Friday, July 26, 2013

Fish Sharing

When I arrived at my house over 3 years ago a wooden fish was living on my bath…. a gift from the previous owners. We co-habited in the bathroom for some time, never totally at ease with one another.
Then I decided to paint the bathroom and well, he (the fish) was left out in the cold, so to speak, in a box of “collectables” I could not quite bring myself to get rid of.
This weekend I have to fit 16 people in my kitchen for an Exotic High Tea Experience and absolutely everything not required has to be moved out….. including that box residing under a table in the corner.
On Tuesday I was, once again, lighting the fire for the evening and was short of light wood….. I took the fish and walked toward the fire but I could not do it; I could not destroy a fish I had lived with for 3 years or more….. so, I put him in the kindling box, to be dealt with another day.
I had thought to take him to a second hand shop but felt it just too ridiculous to hand in a lonely, painted, wooden fish, without a box of other recyclables!
Then a miracle happened! Theresa came to visit and, when I opened the kindling box to get wood for the fire, she saw the lonely fish, lying on his side in the box, and…… fell in love!
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Fish now lives in a pretty garden, keeping a close eye on the real fish that live in the pond.

I look forward to visiting Fish soon.

Life is good and sometimes it is just plain crazy.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Fast History of the Earth’s Climate

You want facts? Well here they are; presented extremely well, without being dry.

What did it do for me? Made me more aware than ever that humans won’t be here forever; nothing ever has been, but we are adding fuel to the fire of our extinction…. not that smart for the cleverest animal currently on earth!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gardening with scissors

I have been meaning to weed the garlic for ages and it was such a glorious day today that I decided the time had come.

There was a moment back a few months when I made the plan to plant all my vegetables at least a hoe’s distance apart so, thinking how clever I was, I took the hoe with me to the garlic patch. The sun was warm and the air was still. I didn’t even need a jumper or jacket, despite it being mid winter. In fact, it was a totally skippity doo Kate that headed out to do this job.

Then I discovered two things. First, the path beside the garlic bed is narrow and surrounded with raspberry canes, making it impossible to move the hoe back and forth. Second, I had not planted the garlic according to my plan; they were all just a bit too close to hoe between, even if I had been able to swing the hoe!

I bobbed down and tried using the ho mi – just my most favourite gardening tool. Sadly it was too long and too difficult between the garlic. Not to be deterred I sat in the sunshine and pondered.

Most of the weeds were not actually weeds, but tiny, self-sown fennel and kale seedlings. I thought of pulling them up and putting them into punnets to sell or give away. Oh, that is sooooo time consuming and I just wanted to get the job done…I tried pulling them up thinking I would clean them later and make a salad….. but so much soil stuck to the roots the whole thing became a bowl of dirt…. so I went inside and got some scissors.

Do you know how utterly delightful it is to snip tiny, edible “weeds” off at the soil with scissors? There is no mess, nothing wasted; you just end up with a gorgeous bowl of tender, miniature fennel bulbs and fronds plus the prettiest little Red Russian kale leaves about the size of your thumb nail.

I doubt any of it will regrow and now the garlic is free and I have the freshest, prettiest ingredients to go towards this week’s lunches.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

One creature to another….

I don’t believe in gods. I don’t believe in life having meaning. I don’t understand why people need meaning. Isn’t it enough to be a human, in a world full of beauty, filled with plants and animals, amazing geological structures and incredible events like sunsets and rainbows?

I feel incredibly lucky to be alive. Doesn’t every body? I feel free to be entirely who I want and I take full responsibility for how I am. I rarely even think about this but I have been watching Richard Hawkins’ programme called Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life in which he explores various ways people seek meaning.

It seems to me that a lot of people are bogged down trying to find a meaning or a purpose, when there is none. Humans are not special and they do not have meaning any more than an ant or a cabbage. To me that is entirely liberating. When I am totally responsible for my life it empowers me to take charge of it because if I don’t then my life is a waste of time, time spent waiting for someone or some god or some fate to guide me.

I really think that humans have become entirely self-centred; rarely thinking of the wondrousness of life at all; rarely taking time to watch the light falling on a frosty leaf or listen to the croak of a frog on a pot plant and certainly almost never feeling connected to these things, one creature to another, as I do.

So obsessed are people with meaning and believing in things that if you are not like them, then you are not often allowed to say so…. although I do make a point of saying so, at times. I said so recently, to a dear, Christian friend of mine. I think she felt sorry for me; me not knowing God as she does. We talked about the soul. She said I had a good soul. Evidently God gives us our soul. Well, I said I made my own; I am the accumulation of 54 years of being who I choose to be with life’s ups and downs moulding me along the way.

We were sitting by the window at the shack. Being there, right by the sea, for a great part of my life; seeing and smelling and feeling all that such an opportunity has given me, has definitely influenced my love of and connection to everything around me. That is where my soul comes from, not from a god.

Get rid of the gods and we would get rid of most of the fighting in the world. How can you fight with someone when you are standing under a beautiful tree or cooling your feet as you walk in the sea or watching an insect crawl on your hand or smelling the delicious aroma of a mango?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hughsli again…. well why not? He is my son!

He works on the preserves and bars and cereals for days, weeks even, then as the weekend draws closer he launches into fresh dips, salads and chocolates. Then he gets up at 3am every Saturday and Sunday (market days) and finishes baking the most amazing cakes, tarts, croissants and breads.

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He was so kind; asking me to spend a day in kitchen with him, knowing how much I would love that. Evidently I talked too much (what mother who misses her son, doesn’t talk too much when with him?) and once I made a mistake with resetting the scales but, for my first go at being very accurate AND doing what I am told, I thought I did alright. But get up at 3am the next morning, I did not!

I arrived at the Farmers’ Market much later and saw the joy on his face, heard the jokes with his customers and thought of my many wonderful visits to similar markets in France…..

France….. a cheese man….

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Adelaide….. Hugh, his own man…..

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Just take a wander through some of the range he took to the market that day, for The House of Hughsli stall….

Can you imagine how good strawberry pralinetastes when layered through a sweet croissant?!

Made with the darkest of chocolate, these black forest truffles deserve some kind of award!!

You love sticky date pudding? Well this is way beyond that!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Makes me sing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful packaging, amazing products and a talented young man.

Check out Hughsli on Facebook.

At The Shack, at last

imageThe Shack is a tiny, old, weather-beaten dwelling at the end of a dead-end road, on a little known stretch of beach on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia.

As I write this I look out to the west, across Spencer Gulf, the beach only meters from my window. The sea is very calm and a small swell laps the shore as the sun heads towards the horizon…. I have been for a walk on the beach, as you can see by the sand and seaweed still on my feet! Apologies for the salty window!

As the now shopless (another story!) “town” gradually is found by city-dwellers keen to build a mansion to match their city lives (a good 200 kms away), our shack, in its original condition, is one of only a few to remain. But matter it does not because no-one can take away the view and the peace it gives all who relax here. As the houses back behind the shack grow ever taller to see over those of us with a front row position, I shrug and don’t care a jot.

This tiny, simple shack holds an enormous place in the hearts of my family. Almost every school holiday, all year round, we packed the car and headed to the shack; in summer for a month or more. Never having owned a motor boat, the beach in front of the shack would be littered with an odd collection of much-loved boards, canoes, a tinny and a funny, old, green catamaran we called Kermit.

There is no mobile phone coverage, no internet and not even any TV signal reaches us. I used to try to remember to listen to the gardening show on the radio, but I soon forgot what day it was. We don’t have a landline here either and no visiting child was ever allowed any electronic toys. Who needs such things with the sea literally at our doorstep? We have rain water and electricity. The rain that falls here, far away from cities, I am sure is a tonic for life; the salty sea spray falling with the rain, I think, keeping the tank water pristine.

Not much changes on the two and a half hour drive from Adelaide, except the farm sheds get bigger annually and the colour of the land changes as the grain crops mature through the seasons. But today I noticed something that, on reflection, made me laugh out loud; suddenly the roads have signs and names! Up until now I had not realised that most of the roads around here were nameless until I thought about how we used to describe a route to a beach or town, to a visitor…..”Oh you turn left on the good, dirt road by the broken down Telstra hut…. don’t take the one before because it gets all rutted/ turns into a farm track/ just ends in the sand dunes….. and if you get to the paddock with just a stone chimney standing, then you’ve gone too far…. etc”

I feel quite peeved about these signs. Who made up the names? Why do we suddenly need road signs now? Can’t somewhere in the world be left a bit ambiguous and unmarked? Well, there are no roads in front of the shack, so I really shouldn’t be so bothered.

The clouds have cleared from the horizon and there might be a nice sunset. Time to get dinner….. I sooooo love the oven here! It is a quiet, solid, Simpson 2001 (built in the days when 2001 was way in the future!). I found it at a second hand shop; it and its identical twin. The man said that each of them had things wrong with them but someone handy could combine the 2 and get one good one out of it. So I got them really cheap, we brought them over here on the trailer and my then husband did a fabulous job, as I knew he would. The kitchen in the shack is too small for an oven! So, it sits neatly inside the back door, next to a fishing rod and the broom, which is great in summer because the heat doesn’t get into the rest of the shack when I am cooking.

imageA flimsy, painted cupboard divides part of the living room from my bedroom. I wake in the morning, throw back the curtains and sit in bed with a coffee, watching the sea begin the day with me.

It is glassy calm and already dolphins can be seen close to shore, one just lying still and basking in the warm sun before leisurely cruising around, looking for breakfast.

We bought the shack as it was, fully fitted out with furniture and sheets and cutlery, all very dated but comfortable. We have hardly changed a thing and now the chairs are called retro and probably worth holding onto!

I did bring over lots of kitchen utensils, good knives, baking requirements and pots and pans because holidays are a time when I love to cook and it was here that I learned to make do. I would bring cook books from the library but the ingredients were never available in rural S.A. so I had to improvise and what fun that was. Hugh even started making gorgeous cakes here and selling them to the neighbours as there was nothing half as good for sale for 200kms!

But that was all a lifetime ago. Still, nothing is better than time at the shack.

Life is good. Get there fast, then take it slow…..

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                                   Snaps from a few days alone in paradise

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You know you are in Adelaide when…..

  • The roads are straight and long and run east-west or north-south.
  • You can always see the hills to the east, even when you are on the beach to the west.
  • There is space to breathe and move.
  • The beach is wide and white and hundreds of miles long, in both directions
  • You have known your friends since before you can remember
  • No-one needs help getting vitamin D
  • You can walk in the sea with bare feet even in winter
  • Rain makes everyone happy
  • On the radio they are STILL talking about what to do about the Britannia Round-about!!!
  • Matthew Evans and David Bevan are on 891 morning radio AND they are still great
  • Rose Squire is still on 891 on Sundays, with her renovation talk-back and home handyman tips. Wow, she is great too.
  • Old buildings and homes are made of beautiful stone
  • When you get off the plane, you are right there, almost in my mother’s backyard
  • The quality and variety of local ingredients surpasses anything, anywhere else
  • I actually enjoy going to a certain supermarket, Foodland at Frewville, because they specialise in SA produce and it makes me proud to be South Australian
  • People talk like I do
  • You can get REALLY good cheese, organic chicken and Coorong Mullet (just the BEST fish in the world…. shhhh… don’t tell anyone or they will stop only charging $6.50 / kg!!)
  • They are STILL doing road works on South Road
  • Half of every shop fridge is taken over with Farmers’ Union Iced Coffee (Thanks, Alex!)