Friday, December 31, 2010

The best cherries ever

Today I finally made it to the 'Green Shed' along the Huon Highway at Grove when it was open, and bought a kilo of the fattest, juiciest, tastiest cherries and also half a kilo of raspberries. Heaven.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sydney to Hobart

A nice bloke who David used to work with was on the yacht Terra Firma in this year's Sydney to Hobart race, and yesterday (after having dinner with friends at the Shipwright's Arms) we managed to see them cross the finish line and then say hello at Constitution Dock. He has been in the Sydney to Hobart race nine times. To me the whole thing seems an incredibly amazing feat. And when you get up close to these boats and see the size of them and the high-tech equipment on board, it's even more impressive. It was a beautiful warm day in Hobart yesterday, but there wasn't a lot of wind to help the yachts get along the Derwent River to the finish line.

We also popped in to the Taste Festival but have to say didn't enjoy it. I guess being in packed hot places with long queues and nowhere to sit was what we were trying to get away from in moving from Sydney. Maybe we'll pop in again at a different time if we're back in Hobart this week.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And then there were... none

The baby swallows have fledged and the nest is empty. The photo below shows the last fat and fluffy guy to leave the nest. At least two of the babies are still flying around our yard with the parents, dropping their baby feathers as they go.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A very Tassie Christmas

Some kind and generous people from down the road invited us to an 'orphans Christmas' gathering, a brunch that extended into lunch. Around 30 people had said they would drop in during the day. We ate and chatted in the yard of a landmark old home on the hill in Franklin, meticulously restored, with beautiful gardens and views. It was a great collection of people and an absolute feast... bright yellow scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages cooked on the barbecue, roast tomatoes, smoked salmon, raspberries, caramelised onion tarts, pavlova, cakes, olive bread, champagne and orange juice and more. Stanley the dog seemed to enjoy himself too. Merry Christmas to you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And then there were three

It's hard to believe how quickly the baby welcome swallows have grown since the eggs hatched. The photo above shows all five of them in the nest only a couple of days ago. More recently, they have been venturing out of the nest and along the beam.

Well, today they started leaving the nest, with mixed results. While I was on the phone to someone at work today, I spotted the dog playing with something in the paddock and ran out to rescue a baby bird from her mouth. He didn't seem injured, but as WIRES rescue volunteers some years ago we saw plenty of birds simply die of shock rather than injury. David popped him back in the nest.

Now there are three of them left, sitting either in the nest or on the beam next to it. We don't know where the other two have gone, whether they have fledged successfully or... not. Those remaining look pretty healthy and are eating well, even the one who had a brief scary adventure as a dog's plaything, so I guess it won't be too long before they too venture out on their own. Hopefully they won't jump out of the nest and into the waiting jaws of the dogs. We did question the wisdom of the swallows in choosing to build their nest above the dogs' sleeping area... possibly not the greatest location. We are keeping the pups indoors and supervised as much as possible.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A year of firsts

Happy birthday to me. Another year older. It has been a pretty big year. A few things I did for the first time in the last 12 months:
  • Drank hot sake in Japan
  • Walked 100km for charity
  • Moved to Tasmania
  • Went rowing
  • Baked bread
  • Climbed Mt Kosciusko, my first full-pack carrying and wilderness camping hike.
Here's to another year of exciting new experiences ahead!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A barrow to push

I never thought I would ask for a wheelbarrow for my birthday. But I did, and here it is, loaded up with tools, stakes, seeds and seedlings for yesterday's gardening effort. I quickly got the hang of steering it down the hill. And it even fits through the door to the vegetable garden. Thanks David!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Franklin Growers Market

This month's market was a week earlier than normal due to Christmas. Aside from the great produce available, it's a wonderfully social occasion, offering the chance to catch up with many people we know from Franklin and surrounding towns, as well as chat with the stallholders - the growers and makers of the produce for sale. It's held in the lovely Palais theatre with its art deco touches. Today's purchases included chocolates from Cygneture, rhubarb, olive oil, a plate of eccles cakes, lettuce, a huon pine wooden spoon and some gingerbread. So I did rather well and the sellers did rather well out of me too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More lovely local produce

Yesterday brought two new local produce experiences for us:
  • The first raspberries of the season - my favourite fruit - bought from someone in Franklin who was picking them at the time. Now that's fresh!
  • A 6+kg Christmas ham from a free-range pig, procured with the help of local Franklin friends. It's sealed, so we won't be eating any just yet, but looks and smells delicious.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mt Kosciuszko, NSW

The only Huon Valley link to this post is that each of the 40 women on last weekend's Kosciuszko climb was asked to take a treat to share with our group, and I took some delicious honeycomb chocolate from Cygneture using local ingredients, purchased at the Franklin Growers Market a couple of weeks before.

Organised by the brilliant team at Wild Women on Top, the climb of Australia's highest mountain was in honour of Freda du Faur. Three groups of women set out early on Saturday morning, taking different routes up the mountain and meeting on the summit at 2pm to celebrate the achievements of Freda as a female mountaineer and pioneer, and indeed to celebrate our own achievement of carrying a full pack (16- 21kg) to the summit. For many of us, me included, this was our first time carrying a full pack and our first wilderness camping experience.

Saturday dawned with blue skies and some storms over the horizon - but no rain. One team set off to do 5 summits on their way to Mt Kosciusko and two other teams started their scenic, but longer route via Blue Lake. Snow drifts still covered many parts of the range, and we had great fun traversing the snow on our way to Mt Kosciusko. Beautiful, tiny wild flowers spread out from either side of our trail. The views were spectacular. Glacial lakes below us and snow covered passes in the distance. Amazing rock formations and swirling clouds made for an atmospheric climb.

From the summit we trekked off track down the valley to our camp site at Wilkinsons Creek. A thunderstorm was growling around us, so we set up camp then headed (minus pack) up Mt Townsend, Australia's second highest mountain.

We woke the next morning to warming sunshine and another day of trekking across untouched terrain, with stunning views in every direction. There was time to squeeze in one last summit of North Rams Head on our return journey, which ended with a peaceful ride on the ski lift down to Thredbo.

As a group we raised more than $4000 for an Australian Himalayan Foundation project to improve the education of girls in impoverished areas of the Himalaya. It was a challenging trek but so much fun with a group of motivated, healthy, positive and fun women working as a team to make it happen. I feel so lucky to have been able to join them. I took a lot of photos, so here are just a few for those who asked.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Speckled eggs

There are five tiny speckled eggs now in the welcome swallows' nest under the awning of our back verandah. Note creative use of mirror by David to find this out. It's going to be a very full little nest if and when they hatch.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keep out

Our neighbour has closed his gate. No-one can get in now.