Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Monday, October 28, 2019

Markets, Festivals and Gardens

We were seriously spoilt for choice for things to do over the weekend.  There were spring fairs, local festivals, open gardens and markets all over the place.

The Brown Hill market is usually held in the Brown Hill hall and gardens on the 4th Sunday of each month.  This month the hall was booked for another event so it relocated to Lake Wendoureee for One Month Only. It wasn't a particularly nice morning but Lindsey, Jim and I went anyway.

Most of the inside stalls had given the market a miss but most of the outside stalls were there. We pottered up and down, had egg and bacon sandwiches, talked to a wolfhound, bought the usual eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes. The rain held off

Then we went to the Wendouree shopping centre.  I haven't been there for a very long time. They had part of it closed off for renovations and an extension and, by the time it was finished and re-opened, the Delacombe shops had opened and I tend to go there. It was fun pottering around . Then we went in search of a small kettle for mother and then home, via the Mount Clear shops.

Jim and I spent the afternoon in our garden.  He cut the grass in the back and front. I sorted out some of the seedlings and seeds. Then it started to rain and so we retreated indoors.

Sunday was the Buninyong Spring Festival. We tried to go last year when Cousin Paul and Stella were with us but couldn't find it.  I think the actual makers' market bit is a biennial event. There were things happening in the Botanical Gardens again this year, although we didn't go.  We did go to the park, where there were market stalls and food trucks. We had a good amble around. Once again it didn't rain. I quite enjoyed it and would go again, but there wasn't very much that I needed or really wanted to buy. The chips from the chip stall were excellent!

I had thought about going out to the little Lal Lal fair but ran out of time in the morning. I might do that next year. Alternate the love between Lal Lal and Buninyong.

Back at home, we carried on doing garden things until the rain once again drove us back inside. The seeds are starting to germinate properly. We have seedlings planted in boxes, or in little plant pots in the cold frame. Things are starting to grow. We have finished the carrots and the sprouting broccoli, although there are carrot seedlings coming on.  I've weeded the front beds. It's all looking quite good.

Out the front this morning:

And out the back:

I was just about to go to bed on Saturday night when I heard what sounded like fireworks outside.  It is unusual to hear random lots of fireworks. It is not lawful for individuals to set them off. You have to have a licence to light them and they are usually civic events and usually for specific occasions, such as New Year's Eve or Australia Day.

I went out to investigate. And there was indeed a fireworks display. It looked like it was in the University and it was clearly a proper display, not just someone setting off unauthorised bangers. It was very beautiful. I stayed outside and watched it until it finished.  Lindsey and Ian had also noticed it up on their  hill.  So too had Rupert and Hugo who definitely didn't approve of being disturbed at nearly bedtime by flashing lights and banging sounds! We assume it was to celebrate Diwali, which was yesterday.  And now I come to think about it, the University has had firework displays to celebrate Diwali in the past.  I had forgotten about them

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

One year on

Yesterday was the first anniversary of Tony's death.

It hardly seems possible that a whole year has gone by.  Mind you, it hardly seems possible that we are in the last quarter of 2019. We've only just marked its arrival!

Stella, Belinda, Wendy and Suzie went out for lunch to mark the anniversary. They went to the Flinders Pub and had what sounded like a merry time. I don't mean alcoholically merry - none of them drinks all that much but they made sure to toast Tony with their drinks of choice.

Remembering him, with photos from his 80th birthday in 2011. Before he was attacked by ocular shingles.  The ongoing neuropathic pain ruined the last few years of his life.  If you are offered a shingles vaccination, even if you have to pay for it.  Take it.  Shingles is a horrible thing:

Peaceful and Quiet

Another gentle, mostly domestic weekend.

We were at our place over the weekend. We went to Bunnings and bought stakes for the beans and a garden kneeler for me.  Jim mowed the lawns and I weeded part of the front garden. I potted some little seedlings - and perhaps a bit optimistically planted out the runner bean seedlings.  It is supposed to be quite warm this week but the danger of frost isn't really yet past.  Cross your fingers!

I also moved into the kitchen and made some casseroles and stews for the freezer, and a fruity tea loaf.  It has to be good for you. It is absolutely packed with fruit!

We went up to Hill House on Monday. Jim has begun digging over the vegetable beds up there, ready for the seedlings which I hope will soon be on their way.  I've planted tomato, zucchini, pumpkin, watermelon and various other seeds but they are reluctant to germinate.  I suspect it's a bit cold.  They are in the house but we don't have the heating on when we are not there and I think the average temperature isn't quite warm enough.  I have more seeds to plant.  I must remember to do that this weekend.

Rupert and Hugo enjoyed the sunshine and warmer temperatures - and the new squeaky toys we found in Bunnings

The mint on the windowsill at our place was growing well and enjoying the company of my dinosaurs.

I cut it right back on Monday to make tabouleh.  I was prompted to make tabouleh after I  pruned the parsley to stop it flowering and then had quite a lot of parsley to use up. I also had some tomatoes that were beginning to look a bit sorry for themselves and some left over spring onions.  I didn't have cracked wheat but I did have pearl barley so I used that instead.  It's quite tasty.

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