Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eve of departure

Well, its our last evening at home before our grand trip to Tasmania!

Poor old Denny-the-dog is going to notice our absense - no fireside naps of an evening or sleeping indoors on a cold night. He'll be 'doggy-sat' by a lady who will come to feed him and walk him each day and then he'll have to make do with a bunk in the lock-up!

See you all in a weeks time!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Today we start packing for Tasmania

OMG! After 38 years of marriage I think we are heading for the divorce court!  25kg each and very unpredictable weather in Hobart - just how do you prepare for it! I'm already in trouble 'cos I got our 'free days' from the conference wrong and committed us to a dinner thinking it would be a relaxing day.

We leave on Sunday and its only Friday!

I'm gambling Hobart will remain cold, wet and uncomfortable even as we head into early spring. My clothes look so humingous compared to the suitcase. I'll be taking a carry on bag and my camera bag and dressing to allow for extra clothes.

Here goes!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's cooking?

The Beer Bread is really great. I toasted a slice under the grill for breakfast and had it with a slice of ham off the bone and some homemade pickles - great breakfast with a steaming large mug of Lipton's Intense Black Tea.

Today, I'm going to make chicken soup using some frozen chicken stock - a residue of last week's two chickens for $5 special at Woolies - and I'm also going to cook fried rice using some left-over boiled rice that we brought home with us after eating in the local Vietnamese restaurant on Sunday night - "Fried Rice 101", Wendy! We will have both of these tonight with fresh chicken schnitzel from one of our local butchers.

Lien's, our local Viet restaurant, is very gracious in providing 'doggy bags' when you cannot eat all of their sizeable meal servings and the best rice for making fried rice is boiled rice a day to 2 days old. Just keep it refrigerated until ready to use.

Don't forget folks - visit and give some encouragement to Janet and Andrew!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beer Bread

I was given a recipe for beer bread and I'm trying it out today - its in the oven now!
If it tastes half as good as the aroma coming from the kitchen it will be great.

Came out with a bit of a 'bias' - I think I had the oven too high and could have cut 5 minutes off the cooking. When Rhonda came home we cut into it and each had a slice with butter (I also added some Capilano Black Box Honey to mine). Nice, crunchy crust with a soft centre and a light 'malty taste' from the stout.

  • 6 cups of self raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 375ml bottle of stout (room temperature)
  • 375ml bottle of sparkling ale (room temperature)
  • Olive oil spray

  • Preheat oven to 175C (fanforced), or, 195C normal oven
  • Lightly mix together the flour, salt, sugar, stout and sparkling ale to form a fairly sticky dough, adding a little more flour if needed -DO NOT KNEAD!
  • Spray a springform cake tin with olive oil and spoon in the dough, spreading it out to the edges. (You know you've got the mixture right if all the dough will just 'plop' into the cake tin from the mixing bowl!)
  • Cook in the oven for about 1 hour until it sounds hollow when the bottom of the loaf is tapped (after released from the pan) - if not, return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Serve bread warm with good butter on the side.

A Trip to the City

Rhonda and I journeyed to Sydney for my brother-in-laws funeral. Sad time but we managed an overnight stay at our favourite hotel - Sheraton on  the Park

Just a little place to lay our heads - nice view of Hyde Park and St Mary's Cathedral, 'tho.

There was a wedding going on at the Sydney Grand Synagogue

Just a small one - Three white rollers and several armed guards

We went for a stroll before dinner and saw the monorail in Pitt Street and even for a late Sunday evening the traffic was busy in Park Street

We had dinner in the Botanica Brasserie - a buffet-style meal with lots of oysters, king prawns, Balmain Bugs, Blue Swimmer Crabs and a lovely roast pork and roast turkey from the carvery. The dessert table was a delite and we each took eight small varieties of different cheesecakes, slices and cakes. Good value with a bottle of Western Australian cabernet sauvignon from the Margaret River vineyards and all up around $220AUS including the 'tip'.

We gain 'points' from staying in Sheraton hotels and can convert those points into free overnight stays, or, room upgrades and the Sheraton chain are always well organised and smartly presented.

Monday we went to the funeral service. It was raining and a very dreary day. We excused ourselves from attending the internment and drove back home, a three hour trip down the Hume Highway, after doing a 'meet and greet' after the service.

Denny-the-dog had slept in the 'lock-up' for the night - we can prop up the door to allow him free access to his bed - but he went berserk when we arrived home.  Hate to think how he's going to react next week when he will be 'doggy-sat' for a week while we go to Hobart in Tasmania.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dinner tonight

I am making a Meat and Vegetable Sauce to go with San Remo Angel Hair Spaghetti - it's my variation on Spaghetti Bolognese (or Bolognaise - whatever takes your fancy)

1 large brown onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 cup of red and green capsicum, diced
½ cup of frozen peas
1 400 g tin of diced tomatoes – spices optional
1 cup of chicken stock
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic chives
1 400-500 g of Bolognese pasta sauce
500 g of lean minced beef
powdered parmesan cheese
olive oil for cooking

Sweat onions , garlic and garlic for 2 minutes on medium heat – do not let onion brown.
Add celery, carrot and capsicum and cook for a further 5 minutes
Transfer vegetables to a clean bowl
Add some extra olive oil and heat and add mince, cooking until brown and broken up finely.
Return vegetables to pan and combine well
Pour in tinned tomatoes, chicken stock and pasta sauce. Bring to the boil and reduce to a ‘bloopish’ simmer for 45-60 minutes
KEEP MOIST, do not allow sauce to reduce to pure mince – Add a dash of stock or white wine if necessary
Add peas about 15 minutes from end of cooking and mix well
Cook and drain pasta, serve into individual dishes and sprinkle with some parmesan cheese powder
Spoon over the sauce and serve, adding more parmesan to suit taste.
Serve with a fresh , crusty bread loaf.

That much sauce is too much for us for one meal so I freeze down the extra sauce and use again within a week.

Friday, August 20, 2010

And Baby makes five

It's not uncommon for celebrities to return to form after an unexpected early retirement, and the beloved Lake George zebras are no exception. The four life-sized sculptures will soon be on display again, but instead of being surrounded by a vast dry lake bed, they will be featured among the famous flower beds of Floriade.
And, if all goes according to plan, they will be welcoming a new addition to their family a zebra foal.

The zebra family had previously enjoyed a blissful few weeks in the picturesque lake bed off the Federal Highway, before being damaged by vandals last month.

"Lake George" is a large basin-crater on the outskirts of Canberra that only fills in heavy rain and is frequently empty in drier climes.

Floriade is the annual flower festival in Canberra that runs for a week with extensive planted flower beds, planted months before hand, in full bloom - espicially bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and jonquils which thrive in Canberra's cold climate country.

Floriade view - go to Floriade link for more information.

The sculptor's display was much appreciated by passing motorists and the travellers rest stop alongside the display was a favourite spot for photographers untils some mutant miscreants vandalised the sculptures, even beheading one of the fibreglass structures.

There was a prior battle between the sculptor and the government over the exhibit (the government ordered them removed) but after an ABC story ABC "Zebra News Story"  the government relented - then the vandals struck.

When they appear at Floriade I'll post more images of the zebras and the flower displays.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Time Waster on a slow day

Click to Mix and Solve

Just click on the puzzle and it will take you to the link!

I have the truck with the mehanic for its annual inspection, dinner is prepared and I only have a few minor household chores to perform. Its cold - 12C outside - damp and a cold wind is blowing. I've re-arranged the carport and have not much else left to do.

So, time for some fun!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


One for John Gill - something closer to home for him!

Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

Great pairing of great singers I think I've used up my "Desert Island" allowance

Sinéad O'Connor

Sinéad O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U (live)Rotterdam 2008 - I really don't care what she sings, she would make the White Pages sound terriffic.

Elaine Paige

I must include Elaine Paige in my 'Desert Island' selections.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Terrible day!

More phone calls - My Brother-in-law passed away at 5.00pm while receiving chemotherapy for malignant melanoma.

What a loss - Australian born of Dutch parents, great father and the most gentle man you could ever know.

Then - my grandson who has ADDD threw a 'barney' at school and hit a teacher and is now suspended. That's going to be an on-going issue. We've offered to have him down here with us, attend a country school, for a term or two.

That's my three bad phone calls today - no more please God!

Phone call I didn't want

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital ("The Alfred") Sydney

Phone rang at 9am. It was the receptionist from the urologist's rooms. He had the report of my retrograde pyleogram. He wants to see me earlier than 29th September and has made time for me at 10am on 6th September - day after we return from Hobart, Tasmania!

Oh well!  It will be off to The Alfred to see the Director of Physician Training, Dr Ted Wu, the 'head honcho' in urology, and a guided cystoscopy which will probably mean incising any stricture.  


Winter - time to cook ...

Wet, cold and windy outside so into the Kitchen.

An Apple pie made with some surplus green Granny Smith apples.

While all this was going on I had a lovely Gravy Beef Casserole with shredded turnip, quartered onions, champignons and chopped bacon in a chicken stock and tomato paste base simmering in the slow cooker. Lovely aromas in a closed warm house for Rhonda to come home to.

Also made some cookies which will go to work this morning so that Rhonda can provide morning tea for her cohort of hungry off-siders in the ward.

Trying to decide if I'll do a Honey and Soy coated slow cooked whole chicken today, or, quarter it up and bake some Parmesan Chicken. Will see what the mood determines when I get to the kitchen.

Monday, August 16, 2010


There was a slight hiccup at some bridgeworks on the Barton Highway (not far away) where workers were pouring concrete for an overpass as part of the Gungahlin Drive extension.

Fifteen workers were injured, with nine workers treated in hospital after bridgework on the Gungahlin Drive extension collapsed yesterday. Workers were pouring concrete on the east-west section of the new bridge when a cracking sound was heard. The bridge buckled beneath them seconds later, taking construction workers standing on the upper section with it.
Some workers scrambled to safety in time but one was left suspended in mid-air after he grabbed hold of a cement truck hose.

CFMEU ACT branch secretary Dean Hall said, ''They heard a crack, there was a three-second delay and then it gave way.''

A worker with lower leg injuries was trapped in a confined space for about 15 minutes before being rescued by fire crews. Most others were able to walk to waiting ambulance crews for treatment. Six workers were treated on-site for minor injuries by paramedics.
Source:  The Canberra Times

The road below this bridge, the Barton Highway, is very busy and it was fortunate that work was being done early on a Saturday morning with traffic control in place.

New view released in this morning's press:

ACT Roads spokesman Tony Gill says debris will need to be cleared away before the road can reopen.

"Our initial advice is that it could take up to two weeks before we are in a position to remove the debris and get the road open for public use," he said. "We are getting an independent engineer's report just to get an understanding of how the bridge collapsed and secondly we need to engage a demolition contractor to remove the debris.

"But we also have to make sure it is safe for that demolition contractor to go in and remove the debris."
TWO WEEKS to clear it? This is a major 'peak connector' into Canberra from the west and northwest 'dormitory suburbs' of Canberra residential areas. The two other routes, Gunghalin Drive (already crowded because of the GDE roadworks) and Kingsford-Smith/William Hovell drives are chaotic and at a standstill in peak hour.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

We are back

Had mixed weather on our four days away - poured rain one day and the Wyangala Dam has gone fro 7.2% capacity to 15.1% in a week. Good, welcoming rain.

Managed to get the gasfitter to come out and connect a new line so that we now have gas heating inside the cabin - very warm and cosy - and we pulled out an old futon lounge/bed conversion that was very uncomfortble on my back to sit on and replaced it with two cane upholstered armchairs which are much more comfortable.

Watched Avatar - good special effects but ususal yank "Here comes the cavalary" type movie, only this time the indians win!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Joy Oh! Joy!

Wyangala here we come!

Rhonda has four days off. Normally she gets a three day break once a month, her two days rostered break and a Rostered day Off every four weeks, but there was an error in her roster for last month and they owe her a day - she elected to take it as an Additional Day Off.

So tomorrow we are heading off to our "Fortress of Solitude" at Wyangala. The weather is not promising with low temperatures and rain forecast bt who cares - I've got two books to read - a Douglas Reeman paperback "The Last Raider" - and a James Herberts modern fantasy "Once ....." a ' for adults only' fairy tale set in modern days in the English Midlands around Shropeshire, UK -

Looking forward to that one.

Rhonda has two new armchairs to fit into the cabin at the expense of one of the old Futons.

If the weather should surprise us then there are some lovely bush walks in the area.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fruit salad - a continuing topic ....

Last week a fellow blogger, Gill, put up a post about a fresh fruit salad she had made and it looked delicious. 

Gill extolled the virtues of Blueberries, however, my comment was that at $4.50AUS for 100gms I found them too expensive and that I tended to use cheaper fruit in season. Well our supermarket had blueberries on 'special' so I purchased a punnet and made up my fruit salad.

I used:
  1. a generous slice of rock melon ( orange fleshed cantaloupe) chopped
  2. 5 large strawberries, chopped
  3. 50gm of fresh blueberries
  4. half a large Valencia orange, quartered, peeled and chopped
  5. the pulp of one passion fruit
  6. half a teaspoon of white sugar
  7. a generous splash of lime juice

Add fruit in layers to a large bowl as prepared, sprinkle with sugar and squirt the splash of lime juice over the top (lemon juice can be substituted) and mix gently with a large spoon. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
This amount, if kept chilled, is enough to last me three days. I don't keep it much longer than that as its so easy to make a fresh batch from fruit at hand.
If you find using lime or lemon juice makes the fruit too tart you may omit the juice entirely if you wish. I like the tartness of the citrus juice. When the tropical fruits become available - mango, paw paw, etc - I use those as well but find the keeping time  is minimal and prefer to make it fresh each day.

Posting pretty flower pictures ....

Some of us are posting some very lovely pictures of flowers - I really like them - but I do not have a 'green thumb' and all my flowers are of the wildflower type.

I don't even know their names - but I don't believe that is a prequisite to 'Appreciation of flowers 101'. Here are a few I took when I went 'bush' last week.

This was growing in a pile of frost-cracked granite rocks, in a paddock, somewhere out along the railway line near Bilmari, a whistle stop on the main line from Cowra to Canowindra (Kan-noun-drah).  Pretty little thing, I think its a weed but the splash of vibrant yellow flowers caught my eye.

Saw a bit of this. I found this specimen growing up the wire mesh of a safety fence along the torturous road over the ranges to Woodstock while taking a short cut through to Orange, via Bathurst.  Its a climbing vine, smooth green leaf and an elongated cluster of mauve flowers. Saw other specimens growing up Eucalyptus trees, wrapped around the tree's trunk like an apron, flowers predominantly following the sun's track.

The abundance of native and wild flora in the countryside, particularly after some rain - like we've had - is a sight to behold.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Travelling around grazing country

Last week I took a few days off and headed out west - just wanted some R&R.  It was quite cold and we had three days of moderately heavy rain before I left and a blizzard up in the Snowy Mountains while I was away.

I saw some interesting old grazing properties the remnants of those old homesteads giving us an eye back to days gone by.

This shack, above,would be more of a settlers hut - slab timbers and poles hand hewn from available hardwoods, corrugated iron cladding and a rubble brick chimney. Often these huts had chimneys made with only corrugated iron cladding.

Grazing nearby was this nice size bull who was quite prepared to wander over and give me the 'eye-off'!

A little further up the road were the remnants of a more substantial property. Note the way the central residential structure was originally completed and then 'add-ons' in the form of front and rear verandahs have been constructed that were partially or wholly enclosed made up the whole building. A chimney constructed of locally made bricks indicates that this was  a 'homestead', more so than a 'settlers shack'.

Was this the later homestead built by the family that had sheltered in the settlers hut where the bull was in the paddock?

Nearby can be seen a large shearing shed, I would say about 6 stands in essence and the power connection would indicate electric shearing. This looks like it may have been used until recently and, in fact, may still be in current use. 

This property was in Frogmore and was advertised as 'for sale'.

As I progressed along this country road I came across a church, a lone building stading off the road.

The yard around the church was very unkempt, the gates were rusting but the fencing was good although long grass made the area appear untidy. At first I thought that this church may no longer be in use, however, closer inspection revealed new and well maintained graves. This is quite obviously a local rural church that stood by itself, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

When you checked the surrounding area there was nothing more than roadway.

Another few kilometres along the road and I came across another old homestead that was even more grand, for its age and structure, than the previous two. This is obviously still a working property. Cattle were grazing in the green pastures and the recent rains had filled the creek at the back and created a billabong amongst a stand of river gums.

Note that the building is constructed from local rock and the fireplace of at least one chimney, the one in view on the righthand end of the building, was also of rock. The upper chimnys were constructed from brick.

I drove a bit further along the road and shortly came across what was the decaying remnants of a small schoolhouse - probably large enough to cater for about 6 children and would have been run by local family supervision with a weekly or bi-weekly visit from a schoolteacher from a larger rural town about 50 kilometres away.

I hope to travel back that way soon and I will seek to find out more about this 'community', which when I made enquiries at a grand homestead further down the road, was known as "Graham".

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What a week - been Mad!

Been frenetic here and its not finished yet.

Rhonda's on an RDO break and we had hoped to go away for a few days but I was booked for my orthopaedic review today, for which I had to get X-rays done. Yesterday I had to go for bladder CT studies to try and find out what's going on where with my waterworks. What an experience - turns out the Doctor at the radiology clinic couldn't get the catheter in (I told him that would happen) even using a paediatric catheter and the contrast spilled everywhere, the catheter kept coming out and he had me in contortionist positions on the table trying to get some view of the waterworks up on the screen, etc, etc - the nurse and I were cracking funnies and this poor Indian doctor didn't know what we were going on about. Talk about hysterics. He was aware that I knew quite a lot about urology from my nursing days and even suggested I should be the one doing the procedure.

Anyway - result as expected so it will be back to the urologist when we get home from our trip to Tasmania and then looks like it will be a trip to Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney to see this 'Gun' urologist who will attempt a guided cystoscopy. Sheesh! We might make that a few days in Sydney and try and have the grandsons for a day – they love The Sheraton on the Park and drove room service crazy last time we were there. This time I’ll have to hide the cordless phone so they cannot get to it!

Our General practice doctor quit yesterday - delivered a letter to all his patients saying he was closing the practice and heading off to a SuperGP-clinic in the ACT. Thanks a million, mate! So I had to rush around trying to get a substitute local GP and ended up with a female Pakistani doctor in the only group practice left in town. Beggars can't be choosers, I spose but I have found that the female Asian doctors to be very professionally competent and efficient – unlike male doctors they tend to take time to listen to you and either make decisions promptly , or, are more willing to seek another opinion before doing so. Tomorrow I see my ex-GP (booked appt) as I need some scripts and I also have a chiropody nurse appt  at his rooms (which I'll have to get her to book me for the new GP clinic in future.) On top of that we have had to contact all our specialists and tell them to not send reports to our ex-GP and send them to my new GP instead. Staff at the practice are really peeved at him 'cos they are on a months notice and our growing town loses another GP to the City!

Rhonda is going to salvage something out of her three days off, anyway! She’s informed me that when we go to Canberra today to see the specialist she wants to go to the Mega-Mall and do some shopping. Better get the credit cards ready I reckon.