Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cat-upmanship and preparations

Robin has taken to coming into the lounge and mewing pitifully when she sees Bat is already on B's lap. She misses Clare in nice soft jersey. B calls her and she goes and stands like a rejected flower among the birthday cards on the half-moon table and sulks. On hte other hand SHE is queen of B's computer-chair - which she does circuits up the back (claws out) and then bumps across the keyboard, onto the floor and up again.

My first tomato seeds have germinated, Grosse Lisse, Black Russian, and Rouge Marmande. :-)

My bloods results came in... 0.1 up - fractionally higher total cholesterol. Yeah. Wallaby, fish, shellfish, fresh veg - So much for diet. On the other hand the proportions had altered substantially, which is good - my 'good' cholesterol had improved and my 'bad' gone down a bit. Only the Good had gone up ).1 more than bad went down, raising the total. Dr Biren asked about family medical history and told me to keep an eye on it, but not to panic. The rest of the stuff as all good.

In the meantime I am trying to prep for the con, and trying to think what to read! I am reading, and on 3 panels (should be on a 4th but I have flown out).

Anyone wanting to meet up - This is where I'll be:
Thu 1500 Rm 201: Signing
Thu 1700 Rm 216: The imaginary zoo: creating fictional wildlife;
Fri 1300 Rm 207: Reading;
Sun 1000 Rm 207: The problems with first contact;
Sun 1600 Rm 204: Where do elves come from?;

I recommend the signing as time to chat, as I expect it'll be quiet. And I'll happily sign your programme or whatever.

This all means our blog post will be erratic to non-existant for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I'll TRY. But I am not sure what if any access I will be able to get.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pine cones.

Dave had to have blood sucked today, so I went off to collect pine cones while he was away.

We have a row of pines on the property, but along the roadside, so they act as an efficient wind break for the house, add a real ocean sound to a gale, and provide the most stunning sunsets. They are also well supplied with cones. We use the cones as fire lighters, cheap, natural, and very effective.

Last time I collected, I just picked up cones, and learned my first lesson, the closed cones are not nearly as good as the open, or partly open ones, at catching alight. This time I learned that the ones still attached to branches are the best. But we brought enough up to the house to start fires for the next month at least, so hopefully our wonderful house sitting lady will find them useful. I also stocked up the kindling pile, while Dave cut and split the last of the wood we had collected, so the house should be warm for a while at least.

I am at last starting to get into the 'con' vibe. I am looking forward to meeting lots of people, chatting a bit, catching up with old friends, and hopefully making some new ones. Crowds are not my favourite place to be, but I am sure there will be quiet corners as well.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Post-birthday tireds.

Well, dearie me, we had a rather restive night with the stress of my b-day having got to B and her having ulcer type aches and pains. It's been about 8 months since the last episode and about that or more to the previous one. She did whole antibiotic thing some years ago and it was pretty positive, but it may be recurring. I wish she'd save it for something worth stressing about! My idea of the perfect pressie and birthday is my B wrapped in a pink ribbon. (Thinks) Maybe that's enough to cause stress! Ah well. I would be content with my dogs, a call from my sons, and the cats demanding to know why the service is so slow in this joint, and a hug from B. Our rock is here, and we're in Australia, on the island, working slowly toward a home.

Anyway, lack of sleep, I am a bit slowed-up today. Some Celtic myth research. Some log-cutting, and some log splitting, and a great afternoon chatting to our quick-minded doctor, who it turns out reads hard SF like Arthur C Clarke. I choose to live out here, and I like the people - but occassionally it very pleasant to slip back into that esoteric almost-Uni-typical level of debate that isn't about fish or veggies. Stirs the brain a bit, which I need before Worldcon. The island really does pull all sorts to it. It is almost like it chooses the people, not they choose it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Growing old disgracefully.

So this is what 51 feels like. Honestly I barely feel a day older than 50.

We took the dogs on their first expedition to the beach and Puggle's cruciate is troubling him for it, poor baby. But oh what joy. We were all very uncertain and not at all sure if this was going to be a treat or a nasty, and a little subdued in the ute. And then... running and glee and snurfles. Puggles did too much despite our trying to keep it short. But it was their first bit of 'free' Australia, and they truly loved it.

And then we've had a day of visitors - 8 or so this morning and then writers circle this afternoon. And cake. Lots of cake. Tomorrow looks like more of the same.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pinknian Motion and sheep in wellies

You've all heard of Brownian motion? The apparently random movement of particles in a liquid? Well, Pinknian Motion is similar but more random (there is nothing predictable about it). And it is a decidely weaker phenomenon... I discovered it today.

My day began - after the normal preliminaries of coffee and porridge and e-mail (I try not to confuse them too much, but much depends on the coffee) with a visit to have my blood taken for my cholesterol check (I was a little high - under the 'alarums and excursions' level by one point... ergo I was not part of the 50% of the population whose levels are supposedly too high. Otherwise, other than terminal stupidity I am supposed to be OK.) Unfortunately the terminal stupidity kicked in this morning and the fact that 6 months ago it had been a starving blood (blood that goes out looking for something to eat, hence saving the use of syringes. Or failing that, blood taken from some poor soul who hasn't eaten or drunk for 12 hours.) So Dr Sonya and I were able to discuss the evils of Brussel sprouts (a fiendish warning about the EU - Look what Brussels means by 'green shoots') and the best way to enjoy broccoli (according to me, broccoli is one of the veg which needs to be cooked within 20 minutes of picking. At this point it is still delicate and sweet. After that it gradually converts those sugars and leaves you with sulpherous guck best diguised with lots of cheese.) And so on Monday at 9, lacking coffee (which is hard when you get up at 5) we will have to try again.

After lunch we headed off to Cameron's inlet, as prelude to getting some more firewood. It's a well-known spot on the island - a vast (well 8 so Kilometres long by 3 wide I think) lagoon which occassionally opens to the sea. It is salty, and mostly flat and one may not net there. It is famous for bird-watching. I have a problem bird watching as I tend to wonder how like chicken they taste. Anyway, we hadn't been there and I had wondered whether I was selling short something I hadn't seen, on the grounds that the road looked a little iffy on the map. The road is perfectly good (Flinders roads are actually pretty good) even if all the sheep in the half flooded paddocks were wearing wellies.

The white spots are pelicans. The black ones with red beaks are black swans (I believe publishers are looking for these. So here is a closer attempt (my camera does not do zoom well) with little grey fluffbal cygnets going for Friday paddle to the mall.

I promise I hardly thought about the flavour of cygnet. We did however catch a few token galiaxas/anchovies-to-be, by the fine art of getting into a narrow little inlet and chasing them. They swam determinedly for the next pool up a thin film of water, where it was possible to pick them up. They all appear to be males, in ripe-running state, so either spawning is due (which suggest they think the larvae will shortly be washed out sea,) or we broke up a stag-party. They are now in salt. Might be called adding in-salt to injury...

So we cut some wood and B tripped and fell flat on her back and winded herself - on dead flat ground without a chainsaw in hand, for which I was very grateful. I was not grateful for her being sore and a bit mizzy.

We still went to Patriarchs - the tide was still too high, but I did get some clams which I turned into our dinner - with pasta, and FRESH brocolli. We'd taken rods in the expectation of the water being a lot higher, but as it was out quite a long way, and I had no wetsuit with me, I stripped off to a pair of shorts and wetsuit-booties and took the trownet out. I got a small flounder and a hardyhead (tiny fish) in the first throw. Should have gone home, because according to Dave's theory of fish, this means you think it is easy, and fishing having lulled you will now produce nothing. And it did.

Well, nearly nothing. It did with being in and out of water in shorts, with a wind off the snow in Tassie, make for the pink (and some blue) knees, which as I determindely tried to fling a net with numb hands resulted in Pinknian motions (which are like Brownkneean Motion, but less suntanned). Which were distinctly random, and involved a lot of uncontrollable shivering, and the kind of throws a great great granny in a wheelchair would have been ashamed of. Ah well. The clams were at least one feed, and the do-it-yourself anchovies may be part of another.

And so we came home, my knees returned to a more normal shade, and B had a nice long hot bath and felt a better, while I offloaded the wood and packed the net. You can do it alone. It's just a PITA, stoop labour.
And now to bed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Well, I've picked the net clean of seaweed. I haven't packed it yet. A net, well packed will stream from a crate. A net badly packed will tangle. It's a 2 person job and either rain or lack of another person got in the way of plan A. I do so wonder about so many self-sufficiency initiatives simply fail because they're hard to do alone - It really does take a couple - or more to do so many jobs fast. And that is the key to all of this - getting it done fast and efficiently. I want a higher quality of life not four hours of chicken plucking / olive cutting / fish mincing. There is a compromise of course between just buying it from the supermarket, where it will be expenisve and lousy quality compared to your own stuff, and being a full-time peasant farmer. I've always been one for taking mundane jobs to the simplest and quickest possible way of doing them - and that means- for me - power tools and compromises. It's a case of balancing money against what we'd like to do. I suppose in many ways we're a bit daft, and have gone ahead and done them anyway - selling up and emigrating, deciding to come to this island of all places (expensive to get to, expensive to get off, expensive to get materials that have to come by sea or air), deciding that we were honour bound to bring our dogs and cats etc... good decisions for the heart, lousy for the pocket and maybe a bit low on common sense.
But at least there are two of us, doing it.

Tomorrow I go in to have my cholesterol follow up blood taken - it's been six months.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

nets and hooligan cats.

Batman - he of the twitching tail and serious (even for a cat) attitude problems has decided that today is hooligan day. And that it was never too late to have a happy childhood. He's been yowling growling pouncing and playing. It could have been fresh minced fish. I am more lacerated than I need to be, and I do not think my legs are tree trunks.

This morning involved a getting down to all the things we were too tired to deal with yesterday, ergo, mincing fish and roo and washing wetsuits and cleaning the net. Hmm. Well everything got done bar the net, which got hung out, but it kept raining every time I set out to pick the seaweed out of it. I dropped an e-mail to Haverford nets (the net-sales in Australia are NOT net savvy. All I want is prices, and delivery cost and I'm there, a customer. And firstly they're not easy to find, and secondly they're not easy to order over net from. Anyway, this crowd seemed to have what I wanted, now if they can reply to their post. Eric wanted a time schedule for the events in the book I've just turned in - which is now called BURDENS OF THE DEAD, and O'Mike wanted to talk about new book proposals. Pads and James and Clare all talked to me via the net. And actually I don't seem to have achieved a lot of other writing today. Ah well, onward.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And then the rain came back

Intermittently today. It was good yesterday though - Which has been rather the story of my day. Intermittent. Good yesterday. I am putting it down to being tired - it's as well I didn't push the boat out the extra yard and go floundering last night (which I should have as conditions were Ok, not great, but I also had my weekly blog post to do for my writer's blog.) I probably ought to go and set a net tomorrow morning at 5.30 - not happening despite the tide being right. I suspect I really need a smaller mesh net, and besides we're expecting rain and misery weather. I am stiff from diving and paddling yesterday, feeble old man that I am. The Abalone was 4-5 metres down and my weightbelt is a bit light. Hard swimming getting down and the water is sappingly cold right now. Yes, I am whingeing and ought to get fitter, dive more, write faster and probably solve the problems of world peace in my sleep. Maybe next week. I'm thinking of plots for books, and also of ways to deal with the wind-riffle on the water surface that stops us floundering on so many nights. So far i am toying with putting on a wetsuit and goggles and... a leash to B who will walk with the light. The currents are quite strong and having dived at night, I do know just how disorientated one gets. I've no interest in drowning just yet. The other thing I've been weighing is just where to find a net supply - I want to put a smaller mesh net onto one of my nets and also make a very fine mesh 'bait net' for hardyheads (little fishies, lick the dishies) which I see shoals of from time-to-time. I would like to use them 1)as bait - weird idea :-) 2)As whitebait - in the UK sense - small fish fried whole as dinner 3)to salt as an anchovy equivalent.

I've been thinking over the dive bouy thing. I am really not happy with ropes attached to me in the water. Mostly this has never been an issue, pre-Flinders because I'd have been too busy rescueing anyone who brought a boat into the wild water we dived in in SA. Here the sea is - mostly - much quieter, and divers and boats can actually fit in the same piece of water. I also find that diving goes from too light - when I start, to too heavy (when I added a few kilos of abalone to my bag) and I was thinking of a tropedo-bouy I could sling a bag onto and then anchor (so it wasn't attached to me, and therefore less dangerous.

As for the garden, nothing much is growing right now. Holding pattern.
So here is a picture of Roo and Ms Roo, not in my garden. Would I be tactless to say they look like quizzy rats? Oh well, I've never been Mr Tact anyway.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The sun came out!

Actually we have had a perfect weather day, almost no wind, sun all day with barely a cloud in the sky.

We packed up early, after a little hiccup in the baking dept. Dave asked the bread machine to make bread and it made dough, not what we really wanted to take on a picnic, so we took some previously made rolls instead. But, not daunted, we set off to pick up a friend who was going to show us some good fishing/abalone spots.

I am used to street signs, and street names telling me where I am, and where to go. Here it is all done by pole number. The electricity poles are numbered, and directions will include which pole to turn at. So we toured several pole roads, and found some really beautiful spots, but not many fish or abalone.

So after a good lunch on an idyllic spot at one of the beaches, we went off to our tried and tested spot at West End, and Dave dived again, getting very cold, but also a decent haul of abalone. I was lucky enough to catch a huge Wrasse, and 2 just size, so we can leave enough food for the cats while we are away, which is a huge relief for them, and for us. (I am not an author, the abalone are for human consumption, only the Wrasse are for the cats, sorry!)

We were in a really busy spot, there was one other vehicle parked with a trailer, and we could see their boat out in the bay. While Dave was in the water, they came back to shore, and I was really worried for a moment that they would not see his black wetsuit hood in the water. His snorkel did have a coloured top, but the glue was not waterproof, so it came off. (No, we didn't litter, I brought it home, with plans to reattach it, but it hasn't happened.) It turned out that we knew the people on the boat, and they saw Dave, but suggested that he take a bouy with him next time, so as to be more visible to boats, who would hate to hit him! So, next item on the agenda is to get a diving bouy. Apparently if it is blue and white, it will mean he is diving with tanks, but as he is free diving this is not right. I just think any bouy would act as a warning to boats, no matter what colour it is!!

Anyway, we all came away tired but happy, watching a beautiful sunset, in an almost cloudless sky, with the full moon looking on. Really romantic stuff, who would want to live anywhere else?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

And you shall be hanged...

I woke this morning to find Australia was going to have a hung parliment. Ha! I knew I loved this country and they'd merely been lulling politicians into a sense of false security to get them all into one place before culling them. Good on yer, Australia. Now if South Africa could take a few lessons from this and copy this instead of sticking to other people's proven failures (like OBE which they cribbed from New Zealand as New Zealand turfed it) well, it would be a better country and many of the problems of corruption and maladminstration would resolve themselves overnight. Besides that, they could sell tickets... Maybe even spell 'hung' right (hanged).

I was terribly disappointed to find out that that it meant something more like the process whereby meat is placed in a chiller to mature a while. So the answer to : "Under which King, Bezonian?" becomes not "Richilliam."* but 'Gillot or Abbard'. Well, as yet I am not really too familiar with the parties or policies, and we won't be able to vote until 2014, so I can really just sit back and look at it rather like the locals look at our antics. I was impressed to see the election posters come down today, which I suppose is a plus for not having laissez faire government.

Tomorrow looks like good weather and hopefully we can get some fish and abelone for the rather depleted freezer.

*Lewis Carroll IIRC


Blogger had a crash last night and I wasn't prepared to say out of bed for it to come back up -
People herd cows down the roads here. It's that sort of place. They close gates onto the road to stop them losing cows into other farms and people's gardens. That makes sense. However a gate which is always left open being suddenly closed... is a bit of a shock - especially when it is a rusty brown gate in heavy mottled shadows. Back where I come from I was raised to the idea that you always left gates as you found them. If they were open, they were open for a reason, and if they closed they were closed for a reason. Like telling your neighbours if you putting a fire in, it was politeness mixed with wisdom and made for good neighbours. Heh, I wonder if I would come across as too damned strife-causing by half if I put 'a please OPEN the gate' sign on it? (which is a lot politer than I felt about it after nearly hitting it. I'm not the first or the closest - the gate is seriously bowed from the outside.) The gate merely leads onto our driveway - 100 metres of fenced track, leading to another gate - keeping the dogs close to the house and far from the road and passing cars or cows. A pain in the butt if you're herding cows and they wander in there, but not a problem to us. It's open for a good reason. Grumble. Okay so it's been a lousy day's writing and I'm grumpy.

I made 'simnel buns' dough in the in the bread maker, and baked them in a hurry before going into town. No sausage sizzles Ian. A good day for the local shops though. When I came back I needed to put on pizza dough as we'd promised our landlord a pizza... only no paddle in the bread-maker (the last time we ended up searching the tip for our bag, to the paddle discover it home). The paddle was obviously in a bun. Ten fat buns prepared against visitors, lunch or freezing for a busy day. Delicate probing with a skewer followed along with much muttering.
And no paddle.
It was in the sink, inside a cup-measure.

Anyway, it's a bit late to send out on the highways and byways but after all that panic, our pizza guest didn't show. Ah well, I dare say we'll worry it down. We had a some Anzac buicuit sampling visitors earlier :-) I spared them the holey buns.

I got my list of panels for Aussiecon. Let's see, I requested to be on with four people. Three are on panels I offered to be on, which are not full. The fourth is not listed at all. The Baen slideshow (as I think the token local - albeit new local - I want to be there) is at the same time as my reading. One of my four panels is after we have left. Oh well. Onward. I am sure I'll meet interesting people and have a good con, despite these little things.

Friday, August 20, 2010


It's doing the kind of winter weather that leaves a man wondering what he spent his summer wages on. The kind of thing I feared for all winter long. Gales and driving rain interspersed with less rain. Not actually freezing but the wind is blowing off melting snow. Wind not interspersed, except with more wind. The TV weather has warnings for snow, wind, rain, floods, ice, road conditions, hikers, sheep and probably if they thought of it, Flinders Island Fantasy and Science Fiction writers getting cabin fever. I must admit, on the basis of a mere 7 months, I'd say August would be a great month to not visit Flinders, as it's been the first month in which the miserable weather has gone on day after day for 3-4 days. Normally you have rapidly changing weather rather than any sort of set in.

Anyway, I believe it's elections tomorrow. I will wander into town just to have a look see, even if we can't yet participate.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


A couple of people have tracked my e-mail down via mywebsite. Now I have no objection to this - unless you're a spambot, but the address you post to is not the one I will reply from - so I suggest you check your spam-filters!



The Russian Strathspey

Which is rather like Russian roulette, only with 5 chambers loaded... It goes something like this. "Step, together, step, (Bloody Cat) hop. Step, together, step, hop... CAT! step, together, step, dodgecat hop, step... glass-door sickening THUD! (unseen door because you were looking for the cat). Yes, they're a great help the beasties are. Manificent household defenders and diggers of the flowerbeds, and in the cats case the veg too. Although, to be fair the incidence of mouse problems out there has dropped. I was trying to think my way through a tricky bit of book (working on some sample chapters) and thus having a bath, which is where I do my best thinking. Like Queen Elizabeth I* I have a bath once a month whether I need it or not (you can't overdo these things, the neurons wear out) and someone - I think Sue, put a dozen eggs in the fridge. And our vicious South African banditry trained attack-dogs (about as 'really' as the monthly bath story. Labbies and Old English Sheepdogs are losers in the bite-burglar stakes. Lick them to death, maybe. More chance of Bat-cat thinking they were doing the Strathspey and killing them. I was lucky not to emerge dripping from the bath to find someone face down in a dozen eggs. Come to think of it, they were lucky too :-)) cheerfully slept through it.

It's been odd to have a lot of my preconceptions swept away with this move. I was for instance sure the cats would take it hard. I was very worried about them ever being re-homeable with anyone else, which was why they ended up coming. I believe if you take on a pet you do your best for its benefit - what your dog would do for you. Which is expensive and difficult, but that's the compact between us. Anyway, having been indoor-outdoor cats on a farm (and therefore not ready to adapt to town and traffic)and used to almost constantly having human-servants on call finding somewhere/someone suitable was near impossible. I thought the quarantine process might severely traumatise them, as they've never been confined and never not had people, basically 24/7. They'd never been to a cattery since they adopted us (Bat and Robin came from the Vet just short of being put down as kittens) and Duchess from the SPCA) so yes, as little, rather miserable things they had been confined. The dogs have all had short vet sojourns in Kennels and besides, dogs are faithful... Well, actually, there is no doubt that the dogs are still a little traumatised. A bit more insecure and very needy - and the position of boss-dog (vis-a-vis Roland and Puggles) has become less certain again. The cats seem to have largely forgotten the extent of their old kingdom and be happy as larry with with lots of fresh fish and squid, and plenty of mice about, familiar furniture and some new hideholes (Robin insists on having cupboards opened for her). If anything Robin is a little more confident and outgoing with strangers. The dogs - who had two and a half acres of lawns trees and a stream - find this quite small and comparitively dull. Not that they 're unhappy or don't have us around and don't get fussed, but they are still, shall we say, disturbed. I think they'll work through it, but actually our cats seem to have come through more easily. Still, loyalty is important and we've kept the faith. I don't think they would have re-homed (especially Roly), and they would be miserable as town dogs, or see-you-after-work dogs. So: give it time and lots of petting and cuddles, and maybe more space one of these days (this garden is probably half an acre and there are trees and bushes and sheds. It's just not quite Finnegan's Wake. We're being very cautious about taking them out -- it's just not wise to have them even tempted to 'break out' for a walkabout so they only go out by car - which is a mission. Anyway, we'll get there. If I live through practicing the Strathspey on the way to the 'loo.
*not Victoria, I am informed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Red Lettuce

Pads got his subwarden position, and I got some red lettuce. I'm afraid my achievements pale into insignificance today. And James so loves red lettuce - well I'll try and grow some iceberg too. Anyway, B also had long day - selling plants and flowers for the CWA in the freezing breezes. We haven't had snow but the wind feels as if it is coming off places that have. I finished the next raised bed and planted Scorzonera, Salify, Radiccio, red onions (for spring onions) and Cos lettuce in it and strawberry spinach and sea-kale in pots. It's been raining all night so that'll give them a good watering. On other positive plant developments I see two rubarb plants I grew from seed are making spring emergences. I planted about 8, got 4 up, and have 2 survive... well, once they get going they are hard to kill. At this rate I'd better plant 50! I am SUCH a talented gardener. The mint I planted from seed, and had despared of, and got plants from Rosemary, have also decided to grow. That's fine, we can use quite a lot of it.
Carol brought us a bag of lemons - I must get a lemon tree established in a big pot. We use a LOT of lemon juice, and they seem to do well on the island. The weather is being windy or wet at the moment, and this is eating into the seafood stocks - we need to go on an expedition to collect more soon.

We're heading rapidly into the next Australian Election which has been quite an educational experience for us. The pollies cheerfully say stuff about each other that'd get you killed back in SA. Maybe because voting is obligatory, there is actually less noise about it all, compared to South African campaigns.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


No, I haven't gone mad and bitten B's leg off. We just got our share of a bulk order of meat, which with the insanity of an island with at least 50 cows for every human... and no abbatoir facilities, is cheaper than buying the stuff that gets shipped off to get slaughtered, is packed and shipped back to be sold retail by the butcher. Gah. I will get to doing our own, in time. And yes I'll contrive a chiller and hang it properly. Anyway, some place on the big island had a special on rump so we weakened and bought 4 kgs. So tonight I made pittas, put uncooked swiss-chard (silver beet) in them when they came out of the oven all hot and puffy and poured onion, mushroom, thyme and bacon sauce into that topped it with strips of rare steak and salsa verde, and made my very carnivorous wife a happy woman on about 100 grammes of steak. It's a great way to stretch a little steak a long way.

We got yet another lunch invitation ("You'll be there seven years before anyone invites you into their home" - standard don't leave South Africa 'advice'. Maybe in a big city, or maybe if you're like the sort of miserable saffer giving the advice that's true.)from an Italian/Australian couple who came to collect their share of the bulk order from us. Of course you only have to say 'Italy' to me and I go on a food mission -- we got straight onto gnocchi and from there it was a short step to salame, pancetta and then calamari. I have a feeling that if make my pancetta here, I will be very popular with the Italian part of the community anyway. I am sure, with the addition of fat, wallaby would make very good salame. More projects to fit in.

Worldcon creeps ever closer, and B has been organising. Business cards for moi, a hire car, peering at the map to work out where we have to go. After Flinders it is an alarming idea.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Am Being Dung in...

B's eye is considerably improved today.

The plot to make liquid manure out of yesterday's dung collection was foiled by the Dear Liza syndrome - there is a HOLE in my very large bucket, and as I industriously filled it, dungy water piddled out onto my feet. Fortunately, the feet were well covered in my gum-boots (which have grown a lot, since.). Anyway, plan B needs to wait on a less holy... holey container. I put humus-rich soil and water in my seed trays (bottom of plastic milk bottles) and put them in a plastic bag and sterilised them in the microwave. B asked what on EARTH I was doing and I said I was recreating the famous dish mentioned by Roald Dahl in James and the Giant peach - 'a plate of soil with engine oil' but as I didn't have any engine oil I was trying it with water instead. She has a hard time, having to live with me, poor lass.

Tomato seed have been planted, so let's hope for a little germination, despite the weather (seeds and seed trays are indoors). I hear there is snow on Tassie, down to 200 metres I think they said. Well, furrin far off parts are like that. Here we have just had WIND. Temps between 9 and 11. I've done a little outdoor work (almost filled the new raised bed) but it is miserable out there. I need to contrive some dog-keep-out and wind-keep-out still.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hunting the savage dung

The intrepid hunter, armed only with his traditional weapons of a bucket and trowel went off dung-hunting today. Tracking dung takes many years of practice, and must be undertaken with great care as dung can be particularly savage when cornered. And of course the ethical hunter must follow any dung he has failed to bucket with a clean scoop as wounded dung should not be left to suffer. Until you have tried this field-sport you have no idea of the thrill of the chase. I have a spare bucket and trowel...

Yes, actually I have been collecting cow-pats for the veggies. I have a 25 litre bucket full. I think these will have to 'mature' somewhat, but I hope they'll add to the fertility and water retention a bit.

This morning I had a cat in my drawers - in all senses of the word, as Robin cat decided that I could only have opened my underpants drawer for her exclusive benefit and leaped into it. She then decided to nest in there, only being willing to remove herself when I gave up trying to talk her out of it and went to fetch a camera.

Poor B is in the wars. She went to the Landcare treeplanting today and managed to stab herself in the eye. According to our good Doctor Biren she has scratched her cornea (not over the iris TG) and so is restrained from reading until tomorrow. Eyedrops and some discomfort are being experienced. To add insult to injury she's also suffering a very stiff arm, hand and wrist... not from tree planting, but from her intrepid salmon-catching yesterday. You see she SHOULD have tightened her drag on the reel, and worked the fish on the rod, but, um driven by excitement she just wound rilly rilly rilly rilly fast. The crank was smoking :-) and it made no real difference. Heh. She got it in, and I try not to inerfere too much. 'Just keep your rod tip up.' She'll learn. And she is, fast.

Tonight I cooked my catch from yesterday - a Sea Sweep (Scorpis aequipinnus) of about a kg - which looks rather like our stonebream (Neoscorpis lithophilus) from the old country(to which it is related)
That's a roast platter, so a fair size fish.

I prefered to to the Australian salmon but it doesn't rank with yellowtail, trevally, garfish, flounder, or flathead, the flesh being quite delicate and soft - (I fried the fillets a la meuniere as I like to do with all 'new' fish to taste them and learn how best to cook them.) It would be VERY easy to overcook, at which point it will be horrible. It's a lot less fishy that salmon but a richer (more oils probably)fish. It's also a right bastard to get the pin-bones out of, although it fillets off the ribs well.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My first fish fight!!

We went out to a friend for tea, so took the rods with us, in case we decided to throw a line on the way home. ( He wants to know when to expect to catch eel in the river mouth? Does anyone know what time of year they come in?)

I was worried about the weather as I had a down duvet/doona on the line outside, so we came back to the west side of the island to keep an eye on it, but it looked okay to fish for a bit.

So we went to some rocks close to Castle Rock, which is featured on every tourist pic of the island, and cast out with some squid bait. Dave caught a Wrasse, and I thought 'this is great the cats will be happy'. And then something took my bait and pulled. It fought, it went to my right around some rocks, and I thought that would be the end, but it came in close below me and then off again round to the left. By then I had worked out that it wasn't a Wrasse, as they just pull a bit, but had no idea what I was fighting.

After what must have been 5 mins, but felt like 15, Dave managed to scoop it into the net, and it was an Australian Salmon, 705g after gutting, but it looks really good. Especially as I did not lose it while it was fighting.

It is the first real fish fight I have had since we got here, so it was wonderful to actually land the fish, with Dave's help of course, and I am looking forward to tasting it tonight.

Whiskey* pumpkin and poppyseed rolls

By popular demand my pumpkin and poppyseed rolls recipe.
The whiskey* variation recipe which may appeal to some of you.

1 and a quarter cups tepid water,
2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tbsp milk powder
1 and half tsp salt
2 tbsp cooking oil
3 tbsp cooked mashed pumpkin (or 4 maybe :-))
1 tsp poppy seeds
3 and a quarter cups plain flour.
Got all of those in one bowl? Good. Have a whiskey to celebrate. Raise your glass to the bowl. It helps the rising process.
Now, knead the above together. Leave to rise in warm place for at least 2 hours. That's a long time so you may as well have another few wee drams to pass the time.
Put the dough onto an oiled and floured baking tray. Divide and shape into six rolls. Put into a warm place for at least half an hour. Time for another drink, while the oven warms to 190 C.
Once the rolls have done their second rise (at which point you can -if you so desire, paint them with a pastry brush. Most people advocate a egg-yolk and water mixture, but by this stage of the whiskey bottle red ochre may seem good. It isn't really, but it may seem that way), slash the surface of each roll with a sharp knife, trying not sever fingers or anything else vital. Now put into the oven for 18-20 minutes (depends on the oven I guess.) If you drink any more of the whiskey (which will seem like a very good idea by this stage)you will pass out and burn the rolls and probably burn the house down.

I have been told this is a very popular recipe, and has encouraged a great number of men who had never shown any prior culinary interest to become quite keen on the idea.

*For best results you may be wise to omit the whiskey. It doesn't taste quite the same though ;-)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Flee! Natural disaster or monstrous apparition....

The good people of Flinders Island were today seen cramming themselves onto aircraft, boarding every available vessel including the SS Bathtub, or, in desperation, flinging themselves into the sea and paddling for safer offshore islands after a strange whiter-than-ghost-pale apparition was sighted("so pale it was almost luminous," said Flinder's resident and now panic-stricken refugee, Carol Goodegg, once she'd finished shaking from shock). "Such things are not natural and shouldn't be allowed," said courageous heroine Rosemary Tellemwhatfor, who loosed several shots at the thing from the black lagoon seen hauling grass out of the daisy patch on the semi-lawn in front of a certain residence on Palana Road. "It was too horrible to contemplate," said a nameless Aurora worker who barely manage to survive his meter-reading. "I think I deserve danger pay, and not to have to wash the ute."

Ok I won't ever take my shirt off to work in the garden again. It's been winter for a while, but it got quite warm for manual labour today, enough to have me strip of my T-shirt for a while. And it's not over yet, as I still have to fill the new raised bed. I have a feeing this will involve carrying a lot of compost. We got our seeds from Phoenix seeds today - the post here (which is fast and reliable, never fails to amaze me)

I now have Seakale, Strawberry spinach, Radicchio, Salsify, Scorzonera, Red onions, Cos Verdi lettuce, to plant tomorrow, or ASAP. Waiting in the wings are Tamarillo, Cossack pineapple, 4 of versions of tomato, and Collective farm woman melons and Siberian watermelons, and asparagus (Martha Washington). Of course I have carrots, broad beans, peas, lettuce, beets, silverbeet, bulb fennel, parsnips, spinach (doing badly) and broccoli, leeks, spring onions, garlic and red onions and some chinese cabbage I won't grow again in a hurry, and parsley, mint, thyme, and some very feeble sage, and tarragon, all growing. The green beans, zucchini, and pumpkin seeds are waiting too. I've also got banana passionfruit seeds and regular ones, I hope to get growing. Potatoes too need to get sorted, but I am seriously considering doing them as a field crop, other than some in the tyre-towers as new potatoes. Some ofthese will have to go into pots as they are perennials, not for harvest this year.

But I'll try and keep my shirt on :-) Oh and I made pumpkin and poppyseed rolls for the next 3 days... and our various visitors ate them all. Oh well. At least my food is popular, and we have drop-in visitors. Pumpkin has an interesting effect on dough, making it more chewy (not in an unpleasant sense, just making the texture looser but more elastic - maybe the fibes in it?). It does add rather appealing pale golden colour to the finished product.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Net Nou

Which is a joke only a handful of South Africans will get, symbolic of my frustration today, as Skype was working but the net and e-mail not. And help was not available. Turns out it was Bigpond device, as the mobile senders had been down for repair, needed to be switched off and left and then switched on. I had been trying that with the computer, which is giving gyp because of windows #$@#ing updates and me liking pre-historic software (which works, is more friendly than MSWord, and I know it well. And wasn't made by microsoft as another plus.)They're also fighting with AIM.

Anyway, got the driftwood - flotsam planks scavenged off the beach - organised into another raised bed, and moved the plastic planters (made from old drums) out of the corridors between the existing beds, where they were a serious PITA. In the process I found one of them had about 40 parsley plants in it (not 3 as I thought), and so planted out those. I hadn't been able to do more than reach the parsley to crop it a bit before. I am extending the veggie patch a bit. Probably not enough, but there are limits to my time. I also did some prep reading for book proposals (get myself into the arena of that type of book). It was very strange to read without feeling guilty... so I failed and felt guilty anyway.

We've booked our flights for Worldcon in Melbourne as we have (great relief) a house sitter. And we had fishcakes for dinner... the exciting lives of the country cousins :-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The three visit day!!!

Wow, to think we came here for a peaceful and relaxing life.

Today I have visited 'town' three times. I had a CWA meeting this afternoon, and I am proud to announce that I am now a fully fledged member. We are doing Wales this year, so we ate Welsh rock cakes, which were delicious, and I have brought the recipe home, in case Dave wants to try it.

Unfortunately the meeting did not tie in well with the library times, and this weeks librarian needed my police clearance for her other 'hat' on the Meals on Wheels committee, so that was a separate trip, and I got a good looking book out of the library while I was there.

Then this evening we went to the pub for tea. It was (I think) the annual dinner for the Meals on Wheels people, so we knew most of the diners, but met some new faces as well. I ordered steak, as that is not something that comes up on our table at home at the moment. But I did not think to order a half portion. Well, 3 steaks arrived on my plate, jostling for space with the chips, and totally overwhelming a large helping of fresh salad, with lots of greens. One gentleman at the table bet I could not finish, and he was right in the end, but I did my best, and I really feel I have let my old country down, but there was a small piece of steak left, and the cucumber from the salad, when I finally retired defeated.

But it was a fun evening, with a lot of friendly teasing and laughing. We thought we might be lonely, having no social life here, so far from all our old friends. We miss our friends of course, and would love everyone to come over and visit us often, but lonely we are certainly not. We have been so welcomed by the islanders as a whole, it has been an eye opener for us. We have been warned that the first year is easy and then it gets harder once we are no longer the new faces in town, but at least we are enjoying it all so far.

Kelp pic

Anyone knowing species or more about this - this is the frond - it is attached to a long hollow stalk which is attached to the bottom.
Matchbox for scale.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Let the people eat kelp

The clouds are rolling over us in thick fuzzy grey waves, with little white edges of lighter cloud looking like it went to the Cloud-hairdresser for a rather half-hearted highlighting job. Strzlecki mountain is in Obelix's famous words just like Switzerland -Flat! It has vanished, disappeared into the grey legion driven by the whips of relentless wind-sergeants. It's the sort of misery day I expected a lot of winter to be.

I've been playing catchup on the myriad small things I've set aside for getting round-tuit when the book was in. Other people have a list... I have lists. In fact I have a list of to-do lists. If I was a ship you'd say I was unseaworthy. Actually, you'd probably say that anyway, and be quite right too. I will blame it on Batman who has decided he's tried adult cat dignity and did not like it much so he's at 5 gone back to being a kitten, who regards me as his attackable toy.

We were given an olive tree tube-stock - Leccino - which means we'll have to get a Frantoio for it to cross pollinate. We planted it in a huge pot -- they say where you plant an olive, you plant a piece of your heart. I've planted Olives in Paarl, in Eshowe, at Finnegan's Wake at Mount West. I have no more spare bits of heart left, so got B to plant this once in the vast plastic shrub-tub I found at Roberts. That way, like the rock, we can take it with us on that last stage of the journey. I like the John's place, and it's been a Godsend, but it's not a place of our own. That's not really getting any closer, but, well, onward. We'll get there. Just a few million more books...

The seed order to Phoenix seeds has gone in (much to John-the-Post-office's amusement, because I was there without my glasses. He gave me teeny tiny forms to fill in. Laughed like hell at me, and then did it for me. Only on Flinders Island.) I am still worried the PC police will get me for abusing 'gross Lizzy' (Gross Lisse - the variety of tomatos everyone has told me to buy - pronounced locally gross lizzy). John's theory is B keeps me from going off the rails and not working by holding my glasses hostage.

I met our new cop who has replaced Policeman Pat (AKA twinkletoes, as I used to see him running in his luminous reflector shoes in the early morning - or rather I didn't see him, I saw his shoes.) and introduced myself to him. Seemed a friendly-enough bloke. Seeing as he'd stopped to chat to the fire-watch guy, I was careful to lock my door (as the Tasmanian government in their eagerness to protect the insurance companies and punish the victims of crime have made this mandatory, and expect the cops to punish wicked no-lockers. It makes about as much sense on Flinders Island as crowd control. It's an island. It has about 700 people, maybe 300 of whom are under 70 or over eight. Given the fact that it's a big island and a large part of those 300 are just too far away or or have unimpeachable alibis a lot of the time, any dirty deed would struggle to find more than a handful of suspects. If the cops can't find a stolen car - or catch any other Ned Kelly, it's hard to imagine what they'd do in a vast metropolis of say five thousand people :-) I can imagine they might have a rough time with poaching or drink driving or people growing weed in remote spots, but it's not really a car-theft (or even theft from cars) kind of place. I see today that one of the suburbs in Tassie has had a rush of blood to the head and is going to fine the victims of graffitti if they don't clean it up. Gah. So sensible to punish the victims. They're easier to catch than perpetrators. I think Australia is wonderful, Tassie is pretty close to God's own Country... but I do wonder why no one tars and feathers politicians who come up with these daft laws. Really, even the smell of tar makes them thoughtful and considerate. Anyway, to get back to the point the new cop laughed at me and said "what are you doing that for?"
I said old habits die hard - and after South Africa that's true. Anyway, he'll do, I think.

And last night I cooked the catch of the day - my catch anyway - Konbu - kelp of some sort. I'd hooked it when fishing for wrasse, so it was nice and fresh. I rinsed it in fresh water, and then added a piece to the rice, and boiled it with the rice. It added a very slight and not unpleasant flavour. I also diced a couple of inches very finely and fried it with the fennel-bulb, to which I added a little tomato. It's supposed to be full of all sort of goodness. Just ask any weed-eating fish (come to think of it most of them stink and don't taste too good. hmm). Honestly, in both I barely knew it was there, rather than being affronted by the taste. I've spent years meaning to get around to it and expecting it to be horrible - and it isn't.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The jig is up.

No, nothing to do with Scottish dancing!

We went for an earlyish morning fish this morning at the wharf, and the sea was so clear it was like fishing in an aquarium. Unfortunately the fish could see our bait for what is was and left it strictly alone. But we could see that someone had lost a jig off the end of the wharf, so Dave fished for it. Once he had hooked it, I netted it, and we are now 1 jig richer. It is nearly new, and a good catch. Unfortunately its main colour is pink, while I find the blue jig works better for me, but I am not going to look an extra jig in the shade. Ummm, maybe I didn't say that quite right.

Anyway, we did go down to Trousers Point later in the morning, and catch 1 Wrasse, so at least we got a feed for the cats if not for us! And Dave collected a few days worth of firewood, so we can be warm, as well.

The last few days have been colder than earlier in the winter, and we had quite a lot of sun today, as well as a 7mm short shower of rain, which was not good for the washing, but great for the fields which are needing rain.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fish kebabs

Wow, I am having some fairly serious burnout issues, just getting my brain back into writing frame, let alone anything else. Anyway - I sent the book off to Eric. And today we went out to barbeque at Emita, despite one of the coldest day-time spells we've had. As usual I have no ordinary 'barbeque' type stuff in my freezer, so I made fish kebabs with some of the leatherjacket (AKA triggerfish) which work quite well for this - unlike most fish. The Leathetherjacket is quite - shall we say, sinewy for fish (meaning less so than fillet steak). It's tightly bound and won't just fall apart if it overcooks (or even just cooks) as many other fish would. I boiled until just tender bulb fennel and interspersed the fish cubes with that, which made for a lovely fennel flavouring to the fish - which was rather overpowered by a mariande of soy, ginger, sweet wine, pepper and a little oil. Next time I will do it with a light brush of oil - probably something neutral - and make sure i have charcoal and not gas. I took salsa verde, but I think it will go exceptionally with satay sauce. On a score of 1-10, about 5 for enjoyability as is, but an 8 for texture and cooking quality of the material.

Tomorrow looks like some trevally catching early and then the PO and sorting out the Melbourne arrangments for worldcon, and maybe finally some garden work, before reviewing where I go next with the writing.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

flatheaded writers.

The animals came in two by two, even the flathead too. Went fishing off Babel island this morning with Jamie. It was a textbook launch and retrieve which was just as well because the tide table seems to up the creek. Anyway, we went out, drift fishing, and got a reasonable haul of about 30 or so in 2 and half hours of fishing (Flathead, although highly regarded as an eating fish are an awful lot of spiky head(it got me) and gut to a very little meaty tail. 11 fish, filleted - and they were big flathead in 45 cm (foot and half, Quilly) range, most of them, got a return of 2.85Kg. - about 130 grams to a fillet). They're not much of challenge to catch as they're ambush predators, using their colouring to hide, and grab. B and I each got one double hookup and even that is not that hard to pull in. But realistically this is dinner catching not 'sport' fishing. I'd have some pictures except the camera batteries died. Anyway - we have some flathead in the freezer and had feed of them for our tea (A pretty good imitation of 'strine'-speak, Davo) and I went off to my little inaugural writers thing. It was fun, a few laughs - especially when I was offered 'roobus' (Rooibos) tea. Shudder. I thought I had escaped that. We used to use it for washing our varkpanne (compartmentalised metal trays that everything got slopped onto in a piggy mess in the army - therefore literal translation 'pigpan') as it was hotter and cleaner than the dish-water. Not a great commendation.) I've never been able to face it since.

Friday, August 6, 2010

tis Done

The edits are done. (To anyone who wonders why it takes me so long - that was nearly 3000 corrections, and as you insert the page positions change. I wish I was less gifted at grammatical errors and little things like leaving out words)

We had do a mercy killing of one of Rosemary's crippled chooks today. Other than some drawing and plucking... editing. But it's done now. Tomorrow I going fishing and then have our new writer's circle first get together.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Hmm. Let's see. Edited in changes. Saw the guy who had come back to look for his multimeter. Edited in changes. Tried to call the guy at Immigration and citizenship about our two young lovebirds. Left a message. Edited in changes. Cooked rolls in the 'new' oven. Hmm. Well, not so great, but I shall learn. Dealt with the guy from Telstra. Edited in changes. Tried again again to get hold the I&C guy. Left message. Edited in changes. I wish I was not so hopelessly slow at editing. I am now at 160 of 283. Cooked quick supper. Edited in changes. Went to Scottish dancing. Too tired and got more wrong than usual - more-or-less everything. Writing hasty boring blog post, a couple more pages, and then bed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New stove!

After a fairly sleepless night, looking after an elderly dog, his younger companion, a cat and a horse, I am not at my best today.

Being out in the country made me realise how much I enjoy electricity. Where we end up needs to have enough power, from whatever source, so that I can boil a kettle at will, run the computer, deep freeze etc etc. I find I cannot do without them, which is a wonderful lesson to have learnt, and not the hard way, either.

At lunch time a strange vehicle drove in, and delivered a stove, which the occupants were going to leave on the verandah, 'for the moment'. We were so pleased to see them, and maybe our faces showed our lack of faith in 'for the moment' being anything short of a month, that they brought it in and installed it. So we at last have 4 working plates, as well as an oven and a grill that work. Now Dave can really go all out on the cooking front.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Out bright candle

We've dived with Greg, met Anne at church, Barbs had worked on the cattle sale saveloy and sandwich-selling excercise with her - the day that everything went wrong and they spent three hours laughing so much that B came back with stomach muscles that ached for a couple of days. She died suddenly after helping a sheep with lambing out in the top paddocks. She was barely middle-aged by island standards - seventy and still doing a lot of the running of the farm, laughing looking after animals. (At 94 Mary still teaches us Scottish Dancing. I reckon it's the air or the muttonbird oil). Today was her funeral service, and though I hate them, I went for the bloke I've dived with, well, I daresay he wouldn't have noticed as the place was full and yard was full, and the street was full. Friends and her family had come from all over. The eulogies were full of funny warm stories, memories of salty porrige and watery hot chocolate - memories laced with choked voices and tears, and animals, memories of someone who had seen life, love, pain and given more to others than she took. It was enormously sad and she's going to be missed a lot. But as a going out... well you could only say she really had lived and been loved.

I guess I would want to be remembered for no more. I hope to leave people well, possibly relieved the old bastard is dead, but with lives (and stomachs) slightly fuller for having met me. That'll be enough. It also brought home to me just what a team effort this is: I don't think I would have got here - not writing, not to the island, not this far through life, let alone venturing into self-sufficency and living the rural life with its hunter-gatherer and small farmer aspects without Barbs. I was reading how the last wave of back-to-self-sufficency generally flopped... because of 1)loneliness, 2)isolation 3)loneliness... and only really worked where there was a couple (or family) and both of them wanted to do this. Then of course it is not just good, but very good. I reckon a community and friends help a lot too, but it is tough, and five times tougher alone. Tonight I am that, with Barbs away, house and horse sitting, and me with cats and dogs for company. Wednesday got into the main house earlier and took advantage of the dog-food B had set ready for tonight (and the catfood). Labbies will eat until they explode so it's just as well I heard the commotion. I heard her spill one bowl - assumed it was B... and she thought it was me.

Anyway, back to editing in B's changes. I reckon I might just pull an all-nighter and get it done.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why we have friends.

I have finished my edit of Dave's new book! And, boy, do I feel sorry for the rest of you that have to wait a while for it to come out in print. Actually, in real life, I have read the first draft, which will still have input from 2 other authors, never mind the changes Dave will make on his next run through it. But I did really enjoy it.

And I finished it, with not much help from our friends. We had 3 different visitors today, and I was so glad to see all of them, and did not in any way want to hurry them away, but I did want to find out how he was going to end the book, after the end he gave us to the 'Dragon' one!! Still my input to the whole writing process is now done for another couple of months, so I can get back to all my usual activities, and some new ones.

Tomorrow I am off to experience the real outback life, or more out of town than we are here, anyway. I am going to housesit 2 dogs, 1 cat and 1 horse for a friend, just for one night. She lives far from town, and gets her power from solar and a generator, her water from the roof etc. You can see no other houses from hers, and I doubt any other lights at night. So it is far more the lifestyle we moved here for, than our 'close to town, on the electricity grid' current house. But I am not sure how I will feel about the isolation, while I am actually there.

Let me quickly say that I am so grateful to our landlord for letting us rent this house, it has made our life here so much easier than the yert or a caravan would have been. And I am sure has saved my sanity thus far. Also we have been able to meet, and I hope make friends with him and his extended family, which has been wonderful, and he has shown and taught us so much about life on this island.

But our ultimate dream is to get further away from civilization, but now I also want to be close enough for friends to drop in. I am so enjoying the novel experience of having someone come to the gate to see if we are home. In our last house we were 25 mins down a really bad gravel road, so no one came on the off chance we may be home, they all called well in advance!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Ok thanks to Rosemary's Godsend printer intervention I've done the first hard-copy draft - and B is nearing the end of editing it - just as I finish printing. I'm dead beat, and I may be on Flinders but I might as well be in town, desk bound. It's not going to get a lot better until this is in. Anyway, step by step.

We still don't have a working oven and I have to do something about that soon as I feel if I don't the island sparky will probably never pull his finger out and get here. If I have the gas stove working I have a standby oven and he can be as slack as he pleases without irritating me.

We're out of 'desireable' fish - so when this is in, I'll have to undergo the hardship of fishing - or we'll be snaffling the cats dinner.

We also need to prepare for planting... a busy few days coming up, probably from Wednesday.