Wednesday, October 16, 2019


It was definitely springlike over the weekend.  Warm.  Sunny.  Blue skies.

Jim mowed and tidied our front lawn.  He had done the back lawn during the week.

The summer veg seeds are starting to germinate.

We didn't have the heating on during the day.

We went to the Lakeside market on Saturday with Lindsey and Ian.  Lindsey bought herb seedlings - which I must remember to sort out tomorrow.

I dug out my food processor and made an apple and raspberry pie and some biscuits.

The temperature has dropped a bit now and it's clouded over. Must remember that it's only October and that the danger of frost is not yet past.  I have three tomato plants sitting on the window sills in out lounge room. They seem quite happy there.  I'll leave them for now

The view from our laundry door on Sunday.
The trees belong to the other side of the fence

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

By Monday afternoon, Rupert and Hugo had recovered from their exciting day out on Sunday.  Half way through the afternoon, Rupert trotted outside with a Christmas tree cushion. It's been lying around in the lounge room since last Christmas.  Occasionally one of the dogs would use it as a pillow but otherwise they didn't pay it very much attention.

Yesterday afternoon, however, it suddenly became a very great toy.  Each dog had a corner of it and they romped with it, ran with it, played tug of war with it.  They shook it and threw it and jumped on it.  They had a fabulous time.

And then the garden looked like this:

And the Christmas tree cushion looked like this:

They were very slightly despondent when I cleaned up their carefully curated fluff.

But a biscuit cheered them up

You'd never know it had happened:

The clocks went forward on Sunday morning.  I get up at around 5 on Tuesday mornings so I can get off to work at 6:30 or so.  Hugo thought I had gone completely mad when I got up this morning.  So, I think, did Jim.  As far as Hugo was concerned (and Jim's body clock) I had randomly got up at 4.  Both of them will get used to it.  It's a bigger issue when the clocks go back in the autumn.  It's very hard to explain to a dog why he has to wait another hour for his breakfast/dinner :D

I picked up my new glasses this afternoon. I think I might keep the spare pair in the car so I can still drive when the first pair goes missing.  I did pass the Vicroads eye test when my optometrist did it a couple of weeks ago but if I want to have the restriction lifted from my driving licence there are forms to fill in and a certificate to be got from my optometrist.  I'm not sure I can be bothered.  I always wear my glasses when driving anyway. And now I have a spare pair it's not so much of an issue.  I shall ponder.

Monday, October 07, 2019

A Merry Weekend

While we were in Meredith last weekend, we saw a sign advertising the Golden Plains monthly farmers' market. It's held in Bannockburn on the first Saturday of the month.

That was the next Saturday. We decided to go and investigate it.  Collecting farmers' markets is considerably more interesting (to us,  at least) than some other forms of collecting. You can't eat stamps, for example.

It was our weekend to go to visit Stella so we decided that Lindsey would go in her car and we would go in ours, then Lindsey could go home and we would mosey on down to Mount Martha.

I hadn't been into Bannockburn before. You go past it if you are driving from Ballarat to Geelong, but the highway doesn't actually venture into it. It's bigger than I expected it to be and it's a pretty place. As we got out of the car we saw a Great Dane just ahead of us. He was 8 months old and very friendly. We found the market. We found Lindsey. Lindsey found the Great Dane. The market was lovely. It's not a huge market but there were lots of interesting stalls. The only thing it didn't have that I might have liked was a mushroom stall. But there were eggs and veg and meat.  There were dumplings and cakes and pies.  There were soaps, waxed wrappers, candles. Lots of things to look at. Lots of things to buy.  It's on the same Saturday as the Bridge Mall market which, it must be admitted, is very much closer to us. 15 minutes by car rather than 45.  But we will definitely go to the Bannockburn market again.

Lindsey went back to Ballarat. Jim and I drove down to Geelong, then beyond to Queenscliff.  I had, just for fun, booked us onto the 2pm ferry from Queenscliff, across the bay to Sorrento. We got there with loads of time to spare so we sat in a park for ten minutes. Even then we got to the ferry while they were loading the 1pm crossing.  The nice lady asked if we wanted to go across on that one.  Yes please!

It wasn't hugely busy.  Perhaps half full. So we sat by the window and had coffee and cake for the 40 minute crossing.  A grey day to be on the bay - but it was marvellously still.  It can sometimes be Very Choppy Indeed

Approaching Sorrento - though I think
this is probably Portsea

We drove to Mount Martha along the beach roads, no matter how much the Sat Nav tried to convince us to join the freeway. We called in to Herenswood on the way past to see if they had any seed potatoes.  Alas no. On the peninsula, people have already planted their potatoes.  It's still a bit early in Ballarat. The soil is starting to warm up and I have planted lots of summer seeds - but not outside yet.  The overnight temperatures can still be perilously close to 0d.  I did get some ginger and some fruit seeds.

And then we arrived at Mount Martha, earlier than expected because we had been on an earlier ferry than expected. We had a nice chat and then dinner with Stella. Lamb straps with potato gems and green vegetables and gravy.

A very good day.

Sunday was a good day too.  I put a piece of beef into a low, low oven in the morning. Jim and Stella had kippers for breakfast.  Tony loathed the smell of kippers so Stella never had them, much as she likes them.  We have discovered a source of Scottish kippers which you can cook in the microwave. So most Sundays when we are there I cook kippers for them.  They both enjoy them.  

Then we hopped in the car and drove round to the dog park.  It was the monthly Great Dane meet and Lindsey, Rupert and Hugo had driven down to play.  There weren't as many Great Danes as usual but there were lots of other dogs and a good time was had by all.  Rupert and Hugo do enjoy the off lead dog park. It is properly fenced so there is no need to worry about them accidentally running on the road.  Stella doesn't remember ever having been there before and seemed to enjoy it. All the dogs enjoyed talking to her.

Hugo - Lord of all he surveys

Hugo and new friend Scooby

Rupert in a field of Capeweed

It's time for lunch now, surely???

Jim and Stella
We had a delicious lunch when we got back to Stella's place.  Slow cooked beef from the Bannockburn market. Absolutely delicious roast potatoes, also from the market (Otway Gold, if you happen to find them, make excellent roasting potatoes). Nice veggies, from various places.  Mushroom gravy.  Rupert and Hugo were pleased to have a bit of beef but strangely didn't pester us for more of our lunches

Then we all abandoned Stella and made our various ways home.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Mostly eating

Lindsey and Stella dropped down and picked us up around midday on Saturday and we went out to the Elaine Farm Shop and then on to the pub in Meredith.

We've only been there once before and that, I think, was in February. Even so the landlord assured us he remembered us. I'm not sure that this is a good thing!

We really should go more often.  The food is absolutely lovely - pub food, not fine dining - plentiful and not all that expensive. The landlord is very cheerful. The pub wasn't particularly busy, although the bar started to fill up as the footy final got closer. I think a lot of people are away. Ballarat seems fairly quiet too, although I haven't been into town.

We went home before the footy started.  I put the second half of the match on the telly so Jim could watch it if he was minded. And he did. He even stayed awake, although it was a spectacularly  one sided affair. I watched the medal presentation which was quite cute.  The winners medals were handed out by children. It was surprisingly difficult to find out who the children were but it turns out they play with AusKick, which is footy for littlies. 5 - 12 I believe.

We had obviously exhausted Stella.  Lindsey reports that she slept through the second half of the final.

On Sunday Lindsey and Stella came down our place for lunch.  I made a seafood platter with home made chips.

And then it was Monday.  Lindsey went to work.  Jim and I went up to Hill House.  An electrician came to see why the lights intermittently don't work at our end of the house.  Rupert and Hugo were rather excited by the arrival of an electrician, especially when he started clambering about on the roof.  Alas for them, I shut them in the orchard garden and they couldn't get to him to play.

And then I brought Stella home. I think she enjoyed her long weekend in Ballarat. I think she was quite glad to get home again. No Great Danes thundering past (although to be fair they are much more gentle with her than they are with us :-) )

It's a beautiful morning. The weather is set to warm up a bit this week. A tiny hint of summer. I think it's supposed to cool down again next week and the nights are still quite cold.  A tricky time of year to dress for.  Shall I wear a long or short sleeved shirt today?  Which ever, I need to make a decision and get moving.  Back to work for me today.

Hugo does love Grandma Stella 💝
Photo by Lindsey

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Thursday and Friday

The plan for Thursday had been that Jim and I would head to Melbourne at midday or so.  I would tidy the kitchen and guest bathroom and toilet at Hill House before we went. Then I would do Stella's room and ensuite on Friday morning.

Lindsey rang while I was in the shower on Thursday morning.  Her meeting which had been scheduled from 10-1 had been moved forward (by agreement with all the participants; it hadn't just randomly been altered) to an 8:00 start.  So she would head down and collect Stella and bring her up a day early.

This threw my plans into complete chaos!!!

But I had to tidy Stella's room.  As it stood, she wouldn't be able to get to the bed. The room was full of suitcases and bedding and other stuff. By the time midday arrived, I had done our washing and hung it out in the sunshine, tidied Stella's room and cleaned her bathroom and vacuumed the floors, sorted out the kitchen, tidied our room.

We organised the dogs, then drove down to the surgery in beautiful sunshine - and in very little traffic.  It's school holidays and a long weekend was upon us so there wasn't much traffic.  We arrived in good time, had lunch in a nearby Red Rooster and arrived in the surgery a little more than 5 minutes before Jim's scheduled appointment with the audiologist.

Deb the receptionist said that the audiologist had been asking if Jim had arrived for around half an hour, though we were not late.  So we went down to the room she was using.  She was not there.  We returned to the reception area waited and waited and waited. She did not come and call him.  It got to time for my appointment.  She did not call me. Then someone who we assumed was the audiologist walked past, smiled at us, stopped at the desk and then left.  Jim and I were confused.  So I went to see what was happening.  Deb was also confused.  She thought we had already been seen.  We went and waited the audiologist's room until she came back.  Having come all the way down from Ballarat, we did not want her to glide over our appointments completely and to call the next person who had, by now, arrived for his appointment.

She returned full of apologies. In a massive confusion of understanding she had assumed that we had not turned up (not helped by someone else telling her that I didn't work there on Thursdays, lived up country and therefore was unlikely to come in; she didn't ask Deb, who knew we were coming and in any case knew that we had arrived).  But never mind.  We eventually had our hearing assessments.  No real surprises.  My hearing remains good.  Jim's is also good but he is losing the upper registers, which is not uncommon as you get older and which we had already surmised. I can still hear high pitched sounds that he doesn't hear.

We got back to Hill House not long after Lindsey and Stella had arrived. Lindsey was still unpacking the car.  We stayed up there overnight.  Lindsey had raided Tully's in Mornington and there was beef pie, mash and green vegetables on offer.

And also, Freyja and Simon were coming for lunch on the Friday, which was a public holiday in Victoria for the football Grand Final parade in the Melbourne city centre.  We had arranged for them to go to Hill House in the expectation that Lindsey and Stella would be on their way up from Mount Martha.  Also, they were coming to collect the newly repaired UIW.

I made a vegan friendly gardeners' pie for lunch.  Lots and lots of veg, a tin of baked beans and some gravy.  When Lindsey had made the mash to go with our beef pie on Thursday night, the potatoes went from rock hard to mush in the space of around three minutes (so clearly an issue with boiling that variety of potato rather than my ineptitude :-D ). I didn't really want to spend my time watching potatoes with an eagle eye so that they were at an exact consistency for mashing for my gardeners' pie.  Frozen mash from the supermarket tends to have milk and butter in it, so not suitable for vegans. Then I remembered that one of the food magazines, on the cover of one of the autumn issues, had had a photo of a shepherds' pie topped with potato gems - which are vegan friendly.  I dashed to Mount Clear and bought a packet. They were perfect!

Freyja and Simon crossed their fingers and set off back to Melbourne in UIW.  We got a text message to say they had safely passed Gordon, where they had broken down on the previous attempt. Then another to say they had safely arrived home.  By that time, Jim and I were also at home, having packed up Ziggy and left Stella and Lindsey in the tender care of Rupert and Hugo.  I think it's almost two weeks since we last spent the night at Tani.  Lindsey says we have a holiday house (Tani) a mere 5 minutes away from where we live (Hill House) :-D

And now we must get on. The morning is moving on and we are going out with Lindsey and Stella at lunchtime. If nothing else, I must iron something to wear today. I seem to have run out of clean, ironed clothes!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Lindsey and I went into town on Thursday morning.  She dropped me off and went on to Tai chi and then her piano lesson.  I went into the Honda Hospital and picked up UIW, now with a new alternator and new starter motor but not a new battery, which they had managed to re-charge.  Then UIW and I went back to Hill House.

I had a culinary disaster on Thursday evening.  My potatoes and leeks, intended for mash, turned into mush!!!  They were ready before the chicken kievs and mushrooms were, so I turned them off and left them to keep warm.  When I came back the potatoes had gone all mushy in the hot water.  So I blitzed them up into soup and added a larger dollop of butter. I put the soup into big soup bowls and decorated the soup with slices of kiev and lots of crispy garlic mushrooms.  We had it with a chunky salad on the side.  It tasted lovely!  I had assumed it was because I left the potatoes in hot water to wait until the kievs were ready, but I am coming to think it might be the kind of potato.  We haven't had them before (they're called Bliss) and they are much inclined to go from rock hard to mush in water unless you keep a close eye on them. They make very excellent chips and roasties, though.

The weather in the latter part of last week was warm and very windy.  Perfect for drying the clothes. Not so perfect for drying the bed sheet which made a bid for freedom and tried to fly to Bacchus Marsh. Fortunately a bush near the washing line captured it and I brought it in to finish drying inside. Then the weekend arrived and with it arrived cold, wet, misty weather.  No wind, but there was no point trying to do anything outside.

So Jim and I stayed inside, up at Hill House, with Rupert and Hugo. Lindsey and Ian were in Sydney. It was a pleasant, quiet weekend in which very little happened. A soup and toast sort of weekend.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


So a tow truck came and collected UIW on Friday and took it to the Honda Hospital, ready for its appointment on Monday.  It was to have a new alternator and a new underskirt around the front nose. You may remember that the underskirt had weathered and the nose of the car would become dislodged if you got too close to  a kerb, or even to the agapanthus in our driveway. It was time for it to be replaced

I went into town on the bus on Monday afternoon to go to the library and then to collect the car.  I rang from the library to find to what time I could collect it, only to be told that they were having trouble starting it. They rang back ten minutes later to tell me that when the alternator had died it had taken with it the starter motor and the brand new battery, which now needed replacing as well.

UIW was left in the Honda Hospital and I went back to Mount Helen on the bus.  It should be ready to pick up by now - I haven't heard of any further problems.  But it will have to wait until Thursday.

We had a good day on Saturday.  It was a glorious morning, so Lindsey, Jim and I went out to the lakeside market, which was busy and bustling. We went out to the farm shop in Elaine. Jim and I went out to Delacombe in the afternoon.  I have put some little seedlings in the small pots on our patio. It is almost time to start planting the small, summer seeds like tomatoes. The bean seeds I planted earlier are starting to shoot.  Not the zucchini, cucumber or pumpkin seeds.  i wonder if they got too wet and rotted.  I'll give them another few days and then re-sow.

Our early spring harvest. The sprouting broccoli has just started.  We have almost finished the cauliflowers. The Brussels sprouts didn't really come to anything but we have been eating the tops and the leaves.  We also have carrots in a box at our place.  Must sow some more carrot seeds soon.

I remembered, during a conversation with Lindsey over the weekend, that once, long ago, we had considered the possibility of a rail trip across France and Spain to Morocco.  It never eventuated because Lindsey and Ian didn't come back to the UK after we had thought about it.  But Jim and I will be in the UK in March and have a free week for a "holiday".  No reason why we shouldn't do it on our own.  I spent most of Sunday afternoon putting a rail trip together.  I can't actually book the trains yet - it's too early.  But I can see what the timetables are like and I can book accommodation.  So I did. Accommodation booked in Paris, Barcelona, Algeciras and Marrakech.  Flight booked back to London. I'll book the trains when the tickets open.

It was slightly chilly when I left to go to work yesterday morning.

It's long time since I went out to find the windscreen quite so iced up. The advantage to being at Hill House was that I could turn the car on and put the heater on full bore onto the windscreen. By the time I had gone inside to tell Jim about it and come back out again, the windscreen had started to clear.  Had I done that in Tupton I suspect I wouldn't have had a car to go back to :-D  And it's just as well that the bean seeds are on the window sills in our lounge room. I don't think they would have enjoyed quite such a cold night. outside

We are at Hill House this week and next.  Must remember to pop down to our place from time to time and (lightly) water the seeds and new seedlings.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Rain and Cars

The weather at the weekend was definitely not springlike - well, not unless you think spring weather is cold, persistent rain and strong wind!

Even so, we braved the Bridge Mall market with Lindsey and came away with scones and cheeses, veg and eggs, tiny cakes  and some packs of sausages.

Then Jim and I drove down to Mount Martha, where we ate the scones, the cheeses and the tiny cakes with Stella.  (We ate them in the company of Stella; we didn't eat Stella as well - that would have been very greedy :-D )

We did all the usual Mount Martha Sunday things.  Supermarket, lunch in the Dava. And I cleared out the bathroom cupboard for Stella.

Back in Mount Helen, Freyja and Simon had arrived to collect the Accord, which had been sitting, unused, over the winter.  It hadn't been used much before that, not once we took over the care of Ziggy.  Simon has recently got his driving licence and Lindsey and Ian felt that UIW would be happier if it was being used and offered to lend it to Simon.  A new battery was put in. They took it for a spin. All seemed well, except that the battery light on the dashboard wouldn't go off.  But it was a new battery so they tightened up the connector and off Simon and Freyja set.  They only got as far as Gordon before the indicator lights stopped working.  The speedo stopped reading. One by one the electrical things stopped working.

I've been in a car before when that was happening.  It was Emily's old car and we were hitching a ride with her from Mount Helen to Melbourne some years ago when we were over visiting from England. We came off the freeway in Melton and rolled to a halt outside a Nandos where we had lunch while waiting for the breakdown people.  It was a problem with the alternator.  And so it was with UIW.  They rolled off the freeway at Gordon, alas not outside a food outlet, and waited in the cold until a breakdown person came and took them back to Mount Helen.  And there UIW remains.  Freyja and Simon took the train back to Melbourne.  UIW is booked in for a new alternator on Monday. We just need to organise a tow truck to get it there

In the meantime, Lindsey's car went in to be serviced in Ballarat on Thursday. When we collected it we were told that it urgently needed new tyres and that really it wasn't safe to drive very far on the old ones. Alas, they can't fit new tyres for another two weeks. So Lindsey and I are driving around in Ziggy (who recently got new tyres) and Lindsey's car is booked in on Friday in Reservoir for its new tyres. She is not best pleased that her (branded) mechanic for her expensive car can't fit her in for new tyres but the Kmart service place in the Summerhill shopping centre managed to find a space for her.

It's still raining. Not quite as windy.  But quite cold.  Typical spring weather, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Fathers' Day

It was Fathers' Day on Sunday in Australia.

Tony, of course, is no longer with us but that didn't seem a reason not to Have Lunch.  Anyway, Jim is a father and so too is Ian. Not everyone could join us so we organised to meet in the Prince Patrick across the road from the flat, which was more convenient for the majority of us than the Dava in Mount Martha.

Wendy brought Stella up from Mount Martha. Jim and I came down from Ballarat.  Lindsey, Ian and Emily were there and Susie and her partner Chris also joined us. It was a lovely day, the company was merry and the food was good.  Some of us went to Bunnings after lunch.  There's one a very short walk down the road. Then Jim and i headed back to Mount Helen to stay with Rupert and Hugo.

It was a good weekend all round.  The weather was lovely during the day, with rain overnight (much like Camelot :-D)  We went to the Elaine farm shop on Saturday, and to the garden centre for various necessities of early spring.  I have planted some early sowings of beans, zucchini and cucumbers, although they are inside rather than in the little greenhouse. It's really a bit early but I thought if they are inside we might get a few weeks extra growing time.

A plumber came on Monday and mended our toilet, which had developed a very slow and gentle leak from the cistern into the pan.  It needed a new washer.  I had never thought of toilets having washers so hadn't even looked to see if it was something I could fix myself!  While he was there he bounded up a ladder and cleared out all our gutters. This was something of a relief to me.  I knew the gutters needed clearing but had assumed that tenants were responsible for that.  Neither Jim nor I are planning to scale ladders onto the roof, whether bounding or crawling slowly, and I had been wondering how to employ someone to do it for us.  Fortunately it turns out that in Victoria owners are responsible for the gutters, not  the tenants and the letting agent sorted it out.

I had an appointment with the hand therapist at St Vincent's on Tuesday morning. She is very pleased with my hand.  The little finger has gone from 44d to 29d.  My fist is almost ready for me to recommence my boxing career.  The strength in my palm is improving.  I go back in 6 weeks.

And I may need to dig out my spring clothes. It is far too early to declare winter over and I have no immediate plans to put my cold weather clothes away - but I was far too warm yesterday in my winter shirt and jumper.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

It was an absolutely glorious day on Saturday.  I actually hung the washing outside and it was oh so nearly dry when I brought it in later in the afternoon.

Jim and I went out for a potter at the Brown Hill market, which was satisfyingly busy, and then went out to Delacombe to the supermarket and to the new Bunnings.  We've bought a small plastic seed raising "greenhouse", which Jim has assembled. Mindful of the summer in Tupton when our plastic seed raising tent blew away, taking with it a large number of seedlings, and equally mindful that it can be quite windy where we live - he has attached it to the side of the house.

I am hopeful that we will be able to extend the growing season a little by using the seed tent.  And, of course, I want to start planting seeds now that they have a home to live in. However, I must remember that it is only August and is too early to be planting summer seeds. Although, I noticed at the weekend that the tarragon is starting to come back and the oregano and sage are beginning to show new leaves, so the soil must be warming up a bit.  In the meantime, we are eating cauliflowers and carrots from the boxes and the Hill House garden.

Sunday saw us off to Geelong, where we visited Irene and Flora for lunch. Gillie, Chris and John were also there. It's lovely drive to Geelong and takes about an hour on a Sunday morning.  We feasted on smoked salmon, an Italian sausage and bean casserole and finished with Irene's magnificent lemon tart. It was a convivial afternoon which we both enjoyed very much.

On Monday we went into town.  We don't go into the city centre all that often any more. Most of our needs can be met in Delacombe or Sebastopol. However, I wanted to go to the library.  I find that the little library in East Melbourne can provide more of what I want to read than the library in Ballarat, being part of the Melbourne city library service. On this occasion, however, the book that had come to my attention was not only part of the Central Highlands library collection but was actually sitting on the shelf in the Ballarat library.  We went and got it.  We called into Wilson's on a whim but didn't really need anything. And we finished the day at Hill House in the company of Rupert and Hugo.

And here we still are.  But I must make haste.  It's time for me to head to work.  At this time of year it has started to get light when I leave on Tuesdays and Fridays.  The only problem is the sun shining in my eyes as it gets up when I am driving down the freeway!