Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Today James and I drove nothwards up the island. I spent the morning helping some friends in the garden, while James gave a computer lesson, to a late starter. He says she is learning fast, and having bought her computer for a song at the garage sale, will soon be proficient at using it.

Then he helped cut some bushes, with the wonderful hedge cutter, which I must admit I do not like as much as the electric one, as I find the petrol engine heavy when holding the machine at full arm stretch.

After coming home for lunch, he and I headed out again to go and fish. We came home with 7 fish, a high total for us, and they were of 3 very different species. Leatherjacket, Wrasse and Pike. We also caught a really beautiful bright green fish, with pale blue lines in its tail fins, and a dull red stripe along its body. As it was only 240mm long, and we had no idea what it was, we returned it to grow bigger. (Please do not post to tell me it was big enough to be legal, and the best eating fish in Tas?)

While we were gutting our catch, I got hit by the 49th wave, and ended up rather wet, so I showered as soon as we got home. While I was in the shower, James and Dave headed out to try for some squid. I was tired by then, and was happy to stay home!

They did not catch any, as the tide is still a bit early, and the wind was blowing, but at least Dave got out for a bit.

Monday, November 29, 2010

crays may get cheaper...

I see the Chinese are not buying Tassie crays... well, I've never been that convinced that the commercial catch does not have a huge impact on the recreational catch (the Commercial catch is around than 94% of the catch if I recall correctly). Interesting times...

Barbs and James went off fishing and caught some kitty fish, and Mike brought my new speargun rubber this morning. And I worked. We had calamari for supper and I thought James might burst. The green sauce was a little too minty... we're forced to use 'only fit for garnish' moss curled parsley as the Italian has gone to seed. Still, it has done well for us.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Medium Monsoon

"And rain slacked off soon, to medium Monsoon, and the day didn't look such a black 'un..."
Except it was. James and I went out to the gun club - in the rain, and assumed that the shoot had been cancelled. So we went to Lady Barron, and got wetter yet trying for trevally for half an hour. No fish, and lots of wet... So we went to Max for coffee (very good coffee at the Lady Barron store. If you come to Flinders you basically HAVE to do two things. Climb Strzlecki and buy a Coffee from Max and Sue. There is a long list of good 'could do', but that's the 'must do') to find that Tom had given us the wrong date... and it had been yesterday. So we bought chicken wire and came home. B had on the garden tour and got in at about six, very tired. And the rain had finally let up.

Oh well, a bit more writing work done and I dismembered a reel I bout several garage sales ago to see if I could fix it with the 3rd broken one I bought yesterday. And now I have enough bits to make another whole reel.

Cooked James flathead and chips - just to let him know he was back on the island.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Barbeques and garage sales

Molly's* full-time boyfriend (I'm only Molly's bit on the side) invited us for a barbie as a housewarming. He wouldn't let us do it in the traditional South African style with some petrol and locking the doors on the new occupants, on account of this is Flinders and you don't lock the doors, and anyway petrol is too expensive. Lots of interesting salads (pumpkin, feta, pine nuts and parsley) they had made way better yoghurt cheese than us, with half a teaspoon of salt. There was meat! (from a butcher, not a 'roo or the larder of the ocean). We'd been promised special roasted Kamarooka ants which build anthills slightly larger than Texas and have stinging tails and pink trunks, but the quarantine inspector must have got them.

Anyway good coffee, good wine, a load 'guid craik' - the parts Greg and Greg (who were sitting next to each other.... either that or this Australian red wine is making me see double. Normally I thought the things your saw double were alike... Obviously the Rusty Dunnie Cabernet 2011 we bought for the occassion is something really special. This double vision is of two different things) about the length of TV aerial and the sort of reception you'd get were probably some of the worst double entendres I haven't made myself. All in all, a great evening.

The morning started with a garage sale. It turned out to be contents rather than the garage itself, but we did buy a few bargains - 3 bust fishing-rods with 2 good reels (for $2 - a real bargain), another bicycle (James has his one here), a nice life jacket (we have a collection now - at this rate we can strap them together and attach an outboard to them, and buy a small boat to wear) and a shortie wetsuit that would do for an extra vest (but not another me size wetsuit as I'd hoped for), and 3 pairs of fins (the shoe kind for summuer) and a game of Boule. And by something of a misunderstanding failed to buy the 2 windsurfers - we said fine, deal, and went off to get more money and the owner thought we'd left and sold them to someone else - for less! This is probably a blessing as I only know how to sail in one direction with a windsurfer - and this is Okay on small dams and less of a good idea on the open ocean.

Much later we ended up with a $10 computer for a friend and large box of envelopes... but that is another story.

And then our top seckrit agent in Melbourne (a friend who is retiring to to the Island) gave me a call to say he was at a garage sale and there was a 2 piece thick wetsuit for $20 did I want it? So I was a very happy man after all. This may change if James gets me to ride the bicycle.

* Molly is a Great Dane cross Irish Wolfhound and is a very lovely girl.

Friday, November 26, 2010

James is home

Our boy is home. Poor lad hasn't seen much sleep, but we went out to D and L's Australian citizenship party (It'll be 3 more years and one month before we can apply) at their beautiful beach house on Fotheringate bay. We're just so glad to see him, and it means a lot to us.

James and I took a walk down to where the limestone meets the granite. Geology and zoology talked crypically as we climbed through caves
and looked at little rock islands which were feasts for the writer's imagination.


I have made some yogurt that was edible, some that was not so good, and some cheese that is SALTY.

Now I have found a recipe for making our own soap. Is this a good idea? It sounds so simple, does it actually work?

It uses caustic soda, water, animal fat and olive oil, and says just mix and leave to dry. I could do that.... I think.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cottage cheese

Despite the enormous attractions of the chicken tractor book Sue tried to lead me astray with, and the fact that Bill was catching trevally down at the wharf, today was largely devoted to moving the book on 3K more. And B making our first batch of yoghurt cottage cheese, which has been strung up until it goes Awey... or at least until the wey goes away. It's hanging in a cheese-cloth, from a hook in the ceiling, draining, losing its wey...

We(ie B) also made a batch of flavoured yoghurt (packet add water)with the easy yo device. Hmm. Well, it tastes more like curds and wey, than Yoghurt, or Jogurt or yo gert or even Yo ho ho. Perhaps some rum would improve it (I gather if you drink enough of it, rum improves almost anything except the next day). And, as could only happen on Flinders, we got a call this afternoon from the local Post office saying "I've got a parcel here that says keep refrigerated. It's hot today and I am worried about it." It was our yoghurt culture, (with two tiny ice packs) enough culture to make yoghurt bridge to South America, or to make me cultured (actually no, but that's because I absorb culture like I absorb dance. And I am to dance what a tyrannosaurus is to lace-making.)

Scottish Dancing tonight was rather full of the D team (ie Me) and three new people. Some of the dances resembled brownian motion. Others were a good example of inertial dithering. You had know idea there was that much science in this, did you?

And hopefully our James will be here tomorrow. We can't wait to see our boy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

chook house wood

Eeek. it's half ten and I haven't posted a thing yet. Cut some wood for the chook house. And wrote. 2.8K today, including some hard stuff. More tomorrow... Hopefully James is on his way

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Eish. It was HOT today. Unusually so, with a hot dry wind. And to add insult to injury some #$%#ing bird broke the lead shoot out of one of the watermelons. Still the book moved on. I have seeded a large seedling tray with artichoke seeds. I've also put in more asparagus seed seeing as the once I planted have shot up and are a good six inches... Okay maybe 5... we men are prone to exaggurate about length. Anyway, the grape (in a container) and the next pumkin and next rock melon went out this evening. Hope tomorrow is cooler.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Well, I have made two sublime meals with the artichokes either as side dishes or as part of the meal. Today I cooked a couple of small ones, took the hearts out, a did a dish of barley and fresh broad beans, with a bit of butter and chopped fresh parsley and mint - and chopped artichoke hearts - with wallaby meatballs. Eh, wonderful. The smell of the fresh herbs at the last minute on the barley was a feast in itself.

Yesterday we ate big artichokes as a starter - just pulling the scales off and dipping them in butter, before a pasta with calamari tentacles, clam-fritters and a little bacon and shredded silverbeet and a little fresh sage. The effect of the artichokes was to make the calamari taste almost exactly like crayfish.

Not bad for meals for two for under a dollar each - which is what I try to keep us to (these two were probably WAY under. Only the pasta, the barley and single piece of bacon got bought). A friend of mine back in South Africa - who also earns US dollars was saying how they were battling to survive and feed their kids properly. Other things here are very expensive, but at least we have cut food costs and still eat quite well.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bees, chickens and Artichokes (artichooks?)

Met the island beekeeper today, and it turns out he's an ex-zoologist. We chatted about the important secret things zoologists talk about - the sex life of invertebrates, just in case you want to know (the details of which are only for those initates into the inner circle who survived second year Zoology. Don't ask. I might tell you, and brain-floss is hard to get through your ears). Anyway, he grows berries (and honey) - might get a boysenberry cane or two from him. I said my dad had kept bees and I'd always thought I'd like to try it. He was really encouraging, said the Island needed more beekeepers, and he'd help me with a hive if I liked. We looked at Sue's chooks together, and I soon realised the core secret of chook-keepers. Every single one of them SWEARS by his or her breed. All others are inferior ;-). Honestly it's like AFL team rivalry. I want a bird which is OK for eggs and meat occassionally. Not for for being the best... well, not yet.

Artichokes are possibly my favourite veggie. So my delight today at getting some - all at the stage of take them now or they'll flower, was very great. I did manage to grow them with difficulty back in South Africa, but I've never had anything LIKE enough (enough in Dave's book too many to eat, and enough to pickle) I got some seeds too (from some that had already gone past the eating point), so hopefully will get some plants going. I wonder if they can be grown as a field crop :-)

First bell peppers (capsicums, sweet peppers) went out today and first cucumbers (the gerkin source) too.

Anyway, we got home from the chook-yard tour to discover the back door hadn't latched properly and our dear dogs (brought at great expense and heartache from South Africa) had emptied the garbage pail onto the kitchen floor, and transported the salt outside and eaten a carton of 2 minute noodles.

They were NOT popular.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glasses, cows and chooks

When we were leaving South Africa for this remote island of ours, my wife finally put her foot down and I ended up going to an optometrist - Moffat optical in Pietermaritzburg. Now I'm not good with fragile things (dunno why, you'd have thought coping with my brain would have trained me. So we decided to spend quite a bit extra and get Titanium frames, because as I explained to them, it's a expensive flight to get new glasses, aside from the hassle of not having them, and the cost of them in Australia. They must be the rolls royce of eye-ware 'cause I can't have them go wrong.

So if anyone happens to pop in to Moffat Optical in Hayfields... tell them I am waiting for them to fly over fix the darn things. They keep (3rd time now) losing a screw (different sides) and dropping the lens. No damage done, except I have to find and replace the screw. And about all I really need glasses for is that darn screw (I still have - just, long enough arms to read with. Actually my glasses have VERY light duty, and live on the shelf above the computer and never travel further than 1 foot from my desk. Barbs glasses are always on her neck on their cord and go everywhere. She needs superstrong frames, I don't. And actually cheapest low magnification supermarket reading glasses are easier to read with than these too.

Anyway - cows and chooks... someone planning on leaving the island is trying to re-home his 2 cows and his chickens. We planned eventually on both, but have been kind of holding off because the initial capital input is quite steep - and by the sounds of it you can spend more on the creatures' dinners than they save on yours. We definitely want MILKING cows - and these I don't think have been, although they are quite people familiar. The chooks... well I've a feeling there is a big learning curve waiting for us... Matters under consideration.

Late post...

Having worked to 1.45 AM to get the proofs in (which - when your day starts at between 5-5.30 is a longish day) thursday, and of course the dogs were less keen on this silly idea of you'd like to sleep in because you worked late (even with an eye-mask and the blinds drawn this is touch and go with me - I'm light sensitive in sleep, and will wake up if you shone a torch on my face, for example) and so friday started at its usual usual time. Surprisingly I did get about 1.4K done - but should have gone to bed early and been nice and fresh...

Yeah well. This is Dave Freer we're talking about. Willy Weather said we'd have 1 knot winds last night. He lied, but still, we went down to Lady Barron to see if it was true, at about 7.45PM where indeed the Trevally are all around the wharf. So are teen-age yoof and their music and entertainment on a friday night... (clubbing is a bit limited here) so, although B got one squid, we retreated to the flounder grounds, even if the water was riffled a bit.
We were alone there, never a good sign, as Bud and Rex know good conditions better than most of the world, and show us yoof ('cause we are, to them) how it is done. The wind ripple was a bit much, really. It was patchy though. Anyway. We walked... and walked - about mid/upper thigh water, maybe a kilometer or so. And saw... squat. Well, a 3 foot wingpan skate, and a trevally accomanying it.(I had a go at the trevally but missed). No I AM NOT spearing a 3 foot skate ... with a vicious barbed spine in 3 feet of water. Unless I killed it outright, I will get spiked, or lose my spear. Besides I have a soft spot for them, and the only time I had skate wing, I didn't like it much.) A lot of puffer-fish. 3 little garfish (scooped 2 successfully, lost the other due to having a go at the next while it was still in the net. duh) Flounder = 0. I was blaming the bright moonlight. At this point real doubt that you can actually see flounder is creeping into your mind - as well as water creeping into your toes. B's new waders didn't leak but mine do. The only comfort was we'd seen no jet-trails of flounder stirred muddy water either. Anyway we came back shallower because it's less hard work... and within 150 yards of the truck found flounder and squid. There is quite a different strategy to spearing both - Squid, I have found are happy to believe they can't be seen in perifery of the light.If you shine a light directly on them for more than a few seconds, they're offski... The flounder are easier - as long as you spot the eyes, keep the light Anyway got 7 and 2 squid (lost one squid before I learned the light-trick) and came home with my wet foot, and B just generally frozen. Then of course the fish still had to be cleaned and freezer/fridged. At midnight, it was done.

And so like woos I went to bed and did not post.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The next step.

Well, our experiment into salt making came to a grinding halt, and has yet to be restarted, but it will get there in time.

But our next challenge arrived today.

We went on a cheese making course before we left South Africa, thinking that if we ever got a cow, we could make cheese with the extra milk. So far we have a field, if we wish to use it, but no cow or sheep.

What I did not know, until today, is that one can use a yogurt maker to make cheese. (Alright, I will admit it, I did not even know there was such a machine as a yogurt maker.) So, we have been given a yogurt maker. I have read all the instructions, and hopefully tomorrow will be the first run, to see if we can make yogurt, and then to see if we can turn it into cheese. I am sure we will be eating the first few batches, before we start on the cheese production, but I am really excited to see what is going to come out of our kitchen in the next while.

The instructions also list all the wonderful ingredients and vitamins we will be eating, so we should be healthier, as well as fatter in a few weeks. I have a long list of tasks I want to get done while the weather is warm, so hopefully this will give me the 'get up and go' and the extra energy I will need.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

sew dangerous

B having finished her run through the proofs has been sewing. Braver men than me have been known to go into hiding when this happens. B likes sewing nearly as much as she does cooking. Only I have even less skill here. So much bad language has been forthcoming. Still we have a dive flag and a new dog-cushion cover, and various other tasks have been done. I'll stop tip-toeing around the house real soon too :-)

I've done another 2.1K of book and some more proof reading - only discover it's due tomorrow night. So now to proofs...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

more Proofs

Hokay so more proofs and 2K more book and I planted out the Scorzonera and the Salsify. Made a supper of some crayfish (spiny lobster) in a cream sauce and spring onions and sugar snap peas and some thyme. Would have worked better with tarragon. Still, very nice on jasmine rice, with a mango-carrot salad. We had brakpan slice for dessert a name which does not do adequate credit this passionfruit creation.

And now to work...

Monday, November 15, 2010


Hmm. I realise I just forgot to post anything yesterday! It was my writer's group late yesterday pm and trying to get my wordcount done last night, posting got away from me. The writers group continues to be a fascinating insight into different lives and backgrounds (Nik for instance is Indian and his descriptions of India are incredibly vivid and real). It's also great seeing how the guys progress - me too, I hope. I keep learning stuff. To add to the time issue, I've just got the page proofs for MUCH FALL OF BLOOD. I've been frantically planting out seedlings but need to clear some space and prep some planting area for the melons and pumpkins and sweetcorn - no room in the garden for those. And we need to get some kind of LARGE planter for the grape plant.

We went down to try for squid, but the wind was too hectic, although the tide and time is right.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

waders and veggie hampers

The wind in the willows.... well everything tonight. Blowing snot out of your ears if you face into the breeze. Been an interesting day - we went to 2 garage sales - couldn't have been more different (the first was a resell everything we bought at garage sales sale. In a garage with lots of junk and eggs for anyone who came to buy. At which we found some $10 waders for B and combustion stove-top kettle and an icecream scoop (lost ours moving over) and some more plates-not-for-smart. The proprieter's partner was sitting drinking beer at 9 AM. The second was terribly smart and not in anything quite as lowering as a garage and had nicky-knacky clothes and scarves and bits of pottery... well, B found a couple of bargains, and then we had to rush to the Church fair (at which everyone takes a stall) and I had to drop in my various slices... there were books, plants, cakes, frilly hangers (what is the difference between a male hanger and female hanger? Um Don't answer that!)and there were I think 8 raffles. I bought some tomato seedlings, and B some raffle tickets...

We should have bought a lotto ticket instead because we won the veggie hamper. I have to laugh. Never won as much as a slice of cake before we came here. It includes a store bought chicken which will be a shock for us! It's like store-bought cake...

And some person left a roo-bar just inside our gate. We need one, but this one won't fit, sadly. Nice thought though. It's aluminium which makes - I think - it quite hard to alter. Anyway, that's Flinders. Now to find out who it was so I can thank them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

kitty channel

For the cat owner who wants everything of best for their darling putty-tats. A new startling reality channel... Our three were utterly rivetted to the box, watching it this morning. It took me a good 15 minutes (I was making rolls, slice etc) to work out that actually they were watching the glass of the combustion stove, intently, and not the TV which wasn't on, anyway.

They looked for all the world like three ladies glued to their favourite soapy.

There was a starling inside the combustion stove fluttering in front of the glass. (it was far too warm for a fire).

I was able to just open the door a crack and reach in and grab him, before the next inevitable act in the little drama took place (ergo, a cat - trying very hard to wriggle past me, into the ash... and a sooty bird whizzing around the white curtains (John's not ours. We would never buy white curtains) like a sort of demented ash-bomber. Anyhoo, it didn't happen, and I was able to liberate it outside to ash-bomb its gum tree and fellow starlings.

The cats were very disappointed in me.

I had to get some ingredients so I zigged into town and did a drop in on Bill (and my new hairy girlfriend Molly - a great Dane cross Irish wolfhound) - who has a device I sorely envy - to whit an electric knife sharpener. I have to admit I'm useless at sharpening knives. Some people have it, some don't. I don't. He also made my day by giving me a rocking knife board. We'd hunted Melbourne flat for one. For cutting fresh herbs, there is nothing finer.

It has been the hottest day I think we've had on Flinders -- the kids went swimming off the pier this evening. We went down to try for squid (the tide was past, but the weather was Sultry. I got a couple, but it feels like we're in for the mother and father of all storms. I was informed the Barometer is falling fast. Got to catch it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And I thought yesterday was busy!

Today we got up early, loaded up two friends and headed for the beach. We went up to West End so that Dave could dive for abalone. He was shown a new spot by one of our friends but decided to dive in his tried and tested spot, as he would be diving alone.

He got his 10 abalone, and while he was out the three of us fished. For one of the gents it was his first attempt with a fishing rod, and I wish I had a pic of his face with his first fish on the hook. Unfortunately it was too small and had to go back, but I gave him the Australian Salmon I caught, as a consolation prize. (Yes, I did tell him that they do not freeze well, and he had to eat it tonight.)

The salmon gave me a super fight, and our unfortunate friend was dancing from side to side of me with the landing net, ready to catch it, as the fish zigged across in front of us. Still it all ended well, and I got a Wrasse to keep the cats happy. Just at the last we tried a hole Dave had found diving, and if I am prepared to get wet to fish, it should be really productive.

Unfortunately we were on a time limit, as I had to be back in town to collect the Meals on Wheels at 12 again, so I dropped off the three men, and just made it in time to deliver the food, but with no time to go into the house to change. I had been using squid for bait, and I could smell it, but none of the recipients noticed, I hope. Or they were too polite to say so!

Then it was back home to help Dave with the abalone, rinse the wetsuits, eat some lunch and head out to the show grounds to help set up the tables for the fair on Saturday. We took a while to get in, and then carried tables hither and yon to get them into the right place for the stalls. The birds seem to live in there between shows, so we also spent some time sweeping and cleaning tables.

I rushed back home with 10 minutes to spare for a shower and food, before meeting our boat fishing buddy for some stick shift driving practice. The plan was that I would drive slowly around a field and he would load hay bales onto the back. Dave made me a delicious snack, and then came out with me, to see where I was going to be, so he could fetch me home in time for dancing tonight.

So as it was only one field up, and one across, from where we live, he came out with bare feet, and in shorts and a long sleeved T-shirt. Once I started driving, Dave naturally started to help with the hay bales. So, I can definitely say that, in order to load hay, you need gloves, thick long pants and shoes!! Still we got it all loaded up in record time, and I can now have some R & R before we go dancing. And I am once more proficient at gear changing, or managing a clutch anyway.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


We had a friend in South Africa who was ex British Army. And I am sure I am misquoting, but his saying went something like, "Precise prior planning prevents p..s poor performance!"

Today I feel as if I have been running on the spot. I got quite a lot done, but a little pausing and planning would have saved a lot of running around.

I wanted to mow the long grass. I have been keeping the lawn mowed, with the brushcutter, but we have now decided to cut the whole area inside our fence, to discourage snakes and fire. I thought I would have a peaceful week in which to do it, but the days seem to be filling up with other essentials, like fishing, more work, CWA, etc, so today I needed to make a good dent in it.

I cut for an hour, but Dave needed the cream that had not yet come off yesterday's boat when he went to town. So I changed into smarter clothes and went shopping at 9am, when the shops open, and bought what we needed and then came home and vacuumed the house.

Then after a proper wash and brush up I went back into town for a small church service at the Multipurpose Centre for the older ladies who cannot make it to church on Sundays. I also collected a 'roo and a cabbage, and did most of a round for Meals on Wheels. Unfortunately one of the recipients lives out of town, and we deliver to her daughter, but she had closed her business while she was at a meeting, so I could not get in.

So I went back home and we cut up the 'roo for dog food, and gave each, very grateful, dog a bone, finished off the 'slice' ready to take in to town for the CWA as a trial run for the fair on Saturday. Dave had also made more Chelsea Buns for me, and as we had to take things to be sold at the market in Dec, he had donated one of his books. I had knitted a pair of mullimitts with wool sent over from New Zealand. (And beautiful they looked too!) As I was a hostess I also had to organise tea and coffee.

Once again I drove into town, delivered the Meals on Wheels, returned the 'eskies' or 'coolboxes' to the kitchen, invited a friend to join us tomorrow, and went to set up for the CWA. I discovered there were about 25 big boxes of books on the table we usually sit at, so I moved them to a neat pile on the floor, and put the 'slice' in the fridge to go on setting, and boiled the kettle. Then I discovered I had forgotten the milk, the mittens and the book.

Back home I rushed, dashed in and around dogs to collect what I needed, and got back just in time for the meeting to start. The secretary had been into the CWA rooms before me, had seen the books, and had decided to use another table. She was quite bewildered to come back and find the books moved, buns on the counter, but no humans around! Still, we had a fun meeting, with lots of laughs, and I won the raffle. A beautiful red tea towel, which is exactly what we need. They were one of the things we did not bring over with us.

Dave's food was well received, but they pointed out that the 'slice' needed to set better, as it would have to be eaten with fingers on Saturday. Luckily today we all had teaspoons to eat with today but it was delicious.

Then back home to do another assault on the grass, some of which is waist high. I made some progress, but I have put the completion date back to the end of next week, or maybe a bit later....

Now it is 6pm, and I am going to have a long leisurely bath, and contemplate how I could have managed the day better.

There is still sewing to do, and we are leaving early tomorrow morning, so I could begin planning for that...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tennis biscuits and purple recipes

Well, I kan haz another cheap landing net - after the prawn-net debacle (Squid jigs get caught in it) I went to Roberts to get some sweetcorn seed and there it was, after my abortive slice ingredient shopping expedition to the busy metropolis of Whitemark. (You can tell I'm backsliding into my cave dwelling Neanderthal roots, when Whitemark gets referred to as 'busy'. I dread leaving the island for the city.) In the city they have bananas and cream even when the ferry hasn't come in yet. But they don't know your name or try to help you figure what a Tennis biscuit is in local parlance. (Not a favourite, but in James's Tupperware cookbook there is a fridge tart which probably fits the 'slice' bill. It's from Brakpan. How could I go wrong? (The instructions say that wearing a crimpolene dress is essential, otherwise the recipe may not believe you're a tupperware-selling-tannie from Brakpan).

Yes, now that you mention it the ingredients ARE purple. How ever did you guess? Now, I am sure I am maligning Brakpan. That wonderful sensitive cultured people live there and are terribly hurt by these vile nasturtiums* that I am casting. My apologies. I was mentally scarred by Brakpan as a youth. Thing is I am not a clued up enough new Ozzie to find a place there to mock for being shall we say 'different'( aren't these PC words ridiculous?) Ok. Own up. Who said "Flinders Island"? Humph. I know I brought the local IQ down a bit by coming here, but there are some very bright people here. We just prefer living on a quiet remote Island... which is really a sign intelligence and good taste (Okay so there is me as well. I just like it).

By the waffle you may gather the most exciting thing to hasppen today was the guy coming to read the meter. And a bunch of recipes for slices. And my fishing licence arrived. It was quite funny how defensive B got about what she imagined was a slight on our Postal service and the Fisheries crowd. "While you look at this! It's miricle!" I held up the new licence. "What is it?" "They posted my fisheries permit card." "Well," says B hackles rising, "It hasn't been that long." "That's what I mean. It's a miricle. It's been less than a week, and I've got it! It got posted and arrived..." No sarcasm. It really is something that still amazes me.

Ok you probably have to have experienced the South African department of Home Affairs and the South African Postal Service to appreciate how different this is, just like you have to have been stuck in Brakpan (as I was as a young conscript, trying to hitch a ride home for a weekend pass) to appreciate the significance of purple pudding from there.

I am sure it will be delicious.

*nasturtiums _are_ vile. Bitter and peppery. Aspersions on the other hand are quite tasty if boiled briefly and served with butter. Yes, actually I do know I am being silly. It felt like a good day for it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

slice 'n dice

I've committed myself to making a 'slice' for the church fair. Now I thought this meant a kamikaze slasher movie attack on anyone about to buy a saveloy (a mercy killing, your honour) but it turns out this is a sweet thing to be had with tea. ("May I give you a slice of jam and pecan tart, Mrs Jones?")

This is not really my area of cooking. At all.

Would a key lime pie count? Black satin pie? Banoffee?


The trials and tribulations of a lost South African amatuer chef.
What's wrong with a nice bit of squid to dunk in their tea? ;-)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Turning over compost and eating (not the compost)

The wonderfully informative piece on fast composting (which told me less than i needed to know) did say I needed to turn over the pile. I considered merely standing on my head and looking at it upside down as a good approximation, but then, knowing my veggie soil needs it and James needs a lot of feeding, decided to do it. Conclusions. 1)It's a long way from compost. 2) It's heavy.

Perhaps not the right task to take on after the 4 hour Italian style lunch Wanda fed us, but as I came home weighing about twice what I left, excercise was called for. Eh? what did we eat? Well, stuffed olives, gorgozola and pate and biccies then tortellini and a home-made pasta sauce (gnocci with gluten free flour does not work) and then roast lamb and veggies, and then tiramasu and then coffee and choccies.

Most delicious. Do not turn down an invitation to eat there, ever. Do NOT have a biccy or two at tea. Hold back on gorgonzola even if you love it as much as I do.

No. I will not have a last mint thin!!

It's raining spit-spots and I shall write for a while and take my over-stuffed stomach to bed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Alas, no camera!!

We had a really beautiful morning out, with 2 friends, on a seacliff. The sea was like coloured glass, the sky washed clear and blue, and none of us took a camera!!

The 2 'guests' were doing their first rock climbs, in idyllic surroundings, and there is no proof that they actually got up any of the routes they attempted. (Which they did!) Life is so unfair. They will just have to come again, when the weather and sea are just as perfect and do it again.

(Also they might choose a day when one does not have to perform in the evening, and the other does not have a 80km cycle the next day!)

But despite the lack of evidence, they said that they had actually enjoyed the morning, so I hope the bruises do not show on stage tonight, and that the stiffness does not prevent a long cycle tomorrow!

Dave also climbed a route, just to show that it was possible, but I stayed on solid ground, and just did some instruction yelling, and some belaying.

Unfortunately the weather had not looked so good at home, so we had taken no diving or fishing gear with us, but we had a wonderful morning all the same.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Alas poor writer...

I've been a bit muted lately, burning the midnight keyboard. Well, the reason is fairly uncomfortable - I have to try to earn a living, and I get paid in US dollars. Like most writers (I've seen occasional scathing comments about 'greedy authors' re the price of Australian books. For the record: from that paperback you just paid an eyewatering amount for... I got 64 cents, US cents - 63 Australian cents right now) we don't make much money. While I enjoy writing and work rather hard at it, it's a fairly marginal profession. Breaking even for us, even though we live very frugally, requires three things. Firstly, that I get paid reasonably promptly as I am the kind that stresses about money and battles to be productive when I am worrying about how to pay the bills, and the cushion is not large. As anyone who has ever been involved will tell you, publishing is always very slow about paying turn-in or royalties. You're looking at 2-5 months, and royalties only start after a full 6 month reporting period - meaning you can only see that money as much as 13-14 months after the book. The crowd I have mostly published with are quite good about being prompt on initial signing money (about 1/4- 1/3 of what a book will earn). So the first point is always rather doubtful. It goes with the territory, and that's the way it is. The second factor is a slight premium on being paid in US $ when the currency exchange is in my favour. It's not, right now (needless to say, nothing has got any cheaper, though). This also doesn't look like it'll change in short order. It could be worse, I could be in South Africa where galloping inflation on medical, insurance and unavoidables like electricity and municipal rates were killing us, which, when you add that to what amounts to income deflation, ain't pretty. In times when the local currency was stable or getting weaker... I at least didn't lose money while I waited to be paid. The third factor is keeping it all ticking over - if you're in a cycle where, yes, they're late, royalties are 18 months late, but it doesn't matter that much because you're getting paid at regular intervals, although it's money not from the book you've turned in but the one before, and royalties from the one two back. I really have to write two, to two and half books a year to earn a bit less than Tassie average wage -- and I'm not at the bottom of the sales scale... I've just been glad to be able to do something I love and we're just careful with money and get by. But it's hard, constant work - which got royally screwed up by the GFC and then us emigrating and all the drama associated with that and my mum's death. I'm behind. What's worse is the new contracts... just aren't. We have a two year hiatus there, and I'm down 3 books under contract, one of which I am busy with. Several things are hanging in the wings, but none have finalised.

And then finally things have all come together in bit of a perfect thump. I finally got the turn in money for the last book - July I think.(now fair enough, it's a co-authored book, and it's not just me they were waiting on) But instead of paying electronically as usual, as they're supposed to... I got a cheque. Which I gave to the bank. Who called to say... two months to clear a foreign cheque over a certain value. As you may be aware the currency situation between when I turned this in and now already means a pay cut of 20%. By the time this finalises? Who knows. But it's not going to be good. So between the bank and the slow paying, the exchange rate, and the hiatus in my production and contracts, things are not at their best.

I'm battler, and not a quitter. I can do nothing to make publishing in general change the ways of the last two centuries. I'd be a fool to waste my time trying. I registered a complaint with the bank, and they changed their tune slightly to 6 weeks. I can do nothing about the exchange rate. So I'm working on the only angle I can: I got onto Eric (my co-author) and Mike (my agent) and we're working on finalising ANY of the outstanding deals. Eric is looking at another (the final) Karres book, which has been agreed to in principle, just not signed yet. Mike is following up on STARDOGS - which is finished and they've been hanging onto, and the possibility of a prequel to SLOW TRAIN TO ARCTURUS. I'm pushing to finish the Steampunk YA thing Mike thinks he has a buyer for, and DOG AND DRAGON, for which I can at least get into the wait for turn-in queue. I'm also looking at other avenues. I've a collection of shorts coming out as an e-book on Kindle and other formats, I've got SAVE THE DRAGONS sitting in the US with Baen (one of those deals we're waiting on). I'd like it come out in print (I owe people people copies when it does), but if they don't move soon -- I'll do that as Kindle/ ebook too. (where, BTW I get between 50-60% of the cover price, depending where people buy it, as opposed 8% of the US paperback price for paperbacks).

But the reality is, unless some of these (and not just one) come through very soon, and the exchange rate does not go any further South for me... I need to find another job (if I can find one, hopefully on the island), and write as and when I can.

Alas, poor writer, I knew him well.
Ah well. Back to swimming up the undertow.
Nil carborundum illegitimi.
But if I am a little more terse than usual, and the sense of humour is a bit sparse, you'll understand.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


A few pictures

Our boys and their buddy Charlie at the Hall ball

And a gull and the mountain

spot the gull.
It's a romantic tale of gull meets bouy and presents the bouy with a token of her affections.
Which is rather like my writing career at the moment...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We have a new convert!

We went down to the wharf for squid tonight.

A new island resident joined us. And having told us that he had done river fishing, but had not fished in the sea before, proceeded to catch more than anyone else on the jetty. I wonder if he is a poker player? Or if it was just beginners luck? Or his dayglo pink jig? But whatever the case, we all had several chuckles, (especially as he learned never to look a live squid in the eye!) and we came home with some squid.

I think we have hooked a new convert into the fine art of squidding.

He has also learned to gut them, now he just has to eat one, to compare it to bought calamari.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And there were no fish

It was windy and cold at 6 on the jetty. And there were no fish so I was back by 7.30AM. And I have worked and waterd some plants. And that's about all for today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dismembering 'roo and the great salt disaster

Well, I am getting better at deboning a wallaby. Still not good but better than my first inept fumbling where I rather expected to find fingers in the meat.

The salt-making experiment due to my impatience ended in disaster - the level wasn't dropping (due to laziness on my part, not carrying it into the sun and too fine a weave cover.) So I transferred it into a couple of large pots and reduced the water on the combustion heater. Unfortunately it picked up a metallic taste from the pot. So we start again. There goes a lot of effort and getting wet. Oh well, we learn.

I've put out some more tomato plants and the Siberian watermelon, and a pumpkin. I'm having variable results with plant outs. My zucchini still are not thriving. I know. Suddenly they'll all grow.

I've made some home-made blue bait - with salted mullet and fish oil. Still have to test it.