Friday, January 18, 2019

To the end of the world and back

Tasmania certainly felt like the end of the world to me this week, after spending more than 23 hours in the air and around 7 hours in airports to travel home from a business trip to New York. It's longer on the way back. It takes only (!) 19 hours in the air to get there, and it also feels shorter as you arrive the same day you left, thanks to the international date line. Then on the way back a whole day is erased from your calendar somehow (what happened to my Sunday??) and every time I feel somehow ripped off. The flight wasn't the only shock to the system, as the temperature at home the day before I left was 36 degrees Celsius (97F) and -6C (21F) when I arrived in New York! I feel very lucky to be able to travel to meet my peers and leadership team and experience different parts of the world. This time, I stayed in the lower east side for a couple of nights and managed to hit the New Museum, a couple of distilleries, the northern end of Central Park and some Jewish food spots. I love NYC to bits.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hazy days of summer

The evening before last we sat at the kitchen bench eating dinner, as a large black cloud moved across the sky, wiping out the afternoon sunshine. Then the thunder rolled in, in great heavy waves, with brilliant flashes of lightning to the south of us. The storm wasn't close, but still impressive. Shortly afterwards, the Tasmanian Fire Service web site lit up with alerts of bushfires all around, across the river and in the great wilderness to the west. One was quite close to us in Glen Huon, but by the next morning it had dropped off the alerts list. Since then the smell of smoke has hung thickly in the air and the mountain range we normally look out at has disappeared behind the smoke. There's more hot weather forecast. I hope everyone stays safe.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

NYE in the country

Happy new year! Last night we spent the evening with a lovely bunch of locals at some friends' place just down the road. The weather smiled on us and the freshly mowed paddock was the place to be on a long summer evening. We ate delicious pizzas from an outdoor oven, lamb slow cooked over an open fire and fabulous desserts (I so love banoffee pie), enjoyed with celebratory beer or sparkling in hand. Dogs and kids running round and round and playing near the dam. Standing around the fire pit at midnight with the stayers waving sparklers. The sky was clear and we watched the International Space Station go overhead. I'm not keen on fighting crowds, travelling far or paying crazy money to be near big fireworks on New Year's Eve. Low key, low stress and nearby is definitely the way to go. All the best to you and yours for 2019.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The good stuff

Earlier this year I bought a kilo each of blackcurrants and redcurrants at a local market, intending to make some kind of spirit with them. But months later they were still in the freezer, so I thought blackcurrant jam would be a great way to use them. What I didn't realise is that it's near impossible to remove all the woody parts from frozen berries, which you have to do to make jam from these tiny fruit. I gave up after about 20 berries were in the pan and started searching for an alternative recipe... syrup or cordial perhaps? Then I saw a recipe for blackcurrant jelly which means you don't need to remove the stalks, as you strain it through muslin overnight. I think it is even more delicious than the jam. It set easily and now I have two jars of the good stuff. It was perfect on a slice of fresh 'Ursi bread', as we call it, after the Swiss friend who gave us the recipe.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Maria Island Walk

Last week I spent four glorious days on the Maria Island Walk, a gift from my wonderful husband. Together with a couple from Sydney, a couple from New Zealand and our two guides, I trekked along beautiful white beaches, climbed up Bishop & Clerk, stalked wombats, listened to the birds and learned about the island's fascinating history. Our guides prepared delicious meals, from pancakes for breakfast cooked on the barbecue to fresh salads and rolls for lunch, a range of sweet treats for morning or afternoon tea, to risotto, mushroom soup, even quail for dinner. And a good range of Tasmanian cheeses, beers and wines to sample. The outdoor hot showers at the camps were a real treat at the end of the day too (pictured below). Luxury hiking at its best.

I took a notebook and pen, planning to write about the experience and other random thoughts as I normally do when travelling, but my head was completely empty. No thoughts at all really, except where to place my foot next. No decisions to be made other than whether to have a glass of pinot gris or pinot noir. It was the perfect brain cleanser at the end of a long year. Highly recommend this trip if you want to get away from it all for a few days.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Agrarian treat

The company I work for gives employees one day of 'birthday leave' every year. Nice, huh? Not that it's different to any other leave, but you just have to take it, because, well, it's your birthday! David booked a special treat birthday lunch at the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery in New Norfolk. Housed in a building inside the former Willow Court mental asylum, the restaurant has received many rave reviews since it opened in 2017. It lived up to expectations. It's a hard call, but I think the dish I liked most was salt baked beetroot with horseradish, kefir cream and saltbush. My leftover bread ice cream and David's pavlova were also sensational. And the staff were lovely. We've both done cooking classes at the Agrarian Kitchen down the road in Lachlan, before so we have seen where much of the produce served in the restaurant is grown. People watching was pretty entertaining too.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Surprise chick

We've had a few broody hens in the shed over the past few weeks, including one that was found to be sitting on 49 eggs!! Needless to say she couldn't keep those warm enough to hatch and they were removed. Then a week ago, I went down to let the chooks out in the morning and heard cheeping coming from under one of the hens, and a healthy chick emerged from her feathers.

It was a complete surprise, as I didn't think any of them had been sitting for the 21 days required for eggs to hatch. A week later and there is still only one chick and some interesting co-parenting arrangements between the three sitting hens. If nothing else happens in the next week, I'm going to remove those hens from their eggs and move them to the 'summer shed' (see previous post) where the nest boxes seem more conducive to happy brooding.