27 November, 2005

a great day for ducks

and tea cake.

The Easiest Lemon Tea Cake

Chef: Alison Alexander
Degree of difficulty: Low
Cooking Time: 35 minutes

You need:125g. unsalted butter, at room temperature2 eggsfinely grated zest of 1 lemon3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon caster sugar1 1/2 cups self-raising flour1/2 cup milkTopping:juice of 1 lemon2 tablespoons caster sugar

Method:1. Pre-heat oven to 180deg.C. Line a 20-22cm cake tin with Glad Bake.2. Place all cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with electric beaters for 4 minutes, scraping the sides to make sure all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for about 35 minutes or until cake is cooked when tested with a wooden skewer.3. Remove cake from the oven and rest in tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack. Brush the cake evenly with the topping. Serve warm.Topping: Combine lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl and stir until sugar has dissolved.

It has rained heavily all day today and been really cold, but not to be put off, B and I spent the day travelling the Hills District in search of specific plants for the garden;
- roses for the front yard, in particular Kentucky Derby (B's favourite) and Scentimental.
- 3 Curry plants, and
- Scented Gernaniums (apple, lime, ginger, and lemon)

We also managed a visit to Bali Garden, no success there unfortunately, I was after a Mimpi (carved sandstone lady with frangipani's on her head), and lunch at Windsor for the best fish and chips (about the only good thing going for Windsor these days). Now back home it is still too wet to plant out anything so instead we shall eat teacake and watch 'What Not to Wear' snuggled under the doona.

16 November, 2005

a duck, mobile phone and long hair

This post is brought to you because it is over a week since our last post...

I have hopefully saved a wood duck from certain death. Travelling home along the M4 at breakneck speed this afternoon I spotted a duck in the centre of the M4 (I have noticed a theme here, the previous entry also being about an incident on same road), by centre I mean next to the concrete barriers that separate east going traffic from west. The duck was just sitting there, he didn't look hurt, he was alive. However, being on the M4 he wouldn't survive long, and also being on the M4 next to the fast lane, it was not safe or possible to stop/turn back and rescue him. Instead I rang the helpful RTA helpline and after being put through to their emergencies number and explaining the situation, the 'man in charge' well at least the man on the phone promised to send out a crew to rescue the 'little fella" (his words). I was much relieved and thankful that he took me seriously, I half expected a response like 'well, what would you like me to do about it' or 'this is the emergency number, it should be for real emergencies, and you shouldn't be ringing me on your mobile whilst driving, you can't disguise that mobile by your long hair'.

06 November, 2005

What the?!?!?!?

Picture this....
Travelling along Sydneys M4 (Freeway from Sydney to the Greater West, thats not actually free as there is a toll on it, but thats another story!) at approx 100klm/hr.
I looked over my right shoulder (in order to see that the lane was clear to change into it...) and in the Hyundai Excel two lanes over was a guy with Rosary Beads in his hand! Not just holding them, but actually saying three (maybe more) hail mary's! What for?? Your driving along a bloody freeway you idiot!
If you get caught using your mobile, you get fined. If you drive whilst under the influence of alchol, you get fined or if really bad, imprisioned. But, driving along a freeway at over 100 klm, is just plain stupid in my books...
Not that I have anything against using a set of Rosary beads (in the right place... like a church or at home, or if you are the PASSENGER), but NOT when driving!
Take note, if I see something as stupid as this you will be BLOGGED!!!!

a certain kind of torture

it is back to reality. Tassie seems an eternity away. We are back home and I have been imprisoned in the study preparing for my exam tomorrow. There is a strong element of hopelessness in this endeavour - I am sure that the results are not going to be all that positive. So start praying, ramp those prayers up from 2pm - 5pm. I need all the help I can get.

31 October, 2005

Breakfast with the sparrows

This morning we were up with the sparrows and shared breakfast with them at Salamanca. It was too nice a morning to have breakfast in the hotel, so B and I strolled over to the Salamanca area to peruse the many cafes open for breakfast. We quickly settled on one place at a table outdoors. It was a perfect morning, made even more perfect by the entertainment provided by the little sparrows who were brave enough to pick at the leftovers of the breakfast of the gentleman sitting at the next table.

Speaking of perfect, after seeing B to his conference I met up with Steph whose husband is attending the same conference, and we did the Cadbury Cruise Tour. A chocoholics fantasy come true. As we chugged up the Derwent River in the purple and gold Cadbury Cruise ship, I felt like I was having my own Willy Wonka experience. Once at the factory we were read the rules, basically not to touch anything, keep to the left and keep with group, oh and enjoy as many of the samples provided us – YES. Our tour guide was Catherine, she was great – so many interesting facts. And the factory shop – I came away with over 5kgs of chocolate: Snack, Turkish Delight, Marble, Mint Triple Deck, and Old Gold, not including the small box of Favourites given to us at the end of the tour.

After the tour of the Cadbury factory it was back down the River to where we had departed and a quick dash back to the hotel to dump off the loot, and then back down the conference centre where I met up with B for the trip to Mt Wellington. What a day of experiences, it was amazingly fresh and clear skied on Mt Wellington and we were able to appreciate Tasmania from another perspective.

We capped the day off with Dinner at Sisco’s where we had the most fantastic Paella, so good it will be tempting to have it again tomorrow night, although we have promised ourselves a Seafood Platter.

30 October, 2005

As far as my legs would carry me

I have just got back to the hotel room to refresh before meeting B for lunch. With a few minutes up my sleeve I thought I would share my morning.

This blog was going to be titled ‘raining one day, sunny the next’, as today is in such stark contrast to yesterday. It is so fresh and beautiful that after a quick breakfast (the continental again in the hotel, and yes I did try toasting the croissant, and it cooked perfectly, I set the dial correctly this time and made sure it was REALLY FLATTENED), I saw B to his conference and then set out in the direction of the Salamanca precinct. Nothing opened before 10am if at all, being a Sunday I guess. But not wanting to waste any time (at sometime I have to get some study done) I did some window shopping and then decided on the 5 minute walk to Battery Point. I took longer than 5 minutes – so many lovely gardens to stop and look at and get photos of.

battery point stairs

view from the top of the stairs

garden I

garden II

garden III
Point was cute but again shops, mainly antiques, didn’t open till midday if at all. So I headed back to Salamanca, visited a few of the art galleries, made a purchase of some sweet little embossed porcelain stars (thinking ahead to this years Christmas tree) handmade by a local. I also discovered a handmade chocolate shop which smelled heavenly, and made a mental note to come back later in the week. Although I am thinking a sample for this afternoons study session might be a good idea…….

Tonight we have cocktails at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

29 October, 2005

Come sail away with me honey

What will be, will be…….

I can’t get that tune out of my head since the cruise to Peppermint Bay today. It was absolutely fantastic. I am so relaxed and had a really enjoyable time.

After being woken by the sound of rain (so noticeable coming from Sydney) and realizing I was totally unprepared for such a situation (I had a morning planned to visit Salamanca Markets). I didn’t think it would be such a great day.

The markets were fun, I was there at 8.30am, the only person without an umbrella, raincoat or something to protect me from the rain, but with so many distractions from the products on display, I quickly forgot about being drenched and equally didn’t notice that by mid morning the rain had stopped. I had all but dried off by midday when I was due to for the cruise to Peppermint Bay – I didn’t really have time to change clothes I only just made it back to the hotel to drop off my purchases and race back to Brooke St Pier in time to be one of the last passengers aboard.

Before I sing the praises of the cruise though…some pictures of the markets and some of the stalls I made a purchase at.


Pansy, Fern & April

Iris Stall

Cheese Stall
The cruise to Peppermint Bay was well worth it, the ship was state of the art, I had a window seat and had wonderful views of the amazing coastline.

An eagle (?) was spotted at one point and so was fed a fish, and I think it was another eagles or falcons (?) nest was pointed out to us, its nest is the size of a double bed.

bird taking off with fish

birds nest
We also looked at some other birds although I can’t remember what birds they were, they flew fast. Underwater cameras were used to show us the kelp forest and marine life, this would be an amazing place to go diving, I imagine.

salmon farm enclosures
The underwater cameras were also used to show us inside a salmon farm, and whilst we were watching salmon jumping out of the water from the deck of the boat, an enormous seal graced us with its presence. It was really special. The staff of the boat did a great job of spotting these creatures and commentating.

Peppermint Bay
Peppermint Bay itself was really pretty, and lunch in the café was very good. I went for a walk to the gallery and bought myself a pair of knitting needles made from Tasmanian Oak, it was the hot pink spotty ends and the urge to get creative that got me.

I loved the cruise so much I would do it again tomorrow, this time with B of course.

flaming croissants

I was not expecting to make a burnt offerings confession this week…we are in Tasmania and so have a week of eating out. Having said that I have had dinner in the hotel room tonight (frozen meal which required microwaving – that’s cooking of sorts) whilst B attends a dinner associated with the conference he is in Tas to attend.

My confession is not dinner tonight but breakfast this morning. Opting for the Continental Breakfast (stewed fruits, yoghurt, cereal, breads and croissants) served in the restaurant of the hotel where we are staying, as a walk to the nearest café’s seemed out of the question, due to the fact that it was raining quite a bit and B had the conference to get to. It was going to be a big day (more on that later, I want to get this off my chest). A croissant with jam would get me off to a good start, but I’m sure you’d agree, a croissant needs to be warm. Now the only way this would be possible would be if the croissant could go through the hotels toaster (you know the kind, you put the toast on the toaster conveyor belt and it falls out the other end toasted). I examined the opening, it would be very tight, the croissant could get stuck. So I decided on stewed pears and yoghurt whilst I considered my options for a croissant. B got me a coffee and I asked him for his advice:

B: you could flatten it before putting it in
Me: yeah I had also thought that might work

A survey of the restaurant, only a couple of other diners, I’m going for it.

Now I don’t know why but I grabbed a croissant, squashed it, and also grabbed a slice of fruit loaf, and before placing them on the conveyor belt for toasting I checked the dial indicating the level of toasting was for light. Great, we were in business, so I offered my selections for toasting. All appeared to be going well, the croissant had clearance, however a heap of smoke started at the midpoint, too far for me to reach in, I looked over to B for help but he was reading the paper, I had to act:

Step 1: start waving your arms around, this helps to dissipate the smoke, not
Step 2: turn the dial to lighter, this should work if you don’t turn it too far like I did to darkest
At this point when flames are now about 10cm’s height from the back of the toaster
Step 3: look to your husband for help, realise he’s got no idea of the drama unfolding, wave your arms even though you know from step 1 this is of no use, and decide as the toast and croissant appear, that if you are discovered now by the staff, you will take an indignant position that it was the fault of the toaster. Hide the croissant under the fruit loaf which looks more burnt than the croissant. Why, I ask, because I don’t think the croissant should have been in the toaster, and it must have been the butter in the croissant that caused the flames.
Step 4: go back to your seat and observe from afar patrons entering the restaurant and all those that comment that ‘someone has burnt the toast’.

I ate the croissant but couldn’t eat the toast, it looked like a piece of coal, and I confessed in a way to the waiter guy something like “sorry, I couldn’t eat the toast, it got a bit burnt” which made me feel a bit better, he blamed it on the toaster. I then wondered whether it really was my fault, so thought I’d ask if you could toast the croissants to which he replied “so you really would like to burn the place down” laughing as he walked away.

22 October, 2005

It's only a house

Well let me tell you about the story of a strange little house. Remember, that this happened to be a conversation on a Friday night…

Ring Ring... Ring Ring...
Me (B): Hello!
Michelle (M): Hi B, I was wondering what you are doing tomorrow, as we want your opinion of a house we are looking at?
B: Ummm... nothing much, but the other 'B' has asked me to look through a house too...
M: Oh, he has gotten to you first has he? Well we really like it, and would like to get your opinion...
Yeah that’s fine... where and what time and do you want to meet, here or at the house?
M: Well it’s at ... (address inserted here) ... It has 4 bedrooms, study, L shaped lounge/dining, a rear deck, and kitchen overlooking a deck on the side of the house...
B: Oh umm… does it happen to have an entrance from the side of the house rather than from a 'Front Door'?
M: Yeah..
B: And is this entrance from under a single carport by chance??
M: (Now very suspicious of my questioning...) Yeah why??
B: Can I call you back in a little bit, and upon the ok of this I hung up and called my friend 'A'

B: Hi A, what are you up to?
A: Nothing much, I am at work you know...
B: Yeah I know, but I’ve got a quick question to ask?? What is your old home address in ... (insert suburb here...)?
A: (address inserted here)... why??
B: Oh umm... I will tell you later... Ok?? Of which she said yeah and I hung up...

B: Hi Michelle... How much is this house, and I will tell you who the seller is!!!
M: Oh, ok... it’s $$$$ Why? You know who owns it don’t you???
B: Of course I do... It happens to be 'A's' MUMS!
M: “Oh S*#T” she says... And an ongoing conversation ensues...

About an hour later when 'A' finished work, and had looked it up on the net to confirm the family home she had grown up in was for sale even though she had been told it would not be ready for sale until the end of NOVEMBER!!!

A sounded quite upset about the sale, a feeling I am only too aware of, as I felt the same when after dad died mum sold up. Not for any reason other than it was a bit too big for her to maintain...

After arriving at the house, we parked out the front and waited for M, but after about 5-10 mins, decided to just go on in and get a look at it...
Not bad really for the money, but it was looking a little 'tired' nothing a lick of paint and either replacing the carpets or polishing the floor boards wouldn’t hurt. Whilst we were looking through the house, a familiar looking face was walking up the driveway with a grin from ear to ear, having parked her car out the front, and noticing/recognising the new Prius parked opposite. At the same time, L was smiling at her colleague walking up the driveway. After about 15-20 mins of looking at the house, 'kicking the tyres' sort of thing if you were looking at a car, we all agreed that the house had a value at the lower end of the bracket it was being offered at. One good thing came out of all of this, A has not been lucky enough to see her nephew, and there sitting on the shelving was a photo of him. And what’s more, we were tricky enough to be able to distract the agent, so I got a snap of him with my camera phone (Nokia 3660) and sent her an email, or was it an SMS? Either way, A was grateful of finally getting to see him.

We stayed there for almost the entire open house (45 mins) and after several phone calls to M, they had made a wrong turn and were lost. We waited for the agent to leave, upon which M arrived with family in tow.

So, all in all, forget about 6 degrees of separation… I as a much younger boy, had the odd party or two in this house, looked through it for friends who want to buy the house, and we had friends who were looking through the house as well. AND, whats more, the aunty of the colleague of L, looks as though I went to school with in primary school… All too freaky for me!

the last one to leave the nest

well she actually left the 'nest' a long time ago, in fact she was the first to leave the nest, being the most independent of us 4 siblings. Anyway, congratulations to the Next-Sister-Down who has announced her engagement to partner Paddy - and no he isn't Irish.