Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Rupert is two

It was Rupert's second birthday on Saturday, along with 9 of his 10 brothers and sisters.  The 11th puppy was born after midnight so has her very own, individual birthday.

So on Sunday, Micah's birthday, we bundled Rupert and Hugo into the car and set off to the off leash dog park in Mount Martha, approximately five minute's drive from Stella's house.

We were exceptionally lucky with the weather.  It was cold, wet and foggy when we left Ballarat.  It drizzled on and off all the way down. It was raining five minutes before we got to the park.  Then the rain stopped and the sun even shone fitfully for the rest of the afternoon.

We had thought that Rupert and Hugo wouldn't recognise the dog park.  They've only been once and that was 9 or so months ago.  But no.  As soon as we pulled up and they saw the reserve, they got Very Excited Indeed.  As soon as they got out of the car, into the reserve and had their leads taken off they ranandranandranandRAN.

It was an excellent birthday party. Several of the puppies and their humans had met the night before but there were puppies at the park, along with other great danes, their humans and visitors, not to mention other dogs who came to the park and came to play.

A birthday party in the park:

Next time I go to a birthday party in the park, in autumn, on a drizzly day, I shall take a flask of soup rather than a platter of sandwiches.  Apart from that, it was all good. (I might take a few sandwiches as well as soup.  Soup and sandwiches are a good combination!)

Then we went and had a cup of tea with Grandma Stella and then we went home.  A well celebrated birthday

Exhausted in Mount Martha 😁

These two photos by Lindsey

Saturday, April 27, 2019

A Busy Week

I did go down to Melbourne on Monday afternoon, tempting though it was to stay at home. I went to Buninyong to put fuel in the car and then, in a moment of inattention, found myself driving up Mount Buninyong instead of along the back road to Melbourne.

The only disadvantage to driving up Mount Buninyong on a sunny autumn afternoon is that the road doesn't go anywhere other than to loop around the top and then come back down.  There is a side road that I hadn't been down before. I went down it.  It takes you back to the Melbourne road but with the advantage of spectacular views out over the plains. I concentrated on not falling off the road!!

Back in Melbourne, Lindsey and I had thought about going to the pub for dinner - until Emily invted us round to her place.  I hadn't seen her flat before and it is very beautiful. We had gnocchi in various forms, with salad on the side.  Emily's friend's dog was staying with her while the friend was away.  Ruby was not entirely delighted by the advent of two comparative strangers into her airbnb!!!

Tuesday morning found me at the surgery, nice and early, in good time to open up, have a coffee and be ready to turn the lights on at 8:00. Open the gates and let a tidal wave of people in. Fortunately, they were all for Melbourne Pathology and not for me!  Turn the phones on. And almost before I had lifted my finger up, the phone started ringing.  And ringing.  And ringing. All the lines were alight. And ringing!


Plus, of course, people were coming in for their appointments, to make appointments (no chance, really, not for Tuesday), to ask questions (I dunno - I'm a librarian, not a doctor).

Bedlam, I tell you.

Then another receptionist turned up, and so did Bethan who was helping out for a few hours on Tuesday and Wednesday. Things became a little easier, but it was very busy all day.

Wednesday wasn't quite as bad. There wasn't a crowd of people waiting when I opened the gates at 8:00.  It took until 8:30 before the phones went mad. It was busy all day, but not as busy. I left at 5:30 or so and came back to Mount Helen

Thursday was ANZAC Day and the morning was blissfully quiet.  We were at our place and just pottered. In the afternoon we went with Lindsey out to Spring Creek for some veg and to Elaine to the farm shop for supplies. Otherwise, we didn't do much.

Friday I went back to work.  It was busy.  Again (although I didn't have to open up).  All these public holidays are all very well in their way. Nice to have a few days off.  But it does make it unusually busy when we open up again.

I got back to Hill House in the evening to find that Hugo hadn't been very well during the day.  He had thrown up his breakfast, refused treats, refused his dinner and was lying listlessly on the dining room couch. He even refused cheezels.  This was not a good sign!  He came and sat on the lounge room couch in the evening with Rupert, Jim and me.

I got up this morning and he seemed to be entirely better.  Demanded breakfast.  Wanted a second breakfast.  Chased away magpies marauding in his garden.  I don't know what he had eaten that had upset his tummy so much.  Or perhaps he just had a stomach upset.  Anyway.  All better now.  Which is just as well because we are supposed to be going to a Great Dane meet tomorrow. We couldn't possibly go and leave him behind on his own. Neither he nor Rupert would approve of that!

All better and snuggling with my caterpillar

Rupert is also snuggling, but with a ball that you can't see

Monday, April 22, 2019


We have had a lovely Easter weekend.

Jim and I drove to Mount Martha on Good Friday to collect Stella.  We had a good run down.  The traffic heading from Melbourne to Ballarat, however, was amazing.  I don't remember having seen that amount of traffic heading towards Ballarat, even on Fridays at going home time. I think some them probably were heading to Ballarat - there were lots of people around over the weekend. Some of them were probably heading to Stawell for the Stawell Gift weekend and some to the Grampians. And I suppose some of them may have been heading to Adelaide and to points in between.  Wherever they were going, I was happy to see that they were not all heading my way.  It is true that there were lots of people heading to the Mornington Peninsula, but they all went along the Peninsula Freeway.  My satnav plus the overhead signs had warned me of congestion on the Peninsula freeway.  And I could see people queuing to get onto it.  I went through Frankston and avoided the queues!

Everyone had apparently got to where they were going when we brought Stella back.  Nice empty roads everywhere.

We joined Lindsey, Ian and Stella at Hill House for dinner on Friday evening.  Ian prepared salmon for us all. Jim drove us home.

On Saturday we joined Lindsey, Ian and Stella at Websters for lunch.  It was a glorious autumnal day

View from the lunch table

I drove back to Hill House, taking Stella with us, While Lindsey and Ian hit the shops for supplies for the Easter Feast.  We went for  a circumnavigation of the lake on the way.  The lake was beautiful and sparkly. Lindsey, Ian and Stella joined us at our place for dinner on Saturday evening. I made deconstructed steak sandwiches.

I had offered Jim the opportunity to drive home after our lunch at Websters.  He said no, it was my turn.  This was true, but it might have been a bit short sighted on his part.  This meant that it was *his* turn to drive home after the Easter Feast, which was at Hill House.  This meant that it wasn't my turn :-D  And there was an abundance of rather nice wine to be sampled.

I had bought vegan offerings for Ian to play with, and made a platter of vegetables to take to lunch

Hidden under the snow peas and broad beans are
green beans, broccolini, sliced carrots and sliced
brussels sprouts

Ian made a five hour lamb dish, seafood paella and a vegan friendly paella. There were roast potatoes and salads and an amazing gravy.  There were 15 people and six dogs in attendance. It was all very exuberant and very tasty.  And Jim got to drive home :-D  (He was alright - we have lots of wine at our place too)

Hugo in his bath

Puppy Leroy saying hello
Frannie, Stella and Suzie at lunch.
Thanks to Wendy for the photo

The weather has turned from beautiful, sunny and warm (possibly rather warmer than you would expect in mid-April!) to overcast and cool. No rain, though.  We could do with some rain.  Lindsey has taken Stella back to Mount Martha and I have been preparing food for the week ahead.  I have to start tomorrow at 07:30. Tempting though it is to stay here tonight and to leave at 05:30, I suspect I would regret this decision in the cold darkness of Tuesday morning.  I'll go down later this afternoon. Then I don't need to leave for work until 06:50 which is much more civilised. I have organised dinner for Jim for tonight and tomorrow night. Then I'll be back on Wednesday evening and here on Thursday.  I don't work on Thursdays but this coming Thursday is ANZAC Day and is another public holiday.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tomatoes and other veg

It's been a funny growing season.  We have done well with the potatoes at Hill House, and we had a good corn harvest.  But the tomatoes took for ages to grow and set fruit and have resolutely refused to  ripen.  Up at Hill House the magpies have been eating them.  Down at Tani they are just now starting to ripen.  In other years the plants would have been dead by now but this year the days have remained quite warm and so far we haven't had any overnight frosts.

Just starting to ripen

These teeny tiny tomatoes are supposed to be tiny
and are little flavour bombs when you eat them

The peanut plants are gamely hanging on. We pulled one up to see what, if anything, was happening underneath and found several small peanut pods.  We'll leave the rest here until the plants die off properly and see if the grow/ripen any more.

The carrots are coming along and the purple sprouting broccoli plants seem happy in their box. We've only just planted them and they are just starting to grow. The zucchini and pumpkin plants were sacrificed to make way for them - they had started to die off and were no longer producing.  It must be said that immature butternuts make splendid zucchini substitutes!

We also have some hollyhocks, lupins and salvias ready to start a flower "garden"

Up at Hill House the miniature cauliflowers are starting to flower and we have PSB, more caulks and some cabbages ready to plant out. I need to get some more seeds sown. I have romanesco and carrots and cabbages which can be planted now.

We also tidied up, re-arranged and sorted out the garage.  We can now (just!) fit Ziggy in.  We thought Ziggy might like a bedroom of its own, should winter ever arrive.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019


It's Jim's birthday today. He's 77!

Unfortunately, Ian is up country today and Lindsey and I are working in Melbourne.  There is no one in Mount Helen to celebrate with him, apart from Rupert and Hugo.

Nothing for it but to shift his birthday to last weekend.

On Saturday he and I headed to the Bridge Mall market and had a good mooch around.  Right, said I.  Let's go to Bunnings.   Why did we want to go to Bunnings?  No particular reason.  Just because.

So we went. And while we were there I bought a digital weather station, similar to the one Lindsey has recently bought for Hill House, and much like the one my father had at Mount Martha. I also bought a cheap rain gauge that you push into the garden bed. It measures not just rainfall, but also sprinkler use.  Jim was much puzzled by this.

Until we got back to Tani and I asked if he would like me to assemble his weather station (the nuts and bolts were small and my fingers are a bit more nimble than his).  Oh, said he. Is it mine?  I explained that it was his birthday present, including the rain gauge which we have pushed into the front garden bed.

About an hour later we had the weather station assembled, wirelessly connected to the digital screen inside, and attached to the fence.

We had salmon, chips and white wine for his birthday dinner.

On Sunday I went to the shop for much needed bread and milk. I came back with the bread and milk, and with a bottle of whisky as Jim's birthday present from Stella.  At lunchtime, Lindsey and Ian came by and we all drove out to Daylesford where we had Jim's birthday lunch at Bad Habits in the Convent Gallery.  I had a very delicious steak sandwich. Jim had egg and bacon pie, Lindsey corn fritters with smoked salmon and Ian a chilli calamari salad. We had extra potatoes and some more wine.  I think he thought it was an excellent birthday lunch

We did other things as well.  We have weeded the front garden beds, sorted out one of the back boxes for winter sprouting broccoli and pruned one of the shrubs outside our bedroom window.  We rescued a mouse that had got into one of the packing boxes in the garage and released it into the back garden. We have taken down the gazebo which we've had up for most of the summer. And I stewed a box of blueberries and baked some apples, both of which I got at the market. I will have the fruit for breakfasts this week.  Jim is having his with the apple crumble cake, custard, cream and bottle of white wine which Lindsey and Ian left as his birthday treat at Hill House, where he is looking after Rupert and Hugo.

Not a bad birthday weekend, I reckon.