Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Ozzy Holday - 1st day - the Long Trip from Brisbane to Gold Coast

Jills Entry - 28th July 1st Day of the Holiday - The Long trip to the Gold Coast


Its always an interesting time getting off a plane and wondering if this will be the day they decide that you look suspicious and you will hear the slap of a rubber glove on skin....but we flew through customs even the dog sniffing us was only thinking "1 x dog, 2 x cats, 0 x drugs" it should go without saying that we don't actually ever carry or do drugs...but always on your mind are the people who say that the drugs were planted in their bags


We rock on up to the car rental place to be told “your early – your car isn’t ready yet – I’ll have to give you a convertible but no extra cost”.................oh yeah thats a good one boy....laughing at the olds in a convertible....seeing us having to squeeze our oversized bodies into bucket seats. But none the less that is what happened.


On our way we go...absolutely no decent maps to guide us.....knowing it is only an hour drive from Brisbane to Surfers have to remember this small fact....only an hours drive we saw no issues in front of us.


Easy enough getting out of the airport....easy enough to be on the motorway heading to Surfers.....and then we encountered the mad drivers that exist on the Gold Coast.


Oh my....they drive with speed, they are impatient for people who don’t to the extent of doing a quick lane change to dive back in front of you........the up shot is they are aggressive over here. 4 lanes as well....not used to that at all.


And then on the road ahead - tolls!!!! Oh no!!!! We had no coins!!! Panic panic panic...what lane should we be in for they have a paper lane.....quick get off get off get off...and we did. We travelled a road for a while...stopped and looked at our ineffective map and decided that we would stay off the motorway and go down what looked like a very long suburban road....that worked fine for us...even stopped off and had some food at a very weary looking mall....jumped back in our convertible- which djd was desperate to get the top down on but we had two suitcases in the back boot which stopped that function beside which neither of us have flowing hair to blow about in the wind of an open top! – and off down the road we went. It was a very straight long road...suited us...only 60km limit...and only two of which a bus would dive into to pick up people and immediately pull back to the far one....buses have right of way here.


And then it started to get a bit confusing....but the way back to the motorway appeared and we went back on to it and travelled the next few kilometre until the scenic turnoff to surfers paradise appeared...we had finally arrived....4 hours after the start of our journey....did you remember it was only meant to take 1 hour....hmmmm

So at that point after a quick stop at a park to snap a crow we decided to just head to the hotel Conrad Jupiters....we were booked to go whale watching but alas the day was catching up with us rapidly and we have been awake over 12 hours with only a few hours sleep the night before. we opted not to go. Got a grumpy phone call from the operator...rightly so as I had booked us but of course we didn’t turn up....but after saying sorry...we wont be able to make it...we will have to cancel...the woman still went on about I said personal reasons...she wanted me to ring back later to talk about it...I think not...just charge us and go away.

To be fair the to Jupiter we had turned up 1 and half hours before the official sign in our room was not ready....for our romance package stay...but we could have a room with two double beds instead...ah no....ok well I’ll put a rush on your room can you come back in ¾ of an hour...sure is there a cafe we can go to...oh year spinners just on the ground floor. Off we go...tired and ready for a snooze really but with hope the room would become available we rock on up to spinners the cafe!!! But spinners has a waiting queue to be seated!!!! Some cafe ...its a we cant stand in a queue...there is another we go for far too much for a smorgasbord lunch we didn’t really want.

Now this place we are staying at is a Casino... a very sizeable Casino....and it must have been pension every pensioner in Surfers must have been eating at this restaurant, taking a break from their gambling.

We go back to reception actually an hour after we first be told the room was still not ready....give me your number and I will call you....I look over at djd who is sitting on a couch in reception to see his head starting to drop from falling asleep. So I sat there for 20 minutes watching djd fighting the desire to sleep and losing...and the queue of people growing longer and longer as 2pm check in time arrived and therefore a flood of new guests wanting to check in. The girl behind the counter would never have had a chance to ring us...there were only two of them on and the process of check in was not a fast process....pathetic for a place like this hotel with a reputation to uphold.

Finally I rejoin the is my time at with the staff and I was not waiting patiently to be called up in their sweet I plonked myself in front of the boy and he had to serve me....finally the room was ready.


The room itself was pretty much ok. Nice bed, nice balcony, a view of sorts etc...the only thing missing was the sparkling wine and chocolate strawberries that were meant to be greeting us as we got to the room to start our romantic package....I had to ring twice for the delivery...finally arriving 4 hours after we had been there....sheesh.

Oh well we had wonderful meal of a seafood platter to die for and a couple of hours of walking around the casino to lose $50. Then bed another day awaits us.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

The start of the Ozzie Trip 2009 - Take Off Day -1

Putting a few notes about the holiday and what's why's of what we are doing.

Tuesday morning will see us bleary eyed but happy to be heading for the Wellington Airport. We are flying direct from Wellington to Brisbane, Australia. After a night in Brisbane we fly again north to Mackay township with the intention fo then hiring a car to travel north again, first townsend and then Cairns. Final destination is the Silky Oaks lodge on the edge of the daintree rainforest inland from Port Douglas...Having spent a few days at the lodge exploring the surrounds we then head back to Cairns and the airport Flying back south to Sydney for a couple of nights stay ..Then from Sydney back to Welllington and home... Not a long holiday and a heap of travelling but we will get to see what its all like and have a better idea of future holiday plans there....


Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Year in My Garden #3 + My New Routine

I've fallen into a routine at home. Awaken to find McD has left early yet again. A warm-only cup of tea on the unit beside the bed (McD's working far to hard and starting to look very tired  and run down).  

Latest Attempts at Photographing the BellBird

Get up and having gulped the tea and made another, I settle in front of the PC and check out the job sites for anything hopeful.. nothing today ...

Breakfast next...I've been feeling guilty at having Bacon and eggs the past 3 days..But a man all knowlegeable on Oprah said you should and its a good protein source and stops the bad habits through the day...So if OK with Oprah........Bacon is also better than turkey bacon - less salt, same cals..

Then it's decision time...Weather ok and I'm out into the garden..I'm clearing up the yard still. Still have a mountqin of pebbles to move, Pots to either sort out or plant out, wood to build raised beds to be cut and stacked or dragged up to the top of the garden for use, and general cleanup  of that part of the yard...

I'm running out of time...By we return from Holiday in 2 weeks or so it will be mass seed sowing and potato planting..and all that carry on....

a sleepy NZ native woodpigeon visited our garden ... 

Still hacking away at near-stone clay to level it for the raised beds or create paths and steps in the vegetable garden....Thats really Hard work

Spring is real close now...We've survived another winter :O)

If the weather is crappy like today, then its housework...I'm 'De-cluttering'.. Which means it's taking 3 times longer to do each room..Just how much paperwork can 1 household accumulate!!!...and then the magazines and the books we never return to the bookcase...and so on....

I broke one of McD's Ornaments :o/....Thought I would tidy up the dresser (??) with shelves she has them all in ...It was a Xmas prezzie from me... Bugger!!!!....

Anyway - by 'De-clutter' I mean move everything I was too scared to chuck out, into the spare bedroom - My Room ....So that looks just great now with piles of this and piles of that on the floor around the walls....

Which is fine but we have Sis-in-Law (and B-in-L ??) and Mum-in-L visiting in August...So someone might want to bring rope to navigate around the bedroom when they do :O) 

Oh and the cats think that room is their bedroom!!! :O)

But overall the place looks better for it where I have done..I also knocked over one of the orchid plants we have on the floor of theyellow room...No damage though...Whew..As McDs been waiting a long time now for them to flower..Still in bud you just know they will be out when we are away ....

2pm - 3pm I have a mug of soup (carrot and lentil today - can you get a less butch sounding soup!!) and watch the gameshow Crosswords...Damn I'm good at it :O)..

Then more of the same...At the end of the afternoon I've tried hard to make a cooked meal for when McD gets in...Not always successful..... 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shame on you obama.....

Lets tell Brasil to stop the logging...But that won't then apply to the US, Australia, Japan......


Monday, July 20, 2009

Save the kimberley's - Pristine Western Australia to be used for mining...

Before it's lost forever

Whats The Fuss

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Gardening Year #2 - Birds and a Plan of Action

So apart from the daily tidy-up and de-clutter I’ve been getting outside in between the showers and working on a number of parts of the garden, depending on how wet it is and my interest level …

The Front Yard is still a mess …In fact it’s more of a mess as I’ve finally gotten around to pulling out an Ausie Grevillia bush that succumbed to too much good feed from the run-off from the tomato borders I had through the summer a little uphill from it… They love clay soils that drain reasonably well, but feed them and they might as well have had roundup poured straight over them ……. I've also done a hard prune on the roses .. All yeat to be cleared up ....

The Grevillia plant was in a fence corner beside the gate … So I'm now thinking It would be nice to plant a fruit tree there. As it drains well (us being on the side of as hill helps) I’m keen to plant an apple tree. Probably the amazingly healthy Monty’s Surprise which was found growing along a roadside in the Waikato district of the north Island in New Zealand. Said to be a world winner being the healthiest of apples you can eat ….

Other options are a fruiting Cherry or a Plum or a Pear… just a siting thing really as I intend to cram trees of them all into spaces around the garden or in ½ wine barrels ….

I actually went out this morning with the intention of buying a couple of trees with the gift vouchers I have from work … I then thought about having a decent coffee at a neaby cafĂ© and reading the paper… Having got there the temptation of a full cooked breakfast was too much. And so I had that as well …I know - shame on me ...). Then I thought about it being Friday and what we should have for dinner tonight and so off to the supermarket to get some supplies in.. Dog got treated to some mutton bones which apparently made her day :O)

BUT !! I was Almost home before realizing I’d forgotten about the trip to the garden centre !!!!! Like I’m that keen to get home …Not. Another day apparently ..Gives me some time to dig the hole and get some decent soil for it

Meanwhile I tackled some of the vegetable garden yesterday. It’s become an overwhelming chore at present as we’ve not done much up there for some time … The existing borders are looked after and are ok (apart from the damned cats whos’ nine lives will vanish very quickly if I catch the defecating little feline monsters on them at any time ) Ahem …. Even the broad beans look like broad beans should, despite the transplanting shock ….. But the paths and the rest of the garden area are now overgrown with grass and weed and the paths are as slippery as…Well a slippey thing :O) … The grass that’s self sown itself is that awful thick matting stuff that’s so hard to cut. However, having sat on the home made seat up there with a mug of tea I realized that most of it would be spaded up anyway to make the next set of raised borders …. So I then worked out a mental plan of action as to the borders and pathing and where I can place a proper rhubarb square for McD (I thought the tyre idea was a good one but probably the tyres are too small ..)

And before the tea was drunk I had a good idea of where to start and what order to start and ripped into it for a couple of hours ….. Must do the yard as well - It’s all much easier when you have a plan …..Not a cunning plan necessarily but a plan none the less and a good plan :O) I like plans :O)

I want to dig over Border 1 and get some of that rich compost into it..There are still a few vegetables in there that can be harvested. Perhaps we can make more vegetable stoch out of them. It was so successful last time ... Anyway there are still 3 or 4 red cabbages that have been there a while ... I did think the centres would be rotten by now .. But having removed a couple of outer layers and made a native slug and a couple of spiders homeless the rest of the cabbage was crisp and fine as ..... As a crisp and fine thing should be :O)

So thats on the menu tonight :O) Amongst some other things for a meat and 3 veggie type of meal :O)

This morning when I came back home the Bell bird was in fine singing fettle as he/she worked the bush that’s in flower beside the neighbours gate … I walked right up to the tree whistling back to him … no problems … Damned camera is never with me when I want it to be ….. So took the groceries inside, grabbed the sony and tried to get a picture … limited success as he’d made his was further into the tree … Will try again …..

Then just now, looked out of the window beside my computer desk to see a chaffinch and a yellow hammer perched in the tree beside the house !!.. another limited success .. but you get the idea .. .

When I was working the in the vegetable garden yesterday the bellbird landed on a tree beside me …Checked the tree out for insects (at a guess) and then flew off… Again no Effin Beflippin camera… However as he rose into the sky another Bell Bird joined him !!! A pair !! … Offspring hopefully this spring …. I’m thinking about setting up a bird feeder for them and the tuis and the silver eyes .. Just need to see how what I can use to put out sugar water for them ….

Another project ….. :O)

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Gardening Year # 1 - Too Much To Do..

Job Hunt: - Currently at 4 rejections to job applications …. 3 applications outstanding

July is never a good month in New Zealand .. It’s the middle of winter. This year winter is cold and wet. Not a good time for doing anything in the garden ….

However, There is a heap of work to get through ..I’ve a number of additional raised borders to build .. This means clearing the grass, leveling off the ground building the borders them selves and then filling them with soil …. It’s a highly manually intensive piece of work as the only way up to the vegetable garden is via a series of steps through a tree copse… So all soil has to be lifted up there in buckets …Good exercise though …As long as the old ticker holds out ….

However to do that I have to have somewhere to have the soild dropped … I’ve no intention of trying to do the Mel Bartholomew soil mix ..I need a heap more than that. So will order some ‘green’ soil in from a company called ‘living earth’ … We’ve had a mix of soils from them . Some good some not so good for the vegetable plots …This time we’ll pay them a visit first rather than just phone an order in …..

We also need to get some properly formed and barked paths around the veggie plot .. .I’m sick of sliding about up there ……

But – The yard then has to be cleared and tidy before I do that .. and it’s certainly isn’t at present … We have moved last years raised beds we had on the yard for Tomatoes and intend to build two more borders there as well …. We’ve spaced them alternatively with ½ wine barrels containing fejoa trees, a pomegranite bush and soon to be a lemon bush … I’ve even space in the corner of the fencing for an apple of plum or cherry tree….. But running out of time to do that now as well ….

And on it goes ….. Holiday in less than two weeks and on return it will be full on planting seeds

Meanwhile it keeps on raining ……

The existing veggie plots are still producing .. .Pak choi seems to thrive in winter and we use it a lot in stir fries and stews …. We’ve still a couple of cabbages left and I’ll make use of them over the next wek. That border has to be worked over and some of our well rotted compost added into it …then I’ll plant it up with potatoes. We don’t have a huge vegetable garden but I think it will be worth it to plant the whole border up ..>Some squares with our favourite early jersey benne and some squares with a later crop such as Ilam hardy… This year we have a new pest in New Zealand . Potato/tomato Psyllids. First reported in 2006 in Auckland they are speading quickly throughout the country … This is a major issue for both hobbyist and farmers ..I hope it never reaches Wellington ..But it will …

I’ve been buying heirloom seeds again … We had a very successful year last year with few flops … Tomatoes while turning out to be a lot of work in maintenance and worry about lack of flowers setting early on were delicious and with the variety of plants grown we had a different taste at each eating :O) And with 60+ kilos of fruit we managed to make more chutney and sauce than we would ever get through ourselves ….. . This year I am going to try some more varieties plus a few of the faves from last year … In front of my keyboard, waiting to be typed onto my seed list spreadsheet are Japanese Black trifele that actually comes from Estonia not Japan (go figure) but said to be delicious non the less, “Purple Russian” a cool tolerant variety from the Ukraine. Said to be the best purple/black variety on the work market …. And “Siberian tomatoes”. Also Cool tolerant ..With the long range weather forecast predicting a cold spring I’m hoping these plants will produce well despite the ‘el nino’ weather pattern ….We’ll see….

I’ve also another Pumpkin bed to build ..Hoping to beat my previous record set last year :O) I’ve also bought some other – more eatable – pumpkin seeds and need to find a place for them to grow as well …Well away from my Giant pumpkin efforts…I have some ideas on that ….

McD I need to talk to you about pumpkins and flower beds :O}

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

End of one gardening Year - Start of the Next

For the Maori of New Zealand the Shortest day (same day as the longest day in the northern hemisphere) heralds the start of the new year ... For the gardener this is especially true . From that day on as the days start to legnthen, Camelas start to flower and buds of trees start to fatten and the sap starts rising. It's a short dormancy in New Zeland for plants.

It's been a strange winter in that despite the unusually cold weather it's been patchy and in between we've had some reasonably warm days ... Plants are confused with some Rhodos and camelias flowering earlier than usual .. We have at least one native Kowhai tree in flower in the area ..These normally flower in September. We have Daffodils on the roundabout that begins our township already starting to flower... Put this into perspective - It would be like daffodils in January in England ........

Being out of action with my back problems, I didn't get to plant any vegetables in the autumn for winter cropping .. .We do have a few cabbages and pak choi and celery and chard to pick at. It's all great for stir fries or even just adding to stews and casseroles ....

We've planted a heap of garlic this year after last years wonderful heritage crop. So different to the shop bought garlic ..Very pungent.. wonderful taste ... We also planted a small crop of Elephant garlic this time ...Just to try it ... The garlic did try and make a break for freedom pushing itself up and back out of the ground ...Soil a little light ?? Planted too shallow ?? One heck of a good root system produced already - We tucked them back into the soil a little deeper this time with a good pat of the soil on top...

Strawberries were not only a great success last season fruit wise they shot a load of runners out that snaked their way across the raised beds. We've made use of a few of them  to extend the population ...Now having 8 squares (2 rows) at the end of each of the 3 main beds ... Already trying to flower I must get some decent compost for them with potash to get them fruiting .....

I was caught out at the weekend ...We saw some Broad Bean Seelings in punnets at the local garden centre ... Bought a few punnets as we planted nothing in the autumn ... Only to find out in reading that they do not grow well this way ..Not liking transplanting .... What can I say - I'd always planted seeds previously. I just never thought it would be an issue with seedlings ... Never trust a garden Centre ........ However they are in and we shall see ....But will be planting seeds as well very soon for my Christmas lunch harvest...

Another semi failure  story ...I'm trying to build a polytunnel over one of the raised beds (maybe two) .. We bought the tubing at what turned out to be about 3 times the cost we could have gotten it for AND what we bought was too flimsy for want of a better word ... But we will see what we can do with it and some wood or cane supports .... 

In one border wit hthe polytunnel I want to plant some potatoes ... The jury is out on this, As to whether the winter is mild enough to allow the spuds to grow .. One NZ gardening magazine  editor tried to gow them a couple of months back only to have the frost turn them black ... Maybe in a poly tunnel we can do it ....

I Quite like the idea of this 

Kitchen garden Design

Planting a raised border for a specific requirement...Not sure how practical that is ...Especially with the square foot gardening as you do tend to plant what you can and what wasn't there previously for rotation cropping...... 

More Bad news at the Dinzie household...Pepsi Dog (picture in last post) has ruptured both knees of her back legs ..Old age sucks eh .. She's on painkillers now but they want to operate ...$5,000 for the ops alone, never mind the pre/post op charges  ... She's almost 12 years old and life expectancy of up to 14 ......  

Well that is number 4 of the bad things that can happen to the dinzie household in 2009 .. And it's only July .....