Sunday, October 31, 2010

Supper and the partition of India

Well, I took the crab bisque and added the fresh broad beans (fava beans) to it (still no rhubarb) and some cubed fillets of leatherjacket (the ideal fish for this as it doesn't fall apart if slightly overcooked) and served it to B for her 'tea' (AKA supper) with big crusty flaps of home-made Olive oil and rosemary bread. It was a delicious complex of flavours, with the slight sweetness (and the richness) of the crab contrasted by the beans (which have a 'green' and mild nutty flavour). The fish just absorbs tastes so it merely something solid that was neither bean nor bread (nor good red herring).

I'm sort of fiddling with the universe for the steampunk thing and so as India was such a major aspect of the British Empire, had Dr Biren helping me plot an alternate history breakup of the Indian subcontinent, with more of a look at how things might have fallen out had the Brits not being busy with divide and rule. Fascinating excercise (if you are an Alternate History / Science Fiction writer)

We had 40 knot gusts today - I was really glad not to be at sea. The easterly actually blew the outside rocking couch thing right over - not happened before. The sea was all the colours of yuck, and full of wild white horses

Saturday, October 30, 2010

sinking, sinking, black ink over the nose...

Or something like that. Anyone recognising the quote have 10 brownie points. Anyway, in this case I merely refer to my attempts to make ball sinkers (or egg sinkers as Quilly would call them). Lesson 1. heat the mould. lesson 2 - do not forget to pull out the wire. Lesson 3 - put on gloves. Lesson 4 - try for lots of patience. If I recall correctly doing this with my dad, he had a blowtorch and a pouring ladle - which could make life easier. The darn lead kept setting in the pouring hole (ergo, heat the mould). Anyway, I managed 8 sinkers in about 8 tries. Mr Efficiency, that's me (the mould makes 4 per time). It's a learning curve and it did use up some bigger damaged sinkers.

We took the dogs down to long point - Wednesday and Roly. Poor Puggles had to stay behind and he cried. I did some thrownetting and caught a goby. Go me. We also collected some of the little ribbed mussels (which are small) and grow in huge beds on the sand. Taste Okay, just a lot of them to very little meat. I also turned over rocks and collected little crabs (and I mean little - 2-3 inches across) which i have made into a crab bisque, with some fennel, leeks, garlic, onions, tomato, parsley and thyme and a carrot (did I use everything that was available and pretend I planned it that way? Hmm. You're close. But I didn't put in broad beans, snow peas, brocolli, beets silverbeet, or lettuce. Or sage or marjoram. Or Rhubarb.)

I took Puggles (and his cruciate) for a very short walk on the nearby beach. Poor boy, He did so enjoy it, and he was OK on the leash. It's easier when the others aren't there.

Our dog-tucker roo supplier brought us more roo (wallaby) and showed me how to debone them. It'll take me a bit of practice... at the moment there is way too much meat left on the bones for me to approve.

Oh and I managed 1000 words worth of a short story, which may even be saleable one day for our writers group. So there is the black ink.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cabin Fever

Wind or work or flying pork rolls I think I need to get out tomorrow morning. It's horrible tonight, blowing and wuthering out there. But I am getting serious cabin fever, and had to kill the same section in the story 3 times today. (Because it bored me. It didn't work. I have a low tolerance for boring). I thought I'd do some sinker casting (making them) - but got a couple of visitors... so that went by board. And then concience got me back to my desk. It didn't do me a lot of good but it got me here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Out of Africa

We had a relief sister - nursing at the multipurpose center - brought out to introduce to us here. She's from Kenya (so we must know each other, we're all from Africa). We got talking about Africa - The lady who brought her around sat there with her eyes out on stalks. The realities of HIV and things like the flying toilets and ideas like widow marriage were a bit of a shock. It was obviously nice though for her to talk about Africa with people who had been there, because she joined us at the Scottish dancing (Which had its token representative from every continent there). It was probably the worst attended night we've had which was a pity, but, ah, we made up for it in chaos. I've got on with the book a bit, and in sheer exasperation paid telstra 35 cents. Yes, you all remember the faulty 3G internet thing that got sent back to them, which I eventually got refunded for, and of course they then kept harassing me to pay for, (meanwhile I have replacement which is paid for) and how I eventually got them to back off back with threats of the Telecoms ombudsman? Well, they sent me final demand threatening letter... for 36 cents. For a piece of equipment that was returned to them, for which they refunded me in full, for which if anyone owes anything they owe me. Well, calling them would cost me money, and time so I decided 36 cents in small change was easier. Yeah i know. Giving in. Anyway the PO rounds off the amounts and ergo, I paid 35 cents.
I bet I get a final demand bill for 1 cent next month.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tour de Flinders

There is a cycle race around our island. I am putting this up really too late for anyone to plan to come over this year as it is on 7 November, but for next year, put it on your calendar as a time to get over here and enjoy a ride.

We even have a cyclist this year, who has ridden in the Tour de France, coming to take part in our race here on the island. It will be quite a change of scene for him, I reckon.

I am looking forward to being a keen spectator!

Pilgrims's progress group

Now, I don't do comittees any more. I try not to anyway. Yes I've been on and been chairman, and secretary and dogsbody for eveything from the kids Scouts to Uni mountain club to various school things. I conclude I'm not very patient or terribly tactful as I've never quite figured out that people are not Sherman tanks. I like people (well, in small numbers and not infinite doses) but I lack my co-author Eric's ability to tell people that really they're wrong and actually this will work better, in such a way that they do something totally weird... like listen and bizarrely, agree.

For me a good committee has 2 things. 1)an Egg-timer. 2)A chairman who is Attilla the Hun in his spare time.

But anyway, I got drawn into a meeting / committee on ways to try and help our island progress -- well, keep its population and keep its essential services (like the school). We met tonight, and they need the egg-timer;-). Still, it's interesting to see the ideas. And because my life is dependent on the internet, and we need young families (for whom this is probably one of the best places on earth to raise children, at least to certain age) I asked about the idea that some places with shrinking populations have applied -- to go wireless and cheap/free broadband for their town, to draw internet-related businesses there. People seemed to think it a good concept. Anyone out there had anything to do with this?

And I got to meet a lot of people, some of whom I really wanted to meet (the headmistress -she's a champion) and the Olive growers to name two. And Bill, who I have promised to take to catch squid.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Today, I was working, but went home for lunch. We live out of town, on the same side as the school. After eating, I had half an hour left, and needed some shopping. I drove to town, fetched a parcel, drew money at the bank counter (we do not have an ATM) filled two containers and the ute with petrol, did the grocery shopping, went to the newsagent for our bi-weekly paper and still made it back to work with 1 minute to spare to sign in!

I am so happy living in a small place. Oh, and I dropped the milk at home on the way back so that it would not go off in the car!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

There was no Chianti or liver

...but the fava beans - the first broad beans out of the garden boiled for 8 minutes, and tossed with butter and fresh mint were eaten. As were some of the beetroots with a little orange and pine-nuts (a good combination). Broad beans are not much of a South African dish and I've never eaten them before.

Well, I have had a better day today after yesterday's fury with myself (I've been using a computer since 1983. Never spilled anything on a keyboard). Keyboard now appears to be working and i got through a further 2K (a hard section, linking) today. So far, so good.

I need to make some ball-sinkers tomorrow. I have a mould, and have made sinkers before but only ones with eyes. These have a center hole and I imagine I must put a wire through. Not sure how you stop it staying in forever though. Pull it out when it is hot?

Pads writes his first exam tonight (well, Monday for him). Holding thumbs for my boy.

Puggles has learned how to open the fly-screen door. unfortunately he hasn't learned to close it behind him (and he actually like flies nearly as much as I do.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some of us have good days, while others....

Today I went off fishing with 2 friends and a small child (not quite 3).

We went out in a boat on the North East River and trawled behind the boat for Australian Salmon. At first we had 2 handlines out, and a rod and reel, and one steering the boat, and one looking after the darling little girl, who was a total honey all day. But after a while the boat owner decided to give up fishing, and just deal with steering and parenting. All in all we got a big catch, but embarrassingly enough I caught 3/4 of the fish. In the end both lines had the same lures on them, (they had started different) but mine just caught a lot more. So I had a really good day.

Luckily for me, the other two did not make me gut all my own fish, we made a production line of it, and cleaned them all together on the beach. About 25/30 pelicans hung around in the water, just out of gut range, ready to clean up the moment we moved away from the gutting station. Our little helper kept wanting to wade out and pat one, and although they would only have been about waist deep for her we discouraged her!!!

Dave did not have a good day. He had stayed home, to be good, and get some work done. Unfortunately he had spilled some coffee on his keyboard early in the morning, and when he went back to work it had seized up! Even more unfortunately my computer is older, and my keyboard is not USB, so he couldn't just use mine. He does have 'voice to text' but it does not work really well for him, so he cut grass and wood and was not happy.

We have ordered a new keyboard on line, and hope that it arrives really really fast.

Unfortunately I did not take Dave's camera with me, or you would have pics of a beautiful sunny day, with 3 other boats dancing around us on the river, a cute blonde little girl and a huge catch of fish, but instead you will just have to imagine the scene!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

And then it was Saturday.

Today started as a grey, cloudy day, with nothing much planned, and turned out to be a sunny, but windy day, full of fun for me.

It started with a breakfast time chat with our older son, of course it was a midnight'ish chat for him. He has finished his undergrad course, and just has to weather the exams, to get his Bsc.

Dave had a day mostly at his desk working, but took some time out to come and cut wood with me, as we were down to a very small log pile.

That done, I settled down to some long delayed sewing, which was interrupted by a welcome hot, savoury, lunch roll. Half way through a friend popped in, to see if we wanted to take a trip 'up north'. Dave needed to work, but I set out with her, and we went right up to the end of the island. We explored a road neither of us had been far down before, and had a look at one of the oldest houses on the island. It is so cute, right next to a creek, and is up for sale, but it looked so sad and neglected, I hope someone buys it soon. Anyway we penetrated further into the bush until we were stopped by a 'NO ENTERY' sign. Obviously not put up by the Flinders Island Council, as they can spell. Still we turned around and went a-visiting.

We visited two different houses and got coffee and fish, to take home, at one, and tea and eggs, to take home, at the other. The people on this island are so generous and kind, and I love them for it.

We had such cheerful visits, and I learned a lot about where to plant trees, and how wind affects them, by looking at a relatively newly planted olive orchard. They also have a massive olive oil extractor, which I am just dying to see in action, it has to work better than my attempts at cast iron pot grinding! Roll on May when the olives will be ripe. I have offered to help pick, so I hope to see it all in action.

Just after we got home, another friend phoned to invite us to fish the North East river for Australian Salmon tomorrow. Dave can't go, but Carol and I are keen, so we may get a second trip on the river to try for them. Last time we didn't even get a nibble, so fingers crossed the fish are biting tomorrow.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dandelion mayhem

Well, the single most exciting thing I've done today is split some zucchini seedlings, and kill a few dandelions in the lawn. Mind you I did that with style and verve. And with a large abalone knife. I might have named the dandelions after a few choice... Ah well, I'm restraining myself to two ten minute sessions of it until this book gets such a hold that all I can do is get it typed as fast as the steam-powered brain works. It has to be powered by steam, or possibly tea, as I have cut back on coffee - a morning cup and that's it.

The exchange rate continues to worsen for those of us paid US$. I continue to wait. I know this always happens, but... well one lives in hope. And tries to write more to cover for it... Anyone out there feeling like helping me construct a hierarchy of ranks for a merchant SUBmarine service in an alternate history, please let me know! I've taken up a challenge that involves me writing at least 10 K a week, preferably 14K, but I keep getting a bit bogged in the actual history side.

In the meanwhile the black buglets have killed 3 zucchini (ergo I am trying for MUCH bigger stronger plants when the next crop go out). And now to another 500 words before bed...

Thursday, October 21, 2010


It's a near full moon night out there and the wind is - here just a whisper. A part of me says 'go and look at the sea.' Common sense however says - the freezers are pretty full. You've had a good working day - near 4 K added to a book (and 5 K is excellent for me, and 6 is my all time record). B has had hell of a day cleaning at the school. No, not exactly what she trained for, but we're not shy or proud about working, at anything. And it's cash coming in. Oddly schools pay a lot faster than publishers.

Anyway, I am going to have to push hard at the writing for a bit, so probably not much done in the way of exciting outdoor things. Well, other than the little black bugs munching my plants. But our lives are... changable.

Ah, butthe sea calls.

I hope my books call to you too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ups and downs.

I suppose any life is full of highs and lows, and the trick is to ride them all, and stay on an even keel.

After 5 weeks worth of very expensive phonecalls to the airline, we now have a ticket to bring James home for the holidays! I am so, so pleased. The original mistake was mine, I paid for the incorrect ref number, but what a mission to get one B changed to a P. Anyway it is done, and I just can't wait to have him home.

One of the wonderful elderly ladies that we have met through the church, is not well, and is in the hospital at the moment. She is normally such a bright and cheery soul, so sure of her faith, I just hope that she does not suffer for too long.

This afternoon I was in a 'not nice to be near' mood, so I took myself off for a fish at Trousers Point. Of course I caught only one VERY small Wrasse, who went straight back to grow bigger. But I did come home in a better mood, and I saw 4 really cute little black pigs, with small white tusks, playing next to the road. (Looked remarkably like warthog, but I know they could not have been, their tails were not straight enough!!) So the trip was not a complete waste.

Then, this evening, we went down to join a friend on the wharf, squidding. She had already caught her first ever, and landed it herself, before we got there. She proceeded to catch another 2 which we brought up in the net, and Dave and I each caught 1, so it was a good evening, and not nearly as cold as last night.

The sunset was amazing, the company great fun, and the squid will be delicious, what more could I ask of an evening out??

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

nanny I think I may have wet my trousers...

Because the waves were quite large washing squid this evening. I've been looking at the UK papers seeing as it looks - to me - like one of the boys will end up there. I read that the Food Safety Authority put out an advisory that children should not eat fruit and berries from hedgerows unsupervised. I had to shake my head. For heaven's sake. Australia too seems to have a fair bit of nannying, which I remain amazed at how people put up with. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? As a parent I drummed the knowledge of what they could and couldn't eat from the wild into my kids heads from so early they probably can't remember learning it. That's MY responsibility. And yes, my kids (and me) are just as capable of utter idiocy as the next bloke. The fact that nanny is there to make sure I do xyz is more likely to make me careless, than her absence, and knowing I need to be responsible. Idiot number one managed to throw the tentacles and keep the head of best squid we caught tonight. But that was me, my stupidity, and I am unlikely to do it again in a hurry.

What was the classic bit from Swallows and Amazons?
If not duffers won't drown. If duffers, better drowned.

There is a practical limit with all these things. Some regulation is not a bad idea... but...

One of my friends here - talking about climbing - said it would be a great money-earner. Wonderful for tourists, good for the Island... and then I pointed out the regulations. The insurance. Which is why the island no longer has so many of its little local entertainments -- what is possible and merely a hassle for a trotting race in Hobart just makes it out of the question here. The races happened here for years. They were a major social activity... and then nanny said...

Gah. I do hope this pendulum swings back soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ever onwards

It looks like the dread munching mini-bugs have killed one of the three zucchini I have planted out. Unfortunately the vegetables are yet to show the robust strength of the grass, which is threatening to overwhelm us. Still, bugs or no bugs I have to get some of the plants out. They're getting too big for the seedling growing pots.
It also seems to be getting toward the end that I can drag the silverbeet and italian parsley out for, and some of the bulb fennel I've had in over winter - all doing their best to go to seed. The broccolli - we've been eating side shoots for months now, are also getting a bit woody. I reckon I've got maybe a week or two on them.

On the positive side it looks like the broad beans are nearly there. I'm hoping lettuce gets a shift on enough, and we've got a fair amount of carrots and beets to harvest. I need more plants ready to get in, and also a bit more soil improvement, and prepaations for the pumpkins, melons (I have watermelon and rock-melon seeds germinated and up) more squashes, and more potatoes to plan that won't fit in the raised beds. Ideally I need about twice the area... and another life, to write and fish in. I've only done about 1.1K today... and another 1.5 on the other blog (TG -that's only once a week) and work another book. And a fair amount of e-mail.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Morels, pictures

We went to a lunch-time barbie at Trousers Point, which was fun. Putting the pieces together and joining up some more of interconnected web that is Flinders we met Dr Bob (the Island's long time Doctor, now retired) and his wife who is as near to a local mushroom expert as we have and got told about Morels - a mushroom I have read about but never eaten. We saw a cephalopod egg mass washed up, which is rather interesting.
Well to me anyway. The Mollusca really are bound by some similarities - you would not think it when looking at something like a squid and abelone.

Anyway - as I am very often taking the photos, I have gone through Marc's collection and have posted a few of me at my various persuits.

Here diving - the hookah pipe snagging on my snorkel.

A typical going fishing picture. We fish light and travel light.

And we don't drink beer after climbing, even though Marc and Bastien owe me several slabs for use of knees, for me catching them falling, and for standing on my rope.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Traumas drama and alarums

Well, Flinders Island made the headlines this morning, with the plane our dogs and cats came over on making an emergency landing in the trees on Mt Strzelecki.
It does say quite something, I think, for the pilot, that they all walked away from it. Anyway, it was an all night rescue epic, and I felt very guilty that I was tucked up in my little bed instead of helping. Will volunteer for the SES (in my copious spare time). It's something I believe in though.

Anyway Marc and Bastien have flown out without any mishap, off to Queensland where I hope they have better weather. Marc made serious strides becoming quite my favorite relation by saying he quite understood why we came to Flinders and that it was fantastic!!!

Their last day here was chucking it down. We still squeezed in some early mornig climbing on the sea cliff at Emita, and Bastien had a Australian salmon school chase and take his hook (but he lost it) which we saw from the cliff-top. "Fantastic." (It got said a lot) Not I think for him as "fantastic" as the top. :-D

We then went to the show - which was both great and the saddest thing I have seen. The saddest part was the parade - for which not one single boat-owner (it was supposed to be a nautical theme) had come up with a towed boat-float for kiddies to parade on - so these four poor little urchins had a very wet miserable muddy walk around the parade arena, and most of the people stayed inside and did not come out and cheer. We did. Good for them. A humph for all those who thought using their boat for this purpose not worth while. We should be supporting our Island's kids (listen to me getting all proprietarial about our new home. But it is worth protecting) The fair was real country fair out of Agatha Christie,

and my wife (as the model - dressed in Flinders winter-style bikini (ie - every item of clothing you can layer yourself with)) won first prize in the fishing photography section (it was Anne's picture of B with a squid). As is usual with these things on Flinders - it takes a lot of time to go anywhere, because everyone stops, chats and gets introduced - including some new arrivals to the island, who read the Blog. Pop in some time. We've made some friends this way already.

Then my scintillating conversation and the sheer excitement of Flinders Show caught up on the youth of today, (you can see them paying keen attention to every word I say) until it was time for them go and catch squid. That was icy... and not successful.

So we brought them home to eat for France.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I leap off the pedestal.

Well, yesterday was certainly a day to remember. Our two visitors had a morning in which one had a boat ride and saw some abalone caught, and the other learned that if you are cycling with the gradient and wind with you one way, when you turn around....

Still, I think they enjoyed their respective mornings, the afternoon was spent in another boat, going to visit some really amazing island scenery, and rock climbing.

Then we had a frantic rush back home, and I insisted on breaking our 'take out' rule, and Rosemary ordered food for us from the pub. We got home with 20 mins to deal with a catch of abalone, shower all 4 of us, fetch and eat our chicken parmi, and get to Scottish dancing.

All of this on the day before the Flinders Island Show. So the pub was full to bursting point, and running a bit late with meals, so we ended up arriving late at dancing carrying our untouched food, and eating it while the others did the first dance!

Still, it certainly was an evening to remember, as one of the original dancers is still with the group, 19 years on, and had her 70th birthday celebration last night. I would not have missed it for anything. She got an award for 'nearly perfect attendance', but it was the wonderful feeling of group 'goodwill' (for want of a better word) that made it so memorable.

I certainly paid the price tonight for the take out yesterday. Dave had decided what he would cook for the two French lads before they arrived, and I had removed one meal from the menu. So today started with a green lip abalone omelette, and then supper was a two course meal, with squid (cooked 2 different ways, both the rings and the tentacles), black lip abalone, crayfish and rice,(containing brocolli and seaweed).

So the warning goes out, if you come to stay bring a spare stomach. But they manfully ate for France, and took pictures to send off home, to make the parents jealous, or to encourage them to come and visit us.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

too much :-)

Is almost enough.
Diving, sample collecting for a research project, and then diving for abalone. Then coming home and getting a message that B needs me up at killikrankie to take two reporters from Outer Edge magazine climbing. We went in by boat and had some... interesting runs through the rocks. The climbing was... epic, I think is the right word. I had to do the route twice to help the guy with the abseil, and then we got back and Rosemary saved our bacon by ordering takeaways from the pub and we bashed abelone, and then went to Scottish dancing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

cramming it in

Well, our visitors are only here for such a short time, that we have not let the weather stand in our way. We went out to patriarchs and collected clams and taught them to throw-net, and collect oysters. Marc caught quite a few mullet and shrimps and Bastien some little flounder that we photographed and put back.
We then did a detour to Patriarchs Sanctuary so they could see Wallaby close up,

and then back for lunch, spicy rolls and Carol's vanilla slice (lucky kids) and B did CWA and I took them to waterfalls on Strzelecki, and then down to Trousers Point and to our leatherjacket spot. They both got a good number of fish, Bastien getting a fine sweep and Marc getting broken off by a big leatherjacket. and then came home and met one of our friends, visiting. They then had oyserters fried in garlic, clames in a wine sauce with pasta, and then fish and pink-eye potatoes. No energy for dessert... Bastien fell asleep before dinner, and Marc near asleep into his plate. In bed already, and that's an easy day compared to tomorrow. Huh. Youth of today. And I put in 2 hours work before they got up this morning :-).

They're having fun I hope.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It is all about language.

I had heard that a common language is a good way to get to understand people faster. But sometimes I think starting from scratch here, would be easier.

I understand that we have upset some islanders by making comments that were taken to mean something other than what we intended to say. And there are certainly comments made here, that we can take the wrong way.

Remembering that we come from South Africa.

Here someone is 'crook', as in not feeling well, in SA they are 'a crook' as in a thief.

Hearing that someone got 'held up' on the way to church, means a the phone rang, rather than they ran into a crook with a gun.

'Nursing' a baby, means getting a chance to cuddle one, rather than actually breast feeding it.

The list could go on, but I love the differences, although it does sometimes make following a conversation challenging. It shows that we are in a new place, and I love this island with all its idiocyncrases (I can't spell it, but I know what I want to say!) and I hope that in time they will mostly come to like us, and accept that we are well meaning,even if sometimes hard to understand!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Here there were, and there they go!

Well, I am now not sure whether to be pleased or peeved. I spent hours of sweat and tears getting the advertisements onto our site, and had got used to seeing them there. I even saw an ad for ugboots I was interested in, and remembered not to click on it, but to go to the website, as we are not allowed to make ourselves money.

Then yesterday I thought I would go to our account and see if we had made any money, and there was $30, and I was really pleased.

This morning I get an email to tell me that there has been illegal activity on the ads, and our account has been terminated! We can appeal, and I have done so, but I am not sure what we did wrong, or whether they feel that visitors have been clicking and not buying, anyway we are now ad free.

So, for the moment, enjoying an ad free read, it may not last...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So how will we recognise you?

Well now, We've got young Marc - the son of one of B's cousins who married a Frenchman coming out here on Tuesday -- we think with a friend. We haven't seen him since he was 12 or thirteen, when I made him kiss a catfish (you have to kiss fish you are putting back good-bye. Try not to give tongue on the first date.)

Someone asked how we would recognise him... which is interesting. He can hardly look for hairy beared folk because the island seems to draw them. And here they're probably called Dave. It's a IIRC 18 seater plane. I figured we'd work on the under 30 Male we DON'T know will be Marc.

Barbs, ever pragmatic, went and looked at the picture on facebook.

Let's see. Maybe I convince the boy echidna cuddling is an important Tassie ritual ;-)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

thrips mark II

ooosh. just looked at the clock. I was buried in writing. The thrips were a steady and advancing wave (and I mean just that - tens of thousands of the little beggars by this afternoon. There were hundreds yesterday. Roberts - the only place you can buy gardening chemicals and most hardware stuff is closed on Saturday, just in case you might have some free time on the weekend to do some gardening. (Max at the Lady Barron store is getting there - for exactly this reason). Fortunately one of my gardening gurus came to our rescue with some pyrethrin which seems to have killed them off. It's nerve-wracking this farming stuff. Got a call from the deputy Mayor - some people coming out to write up the island. I presume he was wearing his Tourist association hat - not a really a group that seems to have made itself popular with the islanders in general - which is very awkward for them as the islanders friendliness is probably their single largest asset. It's that in combination with the 'island' feeling of security and remoteness, and the combination in close proximity of a range of varied natural beauty features that make this place special. If you want the best mountains, go to New Zealand. If you want the best beaches, the Comoros. The best bushwalking - the west coast of Tassie. We're not as good, and cost more :-/ for any one of those. Yet the intimacy and friendliness of small island community Flinders is pushing at places like Arran - and while getting to the beaches or mountain or bush bests is cheaper than most of the remote island communities you could visit, very few of the other islands could claim to also have good climbing, beaches, diving, fishing, bush walking... all pretty good, and so close together. That's what they should be selling, and that means not getting up local noses and itching, because that welcome could vanish. Anyway these blokes want to climb next week. I'm cool with the idea - especially seeing as the French kids will be here too.

Had a very strange meal for our evening tea: steak and onions and baked potato and some of Rosemary's lettuce for supper. A really weird meal as none of it came out of our garden (just sprayed), and much of it (the onions, the steak, the potato) from off island.

Barbs put in some time working on the showgrounds and cutting grass. I wrote and fetched poison. Another exciting day :-)

Friday, October 8, 2010


I was so deep out on the Dogger banks (writing about) as to forget completely that I had to write something for the blog. The truth is there is not a lot to write about. B took the Ute down to Lady Barron to get it serviced and was most impressed. David seems very thorough. The blue slug has been chewing fuel, so let's hope for an improvement. Apparently the plugs were stuffed. You don't even want to think about what fuel costs here.

Some pestilential little thrips are getting at my plants. They've killed a couple of the smaller tomato seedlings and have been doing damage to the silver-beet and lettuce. They seem to eat under the outer membrane of the leaf. They're tiny black and scuttle when I come to squish them. Not too sure, what, short of spraying or squishing them by hand to do about them.

We're expecting B's French cousins on Tuesday - hope the weather shapes up.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tomatillo etc

Obviously distant snow has a positive effect on seedling sprouting, because the tomatillos are all up, two more rock melons, the strawberry spinach, and two seakale, more zucchini and the first pumpkin. B got a call to go and help out the school again. I worked on Dog and Dragon and polishing up Save the Dragons, and a little bit on the steampunk MG book - it was a windy day with spots of rain, on which one is glad to work indoors. I also got the net out and started cleaning it - 30 litre bucket of seaweed off it - so far. Won't set there again!

Scottish dancing this evening in the Masonic hall -complete with a picture of the queen ... in 1959. Mary - our instructress had brought along two pairs of dancing slippers. Red ones and black ones - which do you think go faster? ( no, spare your mind of the thought of me in ballet slippers). The girls got to wear them. I need a clockwork motor on my head to get me into the right place instead.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Gah. Blogger ATE my last post, just when i was trying for something fast and get back to work, as we've had a rather interrupted day - Thunderstorms. These are not the if 3 days passes and you haven't had one something is wrong storms of the Natal Midlands. I really appreciate not having to turn off and unplug and lose hours and focus. But the storm was close today so I did. And regretted it. The screen did not come on when I rebooted. I got B's screen and got it to work, and ran another shutdown, tried mine - and it worked. But the internet didn't. Panic. This is our lifeline - I need to work, and work a lot, just to try and catch up. Emigrating puts you 20 years back they say... Anyway. Rebooting and jiggling and appeals to Finigle must have worked - because I am back up. It's also our contact with the kids, and I worry.

Got a nice surprise in the post today - a pressie from New Zealand! You shouldn't have guys. Thank you. :-)

Snow forecast for Tassie tonight - I hope my tomato seedlings are OK.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Really terrifying

Forget Halloween. Don't even worry about Silence of the Lambs. If you want me really truelly scared ask me to watch over someone else's 10 year old child -- with a power-tool. The local school had a real problem on this particular day with adult supervisors for part of the their woodwork project - cutting shapes (about 18"-20") out of thick ply (I won't say what as it is the kids project, and theirs to tell people about). They got in one power-tool-wise mummy, one daddy, and moi (thanks to B saying no, she'd never used one - which is sensible) -one-on-one with the children. The kids were not a problem - well-behaved and trying hard. But I was as tense as a bowstring and totally focussed for two hours (OK, I had a break when each one finished. But I lost about a pound in sweat). I was using a table jigsaw at that age, but my old man had clouted common sense into me by then. I never really appreciated what he'd done, or how hard it is with other people's children.

B finished her relief stint in the school gardens. She was sorry to... but she's mighty stiff.

The proofs of Dragon's Ring are in. I've finished another set of sample chapters. Done some work on Dog and Dragon. Not cleaned my net. Oh and a single rock-melon seed is up - out of 6 and this planted last. I only have two more.

Monday, October 4, 2010

'step ye gaily'

"Step ye gaily on we go, arm-in-arm and row-on-row, heel-to-heel and toe-to-toe, All for Mairi's Wedding"
trad. scots folk song

We were invited to the reception of our first Island wedding this last weekend -- of course it had to happen after our day at sea -- so we were dead-beat and I really am still mending from the last bug. But it was probably the best wedding reception I've ever been at, because it was so different. I've never been at a sing-along reception before. The bride is a friend of ours who sings with the local Sing-Australia group and she and her new husband were most dapper being put through dancing "under the boardwalk" under instructions from the hyper-enthusiastic chior leader (She obviously enjoys this and gets completely involved, eyes lit up like Vegas neons, and conducting with shall we say verve. It's great and she carries her singers along like a full tide) while the entire crowd provided the vocals. It was really funny to watch the incomer guests at the wedding. Embarrassed at being seen to sing in public, and quiet-voiced at first... but seeing as the locals are giving it a good volume, joining in... and by the time we got to 'Sweet Caroline' giving the rafters a good rattling along with the rest. The food too was real 'Islander' - people brought plates of all sorts to the do, everything from ornate cakes to plates of cheese and biscuits. From the flowers to the decorating - everyone had some kind of hand in it. It was a wonderful bit of community, something you'll not find easily elsewhere.

I hope that the day they married and the day death parts them are the two worst days of their marriage - because they're the only two days of their time together that are not a full 24 hours of being happy.

Otherwise we went to the Interdenominational St Francis day service out at the Patriarch Sanctuary - the Cape Barren geese came to inspect - as did a wallaby with Joey. She bends to eat and he tastes around as she does.
And cooked the most enormous burgers I have accidentally made. I set out to make burger buns and left them to prove while we were at the reception... as a result, I had to make XL patties - 1/4 kilo patties...

Today was B's first day of being employed - temporary filling for a guy who is off sick in the school gardens. It's not exactly what she's trained to do, but we knew that we'd have to adapt, and I'm so proud of her getting in and doing it. Given the cost of coming over and all, and the sinking US$ dollar, and rising Aus $, our budget is not a happy place.

We ate the fillets of our 'Gurnard-perch' (drat these common names) - it called 'poor man's crayfish' and despite being a small fish and a PITA to clean safely it's quite aptly named and very good.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dangerous dinner and a fuller freezer

Today was setting the clock-back day... I like it being light at 7.30 but it has been a long one with the power of this morning, with repairs on the electricity system. We had a quieter weather day yesterday to get some much needed restocking of the freezer in.

We've now got 22 2-people feeds of fish in freezer - including 3 high-risk ones - Gurnard Perch, related to stone-fish. --

They're the ones with the big eyes. No deaths recorded from Tassie - you just might wish you were. The flesh is apparently good though. Need to figure how to best fillet them - might just cut the spines.

We also minced enought big wrasse for 34 days of kitty food. And we have some days of chopped roo for the hounds in the freezer too. A good day can set you forward nicely, but the processing is qute a lot of work. Tired now. More tomorrow - the island wedding etc.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What a day!!!!

Dave is feeling better so he baked this morning. Rolls for lunch and biscuits for snacks.

Then we went off to sea, to catch flathead of course. But Dave persuaded the obliging skipper that we also needed to fish for a few minutes over rocks, so that we could catch some bigger Wrasse for the cats.

Well, Dave had 4 hooks on his handline, and brought up 3 Wrasse in one go. The rest of us were content just to bring up one at a time, but we have ended with about 10kg of Wrasse, so the cats will be happy for a long long time!

We also hit a wonderful spot for the flathead and caught a goodly number,some really big ones as well. The guys each caught Gurnard, which we kept, dispite the spines, and we will try later. Dave says they should be delicious, just beware of the spines!!

This evening is a 'bring and share' wedding celebration of some friends of ours, so Dave is busy cooking for that. And we are due there shortly!!

Then tomorrow we have no power from 6am, which is really 5am as we change time, until lunch time. But we have a 'bring and share' lunch out in a wildlife area, so Dave is busy cooking for that as well.

All in all, it has been a really busy day, but we have so much to show for it, it is really wonderful. Though I must admit I am battling to type a bit, as the keyboard is going up and down with the waves!! It was fine when we were gutting fish, it just seems to kick in when I sit down.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Live in fear, world. It's BACK.

Having been desk or 'loo bound for the last week, we had me feeling slightly better, and the wind having dropped a lot, we thought we'd try to feed the cats ourselves this time. We had try at our spot - just the first place we tried last time - at Castle rock. The sea is still comparitively rough and while they were biting, we were also getting splashed, and the tide was coming in. So we retreated... with me having caught a few close to size fish, and B having one keeper, and caught nothing in ever other spot, barely a bite until I got broken up spectacularly - typical fishing for small reef fish and being wacked by something agressive as I retrieved. Drag not loose enough. I deserve to be caned.

On another front, live in fear, world! The Zucchini are BAAAAACK! The seedlings popped up yesterday and have greened up nicely. We've had veg of some sort out of the garden right through winter, but carrots, broccoli and silverbeet are limited in their flexibility. Bulb fennel too gets a bit monotonous. Onions, even spring onions, are not vegetebles, like garlic they're a basic necessity! Peas are starting to produce, and we've got a good crop of broad-beans. We've had a few asparagus this spring, courtesy of Peter and Helen's generosity, but I really look forward to the over-abundance of summer - when we can curse zucchini again. Those stalk of 'grass' are Salsify BTW. Worse than onions for being too easy to pull up by mistake! They're growing in a recycled plastic milk bottle. I've forgotten just who said they'd make good seed trays, but thank you!