Monday, 20 January 2014

Flowers, fruit and feathers.

We have spent some more time at Mount Victoria lately. The garden is very dry and its a miracle that the plants are still alive. The grass is all brown and the dams are low.

The only colour in the garden comes from the agapanthas that we planted about 12 months ago. They are very hardy and make a nice display in a garden that was previously overgrown with vines. I know some people hate them but they do put on a good show.

Also struggling along is a peach tree which dutifully produces fruit every year. Unfortunately, the peaches never have a chance to ripen because the birds always get to them first.

The garden was previously very productive and my brother did a lot of preserving back in the 90's. All the equipment is still there in the brake van and some of the preserves are still there too!

I'm thinking these peaches, rhubarb and ? (not sure what the other jar holds) are potentially about 20 years old! I'm planning on having a go at preserving one day.

Back home, this lovely girl has been visiting our house every afternoon for about 2 weeks now. She comes at around 4 to 5pm and hangs around for an hour or two. She is very tame and is not bothered by humans at all. She flies up onto the roof and sometimes into the big tree at the back of the house or she wanders along the patio and looks in the loungeroom windows!

A beautiful hoya has started flowering out the back. It was about 3" tall when we planted it and now it has climbed all the way up the verandah pole with lovely green foliage and these pretty pink flowers.

We made a quick trip to Tassie last week. We visited a few places we had not been to before on the north east coast. You can see a lot of Tassie in a few days as everything is relatively close together. My favourite spot was the Bridestowe Lavender Farm near Scottsdale. Fortunately, the lavender was in bloom. The views were spectacular!

Coincidentally we came across another peahen when we stopped to take pictures of the Batman Bridge. I thought this quite amazing as I have never seen one in the wild before let alone two!

She was very inquisitive and came right up to the car to see if I had any food for her.

The north coast has some very isolated and rugged spots. It is sparsely populated and some of the settlements are pretty much deserted, even in summer.

This couple were gutting some fish they had caught.

The weather ranged from raining and 12 degrees to hot and sunny and 33 degrees in the space of 3 days. We were in Bridport on the hotest day and the beach was crowded with holiday makers from the nearby camping area. The old jetty was right near the beach and reminded me of another one we saw in Eucla in WA on our last trip.

Back to reality now.  I have started my last two weeks of work. One day back and it feels like I have never been away!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

A new adventure

It is already nearly two months since we returned from our wonderful 11 week trip around Australia. Christmas has been and gone and we are already into 2014. Life is very different for me now.  I am getting used to the idea that I am no longer a working person. I will soon be officially at the end of my public service career. While we were away it didn't really sink in as we were travelling and I was having such a wonderful time exploring and experiencing new things. But now that we are home I am gradually coming to the realisation that life is different now and its up to me to decide what I do, how busy I am and where this next phase of my life will take me. After working full time for 37 years (with the exception of two stints of maternity leave) this is a liberating experience!

Despite always working full time, I have always been a bit of a home body. Living in the Blue Moutains in a lovely street with bush all around has meant that going to work every day has taken me away from our picturesque and comforting surroundings. I travelled to the city for over 20 years and then to Parramatta for about 12 years and some mornings leaving the Blue Mountains was very difficult!!

I now have so much more time to sew. I have some lovely 'quilty' friends and we get together regularly which is great fun. There are so many things to learn and so many quilts to make!

My latest completed project. My first foray into hexagons!

One rather large task that we have set ourselves is cleaning up and improving our property at Mount Victoria. It belonged to my brother, Warren, who passed away suddenly, at only 56, nearly 9 years ago now.

The house through the trees from the big dam.
The fires which raged in Mt Victoria in October, while we were away on our trip, were very close to the property but we were very fortunate that nothing was damaged. The wonderful RFS back burnt all around the buildings and garden so that it is now all clear. The view is slightly better across the valley at the back but the burnt trees are already putting out new shoots and it will soon be all green again.

The view from the edge of the big dam.

Behind the old garden.
Down by the shed.
Warren was a diesel mechanic by trade but had a passion for old machinery. He was very practical and could make or fix just about anything. The 'piece de resistance' of his innumerable 'projects' was his 1908 Marshall Steam Traction Engine. He bought this in 1973 when he was only about 24. It was abandoned in a field on a property near Molong when he bought it and he spent hundreds of hours on and off over the years right up until his death gradually restoring it to its former glory. Sadly, he never saw it completed.

When he passed away three of his friends, Barry Birch, Ray Bent and Bob Miller set about working on it to continue the restoration in Warren's honour. This was a huge job but they achieved great things! For the past three years the engine has visited Oberon each February for the Highland Steam and Vintage Fair which is always exciting. I am so proud of all of them for the work they have devoted to the engine to enable it to operate again and be appreciated by many others. It was a very exciting day indeed when it first came out of the shed, literally, under its own steam.

The Marshall in Oberon in February 2013.
There is still some more work to be done on it but it is mostly complete. Its boiler gets inspected every two years to make sure it's safe and it has conditional registration so that it can travel on public streets.

The festival is on again this February and this year we are hoping the Marshall will take its place in the parade which goes down the main street of Oberon. There are a huge collection of vintage cars, trucks, bikes, traction engines and assorted other vehciles that all participate in the show.

Getting back to the clean up, Warren had collected many other gems for restoration, or just because!

There is so much to do there. We just don't know where to start. We certainly won't get bored!