Friday, December 30, 2011

And more and more...

So the cats, so far, have been no hassle. Puggle found a wombat hole in the fence and so I have spent what time not hefting furniture... putting up an electric fence. Anyway tomorrow I will move my computer... we do not know how well it will take to that. And the chickens and Chookabago, and a lot more boxes... but I've run out of big stuff.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Moving cats and dogs

So now the nervous part - cat and dog moves. Wish us luck with the cats...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We've moved the rock

And the best part is having friends to do it with, who consider moving it a natural and sensible and perfectly understandable thing to do.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fallen from grace... fallen

Well, the roof, anyway. It was one of those the gutter gave way, the ladder top step has one one side attached, ladder did a dance and gravity won. No harm done, even to the gutter.I have a few scrapes on my arm, but landed on my feet, bent knees, fine. It's the kind of thing that reminds climbers that they too can fall from the simplest of places.

Anyway, the gutters are done -- just as well only now, the one was totally blocked and had a recently ex-rat in it. My life seems full of ex-rats at the moment.

The floors are now as varnished as they will be. Look much better.

I've dug over a bit more garden...

And I'm a tired little bloke.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dead Rat morning.

There is something about the delightful feel of a disembowled headless rat under your bare foot first thing in the morning to really set you up for the day. You should try it. I can offer the cat-headless-rat-provider, free! Okay, not really. I am very fond of my kitties... but the... shall we say vari-colored 1970's carpet in shades of yellow, brown, and orange is wonderful camo for ex-rats and is almost the precise shade kitty-kibble vomit. You may wonder how I know these things. It must be my infinite wisdom or something.

We had a morning thunderstorm this morning, which was rather odd, but did prevent me taking any more boxes out there. My back says that was good.

We finished cleaning and sanding the floor and put the first layer of varnish on to it. I cut more grass, and dug over more garden (in both cases only 99.8% to go. Don't knock, it, it's a start, and if there is one thing you can't teach a novelist, it's being in it for the long-haul.)

Peter arrived with Helen, Jock, maiw-maiw and the kitchen sink. Well, quite a lot of 'stuff' - including two really nice spears and some handlines for moi.

So all in all maybe dead rat morning has something going for it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

It's been the first Christmas since 1988 we've had without kids at home and the first Christmas since I was in the army without family. Anyway, the level of chaos is partially matched by moving house... we did get together with friends for a Christmas dinner. I took one of my tree-plucked turkeys with two different stuffings, and a crayfish. Christmas dinner off the land (and sea). A most delicious dinner - Alas poor Yoric, I knew him well... before he ate Christmas pud with brandy butter... made with brandy essence.

Then we went up here to visit Jamie and family - the view
With the rain and shadows playing across the land and sea exceeds my capabilities as a photographer. It doesn't help that they have a 270 degree view.

And rain about to devour the flats - where we will be living soon.

May the peace and joy of Christmas go to all our friends and family scattered across the world.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Well, finished cleaning and sanding one floor of the Augean Stable (Ok, no dung... Ah more like Sisyphean but with hard scrubbing and sanding, not rocks) and have 4 planks - of 38 to go on the second, and 18 on the third. We're at the point where things cannot really go anywhere into the carport-garage and one room we'd done, and now we need to finish the floors to move. We've varnished one floor (didn't need sanding), and now need to finish the three interlocking front rooms that desperately needed floor work.

Dead tired I was fast asleep when some dear kind sweet souls drove up to our gate along the golf course (aka the 100 metre driveway, with sufficient holes) hooting and yelling like bull-calves in distress. Dave - dressed as usual in bed (ie. not) leaps up to see if there is a fire or disaster. His wife puts the light on. Terrified by the apparition (or perhaps it was my nether end as I reached for a pair of trousers) the dear folk drove off, hooting on their merry way, having got the dogs, Barbs and me out onto the front lawn to wish them a merry Christmas.

Today we're going fishing. Need some more Flathead.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More loading scrubbing carrying loading... It was Barb's Birthday so I did some crayfish in a cheese and mustard sauce. Wondered why people eat it plain...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Galway bay

So there I was out Nangetty scrubbing the varnish off the floors making sure I'd never need those firearms. I've discovered the the wonder big empty houses. I have a fine voice, for the frightening of sea-gulls anyway, and I was working my way through the Corries, Clancy's and the Dubliners while working at the varnish. I found 'She rubs the sunlight soap around by Claddaugh, just to watch the suds roll down by Galway Bay' carried best.

There isn't anything left alive for a three mile radius.

I put on the new second hand cistern. The @#$#$$ leaks down into the pan just as badly. Serve me right for terrorizing the wildlife.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

No more nipping out for a quick one...

Squid on the jetty at Whitemark, that is, when we move out to Nangetty. Well, the pub will be just as far, but to very un-Australian, I'm not a big habitue of same. It's the Scots blood. I resent paying half a month's rent for a beer...

I've been writing a little, and scrubbing floors and moving stuff a lot. I took most of the rest of my collection of lumber - a flatbed ute-load (not bad for a bloke who had to leave it all behind when he came out here) over today.

I'm sure that the east coast will have squid and there will be other temptations there... but I'll miss the convenience of the jetty just here, and my mates calling (or me calling them) if the squid are in.

Took Molly for a walk today... My k9 bit on the side, as her dad is away. Poor little big dog. She sat on my foot all forlorn, when I came to take her out.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scrub that.

Today was possibly not a gifted choice of days to use Peter's ute - with a roof-rack to transport my beehive planks and a workbench top. It is, as you may possibly have gathered, sometimes just a little breezy here on Flinders Island. Driving into a half-gale (and later, worse, across it) with a lovely big wing on the ute roof... I was wondering if I'd see King Island from the air before blowing half way back to Africa. It was not one of my fast trips, with the ute hopping like a demented rabbit.

Now, Nangetty has huge North Facing windows... well, huge windows, but the entire North wall is glass from mid calf to over head height, with little bitsa wall between. Lovely for winter... not very good for the varnish on the wooden floors, or the rubber seals on the windows. We've tried to get the only guy on the island with a floor sander, to no avail so far (Piet-promises - to use an expression the South Africans will recognize, and the rest of you can guess at.) So while Barbs was painting walls (and making the white turn blue with her comments about the paint the salesman had talked her into getting as 'just as good as' the one she wanted, yours truly was having a go at the stains on the floor with some Pledge and a scrubbing brush. I had zero expectation of any success, assuming only major sanding would work. I was taken aback to find it was working... because I was scrubbing off the varnish. Anyway, some hard scrubbing and several square meters are back to unvarnished wood. Unfortunately there are a LOT more square meters to go, and my hands are feeling quite raw and sore.I'm wondering about the wisdom of an orbital sander with a scrubbing brush attached by cable-ties... Need to keep it well clear of any water tho'

Page proofs for DOG AND DRAGON have arrived. Just what I need to help the writing and moving along! Ah well.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


My word... it's Saturday and I haven't posted for days. OK Thursday was one LONG day, moving the heavy stuff, with various friends doing a lot of helping. We're over half way with the big stuff almost all gone - we still need to move a big freezer and the sideboard. But the back of the move(and mine) are dented if not broken.

Yesterday I went out with Puggles and Wednesday, and let them run around the hayfield garden while I worked on the plumbing. The kitchen sink is now declared FIXED. The second loo... It's a cheap plastic (obviously replacement for the original) cistern. I've spent more time trying to fix it than I think it is worth, but I can't find one online.

In the field of the gun-license I now have my photograph taken, and will undoubtedly receive a card in due time.

Today B did some painting and I planted more plants, and dug out more grass, and wrestled a doggy fence into place around what is principally the herb bed, cut up fallen gum tree until I was majorly dehydrated, and then came home to find the final FINAL edits for CUTTLEFISH waiting. Rush-rush as Lou is off on holiday (and I need it out the way)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On an unprescedented scale

Well, yesterday I spent several hours with my hands down the 'clean' end of the leaking cistern at Nangetty. I say 'clean' because it may not have have the sewage but it wasn't clean, not by anyone's vivid imagination. The 'loo plainly runs off bore water, and that is full of calcium at a guess and iron - the layer of scale was only rivaled by the layer of red rusty goo. Now the idea was to stop the trickle of water into the bowl which has left a very ugly red-brown stain (that looks... vile) down the back wall of the bowl... basically the calcium and iron forming a layer...

Says Dave - "I reckon a bit of the scale is stopping it sealing properly. A good clean and Bob is your Auntie, a perfect seal..."



A good clean... and I realized that scale was all that was STOPPING it leaking much worse! The washer has gone so hard it just isn't sealing. And the needle and seat arrangement on the inflow is in much the same state... Calling Dr Silicone...

Today was the CWA annual lunch, at our place, with the major part of our move tomorrow... So two of us CWA widowers (I had to get out of the house, and another newcomer has wrecked one car on a roo, and lives far out, and is also part of our writer's group, which had its monthly get-together today - 2 hours after CWA) went off to fish for an hour at Salmon rock. No salmon, but our newb, who had never fished before was delighted by his catch of wrasse. To people who don't live here, the idea that you might get a fish every cast is exciting.

We have the big truck here, so will load some of the heavier bits tomorrow. It's a piecemeal move, as we still have a month's lease here, and a LOT of work to do there. I went up to my friend Peter's place and collected some things with wheels to make life easier... blessing every wheel. So we have a few extra people here helping tomorrow, and I'll just have to see what can get moved.

Not the family rock, just yet...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Well, the stove is un-wired, (We now have that modern invention - the wireless stove, good for sending news hot off the baking tray). The greasy object will have to be carried out and put in storage, and have its place taken by our gas stove. I've taken out the extra bits of makeshift wood that someone had extended the counter with to fit the much smaller standard electric stove, so we're ready to go. The fridge is in, the stove-space ready. The plumbing fiddling has been done to the best of my ability -the one 'loo cistern will no longer fall off the wall, and I've stopped the one overflowing in one way - but I think the seal at the bottom is less than perfect so it is slowly dribbling water into the 'loo. The U bend under the sink is missing a rubber gasket, and was also plumbed to take a dishwasher (we don't have one either) and the little inlet was simply left open when the last dishwasher owner (quite some time back, I'd guess) took it out... so in both cases the water has done the chipboard of the MDF bottom of cupboard beneath the sink no good. Nangetty was certainly a very lovely home once, but time and a sequence of bachelor farm workers living there have done it no good.

I've done some more cutting of the hayfield.... um lawn, and walked out beyond the water tank and discovered several holes big enough for errant Volkwagens, and what I think may be part of the grey water soak... open. Also some some firewood cutting... of the dead fallen trees. Add all this to some lawn-cutting here.

In between this some writing has also occurred.

Life is a bit stretched, although the weather looks good for diving or fishing tomorrow, it probably won't happen.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Waiting for 3...

Well now it's said that disasters come in threes so I wonder what's next? First off some friends of ours kindly came over to help us clean up the house at Nangetty... and left after us and locked the yale... to which we don't have a key. Then I noticed the brake light wasn't working so I had it unbolted - it's the kind that bolts through the bin, and discovered that it was full of water, and the globe had blown. Now, in order not to lose the nuts I put them and the blown globe down on a pair of crocs that were in the back. In the heel, perfect can't roll off and get lost cup. I dried out the light fitting and left it open to dry as best as possible. Barbs decided while I was mowing grass to tidy out the back of the ute, saw the globe, picked that up, and didn't notice the nuts and picked up the shoes... They're black and somewhere in 25 yards of grass and gravel.

Anyway, I have a collection of bolts I got from Peter, and in among them there were 6 nuts... two of which fitted... (blink). So, that's fixed. And tomorrow I go a burglaring our new home -- fortunately I think I've got an answer to that too, although after the swearing I did about it deserves a few hours of penance struggle.

Let's hope 3 is minor...

for our tea I made some zucchini flower fritters with ragi flour (finger millet), with spring onion and chilli in them, and served with a spicy tomato chutney. Not brilliant, but quite edible for a gluten free thing.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hay, hay, it's Saturday

Well, we got in at midnight last night having helped Jamie with getting in his year's hay, 320 bales loaded, unloaded, and packed. My fingers are killing me today. It's an interesting process loading in the dark - clanky-cranky rusty machinery and trundling along the rows of square bales in the misty moonlight, the smell of new hay, the itch of new hay, the prickles of new hay, the new hay in your eyes, and shirt and socks and hair. I can see why the Footrot flats Dog is is the only one who likes getting the hay in. Still if someone claims to be your friend and can't see their way clear to giving you a hand one day a year... you need better friends. It went faster with more bad jokes with 4 of us.

Barbs banged her head on the shower soap-dish as she was cleaning the new house - on the same spot as she bashed it the other day on the car door, and then today got it bumped again at on the same spot at the car boot sale. I'm thinking of fitting her with a foam helmet. She's in bed with a sore head.

I'm really struggling to write with the upheaval going on. Anyway, Paddy is now safe in the UK, and James is in the queue crossing the border into Zimbabwe as I write, and hopefully all of the upheaval will be sorted by mid Jan.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The licensed motor boat operator

Well, I'm a licensed motor boat operator now. All we need is a MAST registration and an engine and I can take us to sea. But a step at a time. We went out to Nangetty today, scrubbing, cutting, planting. I'm going to lose a lot of tomatoes and some zucchini etc, moving house. I'm going to lose more working time too :-( But still I think it will be a good move, I like the place and it will save us a bunch

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


We'll be moving out onto a farm near Memana (on the east side of the Island, quite near Patriarch's Inlet). It's a bit further from the beach, and 20km from town (mostly tar)and will save us a small fortune in rent - we do have to fix a rather nice old farmhouse up as part of the bargain. I have been told it is out beyond Whoop-whoop :-) Well, that works for me.

As you can see the garden is... a little overgrown! The house itself was a rather neglected and grubby but I think could clean up nicely. It's a bit bigger than our present one, although I lose a little shed-space.

The Leprechaun and the Bootlace

You might say this is Flinders short story - seeing as it was inspired by my friend Bill's tale about his grandfather and the Leprechaun, and written for my writer's group.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Well, Barbs is a survivor type because she's been married to me for 30 years today

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Well my Amazon associates links to my books haves earned me 88 cents. At this rate I will retire. The wind is pumping again, and it's chilly, and guess what... I'm working furiouso. At 88 cents I have put in hours... :-)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

More Kindle...

Life has been a bit full and hectic at the moment. Various developments I can't really talk about yet. I've also been trying to get more shorts up on Kindle and Smashwords as training for the novels, and also to improve the cash trickle. The next

is up. It's a sort of romantic ghost story...

I have another 3 to go, and some that need work first. I'm interested to see how they get on.

I also did a session - and I mean a session, at the dentists today,with Alan trying to fix a rather ineptly done root canal, in which there was quite a lot root dead and left there to make me sick from years back. Well, hopefully that's over. We had two visitors who wanted me to pose as Father Christmas for their letter. Yes, I believe they're adult - at least if compared to me. We mocked the universe for a while and argued about everything ethics to allergies and several subjects not related to either.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

bang bang

Today I did the gun safety course, and the practical. It appears my Old Man was wrong and I can hit a barn door from inside, because I passed. And then we had about 30 people at Scottish dancing - very bouncy after too much sticky date pudding.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Well, hopefully Paddy is on the plane to England now. I have heard nothing to the contrary, so I assume all is well. Tomorrow I go for my gun license class. My word, is the instruction manual designed to send people mad and off to shoot the instructor thereby getting all firearms banned, and saving all this trouble? I'm not exactly a firearms expert, but of the 20 or questions asked - at 5 cannot be correctly answered with their multiple choice guesses.

Anyway, we got given some spinach, cheese and chicken sausages from Tassies today... shudder. Sorry, they reminded me just why I like to get our own meat and fish and fowl.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A bit jumbled...

The posting has been a bit erratic, as I have a lot on my plate and a lot in my head at the moment. The boys have just finished University, James is... somewhere. I know he's heading for Harare with Alana at sometime. Paddy will be off to England in the next day or so. I actually haven't heard from either (not surprising, their plates must be very full, packing up after 3 and 4 years living in residence, moving away from friends, moving to new lives. Anyway, I hope they're OKay, but at their age I was not exactly telling the Old Man where I was and how I was doing. I've finally got all the details to go and sit my skipper's ticket. I've also got my gun license course on Thursday and a fair bit of swotting to do for that. We're also in early phases of various possible upheavals in where we live. And to add to this we've had thunderstorms... my computer does not like those. Anyway, been working on some new stories, and trying to keep my head. I keep mislaying it. I found myself looking for my glasses in freezer this morning, and worse, finding them.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Solitary Man

Well, underslept and overfed - life on Flinders Island at this time of year. Friday we went wit the professional hunter and learned about hunting and gutting wallaby. I like his attitude - and am terrified by his accuracy and speed - so that was after midnight. Then Saturday I blanched 4 cauliflowers from the garden and froze them and we processed 4 wallaby. One for each cauliflower as it were. Then (after some work) that evening we went to dinner out Greg's place where we had entirely too much crayfish. I also made sticky date pudding (using spelt, not wheat flour) with butterscotch sauce, which was just too good not to be greedy with. And today we went to yet another friend's birthday bash, which included a great deal of music, singing, poetry and even dance. And of course odd food (they don't do -- I think it is -- flour and milk). Interesting for a change, but I am glad to return to our eclectic odd food that gets made from stuff out of the sea, or fresh from the garden or game... I like flour products, and enjoy milk products too.

It was all good fun, all people I liked, enjoyed seeing, but I found it was almost a sensory overload. I've had quite enough of 'crowd' (there must have been 40 people or so) for now. I long for our solitude again.

Fortunately, I'll get it :-).

Friday, November 25, 2011


I have something that many a young man wishes he he had. A young lady got into the car with me and then immediately leaped out and rapidly removed her clothing.

It's not something that happened to me before, actually.

Maybe because I had not had Barbs say "there is huge spider on your shoulder," to them. The point at which arachnophobia gives way to the realization that one has just stripped down to one's bra in front of a strange man suddenly dawns is very amusing. I was a nice bloke and stopped trying to rescue and looked away (laughing helplessly, I admit).

And then we caught some squid. Arthur, the Jammy beggar, went on fishing while we cleaning the squid... and suddenly I get a rather plaintive bellow for the net. We'd caught little ones. He got the kraken. We also had the sting-ray scavenging - about a metre from where we were cleaning the squid. His spine was waving outthe water like a sort of 8 inch long black stick. I shone a torch on him, and on the way back to the squid, shone it in a little puddle-crack that we use for washing our hands... and there was an eel in that.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We have a lift off....

The first short I have ever put up on Amazon myself. :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reptiles and soot

I finally got SOOT & CASSANDRA ready for Calibre (as a first step to making an e-book) and then ran it through the programme. Imagine my horror after days of work when it didn't work... well, back to the drawing board... and now I have a working mobi file. Not too sure about the epub.

I conclude chickens really are the lineal descendants of dinosaurs and just as stupid. I took them some cooked fish this morning, and greedy-guts boss chook stole the biggest piece out of my hands and ran off with it. So I gave the other scraps (less in total than bit she swiped)to the other two, so she drops the big bit and comes to see what she can get -- not much. And forgets the huge bit she's dropped. So I reach into the 'bago and take it... and she does the same thing again.

Then I'm sitting wrestling with this html - yes it is simple, and yes I should find it easy... but there was a cat walking over my foot... only it wasn't a cat

It was this blue-tongue. The box is about 40 cm long.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Admittedly the next short story took hours, not days. Now to sort out the art.

The summer-squash race is on. The little yellow patty-pan squashes are currently in the lead, with one fruit at the size of my pinkie-fingernail. There is one zucchini too, also developing but it's about the size of a needle-cover. I suspect, longer range, that the zucchini will triumph. At this stage I'm still looking forward to them. I suspect this will last until picking gets to be a chore! We have small fruits developing on the cherry/cocktail tomato... do you think we may actually attain that wild dream - lettuce and tomatoes at the same time? Also have a fruit growing on the mini-capsicum. Most of the tomatoes are just getting bigger (and bigger) with few flowers so far, but there are some exceptions.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

more breads

It's been a day of tempestuous showers followed by sun followed by hail followed by... yes, well we thought we'd get all the seasons done in one day. I have I hope the Bolg.HTML ready for Calibre - as soon as I get the art for the cover. Guido Henkel reckons he can do a book in 15 minutes... it's taken me 3 days to do a short story and I'm still not sure I like the result. Still, I do understand more of it now, and I'm grateful for the articles.

I've been playing with bread again - a plaited part-rye

and a rhubarb brioche

Saturday, November 19, 2011


yet another beautiful sunset!

I have spent entirely too much of today wrestling with HTML to convert my short stories into Kindle type books (yes, you CAN do it from word, but it looks like a word document. I want it to look professional). I'm now stuck on things called entities, which not what I have been calling them.

Anyway, So I thought I'd write about things I know slightly more about. I thought about plants...

My seedlings are a testimony to effort and not to success...

Although we have just harvested our first ever cauliflower. It had a magnificent collection of slugs...

Well, maybe fish. Now I''m not expert or fast, but it struck me the other day filleting is quite basic, and yet buying fillets adds hugely to the cost of fish. And really all you need is a sharp knife. A pair of kitchen scissors also helps.

Methods differ, this works for me and wastes little and does not require much strength or skill. The key I find is cut on the side of the anal fin, to the spine keeping your knife flat against the bone. Then turn the fish over and do the same the other side. Now go to the dorsal fin, and putting your knife parallel to it (along the fish body, not using the point) cut in, using the bones as a guide, cut until you hit the spine. Now I cut with the tip touching the spine all the way to where the meat ends in the head. Turn it over and do the same. The fish is still intact at point. Some people with big fish like to continue over the belly, leaving the bones. I don't. Small fish or if I am feeling strong I simply push the point through the ribs near the head, and slice down through the ribs toward the tail. Lazy -or big fish I cut through the ribs from the belly with scissors. Once you reach the end of the gut cavity slide the knife point out of the cut you made around the anal and pressing against the spine cut down to the tail. Snip through the arch just behind the gill and you have a free fillet. Do the same on the other side. It is then easy to lift the rib bones on bigger fish or just slice off the belly on really tiny ones. The belly is the fattiest and often fishiest tasting area. The dark muscle next strongest flavoured. The trick is to keep the fish together until the last cut so that it supports itself. You should be able to see through the frame that is left - in the picture you can see the cutting board through it.

Skinning is easy - all you need to so is establish if the species you're dealing with skin best from head or tail (Flathead are easiest from head-end). Cut a little tag so you can hold the skin, put the kife at 90 degrees to the fish... and pull.
And you should have little meat left on the skin...

Friday, November 18, 2011

long way to a fish...

We didn't mean to go to sea... or at least I didn't think I was off into the wild blue yonder, and not for so long. I got a call from Greg inviting me to come fishing for Stripy trumpeter, and as the cardinal rule around here is if get an offer, accept, and it may come up again,if they like you. If you refuse, it won't. So as we'd only had a few scraps - and previously frozen- of what is supposed to be Tasmania's premium fish, I said yes thank you very much. Until you've done this sort of thing, you just don't know what is involved. I should have done more homework. I assumed it was the two - or maybe three - in Greg's dingy. Well, the boat we went in was 25 foot long, and had two 150 hp motors, and cruised at 53km/h. And it had all the bells, and whistles, and then some whistles on the bells and bells on the whistles, and a bigger screen for it's GPS and depth finder than my computer screen and there were four of us... and we went 30km off-shore to the 70 metre mark... well to a reef we never really found at 70 metres. Anyway, there we were at 70 metres fishing with penn-type reels and braided lines... and catching gurnard (which I've caught in 3 metres with a handline. Those rods and reels are hard work with fish at 70 metres and a brick on the end of your line... and sometimes even a fish too. We caught - for all that trip... two. I got the bigger one in the picture. It was 60 cm and weighed over 3kg, but that's not that vast! Anyway, the dolphin were magnifcent -until one managed to get snagged in someone's line, frantic uplines and following it to free it (it wasn't hooked, just tangled a loop around it's tail). I hope it was OK, poor beastie.

That was followed by coming inshore and diving - which was more successful. Got our quota.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ok so a proper post tomorrow. I left at 7.30 AM, (having been up since 5 AM doing chores and preparing stuff) and got back 8.00 pm - and did 120km at sea in the interim. Result 1 stripy trumpeter, and a silver morwong and 3 crays. Then an hour and a half of Scottish dancing. Now bed

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I cain't get no... salisify

But I seem to be getting a slew of Salsify seed - the roots are pretty feeble (one eats the roots of the 'oyster plant') but they're out in large purple flower and seeding copiously. A lot of my veg seems to be heading rapidly to seed - silver beet, lettuces, broccoli, carrots and parsnips and leeks and spring onions bulb fennel and flatleaf parsley. I am doing my best with new ones, but it's a bit irritating having got this far with them to have breeding not feeding us. Still we have a lot of lettuce growing fast, some silverbeet, a few strawberries, and still have some peas and carrots. The Zucchini had its first flower out today, and it looks like I'll have cauliflower ready in a week or so. Tomatoes are out in flower, there are onions that could be harvested, and the garlic is looking promising. But we seem to bounce from glut to scrape along to glut... it's quite a balancing act.

Amazon Affiliates try out

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blue-tongues and mincers

I am a slightly happier camper (although still worried, in case it runs) about my dogs and the venomous reptiles. Puggles called me from my desk with a furious barkathon this morning -- we had blue-tongue on the back verandah. He was barking from what was quite a safe snake distance. Dear old Roland would have stuck his nose in it. Anyway, I gather the big lizzies and the snakes don't usually co-occur so that works for me too.

We celebrated the arrival of the mincer with some wallaby meatballs (which were delicious, in a coconut-cream and chili sauce).

Did it ever take the pain out of hand-mincing! Vrooooooom... done. About as long as it took to say vroooooooooooooooom. Peter picked it up at a garage sale, and what a find it is. The cat's fish - normally a hell of a process... happened about as fast as I could feed fish. Next task, sausages...

I joined Amazon associates this evening so hopefully I'll be able to get a commission on books people buy from the links on the site. Always room for hope, I suppose.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

that's a lot of meat.

Oooh. Ate too much, too rich... We had a very simple tea of crayfish (spiny lobster) salad, fresh lettuce (now growing slightly faster than lighting speed) and half-rye bread.

Even by my picky standards it was bloody good. Australia - or Flinders island in particular, is forcing me into changing my ideas about crayfish. Picking the meat from the bodies and leg bases was one of those 'ought to do that, but it takes a lot of time for very little meat'. We didn't even bother with the legs much, and if anything turned the whole thing into a crayfish bisque.

I went diving this morning with my regular partner, and we went to a nearby little limestone reef. We had the most appalling beach launch with a good third of the ocean ending up in the boat. Wet clothes, Barbs got soaked as I tried to turn the boat around into the waves, with water breaking over the stern and side, before I got it bow in. I only saw 3 crays - 2 on the small side, and one thumper that I caught. Pleased to have at least got something, I went back to the boat and found my mate had also only got one - its twin brother. They both weighed over two and a half kg apiece, so even one cray is a fair amount of eating. It was nice diving, shallow enough for me to feel comfortable - 6-7 metres, and with interesting formations and lots of pretty sponges and some small fish I didn't know (yes, I still love looking at fish) and some very large sting-rays. Pleasant, pretty diving, not washy-scary might get stuck in this weed/crack etc, which is maybe why I saw so few crays. When we got out - the perfect painless extraction to make up for the launch, we went to his place, to cook the crays. I wanted to try my new pot, but he wanted a hand with his brakes, and keeping my dive partner alive won. So we made a fire and cooked the crays, and then he decided he'd ask me just to vacuum pack the tail and keep the legs and feeding claws for his tea, seeing as he'd kinda modified his vacuum packer with a pick-axe. Yes, really. I offered to toss the cray debris out with all of ours at the tip as he didn't want the body.

So after I'd vac-packed ours and his I was left with bodies. Leg bases and gills and the extra little feeding palps etc. I thought well, I ought to be constructive and pick it, like one does to crab...

Well I ought. And will in future. The tail meat weighed 900 grams - 2 pounds, for each cray. The legs and feeding claws, another 300 maybe. And the meat from inside the leg bases - 2 crays admittedly, came to 765 grams. We had roughly half of that for our evening meal, and Barbs and I were both stuffed to the back teeth - it's very rich.

That's a lot meat to chuck away.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

the tea-boy

Well it was the local fair today, and I got straight-armed into being a tea-boy on one of the stalls. It was very quiet, even for the island. Still it's a bit of a family event, with your various friends and acquaintances all showing up for a range from polite social chatter (those you don't know too well) to the normal smiling barrage of insults from you do. I was rather taken aback by one newcomer who introduced himself and his wife and kids as having bought on the island because they'd read the blog. Nice folk. In repayment I gave his toddler a useful wooden coffee stirrer to - as his father suggested, stick up his nose. All part of keep the island - or at least our doctors - working! I think the local tourism industry and property merchants should pay me a commission, or at least take me fishing in repayment. I'm cheap at ten crayfish and fifty flathead a year... seriously, those I catch myself. The King George Whiting, stripy trumpeter, yellowtail kingfish are the learning curve targets for the next year or two. Now if Peter finds me a Seagull for the zoodiac I can pop out to continental shelf and catch blue-eye trevalla and tuna and a few marlin... Put that 'phone down. You don't need to pre-emptively call out the the SES! The Zoodiac's future is very much an inshore vessel, even if theory has Craggy island quite close. If we ever do those sort of expeditions we'll do them as a little gallant company of vessels.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's the 11/11/11.

My parents and Barbs parents served in the World Wars. May we never come to that again, and let us remember what they opposed for us.

I was feeling a bit off-colour yesterday and today. To whine, it's always hard finishing up a book. Hard pushing... demands on my mind and body and family life, and then very little in the way of reward for some time. No feedback from readers for a long time. Even merely getting paid usually involves a lot of nagging. I thought I'd set up an Australian US dollar account yesterday so I could start going direct to Kindle and finally do something that I could have direct input and view of, and get 70% instead of 8% of the sale price. It's not of many copies, but it's cash coming in, hopefully for some years... only to have Westpac tell me that would be $50... a month. It's just not worth it. So right now I am muttering in unadulterated irritation. It will have to be done by cheque. Which will cost me extra, and mean payment only happens if we're over $100 threshold every 3 months. And then Westpac will take up to 6 weeks to clear it - something which dates from the mailship era, before the invention of those odd little silver birds and the steam driven internet. What a bunch of useless bastards the banking industry is. Now judging by the US sales on shorts, that will happen. Those add up 100-150 dollars a month, split between Eric and I. The sale of the rest through Naked Reader... well, I don't know. But I'm guessing it comes to something (I've been promised figures, but really this is why I want to do this for myself, directly. No more having to ask, and ask and ask. I appreciate they're doing their best, and struggling with being too small for too much work, but I do need this.). The UK Amazon sales however... are pretty feeble. I would yet to have got anything from them for all the shorts that are up there (the electronic payment threshold is $10 -which means I'd have a few pounds trickling in, if I was paid that way, but it might take two years to get a cheque. Yes, more stories and it will get faster. The idea behind all this is to add a cash trickle into the account to help to slow the steady monthly bleed while I wait for the if I'm lucky twice a year inflows from publishing. It won't be a flood, but publishing is being slower than usual and not keen on buying... so we have to keep trying. Not helped by Westpac who suggest I get Amazon to change their way of doing business. They also suggested I get my publisher to do things in ways that make their lives easier... I give up with these people. Do they get that actually I need Publishing and Amazon? They do not need me. I suppose that's what it is with banking. They do not need you, there is always some other sucker.

Anyway. Nil Carborundum Illigitimi
There will be e-books forthcoming from Dave Freer directly.
The hell with all of them. I will beat them yet.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We have rumbles

It sounds as if there is thunderstorm about. Which is quite odd, here. Worth commenting on, which it wasn't back in South Africa.

I must get up onto the roof and put a mesh sleeve over the chimney, as it has warmed up to the point we're not really likely to do fires again for a few months.

We had a really alien and exotic dinner tonight. One of those things that people eat in furrin parts... ergo, roast chicken. I discovered one I didn't know we had in the freezer and so I cooked it. We really have to get the raise chooks for meat stakes soon. In the next year or so.

I used some of our frozen apple stock and extra eggs to make apple Brioche

which I was quite pleased with. Pretty.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The pen is more mobile than the sword

I think I may have to kill the sparrows. I've been planting behind the chicken tractor, with varying success. The one thing that really has done well are cereals - wheat and barley and the peas - which a by-product from messy feeding chooks on new ground. The wheat and barley even out-competed the couch grass which is saying something. I thought chookfood and maybe even sprout some barley and malt it, just to prove I can. Grind a few handfuls of wheat, just to taste... But the dratted sparrows (and it's them - there are around 30 of them) pick off the grains just as soon as they start to ripen.

I went into the Post Office today to send some books and post other stuff. If you're a fantasy reader now is the time for letters from Australia - beaut stamps with fantasy creatures. I had to fill in the usual form declaring that the books weren't explosive. The postmistress's daughter (the PO is the bank too, in the other half) was busy so gave me my stamps took herself off to the cube where she was sorting stuff. I walked out with the letters and the pen... it looked like mine. But then had I brought a pen with me... so I took it back and asked. You know you're getting accepted when you get a "ha, have to watch you with the pens!"
The bank half wanted ten minutes to opening so I went to visit Bill -who was off at work, but I saw the new sparky and had a coffee with him and Bill's better half, before heading back to the bank to try and find out about US$ denominated account so I can sell my books directly from Amazon myself as e-books (Amazon will now, it seems deal with us dirty furrin types) In the bank the pen is secured with fishing line. "I just came to see if you had any more pens," I said. "But I see you've tied them down.
"huh. We were warned about you!" :-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

We don't spend much on food...

Well the poor people had leftover crayfish and some other seafood in a fragrant coconut cream sauce (with chili and ginger and...) Cost,68 cents for the half can of our bulk supply of coconut cream. Maybe 15 cents of rice, and a splash of other ingredients. Call it a dollar and a bit of electricity. With fresh sugar snap peas, red onions and spinach out of the garden and crayfish, squid tentacles and fresh flathead - all immersed for just long enough to cook.

Fit for kings. I wonder what they had for their tea. Bet it wasn't as fresh or tasty

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunset rain.

I took some sunset pictures - with the sunlight through the cloud catching the rain, that, as MataPam pointed out would make a great start to book covers. I'll use them one day, I hope. The final CUTTLEFISH was sent off to agent and editor at 5.15 pm. Haven't heard from either yet. Don't they get up at 5 AM on Sundays to work? I know I do...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wish you were here

(the season opened today, and that is a tiddler - 1.7Kg. But I caught it. And we had it for our tea.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I just wrote the most wonderful words to CUTTLEFISH

Well from a tired author's point of view


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

End of book side-effects...

"I'm concerned about Dave Freer. The author. He's... behaving strangely."
"Oh writer's do ma'am. And I hear he's nearly at the end of the second edit he had to do."
"But he's playing... music. And singing."
"Ah. he must be happy then. Is he too loud? I could have a word."
"Well, no. But you don't understand. It's Gaelic!"
"Oh MY! Have you called the police?"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Hmm. The more I try to focus on work the more Finagle's gnomes try to make sure I don't. This morning it was a burst pipe. I COULD have made it my landlord's problem but he was in Hobart, and I am an ex-fish farmer. Of course they have 'improved' plumbing since then (which means it doesn't work as well) Anyway, in my expeditions to turn off the mains (at the far side of the cow-filled paddock) I found where the large (as thick as my wrist) copperhead is living. He's under a concrete slab, which makes getting to him... interesting. Any ideas on how to get him out of there, alive or dead (I want him far from my dogs and cats) much appreciated.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blessing the fleet.

Flowers on the water from the wreaths in the memory of those lost at sea from the blessing of the fleet.

Every now and again, something brings the island, and the fragility of life here back into sharp focus. Basically everyone knows someone who was lost at sea.

The reason the national carrot growers association have not asked me to be their guest speaker

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I heard the dogs a-barking and went down to find Davo - neighbour, busy moving his cows into the paddock I keep the chooks in, which I've been using for field crops with mediocre success (my first wheat just got nailed by the birds, the grasshoppers are eating my potatoes and my pumpkins and my buckwheat) Still, there is a lot of effort there. This was something of a crossed line, as Barbs had said he couldn't because the fence wire was down, and he'd taken to mean he could, if he fixed the wire. And, as a few of the islanders do, he just went ahead without bothering to TELL anyone. Anyway there were some words said! We DO want the paddock short for fire season, and my cultivated strips are a basically 3 chook-tractor wide, along the outside of the garden, and he's got more steers than grazing. So I ended wasting a morning fencing that section off, just when I really can't afford the time.

We had the other kind of wallaby in buckwheat pancakes for tea this evening. Much more gamey.

Friday, October 28, 2011

One set of edits down

Ok, Dog and Dragon's edits are DONE - marathon effort, but done. One more - bigger job.

I cooked liver and onions last night. What made it moderately unusual is that it was wallaby liver, our own onions and our own bacon (and our own thyme). I soaked the livers in milk, which makes them less strong flavoured. The key I believe is to braise the onion (sliced thin) slowly in a cast iron pot, with the lid on, until they're melting-soft. I then caramelise them on high heat, add the chopped bacon, and fry the liver - cut in thin strips and dusted with cumin and flour and salt in small batches. Cooking liver well, IMO is almost as hard as fish. It's got to be JUST cooked -a little rare if anything, otherwise it tastes and resembles shoe-leather. Yes, I have been kicked in the mouth (quite ineptly, fortunately) so I do know precisely what shoe leather tastes like. Never bite the shoe that kicks you, it probably stood in something nasty. Away, Wallaby liver is slightly stronger flavoured than lamb, so probably not for those who don't like liver.

Tonight I ventured on broccoli stems in tempura batter with a sweet-and sour chili and ginger dipping sauce. The batter was not a success. Need to work on that. The sauce was a bit salty, but nubbly all the same. It was actually good with the fish and chips too. I drew the line at having it on the salad!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Busy times... the next while may be very pre-occupied with this trying to make a living stuff. I have the edits to DOG & DRAGON (arrived today) and the edits to CUTTLEFISH due soon.

Last night we went out on a sadly wind-rippled evening hunting flounder, and tonight we have the opportunity to go with someone to shoot wallaby. I'm doing as much learning as I can, and one simply does not turn this down, because opportunity seldom knocks twice here. Carpe diem (a carp a day? I really don't like carp) with both weather and people, rules.

I really have to do something about my spears and heads for same. It's that or believe I've lost it. I had three failed goes at one squid, another at another, failed two attempts at trevally, and failed another at a skinny fish (not sure what it was). And I hit (at least some of the time) but failed to penetrate all of them. We did get 12 flounder - but that is thrust onto a hard surface. I did see an advert for bulk 'paralyser' spear points some time back (We use multi-prong spears, each with 5 points). Mind you, the one i was too nervy to spear properly as it was over a big sandshark. It was our night for them, and they'd wreck my waders.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A day that had seen rain...

We've had a day of rain. And lightning. Here it is unusual enough to comment on. Back in South Africa afternoon thunderstorms were an all-too-regular feature of summer, and very hard for a working writer. Something had the dogs very uneasy last night and they had me out of bed far too many times. Yawn.

I made barley and wheat rolls today and was seriously unimpressed. I'll have a go at barley bannocks but I think that may join the list of flours that I do not need to own.

My summer plants are growing reasonably well--It's an endless tail-chase trying to get everything in and up in the warm season, especially with the melons and pumpkins. The seeds are up, they just need to get bigger.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

When going to lunch with our Polish friends, bring an extra stomach, and maybe a third tin-lined one for the vodka. We had quail, smoked Australian salmon, smoked trevally, and muttonbird, and salad... And beer at lunch time (which is sudden soporifia for me). And we got there at twelve and home at three, for a 'quick lunch'. Still, it was a lot of fun and great to taste yet another island bird. There are partridges and pea-hens and duck still on my 'taste' list, but we get there.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mince and sunset

Barbs and I minced - by hand - about 6kg of wallaby mince. It does make one appreciate minced meat as a luxury not just the lowest form of meat that isn't a dubious internal organ.

We were rewarded this evening by yet another spectacular sunset. I've seen sunsets and skies in scattered beautiful places, many of them stunning. But really Flinders has the most spectacular I've ever seen (the cloudscapes and dawns too). I am a very mediocre photographer, and I have a very ordinary point-and-shoot. I can't do them justice. I think it may come down to a combination of the exceptional clarity of air, which has blown uninterrupted across 2/3 of the globe, or the angle of the sun or something. All I know is a rotten photographer here can look quite talented. click on the pics to see them full-size.

I did leeks and fennel with tomato to serve with our couscous and fish this evening. It did not look as spectacular as the view, so a picture of the mountain instead.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Squeezed in a lunchtime dive with one of my mates today, and got my 10 Abs. Snorkeling for Abalone is a little more challenging - especially as the bag weighed around 8kg.

Put in my firearms license application today, just in case our wallaby supply dries up. I'm not too keen to have to do this myself, but if needs must I want to be able to.

And now to work.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Island earth in your bones

Another Island funeral today, another old islander come home to mix with the earth that was in his bones.

We chopped up several wallaby today - dog tucker and for us. I made some kebabs with wallaby marinaded in chilli, light soy, garlic, oil, and sesame seeds. Most of them fell off. Meat was interspersed with pieces of briefly soaked shitake mushroom. Still, grilled on a griddle and drizzled with oyster sauce, young broccoli in a dijon mustard sauce, and wedges of cold spanish omelette it made not a bad supper.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aerobics island style.

It struck me that I left the exciting parts out of the mill saga. You see the sawmill tractor had gone for repairs, which meant that several tons of log had to be moved with a crowbar and a chain on the front of the ute. Which um, is not too precise as the log does not STOP rolling until IT wants to. Which is not exactly when or where you'd like it to stop. And you can't stop a ton or two of log. Well, you can, but not without an ugly bloody mess on the nice wood.

So last night I was picking salad and hear a slight crunching noise. Wednesday is munching broccoli. Poor starved Labrador (for those not familiar with the breed, a Labrador is starving while its stomach will still allow the dog's feet to touch the ground.) And I have to share an office with her...

This morning had the great chookabago breakout. Or more a case warder idiocy. When I put their food and titbits next to the coop the boss chook sneaked out and stole some So now I put it in front. The 'Bago. stuck on a tussock and was not moving, so I gave a big lift and heave which ended up with the food inside the 'bago. So now I had to go in and fetch it. And I didn't shut the door because they were so busy eating the spilled food, they'd stay there. Only when I got in, they gapped. And the door was open. So we had a little early morning chicken chasing for aerobic exercise. One in two out. One in one out...

The weather being perfect we decided to take advantage of just about the only day Barbs isn't working or doing various good deeds (meals-on-wheels, Island news collating, etc etc etc. My wife has 'sucker' tattooed on her forehead - or she's just much nicer than I am.) She had CWA and work at Freckles this evening so it was a short trip, as yours truly had made but not iced her CWA cake and still had to do the Chelsea buns. We went on past Trousers point looking for a dive spot I have heard rumours of. Barbs got smashed up by a big sweep, and I proved James was right. I need a flounder spearhead (easy to get fish off) and a diving spear head. (hard to get them off). I had the spear come out of a sweep, and a magpie perch. I speared another schooling little thing (to ID it) and another Magpie, but the abalone were few and far between. Only got three. I'm trying to stick to snorkling to get fitter. It was 4 metres and my sinuses bitched then and are still writing rude letters to my head. My new wetsuit kept me toasty though... except for one foot, as I left one bootie at home, and just had a sock on it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Today I got an education in how a mini-mill (for timber) works. I think it was a Lucas, but it made me green with envy and acquisitive desire. Most shopping malls have very little effect on me, but turning a Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress I think) log into 8 foot long, 1 inch thick six inch wide planks, did. If I ever make that fortune (a very unlikely thing, sadly. Authors in general battle and I'm no exception. I'd be rich for at least... a week. Have happy friends and a place of our own) the mill would come just after the land to live on. Anyway, I got a welcome to the Island present of a log now planked from the local miller and I thus have 11 good planks and another 13 I can get something out of, for my bee-hives. It's wonderful smelling stuff.

Also I finally have 4 decent tires on the ute. Hey, it's taken us 20 months to replace the dodgy lot of retreads and odd spare size that we got with the Blue slug.

I've put 3 Queensland blue pumpkin plants out in the paddock in their own patch of horse-manure. If you don't let on to them that this isn't Queensland, I won't either.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fridges for the poor people...

Yesterday was the school centenary and the weather did a display of turbulence for them that was appropriate to the changes over the last century, if less than wonderful for the organizers. Anyway we went up there and had some tea and cake, and bought two mutton chops which were the same vintage as the school but less cheerful about it. Sad. The island lamb is usual very good.

I see I am officially one of Australia's poorest 20% who earn 1% of her income(which is odd, seeing as we live frugally, but well) and Families minister Jenny Macklin proposes to spend 30 million to help me budget and give me a low interest loan to buy a new energy efficient fridge and a dryer to make up for the extra costs to me of the carbon tax. It's provoked rage about handouts to bludgers. Hmm. Well, speaking as a bloke who hasn't had any state handouts and isn't about to start, and has had to learn a bit about budgeting here is some free advice for Jenny Macklin. The place to start is not wasting 30 mill in the first place, because the the only piece of advice we poor blokes need is 'avoid debt of any kind'. All this will do is bump up the prices of fridges and dryers, and it's going to take many years of 'savings' to cover the expense of new things we do not need. Our freezers are - bar 1 - old and probably inefficient. But they were also second hand and dirt cheap. The cost of the extra power they use would take thirty years to pay the difference - by which stage they will have died.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In which we bag and enclose things

We've been sorting out the supplies of dry goods that we got over with Peter's container... Aladdin's cave keeps pushing out useful bits. We learned a bit about 'May settle in packing' while doing the flour today. It's full... shake it. It goes down. fill it more. Shake it. fill it more... add Bay leaves and pressure. I may still vacuum pack some. Repeat process with 20kg of oats, 10 of Polenta, 5 of Barley. We vac-packed for the freezer in smaller units the nuts (pine, pecan, cashew bits, almond, poppy seeds, sesame seed) These bits in small quantities lift the food a lot and provide some of the nutrients we may miss. I have sunflower and pepita seeds too - both of which I grow - but life is too short to crack sunflower or pumpkin seeds for salad. We have about 25 litres of cooking oil, and 10 of olive, and fifty kilos of flour (excluding all the interesting ones like Spelt, Besan, Buckwheat, Barley, Atta and Ragi -most of which I only have a kilo of to experiment with) about 25kg of jasmine rice, and 30kg of 'dog rice' and 120kg of dog cubes, 60kg of high protein chook food... and a bunch of miscellania - cornflour, icing sugar, couscous - all of which had be sealed from the damp and vermin. There is dried fruit and cans of tomato and coconut cream too... We do grow and freeze a lot of tomatoes, but that ran out about a month ago, and we won't have any more for another 2-3 months. Still, if the zombies can co-operate and come now, we're full of dry goods. Peter has made our survival out here a lot more plausible, and progress a lot more comfortable. Now... we either need a container for a store-room or a bigger house!!! (Peter has a walk-in pantry made from a little container that fills me with raw envy).

I made buckwheat pancakes (thin and rolled around a savory spicy filling with some soft spinach wilting under the heat of the filling and cheese melting with it) last night. Drizzled with green sauce they were truly delicious. However as photogenic material they looked like rolled pancakes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Show Day

It was the Flinders Island Show today, and we went to show face. Briefly because I really really need to do some work.

Yeah. Island life. It can take you an hour to cross a single hall, because you meet a lot of people who, naturally, NEED to see you. To talk. Ah well. It's nice be in an environment where so many of the people you see are friends or acquaintances. We ended up buying some more peppers (capsicums) and a vacuum-sealing bag machine. I suspect we will be enslaved to the bag makers.

And now I have let time run away with me with writing and need to go to bed.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

the Maiden voyage

Well, it's the island's show day tomorrow, and blessed with good weather today, we went on Peter's new boat's maiden voyage. Other than Barbs and I both getting spiked by flathead and bleeding copiously, and having to wrestle two port Jackson sharks off the hook (I refuse to kill or mutilate them, even if they are a PITA. They do a job in the ocean)it was a very good trip. Lots of laughs, lots of fish, and no major disasters with our trainee skipper. Rather different from Gerry Durrell's 'Maiden voyage'.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The rearing iron horse

When I wrote RATS BATS AND VATS - and made a small elderly vineyard tractor a 'hero' (dying a noble death too) I really didn't mean to inspire my friend Peter. He has a very elderly tractor called the foine wee beastie in its honor - and every fitting for it known to man and several not seen in polite society very often. Nym would be proud of him. It has a set of forks too, which have been invaluable in emptying his container... well, except that would be too boring, no? So he's added an obstacle course (of very useful 'things' - honestly the guy even gives me a run for my money as a junk collector. He had some very neat little gear boxes he's brought with him from dejunking their factory... They are neat... but... I asked him what he was going to DO with them on Flinders. He said he didn't know, but they were too good to throw away... I suggested they'd work as long-line anchors. He was not amused. I thought they might get used for braining brainless authors) and a steep slope... and some VERY heavy cabinets full of tools and stuff. We wheeled the cabinets onto the pallets and then moved them with the forks... until the uphill, and the 'foine wee beastie' was up on its back wheels (no, it's not going to flip. The forks and load are behind. But they're likely to slide off, if you go forward. And then there were the tall cabinet toppling sideways (arrested by some rock-climbing knots. I ended up belaying it to keep it upright.) Anyway with only minor disaster (a drawer that opened at an angle and showered the countryside in screws)we succeed. And we found the missing Olive oil. The tin suffered a goodly dent...Another few millimeters of pressure and it would have added 4 liters of oil to our adventures, and trust me, they needed no extra help!

Anyway I made 3rd night leftovers with the rest of the turkey - meatballs with chili, garlic, ginger, x-o sauce, and egg, breadcrumbs and part-cooked fine chopped onion - fried and the briefly sauteed in some coconut milk. Very good. Worth getting to leftover stakes for!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In which several more things all happen at once

The island is like this. All goes slowly and then suddenly you have a rash of incidents. Ann left this morning at 12 in the teeth of a howling wind. I think this will be the bumpiest of trips over possible. On the way into the harbour we stopped at the tasports office - and happened to see the beekeeper, Andrew, there. So I introduced them - her dad was professional beekeeper too... this must have made an impact on Andrew because he saw me later as I went to pick up Barbs and said to come around and he'd show me his set-up. So we did. And came home with 3 bits for me to try and make - An ideal super, lid and base.

And then we visited Peter who was trying to find a 'home' for an elderly computer - and we know a a friend who we want to get organized with skype to see her grandkid - so more 'swaps' to organize - we now have the computer sitting on James's bed. And then I went off to Bill to sort out a spare tire (we've got 4 new ones - only downside is 4 old ones have to come off for them to go on.

Obviously the idea of having another beekeeper around had been working on Andrew so he called me this evening to give me some sites that stock various things I will need... and talked for a solid hour.

Now I need to fit a tiny bit of work in...

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Zoo-diac

I have made an astounding discovery! If you hold the 'phone upside down you can't hear too well. Peter called just as I was bringing in the muttonbirds from their wall-flame-charcoal grilling. Our Harpist-friend wanted to experience island life, and that's part of it. Now, picture the scene. Dave, with grill-clamp of oil-dripping muttonbirds in one hand, and salt, bowl, knife, barbeque fork in the other... being 'handed' a telephone (our visitor and B are off to 'sing Australia' - the island 'choir' that meets at 7 on Monday so I'm rushing to get food into them so they can breath the delightful miasma of garlic and muttonbird at everyone there). We're only about a km apart as the crow flies, and I reckon both of us were shouting loudly enough at the inverted telephone to make it superfluous.

I took Ann up to North East River and Killiekrankie this morning, seeing as she's off on the ferry tomorrow.

As you can tell the island has been invaded by blond Ambulatory mullet hairstyles and she needs to escape. In the meanwhile she has been discovering how the other half live... well, the lunatics who live on remote islands and catch their own food live.

We've bought our boat... and by the torrential rain... we may need it. It's a very elderly 4.5 metre Zodiac, packed very carefully with talcum powder and still with the original french manuals (and it must be 30 years old). We still need to get an engine - although we have 3 sets of oars! All I need to do is make frame for them and we can use it as a war-galley... if I can get suitable galley slaves and a battering ram. Then of course we need to invite the Queen (or if she is otherwise engaged some other grate personage) to come and launch her. Being an airfilled and rather bouncy boat (which is best for rocks with amatuerish skippers) the champers is more likely to bounce back than break on the boat. The ramifications of the bottle bouncing back and breaking on the Christener's head need deep thought.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Roadkill dinner and a sign of zodiac

We had roast roadkill pheasant (not peasant. They are revolting, no matter how well they are hung) for our tea, along with Cape Barron Goose breast - a fitting end to our day. It looks like we're about to buy an elderly mark IV hypalon skinned Zodiac (hopefully missing the sign of water-carrier, and with the sign of the fish present - but probably the other way around.) A suitable motor will have to follow one day.

Then this morning Pete took delivery of his tri-hull, and at his rather bloody-minded mate's Dave insistence, we launched it at Whitemark in the mizzle and chop, with the former owner and did a very wet and bumpy ride and then came back to a slightly 'interesting' extraction from the water with a good supply of slopping waves and a vehicle sans hand-brake. Anyway, I did manage to do a hasty dash and hook-up, and we pulled it out fine. Only haste having been the operative word I should have either taken my boots off, or worn waders... There was no time for balancing on the shaft. My gumboots were full of nice cold water to go splart-splart as I ran. And I did run. The truck was doing a slow creep against the compression.

And tonight we venture on our first of the turkeys.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What a busy week

We've had not only our visiting harpist and filk singer, but Peter and Aladdin's cave of wonders being opened. We had the Whitemark community center RSL fundraiser Barbs organised with Ann (the harpist)and on Wednesday (late evening) then getting up at 3.30 on Thursday to go floundering (not windless, alas, but 4 flounder and an unlucky roadkill pheasant on the way home. Pheasant was injured and had to be killed so I brought it back and we did some plucking and drawing. This poor visitor from the city who likes SCA (Society for creative anachronisms:-)) and medieval reconstructions is finding the reality of hunter gatherers... different. I spent most most the day humping great loads of stuff out of the cave - having them handed to me by the 'lad' in it. (A lad in 's cave, see) and dodging the rain, with our new Florist shop. You didn't know I was opening a florist on Flinders? Tch. And me with such artistic flower arranging skills too!) I have a whole new supply flours for it, including Ragi and Besan. Then Scottish dancing last night, and I was exhausted. So no blog. Sorry.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

sleepless on Flinders...

It was one of those interrupted nights last night. We were due to meet our Filk Harpist at 1.30 AM - so we went to bed early... inevitably we had two phone calls. One to tell the ferry was running a half hour late, the other at 11.30 from our son in South Africa to say his marriage certificate had finally arrived - opened and tampered with (I keep saying nice about Australia Post. Now you know why) but at least it arrived. My kids can call at any time for any reason. I never want to discourage them. They're much more important than sleep... but it did add to a patchy night. Then we drove down and waited for the car to be offloaded, and by the time I got to bed it was 4 AM. Barbs needed to get up for work at seven thirty...

I took Ann up to West End and I snorkle-dived for Abalone. My sinuses whinged at the 4-5 metre drop but I did get a couple (not pushing too hard), and catch and shot a fish or two, which did me good, if it did less for the fish. B took her up to Walkers Lookout this afternoon, so I could do some work - because inevitably the edits for Cuttlefish have come in.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Laid loo

Ok, so when I should have been posting I was on the 'loo, being laid loo by a tummy bug. Fortunately it seems better today. The weather has turned warmer - well, the sun is out, and in it it is lovely even if there is still a nasty nip in the breeze - but I gather there has been quite a lot of late snow elsewhere.

Last night was cold but I didn't see any frost. Tonight is forecast still and clear again so it could an issue. Of course the tide is very wrong for floundering, and we're due to go and meet the Filk Harpist from the ferry at some unearthly hour.

I do like the summer-time clock resetting. I know some people don't. But right now it means that the sun comes up around 6.35, and sets at 7.15pm, which means if Barbs (or anyone else) is working, there is still a glorious evening of sunlight to do things outdoors. As someone who wakes at the light, it doesn't affect me as much but for the chance to fish or climb after work, it's a boon

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ja Manure, nee Manure, Three bags full Manure

This afternoon was the mission to manure. I've shoveled about 3/4 ton of 5 year old horse manure into the second raised bed, after an expedition to fetch it up at Jamie's place. I am less used to shoveling than I should be. But I reckon with another 3-4 wheelbarrows of sand added, this lot is ready for our warm season crop of tomatoes, peppers (capsicums), cucumber and maybe even eggplant to horrify my younger son (he doesn't like it, but I guess he is out of home now). I've still got enough left to prep the plant-outs for pumpkins, hubbards, melons, and the 10 new 20 liter pots. Of course they're predicting frost!

We set the clocks forward tonight, and I'm going to celebrate by going to bed,a tired little bloke, but well pleased with the muck.

Friday, September 30, 2011


B had to starve this morning before giving blood - having a follow-up on some minor issue a while back, (our two doctors appear to be very careful about this sort of thing. I don't know if that's just them, or Australia... but it's different) and to keep her mind from the subject of morning coffee, she was watching some terrible soapy on day time TV. I came through and listened briefly at it and asked 'Is that an Australian programme?' It was, but I wasn't hearing the accent at all. I rather wonder how my South African friends would find my accent had changed. I did notice Barbs' 'Kahr' instead of carr (for automobile :-)) but can't say I've noticed a lot of other bits.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's been raining again -- which is good for work, the garden, the cows etc. The chickens are not pleased and I can't say I enjoy it much either. I must be a fowl creature. Planted out lettuces today, and two tomato plants... now I hear we expect frost on Sunday.

Our dance instructress was off sick so the Scottish dancing was conducted by various dancers... including Barbs.

I see muttonbird oil has vitamin D in it. True enough in winter I don't expose much skin to the sun. Not sure if I can bring myself to drink this!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Art and taxes

If you're interested in seeing my favourite painting of the Island coastline - - the real thing is better still, the details like the tiny islands almost seeming to float on the horizon can be seen.

And we've just posted our tax returns. I am shattered. I think the only one worse off is the sequence of 'advisers' who passed me from one to the next, trying to work out HOW I was supposed to fill in their forms. I was on the phone for over 3/4 of an hour. I guess I just don't neatly fit into boxes...

And as I don't fit boxes, they ought to let me have my wish and be minced and fed to crayfish at sea when I die.

I am being cheerful tonight. It must be the rain and my cold. Or the lightness of getting that task done...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

new pots from old rubbish...

I've chopped 9 more I think 20 litre drums to make plant pots. If/when we do end up moving I don't want to lose my entire crop. My indoor seeds are sprouting furiously and showing my idiocy well - I seem to have planted onions in several seed trays with other plants... Ah well. onwards.

I have some flowers on a small tomato.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Frosts and harps

Well, it's very late, and my cold is making me feel decidedly yuck, but life goes on. I have some more Oak leaf lettuce plants to put in, and more plastic drums to convert to plat pots. I'm planting pots against the day we eventually move. One day... We had a frost the day before yesterday, which took out some of my buckwheat plants. Frost. Now? It was fairly windless and clear.

We had a call earlier to say our harpist acquaintance from the conference is braving the trip over here in her car - by ferry. So we'll be meeting her at 1 Am or so, next week. I hope the sea and weather settle!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Well,despite feeling a bit like a slightly underdone first course for a cannibal with a snot fetish, I went off with Barbs, Jamie, a friend's grandson, and Jamie's nearly 4 year old daughter, out off Prime Seal Island. My excuse is I want use Prime Seal as a setting for part of a book (which I haven't sold). I needed out, being a better real reason, but the fish were sparse. We got I think 5 flathead in all, but were treated to an acrobatic display by the dolphins - around 20 of them, showing off. And a passing seal came and waggled its hind flippers rudely at us. The young lad did get a nice Flathead, and loved the bouncing in the waves too, so all in all, a good afternoon, even if we have not much fish to show for it. We met our local divemaster (who is somewhat to blame for us coming here - when we scouted the Island, 3 years before we moved, before the whole immigration process started, we went and hired some gear from Mike Nichols and when we came back he gave us a cuppa, proving the lie of the South African anti-immigration story that Australians are unfriendly and will only invite you into their houses after you've been there for seven years. Maybe in the cities, or if you're a plonker who isn't prepared to fit in. But it wasn't true here. That, and chatting to him about the marine life, the diving and the island were all major pull factors.) So meeting us today at the slip coming in we got an invitation for a cup of tea and some chocolate cake (or staying to gut fish- guess which lost?) and in chatting he told me today he's got his site up, and I offered to put a link up to it. So: on the sidebar - my new Useful Flinders sites. Go have a look at the pictures!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


One of my odder short got put up as a freebie on Amazon - it's now ranked 27, and no.1 in fantasy - please keep it there a while. Go download. It's free.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Animated shirts

We do live in a landscape which is quite full of creatures. Sometimes the landscape is too close for comfort. I was crossing my paddock (where I have been planting, behind the chicken tractor, and saw a hissy critter. I won't tolerate them near the house and my dogs, but this one left rapidly. A good reason to mow around the house - at least you can see them. Of course they're brought by the mice. At first our cats wreaked havoc with the mice, but I think they're getting bored and fat. Robin in particular is good at catching them outside and letting them go... in the house so she can play with them... which does not always end well as she's not very 'ept' (actually, singly lacking in ept.) The last one had a topless lady in my arms as she'd lost it in the bathroom and Barbs noticed her sleeve of the shirt she'd been wearing... was moving. A mouse in her shirt made very sure that she was not putting it on. Compared to the last mouse hunt this was a breeze, as I just shook the shirt into the now empty bath until the mouse dropped out and asked for a facecloth.

I wish the dratted cats would just kill them. I don't want mice close to the house, for their snake attracting properties and their gnawing destructive behavior and little tokens. And the mobility they give to unoccupied shirts...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A bun is the lowest form of wheat.

Isn't it funny and not a little bit strange how when you're rushing frantically, everything that can make anything take longer, will? Don't ask how I still in the middle rural tranquility still manage to generate a large chaos field but I do. In theory the wind was not blowing today and I was going to fish off the beach (don't faint. I know. I've spent my life regarding standing with a telegraph pole facing the sea as a rather slow passtime, but I was supposedly going with a few gents who have a few years on me, and they like doing this. And I like to learn, and not always the hard way. Anyway, we had more wind than is a pleasant thing, so it got cancelled.

I sprouted some of my chicken food wheat (I wanted to know if it WOULD grow, or if it was milled or something) and it sprouted so now I have been putting in some wheat (and other things) out of the chicken food into the tracks of the chicken tractor. So whether I get wheat fit for harvest or possibly just more birds (hoping for chicken food is optimistic, as well as buckwheat and sunflowers and peas and garlic and potatoes and broccoli in the chicken tractor track. Most of it is not doing brilliantly, but it's basically if any yield, great. More like experiments. The main veg patches are still producing loads of lettuce, spinach, silver beet, carrots, spring onions, bulb fennel (out of season) and broccoli. I expect the first sugar snaps in the next few days. We've still got some leeks, and parsnips growing slowly, and Scorzonera and Salsify. I've got a little asparagus, and three whole red capsicums (bell peppers - way out of season) and some young tomato plants... My four artichokes are not choking yet:-( So even if the sea has been sparse, the land giveth.