Wednesday, April 27

autumnal easter

Autumnal.  A beautiful, evocative word.  What do North Americans say to explain these cool, gentle days when leaves crunch underfoot and the sky is punctuated with gold, brown and auburn hues?  "Gee today is fall-like", or perhaps, "isn't it decidedly fall-ish?" 

Easter Sunday was our first definitively autumn day.  Heavy overnight rain dropped a confetti of leaves and the morning light was crisp and clear.  Softer than the harsh summer sun, with raking rays sneaking through the sparse tree canopy.  We ate toasted spelt hot-cross buns, drank tea and smiled.  I kicked about in the leaves; displaced them and then replaced them.  Ollie, the terrier, demonstrated his superb lap dog tendencies, while Ned joined me in leaf play. 

With our life of extended summers and tropical nights, it is joy to contrast the bikini clad days with hints of autumn.  The beauty of change. 

Friday, April 22

a very good friday

Our third day of gyprocking the studio in preparation for the tenant. In between my job as chief  gyprock sheet holder, I dug holes, planted more natives and spread stinky sheep manure. This vigorous cross-training program was halted mid-morning for a spelt chocolate hot cross bun and chai on the deck.  Just warming up for Easter.

With two sheets left to finish the job, the foreman ran out of screws and I was given a leave pass to pursue other creative endeavors.  I have been asked to photograph the Millhouse range of products produced by the owner of Cape Kitchen, and design them a new brochure. Here's a sneak preview from the shoot I did this afternoon.  Honey, olive oil and dukkah with stylist's own props (he, he, I've always wanted to say that).  Scones from the mumma's oven and fresh olives from our garden. Tom the tool man came sniffing around to clean up the set.

A beach walk, invigorating dip and sunset on the deck with a few pages of Gourmet Traveller brought the day to a close.  A good and great Friday.  A happy and safe Easter weekend to all.

Thursday, April 21

mcauliffes at 7.00pm

A classic family portrait by my niece Alice, aged 12. 
Left to right : mum, dad, Tom, me, Daniel & Peta.  
The likeness is striking.   

Wednesday, April 20

garden week

There has been one decent autumn rain with more on the way, and the days are warm and sunny,  so in our short time in the Love Shack, I have my boots and gloves on, digging, planting and mulching.  I start the session with a cup of tea on the deck, peruse the zone and ask the plants where they would like to live. 

Our garden is a tough place to thrive.  Sandy, gutless soil, rampant couch grass, extended dry conditions and long periods without supervision.  We have opted for a tough, low maintenance native garden, combined with fruit and citrus trees, olives, avocados and herbs. 

There is so much latent garden potential  at our weekend farmer's market, and I spent all of my pocket money on grevilleas. The others were purchased at the Balingup Small Farm Field Day; a fantastic day out each April where you can pat an alpaca, coo over a new born miniature horse, order solar panels, buy a knitted beanie, and taste local produce.  That's if you can get away from the plant stalls, mobile coffee vans and Devonshire tea.

Today's planting schedule was : red kangaroo paw, grevillea "sea spray", grevillea "Gingin gem", eucalyptus "silver princess" & eucalyptus "illyarrie".

Thursday, April 14

midwest crop to coast

Once a year we make the road trip to the broad horizons of the mid-west to visit our farming mates, stumble on double-gees, shelter from the easterly wind, and roughen up the kids.  After a sunset over the stubble, the boys escaped westward for a surf, while I helped the kids feed the chooks, packed the esky and followed the dust to the beach house in Dongara.


The boys played some mean beach footy, surfed and did general boys stuff, while the girls raided grandma's dress up basket and paraded styles that had their fathers squirming with visions of their teenage daughters showing their underwear through lace.

A take-away coffee from The Little Starfish at South Beach got Tom fired up to practice his technique in time for next summer's sandcastle competition; with help from his namesake, Little Tom, Sonny and Dylan.  We left the crew with promise of opening rains and the imminent seeding program.  Long may your wheat grow.

Wednesday, April 13

barrabup pool, nannup

To further our exploration of fresh water swimming holes in the south west, we piled in with the family, a thermos of tea and a huge watermelon for an afternoon outing to Barrabup Pool near Nannup. The natural pool is formed by St Johns Brook, and was a recreation area for the manager's family from the nearby mill. The mill was built in 1910 to harvest prized jarrah timber from surrounding forests, which was then transported by steam train to the Busselton Jetty for export. The grubby and uncouth workers were limited to swimming in the Worker's Pool downstream. 

The facilities are excellent; barbecues, shade shelters, toilets and a sturdy deck for launching yourself into the water, or sun bathing, depending on your level of  irrational fear that crocodiles could have migrated from the Kimberley and be hiding under a log. 

Camping facilities are available for a small fee at Worker's Pool (demand is high in the summer and Easter holidays) and for the hikers out there, the Old Timberline Walk Trail follows a 20 kilometre section of the old railway from Cambray Siding (north of Barrabup Pool) to Nannup. A great weekend trip in spring or autumn. It's on the list for next year.

back in the love shack

Sorry for the blogging hiatus.  We have been to Perth, Three Springs, Dongara and back again, for the annual city and mid-west roundabout.  You'll hear about that soon. For now though, pull up a floor cushion and grab a mag; we are home.

After months of being in Australia with many an instance where I wanted to run back to our simple island life, we have moved back into the Love Shack and feel like we are really home.  Ironic really, when we are leaving again in just over two weeks. Rearranging the shed, so we can pack the furniture away for the next tenant, I wonder if there will a time when I unpack the tea cups, vases and linen for an extended homebody stint. Landing and leaving so often makes us regularly assess what we own, what we hang on to, and what we treasure. 

Now my days are complete with mulching, pruning, planting and drinking chai in the morning sun, while Tom has strapped on the nail-bag and emptied the cobwebs from his work boots to insulate and line the studio for its incarnation as a bedroom. 

Thursday, April 7

autumn chai

How did that week slip by without a blog post?  Sorry about that folks. I haven't run away to join the nunnery or shave my head and live in a cave, in fact the opposite is probably true - pushing my sleep deprivation and caffeine load in the big city.  Kept in touch with my tree-hugging self at Garden Week this morning and now grooving to the tunes at Frisk Espresso in Northbridge.  All in the name of research, photography and quality control.  Reviews and photos soon over at the Crema and Crumbs camp.
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