Thursday, 26 November 2015

Mum's message from Klara

My mum is a bit crazy.  She knows Mick has been worrying about how Klara will get on during her first stay at a boarding kennel.  Today I got this.....

Please tell Mick. Klara sent me a message. Too scared to tell Mick.
She has fallen in love with some dashing penniless no-hoper doggie.
She does not want to come home.
Klara and her new boyfriend are eloping. They are soooo happy and madly in love.
Hope Mick understands. That's love.
Mum x

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Carol in Oz - Richmond & Port Arthur

I woke early in the little farm cottage as the rising sun streamed in. I couldn't help myself.... I crept out of bed and pulled on my clothes to go for a walk. It was 5.45am. It felt like I had the farm to myself as the owners house is on the other side of the main road.  I walked down a track to the river and jetty, and snuck into one of their fields to take a photo looking back at the cottage we were in.  They don't have a fox problem in Tasmania so the ducks and chooks were already wandering around.

When I got back the resident turkeys were at our verandah with the male putting on his best show.  The farm cat was sitting on our window ledge waiting for attention. It was a lovely scene.

After a scrambled egg breakfast we headed off on our way.  First to Evandale where a family of chickens were happily pecking about in a little park.  We browsed one of the stores and found a couple of nice second hand books.

Next was Campbelltown on our way South.  It is always an interesting place to stop and read the rows of paving bricks embossed with details of transported convicts.  Each brick has the name, age when transported, crime and term of their sentence.  Some also have a line about what became of them.  It's sad to read of 14 year olds being transported for 7 years for stealing a pair of boots.

We had a wander around the shops in Ross and then lunch in Oatlands.  The cafe was a bit of a surprise with a massive collection of Errol Flynn and Marilyn Monroe memorabilia.

We had a short visit to the wharf area of Hobart and a walk to Salamanca Place.  Finally we reached Richmond, our base for the next couple of days.  I had booked us a lovely cottage walking distance from the shops. There is a great bakery in Richmond so we bought quiche for dinner and made some salad to have with it.

Today, Tuesday, we drove to Port Arthur which is an old convict settlement. That in itself makes it a sad place. It is also the tragic location of a crazed gunman's rampage almost 20 years ago, killing 35 innocent people. The cafe where the shootings took place was demolished and a memorial garden built in its place. It was glorious weather to visit and the ruins of the sandstone penitentiary buildings looked so picturesque against the blue sky and sea.  Carol did the guided tour and Mick and I went to revisit some of our favourite things to see and then climbed high up a grassy hill and sat overlooking the bay and buildings below.  We all went on the boat trip around the bay.  It was a lovely day although a little windy. Tonight I rustled up a frittata using the leftovers from last night and a few added veggies.

Carol is counting down the days now.  In 3 weeks she will be on the plane going home!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Carol in Oz - Tasmania

Klara went off with Mick Saturday morning for her first ever stay at a boarding kennel. We had taken her for a visit the week before and she was quite nervous of all the barking dogs.  She yelped in fright when an elderly, half blind, cocker spaniel ambled over and sniffed her.  We really liked the fellow who showed us around last week and the dogs all appeared to like him too.  He kindly put a video on Facebook today so we could see she was running around happily with some new doggie friends.

So, Saturday afternoon we drove to Station Pier in Melbourne to put the car and ourselves on the ferry to Tasmania.  There had been a bit of drama on the pier on Friday with the ferry and a cruise ship being evacuated.  Lucky for us it wasn't Saturday.  We were saying how quiet and smooth the ferry was..... until we got through the heads of Port Philip Bay.  Mick and I lay in our single bunks hoping Carol wouldn't fall out of her top bunk in the cabin she was sharing with a couple of other women.  The ship pitched back and forth and we could hear enormous waves crashing against it.  On the news it said there had been swells of 5-6 metres!

With the wake up call coming at 5.45am we were all ready to go at 6.30.  By 7.15 we were sitting in a Devonport cafe ordering breakfast.  Mick and I love Tasmania and have been several times before.  We stopped at some of our regular spots - a dairy farm with fabulous cheese shop, a very odd antique shop, then a market in Latrobe, and a good walk around Deloraine.  At Deloraine we strolled down to the bridge to look at the river and pretty gardens and a couple across the road called out to us that they'd seen a platypus and it was making its way beneath the bridge to our side.  I've never seen one except in a wildlife park and either has Mick.  It was a real treat to see it appear on the surface of the water, swim along for a bit and then duck back down.  We watched it appear and disappear for a while and I got a couple of photos.

From there we browsed some shops and Carol found herself a top to buy but she had left her purse in the car.  I went to ask Mick to retrieve it and when I walked back into the shop a few minutes later Carol was holding an upturned felt hat.  She beckoned me over to peer inside and there was a sleeping baby wombat.  The shopkeeper had accidentally hit and killed the mother while driving so was now caring for the baby.  Such a cute little thing curled up in the hat.

We stopped in Westbury for a takeaway coffee and to show Carol the village green (a rarity in Oz).  Carol got so busy chatting to some people outside the bakery that she returned to the car without her bag containing money, credit card and passport!  Luckily it was still sitting on the table where she had left it.  We browsed a few antique shops as we headed on from Westbury.  Mick and I bought a pair of heavy cast wheels to use as bases for an outdoor umbrella.  Mick found some lovely old bound carpentry books and I bought a couple of pieces of fabric for my quilt.

Eventually we made it to Longford where we are staying tonight.  We spent a couple of hours at
Woolmers Estate.  Carol did the tour of the house which we have done about four times before.  We enjoyed the gardens and the many old buildings as well as the National Rose Garden.  We tested out a lovely old Adirondack chair and Mick decided he will one day make a pair for home.

Our final stop for the day was Brickendon Estate, also in Longford.  These two estates were started by two Archer brothers.  There are two other estates in Longford that once belonged to the other two of the four brothers.  We love Brickendon.  It is still being passed down to the oldest son and in chatting to the lovely lady whose husband is the current Archer, she said her son has also taken a keen interest in farming and after attending agricultural college had returned to farm the land with his dad.  I recall 10 years ago or so when we visited here, she said her son was a teenager and they were hoping he would not feel obligated to continue the tradition.  But, how happy they must be that he has chosen this path after all.

It was late in the day and it had been a busy one, but we wandered around the stunning old farm buildings and said hello to the many chicks and ducklings dotted around with their mothers.

Tonight we are staying in one of the farm cottages.  We can't see another building from our windows and we have a lovely view.  We are all looking forward to a sleep in after not sleeping so well on the ferry.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

House - Walls

It has been a big job but all the wall lining is now finished in the house.  We chose timber lining boards for most of the walls and that meant undercoating them all before they went up.  For the first time in all the renovating and building projects we've done since we first lived together, Mick decided to pay a painter to spray the lining board with undercoat (except he ran out and had to go and buy some more).  Mick hates painting and every house he has sworn will be the last one he paints.  He does pretty much every other job in the building process which saves us a lot of money.  Why do the one you really hate doing?!

The final paint colour still needs to be applied and one wall with wallpaper.  The kitchen cupboards are all made up and in a huge pile in the shed.  The flooring will be collected this week, the pantry, bookshelving, entrance , bathroom and laundry cupboards are underway and the timber for the kitchen benchtops and bathroom and laundry countertops is sitting in the carport.  My long list of things to choose and order is finally beginning to shrink just a little.  Mick says he's about 70% of the way through the project now.

Meanwhile we are enjoying having a little veggie patch again.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Carol in Oz - Photos - Blue Mountains trip

Photos of our week away to the Blue Mountains.  My camera battery went flat midway so the last half or so are taken on my phone.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Carol in Oz - Beechworth and Bright

After an enjoyable visit in the Southern Highlands we headed off again.  The next destination was Beechworth.  The provisions in the Berrima cottage were extremely generous so I made an egg sandwich and Carol had smoked salmon and cheese - a packed lunch to eat along the way.  We stopped at the Dog on the Tuckerbox in Gundagai for our lunch.

At Beechworth we had two nights staying in the grounds of the old Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum.  The two hotels there have only been open a couple of years and weren't there last time Mick and I visited Beechworth.  Our rooms were in the old Art Deco nurses quarters building.  We loved staying there!  We had our dinner one night in the sitting area that was by the foyer on our floor and Carol went on a ghost tour.  The grounds of the hotel were gorgeous.  The afternoon we arrived Carol checked out the shops and remains of the Celtic Festival that had been held that day and I had a good walk in the extensive grounds.

On Sunday we went for a drive.  First stop was Milawa where we tried cheeses at the cheese factory, mustards in the mustard shop and olive oils and dressings in the olive shop.  Then it was on to Bright.  It was one of the places Carol had on her list of places she wanted to see.  It wasn't quite the usual pretty, sleepy little place we are used to.  It was heaving with people and vintage cars! We discovered it was the 25th annual rod run.  Any wonder we had seen so many hot rods on the way up.

Monday it was homeward bound with a stopover at Glenrowan for a browse and to see where Ned Kelly was finally captured.

Photos coming up....

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Carol in Oz - Southern Highlands

To break up the drive from the Blue Mountains we had a stopover in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.  It's a beautiful area and we would love to live there.  Shame everyone else thinks so too and that pushes the property prices right up.  We did a little drive around the towns in the area, having a look in some of the shops along the way.  We had lunch at the Exeter general store which is across the road from the cottage Mick and I stayed in last time we were here.  That cottage is now an art gallery.

Our check in time at the cottage we stayed in at Berrima was 2pm and we arrived not long after that.  We were exploring the stunning cottage gardens when the owner appeared at the garden gate.  He was a chatty fellow and happily showed us around the rest of the property which includes an old slab hut also rented out as holiday accomodation.  By the time we eventually headed off to look at the shops it was nearly 4pm and some of them were closing!  I missed out on the patchwork shop.

The little cottage is adorable. It is a quintessential original cottage complete with uneven wooden floors, gaps and draughts everywhere, creaky doors, an odd layout and crammed with antiques and collectibles.  When I spoke to Mick last night I said to him that it is the exact thing that we used to dream of having.  I can't now imagine living permanently with the inconveniences of a cottage kept so much to its origins. 

I hadn't slept so well the last few nights, having woken in the wee hours and been unable to get back to sleep.  Last night I slept like a log and woke refreshed at 6am to the chorus of Carol on the other side of the wall.

It was only a short stay but in idyllic surrounds it was well worth the stop.

Carol in Oz - Blue Mountains

We left Orange after a leisurely breakfast. Turning back after spying a field of irises, we went to look at a farm shop that had a cafe and also sold antiques.  We enjoyed browsing and Carol enjoyed chatting to the kitchen staff!

I gave Carol the option of visiting Jenolan Caves on the way to Leura in the Blue Mountains.  After a bit of discussion she decided we should just drive straight on as we only had two days to explore and this way we would have an extra afternoon in the Blue Mountains.

The weather became increasingly awful as we climbed higher.  It was downright miserable when we reached Leura.  The cloud was low and there was a constant drizzle.  We had a drive around to acquaint ourselves with the area, had lunch in a cafe in Leura Mall and settled into the lovely cottage where we are staying.  We could be anywhere with no outlook from the side of the roads at all.  In fact much of the time we've been lucky to see the car in front.  So much for the stunning views!

Wednesday morning dawned foggy and rainy.  It didn't look good for viewing the local scenery.  We started off with a visit to the Waradah Aboriginal Centre. We watched the show put on by a group explaining their culture and beliefs and some traditional dance.  Carol loved the didgeridoo playing and when we left the theatre she first had her photo taken with the handsome young fellow from the show and then had a lesson in playing the didgeridoo by the very friendly director of the centre.  We browsed the artwork and the opal store before our parking ticket was due to expire so we headed off.  It was well worth the visit.  We enjoyed it.

I had the address of a quilt store in Katoomba so we stopped to have a look.  The lady was extremely chatty and we didn't walk out of there until an hour and a half later!  We had a late lunch in Katoomba and then visited the Rick Rutherford country store.  I have enjoyed reading his country magazines for
a long time so it was nice to have a look around the store. Rick himself was a character and we had a good chat.  I bought some Christmas gifts as it has dawned on me that by the time Carol goes home there will be only 10 days til Christmas - not the best time to start Christmas shopping! It was a nice end to the day.  We had leftovers from our Chinese lunch so converted these into a stir fry dinner with the addition of a couple of bunches of broccolini and a bunch of pak choy.

Much to our dismay Thursday morning looked just as miserable.  We first drove along the coast road on the off chance there was a gap in the mist.  The locals keep telling us to go and check as it can lift and descend in the blink of an eye.  We did have a walk to Leura Falls and down to the Cascades.  These are quite low so we could actually see them.

We browsed the shops in Leura Mall, went back to the cottage for lunch and then went out for a drive again to see if any of the mist had lifted.  It did feel very slightly lighter but the viewing platform at the Echo Point visitors centre was still surrounded by white.  Heading back down the cliff road I
recalled catching the slightest glimpse of orange through some dense trees at a park.  We got out of the car there and walked down a bit of a track.  What I'd seen was a cliff face across the valley.  It was actually reasonably clear in that valley and we could see!  We walked on down the path and found a great viewing spot on a large flat rock with fencing around it.  What a relief to have actually seen something.  As we stood there the mist rolled in again.  It truly does come and go.  At least Carol had some photos to take home.

We made a spur of the moment decision to drive to the Hydro Majestic hotel to have a look.  We had intended to go there for high tea but it seemed an expensive exercise when there was no view at all to be seen.  We could see through the thinning mist that there must be lovely views on a clear day but this wasn't the day for it.  They had a store and tea room open and we spent an enjoyable half hour browsing and watching the photos and narration about the history of the hotel.

On our last morning I woke at 6.30am to a patch of blue sky. By 7am it was looking pretty good outside so Carol suggested we go out in the car before breakfast to make the most of the clear skies.  7.30 we were showered and in the car. Reaching Echo Point we couldn't believe our eyes.  We could see for miles.  Now we know why everyone raves about the Blue Mountains!

We spent an enjoyable 90 minutes at the various lookouts taking photos and admiring the views.  Spectacular!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Carol in Oz - Yarrawonga / Orange

Carol and I had a trip to the Blue Mountains planned, beginning with an exciting stopover on the way at an isolated sheep station near Hay in New South Wales.  We were really looking forward to our visit and tour of the station and shearing sheds. They have a 25 kilometre dirt road to reach the property and it isnt accessible in wet weather.  A couple of days before we saw that rain was predicted and the owners of the station emailed to warn us we may not be able to reach them by road.  Friday afternoon the lady called to say it was stormy and we would have to cancel.  What a disappointment!

It was a bit of a rush to find alternative accommodation on the weekend of the Melbourne Cup. We got the last available unit at the resort in Mulwala. After a pleasant day out visiting the olive farm just out of Yarrawonga (buying some salad dressings and delicious olives) and The Big Strawberry near Cobram (pancakes for lunch and strawberry picking) we had a wild storm late afternoon. The rain pelted down making rivers through the resort and there was violent thunder and lightening.

Once it settled down we went to Club Mulwala for dinner and put $10 in the pokies.  Carol battled the young families for space in the pool and spa.

Monday we drove from Yarrawonga/ Mulwala to Orange which took about 6hrs. We stopped for lunch in a park at West Wyalong - boiled egg sandwiches. We enjoyed a coffee at a little cafe and headed on our way again.

This was all new territory for me. We drove on very long, straight roads in the middle of nowhere.  The scenery changed constantly from huge flat fields of wheat and occasional grain storage facilities to stock paddocks and then more undulating countryside dotted with huge gums. There had been a huge amount of rain and the roadside for much of the way was awash with water. The ducks looked happy!

The town of Forbes was a pretty place but such a long way from anywhere.  Reaching Orange was a pleasant surprise. It is surrounded by green hills after driving through such dry countryside. The town is lovely and bigger than I expected.

We stayed in motel rooms in a vineyard just out of Orange.  We had stunning views from our balconies.  We had debated whether to have dinner in town or to buy salad and tinned tuna to make our own dinner.  We were so glad we opted for the latter. It was lovely overlooking the view while we had dinner and then our fresh strawberries with yoghurt.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Back to routine

We feel like we have been back to our usual routine for a bit.  Carol flew to Sydney for a week of sightseeing and we reclaimed our bedroom. Our mornings getting ready for work have been rather muddled with most of our stuff being in the lounge room and Carol still in bed meant we were having breakfast standing at the kitchen bench.

Now we are back to how things were before (Mick does like routine) and Carol sleeps in the tent.  She doesn't seem to mind it and I certainly didn't mind sleeping in there.  As it has turned out we don't even need to be particularly quiet.  Carol snores on regardless!

Carol had a couple of days rest after Sydney. She walked to Garry's on Friday to check out the newborn lambs.

I saw a bargain airfare advertised on Thurssay morning. Melbourne to Uluru for $109. Thursday night we spent some time on the Internet and Carol now has a few days visiting Uluru in her itinerary. That's an unexpected extra for her and very exciting. What a bargain!

A little bird made her nest inside the shed ceiling, just beside the tent.  The hatchlings cheeped madly.  This morning mum took them flying but one little baby couldn't work out how to get out.  It kept trying to get through the window so Carol helped it on its way.

I also encountered the first snake of the season. It was in the middle of the road just around the corner from us.  Hope they keep away.  Mick is diligent about keeping the grass down so we hope not having good coverage will deter them.

The house is coming along nicely. The lining board walls are well under way and there has been a flurry of activity on my days off work with quotes and measurements and decisions to make.  Our bank account is dwindling fast.