Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Room to breathe

As you can imagine, we've been asked a lot why we moved to Tasmania. There are a lot of things we love about the place, but for me, the main reason to move here is low population density. Tasmania currently has a population of around half a million, compared to almost five million in Sydney. My stress levels have dropped dramatically simply by removing a few problems caused by having too many people packed into small living spaces, like traffic, queues and a crazy Russian neighbour who sings euro-pop karaoke in the backyard at 4am. When we read in the local paper that there were plans to house an extra 250,000 people on the peninsula we lived on (there are only two roads to get you off it), it was time to stop whinging and go. Put simply, here we have room (and clean air) to breathe.

When you look at many of the world's problems (water shortages, pollution, poverty, famine, war), most could be improved if we had fewer people. Sure, I realise these are very complex problems and there isn't a simple answer to any of them. But none of them can be improved by having MORE people on the planet.

February is Global Population Speak Out month. Have a look at the site to see why me and many others have spoken out for a sustainable population and global programs including access to safe family planning.

P.S. I am posting this during a visit to Sydney for work which only intensifies my feelings on this!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Last of the baby birds

The welcome swallows nesting above our verandah hatched two lots of babies this summer - five then three. This fluffy little guy is the very last one left, and he's refusing to leave the nest. I don't blame him, with the cold, wet and windy conditions today.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Meet the girls

We collected Tikka, Teriyaki, Schnitzel and Ayam, our beautiful Barnevelder pullets, from the breeder in Judbury last weekend. So far I have been unable to tell which is which or take a decent photo of them. One of them constantly makes the most delightful contented chirping noise; one of them is bolder than the rest and comes out to the food first, but I am yet to work out who is who. They seem to be enjoying their new house but have not ventured into the enclosed yard yet. They are quite shy. All going well, they will start laying around July. This breed produces gorgeous dark brown eggs, one of the reasons I was so keen on them. I have been enjoying going down to feed them morning and evening, even this morning in the bucketing down rain!  It's definitely not a cost effective way to get eggs, as the pullets themselves plus housing materials and feed cost a small fortune, but I'm still very excited to have them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

From the other side

At night, we can just see car headlights as they drive around a bend in the road on the far side of the Huon River. However, at first when we drove to Cygnet and looked back this way we never managed to see our house. So when David put up our rather bright blue and white Christmas lights along the front of the house, we figured it should appear like a UFO on the horizon. Just before Christmas, we drove along the eastern shore of the river, and even before the Christmas lights came on, we could see our house as a white dot high up on the hill. It was a little misty and rainy, and the photo I took wasn't great. So given that today was a stunning warm sunny day, I took another shot.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wooden Boat Festival 2011

Our former neighbours and dear friends from Sydney are staying in Hobart at the moment for the Wooden Boat Festival. They enjoyed it so much a couple of years ago that they have come back. Yesterday we drove in to meet up with them, have lunch and just wander around. We particularly liked some of the working model boats. It was lovely weather, very busy and such a nice day out. Tomorrow our friends come to stay with us, and we're looking forward to showing them around.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lavender loser

I am surprised at how difficult it has proven to grow lavender from seed. More likely that just proves my lack of gardening skills. Certainly the tiny plants I've managed to grow so far are a long, long way from the beautiful clumps of the stuff that you see all over Tasmania, like this lot at Hartzview Vineyard.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snow pea bandit

Puppy Gretchen can no longer be trusted inside the vegetable garden. She likes snow peas so much that she quickly learned to help herself. I found several low hanging snow peas with tell-tale teeth marks in them. So now as soon as we go near the garden, she sits outside the fence waiting for us to hand her a snow pea or a pea shell through the chicken wire. I guess there are worse snacks for a puppy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Moore's Tours

I often wish I was a tour guide. There's not much I enjoy more than showing people around. I enjoyed it in my home town Sydney and it's no different here. After only nine months living here I can't claim to be an expert by a long stretch, but I do like researching and learning about the local history, wildlife, industry and geography. And probably boring everyone senseless with it.

This weekend we had five great friends from Sydney visit, the weather (mostly) smiled on us and we packed a fair amount in. Friday evening was simply a tour around our place, catching up over local cheese and a beverage, then a cheap and cheerful dinner at ye olde local pub. Saturday we went to Salamanca Market and then took the ferry up the Derwent to the new MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) which I'd been dying to visit and highly recommend. What an amazing place. After all that walking, we needed a cold beer before driving home to cook dinner.

Sunday morning we went to Hartzview Vineyard for the first time, looked at the historic pickers huts on the property and sampled and bought some of the products. I came home with a lovely bottle of spiced apple mead. We will absolutely have to return (maybe next weekend), if only for the desserts! They looked fabulous. And yes there is a pretty good view of the Hartz Mountains.

We wandered around Cygnet for a bit, including the market in the town hall, before an absolutely delicious lunch at The Red Velvet Lounge. A few of us had the butterscotch pud, pictured below. On the way home we visited the Huon Valley Apple Museum. David reckons they should have a sign out the front that says something like "not as shit as it sounds". They have a great collection of local history and the short presentation by owner Jeff or one of his friendly team is really interesting. All that eating and drinking meant a short nap was in order, before going to the Palais Theatre in Franklin for the monthly movie night. Last night's movie was Jumbo, with Doris Day and Jimmy Durante amongst others. The film was truly appalling but as usual the evening was a good laugh.

Now it's only four more days until our next lot of visitors arrive - excellent! Better start planning. The dogs are looking forward to even more pats.