Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tassie Touring

We had really been looking forward to our first trip to Tasmania ever since we booked it over a year ago. Everyone we spoke to instantly said "oh we love Tassie" and we hoped to join the fan club on our return.

We were even excited about the overnight ferry crossing on the Spirit of Tasmania. The Bass Strait is one of the roughest seas in the world and stories of hellish experiences are abound . However, we were blessed with clement weather, light winds and little swell. Thankfully the delicious dinner we enjoyed on board stayed rightfully in our tummies and all was well.

We rented a beautiful country house for the week in West Kentish in the Northern Tasmanian countryside. Kentisbury Country House.

It was just lovely as was the welcome we received from the owners Melissa & Peter and their old, faithful hound Basil. (even though he was a bit smelly he was not denied lots of cuddles)

Mount Roland
En route we had stopped at a farmers market in Deloraine and plundered lots of fresh local produce, Melissa also invited us to help ourselves to anything we liked from the kitchen garden at the side of the house and had left us a box of freshly laid chicken eggs too.

Tasmania is famous for its high quality produce whether it be from paddock or pasture. We certainly enjoyed rustling up some delicious dinners in the beautifully appointed farmhouse kitchen.

The Spring flowers were out in abundance all around the property, the blue fairy wrens dazzled in their cobalt blue and  a pair of swallows were industriously building a muddy nest in the door way.

The chickens pecked randomly around the yard and we knew we had come to stay in a special place - the views were just stunning and oozed a serenity that brought a smile with every gaze yonder.

Without any fight whatsoever we allowed the laid back pace of life in this Northern Tasmanian idyll to wash over us and bid us peace.

The first few days were grand and we enjoyed a picnic by the lake with bubbles and all without a single soul in sight!

After that the weather closed in and our plans to climb Cradle Mountain were thwarted.

Mother Nature is as Mother Nature does, so we pottered around instead, a coffee shop here, a gift shop there and a smattering of vineyards to wet the whistle, there was also plenty of sofa surfing too.

The change in our plans was not displeasing!

On the Thursday of that week, it was Hubster's birthday.We headed up to a local vineyard where they served the most remarkable gourmet platters. The goodies were spilling off this huge plate and even  two guzzle guts like us couldn't manage the whole lot.

The pickled, spiced cherries were a taste sensation and the Estate Pinot Noir, light and velvety.

Needless to say there was more sofa surfing that afternoon!

Our lazy slumber was later punctuated with a knock at the door from Melissa. She presented us with a birthday cake she had made for Gareth! It was the naughtiest thing ever, a gooey, rich chocolate indulgence with clotted cream and a thick raspberry coulis. How did she know him so well?

We really needed to find a mountain to climb after that collaboration of calories but boy it was so good!

That night we had an incredible lightening storm and the rain lashed and the thunder crashed. I barely slept a wink, not because of the storm but because Melissa and Peter had taken delivery of a little calf. Chummly, as he was called, was the runt, with his growth stunted he was of no commercial use whatsoever and his future looked bleak. Melissa and Peter came to the rescue and decided to take him on as their pet.

Parted from his Mummy for the first time, I worried for the little fella that night.

Chummly however, was just fine and by the end of the week seemed to have settled nicely into his fabulous, forever home.

Chummly the Calf, just the size of a large dog and always will be. Aww!
The next day was a little brighter so we seized the opportunity to head out to Moles Creek to the wildlife sanctuary there.

Here, we were enthralled to see Tasmanian Devils for the first time, Wombats up close and personal, wallabies, quolls, possums and pademelons, you name it and they were caring for them, wonderfully!

Many were victims of road accidents or orphaned as a result. It is not uncommon for the baby in the pouch to survive even if the mother is killed on the road.

The breeding program for the terribly endangered Tasmanian Devil was also in full swing and numbers had swelled to 68 in the sanctuary. I do so hope we don't lose these amazing animals forever.

Tasmanian Devil who really doesn't deserve his devilish name!

A possum called Blossom

Our cuddles with Georgie the wombat were an unexpected delight, we thought we might be able to stroke her at most but to hold her and for her be so content with that, was a joy.

I had to chuckle, when the keeper handed Georgie to Gareth, he said

"Just hold her like a baby"

An expression of utter confusion crossed Hubster's face.

"And that is how exactly?" he replied.

Hee, hee. As ever though with all animals, my Dr Dolittle husband was a natural.

It was soon time to leave Northern Tassie and wend our way to the west coast.

The beautiful Freycinet national park beckoned where we swapped our fabulous country pile for a somewhat rough and ready beach house - a beach house however with a view from a fairy tale.

So far subscription to the "Tassie Fan Club" was looking good.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Love you Melbourne!

We love Melbourne.

Bayside or City, it is all so accessible and a wonderful way of life.

How blessed we are and we do know it. We have been afforded this incredible opportunity in life not to just live here in the most "liveable city in the world" (voted for the 4th year running) but to experience this awe inspiring country full stop.

These are just some pics taken from our day today, from one of our regular "linky lonky" Sundays, where we meander around taking in the views and feeling ..... wow this is where we live, isn't it remarkable?

How bloody lucky.

Whatever the future holds, Melbourne is etched on our hearts, Big time.

Nothing more to say but we just love Melbourne. Nothing not to love! If you have not been here then put it on the list people.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Masta the Pasta!

Christmas 2013 and Hubster bought me a pasta machine.

I knew if I kept it in the box, in the cupboard, it would never see the light of day in spite of best intentions.

So I clamped it hard and fast to the kitchen work top, where for the past 8 months, it has been passively glaring at me. Unable to avert my eyes any longer from the guilt of it's lack of use, I sourced a course and hopped on board.

Pasta is easy right? 3 main ingredients, simple eh? However, I know there is an art to this pasta lark and I was keen to learn how to do it - proper!

So on Saturday morning, I set off nice and early and made my way to Green Olive at Red Hill on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula.

The roads were quiet, apart from the incessant stream of "mamils" on bikes racing like demons to Arthur's Seat. (Mamil = Middle Aged Men In Lycra)

I took a right turn into Green Olive and meandered through beautifully pruned olive groves. Ducks and chooks scattered the gravel driveway busily pecking away and not a bit perturbed. As I pulled up in front of the lake flanked by gorgeous blue gums, I was greeted by a chipper little black and tan Kelpie called Rasa. I had such a warm feeling about the place and my day ahead and a doggie welcome can never be surpassed.

Mrs TJ was very happy.

Greg the owner was there on hand to greet me in the Farm shop, offered me a cuppa straight away whilst the 10 assembled master chefs made each others acquaintance. I was the only one there under my own steam but that was ok, everyone seemed pretty friendly.

Shane, the head chef showed us into a room at the back of the main kitchen where everything was set up for us. He was definitely no Gordon Ramsay in temperament, he was softly spoken and very gentle but perfectly clear with his instruction. Just goes to show, you don't have to be "bolshi".

You know when you have kneaded it enough, when you prod your finger into the dough
and the imprint stays there. If it springs back keep kneading!

We made tagliatelle and tortellini. Everyone did really well there were no disasters at all but there are some definite tips for success which made all the difference.

I was really chuffed with my little tortellinis!
We kept half of what we made to bring home and the other half was stored in the fridge to be cooked for our lunch. We were treated to a wine tasting from the small vineyard on the property and we were able to choose a glass of our liking to enjoy with our lunch. As we tasted there were bowls of olives from the trees I had encountered on my way in, they were absolutely delicious.

The homemade lamb sausages looked pretty tasty too!

With my lunch, Tagliatelle with a Puttanesca (black olives, tomatoes, capers etc) sauce, I opted for the Kelpie Bridge sparkling as it was very refreshing and not too heavy on the ABV.

The sun shone, the lake glistened, Rasa appeared for a few more guaranteed pats and the blue gums swayed in the breeze. It was at this point I would have loved to have shared the moment with Hubster and/or a friend or two. I vowed to come back for lunch with both at some point in the future.

I also marvelled somewhat enviously at the raised vegetable and herb garden and mused....... one day.

I came home armed with a bottle of their estate Pinot Noir, some lovely fat olives, some gluggy, unctuous olive oil and a snazzy pair of herb scissors..... oh and the pasta know how!

All in all t'was a fine day albeit a tad messy!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Hangin loosa in Noosa!

We still haven't got used to the fact that Winter months are in June, July and August. So given the persistent grey and dreary days of recent weeks, we decided to grab a week away and find some sun.

Everyone said "ah you must got to Noosa!"

To be fair just all I spoke to didn't have a bad word to say about this part of the Sunshine Coast. Restaurant recommendations and places to see soon came flooding in too.  Even the name the Sunshine Coast fills you with feelings of warming rays and lazy days lounging by the surf.

It sounded just the job.

Noosa is easy. It is set up as the perfect beach resort and Mother Nature has provided all the required basic ingredients.

A stunning sandy beach with just the right amount of surf to make any wannabe-surfer dude feel like a pro, a beautiful wide river mouth to tempt all fishing enthusiasts and a totally unspoilt national park with breath taking coastal walks and tranquil, lush forest trails to meander through.

We stayed in Noosa Heads at the Tingirana Beach Resort overlooking Hastings beach. The apartment was fabulous, all mod cons and a lovely big balcony where we watched the world and their surf boards go by.

Right behind us was the very chic and fashionable Hastings Street Strip teeming with colourful boutique shops, bars and restaurants and a good smattering of ice cream parlours and coffee shops.

However, I did approach the holiday with some trepidation. Would I be able to keep my pioneering, adventure seeking Husband pinned to just one place for a whole week? Would my venture scout cope?

Well I needn't have worried too much, I think you can see that we both adapted to our environment quite quickly.

One of the great features of the beach was this board walk that went the whole length of the front. Perfect for wheelchairs and pushchairs and those who were not sure footed. It gave easy access to all the cafes and restaurants and I was pretty impressed.

Well I must have been feeling demob happy because I actually got into the water, something I hardly ever do unless I am donned in a full wetsuit with a couple of tanks on my back.

 I did test the temperature first and it was lovely but I couldn't persuade Hubster to follow me and I think ......

..... these little critters were the reason why. There were a few blue stingers floating around and although not highly dangerous, they will certainly give you a good "nettle sting". I think they are really quite beautiful and I became very annoyed and perturbed when I saw a little boy belligerently stabbing one with a stick as his Father looked on without a care.

There was no doubt tho that we were on a beach holiday in Oz, all the classic images were there in spade fulls.

Young, old, expert and beginners alike all took to the surf. It made for fascinating viewing and a few giggles at some spectacular fails.

And no Aussie beach would be complete with out the ever present "hunky" lifeguards.

Of course I bagged the hunkiest one for myself! 

It was also really exciting watching the surf club practise their life saving techniques. The photo does not depict the speed that they were rolling in at, at all but it was exhilarating to watch. I would have loved to have hitched a ride on board.

We were also able to indulge in our passion for seafood in a big way. Whether for lunch or dinner, we found it virtually impossible to swerve the Hervey Bay Scallops, the Coffin Bay Oysters or the juicy Malloolooba Prawns....even on pizza!

Even breakfast was a gastronomic delight, albeit seafood free. Hubster adored the smoked ham hock baked beans with poached eggs and sour dough.

However, Noosa was not just about the beach life, just a 10 minute walk away from our resort and we were in the National Park.

The walks were really beautiful and it will be of no surprise for you to learn that we covered absolutely EVERY walking trail there was. My venture scout Hubster, armed with his trusty map and innate spatial abilities, ensured that we did not leave an inch of the trail unfettered.

The 10km treks certainly helped ward off the effects of our culinary indulgences and our much sought after sun downers.

We tramped high up on the cliffs, across virgin, white sandy beaches and through undulating forest with skyscraper gum trees waving loftily in the breeze. What is more, we encountered very few people, just lovely.

(Again what is great is that the trail up to Dolphin Point is wheelchair accessible)

 The sap oozing from the Red Gum Eucalyptus really did look like it was bleeding from gaping wounds. Quite graphic in a way.

There wasn't a huge amount of wildlife to be seen but the feathery friends we encountered were certainly characterful.

Mr Pelican was peacefully resting on a post, no doubt digesting his early breakfast catch.

This is the closest we have ever got to a Parakeet, they were so tame and happy to take crumbs from our fingers. Their vibrant feathers really are amazing and just like their adornment, they are pretty loud!

However, most surprising of all were the Brush Turkeys. They were absolutely everywhere and no-one batted an eyelid as they nonchalantly wandered on the beach, up the road and through bars and restaurants looking for rich pickings.

So all in all our first beach resort holiday in a very long time was a roaring success. I am hoping to convince Hubster of more of the same ilk for the future.

Mrs TJ signing off with many happy memories.