and there are apparently not enough insects to go around. Dad used to feed them mince but mince is not an option for us and so they get small cubes of tasty cheese. They LOVE it! I had some spare mince a while back, and feeling magnanimous and content with my lot on that day, I put some out for the cuckoo shrikes for old time’s sake. They picked it up…they carried some off and they came back and completely ignored it! “We want the cheese…bring us the cheese!”… oh well…they only come like this in winter when times get tough and in summer we rarely see them aside from the odd shredding of eucalyptus bark and the odd squeak in the distance. They raise their young, they bring them to the deck to learn the “ways of the cheese” and they head off to have more babies and there are generations of cuckoo shrikes that have lived like this…a symbiotic relationship with the humans and we are hoping to carry on this tradition along with planting out lots of habitat and food plants for the local birds for many years to come.

Here is the little female Cuckoo Shrike who usually sits on Steve’s hand but this is the only picture that I could take of her that turned out as she is WAY too fast for my slow fingers to click

There’s a bit of chicken jealousy going on between the coop dwelling chickens and Pingu. They have heard about her shed and her daily breakfast and have decided to move in on her territory (and Steve’s) even more than I have with my strawberry pots while I am trying for the life of me to work out where to put them to protect them from the hungry possums. I have a vertical garden idea that I am ruminating on at the moment and will keep you posted

When we were researching ideal shrubs and small trees to use for our water wise sustainable garden plan that were a combination of incredibly hardy, able to grow just about anywhere in any situation, that offered habitat for birds, protection for them along with food we discovered, quite by accident the genus Elaegnus. I had heard of this genus and after a small bit of research realised that it included Russian Olives, a most desirable tree. This genus is amazing! It contains some of the most water-wise, hardy, adaptable edible plants known to man and the entire front garden of our plan is cram packed full of them now. I just did a spell check as word didn’t recognise the word “Elaegnus” (and let’s face it anyone not involved in horticulture most probably wouldn’t!)…and it wanted me to swap “Elaegnus” for “Eloigns”…EH?! Now THERE is a word that makes more sense and that we all know and love right? NOT! Apparently the word Eloigns means (and I quote from the Free Merriam-Webster online dictionary…)

“Definition of ELOIGN. transitive verb. 1. archaic: to take (oneself) far away. 2. archaic: to remove to a distant or unknown place: conceal …”

Now I know that Elaegnus is a genus that usually consist of more thorns than leaves and I know that you might wish to remove yourself from the close proximity (read “in the middle of”) of any Elaegnus that you may have innocently fallen into the middle of post haste but Eloign doesn’t really cut the mustard to describe this genus, Word, so keep to what you know best (irritating grammatically erratic bad spellers like me) and leave horticulture to the gardeners! My own personal interpretation of the word Eloign is “once bitten twice shy”! I will commit this new word to memory to be used in conversation around the water cooler should I ever be lucky enough to fall victim to getting myself a regular job in the near future and feel the need to ensure that everyone else around the water cooler knows that I am an unmitigated nob.

Here is the boys dinner for tonight slowly defrosting in Brunhilda’s slowest warming oven. The temperature is perfect for slow defrosting as well as for dehydrating an added boon that I didn’t think of when we were contemplating our justification for Brunhilda’s initial cost and a massive help on cold winters days

Doesn’t this photo of Paper Beach make you feel wistfull? Well it does me!

We have bone wars going on at Serendipity Farm. The only thing that we have any problems with our 2 male dogs with is bones. When we first got Earl we used to give both dogs bones as they are the best thing for their teeth (cleaning) and for their digestion and healthy bowels. Bezial has always been a bit mean with bones and Qi learned early on not to even THINK of having a personal bone and that the odd nibble when Bezial was laying upside down inside was the best that she was ever going to get on the bone front. Earl isn’t like Qi and soon learned to stand up for his bone rights. We didn’t want any problems between the boys so we stopped buying them bones but today we thought of a possible solution to our problem and bought 2 large beef thigh bones. Earl is shut on the deck and Bezial gets his bone out the back door…never the twain shall meet and silence and happiness shall reign on Serendipity Farm…that would be the situation in an ideal world but Serendipity Farm is NEVER ideal and Bezial ONLY eats rancid bones that have been lying about undisturbed for weeks. Earl can’t be kept on the deck for the 2 – 3 weeks that it takes for Bezials bone to get to the desired level of putrescence and so we are back to square 1. Bezial lying next to Brunhilda with one ear up listening for if Earl makes any surreptitious moves towards the back door and Earl hurriedly eating his bone so that he can start on Bezials…the grass is apparently greener (and so is the rancid bone…) on the other side of the gate…sigh…back to the drawing board!

“Lassie came home!”…well Della did…she has had puppies and has gone from being Bezial’s mate to being a barking mother much to Bezial’s consternation… it’s tough being a clueless male. She was trying to catch the plovers that were flying shrieking around her attacking her in this photo and it was hilarious to watch her snapping at them as they bombed her from on high.

These are some of the glass houses at the Polytechnic department of Horticulture and go part way to showing you how bleak winter can be in Launceston Tasmania in July

Although winter is upon us and its cold, grey and a bit depressing I wanted to share this photo with you that Steve took yesterday when we went to Paper Beach to walk the boys. Love is eternal and so is optimism! “Hurry up Spring I am cold!”

Well it’s time to start preparing food for the various creatures that inhabit Serendipity Farm (ourselves included) and another few days have headed into the abyss of time. At least when I am old and have time for reflection (should the day ever come when I DO get to reflect!) I will have these posts to look back on and wonder what we ever did to deserve this! 😉

Earl saw a Wabbit…

Hi All,

Its official folks…Earl now OWNS Deviot. He urinated on every second guidepost from the Deviot Yacht Club back to the Auld Kirk Church in Sidmouth near our home today. We were getting tired of depressed dogs on shopping day and so Steve decided to give Bezial a much needed ego boost and take him to town. Poor Bezial does it tough in our household. He used to be the only dog here but had to push his luck and start acting like he was depressed and refusing to eat so that we would think that he was lonely, rather than the spoiled manipulative hound that he was and so we took pity on him and bought a new friend for him in the form of little imported Earl. You would think that Bezial would have learned about companions after Qi took over and ruled the roost when we were living in town but he just couldn’t resist the chance to try to take over the universe and the result is Earl. He has NO-ONE but himself to blame for the arrival of Earl (and perhaps Qantas can be held vaguely responsible for the depositing of Earl on Tasmanian soil…). Earl is a wonderful dog. He is fantastic with other dogs and can read them well unlike Bezial who gives off intense vibes and sets every dog this side of the Pecos (and the Pecos is a very VERY long way away from Sidmouth Tasmania folks!) off with his vibes. The problem is that Bezial HATES to share. He has never been much of a cuddly boy and expects Earl to be the same but Earl loves nothing more than cuddles, adoration and hugs. Bezial is somewhat disgusted at Earls upside down love fests but puts up with them for the sake of the peace and sometimes he just likes to go back to what it was like before Earl when he was numero uno and Steve was all his. Today he has travelled into Launceston in the front seat (usually a big no-no), he has had a walk in his sacred ground (an old swampy bit of land just up from where we used to live), he has shared a foot long breakfast sub (bacon, egg and cheese) with Steve and has been ferried all over the place and allowed out to walk in the park and various other special places all on his own. Bezial is in heaven.

Princes Square where Bezial dragged Steve in solitary delight on Monday


Earl and I travelled with Steve and Bezial this morning to be dropped off in the dark at the Deviot Yacht Club. We set off back home so that Earl would get his exercise (very important or he eats things…) and I would get mine (ditto to Earl 😉 ). We were armed with a trusty small torch and my mother’s walking stick inherited from her mother.  Not because I had any physical need of it but because it was light and easy to wield with one hand in case of stray dogs deciding to “have a go” at Earl on the way home. Tasmanians don’t believe in adhering to rules. “Hey mate…if I was sposed to have moi dog on a loid…woi dint thay giv me wun wiv the dorg ay?”… Dogs run free from driveways with impunity in our neck of the woods and I would rather be safe than sorry! Thankfully mum/grandma’s (and perhaps her mum’s before her…) stick didn’t have to be employed to thwack dogs today and we had a lovely meandering walk home and as mentioned, Earl cheerfully pee’d on every second post and dethatched most of the road verge in his youthful eagerness to make his presence felt. By the time he got home he had no “presence” left to feel! He had to fill up with a big drink of water when we got in for the next round. We got to share the most amazing sunrise this morning. Rain is on the way but Earl and I just stood there marvelling at the beauty of it and feeling exceedingly special to be allowed to have God share it with just the 2 of us. Earl helped me make the bed (the middle pillow may never recover from his “help”…) and helped me feed the chooks by barking at the cats. I have been able to give Earl Heaps of cuddles and hugs as Bezial isn’t here to give me withering looks every time I do. We might have to do this more regularly as it’s good for the boys to be apart sometimes and get a special bit of attention each. Earl loves Bezial and misses him badly whenever he isn’t here. I know that somewhere underneath Bezials black bear coat that he loves Earl too but you wouldn’t know it! I raced around the house after Earl with a toy as he careened around the walls, floor and furniture in manic glee. He ended up under our bed with the toy in question and I actually managed to get him puffing which is very hard for the rubber band formerly known as “Earl”. When Bezial and Steve get home the 2 dogs will perform feats of callisthenic activity that would gain them automatic inclusion in the Australian Olympic gymnastics squad should they ever see fit to halt their interspecies racial intolerance but for today that means that I won’t bother hauling all of the rugs that Earl previously left in disarray back to their correct positions until they have finished their reunion frolics and all is calm on the Western Front.

The parents of our (still to be planted out) olive pits bordering Marian’s vinyard in Deviot

This time we remembered to take a photo of the varieties of olive so that we have an idea of what to get scion material for when it comes time to graft

From the other side of the road looking at the teeny little bus stop for the area

I have finally become a fully-fledged card carrying vegan again. The only thing that had been holding me back previously was my ongoing addiction to black tea with milk in it. I couldn’t stand it black as the tannin makes me twitch and not using soy milk (no genetic modification for me Mateo’s!) left me with few satisfactory non-dairy milks to use. Everything I tried was either too watery or allowed the tannin flavour to seep through or tasted weird. I am a tea puritan and if I don’t get at least a bucket large cup of it once a day I am not fun to be around.  I finally found the answer thanks to my daughter Madeline giving me back the remnants of a large bag of almonds that I had left with her when we moved here. To say that they were probably out of code is an understatement but they were in the freezer and they tasted pretty good so bollocks to codes! I ate a few as snacks and used the last of the bag to have a go at making some almond milk. I had read that it was good in tea and wanted to try it so soaked the remaining nuts overnight and used my VitaMix to process them finely, strained them through a fine sieve and the resulting “milk” tasted delicious. Taste was important but what would it be like in tea? I usually have 2 tea bags in my large tea cup but we tried 1 tea bag and it was delicious. I got the added bonus of the left over strained almond pulp. Not liking to waste anything if I can help it I decided to research what to do with it and the pioneering people who went before me most generously shared their knowledge and I ended up putting the pulp (after it was thoroughly pressed to remove as much of the milk as possible) onto a sheet of baking paper (next time I will use one of my re-usable silicone sheets that I got with my dehydrator but this time was an experiment), into a baking dish and placed in Brunhilda’s  4th, and coolest “warming” oven where I also defrost the dogs meat from the freezer over the course of the day. The 2 tasks were NOT combined on this occasion :o). The result was a very light fluffy almond “flour” that can be used in baking or combined with other things to make muesli. I am going to experiment with adding sesame seeds to increase the calcium. I love the taste, I can make it myself and I don’t have to worry about my ecological footprint and will be planting out some almond trees in the near future so that my milk futures are a step closer to being totally sustainable as well.

It would appear that Aurora have better things to do at the moment than fix this problem. It may not be totally obvious, but they have tied a rope to this overhead power line, thrown the rope through a branch on this tree and pulled it up. I guess they will get around to actually sorting out the problem one day…maybe…

Is that the overhead power line being precariously held there by this chunk of salvaged rope? No kidding guys! I shouldn’t give them too much jip I suppose, the outage was over 12 hours so we were sent a cheque for $80…”Woo Hoo! That almost pays our next power bill :)”

I am still madly in love with Brunhilda. I can hear the small weathered river stone that I placed in her ticking away as the kettle simmers on the hob. If I CAN’T hear the stone I know that the kettle’s water is getting low. I got this tip from my grandmother years ago and remembered it when we bought Brunhilda. My grandmother had a wood burning stove that always seemed to be on the go. She produced the most delicious roasts, cakes etc. from that stove and that’s what made me want one all these years on. Her kitchen was the hub of our fractured family’s existence and it was a very rare day that we didn’t go to see gran. My grandmother’s ingenuity went hand in hand with this kitchen and she made her own Tamarind paste long before tamarind was something that anyone had heard about, let alone used in their cooking. She grew herbs, made all sorts of lotions and potions and back in the distant past she would no doubt have been looked on most suspiciously by the religious establishment for her “nefarious” activities. Thankfully she was born into the 20th century but she was most definitely a pioneering spirit and was very artistic and creative and taught us all to be adventurous with our minds. Thanks for that gran. It’s only now that I truly appreciate what you did for us and I will be sure to give any dog that tries to stick it’s nose out of the driveway untethered a hefty “THWACK” for you.

The next couple of weeks are going to be spent working our way through our studies. We will be putting in an application of interest in a course that will enlighten us in the magic art of Illustrator 5. The course also teaches printing etc. but the best bit about the course is that we can do it from home like we are currently doing our diploma. We have to go through an interview process but hopefully the fact that this is a certificate 3 course, we have been at Polytechnic in the recent past, we have completed 2 Diploma’s (by that stage we will have…) AND that we have a proven track record in working at home on our own should all go in our favour when they are making their selection criterion for this hugely popular course.

This old horse has most certainly seen more than a few winters and a bit of frost isn’t going to put him off!

I am utterly in love with my early morning pre sunrise winter ritual of getting up on my own and heading out to the kitchen to greet the morning. Steve likes to lay in a bit until I bring him his first cup of coffee in bed and I don’t mind one little bit. It’s dark when I get out of bed. It’s also inevitably quite cold in our bedroom as it’s the furthest from the kitchen where our heat source latently drizzles out the heat after being damped down overnight and coincidentally, the kitchen is the place where I find Bezial waiting for his early morning “me” time with me basking on his small sofa next to Brunhilda. I don’t know who loves Brunhilda more, to be honest, Bezial or me.  I take pride in being able to navigate our house in the dark. Nothing to do with all of the carrots that I eat and everything to do with the dominant knee protrusions lying in wait to deliver a not inconsequential blow to any unsuspecting joint that dares to forget its place in the dark. I run my hand along the bedroom wall and can see the day when there is a well caressed groove in that short distance. After our bedroom (and the chunky footer of our bed…the most dangerous source of joint pain in the entire house…) I am ok to just walk. Once I get to the kitchen the very first step is to wake Brunhilda from her slumber. Brunhilda rises like the phoenix after a few sticks and has the polished river stone in my first kettle of water tap-dancing before I have time to settle down in front of the computer to immerse myself in the early morning magical world of rss feed reading. I can then lose myself for an hour (depending on how lazy Steve is feeling) in my gardening, recipe and sustainable living blogs over that first precious cup of elixir of life tea. Thus starts my day on Serendipity Farm over the winter. Summer is going to bring a LOT of changes. No Brunhilda to greet me and sunlight WAY before I decide to tumble out of bed. I dare say that the bedroom wall will be thankful for summer but I, my dear constant readers, will not.

The almond pulp left over from making my almond milk that I dried out in Brunhilda

What it looks like after being pulverised into almond flour. Both batches that I have made so far end up with a smell reminiscent of malted grain and should make an interesting addition to various baked items.

Well I just hit 2000 words. I keep trying to make my blog posts shorter but life imitates art here folks and I am known for my verbosity. The problem is that I was born to share and this primal need often overrides my ability to cull my posts. It feels like when you see people with their toddlers on a leash… just know that I am at least trying :o). I was looking up the lineage of the name Brunhilda. It’s derived from the Norse “Brunhilde” and my maternal grandmother, who I feel a close kinship with and an even closer ethos was called Hilda. My grandfather was called Hamilton. Neither of those names would appear today on the “most desirable baby names” list and thank goodness for that! Now that I have enough years under my belt to be able to throw around the odd thought or two with some life experience to tamp it into my philosophical Sherlock Holmes pipe… I have learned to embrace and enjoy my life sans mainstream acceptability. I am proud of my working class history, my upbringing and indeed everything about my life that brought me to the place where I sit here typing this post right now. I love each and every one of my children utterly and the man that I share my life with I consider my soul mate (even though we are complete opposites and will never understand each other till the day that we die…). I am most probably the luckiest woman I know. I dare say that there is someone else out there luckier…but I am content to be the luckiest woman on Serendipity Farm and am entirely grateful, thankful and in debt to God and to the circumstances that put me here. Cheers…and thanks for all the non-meaty fish ;).

Sunrise Sunday morning…and we didn’t even get any rain!

Freezing cold but very pretty…these photos don’t do it justice

Back (segueing nicely) to Brunhilda… anyone over the age of about 10 will have heard of Bugs Bunny. I actually didn’t like the smug little git and aligned myself more with that little black duck that raged even more spectacularly than his more mainstream cousin Donald. Bug’s was the cartoon equivalent of a psychopath and most certainly NOT to be idolised by anyone’s children. He did whatever he wanted to and turned his antagonists into gibbering idiots on more than a solitary occasion. My most lasting memory of a journey that he took underground almost in its entirety with Daffy Duck (we can only guess that Bugs and his pathological ability to lie drove Daffy to the depths of travelling underground to Pismo beach as ducks tend not to like being in this sort of environment) occasionally sticking his head out of the ground uttering the famous lines “I shoulda taken that left toin at Albukoikee”. I discovered the following and I quote: –

“Some of Chuck Jones’ colleagues got lost commuting from the Southeast US to Hollywood and ended up lost out in the New Mexico boonies. The experience was memorable enough to create an inside joke that ultimately became the means by which Bugs Bunny ended up in the middle of nowhere. The joke was that Bugs was actually trying to get to Hollywood but got diverted in Albuquerque.”

The Bugs and Daffy episode ended up with Daffy showing his greedy side at the expense of his sanity and physical wellbeing but another episode involving Bugs Bunny and his poor long suffering antagonist Elmer Fudd, involved Bugs toying with poor addled Elmer and pretending to be Brunhilde to avoid being “pwugged” by Elmer’s gun. Pathological lying…psychopathic bullying behaviour AND cross dressing all designed to amuse children…can we now, perhaps, understand why the baby boomers are all a bit “exit stage right” about life?! Here’s a picture of Bugs being found out in his lie and an inch away from being “pwugged” from the episode “Herr Loves Me, Hare Loves Me Not”…

I got this from this site where you can purchase this very hand painted film cell framed for a mere $1,325.00. I can’t quite justify paying that sort of money and will be content with hoping that my brain keeps remembering this film cell in its entirely free format inside my head for many years to come…

I wonder if my grandmother’s lineage harks back to Norse kinship. She was a most determined and strong woman and should any of you have a bit of spare time you can head on over to this site and read a bit about Wagner and his Ring cycle operas (3 in total).

It would seem that I have more than a paternal smattering of Germanic heritage. Reading this description of a Valkyrie most definitely reminds me of my grandmother…

“(The Valkyries are female, but they are warlike females. Not only that, Brünnhilde has to have a voice capable of outshouting a full Wagnerian orchestra for 4-plus hours. Hence the cliché of the massive armour-girt soprano with breastplates and horns.)”

Grandma was neither massive nor loud but was most definitely the patriarch of our family where women were survivors and were born to serve their man. You didn’t butt horns with grandma and come out the other side wholly intact…although that most CERTAINLY didn’t stop me trying…

Is it Earl locked out…or Steve locked in?!

Steve’s tea tonight…home-made chicken and mushroom pies made with cheese shortcrust, free range rooster and a local salad dressing (no food miles there 🙂 ) That egg is one of 15 eggs that we found in a hidden nest today. No doubt we will be finding many more eggs from now on. The secret is to listen for the hens telling everyone that they have laid an egg and backtracking to find the source! We will beat you yet Yin!

Well I just hit 3000 words and that’s my curtain call folks…forgive my foray off into the world of the Valkyries but to be honest, you could all do with a good cultural shake up, and what’s better than a Wagnerian Opera to stir up your inner cobwebby machinations. I might even delve into Donald Duck and his desire to teach his nephews a lesson when he thinks that they have been smoking cigars and they have actually bought them for him. He makes them smoke every last cigar and then finds out his error…lesson learned on both counts! We can all learn from both our elders AND our children and thus ends the lessons for today dear brethren…see you same time on Saturday for the matinee session…

Pass the post please and don’t scrimp on the content…

Hi All,

I have just spent almost a week staying at my daughter’s home in town while they are away inMelbourne. I haven’t had much time to sit around “thinking” which was going to be something that I had fully intended to take advantage of, but I am feeling very happy with myself and the world all the same. I hurled myself into the garden today and wheeled Taylor (the grey Indian Ring neck parrot) out the back to enjoy a bit of outside sunny time with the 3 doves that have moved in. Qi has been wonderful and has been tailing me like a shadow and making sure that none of the poor pedestrians that stop to pass the time of day get close enough to me to do any damage to her food provider. She is a very clever little girl and instinctively knows who is a possible threat and who isn’t. We used to watch an elderly woman walking past each day as we set off walking with our dogs when we lived here 2 years ago. We named her the “Stick Witch” because she had a sharp pointed stick and a very sour face and would stride with purpose up and down the road looking for something to complain about. I dare say she has hit more dogs that just came out to say hello with that pointy stick and today she must have been giving out her “Stick Witch Vibes” on a large scale because Qi was sitting out on the front footpath with me while I pruned the roses. Qi growled at her and she looked like she was thinking about coming over to read me the riot act about allowing dogs out onto the footpath but thought twice and headed off striding maniacally and spearing bits of random rubbish with her vicious pointed stick. What makes people get like that? It’s just a real sad indictment of the human race. I was making sure that my little dog didn’t go near her or even bark at her. I sometimes wonder what someone has had to go through to arrive out the other end as bitter, twisted and angry as the Stick Witch who has never smiled or even waved at us the whole time that we lived here and tried to be friendly. Oh well…Qi is never allowed out on her own so should never have to suffer the Stick Witch’s pointy revenge. When I said earlier that I was “pruning” the roses, I have to be honest…I was actually hacking them down and cutting them off at the bases and painting them with glyphosate! I know…what a terrible thing to do! The roses had been very badly “pruned” by someone in the past and they had cut them back below the scion and they had all returned to the rootstock which was particularly thorny, vigorous and constantly needing to be cut back from the footpath that they had been planted close to. I have finally come to the conclusion that my daughters are highly unlikely to follow in my footsteps and ever become interested in tending the garden so I am in the process of minimising the plants that are high maintenance and adding plants that are easy to grow, water wise and that pretty much do their own thing. When we first moved here I knew sweet nothing about gardening apart from remembering that mum used to take cuttings and just shove them into the ground. This works well with things like lavenders, geraniums, pelargoniums and certain other hardy plants but most plants need a bit more coaxing. I started “Jamming bits in” to turn the barren wasteland of exposed topsoil into something resembling a garden and to my surprise, most of the “bits” grew! The front garden is situated underneath a massive Liquidambar styracaflua. It makes planting anything under its canopy a bit difficult to say the least and so there are lots of perennials and ground covers underneath it that are doing quite well.

This is the incredibly sanitised pile of strawberry plants and runners that I found at the tip…I have already potted up half of them and suddenly remembered to “GET THE CAMERA!”…photo opportunity supreme!

Yeh those ASICS are bright but at least my feet won’t be run over by a speeding milk, wine or salmon truck (yes…we have all 3 of these speeding around the narrow dirt roads around Serendipity Farm at any given time…)…the white cherry box contains strawberry plants that I am working on

My squintillion strawberry plants that have suffered an amazing lack of attrition in the days since I planted them

I learned a bit more about plants and putting the right plant in the right place and have realised that some of my early, most enthusiastic, plantings might not have been strictly thought about much before I “bunged them in the ground”…I planted an Arbutus unedo right next to the porch. These grow to quite large specimens…trees to be exact! I also planted a nice merlot coloured leptospermum right underneath the lounge room window. Again…this particular leptospermum tends to “tree” rather than “small shrub” so my judgment (or lack therein) at the time may have set me up for a bit of hard work in the future. I am trying to make this an easy care water wise garden and am constantly amused at some of the comments that people make to me who walk by when I am gardening and who live nearby. “That tree is a bloody nuisance”…I get a lot of that…for the sparing bit of water that it gets through the summer, “That Tree” gives shade and cool to this house and provides an enormous amount of habitat for birdlife. When the autumn comes and the “bloody leaves” start to drop it provides a free source of large leaves that readily break down to smaller dry particles that form the most delightful soil amelioration and mulch that I know. I wonder if gardening can come to you instinctively. I knew that the denuded soil here that is predominately reactive clay needed to be covered so that it would hold in the moisture and prevent it from drying out and cracking. Once this reactive clay is dry it’s like trying to dig ceramic. Not an easy task! Something in my head said “why waste those leaves?”…I started to rake the “bloody bollocky nuisance leaves” and put them onto the garden in thick droves. This made the roses sad but you know what…I don’t like hybrid tea roses! There you go…I admitted it! I love climbing roses, I love old fashioned roses but I can’t stand those spiky sticks that seem to need so much care and return the odd flower that smells of nothing and that succumb to EVERYTHING. Black spot is our problem here thanks to my endless piling up of leaves. I leave room around the stem but the leaves are somewhat uncooperative and with the first wind, clump around the nearest rigid thing which tends to be “trunks and stems”. Oh well… no more black spot garden!

A very sad and most depressed Bezial laying directly on top of my hot water bottle in bed at my daughters house

You can see the size of the large Liquidambar styracaflua in the front garden in town. This was my very first garden in my life where I could do what I wanted and that belonged completely to me. It contained the tree, the camellia and the yellow daisy that you can just see to the left of this picture and a tiny mostly dead hydrangea. I “bunged cuttings into the ground” (like mum had taught me) and most of them grew! Now the garden needs to be pared back to be managed by my daughters and it’s now a challenge to fill it with waterwise plants and allow it to thrive all over again…a good garden never dies…it evolves

This is where East meets West…We are West, Margaret next door is East and her gate (despite looking like it is unhinged) just shows how steep her driveway is. Nothing grew in this corner of the garden thanks to rock hard ceramic clay soil and after 4 years of me maniacally collecting the leaves in autumn and throwing them back onto the garden (much to the consternation of the rest of the gardeners on our tiny street who thought that I was some mad crazed hippy…) this soil can now be easily dug and the bare patch (that only recently contained a plethora of black spotted spindly hybrid tea roses…) will be planted out with Aeoniums. No ducks here to scoff them!

It’s a jungle out there! Prior to us moving here this was totally denuded of vegetation and completely exposed rock hard clay soil. A few leaves and a bit of time later and its rich friable soil. Nature rules!

Dealing with a small front garden that contains a massive tree has it’s problems. I dealt with the problems of invasive water stealing roots by using water wise shrubs and lots of ground covers to fill the garden and unlike most of the carefully manicured gardens in the street, this unkempt mass of vegetation survived 3 months of no rainfall last summer with no water at all…I rest my case folks!

I have noticed that the years of putting the leaves back onto the garden have paid off and in the summer the garden keeps going despite the girls never watering at all and we have an extended period of dry weather that tends to run from January through to March. We get very little rain in that period and everything starts to suffer. This garden seems to be going from strength to strength and it makes me smile inside to know that all of those people who thought that I was nuts to be snipping all of my green waste back into the garden and piling up those leaves high are shaking their heads mid-summer at their dead and dying gardens. We can’t afford to have gardens like “the old days”. We can’t afford not to take advantage of the moisture retentive properties of mulching, the use of water wise plants, which there are many of to be honest and some of them are surprisingly resilient, and thinking smarter (i.e. lots of ground covers or green mulch as they are commonly called when clumped so they all join up together). Again, something told me that ground covers were the way to go and I set about planting anything that I could that would spread out under the Liquidambar and take up as much space and minimise the topsoil exposure as it could. There are strawberries still producing fruit in this garden. Every time I would find a thriving ground cover growing close to the footpath on our walks I would take a small innocuous piece and get it growing so that I could plant it in our garden. We have violets everywhere, strawberries, pyrethrum daisies and various other low growing ground covers that are all starting to choke out the weeds and cover the surface of the leaf mulch keeping it from blowing away. Instinctive gardening…it’s a pity that our desire to keep up with the Jones’s makes us plant and do some incredibly stupid things in the name of garden fashion isn’t it? I am just about to make Margaret, our neighbour to the left’s day. I am going to kill the jasmine and honeysuckle that I planted there in my horticultural wisdom just after we arrived. I now know that jasmine and honeysuckle have the propensity to grow like invasive aliens and am removing them before I have a real problem on my hands in the future. I used to keep everything pruned and under control when I lived here and took a lot of pride in my very first ever garden of my own. It sometimes depresses me to see what has happened to it, but it’s all still alive, and it’s all growing so that tells me that it’s pretty self-sufficient (in the main part). One thing that died a terrible death was a large Vietnamese mint shrub that I grew from a cutting. You can grow them easily by putting a handful of the mint into a jar of water and they sprout like mint. The problem is that they are very water hungry and would grow IN water if they could. I just pulled up the dead plant and chopped it into small pieces back into the garden…the new rule in this garden is “if you need lots of water you are going to die!” Life is tough plants…I spoiled you, and now you are going to have to grow on your own stems!

My faithful shadow Qi inspecting my raking of the front verge and proclaiming me somewhat remiss…”You missed a few…”

Small strip of front lawn covered in leaves…

Small strip of front lawn not covered in leaves

Here I am home again and enjoying feeling my place in my space with a degree of happiness that I wouldn’t have thought possible. A week away and I missed Serendipity Farm. I missed looking out of the kitchen window and watching the sunrise kiss the Tamar River and make it blush (rain tonight) and I missed the quiet, the space that Steve and I instilled when we renovated this place and I missed Steve and the boys so much that I didn’t mind where we walked on the day I got up, just that we “walked” together. The thing that I missed MOST about Serendipity Farm (and at the risk of sounding superficial) was my wood fired slow combustion stove. The girls have a really good big all gas oven in town that cooks really well but this stove heats our entire house and the ambiance that it brings to our riverside cottage is more than the sum of its components. Bezial came to town with me for a couple of days and missed this behemoth of a stove so badly that he lay next to the small wood burning fire in town constantly despite its sad inability to heat a very small space and when I sent him back home he didn’t move from in front of the fire for the entire day. Winter in Tasmania is a pretty cold experience for an Australian. We are not used to cold and when it drops down below 0C you can actually see the heat pumps being turned on at 4pm reflected in the electricity dimming. Brunhilda has allowed us to remain warm, content and all wrapped up in a degree of inner satisfaction that we are not affected by the power cuts that are as sure as eggs over the winter period thanks to our electricity needy neighbours and compatriots who desire heat at a massive cost to the power grid. The only thing that I miss when the power goes off here is the computer :o)

Beauty Point (10 minutes away from our place) and don’t let this picture fool you…it was FREEZING COLD.

You won’t get many pictures of me…this is effectively a picture of the dogs on the Beauty Point wharf that I just so happen to be in

The pretty little seaside town of Beauty Point where you can buy houses for sixpence (which isn’t much of a stretch of the truth at the moment in Tasmania…)

Well guess what? I forgot to post this post last night! Correct me if I am wrong but this may just be the very first post that I actually “forgot” to post since I started this blog. We spent yesterday creating blocks and polishing our AutoCAD drawing of our sustainable landscape design for Serendipity Farm. My ability to sit happily designing blocks without having a nervous breakdown is a sign that not only can you “teach an old dog new tricks” but that the dog might actually enjoy said trick once it passes its suspicion gland and manages to become something that might be useful. That’s the process that enables me to learn something. I love to learn but if I can’t see a use for it anywhere in my world it’s not something that I am going to embrace or remember any day soon! The past week and a blossoming cold and an impromptu visit from a friend laden with 2 wallabies (for the dogs) and a boot load of firewood (love you friend who remains anonymous in the witness protection program…) and a mad flurry of activity in creating a soul soothing batch of chicken soup for Steve with our very own Serendipity Farm rooster stock (apparently heavenly) and a last minute hastily constructed old fashioned date loaf and custard to cure Steve’s sweet tooth and finally (and most damning of all…) a bout of playing my new copy of Zelda Skyward Sword (Cheers girls :o) ) I completely and utterly forgot to post…I forgot you my dear constant readers and there is no denying it! I guess life got in the way of a good post and if I ever find that good post, I will immediately post it here to  make up for it! Here I am at 6.51am forgoing my early morning rss feed reading degustation menu for the day just for you so that I can make sure that Serendipity Farm is not missing from your online menu of “stuff to read”. The strawberries that I found at the tip (dump…green waste receptacle…whatever floats your boat for a place where people throw what they no longer care about…) when dumping a load of blackberries (forget no longer care about for blackberries…they are instantly thrown into the must obliterate at all costs basket!) and that I spent a few happy hours cleaning up and isolating all of the small plants forming at the end of masses of runners and used up almost all of our cubic metre of prime potting mix on are ALL GROWING. That’s right folks…after goodness knows how long languishing at the tip…a day in the back of the trailer languishing in the frost…2 days languishing in the shed on the floor and a degree of predation by the shed dweller (Pingu)…I suspected at least a not inconsiderable degree of attrition…but as far as I can see every single strawberry from the large well rooted plants to the teeny tiny little buddlings (not a technical term but whatchagonnado?) are all standing to attention in their newfound pots and are threatening to change Serendipity Farm into a mass strawberry producing property in one fell swoop. Don’t you just love seizing the day? I seized the strawberry opportunity and put up with a few hours delving amongst the tangled mass of vegetation to arrive at a point where I don’t have to buy strawberries for my garden and indeed will be able to supply friends and neighbours with strawberries for their gardens as well. Cheers universe!

Who would have thought that just around the corner in the background is the industrial centre of the North, Georgetown?

This Leucadendron goes to show that you don’t necessarily need to have flowers in winter…bracts will do! I am going to be taking cuttings from Leucadendrons as they have proved themselves (through observation) to be ideal plants for water wise gardens in Northern Tasmania. Check out what is thriving in local gardens when you are thinking about what to put in your own garden and learn from other people’s hard work…work smarter NOT harder is my motto 😉

How is this for clever and most organic advertising? The salon is now closed but some bright spark who decided to utilise the existing Boston Ivy to enhance their business advertising should be given at least some superficial kudos from us all

So that’s it for today folks. I would appologise emphatically for not posting last night if I didn’t enjoy the process of forgetting about you and so…in my year of living honestly… here I am making amends. I can feel a cold tickling at the back of my eyes at the moment and filling my head up with nefarious glue…but that’s not going to stop me doing everything that I can to enjoy the process of living in the stanza between this post and the next and hopefully every single one of you will find something in the next few days to be grateful and thankful for. See you on Saturday :o)

Blackbean veggies (made with home made blackbean sauce) with omelette and spicy Thai fish cakes with basmati rice…not a bad thrown together meal if I must say so myself…

This meal just got elevated to degustory heaven for an Englishman in absentia from his homeland…

Now your talking! All that would make this pure heaven on a stick is a dollop of vindaloo on that basmati rice and a side portion of chips in curry sauce…Don’t say that I don’t try to feed you well babe 🙂