Wednesday, January 16, 2019


We were very, very lucky with the weather on Sunday.

It was a beautiful day, high 20s, sunny.The strong winds of the morning had dropped to gentle breezes with occasional strong gusts.

The gazebo was up and we put lots of chairs under it. The picnic tables were filled with tasty things and looked lovely.  We had Pimms, fruity soda water, wine. We had dips and cheeses; veg sticks and cheese crackers. We had meats to barbecue and salads and roast potatoes. There were apricot tarts and apple tarts for after.

We had guests. Stella had come from Mount Martha, via Hill House. Lindsey and Ian came down with her. Freyja and Simon came from Brunswick. Robert and Susan came with Rod from Melbourne.

Our garden looked lovely. The picnic area was very pretty. Ian deployed the barbecue to good effect.

We ate well, drank well and had a merry catch up.

It was a very lovely Sunday Lunch Party.

And I didn't take a single photo!!!!!!!!!!!

(I had thought to myself, before everyone arrived, that I must remember to deploy my camera and then in the loveliness of it all completely forgot :-S )

Since then it has been hot and humid. Yesterday was a Total Fire Ban day across the state.  If the lunch party had been yesterday we wouldn't have sat outside and we wouldn't have used the barbecue.

Sunday was a glorious summer's day.  We were very lucky.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Summer days

And we did use the barbecue over the weekend.  We had lamb steak on Saturday evening and rump steak on Sunday evening.  We sat outside and ate our meals using the picnic table and the gazebo. It was very much like camping in the countryside, except that we went back in the house as darkness fell and slept in our bed and not in a tent!

On Monday I abandoned Jim to his own devices and trundled down to Mount Martha to take Stella to her GP appointment. I was quite shocked when we went into his waiting room. We had barely had time to sit down when he called us in.  I expect to wait for at least 30 minutes.  It's my quiet time, waiting in a doctor's waiting room.  I had things to read and everything!!!  But no. No quiet time for me.

We drove back along the beach road and had lunch in Fine Foods and a potter in the Mount Martha shops. It was a beautiful day and holiday makers were making the most of the sunshine. The cafes and coffee shops were all nice and busy.

I left Mount Martha early on Tuesday morning and went back to work. It's still fairly quiet on the roads so was a pleasant drive into town. It was fairly quiet at the surgery too, although I am told it was absolute bedlam on Monday.

And now here it is.  Thursday morning.  We are at Hill House. Ziggy is going for a service and a roadworthy this morning so we can start the process of transferring ownership from mother to me. There are other useful things to be done today, such as posting Flynn's birthday present.  It's not very heavy but it is rather large.  Mostly his present will be postage!!!!

I bought a box of apricots last time I was in Wilson's.  At the weekend I made apricot and custard pies, using my new pie making machine.  They could have done with slightly longer in the pie machine but they were very tasty. I am hoping to use my dehydrator to make dried apricots, plus I might make a pot or two of jam.  The rest can go in the freezer against any future apricot emergency!

Apricot pies:

Sunday evening summer barbecue with salads:

Saturday, January 05, 2019

They warned us that it was going to be hot yesterday.  So I closed the house down against the heat (windows, curtains, doors all shut, including internal doors). Jim was given firm instructions to keep his phone with him, to heed any warnings that came his way and to implement the Running Away Fire Plan if need be.  Lindsey and I went to work on what was, I have to say, a very pleasant early morning.

And the morning remained quite pleasant. But by lunchtime the temperature had gone up quite considerably. I'm not sure what the final temperature was; I think the official temperature was 41 or 42d but I suspect it was hotter than that in the Summerhill carpark. Mercifully, the air conditioning was working in the shopping complex.  It wasn't working on the last warm to hot days we had and it wasn't nice at all in the surgery.

Then the cool change came through and the temperature plummeted down to around 27 or 28 in almost no time.

Fortunately there was no need to implement a fire plan. The only time of danger around our place was, oddly enough, well after the cool change had come through and as the sun was setting when we were treated to a loud thunderstorm.  What made it a bit risky was that there was no rain but there was wind. A local lightning strike might have been interesting.

This morning when we went out to the  Bridge Mall Market, we were wearing jumpers and wishing we had jackets with us.

These extremes really aren't necessary, dear Weather Dogs.  A nice, steady 25 or 26 would be more than satisfactory. Very acceptable, in fact.

In anticipation of a nice, steady temperature, we have brought the barbecue out of the garage.  We also bought a camping gazebo for the back garden.  And a camping picnic table.  There's another camping picnic table on its way so we can have an 8 seater rather than a 4.

Here is the garden earlier this afternoon:

I think it will look rather lovely when it has more boxes with veg and flowers, and perhaps a few shrubs (though we might need a jackhammer to dig holes for the shrubs).

Oh - and I have been cleaning some of the windows. I had a problem getting the fly screen back on the first window I cleaned.  It simply would not go back.  It was manifestly too big to go back, which seemed ridiculous because it had fitted into that space when I took it out.  So I asked that nice Mr Google if he could help and he drew my attention to a YouTube video produced by Bunnings.  It's remarkably simple when you know how!!  If the weather holds, I might do a few more windows tomorrow. It makes a significant difference. The house is 13 years old and you begin to wonder if the windows have ever been cleaned, given the grime and the cobwebs. Come to that, I don't think I have ever lived in a house that has been quite so cobweb infested on the outside, and I've lived in some quite rural properties the past. I suspect that the spiders will win no matter how hard I try.  But I am going to try :-D

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Happy New Year

May 2019 be dappled with sunshine

with blue skies

and gentle rains

and a fair wind

Monday, December 31, 2018

The InterFest

I do not usually work in the week between Christmas and New Year, although last year I did work on one of the days.  I don't remember having worked on New Year's Eve, pretty much ever.

This year I worked on Friday. And I am working today.  It has been very hard to remember about working today.  In my head it is a holiday!

We did do holiday things, though, during the strange time that is the interval between Christmas and New Year.  Stella stayed up at Hill House until Saturday and on Thursday she, Jim, Ian and I went out for lunch.

"Let's go to the place where blossom falls on your head," suggested Stella.  I was just thinking that Japan was a long way to go for lunch (and is in the wrong season) when she explained that she meant the place where we had sat in what had once been an outside area and blossom had fallen through the rafters.  Ah yes.  Webster's.  No where near as far as Japan.  And open for lunch.  So that is where we went.  We didn't sit outside this time. It was very hot and there is no air conditioning in the outside area.  We sat inside in the coolth.  (Lindsey couldn't join us.  She was working.)

Jim and I took Stella home on Saturday and stayed over. We went to the Dava for Sunday lunch, then left her on her own at home and returned to Mount Helen.

I must say that I was very impressed with the amount of space you get in Ziggy's boot when you put half the back seat down.  We had been a bit worried that we wouldn't fit two small suitcases, a walker and all the Christmas stuff in. But we did.  With ease.  We could have put lots more in with some judicious packing.  And Jim wasn't squashed in the remaining back seat.  We would easily get two Great Danes in if we put both back seats down.

Speaking of Great Danes, today is the first anniversary of Hugo's arrival at Hill House. He came on New Year's Eve last year as a 10 month old puppy.

Happy Gotcha Day, Hugo

Hugo, December 2017
Hugo, December 2018

Saturday, December 29, 2018


I am reminded that we have been in Tani for over a month and so far there are no photos.

So let's go for a walk through the house.

You enter through the front porch and straight into the lounge room

View from the kitchen

 which leads into the kitchen and dining area


Jim's Christmas jigsaw underway - it's more advanced now

 Then up a long corridor to the rest of the rooms

The door at the end leads to the garage
Walking up the corridor, to your right there's a small study

As you see, I haven't sorted out the desk yet

there's a laundry, with loo

 and a separate bathroom

On the left there are two bedrooms

This is ours

View from the bed

This is yours, when you come to visit

Outside, beyond the fence, there's a walkway which leads from the back of Mount Helen down to Eilish court and then down to the main road and the bus stop. It's the most direct way on foot from the houses at the back of the reserve to the bus or to the University, Technology Park and government buildings.

If you walk down the lane at dusk 

this is the view of the back of our place. Cosy, isn't it

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Day

Jim and I went up to Hill House late in the morning.  I had spent the early part of the morning making tiny ginger biscuits and then attempting some shortbread. I really must try and get hold of my mother's late friend Bertha's recipe. Her shortbread was amazing.  Mine was OK.  And I need more practice with my new embossed rolling pin.  I'm not getting the picture on my biscuits.  YouTube says I should thoroughly flour the rolling pin before using it.  I'll give it a go next time.

People started to arrive for the Christmas Night festivities at about 4. Everyone was there by 6 and we had our present exchange. I must say that I did very well out of it.  Lots of new kitchen gadgets, amongst other things.

We sat down to eat at around 8, and a merry, festive feast it was.  Very much delicious food and wine.

Wendy, who doesn't drink much and, incidentally, whose birthday it was, drove Jim and me back to our place. She became the first person to sleep over at Tani. Lindsey and Ian had fewer people than normal sleeping at their place. Freyja and Simon went back to Ross' place. Various nieces and nephews went home or to other relatives' places. Jim, Wendy and I were, of course, at our place.  Still, what they lacked in overnight people guests, they made up for in doggy guests.  Two of the dogs who had been there for dinner went home with their people. That left 6 dogs overnight, two of whom live there and one of whom is a three or four month old puppy.

When Ant and Jess got married a couple of years ago, Lindsey took a lovely photo of Stella and Tony.  Stella asked for a copy of it but then everyone forgot all about it.  For Stella's Christmas present this year, Lindsey had it made into a canvas portrait.  It was propped up against the television in the lounge room for most of yesterday.  I have to say that it was a bit disconcerting - it looked very much as though they were sat inside the tv watching us!

Jim bought me a toasted sandwich maker for my birthday.  It had its first outing for lunch today.  I do like a nice toasted sandwich 🍞

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Eve

It was warm and sunny - although fortunately, not too hot.

Jim and I went up to Lindsey and Ian's place at half past nine and Jim and Stella stayed and looked after the dogs while Lindsey and I went out for a few last minute things.  I knew we had to collect the seafood, and I knew there would be a long queue.  I hadn't thought about going into the supermarket, although I needed rice flour and Lindsey needed light globes.  I thought we would get them in the IGA. Instead we went into Coles - which I have to say wasn't as busy as I expected. We came out with more than rice flour and light globes!  We bought some mattresses (not in the supermarket!!!) for revellers who will be sleeping on the floor at Hill House.  We will not be among them. Wendy, Jim and I will be sleeping at Tani. Wendy is not a drinker so she will drive us down after the festivities and stay in our spare room.  She will be the first overnight guest in the new spare room.

We went to Pipers by the Lake for lunch, and very nice it was too.

Lindsey, festive and waiting for lunch

though this is a more typical pose when Lindsey is waiting for something :-D

Frannie and Jim
Frannie and Stella

This was a nice bottle of wine. Nice and light, suitable for summer
Also vegan friendly and gluten free. How often is there gluten in white wine, I wonder

We all went out to the Avalon nursery so Lindsey could buy a bird bath, and then out to the Elaine farm shop to see what they had.  Then Jim and I went home and Lindsey and Stella went back to Hill House.

Jim and I had a seafood curry for Christmas Eve dinner. I had intended to watch the Kings College carols, or possibly even Carols by Candlelight, but was diverted by Festive food programs and forgot - until I was just off to bed and Austin sent me a message asking if I was watching carols.  Oops!

Even so, it was a good Christmas Eve.  Calmer and more peaceful than Christmas Day is likely to be!

And now it is early on Christmas morning.  The sun is shining. The day looks set fair.  Merry Christmas to you all

Monday, December 24, 2018

Preparing for Christmas (and other things)

Apart from a bit of baking, I think I am ready for Christmas.  Which is just as well, seeing that it is tomorrow!

I have all the presents.  I hope!

Yesterday morning Lindsey and I went to Wilson's for the veg, and to Coles for the supermarket shopping. There should be plenty of food for the Christmas feast.  We have even catered for Boxing Day breakfast.

We went to Bunnings for a number of things, mostly not Christmas related.

Today should be relatively relaxed.


We have had our first proper Sunday lunch at Tani.  Stella was at the last one we had at the old place, and she was here for the first one at the new place.  Lindsey, Freyja and Simon were also here. The omnivores had roast beef. The vegetarian and vegan had a plant based "meat" loaf that I got from Woolworths.  It tasted nice but I think I would slice it and fry it next time, rather than baking it.  I also made Yorkshire puddings for the first time in this oven.  They turned out quite well

First Sunday lunch at Tani.  Freyja is behind the camera

On Saturday, Jim and I bought a push mower for Tani.  I had thought that lawn mowing was something we wouldn't need to worry about until the autumn, but the recent rain has encouraged the grass to grow.  We don't have enough grass to warrant an electric or petrol mower, but it's too much for a pair of shears.  A push mower seemed to be the way to go.

Then Jim decided that he needed a rake. He had run the push mower over the grass but was hampered by lots of twigs and leaves.  Plus, there was all the cut grass. He's raked it over now and it's looking good.

After several cool, cloudy and wet days, yesterday was glorious.  Warm, not too hot, sunny, fairly still. Jim and I sat out on our front verandah in the early evening, making plans for our front garden. We've made  a start in the bed under the windows. We dug out the grassy plants and replanted with lavender and flowers

Now we are thinking what to replace all these agapanthus with

We know this is a rented place and we can't make major changes, but the condition report says that the front garden is stocked with plants.  It doesn't say what kind of plants!  It also says the back garden is stocked with plants.  Apart from grass, there's not a plant to be seen.  There will be though.  We are thinking of making this triangle into a little picnic area and will put some shrubs in to make it pretty

We have bought some wooden boxes made from old crates and have started filling them with herbs and little shrubs, plus we've got one ready to plant some green beans in.  They were $20 rather than the $160 the herb trug cost.  We will contact the box maker after Christmas and see if they've got any more. They make good flower and veg raised beds.

I really hope we get to stay here longer than 12 months.  I think our little garden is going to look lovely.  But most of it will be in relocatable containers, so if we do have to move the garden can mostly come with us.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Lights

It very rarely happens, but on Tuesday Lindsey and I found ourselves at the flat in the evening.  I am often there on a Tuesday evening and also, often, is Ian.  Lindsey usually works through until 8 or 9. Last Tuesday, however, Lindsey had had the day off and Ian was up country somewhere.

It was a lovely evening, so Lindsey and I hopped on a tram and went into town to look at the Christmas lights.

First, a spot of dinner to fortify us.  We found a Japanese barbecue place, hidden behind a sushi restaurant.  The sushi restaurant had people from all cultures.  The diners in the barbecue section were almost exclusively Japanese.  This augured well :-D

The server was worried we wouldn't know what to do so showed us.
We didn't tell her we go to yakiniku restaurants in Japan!!

Then out through The Emporium

and out on to Bourke Street

to look at the Myer Christmas windows. Alice in Wonderland this year:

The Cheshire cat, chatting to Alice
The final window is always a nativity scene

We went down to look at the Town Hall, which we knew was lit up for Christmas.  I had seen it briefly on my way back from Brunswick last week, but neither of us had had a chance to look at it properly:

One of the city ambassadors asked if we had been to Federation Square yet.  We hadn't.  We didn't know anything was happening at Fed Square.  So we went to see.

Walking past Flinders Street Station:

 And then into Fed Square, which was absolutely buzzing:

The whole city centre was buzzing.  It was happy and festive and people of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds were having a great time. Multicultural Melbourne was out at play.

You wonder what those commonwealth politicians who have been categorically telling the whole of Australia that the good people of Melbourne are too scared to leave their houses at night for fear of rampant violent crime, would have made of it all.