Thursday, 18 April 2019
Old houses and old things require time. This was a stark reminder as the cold wind whipped up the leaves from under the back door to gather them up in the hallway. Autumn is here and it suddenly got cold. This means fires to keep warm. We do have electric wall heaters but they are quite expensive to run and you can't really whack a modern dual air conditioning unit into the wall of an 140 year old Victorian homestead. Well you can...but I personally wouldn't. So without wanting an electricity bill that requires the both of us to sell a kidney or two, we use the wood fire to stay warm. And if you have wood heaters, you know they take time, kindling, and constant attention. It means you all congregate in the one living room. And it's a popular spot in front of the fire, where we try to accommodate drying clothes, rising bread dough, two cats, a dog and us. We're a close family in winter. The other labour of love would have to be our clock. We toyed with the idea of getting a grandfather clock as I've always loved their imposing presence in a room. It reminds you that you are in fact, just taking up time. We decided on something more manageable and less likely to wake us up on the hour every hour, so we adopted an Ansonia kitchen clock (pictured). It chimes on the hour and once on the half. And it don't come with batteries. Which means that someone needs to wind both the clock and chimes at least once a week or else silence. The job of clock winding also requires a clock reset which means you must go through the clock cycle to pick up the correct chimes. She's a bit fiddly and doesn't like to be forced backwards. I suspect she detests Daylight Savings/Summertime as I do because it just throws everything out of sync. Old houses used to employ people to wind clocks and attend to wood fires. That would be perfect (dream on sister) but not likely and our house isn't exactly a castle and I possess no crown jewels to pay someone. So while a cold westerly reminds us that winter is coming, we'll chop wood and put on extra clothing - and eat chocolate as well. Happy Easter if celebrating.
Wednesday, 17 April 2019
Tuesday, 16 April 2019
Friday, 12 April 2019
Boy! Talk about ungrateful. We get high winds here. Living on an island you see. And when you're on a small hill on an island with no protection from a giant hunking mountain like Wellington, we cop it pretty hard sometimes. Where we are the westerlies get us the most. It leaves our front verandah with old and slightly rotted palings flapping in the wind like a lose baby tooth needing to be yanked. The winds lift off anything unsecured and whip it around the paddocks. Your if left on the line could quite easily be wrapped around next door's cows and your underwear found somewhere near the airport. Our chimney cover has taken flight on the odd occasion even we thought it was secure. It was found a few months later lodged high up in a tree looking like some sort of small lost space ship. Well that's what the chooks thought it was. We're yet to put it back (see long list of jobs to do) and as a result the starlings find hours of entertainment pushing each other down our chimney. You'd think word would have got around starling circles that it's a bit risky. Bennie, our ever vigilant Cocker Spaniel is right onto this one. He checks the fire places every morning. He hears them scratching around at the top and goes bananas. As he did this morning. I have to open the glass door of the unlit fireplace to prove to him that there is nothing there. And so I did. And so I was wrong. Bloody starling comes belting out throwing itself at all and sundry. By this stage both Max the ragdoll cat and Bennie are on the chase. Bennie won't kill a bird, it's not his breeding, he's a retrieval dog and Max, well unless it comes in a pouch or a tin with a picture of a cat on it, he's just not interested. I've tried feeding him cooked and raw meat in the past and the look of disgust on his face was disturbing. So starling disappears within seconds. Gone. Big house and one loose starling. Oh, and I forgot to mention the other outdoor cat who's sound asleep on our bed upstairs. Yes, ahem, outdoors! So after a small slightly interested search and about ready to leave it to some of the more interested parties, I discover a starling lying beside the fireplace, dazed. I swiftly pick it up in a clean tea towel (you're not getting the good ones), and as I do this it instantly wakes up and starts squealing like a stuck pig. I take it outside and release it. Still screaming blue murder, it swiftly takes flight upwards. Then I look up to see a few more lined up to do exactly the same thing. Guy's it's not a theme park you know!
Thursday, 28 March 2019
As the days of sitting on my white chair under the leafy trees draws to a close, the days are getting shorter and the warmth in the sun only lasts a few hours or so. The feathered friends are moulting and making the most of the warm spots around the yard. I've been battling a chest infection for a few weeks and took some time out to sit out in the courtyard in the sun today. I'm never alone for very long. One by one the feathered friends all ventured past to see if there was a recently baked cake or a scone to share. No luck today folks. Although having said that, not one for lying low for very long I managed to drag my sorry arse out of my sick bed to try a banana loaf in my new bread maker machine. The results might be a jackpot for the chooks, who knows. The bread machine by no way will produce those marvellous stoneground artisan sourdoughs we greedily queue up for at the farmers markets. To me sourdough is the craft of magicians who turn metal into gold in their spare time. Bread machines provide a little loaf of your choice that is suitable for the standard sandwich and toast requirements. It's a great way to save money if you were like me and buying on average two of the artisan loafs a week and eating a few slices and wasting the rest. We'd freeze it but even then couldn't really get through a complete one. The other thing is the crusts. Where is it written that sourdough must have crusts so strong they can withstand a cyclone or major storm event? Some of them are so crusty i.e., like plaster you can barely cut them with a bread knife. Not to mention the risk to the dental ware which if shattered will cost significantly. So whilst the old bread maker might have fallen out of the favour in the coolest of kitchens, mine is my new friend. Just not sure about the cake baking. Chook Chook....
Thursday, 21 March 2019
Bream Creek Show last Saturday, always popular. In the style of the traditional Agricultural Show where the city or in our case, the country comes to the country to showcase everything that's great about rural life. Morning tea in the shed with the big tin tea pot, scones and few sandwich corners is a great way to start the day off. Giant pumpkins the size of a small car take front place outside of the hall of industries where serious scone championships are fought and won.
The animal displays are hands on with highland cattle up for a pat and the bullock driving demo is hard to turn away from as 'tiny' and 'freckles' take a left here and reverse there at the crack of a whip. I'm always a bit wary of the animal attractions, particularly the poultry pavilion with displays of some fascinating breeds. 'Nooo, we don't need any more, we already have an out of control chook population and even though her hair is more out there than Doris's we still don't need more'. The food stalls are pretty genuine with pulled lamb rolls, good quality pizza, octopus on a stick... yeah they were a bit alien like for me, kind of deep fried tentacle lolly pops. A great day though, but the traffic is a problem as cars are slowly parked in the car paddock on arrival and as a result the rest are banked up for a very long way. If you are going to get there, get there early. Before the scones run out.
Thursday, 14 March 2019
During our conversation I mentioned that the previous incumbent hadn't worked out so well. His head fell off in a strong westerly. He was recruited from a hardware shop and came by the name of 'Bobble Head'. His purpose was set out for him but he failed on every front. He is now in two parts, one part of him being his head now firmly lodged under the front gate and the second part being his body, regularly found rolling around the front verandah. Some larrikin starling even crapped on his head, you could almost hear the laughter.
Now I know the travel would be significant but I would make it worthwhile, I explained. There is a local hawk who surveys the nearby fields and I'm told is adequately rewarded particularly after hay bailing when the mice scurry is on. But unfortunately due to the language barrier, I was unsuccessful poaching my new recruit. Oh well, better find Bobble Head and get the glue out again.