Monday, January 26, 2009


A 105-year-old symbol of Australia's heritage has just returned to our shores.  The nation's last surviving coastal trading ship, the Alma Doepel, sailed for 16 days from Port Macquarie, NSW and is pictured passing Point Nepean last Tuesday.  It docked at Victoria Harbour on Wednesday.

The three-masted topsail schooner, Australian-built and operated, will have a refit over the next 12 months.  It was fully restored in 1987 and operated as a youth sail training ship for more than 10 years on Port Phillip Bay.

The Alma Doepel is owned by non-profit group Sail and Adventure Ltd and was most recently exhibited at Port Macquarie.  It will return to being a tourist attraction.

I am fevered with the sunset,
I am fretful with the bay,
For the wander-thirst is on me
And my soul is in Cathay.
There's a schooner in the offing,
With her topsails shot with fire,
And my heart has gone aboard her
For the Islands of Desire.
I must go forth again tomorrow!
With the sunset I must be
Hull down on the trail of rapture
In the wonder of the sea.
Richard Hovey

Friday, January 23, 2009


I caught the latest episode of 'Food Safari' the other day, which was all about Syrian food. One recipe in particular held my attention as we are in Barbecue and salads weather. Perhaps those in colder climes might like to file it away for their Summer season.

1 cup olive oil
2 pieces of Lebanese bread, quartered
500g grape tomatoes or small cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Lebanese cucumbers, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups loosely packed mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 red capsicum, seeded and finely chopped
4 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp sumac
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and, when hot, add half the Lebanese bread and fry until golden, then drain on absorbent paper. Repeat with remaining bread.
  2. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint, capsicum, radishes and green onions in a large bowl and stir to combine. Coarsely break Lebanese bread, toss with vegetable mixture, then sprinkle over sumac, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice and mix gently to combine. Serve immediately.
I haven't tried it yet but it's on the menu for next week.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I particularly loved a photo in today's newspaper of little Sasha giving her Dad the thumbs up following the oath of office. 

He's a great communicator, sees the big picture and I hope he will make a better world for us.

Monday, January 19, 2009


It is the funcion of art to renew our perception.
What we are familiar with we cease to see.
The writer shakes up the familiar scene,
and, as if by magic,
we see a new meaning in it.
Anais Nin

Friday, January 16, 2009


The blue-tongue lizard found in our garage this morning.
Unfortunately he didn't stick his tongue out.


Photo taken two days ago. A large Roo, one of several we saw
that evening in the hills behind our property.


This photo was taken five minutes ago.  We have an overcast sky today but a lovely temperature.  We were sweltering two days ago; this is a nice relief.

You love the roses - so do I.  I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush.  Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on.  They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!
George Eliot 1819-1880

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


'The Ultimate Collection' - one of my Birthday gifts - 2 1/2  hours of beautiful Adagios.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Somewhere in Rome; my photo.  Had to take it, I was missing our Furkid.


I don't have a library as such; I'd be lucky to have two dozen books that I won't part with. If I buy a book I either hand it to my daughter, or take it to the local Op Shop and come home with half a dozen more! I always recycle them as I don't like reading a book twice. If we have house guests, they're welcome to take a book home. On the other hand, my husband has a wonderful library; about 800 piscatorial, as he's a fly-fisherman.

One that I still haven't finished but pick up in between books and read a little more of is Bright Tapestry by Margaret M. Pearson. The first edition was in 1956; I have the second reprint. The frontispiece says, 'The Story of the Stately Homes of England - their History, their Ghosts, Witches, Highwaymen, Mermaids and other Strange Connexions'. It has eight plates in 'half-tone' and nine maps and plans.

Warwick Castle

A Room in Warwick Castle

The inside flyleaf states, 'If anyone needed convincing that history was stranger than fiction they could not do better than dip into Bright Tapestry by Margaret M. Pearson, a book about the personalities behind some of the famous homes of England. For every situation that has ever been devised by poet, dramatist, or novelist, will be found in these pages: murders, abductions, witchcraft, escapes, duels, impersonations, infidelities, bribed witnesses, executions, brawls, all are here and all are part of the bright tapestry background that is the history of these islands.
Readers will discover a link between the Olympic Horse Trials at Badminton and the minstrels of old Tutbury Castle; between the Earl Marshal and Lady Godiva; between Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Francis Drake.
Many of the houses and castles belonging to the families involved are still standing (in 1956), and can be visited. The author has thoughtfully provided information about them after each chapter. The book ranges over the whole country, following the tangled history of some of our most historic houses and their occupants.'

Interestingly, my husband's family owned a farmhouse on the edge of Dartmoor National Park that was said to have been part of the Estate of Sir Francis Drake. Hubby took the above pics.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I've been away for three days, catching up with family, my birthday celebrations and a 60th Birthday party for a friend.

It's a busy month for our family; two of our grandsons are also Capricorns with birthdays this week also.


Here is our pet Magpie in the Ajuga having a shower under the sprinkler.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I took this photo at Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome last year. I was delighted that I hadn't missed it, as I love the use of bees in decorating and also, the Fleur-de-lis. In this Wikipedia link I particularly like the mention of a noble woman's seal, depicting the lady with a fleur-de-lis - I wonder if anybody has a collection of Seals? Would intrigue me no end!

Last year I made some pelmets for a couple of windows and wondered what to cover them with. I had some calico handy, so embroidered a fleur-de-lis and added a braid border. I've since done something new but here is my handiwork.

I have an affinity with anything French as my great-grandfather was French - have yet to do the genealogy on my Mother's side - that will be difficult!


I guess most would have a recipe for this luscious, decadent cake. Or, perhaps, like me you didn't know of it. It was labelled a 'healthy option' to the Christmas fruitcake. I 'whipped it up' yesterday and, as fortune would have it, we had visitors in the afternoon, ravenous, hot and thirsty after a shopping trip in 30+ heat. So in the air-conditioned comfort they partook of Lumberjack and ice-cold soda water with a dash of lime. Hoping for more visitors today....don't get me wrong, it is delicious and that's our problem! Here is the recipe.

2 medium apples, chopped
180g pitted dates, chopped
1tsp bicarbonate soda
1tsp mixed spice
75ml oil (olive, sunflower, canola)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract
1 cup wholemeal flour
Cup rolled oats
Cup sunflower seeds

Cup brown sugar
Cup skim milk
Cup shredded coconut

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a 19cm cake time with oil and line the base with baking paper.
  • Combine apples, dates, bicarb soda and one cup of boiling water in a small bowl and leave to cool
  • Blend mixed spice, oil, sugar, egg and vanilla in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  • Sift flour and return husks to flour. Combine sifted flour, oats and sunflower seeds.
  • Fold flour mix and date mix into egg mixture. Pour into tin and bake for 35 minutes.
  • Combine topping mix and gently spread over partially cooked cake.
  • Return to oven and bake for a further 20 minutes or until top is brown.
  • Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. Cool before slicing.
For extra wellness: Use soy milk for dairy-free.

For gluten-free:
Substitute gluten-free flour for flour and rolled amaranth for rolled oats.

Mmm, even nicer today!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


This is a little calligraphy piece I did many moons ago.  It's a poem by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a favourite of mine.  I have it sitting in my 'toot' (bathroom) where all can read and ponder.  So many have commented on it.  My brother told me off for not putting the author's name on it but I didn't know who the author was for many years; I found the poem on one of those beautiful cards to let a friend know you're thinking of them and it said, 'author unknown'.  The card maker didn't do any research!  After being ticked off, I went looking on the net for Nathaniel and found a lot of sites mentioning him.  He is one of the authors included in the book, American Bloomsbury, one that Willow recommended yesterday.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Another friend standing on the snow-covered beach in Rimini.


Sunset in Idaho December 29th 08
A friend sent it the other day. Taken in his driveway. What a beautiful sight!


Finally won my battle with the weeds and read yesterday's "news".  Picked some Gardenia for my den; the perfume is wafting through the room.  The little bush is finally doing well with many buds yet to open.
Amongst the doom and gloom in the paper, I found this sweet story about a young Joey at Melbourne Zoo to share with you. 


Monday, January 5, 2009


I haven't even had a chance today to read the obligatory newspaper!  I'm seriously considering not renewing my subscription, as one can find all of the World news on the net and besides, think of the time I save by not taking the 8km turn-around trip for the paper; more time to sit here in front of the monitor!  And, as far as interior decorating magazines go, some of them must be seriously struggling to compete with sites and blogs.  I find so much inspiration at my fingertips but I still can't resist that glossy, colourful front cover!  Be rest assured, publishers, I'll still treat myself to an hour's bliss, stretched out on my daybed, a smile on my face, turning those shiny pages.  It is nice to have hands-on - perhaps I'll re-consider.........

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I just had to share a photo of our Australian sky (taken today in my garden). The forecast for today is predicted to be 29C (84.2F), so I went outside nice and early to pull some weeds and mulch. But it wasn't early enough as the bees had come out for a feed and were swarming everywhere. I gave up after an hour as I was getting slightly uneasy with bees buzzing about my ears and will try again tomorrow, perhaps 7am. I have only been stung once in my life, underneath my foot and that was when I was a carefree, barefoot child.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Johannes Vermeer, 1632-1675, is one of my favourite artists. He, along with William Turner, were masters in the use of light in their works.

Right: Girl with A Pearl Earring

Below is a print of The Music Lesson, which I have hanging over my piano.