Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Somewhat surprising

I was peacefully watching the TV yesterday evening, quietly contemplating bedtime but enjoying the program.

It wasn't really a Jim program and he was dozing quietly.

Suddenly there was a slight commotion.

What in God's name is that, yelled Jim

There was something leaping up onto the flywire screen outside the front window. It couldn't get a grip and fell off.  It tried again. Fell off again.

Wotizit?  demanded Jim.

It was a small possum.  I am not sure what it was doing in our front yard, nor why it was trying to climb up the wire screen.  But we are at the top of a cul de sac.  If you come up the driveway as far as our lounge room, you can't go any further.  The fences are all made of metal and possums can't climb up them.  I assume it had wandered up the driveway, found itself at a dead end and decided to head up for the roof.

It failed spectacularly and disappeared down the driveway.

I can't say I have ever seen a possum trying to climb up a window screen before.

Just as well it was a small one.  If it had been a full sized ring tailed possum it would have shredded the  flywire!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Checkpoint Charlie

It wasn't our weekend to go on a care visit to mother.

Originally we had intended to have a luncheon party at our place on Sunday. A "First Sunday Lunch in the Home that We Own".

Alas.  The Melbourne lockdown meant that that had to be postponed. We can have up to 5 visitors at our place at the moment, but the guests are located in Melbourne and are not allowed to travel into the regions.

Lindsey and Ian had planned to head to Sydney for a week, to meet their new granddaughter, leaving us in charge at Hill House.

Alas. The closure of the border into NSW meant that that too had to be postponed.

This was all just as well. It had been Matthew's turn to make the care visit to mother.

Alas.  He had come down with a cold during the week and had, quite rightly, been tested for CV-19.  After that, of course, he had to quarantine at home until he got the result.  In any case, you wouldn't want to visit mother if you have a cold. She really does not need any respiratory issues.

Given that all weekend plans had had to be postponed and we were in bounding good health, Jim and I went for the care visit.

It was very quiet on the roads. We had a good run down. We did Useful Things at mother's house. We stayed for a few hours. Then we headed home again.

There was even less traffic on the roads.

So much so, that at Checkpoint Charlie, just outside of Bacchus Marsh, there were lots of checking spaces and virtually no cars.  I think they were quite pleased to see us!  There was a car in the first spot which pulled out as we got there.  Then us.  A pleasant woman from, I think, the ADF (she was in fatigues, not in a police uniform) checked my driver's licence and my reasons for being on the road.  She didn't query Jim's presence. She didn't ask for my letter confirming that we travel for care reasons. She didn't arrest me and send me to Manus Island or Nauru. In fact, she sent my on my way with good wishes for a safe journey and a pleasant evening.

I suppose, given that we live near Ballarat, if we had fancied a day at the beach there are plenty of beaches closer than the Mornington Peninsula which we could have gone to entirely legitimately. We could have gone to visit Matthew and family in Warragul, even driving through Melbourne. Except that he was in quarantine. And care giving is a legitimate reason to visit locked down areas. The lady at the checkpoint didn't seem particularly perturbed.

Though she might have done had we been trying to flee from Manky Melbourne into the Pristine Purity of Ballarat :-D

The next car that came along was pulled in for questioning as we were driving away. Normally on a Sunday evening there is lots of traffic on the freeway and they would have been run off their feet.  I wonder if they were bored.

(Matthew's CV test was, you will be pleased to hear, negative.)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Ceremonial planting of the lemon tree

I didn't have a silver trowel.

But Bunnings does have more of the hexagonal raised beds in stock.  So we bought two more (one for each lemon tree), acquired more potting mix and planted the first lemon tree to claim the garden as our own.

Grow well, little tree. Be happy in your new home.

We'll plant the other tree after we've got more potting mix.  Though it might be better to see if I can get a trailer load delivered from somewhere.  And buy wheelbarrow to move it in.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Our "New" House

It all seems to have gone through very smoothly and required close to no activity on our part. The rental bond is to be repaid - no inspection required 🤣  Overpaid rent is to be repaid.  I can now see the home loan on my online bank account. The keys the estate agent was holding are ready to be collected.

I might go wild and get some raised beds and actually plant the lemon trees.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Ice cream and Potatoes

I have had several dreams recently which have involved ice cream.  I have no idea why.  I have also seen several recipes recently which have involved pancakes in one way or another.

I decided at the weekend that I was clearly being called by the Dessert Dogs to make pancakes.  And ice cream.

As it happens, I have an ice cream churn.  If only I could remember where I had put it.

I found it at the back of the pantry, on the shelves with the kitchen toys. I really must sort those shelves out!

So I made some custard and cooled it, then churned it until had become ice cream.  I made pancakes. I stewed some fruit.

Apples from Bacchus Marsh. Blueberries from Buninyong. Milk and cream from the local dairy. Eggs from a local farm. The flour came from the Farmgate shop. I'm not sure where they source their flour. I shall find out. But our Sunday pancakes with stewed fruit and ice cream had very few food miles, even taking into account the custard powder and sugar I bought from the supermarket

I have a Hairy Biker recipe book which I have had for years.  I use it quite a bit.  I hadn't noticed the recipe for potato bread until last week.  I have potatoes.  I gave it a whirl.  It was lovely.  Soft and fluffy and delicious.

I also have some tiny loaf tins

One tiny loaf tin, with the  butter dish
for scale

I made four small, tiny loaves using the potato bread recipe. We had them with Lindsey's mushroom soup.  A splendid lunch.

Monday sunrise from our front door.  Ready for the new week:

And this week has brought settlement on the purchase of our house.  I had a phone call early this afternoon from the solicitor and email confirmation from the bank that settlement had been finalised at lunchtime.  The house is now ours, and the bank's.  It seems strange that we don't have to go and collect keys or pack up all our possessions.  But I am happy to offset that slight sense of oddness with the very considerable convenience of not having to move. We woke up this morning as renters and will go to bed this evening as owners.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Not Locked Down - yet!

The whole of Greater Melbourne, plus the Shire of Mitchell were put into lockdown last Thursday. Back to the "four reasons to leave your home" (work/education if can't be done from home; essential shopping; care or care giving; exercise, local to your home).

The rest of the state remains under slightly less onerous restrictions. So the good people of Ballarat can do some non-essential shopping and meet for lunch and other fun things.  We can have up to five visitors at our place, should we so choose.

It's a bit confusing for those who live around the "border" between Metropolitan Melbourne and The Regions.  Schools inside the restricted zone have an extra week of school holidays. Those outside do not. Those inside will be mostly doing home learning for five weeks.  Those outside will be attending school as usual.  If you live inside the restricted area you can travel to work outside it, if it is not possible to work from home. If you live outside the zone, you can travel inside the zone if it is for one of the four reasons.

Still with me?

We made a care visit to mother at the weekend.  This is a legitimate reason to travel into Melbourne.  I had heard Lindsey mentioning to someone that she had been writing medical certificates for people who needed to make a carer's visits to people and rang Stella's GP to get one for me - just in case I should be challenged about my reasons for traveling in Melbourne. We took supplies with us, which I got at the Mushroom farm shop, the Elaine farm gate shop and the local IGA. She had asked for a "stuffed" giant mushroom for dinner.  So I got some giant mushrooms, some local blue cheese, some fish and seafood from the seafood van and some veg from the farm gate shop.  We had it with fried rice

She seemed to enjoy it.

There is a checkpoint on the Western Freeway at Bacchus Marsh, on the outbound side of the road.  When we came back from our care visit there was a checkpoint on the outbound side of the Peninsula Freeway checking on people heading towards Mornington. It wasn't there when we were going that way.  The Bacchus Marsh checkpoint I believe is permanently there while the restrictions are in place. They didn't stop us.  Nobody challenged us at all.

The roads were much quieter than you would usually expect at the weekend. It was quiet in Mount Martha, when I dropped into the shopping centre to visit the Grog Shop. So far the cases of Covid-19 aren't dropping but it hasn't been a week yet since the new lockdown came into play.  Let's hope that the quietness means that people are taking the restrictions seriously and the numbers start to drop soon.

We are more or less observing the restrictions anyway, even though they don't (yet) apply to us. Better slightly inconvenienced than in hospital. Or worse.

The view from our front door,
late afternoon

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Sunday Lunch

So here we are, at the beginning of July. The second half of 2020.

Victoria is definitely evolving into a pariah state in the Hermit Kingdom on the Far Side of the World.  The number of CV-19 cases in Melbourne is growing. The border with NSW will close at midnight tonight.  Tower blocks in Melbourne are in hard lockdown. Whole suburbs are in slightly softer lockdown.

Who knows when the rest of the state will also be put back into some sort of lockdown.  I had better lay in supplies of wine!

But until then, we can still have up to five visitors at our place. On Saturday I impulsively bought a gigantic piece of pork, so Lindsey, Ian, Rupert and Hugo just had to come for lunch on Sunday to help us eat it.

Hugo, particularly, was a bit disconcerted by the people who walk down the laneway on the other side of our fence.  He is not used to complete strangers wandering so close to the house. Fortunately there isn't a steady stream of passers by, but enough that he felt he had to be vigilant. Until we called him in for lunch. He is easily distracted by the promise of food 🍖

Nothing  much else to report.  Things are fairly quiet at the moment.  Until tomorrow when I need to leave good and early to be at the surgery. I am covering reception for someone who is on holiday. This may come as something of a shock to the system!