Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wishful thinking

On the way to visiting Villa Cimbrone (in September) we passed this organic garden - if I hadn't been incapacitated and the rock walls hadn't been so high ...... I just might have invaded to enjoy the ambiance.

Last summer we grew some of the very long zucchini, only we didn't have the super-high structure needed and as a consequence the zucchinis ended up wandering at groundlevel.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My first bundle of joy

Scuse the pun.
Actually managed to leave it for over a week before opening.  Eucalypt leaves, silk rolled around a v small log, simmered in a dye bath of avocado skin. Interestingly, the bottom right corner shows the strongest avocado coloring, and that was on the outside of the bundle.  Then the bundle was placed in a plastic bag, rolled in newspaper and left to the vagaries of the weather.  And v strange was the weather indeed.

To be gifted to (Art)ifice for the creation of something interesting.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My new hands - or hands free - or pick till your back breaks

A friend recently made this great bag - sits around your waist and frees your hands for picking, pruning, carrying tools, whatever.

This time the bag is filled with broad beans.
 Want one of your own?  Go here or email Kerry.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Is it possible to distil essence of sweetpea?

I'm wondering if one could bottle sweetpea deliciousness, the way rose/orange water is made?

Portuguese Laurel bottom pics, pretty but no scent - think I might have had the lens on back to front, to give the circular format!
Taken with the iphone and muku shuttr - a kickstarter project I supported.  Waiting with bated breath for the next kickstarter project to arrive in the post - astro time lapse and motion control.  Plan to set the camera up in the orchard and record a day's activities; will probably set the tripod around knee height so Angelo and Engelbird are captured.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Big weekend

Yesterday I walked 1km to the gardens.  Took twice as long as usual, and didn't have any deleterious after effects.

Today I showered for the first time in months - without a plastic bag on my leg!  And this afternoon I put these on!
Just one problem - there are no active nerves in the flap graft so I can't tell if the boots are causing any aggravation until they are removed.

I've pruned the artemisia, buddleia, some rose branches growing from below the graft. Picked broad beans and rhubarb. Exclaimed with delight at discovering the first flower buds on the lemon tree since it was skeletonised.  Only four buds, but they are huge - fingers crossed another heavy frost doesn't hit.

Boots off now - don't dare push my luck.

It's become a lovely sunny warm day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Strawberries - first of the season

Not counting the one which was picked (and immediately eaten) yesterday.
It's pouring rain, the fire is burbling quietly and the strawberries smell divine. 

A weird melange of seasons - heat = strawberries, cold = fire. And the fire looks amazing when the glass door is clean!

Friday, November 8, 2013


Every day the pain lessens and mobility increases.

Finally set foot in the most amazing bakery with the most delicious breads - The Woodfrog Bakery. It's been open for a year or so. Shopped there again this morning - just want to move in and never leave!

The massive frost over two weeks ago destroyed much new growth at the farm (wisteria, camellia, persimmon, fig, roses) - not good.  But now I'll be there to see the new growth.

The old potato patch is gradually being "renovated", weeds removed as the space is needed for new plants.
Top right is the most divinely scented sweet pea - actually it's all along the fence but hidden by the biggest parsley bush you've ever seen!  In front of the parsley are onions and right at the front are transplanted rhubarbs (need to be lifted and separated every 3-4 years). All other green is weed which will be pulled out when the seedlings are ready for transplanting - that's optimism for you!  That they'll succeed - and their success will be solely due to Faye's careful watering.

And for at least three weeks, we've been blessed with the presence of this young bird.

Today it's raining.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Watch and wonder

This is an incredible piece of filmmaking, dedication and art. Truly sublime.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rehabilitation - mine

Hard work never hurt anyone - so "they" say.  And yesterday seemed like hard work.

Pruning - but could only manage pencil thick branches with the secateurs; using the pruning saw was so much easier.  Equals - lots more exercise to strengthen the right wrist.

Weeding - see par above!

Crawling around under the very nasty lemon tree - it has thorns 2cm long and lots of ants.  The ants farm scale etc which creates vast areas of sooty mould.  So there I was lying on the ground spreading an amazing substance called Tree Guard around the trunk to prevent access to more ants.  A couple of years ago the sooty mould became uncontrollable so the tree was skeletonised - much to the neighbours' annoyance - no more lemons for them to liberate.

The reward was two fold - muscles rediscovering their ability to function and hanging out in the orchard which is chokkas with apple, pear, cherry, blueberry blossoms.  And - already there is some cherry and pear set. Let's hope the fruit stays on the trees.

After tea I started knitting a dishcloth. After reading this article.  Good for wrist flexibility.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A mixed bag

Brush cut under the olive trees - "grass" a metre high.

Nectarine trees struck by leaf curl.

Angelo escaped from the orchard and made his usual run to visit the neighbours.

The Bali resort has been "mended" (adapted?), using some of the previous material but different design.

Chatham Island forget me nots, azaleas, wisteria and lilacs are flowering. Gorgeous rhododendron buds about to burst out into their amazing glorious colours.

Missed the daffodils and camellias flowering. Spent camellia flowers aren't the prettiest especially as they are a reminder that it's time to prune the bushes (which are as big as trees so a cherry picker is essential equipment!)

Sowed seeds of sweet and lemon basils, san marzano tomato, black zucchini, wee pickling cukes, tomatillo purple, peppers, pomodoro corbarino, eggplant black italia.  Now have to rely on others to keep them alive while I luxuriate in hospital, again.

Christened the new Stockli raclette grill. Australian raclette is nothing like Swiss raclette - pity. Swiss raclette when heated stays delightfully runny, blending with one's chosen companion ingredients. Australian raclette turns into hard "plastic" sheets. And it's seriously expensive. Tastes fine, but doesn't behave appropriately. More experimenting necessary.

Newly sighted little robins - green/grey body with bright red heads and tails.  How do birds know about cameras?  If there's no camera in reach they sit on the fence for ages; if the camera appears they disappear in a blink.  These pics will have to do for now - shaky hands and through dirty glass window!

Just discovered - it's a red browed finch

It's lovely to be back at the farm, even if the body isn't capable of pulling its weight yet.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Finally - back at the farm after three months' absence.  Everything is in bud, weeds are rampant, grass knee high (not really - close to).  And then we were hit with massive winds the day before yesterday and more forecast for today.  Not good news for pollinating and fruit set. Another interesting growing year ahead.

The chooks Bali Resort collapsed the other day. Now all they have for shelter is the McMansion, which is way too tall to provide them with cover against driving rain.  The builder has suggested another small structure.  But that's presuming that our lovely bird-brains have the sense to use it; they rarely sheltered in the "resort".

Despite the wind and rain the farm manager is insisting on weeding and collecting cut grass.  If he were any where else he'd be sensibly sitting in warmth, reading his ipad. Silly bugger!

It's good to be back, but also frustrating as I'm not fully recovered - the arm is only about 75% strength and quickly gives out, and the legs soon indicate their dislike of standing.  Oh well - slowly does it, I guess.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Have just watched Clive James in conversation with Kerrie O'Brien.  It was difficult to view - breathing in concert with Clive - and left me with an ineffable sadness. Why? Because he is dying? Because he knows he's dying? Because the world will lose a great mind? All things must come to end - shouldn't I be celebrating rather than mourning?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Walking practice - showing off by carrying the walking frame instead of leaning on it.  Doesn't last long - but every step forward is important.  It's a bit two steps forward, one step back at the moment but at least the v bung leg is (gently) hitting the floor.

Sighted two herons collecting twigs off the nearly garage roof.  Is it a good thing or bad that they are in the midst of a heavily urbanised area?  Lovely to see, nevertheless.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Farm photo

Nice spray of light captured.  To remind me of where I am not - still. Today is a big day - allowed to start weight-bearing on the left foot.  Elevated the foot feels fine - on the ground it's twisted and unsure. Perception and reality in conflict.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Why things are quiet around here

Just over a month ago I fell and broke both legs, then a week later - owing to poor balance! - I felll again and fractured the right wrist.  My world is confined to a hospital bed 1.5 x 2.5m space, as the left leg has to be elevated while the bone graft heals.
Broken fibula, smashed tibia, 6 pins and a bone graft

Fracture right across the wrist, and a small bone break

Fracture and pin but vaguely usable!
Consequently we are away from the farm, the winter pruning and the guinea fowl (apparently they are missing us!). And I missed a trip to Shanghai.

I'm not ill, just incapable of much movement, so eventually was able to persuade the specialists that I would be much better off at home, surrounded by all manner of medical / hospital equipment and carers to keep a close eye on my every movement.  To quote the OT - statistically - with three limbs out of four useless, I am a danger to myself.  I almost ruined my departure from hospital by casually referring to the potential difficulties I might have using my chainsaw as a result of the broken wrist. The OT admitted to having a vision of a head and torso, scattered limbs and blood everywhere!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On the road

These all look quite dramatic.  If you'd swung around 180 degrees all you'd have seen was blue blue sky!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pine mushrooms

This year's pine mushroom harvest has been v v minimal.  The smaller round p/m is about the size of a 20c piece, the other a 50c coin and the "twin" not much larger.  Tasted really nice cooked with garlic in butter!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hoshigaki - later

Just a pile of mushy mouldy persimmon.  Oh well - there's always next year.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Hoshigaki are preserved persimmon, a delicacy given as gifts at special times of the year.  We've just harvested kilos of persimmon - what better time to learn a new skill.  If you are interested in learning how to make your own hoshigaki here's a good link and here's another.
The fruit is peeled, leaving the stalk, dunked in boiling water for 30 seconds to remove some of the tannin, and then strung up to dry - usually under the eaves of your Japanese house, here it's in bird-repelling net bags under the verandah.  In a couple of days the fruit will be taken out of the bags and gently massaged.  Over time a white bloom (fruit sugars) will appear.  Massaging goes on for a few weeks - and eventually, hopefully, one has a lot of delicate, soft dried persimmon.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Very different ponds of water

Saw Monet's Garden at the National Gallery this morning.  Some work exquisite, all interesting to see the degradation of Monet's sight and - maybe - old age?

In the federation forecourt is an installation called clinamen by acoustic artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot.  Gorgeous to look at, pitch clear sound and just plain clever.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A touch of sun

Photographed through a glass darkly - otherwise they wouldn't have stayed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This year's number one lesson?

Do not put your gigantic zucchini and pumpkins in the coolroom.  They catch all manner of diseases as a result.

Remember what it looked like freshly picked?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Backyard pics

These were taken on the ipad.
Autumn chestnut

Little rays of sunshine

Roses still flowering


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Apples and quinces

This year has seen all (four) quince trees producing prolifically. Apparently there is a shortage of quinces generally, and we are getting lots of comments about how prolific the trees appear.

Different apple trees have fruited this year. Roundway magnum bonum and King of Tompkins County especially.
King of Tompkins and cydonia oblonga (quince)

King of Tompkins

Roundway magnum bonum

Roundway magnum bonum
King of Tompkins County is a large, crimson-striped, juicy and sweet apple with a greasy skin.  It is highly prized for sauce- and pie-making due to its overall flavour.

Roundway magnum bonum is an old Wiltshire apple that you might consider if you are interested in historic varieties. It is large, prominently ribbed, slightly flushed with a little russet and a remarkable and distinct pear-like taste. Best eaten fresh as it seems to lose its flavour when cooked.  Raised by Mr Joy, head gardener at Roundway Park, near Devizes, it was first brought to public notice in 1864.