Thursday, January 29, 2009

heat wave

It is now official, we are in the middle of the hottest heat wave in Australia for the last 100 years. The tennis players at the Australian Open in Melbourne are melting, collapsing and generally having a rough time, and the less hyper-fit occupants of the country are suffering similar reactions.

The night time low in Adelaide yesterday was 33 degrees Celsius. Mudgee is averaging high 30's thus making living in a tin box rather a challenge. It is like a Swedish sauna without the advantage of being able to roll naked in the snow and beat each other with birch twigs.

I am still managing to hobble around a tennis court at old lady pace, although hitting the yellow fuzzy thing over the netty thing is still a rather random affair. The competition starts in earnest next week when the tournament starts ( no playing for fun here, it is all sounding rather serious stuff). Partners have been published in the local paper, so I hope the poor person who drew me does not have high expectations.

Ness continues to work on Kew Vegetable Garden, and is now the same colour as the beetroots she is planting. I do hope the predicted locust plague does not hit this region as she may weep.

On the home front Felix went off to 'big school' for the first time yesterday and Emily is doing 3 days a week at pre-school. There will be no stopping Georgie now that she has time on her hands, and if yesterday is anything to go by she is in serious shopping mode- 5 pregnant Murray Grey cows were purchased at the local cattle market and are settling in to their new surroundings. James has done a few calvings and caesars now so will be on standy-by in July when the first calves are due.

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

Thursday, January 22, 2009

spell check

Most of the time the Australian relaxed attitude to life is refreshing after 4 decades in England, but the casual approach to spelling, grammar and foreign languages does cause me a certain amount of consternation.

The misuse and overuse of the apostrophe would make Lynne Truss apoplectic, and regarding French pronunciation there is absolutely no quarter given, with all words having a phonetic interpretation. Currently the Australian Open Tennis is being sponsored by Garnier ('Take care, Garny air' ).

Ordering a croissant in a bakery one has to resort to pointing to the item in order to be understood, or accept defeat and ask for a croo-son ( to rhyme with Tucson, Arizona). Mary and I are running a competition to see who can spot the best howlers, and it is a close run thing so far. Most cafes will serve raison toast for breakfast, or with cream as a desert, lovingly prepared in their state of the art brassiere kitchens.

We have decided to open an existential cafe/bookshop called Raisin Detre' where customers can order their deserts while sitting comfortably on the chaise lounges or reading the currant events noticeboards. There are possible several locations- maybe next to the Ghandarva Wholistic Counselling Centre in Richmond , De Ja Vu the hairdressers, or move to Orange and find somewhere near the 'Definately Different' gift shop. Or we could position ourselves next to the skincare and beauty salon below:

From Blogger Pictures
It may be advisable to be close to a long as poor terry does not need washing:

From Drop Box

However we have decided on a signature dish desert for the A'La'cart menu.

From Blogger Pictures

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

game set and match

A New Year resolution of sorts is to be more active. Since we are on a brief travel interlude the temptation to sit around in the sun and do very little is great so I decided to pick up a tennis racket for the first time in over 20 years and join the Mudgee tennis club.

My first attempt last week was somewhat woeful. In my day the rackets were made of wood and weighed a ton, and getting to grips with a light large headed carbon fibre number was interesting, most of my shots flying into the net or reaching the outer stratosphere. Playing in temperatures of over 30 degrees was also a challenge, and my graciously patient partners called the game off after an hour when I was looking like someone about to suffer a coronary.

It transpires that they are a pretty competitive bunch at the club, and yesterday I had to attend the 'sorting' to assess my abilities. I tried to request that I was just placed straight into the 'overweight ladies of a certain age and limited ability' category but my pleas fell on stony ground.

Fortunately there were 2 other ladies who fitted neatly into this category so I did not feel totally useless. However I have now been 'sorted' ( the sorting hat will, I fear, place me with the Slytherins ) and the teams will be announced in the local paper before the regular Tuesday night competition starts in February! This was not quite the plan but there is no going back now. I do need to get some practice in before then, but Ness refuses point blank to indulge in any sport that involves chasing a ball. The trio of ladies of a certain age will reconvene next week for a practice session.

Meanwhile I am off to Kurrajong tomorrow to house sit for M & N while Ness is staying in Mudgee to assist with Saturday's Farmers market. I think that I am getting the better deal, as I will have an outdoor pool all to myself interspersed with a little light dog/cat/chook/horse minding. I really must persuade them to start building the tennis court.

Friday, January 9, 2009

poultry keeping down under

An interesting few weeks down in the farm learning the perils and pitfalls of rearing chooks and ducks down under. It is certainly an uphill struggle dealing with the inherent stupidity of the species combined with external factors such as weather and predators.

The ducks were not proving to be overly maternal at first, so one of the overtly broody silky comedy chickens was drafted in to rear a clutch of duck eggs. The tiny little chook was very proud of her ducken/chickling brood and reared them well, but was a bossy mother and terrified of water so the offspring were marshalled away from the dam and never learned how to swim!

One duck then built a nest and became broody, but did not see incubating eggs as a full-time job and kept wandering off to see what her mates were up to, so the eggs either got too cold and the chicks did not develop, or got so hot in the midday sun that they exploded. Coco the spaniel will never steal an egg again after an overripe one exploded in her mouth with extremely loud and unpleasant results.

Another broody duck kept losing her eggs which was rather mystifying until a metre long goanna was spotted popping into the duck shed for a light snack. One duck had a good nest and clutch of eggs going, but the pile of eggs kept getting bigger and bigger until she was perched on a Giza sized egg pyramid and the fertile ones kept rolling out from under her and perishing- the lazier ducks had spotted her nest and decided to lay their own eggs in hers so they could bugger off for a swim and a mooch around.

A successful hatching by one of Australorp chooks was short-lived when a squadron of purple 'meat ants' invaded her nest and consumed all but one of the chicks. There is also an unidentified chook who has gone rogue and become a cannibal and steals and eats eggs from nesting mothers. She will be one for the pot once she has successfully been identified from a line up........that's her, the brown one with the red comb and yolk round her beak!

Meanwhile the disadvantages of buying in fresh stock is that they have not grown up with the routine of being locked away at night and go AWOL at bed time. Five out of ten are now missing in action.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

....and a happy new year

From trek phase 4

.....Happy New Year from james dog


Another year has arrived, the sun is shining, and all is well in New South Wales. A multitude of Georgie's delightful relatives arrived for Christmas and 'Camp Ormiston' was quickly established in the garden so Geoffrey had some company.
From trek phase 4
The whole day was spent eating, drinking and enjoying great company. Ormiston ham was a triumph and James stuck with tradition and roasted a turkey. Ness was in charge of table decorations.........

From trek phase 4

...... and the cousins manfully erected the christmas trampoline.

From trek phase 4
The weather was fantastic and the heavy storms of the previous few days stayed away. Ruthie the pony and her newborn foal provided the afternoon entertainment.
From trek phase 4

From trek phase 4

The following week flew by with such events as the annual Boxing Day ferreting outing ( no rabbits were harmed), swimming at the local pool, more eating, more drinking, and a New Year's eve outdoor party.

We are becoming accustomed to hot festive weather and not a whiff of nostalgia for frosts, dark nights and thermal underwear.