Thursday, August 31, 2017


So the results of my blood tests came back and suggested that I do not have an (anaphylactic) allergy to walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews.  Lindsey says that it is highly unusual for nut allergies to go away, but I certainly did have anaphylactic reactions to nuts in my 20s.  Mind you, I haven't knowingly eaten nuts for a very long time so I suppose it is possible that the allergy might have moderated in the interim.

I am not, however, launching myself into munching on almonds and cashews and other nuts.  My blood might not think I have an anaphylactic allergy but my brain does.  I have a feeling that if I start knowingly eating nuts my brain will tell my body to react.  I have decided to make sure I carry my antihistamines and my asthma puffer with me, and not read the ingredients lists on things until some time after I have eaten them.  If there is no reaction and there is a nut present then we can mark that nut as safe.

Coconut is a different matter.  I know that coconut is not a true nut.  I know that strictly speaking it is a fruit.  I am fully aware that allergists and other people who Know These Things say that coconut allergy is very rare (although I do know people who are allergic to coconut).  But the last time I ate coconut I didn't know it was in the food until I had had a couple of mouthfuls.  And I investigated because I had an almost immediate reaction.  My plan not to read ingredients lists may come unstuck here. I do need to check for coconut, and coconut is EVERYWHERE in Australia. It's a bit of a dilemma.  I may have to risk it.  Oh - or get someone else to check for coconut :-D

I have, however, spent so many years not viewing nuts as a food that I don't even notice them in the supermarket unless I want them for something specific.  And then I have to go hunting.

In other news, you may remember that the proposed sale of our house in Tupton fell through earlier in the year. Since then there have been plenty of viewers and even a couple of second viewers, but no bites.  We have been in talks with the estate agent with a view to renting the house until the housing market in the UK improves.  Then yesterday I had a message to say that the most recent viewer had put in an offer.  It's considerably less than the asking price but Jim and I decided that a bird in the hand ... and have accepted the offer, with the proviso that she has to take the house As Is.  We do need to remember, though, that the house is in England and not in Australia. The potential buyer has sold her house, but subject to contract.  The people who are buying her house could pull out at any moment, in which case our buyer would have to pull out too. Please keep your fingers and toes all crossed until all is complete.  This may make daily life difficult but I have every faith in you all :-D

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I have had a busy few days.  It's one of the little ironies I find in writing a blog; when there is much to say there is little time to say it and when there is time to write - there is not much to say!!

Anyway.  I went to work last Tuesday as normal and then on Wednesday  I went down to Mount Martha.  Stella and I took Tony to the Memory Clinic in the afternoon. It was quite an interesting experience.  They were testing for memory, cognition, logic and various other things like that.  Stella and I were in the room too and silently did the tests as well.  We all did quite well, though I would have failed dismally on the "count down from 100 by 7s". Quite why anyone would ever want to do that EVER is a mystery to me! They think that Tony may have some mild vascular cognitive impairment, probably from the two falls (of the many falls that he had over a period of a couple of months last year) that caused bleeding in the brain.  He is to have an MRI of the brain and then go back for more tests in three months time.

On Thursday Tony and I spent the morning running various errands in Mornington and Dromana and then we all went to see the oncologist in Heidelberg in the afternoon.  It's a relatively straight run down East Link and the Eastern Freeway from their place to Heidelberg and I wasn't expecting any real problems getting there or back (apart from finding somewhere to park - I ended up dropping them off outside the place and then parking in a nearby hospital carpark).  The freeway was quite busy as we headed out of town, but it was peak hour and the traffic was moving, even if slowly.  I was very surprised, however, as we got out of town to find that the traffic was almost at a standstill.  This is very unusual on East Link.  There had been an accident on the slip road from the services which had blocked a couple of lanes, hence the delay.  I was very glad that I hadn't been in the car which was being lifted up by a crane.  It was upside down and somewhat flat.  Fortunately, it wasn't a fatal accident - but I am still glad I hadn't been in that car!

I headed back to Melbourne quite early on Friday morning and went to work, and then came back to Ballarat mid afternoon.

Lindsey, Jim and I spent the weekend doing the sorts of things that Jim and I used to do in Derbyshire.  We went to farm gate shops out in the countryside and bought meat, vegetables and other provisions for the week.  We went to Eynesbury to the monthly farm, craft and food market on Sunday to have lunch and to potter around. We came back with spice mixes, pork pies, terrines and pate, balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar, loads of very yummy things. Ian didn't come with us.  He spent the weekend at home doing useful things there.

We managed to dodge the various rainstorms that swirled around over the weekend.  It didn't rain at all when we were outside. Or, not over us it didn't. We could see it raining in other places

Rupert had his first bone, which he thought was a great new toy and a very delicious one at that.

Now he just has to work out how to stop the magpies eating it when he is not there - and how to stop Sam burying it, because that is what Sam thinks that bones are for!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Over the weekend I treated myself to this:

I had the use of a preserving pan for a couple of seasons when my cousin Penny lent me hers.  Apart from that, I've never had one.  When I wanted t make jams, chutneys and other preserves, I used my heavy duty casserole pan.  This wasn't entirely successful . Because it gets used for all sorts of things, the preserves tended to stick on the bottom and burn.  When I discovered some Seville oranges at Wilson's the Greengrocer's  I bought them, and then decided to treat myself to a proper preserving pan.  It's a small one so absolutely perfect for me.  I pretty much never need to make industrial quantities of preserves.

I also bought a sugar thermometer (I already have at least one, but it's packed in a box somewhere) and a jam funnel.

And made this:

The marmalade is a bit dark. I used brown sugar instead of white or demerara, largely because I had brown sugar to hand. Also, it's a bit more set than I would usually make it.  According to the sugar thermometer the marmalade didn't ever reach setting point.  It did according to the "drop a bit on a saucer and see if it wrinkles" test. It tastes OK though.

What shall I make next?  I am thinking beetroot chutney, or grapefruit marmalade, or ... Not jam, though. Not yet.  I'll wait for the soft fruit season. And we need to start collecting empty glass jars as they come to hand.  I have established a collecting box :-D

Oh. And today is our one year anniversary of arriving in Australia with a view to staying.  It is, of course, not our anniversary of our first arrival together in Australia. We first came together in December 2005. But On This Day in 2016 we landed very, very early in Cairns and then flew on down to Melbourne and started the process of Moving In

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Birthday Celebrations

It was Freyja's birthday on Thursday.  She and Simon celebrated by going to London on a Magical Mystery tour which involved food, more food, drink, taking in a show, stumbling upon a creepy toy museum and catching up with friends.

Jim and I celebrated by going to VicRoads and converting his British driving licence into a Victorian one.  Then we headed to the Medicare office to get him a Medicare card so he can access Australian health services.  We possibly shouldn't have gone at lunchtime, when there was one Medicare officer trying to deal with several enquiries.  And I possibly should have thought to print out and fill in the application form before we went.  Still, we got there in the end and he now has both a driving licence and a Medicare card - so two forms of identification :-)

We ought to see about getting him a Tax File Number so I can send him out to work. His bridging visa allows him to work - although I think he would prefer not to.  And I don't think we can get him a Senior's card until his resident's visa is approved.  His Medicare card states that he is a visitor and you need to be a resident to get the Senior's card.  The turn around time for the resident's visa in Australia is between 18 and 24 months.  Simon and Freyja's application (for Simon), which was submitted in London, is being processed now.  Obviously far fewer people submitted applications in the last week of June in London than did in Australia!!!!

Jim and I occupied the rest of Thursday by unpacking a couple of the boxes that came over from the UK.  We repacked most things, not having anywhere to put them, nor having any use for them at the moment.  But I was glad to see some more clothes, some notebooks and pens, and a few other bits and pieces that we have left out of the boxes.  Alas, Jim's radio controlled clock doesn't work.  I looked it up and the National Measurement Institute (who would have thought that there would be such a thing!) says that the relevant radio signals don't reach us in Australia.  I could set it up as an ordinary clock but we have plenty of those and there doesn't seem much point. We'll give it to the next passing visitor from the UK where it does work.

We might unpack some more boxes over the weekend.  There are only three or four left to unpack.  It night be interesting to see what's in them. Apart from my Toast and Marmalade crockery set, which I am assuming is taking up most of the remaining boxes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Time Passes (Gallops!!)

Facebook's On This Day feature alerted me over the weekend that we had reached the one year anniversaries of leaving Tupton,  leaving Sheffield, having a family weekend in London and, today, leaving England and flying to Osaka.

One whole year.

Who'd have thought it.

In the meantime, life goes on.

Lindsey arranged a referral for me to see an allergist about my nut allergy, largely to see if there were any nuts I wasn't allergic to.  Much to my surprise the skin prick test suggested that I wasn't allergic to any nuts.  I'm not sure I absolutely trust these results, convenient and useful though it would be not to be allergic to nuts. Last time I unwittingly had coconut the reaction was almost instant and was quite strong.  So the allergist has arranged a blood test for the common nut allergies and told me to continue avoiding coconut.  It would be very much more convenient to be able to eat coconut, it must be said.  It is absolutely ubiquitous in Australia.  I think the Aussies have been duped into thinking of it as some sort of miracle food!

While I was out in Bundoora (which is where the allergist is based), I went to look at an outlet centre which I had seen on the map.  I would visit it again, if I were in Bundoora.  But I wouldn't go there from East Melbourne, nor from Ballarat.  There is a very large outlet centre down by the Yarra in the centre of Melbourne.  There is another very large outlet centre by the Essendon Airport.  There is a Rivers in the Bundoora one.  I had a good potter around in that.

The morning had been enlivened by a strange burning smell in the flat when Lindsey was getting ready to go out and I was getting ready to go to the allergist.  Eventually we narrowed it down to the dishwasher.  So we turned it off, unplugged it and I checked to make sure the smell was dissipating before I left.  Ian called in later and found that a vegetable peeler had fallen on to the element and was nearly burnt through its handle!!  No wonder there was a strange burning smell.

I have had my first solo flight on the reception desk at the surgery.  I have a had an occasional, gentle nightmare since I started covering on the desk where I have been rung up on a Saturday morning and told I have to cover the desk, with no notice and no instruction on how to open up or cope with emergencies.  Fortunately, I was given 24 hours notice and had time to run through the opening procedures before flying solo.  Even so - I walked in at 8:15 on Saturday morning and realised that I didn't know where any of the light switches were :-D  Happily it didn't take much effort to find them.

And now I must go and shower and get dressed.  I'm supposed to be going to the surgery and attempting to catch up with the scanning this morning.  Tomorrow, very excitingly, I have an appointment at St Vincent's hospital to have my hand looked at. My left hand has quite a severe contracture and is becoming more and more useless for day to day activities.  Lindsey says that I can't have a bionic hand replacement, which is a bit disappointing.  But a hand that works will do.

Rupert doing excellent sitting

A magnificent example of a Romanesco cauliflower,
picked from the garden two minutes earlier

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

A weekend in Sydney

It came as something of a shock, when Jeanette and I tried to organise a weekend for us to go and visit, and we realised that they and we have been in Australia for almost 12 months and we still hadn't managed to see each other!!

Time, as you will be aware, does vanish at an indecent rate. Jeanette, Matt, Rebecca and Evie have had visits from Matt's parents and from Jeanette's mother and her husband.  Evie plays soccer on Saturday and Sunday mornings. They have other commitments, other things to do.  We've been busy as well.  Life happens.  But even so!

So we compared our calendars and I booked flights and off we went.

And it was a splendid weekend.  We flew up on Friday evening and came back yesterday evening.  The sun shone pretty much all weekend.

Here is their backyard:

Despite the lovely weather, we didn't use the pool.
It was a tiny bit on the cool side for outdoor swimming

We went to watch Evie play soccer on Saturday morning and went to the skills session on Sunday morning.

Evie and Matt are to the left of the picture

We had lunch and a mooch around in their local shopping centre.

What to choose ...

... oh what to choose?
(some delicious pork and fennel sausages, lamb and Middle Eastern spiced sausages,
duck breast, amongst other things!)

We went to Manly for Sunday lunch.



Jim and Jeanette

I couldn't decide between the watermelon and raspberry juice or a glass of wine
- so I had both :-D

Didn't take me long to choose the flathead and chips, though

Thanks to Matt for the photo of us all

And thanks to Jeanette for this lovely snap

Matt cooked us a wonderful barbecue for Saturday evening.

Jeanette made a splendid slow cooked casserole for Sunday dinner.

No photos of the barbecue or casserole.  We had eaten them before I thought about it :-)

Bayleigh seriously hated Jim when we first arrived but loved him to bits by the time we left.

We took her to the park for a walk on Monday morning.

Jim in the park

Bayleigh and me (photo by Jeanette)

It was all good.  I hope that they enjoyed having us as much as we enjoyed visiting them.

We probably shouldn't leave it 12 months before we go and visit again!!!

We got back to Mount Helen just before 9:30 yesterday evening.  Rupert was snoozing in his cage.  Sam was snoozing in his basket.  They were both very pleased to see us.  Rupert was almost entirely  wag when he realised it was us :-P

I've just been out and gathered in the veg for tonight's dinner:

The huge green cauliflower is hiding the stalks of sprouting broccoli 

Oh.  I almost forgot.  I've lost my Japanese study folder.  ;-(  I took it to Sydney with me and actually did do some writing practice and some vocab revision.  I also had the boarding passes in it.  When we were waiting for our checkin to open on our way home so we could put our suitcase through - I had checked in for the return flight when I checked in for the outward flight on Friday, which was quite exciting. I've never been able to do that before.  Anyway.  I digress.  As we were waiting I said to Jim that I must be careful not to lose the folder, partly because it had the boarding passes in it, but mostly because it had some of my study material and my study notebook.  Check in opened.  We dropped the luggage in.  We went through security.  We went to the bar and ordered dips, chips, bread and wine.  And it was then that I realised that I didn't have my folder ;-(  I think I left it at the check in counter.  I had to have had it then to take out the boarding passes.  And I'm fairly sure I didn't have it when we went through security.  Fortunately, I had saved the files from my online Japanese classes on my laptop so they weren't lost for ever.  I have lost a couple of vocab sheets but that isn't a catastrophe.  I have plenty of writing practice sheets, so also not a worry.  And today when we were in Ballarat I went to Typo and got not one, not two but THREE new notebooks (3 for the price of two) so I have lots of opportunity for Japanese study notebooking.  Just have to  find another folder and then make sure I don't lose this lot.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Jesus Christ Superstar

There was much rejoicing some little while ago when Austin's (and the family generally's) mate Zoy announced he had got the role of Judas in a production of JCS.  It was to be a two week run in the State Theatre at the Melbourne Arts Centre at Southbank.

Lindsey, Ian, Ant, Jess and Emily arranged to go.  Then Emily found she couldn't go so Matt took her ticket.  Then on Tuesday Matt discovered that he also couldn't go.  Ian contacted me.  Might I be interested?  Might I be interested?????  Of course I was interested.

So on Wednesday evening, Ian and I made our way to Southbank.  We were there a little early so went for a pre-dinner drink at Ponyfish Island, which is a little bar on a wooden island around one of the pillars of the pedestrian bridge which goes from Southbank to Flinders Street Station.  I can't say that I have ever noticed it before, but I don't often have reason to go to Southbank. When I do it tends to be for specific purposes and it is a long, long time since I have been wandering around down there.

Views from Ponyfish Island:

And Melbourne looking glorious from Southbank:

We met Ant, Jess, Christian, Cassie and later Lindsey at Sake on Southbank where we had a delicious pre-show bento box each.  No bento box for Lindsey. She finished work too late to join us for the start of the mal.  She had a plate of gyoza when she arrived.

And then on to the main event:

I thought it was a magnificent production.  Zoy was fabulous as Judas.  Herod appeared to be channelling a mix of Donald Trump and Liberace and was amazing.  Mary Magdalen had a spectacular voice (Zoy has a spectacular voice too, but I've known that for some years!). The chorus was energetic and enthusiastic.  I was a bit mystified by Jesus in the first half.  He seemed to be a Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, a bit vapid.  No reason why not, of course, but then it is hard to understand quite how he managed to generated such devotion amongst the disciples and the crowd.  Then Jesus lost his temper and you could see the charisma!  

We looked for Zoy at the stage door but couldn't see him.  Then Jesus ambled past and said he was in the main exit at the parking machine.  We found him there!

It was a great evening.  It is, of course, a great pity that neither Emily nor Matt was able to use the ticket.  Or, it's a great pity from their point of view.  It was a piece of great good fortune from mine!

Thank you to Ian and Lindsey for such a lovely evening.

Mind you - it was quite a late evening for a school night.  It was a bit of a struggle to get up and go to work yesterday morning.