Thursday, February 15, 2018


Jim and I went into town earlier today to pick up some biscuits and chooky treats for the dogs.

I tend to go up and down Lindsey and Ian's drive quite slowly, mostly because of some rather large potholes. One or two of them might try to swallow the Honda, which would be inconvenient, especially if we were in it.

It was just as well we were going slowly today. As we reached the top there were half a dozen kangaroos pottering about in the drive. It would be seriously inconvenient to hit a kangaroo or three!  I stopped until they got out of the way.

As we got out of the car, there was a wedge tailed eagle hovering overhead, obviously on the lookout for lunch.  We are too big to be an eagle's lunch so stood and admired it until it plunged down into the grass in the paddock.  I think it was after a rabbit. The magpies were being very quiet and still on the other side of the house.  When Rupert first arrived I worried that a passing eagle might fancy him for lunch.  He and Hugo are now much too large to form part of an eagle's menu.

I had an online Japanese lesson at lunchtime.  Half way through it someone asked how to say "pie" in Japanese.  It was at that point that I remembered that I had put some apple tarts in to cook which would have been ready just before the lesson started.  I didn't feel that I could just get up and vanish for a couple of minutes while I got them out of the oven so sent Jim a text message asking him to rescue them.  They are a little over-baked but still edible.  They definitely don't have soggy bottoms. Even so, I might not take them as an offering to the surgery staff tomorrow.  Jim and I will have to make the sacrifice and eat them ourselves.

It's been a gentle sort of a day today.  Gentle days are nice.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I should have listened to the dog!

I got up nice and early, yesterday morning, ready to drive to Reservoir for my shift on the reception desk at the surgery.  I was ready to leave in good time. Went in to say goodbye to everyone - and Rupert came in from the garden and gave me a goodbye kiss, putting great big muddy nose prints all over the brand new pair of trousers I was wearing for the very first time.

Sigh.  Obviously I can't go to work wearing trousers covered in muddy nose prints. Not even if I am expecting to spend the day in my cupboard. Certainly not if on the reception desk.  I change into a clean, not new pair of trousers.

I am now running five minutes later than planned, but it's still quite early so all should be well.

And all was well. Until I reached the Calder Freeway when the traffic came to a complete standstill. It took about 30 minutes to do a distance that usually takes around 10.

Sigh.  But it's ok.  I should still be at the surgery on time.  I factored in time for delay.

Then I come off the ring road onto Plenty Road.  Drive through a green light, turning right, only to see that the traffic ahead of me is blocking the intersection.  If I keep going I will block the tramlines.  Blocking the tramlines is never a Good Plan.  So I stop, stranded in the middle of the intersection.  Fortunately, not in a lane where through traffic is going to go, but definitely in the lane where traffic turning onto the freeway will want to go.  I wait there until their green light comes on.  Fortunately, the lead drivers have seen me and let me get out of the way.

I am now late for work  and more than slightly stressed ;-(

I settle down at the desk.  Patients come and go. One of the doctors is also stranded in traffic so their patients are moved around to see other doctors so the late running one doesn't have an almighty queue when he eventually turns up.

The phone rings.  Someone claiming to be  an air ambulance bloke wanting to speak to one of our part time people, who won't be in until later in the week.  It's very urgent, apparently. Can I give the (alleged) air ambulance bod his mobile phone number.  Aside from the fact that I don't know the mobile phone number, I wouldn't give it anyway.  The caller might not actually be from the air ambulance!  Pass the call through to The Nurse who sorts it all out.

More patients come.  One elderly lady doesn't understand why her appointment has been shifted to another doctor.  She is Very Elderly Indeed and quite deaf. But she likes the alternative doctor so is happy to see him after the initial confusion.

The phone rings.  It's the emergency number wanting to speak to The Nurse. I find The Nurse and put the call through.

Immediately the phone rings again.  It's someone who wants a document faxed through to his solicitor, rightnowthisveryminute.  The Nurse wanders past so I give the request to her.  After all, we can't just go around randomly faxing things without written permission.  The person on the phone could be anyone.

I think The Nurse is beginning to wish I would stop answering the phone :-D

I get a nice run of simple phone calls. People wanting appointments, people cancelling appointments. I can deal with those. No need to trouble The Nurse.

Lunchtime.  And then I go into my cupboard to catch up with some scanning.  The Nurse expresses relief that I will no longer be answering the phone. One of the doctors ambles in.  Have I seen a document he wanted for one of his patients.  It hasn't been scanned yet.  Well no; it was only put in the box in the morning and I have three days worth of scanning to do. I  riffle through the scanning pile and finally find it just as the patient arrives.

Called back out onto the desk.  Answer the phone.  A lengthy phone call with someone I can't quite hear and don't really understand. The Nurse has temporarily left the building so isn't available for me to pass it to.  Eventually get the call sorted out.  I think!

Hop in the car later than I had meant and hit the after school traffic. The traffic on the ring road is horrible.  Finally get home to find Rupert, Hugo and Jim all happy, relaxed and pottering about.

I really should have listened to the dog.  Instead of putting clean trousers on first thing, I should have put my pyjamas on again and gone back to bed!!!

Thursday, February 08, 2018


We've had a busy few days.

There was the Bridge Mall market on Saturday morning.

Lindsey and Ian are still house hunting.

Lindsey, Jim and I went to Castlemaine on Sunday morning to check out the farmers' market and the artists' market. Jim had never been to Castlemaine and it's years and years since either Lindsey or I had been.  It's a pretty drive and it was a nice day for it.

We enjoyed both the markets. The farmers' market had lots of interesting things to eat and ingredients to buy, and the artists' market had lots of lovely things to look at. And buy! We left with Lindsey's trolley pretty much full.

On the way back we called into the Sunday Trash and Treasure market in Daylesford. It's much bigger than we anticipated but we had a good wander around.  I bought myself a bowl to use as a fruit bowl when I have a kitchen of my own. We don't need a new fruit bowl in Lindsey and Ian's kitchen. They have several!

Cost me the princely sum of $2
We were diverted, as we approached Lindsey and Ian's driveway, by the sight of their neighbour heading towards us, flagging us down.  She had a blue tongue lizard stuck in a wire mesh fence and was looking for extra pairs hands to help rescue it.  Off up her driveway we went and she and Lindsey spent several minutes cutting around the lizard trying to release it without (i) getting bitten by it or (ii) cutting into it with the wire or the wire cutters.  It must be said that it was well and truly stuck.

The lizard is free
and ran away before it could be put in a box and taken to the vet for a check up
This week is proceeding in a fairly orderly manner. I left Mount Helen early on Tuesday morning for a reception shift at the surgery, abandoning Jim and the dogs to look after things for themselves. Now I am at Mount Martha. Tony has an appointment at the oncologist in Heidelberg at lunchtime and I am the taxi driver.

I have had a nice couple of walks this week.  I had a lovely potter in the Fitzroy gardens on Tuesday evening, where, rather to my surprise,  I encountered a dragon.  This morning I went for a walk down to the beach road and had a trundle along there .  I am determined that this year I will get to my target of a minimum of 700 km :-)

An unexpected dragon in the park

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Petit Tracteur

Petit Tracteur is the baby sister of Ten Minutes by Tractor. Jim and I had never been to either, although Stella and Tony have been to Ten Minutes. I don't think they had been to the Petit Tracteur since it had been bought by Ten Minutes.

Stella, I think, would have liked to go to Ten Minutes for lunch on Sunday.  However, to get a table at the weekend you need to book well in advance.  They managed to get a table at the Petit Tracteur but only for a booking at 2.  Jim and I can do Sunday lunch at 2, particularly if we are being treated to a very nice lunch out.  We often don't have Sunday lunch until 1:30 anyway.

So I drove out to Main Ridge.  We managed to get Stella down from the car park to the restaurant. (Memo to self: next time take the wheelchair and a strong young person to push it back up the hill!) The charming staff showed us to our table. Everyone was very  cheerful.

Petit Tracteur  menu (I really wish there was a "Le" at the beginning!)

You can have a selection of Ten Minutes' wines

Stella and Tony had duck.  Jim and I had pork loin. The duck came with orange things. The pork, unsurprisingly, came with apple things. We also had chips and French peas on the side.  It was all very yummy 

My delicious plate of pork loin

We didn't really need dessert. But we had it anyway.  Chocolate mousse to share. Tony wasn't going to have any. Wasn't hungry any more. No more to et for him.  Stella persuaded him to have a mouthful. He ate his half of their plate :-D  I didn't get a photo of it, alas. But it was made even more delicious by the passionfruit cream and seeds on the side.

Happy diners:

I don't know why Jim and I deserved such a treat, but we were very grateful indeed.

Jim drove us all back to Mount Martha and then drove me back to Mount Helen.  I didn't make him drive - he volunteered all of his own volition. (He will have a small amount of wine with a meal before driving; I won't. And it was rather nice to have the opportunity to try some of the Ten Minutes' pinot)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

House Hunting

After a pleasant little visit to the Lakeside market yesterday we went house hunting.

Well, when I say "we"...  Lindsey and Ian went house hunting.  Not that they are planning to move.  They are planning to add to their property portfolio.  I wonder of they think of themselves as property magnates :-D

Anyway.  We looked at two houses.  The first one was a really beautiful house.  I would have bought it for the shower in the ensuite!  It had a magnificent kitchen, beautiful bathroom, glorious lounge room.  But it was very big and failed in the requirement that it should be do-uppable and increase its value.  Alas. This house had already had everything done. There was nothing left to do.

The second house they looked at was also a lovely house. Lovely renovated kitchen and dining area. Renovated bathroom. Three, potentially four bedrooms with slightly outdated decor. Toilet and laundry crying out to be rescued.  Interesting living area that has loads of scope for doing up.  It seems perfect.  I think they are quite interested.  But I suspect there may be other people who are quite interested.  A liveable doer-upper in a convenient location is likely to attract interest.

And in the meantime, I get to indulge in one of my minor interests, which is poking around in other people's houses.  Will give us an idea of what is around if we ever sell the house in Tupton.  Not that we will at the moment.  It's not on the market and our tenants seem to be quite settled.

On Friday evening, Lindsey and I wandered out into the car parking area at their place, after the Australia Day storms had passed and the rain puddles had dried up - to be greeted by this:

Après le déluge

And later we went back out to watch the Australia Day fireworks out by the lake.  The evening had cleared up beautifully and we had a clear view.

You find Jim and me now at Mount Martha. We came down yesterday afternoon and stayed overnight.  I got up this morning and thought I might go for a Sunday morning walk, early, before the heat kicked in.  I left at around 8:30, walked outside and was greeted by about 26d and noticeable humidity.  I went anyway:

Friday, January 26, 2018

A (not) Weekend Report

I was about entitle this Weekend Report.  However, it's only Friday so I probably shouldn't :-D

I have to say, though, it feels a lot like a Sunday.

I finished work on Wednesday when Lindsey (who is on holiday this week) dropped by in the afternoon to pick me up and bring me back to Mount Helen, where Jim and the dogs were waiting for us.  We got here and made several big bowls of various salads.  Then Ruth and Andy arrived from Port Fairy.  Ian came home with barbecue provisions.  It was a beautiful evening so we sat outside and ate well and drank well.

Thank you to Lindsey for the photo

On Thursday (which was only yesterday and which felt remarkably like a Saturday) Lindsey, Ian, Ruth and Andy went and walked the Lake.  Jim finds the whole perimeter of the lake a bit far so we went a bit later and walked the pretty, wetlands bit of the lake. We met the others for lunch at Pipers, overlooking the lake.  It was a lovely morning and early afternoon.

Lindsey, Ruth and Andy headed off to Melbourne. Ian, Jim and I stayed here with Rupert and Hugo. Ian and I cooked dinner together - sausages on the barbecue (Ian), slightly undercooked Hasselback potatoes (me - they could have done with an extra few minutes), Ian's ratatouille style vegetables and my beans, peas, asparagus and sesame dish.  Then we watched the second episode of the Great Australian Bake Off, which I am very much enjoying. And then it was bedtime.  Another day gone!

Today is Australia Day, a national holiday.  To celebrate the occasion, Ruth and Andy have gone to Tasmania for ten days, Lindsey came back from Melbourne, and Ian and Jim installed a lock which Emily had given Lindsey and Ian for Christmas. They put it on the new patio doors in the lounge room, which have never been very secure.  It would only have been another little while before Rupert learnt how to open them, and they lead out to an unfenced garden. He can't open the doors now!

For the past little while it has been obvious that we have been invaded by mice.  We have been fighting back and I think we are winning. But it was clear that we needed to sort things out, tidy up and a bit and limit the food that the mice could reach. The obvious place to start was the pantry.  So today I emptied the pantry, cleaned it, disinfected it, sorted out the contents and put them back.

I know this won't last but look how beautiful it looks this afternoon:

And then the weather broke. It started to rain. Then the thunder came.  Jim sat outside and watched thunder storms come from the left and from the right.  And then they met, pretty much over our heads!

It was positively tropical in its intensity. Except that in tropical thunderstorms the rain is hot and this definitely was not. But the thunder was dramatic, loud, rolling and very close.  It is just as well that Sam is not still with us.  Mind you, if he had been, I don't think he would have survived the storm.  He was terrified of thunder and this was loud and intense.  Rupert and Hugo weren't bothered, apart from expressing interest in the biggest storm either of them has encountered.  We haven't had such a very exciting thunder storm in Mount Helen since we got here.  

The storm was so exciting that Ian got stuck in the supermarket.  Had he been in Tesco or Sainsbury's or Waitrose he could have waited it out in the coffee shop or cafe.  Australian supermarkets don't usually have coffee shops or cafes.  No coffee and pastry for him!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mostly eating

It was very hot in Victoria last Friday.  Hot and windy.  Again!

This time the fire danger had been moved to Severe (which is in the middle of the scale).  Fortunately, I was at home, so we would have had a car had we needed to leave in a hurry.  Equally fortunately, there was no need for a rapid evacuation.  We could see a fire in the afternoon, but it was All The Way Over There - and would have had to have got through Ballarat before it got to us.  This seemed unlikely so we didn't worry about it.  And also fortunately, the wind wasn't too bad around us.

I got up in the middle of the night because the dogs were barking.  Not only that, they were growling.  They, and I, went out to see what was what.  I couldn't see anything at all, but they were clearly exercised about something.  I think it might have been a fox.  There are foxes around and we have seen fox droppings. I was more interested in the wind.  If it had been blowing like that before (the poor, pathetic excuse for) a cool change had arrived on Friday evening, I wouldn't have waited for an alert, or signs of smoke.  I would have put the dogs, Jim and the important things (document dossier, passports, electronic devices, Farley - and Bernard, Sleepy and Chickpea who are visiting until Freyja and Simon get back in September) and gone to Melbourne or Ballarat.

By Saturday all was calm on the weather front.  I can't say that it was significantly cooler but at least the fire danger had dropped and I wasn't getting Extreme Heat alerts on my emergency app.  Mind you, it's amazing what you get used to. As long as it isn't humid or very windy, I don't usually notice the heat much - unless I have to be particularly active.

On Sunday Lindsey and I took off nice and early. We called at the flat, where were staying our cousins Ruth and Andy from the UK. We moseyed on down to the Mornington Peninsula and up Arthur's Seat.  This time it wasn't raining.  It was, in fact, a nice day. The city was covered in haze but at least you could see the beaches around the bay.  And then we went to Stella and Tony's place, armed with enough food for Sunday lunch for an army.  Ian and Jim came down with Rupert and Hugo.  Wendy was already there.  Simon came with Jacob and Noodle.  And Matthew, Belinda, Sage and William (but not their dogs) were also there.  It was a lovely afternoon.  Noisy, bibulous, festive.  Ian, Lindsey, Ruth and Andy took Rupert and Hugo for a walk down towards the beach.  I think all the excitement wore them out (the dogs, that is, not the humans).  Jim and I took them back to Mount Helen in Lindsey's car.  I looked around at one point and they were both sound asleep, wrapped around each other.  Lindsey, Ian, Ruth and Andy went back to the flat, then Lindsey and Ian came up to Mount Helen in a complicated shuffling of cars.  Ruth and Andy have the Honda. They've gone down the Great Ocean Road this week.

Lindsey is on holiday this week.  Thus she wasn't working last evening.  Before she started working on Tuesday evenings, she, Ian, Simon and his children would meet at The Fox for dinner.  It's a pub about a 2k walk from the flat.  So yesterday evening, Lindsey, Ian and I walked the nearly 2k to The Fox and met Bethan and Jacob.  Simon wasn't available.  I had  steak and chips.  And very nice it was too.  We should go more often. The lady waiting at our table recognised us (although not me, I would imagine :-) ) and asked where we had all been.  Simon obviously does go in from time to time - she asked if he was joining us, and called him by his name!!

My breakfast view this morning:

And a bit later:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Vale Gwen

After Jim had moved to Sheffield, then Chesterfield, and particularly after his father died, we tried to visit his mother every six to eight weeks and to take her out somewhere.

Usually it was tied to a Sunday lunch. We would go out into the New Forest and eat in one of the pubs. We would go to the harbour at Lymington and eat in the Ship. Occasionally we went to National Trust gardens and once we went to Longleat to look at the animals. We visited several zoos and animal parks.  There was always lunch (even if it wasn't always Sunday - but it often was).

As she got frailer we didn't always venture quite so far.  Often we ate in the Old Mill in Harnham, Salisbury and then went for a drive in the country after. But on good days we tried to go to other places.

When she died we thought hard about what to do to celebrate her life.  The funeral is tomorrow in Salisbury, England.  It wasn't feasible for us to go to that. We had to have a celebration for her here. So yesterday Lindsey, Ian, Jim, Farley the toy dog and I went to Daylesford for Sunday lunch in the Convent Gallery cafe (called Bad Habits :-D)  We took Farley because Gwen had loved him so much that we got her one of her own.  Except that the one we ordered took so long to get to us that we gave her my original Farley (washed, brushed and prettied up, I might add) and adopted the second Farley instead. Tabitha reminded me that he should go too and I must say it did seem appropriate.

I think she would have enjoyed it.  The Convent Gallery is in a lovely location and the cafe does delicious food.

A celebration for Gwen (Photo by Lindsey)

We toasted her on her way with Prosecco and white wine

My very delicious chicken schnitzel with fried potatoes and lemon coleslaw

The food was perhaps not what Gwen would have chosen to eat. She liked mostly plain food, though she very much enjoyed a pub Sunday Roast with all the trimmings (child portions in her latter years). This was more like plain-ish food with interesting twists.  So the coleslaw had lemon sauce rather than mayonnaise.  Lindsey had pancakes with smoked salmon inside.  Jim, to my astonishment, had a vegan friendly dish of grilled beetroot, roast cauliflower and a quinoa salad.  Not sure what Gwen would have made of that :-D  She might have had a small glass of wine, given that it was An Occasion. Normally, though, she would have orange juice.  We had wine and sparkling water on the side.

Afterwards we went to the Daylesford Lake and had a short walk.  We could have taken Gwen on this walk, in her wheelchair, if someone had been strong enough to push her up the one hill.  We once took her on a walk in her wheelchair which involved a steep hill, except that we were going down.  It was a ramshackle, uneven path with signs along it which looked for all the world as if it was forbidding the use of watering cans.  It was only when we finally managed to get to the bottom without tipping her out, or dropping her into the lake, or otherwise breaking her or us - it was only then that we realised that the watering cans were meant to represent push chairs and other wheeled devices.  The path wasn't suitable for wheelchairs.  Well, we knew that by the time we worked out the meaning of the signs.  Fortunately, she thought it was very funny.  But the path around the lake in Daylesford would be eminently suitable for a wheelchair.  And the sun had come out.  After a cold and gloomy morning, the weather had bucked up while we were having lunch and we had all taken out jumpers off.  And the lake was sparkling in the sunshine

Photo by Ian
It was a good day. I think Gwen would have thoroughly enjoyed it.  Jim certainly enjoyed it.  I hope it was a good send off for her.


Yesterday one of the TV channels took 17 hours out of its schedule for some "Slow Television". They showed the Ghan train on its journey from Adelaide to Darwin.  Obviously it was edited; the actual trip takes four days. There was no commentary and no music. You heard the train announcements but no other voices apart from the conversation of the passengers when the camera was in the dining carriages or cabins. They did have writing on the screen and graphics from time to time to explain the history or culture of wherever the train was.  Lindsey turned it on in the kitchen at 7 and we had it on all day, apart from when we went out.  None of us watched it solidly. We watched it when we were in the kitchen. Some people complained it was boring. Others said it would have been better with commentary and/or music.  We  all thought it was perfect as it was.  Gentle, soothing television where you didn't really miss anything if you weren't there.  Except for Alice Springs.  We were out at lunch when the train reached there. They are thinking of making another program of something similar. I believe it took about two years to get it all put together so I am not holding my breath!!  I wonder if the test cricket would benefit from there not being a commentary.  There isn't one if you go to the ground :-D

Sunday, January 14, 2018


One of the conditions of adopting one of the 11 rescue puppies from Great Dane Rescue Victoria was that they had to be desexed by the end of February 2018.  Until that has been done the puppies are, strictly speaking, being fostered.  Rupert is, of course, one of those puppies.

Hugo also came from GDRV and also came intact.  It was a condition of his adoption that he also had to be desexed.

Thursday was the day.

They were sorely puzzled when they got up on Thursday morning to find that all the water vessels had disappeared.  There was no breakfast. No tasty treats.  Hugo was deeply reluctant to get in the car.  Rupert jumped in cheerfully.  Then Jim and Lindsey took them to the surgery where Emily's housemate (the vet who came to attend to Sam) works.

Rupert was Not Happy about being left there.  Rupert, of course, hasn't been left anywhere without at least one of us or Emily being there since he arrived here.  Hugo was a bit more sanguine about it.  They were both delighted when Lindsey and Jim reappeared later in the afternoon to pick them up.

Hugo was looking good.  Not much swelling, didn't seem to be in pain, was bouncy and very definitely hungry.  Rupert looked very much as though he hadn't had The Operation at all.  He had a massive haematoma in his scrotum - looked as though the vet had sewn two small oranges in.  Mind you, he too seemed not to be in pain, was bouncy and was very definitely hungry.  They both wanted to RUNNNNNNN and BOUNCE - no hope of following the instruction to keep them quiet!  Alas, the running caused Rupert's wound to start to bleed.

Friday morning, Lindsey and I were getting ready to go to work.  Rupert's wound was still dripping.  Lindsey issued instructions to Jim and we set off.  As we were driving along we got a message from the vet.  Bring Rupert back in and I'll fix the haematoma.  Sadly, we were already on our way.  Jim wasn't confident he could find the surgery. Fortunately Emily was available.  So poor Rupert got taken away AGAIN, was operated on AGAIN and then didn't even get to come straight home.  The vet took him back to her place and Lindsey and I picked him up when we came back from work.  He didn't seem bothered by any of this.

Normally, when Lindsey gets back from wherever she's been, Hugo makes a huge fuss of her.  On this occasion he made an enormous fuss of Rupert and then made a fuss of her  I think Hugo is settling in to life at Mount Helen!

Yesterday Lindsey went to visit Stella and Tony, leaving Jim and me in charge of keeping Rupert, particularly, calm, quiet and peaceful.  This was a definite challenge.  We had been warned that Rupert would be swollen, bruised and in pain after his second operation.  No one had told Rupert this!  He wanted to RUNNNNNNN and BOUNCE.  So did Hugo.  They were a bit miffed that every time they tried to play they got shouted at to sit down and be still.

This morning they have been allowed to run and bounce and play.  And now they are sleeping :-D

They were sleeping here too. But this was taken yesterday

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hot and Windy

It was hot on Saturday. Very hot. Very, very hot. Although, at 38 or 39d in Mount Helen, perhaps not quite as hot as it was in Melbourne at 41 or 42d. And definitely not as hot as in Sydney on Sunday where in one suburb it reached 47d.  They can keep that!

39d is quite hot enough, thank you.

It was windy on Saturday. Very windy. Very, very windy.

Very, very hot and very, very windy.  Excellent conditions for bushfires.

It was the National Cycle Championships on Saturday. For mysterious reasons these are held in and around Buninyong.  This year they also took in part of the University campus.  It was so hot and windy that they moved the morning activities forward to early in the morning and cancelled the afternoon activities. Fortunately, the afternoon was not competitive. They do public events in the afternoon.  But it did mean that the roads were open in the afternoon should the need to evacuate arise.

Most fortunately no bushfires eventuated around us so there was no need to evacuate.  But I had my phone with me at all times. I have the state emergency app on my phone which would have alerted me had there been a problem.  You can't outrun a fire once it gets near to you, but we could get to the safe space at the University or even to either Buninyong or Mount Clear if paying attention to the alerts.

Lindsey, Jim and I got up early to water the fruit trees and the vegetables before the heat properly hit. We do the watering in the evening but thought that the plants might appreciate an extra drink under the circumstances. Then we went early-ish in the morning to the monthly Bridge Mall market. Alas, the spice lady wasn't there and we have run out of our favourite dukkah mixes.  We'll just have to hope that she was taking a summer break and will be back in February.  In the evening Ian and I tried an experiment, making pizza using his new outside pizza oven and also using the fan oven inside.  I have to say that the pizza oven won hands down.  I may have to save up very hard and buy one for myself.  Ian used it on Sunday to make focaccia and once again it was very successful.

Sunday was a much better day weather-wise.  Nothing like as hot and windy. Just as well. Lindsey and Ian had guests coming to lunch - an old school friend of Ant's and his wife and their two children. Their trip to Mount Helen was slightly complicated by the fact that the National Cycle Championships were back on schedule and the roads they had intended to use as they got here had been once again closed to traffic!

It was a lovely day. Ian cooked up a Spanish-style feast. It was very delicious. I may have to steal his recipe for the sauce he had with the slow cooked beef cheeks.

Apart from that, things are slowly settling back to normal after the Christmas and New Year holidays. I do have a few extra shifts on the reception desk but none planned until February. So I am more or less working my usual Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Except, of course, when other things intervene.  No interventions this week though.

Oh - except that I had an appointment with my hand therapist yesterday morning before work. I haven't seen her since the beginning of December.  Now, I am reasonably pleased with my hand at the moment.  I hadn't been. I was beginning to think that it would never improve, never bend, never work.  Then about a week ago I realised that I could use it well enough to hold vegetables properly when slicing them and to peg things out on the washing line.  I still can't hold a carving fork properly, but it is obviously beginning to get better.  But I can't do some of the things the therapist had asked me to work on so I thought she might be a bit grumpy.  But no. She too is quite pleased. I now have a new night splint, new exercises and some exercise putty to strengthen the hand so I will be able to hold a carving fork. Eventually. Now I just need to remember to do all the exercises :-D