Tag Archives: summer

2020 Arrived

So I’m finally siting outside after 6 weeks (?) of not being able to even open a window or a door without a P2 mask or respirator on.

The air quality still isn’t brilliant, but it is better. It’s going to take a while before we have excellent air quality again. The bush fires are still burning and until we get significant rainfall, they are going to continue to do so. But today the wind is blowing from a different direction and for once the air purifier for inside the house isn’t going mad whenever a door is opened. NO2 has been the problem of recent PM2.5 and PM10 haven’t been as bad but they have been far from ideal. NO2 is associated with vehicle exhausts normally and innercity pollution but bushfires, forest fires etc are the original source of fossil fuels and thus also produce it. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is a brown gas so it’s visible and also has been leaving both of us dizzy and generally out of breath. It is still around now, we’re just ignoring it, it is all we can do!

As you may have gathered, the drought hasn’t broken. In fact, its worse. Here we simply haven’t been getting the rain at all. Last month, December, we got less than 5mm in total for the month. To date, this month, we’ve had exactly 1mm of rain. Putting that into perspective, if the shearing shed was 30m by 15m, that 1mm of rain will have added only 450 liters of water to our water tank. So, given that thinktanks in NSW says that the average daily water consumption per person is 340 liters at have and another 150 liters at work, for Canberra residents, (https://www.rwcc.nsw.gov.au/save-water/average-water-use/), that’s not a lot of rain collected over the course of a mouth. It’s a good thing that we are masters at recycling water nowadays!

But all that said, I’ve had to let most things in the veg plot die sadly. Some things have hung on by the skin of their teeth, like the sweetcorn. But I doubt it will produce anything because it is very stunted and only just flowering. The sweet potatoes are in pots anyway, so get the occasional bit of help. The potatoes are struggling and also get help. The courgettes just gave up completely and died so after the 3rd attempt and failure, I also gave up on them but I do have one or two squash that are still fighting so they get watered from time to time and obviously we are doing what we can to keep the rhubarb alive. There are a couple of tomatoes that are alive and producing tomatoes though nothing like Grandad’s tomatoes! But I don’t have a greenhouse to start the plants off early in and protect them from the late frosts we get here. And no matter what I do, I always end up with long leggy plants with leaf curl! The grapevine is covered in grapes mind you and the new olive tree I bought to act as a pollinator for the other olive tree I have happens to have been pollinated when it was at the nursery and has a handful of immature olives on it! The poor lemon tree is really struggling though and any spare water is going its way. it has dropped so many leaves and lemons that it is mostly bare branches. And there is no apricot, apple or pear harvest at all this year. The fig trees also are hanging on, just. We may yet get a fig harvest from them because they fruit continually rather than like apples and pears that flower once and fruit once a year.

Right now the place is the same colour as the sky has been for weeks on end, brown.


After many attempts at sitting on eggs (maybe 5 attempts) since the start of the season, we finally let our bantam (Stacey) sit on a clutch of eggs. But it was on the proviso that we were hand rearing the chicks because any chicks she raises are feral and you can’t even hand feed them let alone handle them. And I just don’t do feral chickens or bantams! In the end, she ended up on 2 clutches of eggs 1 week apart because I couldn’t bring myself to remove the growing 1 week old embryo’s that were crossbreeds (and not just between varieties of chicken but also between sizes). We were not expecting the eggs she sat on initially to be fertile, let alone develop but 3 of them did so we have some really odd combinations to come! One is an Old English Game bantam crossed with a standard sized Gold Lace Wyandotte. And 2 are a pencil laced Wyandotte bantam, crossed with a Standard Gold Laced Wyandotte. The 2nd clutch she was sitting on were purchased pure breed eggs and are bantam Silver Laced Wyandottes who are gorgeous little things!

When you can’t go outside because of the bushfire smoke pollution, the only way of hand raising bantam chicks is for them to be inside. So for a while we had the bantam chicks running around like a herdof dinosaurs indoors whilst I hand raised them. Every now and again, you’d turn around to walk across the kitchen and not wanting to stand on this minature beasts, you’d shuffle your feet rather than lift them up off the ground, and you’d accidentally score a have goal with a chick as you superbly kicked it across the length of both the kitchen and dining room only for it to skid to a halt, right itself and came running right back at you! They still haven’t learnt but this weekend gone their cage was moved outside for a number of reasons not least of all the fact that I need to teach them that they are chickens albeit very small chickens, and not puppies or kittens…

2 other chickens were also allowed to sit on eggs. One of our Lavendar Sussexes had her 3rd or 4th attempt by which time we gave up and gave her eggs to sit on. She hatched 4 chicks, sadly we lost another 3 at hatching due to the weather conditions, and then we ended up with another 2 (free) chicks off the lady who I purchased the eggs from. Pebbles, did a really good job on raising the chicks for 3 weeks then decided motherhood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and quit. The chicks were by then pretty independant and as a pack/gang of 6 are fine by themselves. Finally, Speckles, our Speckled Sussex, hatch just 3 chicks last weekend and so far is doing great with them.

The only other excitement has been the arrival of our new sofas. Yes plural. We decided we didn’t like the three seater sofa we had and when Stuart was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, we started looking at recliners because he has to keep his feet raised when he’s sitting down, now. Plus I wasn’t finding the fit or softness of the existing sofa suited my back and had taken to avoiding sitting on the sofa at all. So we now have 2×2 seater sofas and a single chair. with them being a custom order, I needed to think about what we might need as well as what we currently need. They were ordered back in October and arrived just this week. Unfortunatly, they didn’t do any bright cheerful colours in the fabric covers (only in the leather covers which I won’t have), so we went light and are now adding colour with cushions which is almost as challenging because we like the rectangular cushions but currently their covers are all boring. So I now have 5 bright red square cushions that add colour and probably won’t get used as anything except decoration.

We’ve gone hi tech!

And we’ve gone Australian.The old 3 seater which is still in excellent condition along with its foot stool and single seated chair are now on the veranda. We may donate some or all to the bushfire charities to help those who have lost their hermes, but for the moment, they are on the veranda covered with many sheets and throws so we can sit out in the evening or first thing in the morning if the air quality permits.

We’ve been ‘playing’ with trying out cold soups because it has been too hot to eat anything hot (thermally or spicy) or anything “filling”.

Borscht and Sweetcorn Soup
Mango Soup with rice noodles
Avocado and Coconut Soup with rice and chilli fava beans
Beetroot Soup with tomato

One or two other nice but cool dishes have included

Yoghurt, Pomegranate Rice on Oatcakes
Yoghurt, Pomegranate Rice served with Khandvi (spicy chickpea pancake made with yoghurt)

And finally a treat for breakfast over the weekend, which should need no introduction. Pikelets.

I’ve also managed to obtain for free a brand new, unused Pasta maker which has been used with varying degrees of success, several times now.

And finally a Christmas present has been completed for it to join last year’s.

2017’s Calendar Photos

Starting in 2008, we have inflicted, sorry given all of our families and friends a calendar of photographs taken by myself.  This year has been no different and is the 7th such calendar (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016).  I have previously posted the pictures we rejected from this year’s calendar; these are the 13 pictures that made it into our calendar for 2017.

The Cover

Cover – The cover picture, for once, does not contain an image of Stuart and I.  We had nothing suitable, but we do have a juvenile delinquent on our hands who systematically tears apart the tree he is sitting in, littering the ground below with broken branch ends.  He is also known to play peekaboo with me in the morning, hanging off the roof of the sunroom and peering into the room whilst upside down.

January’s Image – Lazy Clouds on Loch Rannoch (October 2015)

January – This image was taken in October 2015 on our last visit to Liarn Farm Cottages, Kinloch Rannoch, Perthshire.  During the 2 week we were there, we were to take the decision to consider coming to Australia.  We were also really fortunate with both the weather and the Autumn colours.  This was one of those wonderful days where we started the day with dense fog and total calm which was gradually burnt off during midday.  If you went out along the loch, you would cycle (we were on our bikes/trike) out of the dense fog and into the glorious sunshine.

February’s Image – The Back Garden, Spring Creek Road (July 2016)

February – February’s image was taken in our ‘back garden’ literally back in July of this year (2016).  That was our winter and we had been in the house about a fortnight when I was fortunate enough to capture this shot.

March’s Image – Way Out East, Spring Creek Road (July 2016)

March – Titled “Way Out East”, it is our track and heads out east.  To the right you have one of the stable blocks here, behind us is everything else.  It was taken at the end of July on another glorious winter’s morning  (Yeh, I know, it’s hard getting your head around that one, we are struggling with it as well) and I just love the long shadows and contrast in the shot.

April’s Image – Autumnal Light, Loch Rannoch (October 2015)

April – April for us will be Autumn and we felt it suitable to have an Autumnal shot in.  Loch Rannoch provided a suitable shot last October with the light reflecting through a silver birch tree against the most amazingly calm loch surface.

May’s Image – Spring Colours, Whitegate Way, Cheshire (May 2016)

May – May’s picture was taken in May 2016, less than a week before we left the UK.  It was another beautiful Spring morning on my daily walk along the Whitegate Way, (Cheshire) with Dusty, the Irish Wolfhound our landlady owned, but who I walked, or more accurately was escorted by…

June’s Image – Spring has Sprung, Spring Creek Road (September 2016)

June – In contrast, taken in September 2016, this is the pump house (for our bore water) in evening Spring sunlight in our ‘garden’.  I just love the light in this shot and Spring was literally just around the corner.

July’s Image – Frozen Tracks, Rannoch (March 2013)

July – July is the middle of winter here for us, and somehow, Rannoch station in snow, just seemed apt.  It was taken on another of our cycling holidays to Loch Rannoch, back in March 2013.  March and Scotland usually mean cold weather and this holiday was no exception.  Cycling along car tyre tracks and leaving pedal imprints in the snow, we were the only people at the station.  This is looking north heading for Fort William were you to catch one of the 5 or 6 trains a day that pass through the station.

August’s Image – Ghost Trees, Spring Creek Road (July 2016)

August – We were struck by the amazingly white tree trunks of these native Eucalyptus Gum Trees when we first arrived in Canberra, but not knowing what the trees were, Stuart renamed them “Ghost Trees” and the name stuck.  Here, again in our ‘back garden’ and surrounded by native woodland, this picture was taken back in Mid-winter and somehow seems appropriate.  August after, all is still a very cold month here.

September’s Image – Silhouette & Shadows, Spring Creek Road (July 2016)

September – Another from a series taken in very cold mornings, and again in ‘our back garden’.  this time a different Gum tree, but it is still a striking tree.  We have a number of these majestic trees dotted around the place.

October’s Image – A Foggy Forest, Loch Rannoch (October 2015)

October – A week of fog and glorious Autumnal weather on Loch Rannoch and more of those fantastic reflections on our last visit to Liarn Farm Cottages.

November’s Image – In Reflection, The Road to Rannoch (October 2015)

November – The road ahead and in the reflection, the road just travelled, Loch Rannoch, last October.  Somehow it just seemed to claim the November spot by itself.

December’s Image – Twinned with… Spring Creek Road (July 2016)

December – Many moons ago, we were camping over Christmas and New Year on a campsite in Glencoe, Scotland.  Our Christmas Day walk was heralded by the most amazing hoar frost and there was one photograph in particular that we loved; a picture of two trees backlight and covered in hoar frost.  The background was split with rays of sunshine and shadows, that followed the fence line back up the mountainside… It was Christmas Day 2005 and the walk was on the Clashgour Estate, Argyll and Bute, Scotland.  Stuart fancied this updated Australian version taken in our Winter as the Christmas photo.  We are still struggling to get our heads around Christmas, the longest day of the year, and Summer all being at once.  A hot Christmas is just weird (so far!).