Thursday, September 20, 2018


Sunday, you may remember, was snowy, blustery, cold.  We had sleet and hail, rain and wind. We also had a barbecue lying about, inconveniently and in pieces, in the garage.  Jim decided that he would start to put it together.  After all, there is not much point in spending hundreds of dollars on a barbecue only for it to languish, in bits, in the garage.

Putting a large barbecue together is really a two person job, even if the second person is merely shining a torch on the dark bits you can't see. From the point of view of marital harmony it is usually better if the assistant is not your spouse. However, I was the only available assistant and we managed fairly well until we reached a point where you needed unadjustable spanner. We do not have an adjustable spanner. Lindsey and Ian do.  I rang and asked if we could borrow it.  Proceedings came to a temporary halt.

Lindsey and Ian came down and picked us up, bringing the adjustable spanner with them, and we all trundled out to Clunes to have lunch at Bread and Circus. The weather had cleared sufficiently that we could sit outside (under cover) to have our lunch.

We came back after lunch and carried on with the barbecue assembling.  All went well until we reached the point where we had to connect the gas hose to the gas point for the side burner.  We could not connect it.  No matter how we tried it would not screw together.  We gave up, poured a glass of wine and retired from barbecue building for the evening.

Monday dawned sunny, dry, still and relatively warm. Jim wheeled the barbecue out into the courtyard, where we could see much better.  Still we couldn't connect the gas pipe to the side burner.  Much swearing and yelling ensued. I went off and dusted the cobwebs off the outside windows.  Suddenly there was a cry of EUREKA.  The pipe had for reasons unknown finally decided to screw itself to the side burner.  Much jubilation!  Putting the rest of it together took a matter of minutes.

So now we have a functioning barbecue.  And we are still married 😂 All we need now is slightly warmer weather so we can use it

It's not a good photo but it gives you an idea. I'll try and get a better one at the weekend

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Weather Dogs Have Come Out To Play

The weather in Melbourne towards the end of the week was lovely. Warm, sunny, daytime temperatures of low to mid 20s.  In Ballarat it reached the high teens and the low 20s. I began to consider putting away the heavy duty winter clothes and perhaps digging out some short sleeved shirts.  I wasn't going to go quite as mad as putting away the lightweight winter stuff, but the heavy weight things were beginning to look unnecessary.

When Gwen, Jim's mother, died, she left her children a little money. Jim and I put aside his share of her money for fun or not absolutely necessary things. We didn't want to fritter it away on day to day expenses.  Jim decided that he would like a chop saw, so we got one.  We also decided that when the weather warmed up a bit we would buy a nice, gas-fired barbecue. Something sturdy that would last for a while. Last week the weather looked as if it was starting to warm up. Barbecues Galore had a sale on this weekend. We thought we should take advantage of it.

Yesterday morning we woke up to clear blue skies and a still calm day.  About ten minutes after I had noticed that, the wind suddenly picked up.  Black clouds approached. The rain fell.  By lunchtime the temperature had plummeted. When Lindsey picked us up to go barbecue shopping, the rain was icy. When we went to pack (squish!) the barbecue boxes into her car, it was hailing.

We took the barbecue boxes back to our place and then went to Bunnings and to Delacombe. It was cold, and wet, and windy.  Horrible, it was.

During the evening the hail turned to sleet.  The sleet turned to snow.  We woke up this morning to this:

I have definitely attracted the attention of the Weather Dogs, who have come out to play with enthusiasm :-D

Fortunately, it doesn't matter that it is definitely not barbecue weather for the barbecue is in a zillion pieces in the garage and needs assembling.  And I hadn't got around to putting the heavy duty winter clothes away. Jim and I have our thick, snowy jumpers to hand. Although the sun is shining at the moment, it is very cold outside and the Weather Dogs have more clouds to play with.

Monday, September 10, 2018

A quiet life

It's been a fairly quiet few days.

I'm working a different pattern in September, four days instead of three and Wednesdays off. I am quite enjoying the extra day but I must say that I am looking forward to going back to three days after my holiday in October. I do enjoy being a Part Timer :-D

Last Wednesday Jim and I went into town to do a few things.  We came back to Hill House to find Steve the Horse Man in the bottom paddock. He was trying to catch a mare and foal to take back to his place. He had the mare but the foal was proving to be a more difficult prospect.  In fact, the foal had attached itself to a different mare, Not the Mother. Every time Steve got anywhere near it, the Not the Mother ran off and the foal went too.  Jim went to help. So you have The Mother tied to a tree, stamping her feet, jumping up and down and showing her displeasure at having her baby stolen very vocally.  You have the Not the Mother rushing about with the foal.  The other horses were shut in the top paddock. Eventually they managed to get the Not the Mother into the top paddock too.  Jim shut the gate with the foal on one side and the Not the Mother on the other. Then the foal squeezed through a tiny gap between the gate post and the fence and took off up into the top paddock too.  Everyone sighed.  The Mother mare was released and also took off up into the top paddock.  

Rupert and Hugo had been watching all this from the windows of the house and the back yard.  I was in the front yard patrolling the fence line. The eagles came wafting over to watch from on high.  The magpies and rosellas retired to the relative safety of the trees.  Eventually, the Mother and the foal were corralled together and were persuaded onto the horse float by means of tasty treats. The Not the Mother was extremely angry that her adopted foal had been taken away but eventually calmed down.

Peace and quiet returned to Hill House.  The eagles went away. The magpies and rosellas resumed normal activity.  All was good.

And that was probably the most exciting thing that happened last week. For Jim and me, at least.  We've been up at Hill House all week and had a very quiet weekend. I made marmalade and a passionfruit and lemon curd with some passionfruit that I found in a bag on the kitchen table. The oranges and lemons had come from one of the receptionists at work. We dropped out to Elaine to the farm shop and I went down to our place to make sure all was well.  Apart from that we have done very little.

And now it is Monday morning. Rupert and Hugo have retired back to bed after their breakfast and a run about.  And I should get organised to head to Melbourne.

It's getting noticeably lighter in the mornings and the evenings are getting longer. The trees are blossoming. The ground is beginning to warm up.  Its too cold overnight to start putting tender plants out and it's a bit too early to start sowing summer seeds.  But nearly.  Nearly.  I'll be away for three weeks in October.  I need to decide whether to sow seeds before I go or whether to wait until I get back.  Perhaps I'll do both.  Two sets of sowings

Monday, September 03, 2018

Another Sunday ...

... Another Sunday lunch out!

We had a lovely lunch with Pat last Sunday. She went away for several weeks over the winter and it was the first time we had caught up since she got back. She certainly did us proud.  Four courses! She had a good time while away and certainly looks good on it.  I don't mind winter weather. I enjoy the snuggly jumpers and the random weather and Lindsey and Ian's wood burner. Our central heating keeps us warm but it's not as cosy as a wood burner.  But I can see the attraction of going somewhere warm for the worst of the winter weather.

The working week was quite pleasant too.  I was working some extra shifts so stayed in Melbourne for most of the week.  Lindsey came and went.  Jim stayed in Hill House. I was without a car so moved about by public transport -although I did borrow Lindsey's car to go to East Ivanhoe to collect my new glasses.  I can drive at night again :-D  I enjoyed my morning trips on the tram.  I had to leave quite early so was ahead of the traffic.  The trip to work from the flat usually takes about an hour, door to door by tram. It takes about 45 minutes if you catch the 07:00 tram!  I enjoyed my walk along Smith Street in the afternoons as well.  There's a Japanese pantry,  an organic fruit and veg shop, a scoop shop (where you buy things by the scoop so you can get a tiny amount of sweet paprika if that's all you need) and a Chemist Warehouse where they stock my favourite brand of toothpaste.  They used to sell it at our local IGA but don't any more.  Or you can just wander along and window shop and not buy Japanese curry pastes if you don't need them.  I was quite shocked to wake up on Sunday morning to hear that there had been a mini riot at the other end of Smith Street in the very early hours overnight, although Lindsey tells me that it used to have a rough reputation.

Yesterday was Fathers' Day in Australia. Lindsey, Jim, Rupert and Hugo made their way down to  Mount Martha .  I drove Ian's car down, via Tully's and the Booze shop. Lots of people turned up. We had another picnic style lunch. I think we may need to coordinate what people bring a bit better in future.  We had LOADS of food and therefore LOADS of leftovers. Although I think people took away a lot of the left over food.  Tony had put in a request for egg sandwiches so I made those. I also took some cronuts from the Bridge Mall market.  I think that Rupert and Hugo think that preparing for a lunch Mount Martha is an exhausting affair. They got in the car to go back home and promptly went to sleep, only really waking up when we turned off the freeway at Warrenheip.  I came back with them all.  Ant took Ian's car away for this week.

And now here we are, poised at the start of another working week.  Jim is off to Hill House later. I am off to Melbourne shortly. I have another couple of extra shifts this week.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Most Fridays I go to and from work with Lindsey.

Friday just gone I went with Lindsey, but she wasn't coming back. I was on my own!

I decided that I would still go with her and would come back by public transport.

So I left work at around 3:15 and got a tram a few minutes after I got to the tram stop.  It takes about an hour to get from Summerhill to Southern Cross Station. I got there with plenty of time to catch the 16:54 train. No rush, no scramble for a seat.  Even better, that is fast train. It stopped at Footscray in Melbourne and then only at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan, before  arriving in Ballarat just over an hour later.  Excellent.  I had just missed the bus out to the University but there was only 15 minute wait for the next one. Jim met me at the University so I didn't have to walk up to Hill House, where we are spending the weekend. I don't want to walk up the most direct route in the dark - it's only a walking track, not lit and quite uneven in parts.

I have to say that it was a very pleasant trip. I read a really, proper book. I read a couple of online magazines.  I read the (online) paper which was full of articles about the day's political shenanigans.  I was quite happy.  But all up it took nearly 4 hours which isn't sustainable on a regular basis. Pity. It was much less stressful than coping with the Ring Road and the freeway, which can be very busy at that time of day, at least until Melton.

I woke up yesterday morning at about 4:30 for a loo stop. A few minutes after I had got into bed I heard the click, click, click of Great Dane claws tripping up from the lounge room. Then I hear Rupert whine a bit. This usually means that he too would like a loo stop.  Yesterday morning, though, he stopped whining. Odd. Then I heard a rattle, then a slight clatter.  A pause.  Then another rattle and a slight clatter.  Then Rupert appeared in our room and climbed gently onto the bed.  At least he didn't lurch himself at us as though propelled from a trebuchet, which is what he does when Jim is in bed after I have got up.  But how did he get in?  It seems that we hadn't properly locked the child gate when we had gone to bed and he had worked out how to nudge it open.  Hugo was waiting patiently on the other side. The gate was ajar but not enough for him to walk through. Hugo is not usually inclined to nudge things open. Unless there is food on the other side!

We shut the gate properly when we went to bed last night :-D

We had a pleasantly quiet day yesterday. Jim did a bit of gardening. The sun shone in a bright blue sky. We went out to Elaine to the farm shop. Otherwise, we didn't do much.

It is foggy this morning. And I should get organised.  We are going out for lunch later and there are things to do before then

Friday, August 24, 2018

New things

The fridge is up and running and we have started to put things in it.  It is a very shiny, lovely new fridge.  It even has a water reservoir so you can have cold water on tap - provided that you remember to fill the reservoir!

Jim very carefully measured the fridge cavity in the kitchen before we went shopping. We triple checked the dimensions of the fridge before we paid for it.  It fits pretty much exactly, except that it juts out by a few centimetres.  We can live with that.

It's quite a big fridge, by our standards at least. The Tupton fridges (they were consecutive; we didn't have two at once!) were "under the counter" fridges and this one is considerably bigger than that.  It has a built in shelf for cans in the door.  I suspect most people would put beer in but I have filled it with cans of soft drink for visitors. There is also a two bottle wine rack.  At the moment the wine is in the cupboard above - and I can't reach it when the fridge door is shut!  Fortunately Jim can 😉

The bottom is a freezer.  It's still empty. I crammed everything into the freezer in the garage when we emptied the old fridge/freezer.  I'll sort it all out when time permits.

And here are the glasses I got in Clunes last weekend

I had bought two of the little ones the last time we were there, got home and, of course, thought that I should have bought four. So I dropped in to get two more.  While I was there I bought four of the tall ones.  They were fairly expensive for glasses (at least they were expensive for me). I came out of the shop feeling very much like the woman in the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph.  Not so much: 

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter


I shall spend our money on drinking glasses, pretty things,
At market stalls - and say we've no money for milk or bread

Fortunately we have milk and bread, not to mention a full garage freezer.  All is good

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Weather Dogs

were very obliging  on Sunday. The day was filled with rain showers, snow showers, sunny spells, sleet, hail, strong winds.  And yet, whenever we were outside it was sunny, or if not sunny, at least not actually wet.

Lindsey drove us to Talbot, where the monthly market was in full swing.  I don't think there were as many stalls as there were in the summer, but it still an impressively large market.  I managed to get some little dishes to replace the soap dishes.  The bloke was selling a tiny, tiny tea set for $10.  I didn't actually want an entire tea set - just the little dishes.  Not quite sure what I would do with 4 tiny tiny tea cups and a minute jug.  I dithered.  The bloke said, somewhat hopefully, that I could have the lot for $5.  Bargain.  I'm sure I'll find a use for the tiny, tiny tea cups. Lindsey said to use them as egg cups but they aren't a suitable shape.  Anyway, I have loads of egg cups.  I've put them in the cupboard for further thought.

From there we went to Clunes where I bought some more of my pretty (drinking) glasses.  I would show you photos except they are in Mount Helen and I am in East Melbourne.  I'll take photos the next time I am at home.

Then on to the garden centre in Haddon, where Lindsey bought fruit trees and not-fruit shrubs. It was spectacularly busy and there were food stalls, things for the children to do, all kinds of buzz. Turned out they were having a family day to raise money for the farmers and for drought relief.

So not a bad Sunday :-D  We got home slightly chilled (although I had taken winter kit with me) but dry.  And spent the evening playing with the Apple digital TV box.

Now I am off to the optometrist to see about getting some new glasses.  It is getting a bit tedious having to wear my sunnies whenever I want to drive the car.  It also limits what time I can hop into the car.  Has to be in daylight hours, which isn't always convenient!

Remind me to show you our magnificent new fridge when I am next at home. It arrived on Monday and is very lovely

Sunday, August 19, 2018

I meant to tell you

and completely forgot.

Last Monday I was sorting out the fridge and found, tucked at the back, two meatballs which were slightly past their best.  I thought I might take them up to Hill House and donate them to the magpies.  Then I thought I might just put them out in our courtyard and see if the local magpies fancied them.  So I did that and got the ironing board out to do the week's ironing.

The bit of the courtyard where I put the meatballs
Jim is weeding it
We are planning to grow zucchini and melons there in the summer
I became aware that there was a large crow sitting on the roof of the unit next door. It hopped down onto the fence, then hopped along until it was near the meatballs. Then it jumped down, grabbed a meatball and flew up back to the gutter of the place next door. It dropped the meatball into the gutter where it meets the roof valley.  It checked very carefully that no bird was watching. (It knew that I was watching but didn't seem perturbed by me.) Then it carefully covered the meatball up with all the leaves and twigs that sit in the bottom of the valley.  Then it flew down, grabbed the second meatball and flew away all the way over there to a stand of trees.

The unit next door.
There's another one behind us but the crow showed no interest in that

Bundle of twigs and leaves behind the baby gum tree
Just as I was finishing the ironing the crow came back, uncovered the meatball and sat in peace on the guttering while it ate its lunch. The magpies didn't get a look in - though there are lots of them about.

Such a very clever crow!

In other news, yesterday Jim and I went out and bought a new fridge/freezer, which is coming tomorrow. While we were about it, we also bought an Apple TV (that's a digital box, not an actual TV). The signal here is terrible and often we can't watch the TV at all.  I was going to buy a signal booster (and I may yet do that) but with the Apple TV we can watch many of the free to air channels that we would have watched anyway, even if the programs are not at the time of broadcast. Plus we can watch some of the subscription channels. Finally my Netflix subscription is looking to be value for money!

It's been snowing this morning!  It's stopped now and the sun is shining, though there are black clouds about.  We are trusting to the Weather Dogs (a dubious plan, I agree) and are shortly going with Lindsey to Talbot to the monthly market, then to Clunes to see if they have any more of the cute glasses I bought last time we were there, and then possibly to the tree nursery so Lindsey can get some more fruit trees. I had better go and look out my winter weather gear!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Jim and I were at Lindsey and Ian's place on Monday evening, as is our habit. We were sat in the lounge room watching television.

At one point in the evening I took my glasses off to look at something close up. My glasses are varifocals but I have always found I can see better, if reading or using a computer, if I am not wearing my glasses.  In fact, my distance vision has improved a bit over the years. As long as I don't want to read something far in the distance my vision is good enough even without my glasses.  Inside I often don't notice whether I am wearing them or not.

However, it is a condition on my driving licence that I wear them when driving.  I went to put them on on Tuesday morning, ready for driving to work.  Couldn't find them. Searched everywhere. Eventually I retraced my steps to where I last actually remembered having them.  Here, on the couch, watching tv.  Picked up all the blankets that the dogs sleep on.  Saw the stem poking up from between the cushions.  And there were my glasses. In several pieces.  Broken beyond repair ;-(

Fortunately, I have a pair of prescription sunglasses.  Fortunately is was a nice bright sunny morning and I would probably have been wearing them anyway.  But there will be no nighttime driving for me.  Or not until I get a new pair of ordinary glasses.

My brother has a friend who is an optometrist.  I have made an appointment to see her. But not until next week.

We had a good time on Sunday with Stella and Tony. It was a lovely morning for a drive and we had a good run down. We had a pleasant lunch in the Dava. Jim had offered to drive home (though I think he was surprised when I said OK :-D ) so Tony and I indulged in a second glass of wine. I enjoyed my fish and chips.  Jim enjoyed his Senior's portion of roast pork with complementary dessert.  I enjoyed Tony's complementary dessert from his Senior's fish and chips.  Stella had twice cooked duck, not a Senior's portion. I think she cleared every skerrick of duck and most of the tiny vegetables.  Then Jim and I left them to it and made our way home.  A good day.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


Not really orphaned. I still have both parents.  Jim and I are, in fact, heading off this morning to have lunch with them.

But I no longer have any living aunts or uncles.  I once had lots. The last aunt, Joan, faded gently away at the end of the week after living with dementia for several years.

This is one of my favourite photos of her, taken many years ago when there was an English Teddy Bear Company shop opposite the colleges in Cambridge

She walked my feet off that day!

Vale, dear Joan. I do so hope that Peter was waiting for you at the Pearly Gates with a stiff G&T in hand.