Saturday, 28 March 2015

From The Wide Blue Yonder

Last week we went on our scenic flight over Albany and Torbay, what a great Christmas gift mum and dad, thank you! x

It's amazing how different things look from a different perspective.  This is an area of tree farms near the airport, look how densely planted they are.  And that long skinny blue/green bit behind the green trees is a newly planted blue gum plantation.  I never thought blue gums looked particularly blue, but they sure do from up here!
We headed up to Torbay, the area where we live.  I found it quite hard to pinpoint landmarks over farmland, I thought it would be easier, but I found if I took my eye off something for even a second, I lost where I was again.  There was no mistaking the beautiful Cosy Corner however, with the two tiny islands, Migo and Richards, just off shore.  The professional fisherman moor their boats tucked in between Migo Island and the shore, it gives good protection from storms.  Well, except for the boat that broke its mooring in a storm 2 years ago and was smashed to bits on Cosy Corner beach!  Bits of it are still being exposed now and then with big tides.  I will say that somewhere in this photo is our secret fishing spot, Thumper Rock, but that's all I'm saying.  :-)
 See that little house in that little clearing?  That's us!!
 Here's a side view of our place.  I am surprised how green it looks although patchy, it is greening up nicely now though, more so than in this photo.  You can see our house lower left and a hint of our big green house water tank to the right of it.  Top left is the shed and its little water tank behind it.  That very green bit between the shed and house is where the citrus trees are growing.  In the centre of the clearing is my fenced garden, vegie beds, chooks, and the orchard, you can see the orderly rows of the fruit trees, and the white nets covering the last couple of trees that have a bit of fruit on them - apples.
 We then left Torbay and headed down the coast back towards Albany.  Gosh the coastline is beautiful around here.  This part of the coastline is in Torndirrup National Park, and this part of it is where you find The Gap.  It looks so darn insignificant from the air.  It's actually closed to the public at the moment, for about six months, as there is a new viewing platform being built that will over the The Gap a bit, thrill and chills for the public later I think!
 A bit further on into Torndirrup National Park we find the Salmon Holes, a beautiful beach that is quite a climb down a long path to get to.  It is a very good fishing area, but so many people are tempted to move from fishing the beach to fishing on that big, black, flat, slippery rock, and so many people get washed into the water and some lose their lives.  Best to fish from the beach hey.
 Along the Frenchman Bay peninsula we find the old Whaling Station, which is now a museum.  Apparently behind that is a nature reserve/open air zoo with native animals to be seen on the walks.  We haven't been to see that yet, must go one day.  Isn't this part of the coastline majestic, just lovely.  If you look to the left of the Whaling Station, just at the left hand edge of the photograph, you can see a teeny tiny island.  Apparently that is where the HMAS Perth was scuttled some years ago, to create a shipwreck for scuba diving. The top of the mast of the ship sticks out of water up to six metres, just near that tiny island apparently.
 We swung around over King George Sound heading back to town.  The is Middleton Beach, with Lake Seppings to the right, and Mount Clarence bottom left.  The scenic drive around Mount Clarence looking out over the sound is just lovely, and there is a terrific boardwalk from Middleton Beach around the hill too.
 Now we are behind Middleton Beach looking out over King George Sound.  Emu Point is off the the left and beyond that is Oyster Harbour.
 This is Albany Port with the town behind it.  There were piles of assorted different colours of stuff in neat rows.  Mineral?  Woodchips? Grain?  Not sure.  Two container ships are in port. 
 This is the centre of Albany, York Street being the main street, with the green Anzac Peace Park at the bottom and the triangular Albany Entertainment Centre to the right of that.  I was rather dismayed to see how grey and boring the town looked from above.   I think York Street is quite pretty on foot, but boy does it look drab from up here!
 After a fascinating 45 minutes we were back at the airport.  Here is Steve in front of the plane we were in, isn't it little!  It was a surprisingly smooth ride for something so small.  And Julie our pilot did a great job, taking off and landing smoothly and providing interesting commentary as she flew us around.
 And here am I, doing a flappy arm exit from my pose by the plane, as Julie the pilot started pushing the plane into the hanger without realising I was there, and I saw concussion from being clobbered by the wing looming.  :-)
It was a very nice way to spend a morning.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Fruit Ninja

This is the reason I am a bad blogger and haven't posted for a fortnight, sorry, I'm afraid the family history research bug has caught me again.  It's so exciting being able to track ancestors on the UK censuses, finding out their occupations and addresses, imagining what their lives must have been like.  I love it! :-)
We had the pleasure of the company of my good friend Angie and her lovely cousin from UK, Pauline, for a few days.  It was great seeing you ladies! :-) xx
Here they are choosing lunch at Due South, on the Albany foreshore.
 We had a delightful day out driving along the coast between Denmark and Walpole, this is a beautiful spot called Elephant Rocks.  Now, I am an idiot, there are a group of huge rocks that indeed look like a group of elephants but derrrr, I forgot to photograph them.  This one does have another elephant in it though, can you see it along the bottom, the line of its back, with the top of its head and one ear over in the right hand corner.
 We climbed down the cliff path to the bottom of Elephant Rocks, where there is the most lovely little beach tucked away.  What a shame we didn't have our bathers with us, when we set out it was overcast and very cool, who knew what a beautiful day it would turn out to be!  I want to come back here and swim around all those huge rocks in the water.
 We spent a morning in Albany, at Anzac Park.  We visited the fantastic National Anzac Centre.  It's a WW1 museum where you are given a card which is the identity of one of thirty people in the war, and you follow their journey through the war, finding out at the end if they lived or died.  It has been really well done, I've been twice within two weeks and was just as interested the second time around.  If you are ever in Albany I recommend a visit here.
This is the breathtaking view from one of the picture windows inside the museum, showing the passage out to the open sea, the direction the Australian ship convoys took when they left Australian shores 100 years ago.
 We also walked up the hill to where the soldiers stationed at Albany kept watch for enemies.  This little video I took is a panorama of that magnificent view again, showing where the ships departed.  The island on the right is Breaksea Island, home of the little girl Fay, who was represented as one of the Giants in Perth recently.
In the meantime I am harvesting the last of our goodies before everything quietens down for a while.  I am still up to my ears in pumpkins, really pleased with how they've grown this year.  I had a morning of cooking up a giant one, some mashed to be frozen in cups for the freezer, very handy for making pumpkin scones.  I also roasted a heap, then made a giant salad with roast pumpkin pieces, quinoa, diced fetta and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds).  I wish I could figure out how to easily extract pumpkin seeds from their kernels myself, I just love them, but it is so tedious so I buy them instead.  Roasting them is easy though, just bung em into a dry frypan and stir them til they start making little popping sounds, change colour and puff up a titch.  They are DELICIOUS!
 We are still picking plenty of tomatoes, the odd cucumber and our few apples.  Actually we are rather pleased with the new orchard.  I gave all the trees a big fertilise today to give them a boost, and a big water. The trees have only been in the ground about eight months so we didn't really expect any fruit this summer - the grand total is 13 peaches, 2(ha ha) almonds, 3 Bramley apples, 4 Cox's Orange Pippin apples and 2 Red Fuji apples.  Way cool!  We are also picking limes and lemons at the moment which is great.  Oh yes, we also got two figs!  Appreciating the small stuff  :-)

I also harvested and dried my coriander plants for the seeds.  I love coriander leaves and would eat them in anything, however Steve does not, so I garnish with coriander rather than cook with it, and Steve gets a garnish of parsley instead.  But, Steve will tolerate the taste of coriander seeds in stews etc, so I always save the seeds.  The taste is different to the leaves, still quite pungent but in a different sort of way.  I really enjoy saving seeds, to eat and to use for planting next season.
 Here is Patience outside the front door, wondering if there is any grub going.  She usually looks in our bedroom window early in the morning, cute.  I was excited this day, can you see what is peeking out of her pouch?
This is her new joey, it is a teeny tiny little thing, still as bald as a badger, and this is the first time I've seen it poke its little head out for a quick look.  How cute is that!  :-)
 The chooks had a fun day recently.  There are a lot of little crickets in my back garden beds so I carried the girls up one by one, and dumped them over the fence into the back garden.  They were so funny, they went all shy and tentative being in a new place for the first time, but eventually they settled down to digging big holes in the garden, feasting on worms and chasing crickets.  Heads down, bums up!
 We are still being visited by many many pink and grey galahs, almost fifty every now and then.  I do rather like them, they are so funny waddling along the ground with attitude.  I have started saying hello to them regularly, I will fall over laughing if one day one says hello back!
The other little creature that shares our lives is this lovable fiend.  Neo has developed a fetish for the fruit bowl, and has become a midnight ninja.  The last few mornings I have found the odd tamarillo, apple and grape on the floor where I think he has been batting them round the room, and this bunch of grapes was found dragged across the bench this morning, with the odd tooth mark in one or another.  Even though Neo knows he is not allowed to put his paws on the benchtop and generally obeys when I am there, he couldn't resist reaching across and batting the grapes whilst the camera was out. 
 Would you like to see a video of him in psycho mode?  And - action......
This was a marvelous sight on the weekend, the vision of rain on the way.  I think we ended up with 30 mm of rain over four days, yeehar!  A rest from hand watering and 8500 litres into the tanks.  Brilliant.  We are still awaiting the bore drilling man, he thinks he'll be here in a couple of weeks, won't that be amazing if he hits water.  Don't worry, I'll let you know! :-)

Friday, 6 March 2015

Colourful Catch

We ended up with 14 lovely millimetres of rain last week, saving us from watering for a few days and topping the tanks up a wee bit.  And there is a pleasing green tinge to the ground where a few grass tips are showing themselves, much to the delight of the roos. We have suddenly had about forty pink and grey galahs descend on our place too, they are feeding on something on the ground, not sure what.  Oddly and goodly they don't spend time in any of our trees, they are either on the ground or up in the tall tall marris.  Much better behaved than those conniving green parrots!
 Paul came down for a few day's holiday with us, was great to see you! xx  :-) 
Paul and Steve had a great fishing expedition in the secret spot (could tell you but would have to kill you) near Shelley Beach.  It is quite a climb but worthwhile apparently as it is sheltered, safe, beautiful, and generally there are fish around.  We had Blackfish, Leopard Cod and Harlequin fish for dinner, and Neo dined on Buff Bream, Leatherjacket and Wrass.  Everyone was satisfied.  :-)
After a hard day's fishing it was down to the important stuff, watching each other play Call Of Duty on XBox, sharing each other's secrets and strategies. 
Meanwhile I picked the first of my eight big pumpkins.  This one is a Queensland Blue, about five kilos.  I only used a quarter of it to make a double batch of soup!  We will be eating pumpkin for a long time to come!
And I used up some of the tomato glut, making a bottle of pizza sauce.  The consistency turned out great, nice and thick, but I don't think I got the taste quite right.  It was nice but it was more like a pasta sauce than a pizza sauce, perhaps I went overboard with the herbs?  Paul made a batch of pizza dough so we had homemade pizzas one night, with his terrific pizza bases and my not quite right sauce, and sprinklings of cheese, salami, bacon, mushroom, tomato and olives.  Yummity yum.
It was Steve's birthday yesterday, so a chocolate cake was in order.  With caramel icing.  Alas the tube of writing jelly stuff I had was yellow, much like the icing colour, so you will just have to believe me that it is scribed Happy Birthday Steve.  :-)