Sunday, July 28, 2013

Christmas in July at Grand Fountaindale Manor, Robertson

Tourists in our own town again today.

We walked down to Grand Fountaindale Manor for the last day of their Christmas in July celebration.

People from the northern hemisphere usually think its a very strange thing, decorating big hotels in full Christmas regalia in July. But its winter here now. Our summers are hot, hot, hot. You don't want egg nog and mulled wine and pudding when its 40 degrees and you run electric fans outside.  But its perfect in July.

We enjoyed Devonshire tea in front of a fire listening to old carols.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Planting dwarf apple trees reminiscent of Monet's garden

Our front garden is inspired by our trip to Monet's garden in Giverny, France.  While I could never claim a garden as wonderful as that our garden is pretty in a cottagy sort of way with flowers in shades of blue.

One of the things I loved in Monet's garden, and there were lots of things I loved, were the espaliered apple trees.

Ever since then I have wanted to plant apples in the same way, well today we did it. I bought two dwarf apple trees, one is a Jonathan and the other a Gala.  Both crisp red apples. I can't wait for Spring to see them come into blossoms and leaves.  Woebetide anything that causes the blossoms to fall early and reduce my chance of apples ;)
Not quite Monet style yet.  Well it needs to start somewhere.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The steam train visited Robertson today

The steam train visited Robertson today. We heard its whistle as it crossed the paddocks beyond our house. On a whim we grabbed cameras, leapt into the car and chased the train. We've lived here close to 10 years and we've never done that before. We have been at the station when it has come in but today we dashed in and out of the car, up and down the line taking snaps and it was FUN!

I took these photos with my digital camera. Howard took along his Spectra Polaroid. I'll share them when they've been scanned.

Its a stunning day, clear sunny. The steam train can only visit in Winter - there's too high a fire risk at other times of year. The heritage rail does run at other times but the old carriages are pulled by a diesel. It was nice to be a tourist in our own town. Nice to see so many people out and about enjoying life: the local kids were playing soccer, the cafes were full and there were a heap of people like us chasing the train.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How do winter mornings surprise with their bare branches and white frost?

Its two months into winter yet its funny how some mornings I am surprised by how bare the trees are. I woke up this morning to a golden glow in the sky and a thick white frost.  Its only the second frost I have seen this winter and the thickest so far.  We live only a short distance from the edge of the mountain, so the sun hits here first and any light frost burns off quickly.  Today the frost was deep enough to stick around. This is the view from our back verandah through the elm tree. 

I love how our summer and winter view is so different. In summer the elm tree completely blocks our view of the paddocks.  It keeps the house cool and the yard shady.  Walk down the stairs and across the garden and the open grass land opens up in front of you. The trees are full of crimson rosellas summer and winter but in winter the birds are a vibrant and rare shot of colour instead of a mere hint of red glinting through lush greenery. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Vintage update to cheap cardigan

Last week I bought a cheap cardigan. Its soft and comfy and a gorgeous shade of blue. Just the thing to throw over basic black work attire.

This morning I wore it for the first time. On the way to work I folded back the sleeves to a comfortable length. Oops, I noticed a small fault on the sleeve. A pucker and bleach spot.

Not to worry its fixed. A couple of sparkly vintage buttons and no one will ever notice.  One on each cuff - now they are permanently cuffed but the length is just right. I replaced the top button to make sure the cuffs tied in. And besides, now its really mine! It feels less mass produced, less cheap and no one else has one the same. Simple and one of my favourite fixes.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weary to my bones tonight

Monday evening, just home from work. Its raining lightly outside, just a drizzle really. I crave simple food so a pot of pasta is on the stove. My cats and dogs are nagging for their dinners but they can wait a little longer. Howard is at work for several hours yet so I've put the TV on for company. I am yet to start a fire - its not cold enough now but if I delay too long the temperature will drop and it will be too late to raise it again. The alternative is a hot bath and an early night. Hmmm tempting. If I give in I'll get up tomorrow and feel I wasted my evening and the cycle will continue all week. Tricky isn't it.

I often struggle with this dilemma, giving my all at work, having no energy left in the evening to pursue what I consider my own life, the real me. I try to squeeze my life into the weekends. But first I sleep in Saturday morning. The experts on insomnia say that is a bad thing to do as less hours up and about make it harder to go to sleep that night. But how can I not: its the only way I feel I restore some energy.

Tonight I'm going to light the fire, eat my dinner then let myself have a guilt free early night after some indulgent TV viewing.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Gardening with an audience

I love my garden, love growing food. It is astonishing though how quickly it all goes to pot and gets overgrown. Nature: ie grass takes over completely in the blink of an eye. Over the past two weekends I have dug and mulched and the beds are all looking beautiful and fertile.

The paths and open areas are still a disaster but I will fix that next weekend. My lower back has had enough today and my hands feel like sandpaper.

I worked one bed at a time - weeded, then mulched. The asparagus bed got an extra treatment with a mix of homespun compost and horse manure.

I discovered kale and red spinach in this bed that self-seeded from last season. 

I'm back inside in front of a fire. The cute thing though is that I had an audience today when I worked.

The cows who live over the fence came to look so I threw them the grass I pulled out. It feels good to reconnect with the earth to dig and nurture and grow.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Graduation at last

Way back in January I remember throwing a temper tantrum or two over the horror of studying part-time whilst working full time. Eventually I got it together - you can read about the experiences here and there.

Today I got confirmation that it was all worth while. I traipsed into town to the Post Office to collect an unknown, unexpected parcel. I had an aha moment when I saw the logo on the large envelope. I decided not to wait until October to receive my testamur in Armidale. I've graduated twice before, finishing was enough.

So here it is, my Graduate Diploma of Management.
Its not the Academy Awards but I reserve the right to make a short speech and thank all those who encouraged me. Firstly Howard for encouraging me to finish, to my Mum, Sister and niece as always. And to friends and followers of my blog for the kind words when I almost threw my computer at the wall. I am so glad to have finished, to have won and as always to have learnt new things. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Harvest time and hearty winter soups

Its still early enough in winter that we are able to harvest vegetables here in the Southern Highlands. My neighbour grew this magnificent pumpkin. It is a Queensland blue, from my home state, a lovely looking pumpkin. Cutting them is a real challenge though. You need a cleaver.  I poked my biggest knife into the top as far as I could get it then banged the whole lot against the chopping board until I broke through. They are daunting but they taste good. I made pumpkin soup, roast pumpkin and a curry.

 We haven't had a frost so the potatoes are still growing. I filled a bucket with spuds from just one spot  in the garden. There are many more to pull up but they are tricky to store. Inevitably I won't find them all so they will self-seed next season. Yet again lots of warming soup opportunities reside in this bucket.
The largest potato I have grown came out of a narrow space between a garden bed and a fence. There is actually a chunk still in the ground under the fence that I couldn't dig out that will start next year's crop. You can just see the sliced off end on the left. Isn't it crazy!

Hope you are keeping warm and toasty if you are with me in the Southern Hemisphere. I had a load of wood delivered today so we have a roaring fire going. 


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