Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Rainy Day

It was definitely a tea and toast sort of a day yesterday. It was wet and windy and cold, pretty much all day in Mount Helen.

Our rain gauge said we got 20 mm of rain.  Lindsey's, up on the hill, said they got 35.

We ventured out as far as the supermarket but otherwise stayed warm and snug at home.

And drank tea. And ate toast.  And, later, apple cake.


Monday, June 24, 2019


Avoca is a pretty little town about an hour's drive north west of Ballarat.  It has a riverside market once a month. None of us has ever been to the market. I don't actually remember the last time I went to Avoca, although I certainly will have been at some stage.

Yesterday was a beautiful day and it was Market Day in Avoca, so Ian, Lindsey, Jim and I hopped in the car and drove out to have a look.

It is a beautiful drive, especially on a lovely day - although it was quite foggy when we got to Waubra. The tops of the wind farm towers were hidden by the fog.  It was quite science fictiony to see :-D

It was bright and sunny in Avoca. The market this month wasn't by the river but in the main street.  And I don't think it had as many stalls as the website suggests it has.  Mostly the stalls were bric a brac and trash and treasure. It probably isn't worth driving for an hour to get to - we could have got to the Brown Hill market inside 15 minutes on Saturday. It is bigger and there are more produce stalls.  It might be worth heading out to Avoca during the summer to see if it is back by the river, and if there are more stalls.  But I don't think it will figure on our regular market rotation.

Since we were there we thought we would have lunch in one of the pubs or cafes.  Alas, most of them seem to be closed for a winter holiday.  So we went into the Victoria Hotel, which was open.  And it was a bit of a find.  A typical country pub bar and a door into a very interesting dining area which, I'm told, used the be the Gold Exchange and was then a bank before becoming the dining area of the pub.

And the food wasn't bad.  Pub food, yes, but quite tasty.  Lindsey and I shared a Pyrenees chicken parmigiana, which had mushrooms, capsicum and other things that I don't remember added to the typical parmigiana.  We asked if we could share one - parmas tend to be enormous and we didn't want to order one each and then throw half each out.  For an extra $6 they gave us half a parma and a full serve of chips and veg each.  Bargain!  Jim had no trouble eating his schnitzel and chips. Ian also managed his fish, chips and salad

My half Pyrenees chicken parma with chips and veg

We also had some rather nice local wine

So. It was a lovely day out and I would do it again on a nice sunny day. I would probably even tie it with a market day.  I might even go and find the river, which we never did see!

Ian wanted to call into the Wilson's store in Alfredton on the way home. As I was wandering around I saw a box of something, labelled "Quick Sale" and costing $4.50.  I couldn't see much of what was in it.  Coriander, parsley and fennel.  I surmised the presence of carrots because I could see carrot leaves. I didn't really need any extra veg - we had been out to Spring Creek on Saturday and stocked up for the week.  But $4.50 for a Mystery Box of veg was too much of a bargain to pass up.

Time to lift the lid and see what is in my Mystery Box

Coriander, parsley, fennel and two lots of carrots

Ooooo.  Basil, green capsicum and large mushrooms

Jim was delighted to see the parsnips.  He LERVS parsnips.
And look - a tub of podded peas
So a real bargain box.  Some of the veg is a bit tired but it's all useable, apart perhaps, from the basil which is looking very tired this morning.

It is possible that we might have a tiny excess of vegetables now.  So this morning I chopped lots of veg up and put them in the oven and made a mighty tray of roasted veg which are now resting comfortably in the freezer.  I have a more manageable supply of fresh veg now

The kitchen bench covered in fresh veg on Sunday afternoon

Friday, June 21, 2019

Nothing much to report

We had a lovely time at Mount Martha with Stella last weekend.  Nice and gentle and quiet.

We did all the usual things.  Supermarket shopping. Pottering. Eating. Drinking. Lunch at the Dava. No rushing about.  Excellent.

This week has also been fairly gentle. Jim and I moved up to Hill House on Monday, late morning. I made a lasagne, enough for Jim and me on Monday night and for Jim at Hill House and Lindsey, Ian and me in the flat on Tuesday evening.  It was relatively peaceful at work on Tuesday and Wednesday. I have FINALLY broken the back of the scanning backlog which built up while I was mostly on the desk during April and May. The daily scanning was never behind but the Box of Scanning had built up and built up and built up.  It's empty now :-)

Ziggy went in for a service on Wednesday. It needed four new shoes ;-(  It took all the money I had saved up for the Canada trip next year to pay for them ;-(

I also have new shoes.  Mine were nowhere near as expensive!!

Yesterday was also a nice and peaceful day.  We started out at Hill House, where we had spent Wednesday night.  Lindsey went to Tai Chi and Piano. We went to the butcher. Apart from that I did very little.  Jim and I came back to our place later in the afternoon.

And here we are.  I am about to head to work. Jim will pop up to Hill House later.

And there.  Another week done and dusted.  It hardly seems possible that we are half way through the year already.  Time flies, as they say.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

On Wednesday I opened up at the surgery because I was leaving at lunchtime and it seemed fairer that I start early and my colleague, who would stay until close, would start a bit later.

It was a nice, quiet morning. Nothing exciting happened.

At lunchtime I hopped in the car and drove back to the flat, where I left the car and then made my way to St Vincent's hospital.

I have noticed over the past months that the little finger on my left hand, which has never been properly straight since the operation 18months ago, was getting even less straight and the scar was beginning to thicken and to hurt at bit. So I had been referred back to the hospital for a check.

The surgeon didn't think that more surgery was the way to go. This was good.  Neither did I.  I was rather hoping for a referral back to the hand therapist.  I hadn't had my final session with her and so didn't really have any exercises to do. The ones I had been doing weren't necessarily what was needed long term.  He thinks a night splint and some exercises. I am now awaiting an appointment with the hand therapist.

While I was walking back to the flat I contacted Stella to let her know what had been happening, only to discover that she had lost her balance while getting something from the bottom of the fridge and tumbled over.  Once she gets on the floor, she can't get up again.  Fortunately , she was wearing her emergency pendant and, by the time I rang, she had someone from the community reception with her, plus Jenny across the road. An ambulance came, got her up, dusted her off and took her to the hospital for a check over.

Lindsey rescued her on Thursday morning.

In the meantime, on Wednesday I had noticed that my left ear was feeling blocked and  I couldn't hear very well.  This was a bit disconcerting because it was the wrong ear.  My left ear never troubles me.  My right ear, yes; left ear, no.  By Thursday, my left ear was starting to hurt.  By the time I drove down to work on Friday it was very definitely hurting. So much so that I booked myself in to see one of the doctors.

Usually I see one of the registrars. On this occasion my registrar was fully booked.  I booked myself in with one of the partners who happened to have a free appointment a few minutes after I arrived.  He was a bit surprised, I think.  What had gone so wrong that I would book an immediate appointment???  He looked in my ear and declared it to be HORRIBLE!  (I knew that - I could feel it 😀 )  I have ear drops and antibiotics. This morning it is still blocked but at least it doesn't hurt (much) any more

In other news, if you are planning to come and visit us, don't plan to come in March 2020.  We expect to be in the UK in March 2020.  I bought flights on a whim on Thursday evening

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Long Weekend

It was a public holiday yesterday across most of Australia and thus a long weekend.  Ironically, given that it was a holiday to mark the Queen's birthday, it wasn't a holiday in Queensland :-D  (Nor Western Australia.)  Now that I have reverted to my usual work pattern I pretty much always have a long weekend, but it was nice to share it with everyone else yesterday.

It was a glorious day on Saturday.  The sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky. Plus, it was the second Saturday of the month, so the market by the lake was on.  Lindsey, Jim and I trundled off to inspect it and had a short stroll around part of the lake while we were there.

Looking from our driveway up towards Hill House which is on
the hill in the background
By the lake, a cheeky marsh hen came to see what I was doing

Autumn colours

No time to sit, but it was very inviting

Tiny tram clearing the leaves from the tram tracks

There were flocks of coots absolutely everywhere around the lake

We bought lots of yummy things at the market. Then we went shopping.  We went to Spotlight for mending tape and to Spring Creek for Veg.  We decided that we didn't need to go to Elaine because neither Lindsey, nor Jim and I needed any extra meat.  We did head back into town and go to the Scoop shop (Its real name is The Source and you can buy all sorts of useful things by the scoopful). We hit the supermarket and Lindsey went back to her place and we went to ours.

Jim and I went and got some more boxes for our backyard. We haven't planted them yet, but they are ready and waiting for when we have seedlings for them

The large ones are waiting for cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli 

The little ones will have flowers when I get around to putting seeds in them

I keep catching glimpses of my cooking mojo, peeping at me and waving.  I made a lemon cake batter on Sunday but in a moment of inattention stirred a bowl of stewed fruit through it.  This meant that is was much too liquid to bake properly.  We ended up with more or less a pie - with cake stuff instead of pastry around the outside and lots of stewed fruit inside.  It was very tasty, if not quite what I intended.  It was even more tasty when I made some choc orange custard to go with it!   We had pork belly on Saturday evening with roasted things and then the leftover pork in a rich stew with Yorkshire puddings on Sunday.  Yesterday I dug out my pie maker and made chicken and bacon pies for last night's dinner.  I just need to catch my cooking mojo so that it stays with me instead of peeping at me and then running away!!!

So all in all, it was a good weekend.  Apart from Saturday we didn't really leave the house much.  Nice and peaceful. And then we came up to Hill House later than usual on Monday afternoon, ready to start our working week: Jim here, looking after Rupert, Hugo, the house and the garden, and me about to head to Reservoir to see what the surgery has in store for me this week

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Missing - Cooking Mojo

I seem to have misplaced my cooking mojo.

On Sunday we had people round for lunch.  Freyja came.  Simon was expected but wasn't feeling well - and was starting a new job yesterday so didn't come.  Lindsey and Ian came.  Pat came.  Julia and Travis came.  Not the children.  They were with their mother.

So I had to plan for: one vegan, one vegetarian (MIA), one person who eats very little meat and a bunch of omnivores.

Ordinarily, I would have had a menu planned well in advance.  I was planning a winter (indoor) picnic.  I had roast potatoes on the menu. And that was pretty much it.

I consulted books about picnics.  Books about barbecuing.  Books about eating outside.  Nothing engaged me. I consulted friends and colleagues.  None of their excellent suggestions excited me. I drafted a broad menu and went shopping for ingredients. But even on Sunday morning, there wasn't a proper menu planned.

Even so, food appeared. Roast potatoes, of course. Roast pumpkin salad.  Green vegetable salad. Sausages. Southern style fried chicken.  Pat brought a Thai style soup. Julia and Travis brought a roasted cauliflower and some potato and pea fritters.  Lindsey bought sticks and dips.  The table was fully laden with a magnificent feast - lots of it suitable for vegans. Nobody went hungry.

Ian says I had reverted to Junk Food Project behaviour.  What have I got? What can I do with it? There is much merit to this type of menu planning.  But I would be glad to have my food mojo back. Now I come to think about it, it's been missing for a while.  If you happen to see it anywhere ...

Hungry visitors:

Fortunately we have food:

Today is Tuesday. It is early in the morning. I am in Mount Helen.  Shortly I will get dressed and head to Reservoir, ready for work.  Yesterday was Monday. And for the first time in two months, I was not at work. I have, of course, been glad of the extra money. But I was getting tired. I like working three days a week. Four days was beginning to get a bit much, plus it meant that Jim was being left on his own for three days in a row rather than two. I think we both rather enjoyed our leisurely Monday yesterday.  We pottered at home in the morning. We came up to Hill House after lunch and pottered there. We had a leisurely evening and slept well last night. We should have more of this sort of Monday :-)

But  now I really must get organised, or it will be 9:00 and I will still be sitting around in my dressing gown when I should be at work, two hours away!!