Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cuddley Owls

Last Christmas we had a cold snap in the weather and on Christmas Eve the temperature went down to about 3 degrees despite technically being the middle of summer.

Christmas morning we looked outside and on the nearest branch to our deck were huddled a family of four Tawny Frog Mouth Owls. Mum and Dad on each side and two babies in the middle … looked so cute. A wonderful Christmas surprise.

Unfortunately I only got a photo of the two adults.

They watched the comings and goings of the other bird life that visit our deck with great interest. I am hoping that they remember their pleasant stay near our house and come back to visit this year.

Two Tawny Frogmouthed Owls keeping an eye on a nearby Kookaburra


Coffee and cake with crushed pistachios


We have two that regularly visit our property. One is a large grumpy male, the other smaller and could be a female.
The more grey and cute female. The browner male sleeping up a Gum Tree

The noise a Koala makes is quite startling and upon hearing it for the first time it will without doubt make you say ”what in the world was that?”

The usually passive sleepy male koala come mating time emits these weird loud echoing hoarse grunting sounds that roll on and on getting louder and louder. The female utters shrieks and grunts as well.

If I step outside in the night especially in the Spring he will suddenly start up with this spine chilling bellow, sometimes very nearby and it scares me half to death even though I know it is just him.

One warm night not so long ago we had a few people over for dinner and we served the meal outside on the deck. Owing to the slope of the land the deck is quite high off the ground certainly mid tree height. Mr Koala was in a tree very close by to the house and he didn’t like us being out there at all. First of all he started his noises and finally to show his disgust with us he threw himself at a branch near us, arms in the air and gave one almighty bellow at us then scrambled down the tree and waddled away into the night muttering to himself.
The rose Duchesse de Brabant and the Koala nearby

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's been on the Menu 5

Here are a few of the things we've been having:

Tiny transparent silver fish sprinkled in flour and fried in olive oil. No not whitebait ...similar though

Fresh sardines grilled with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Perhaps they looked better before they were cooked.

Cherry Clafoutis with the first of the cherries for the year.

Romancing the Rose

At long last I picked a bunch of of pale pink roses from our garden to create my dream bouquet.

I know, I know, it looks like a wedding bouquet !!

I have been wanting to do this for years and years and years and years.....well anyway a long time and finally I was able to pick armfuls of these beautiful roses.

The bouquet has Pierre de Ronsard, Bonica, Iceberg, Duchesse de Brabant, one Peter Frankenfeld ( faded by the rain), Spirit of Peace and a couple of Constance Spry.

Ian said I was falling in love with the bouquet because I couldn't stop looking at it....well just for a couple of hours. The roses were then given to a girl friend because I thought she would like them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Precious Apricots

In Latin the word Apricot means precious. Perhaps they were so labelled because they ripen earlier than other summer fruit. But regardless of the word they are possibly my favourite fruit and the first taste is eagerly waited for each year

They have a delicate flavour with a sweet aroma and let's face it you either love or hate the velvety smoothness of the skin.

Delicious eaten whole and fresh or they can be cooked in a multitude of ways.We made Apricot Chicken for dinner using pureed fresh apricots. The pureed parsnip was the last of the parsnips from our garden..sweet and fresh.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bottle Brushes

Now it's the turn of the bottle brushes to be flowering at our place. They are growing up around the house and in random areas of the bush on our land as well.

The majority of Callistemon species are endemic to Australia. They are commonly referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush like flowers resembling a traditional bottle brush.

They are found mostly along the east coast and south-west, and typically like moist conditions so when planted in gardens thrive on regular watering. These bushes haven't recieved any water except that which fell from the heavens but seem to be doing OK.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Red Alpine Strawberries

I noticed that this neat little bush which bears delicious little red fruits had quite few ripe berries peeping through the foliage.

This plant with delicate white flowers is bushy and doesn't produce runners like other strawberries and as such can be used as an edging or border plant. The berries have an appealing flavour and aroma.

Roses on our Travels

Having lived in this area called Gippsland for only a few years we love a little drive around on a Saturday or Sunday to explore what natural or un natural for that matter, treasures we can find.

We took a drive north and near town called Toongabbie, we found a rose garden that was open to the public. Now I am very partial to a
look at somebody elses’ roses and so was delighted to find old and new favourites of this particular plant.

Graham Thomas a David Austin rose, probably the most pure yellow of the Austins.

and the strong gr owing white 'Lamarque" climbing a pergola

The town itself had this particularly quaint cricket ground with surrounding buildings and so provided an interesting visit in itself.

Toongabbie Cricket Ground

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Time in Hampton

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I currently spend a few days of the week working in Melbourne and therefore I stay at our place in Hampton.
The early morning warm sunlight streams through the bougainvillea into the lounge at Hampton. It is a pleasant place to be, but not as absorbing a lifestyle as being at Tree Change Callignee.

Occasionally, Ian has to return to Melbourne for meetings regarding his work and when he is up in town, we take the opportunity to visit our friends and sometimes go out for dinner.

Last night we went to an Indian restaurant called Roti Boti. Yes catchy name and they must be doing something right because they have been in the same spot in Hampton for nearly 20 years.
Lately, we have been disappointed with restaurant Indian food, seems to be same old - same old and not the interesting spicey food we remember from the early days of Indian food in the 70’s in England and the same in Melbourne.

However this food was actually really good. Mango Chicken , Lamb Saag with plenty of spinach, and a Goat Curry for Ian that was full of complicated flavours and not just ’hot’.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's been on the Menu 4

The leeks in the garden have naturally all grown to full size at the same time so we have been having meals with them in mind.

Leek and Potato Soup

Leek and Smoked Fish Tart
Now this was a bit of a disaster because all the egg and milk mixture leaked (groan) out into the oven and we were left with just the leeks, fish and cheese topping (Aust Swiss a good substitute for Gruyere)
No recipe as I just tend to wing it. Chop up leeks, chop up fish add mixture of 1 egg to cup of milk and pour over (it usually sets and doesn't end up on the bottom of the oven) Sprinkle with cheese.

The yellow/smoked fish I mean is that one you can buy at the supermarket fish counter, still so cheap and tasty (although I'm sure some people don't like it eg. my sons) The piece for this dish was under a dollar. My mother used to cook that fish quite alot, with a white parsley sauce if I remember right. Some people call it smoked Cod and perhaps in the past it was but now days I don't think so.

We also had Meatballs. Albondigas in Spanish

By the time this was cooked we didn't feel like a big meal so just had a Tapas with one ball and some of the delicious juice in which they were cooked

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Love Hate Relationship

....... with Cockatoos

The beautiful and quite large (48-55cm) Sulphur Crested Cockatoos ( Cacatua galerita) give us much pleasure watching their antics when they arrive at our deck overlooking the trees. They squabble and preen each other, kissing and carrying on, particularly mothers and babies.

They sometimes arrive with such a raucous screech that quite frankly it makes me jump. At other times, they somehow manage to push my buttons and I find myself getting into a screeching match with them whereby we loudly screech at each other in the same tone until one of us gives up, usually me. I don’t know what anyone would think if they could hear me.

However, the most important reason we don’t altogether approve of them visiting is that they pick at the wood around the window sills with their very strong beaks. The cedar window surrounds are irresistible to them and in the past we have returned to our place to find awful destruction. We had taken to putting barbed wire there but they find a way around it. They will also suddenly take a dislike to a particular plant and pick it to bits.

I am happy to say they have settled down a little now and rarely attack the windows or plants…..famous last words I suppose.

There is this particular “Cocky” who must live in a real dirty hole somewhere because invariably when it rains she arrives looking like a real mess. The next day she will be a little cleaner and then by the next day if there hasn’t been any more rain she is clean and you can’t tell her apart from the others.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Adults Cupcakes & Tea

Nothing like a cup of Tea.
The icing on these cupcakes is Earl Grey Tea flavour, subtle and quite delicious.
Twinings Earl Grey of course.

Water Plants

The water lilies are blooming again in our Dam. They are an Australia native of the hardier cool climate variety.

Water Lilies

Also, blooming at the dams’ edge is a non native variety of Iris - Louisiana Iris and although they do not require an actual aquatic culture to grow in, they do love water and thrive in situations like this.

Louisiana Iris blooming at the edge of the Dam

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

There's no Comparison

....between a traditional vase of roses and a vase of Australian Native flowers.

Err hang on, which one does look the most lovely?

You decide ..I couldn't.

Where are we?

Callignee is situated in the foothills of the Strezlecki 's in Gippsland, Victoria.