Time for topping trees…

Before

Before

These trees were last trimmed, down to the level of the fence, approximately 4 years ago. Just look how they have grown. So it is time to get “Big Jim” and his team in to get them back under control.

Ready to climb

Ready to climb

It was poetry in motion watching him working.

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Meanwhile in the front garden the team were thinning out the Golden Cane Palms.

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Jack helps drag the branches round to the mulcher. What team work…

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With the leaning palm fronds down there is more light getting to my no-dig veggie patch.

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The big paper bark and gum are not really very suitable for such a small garden, but we inherited them when we bought the house in 1998. being natives we are not allowed to chop them right down. It looks quite a drastic prune but in next to no time they will be shooting out new branches.

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The paper bark flowered so well this year, but it will be a while before it looks like this again.

Thanks Jim and your team for a good job.

Categories: travel | 16 Comments

Travel Theme : Freedom

In 2009 we decided a major downsizing was needed to create the freedom to travel. So we had a garage sale.

Getting ready

Getting ready

Lots of stuff...

Lots of stuff…

Ready and waiting...

Ready and waiting…

and the people came...

and the people came…

It is amazing how liberating it is to have a good clean-out. Things that haven’t been used, clothes that are never worn, objects that have been bought on impulse, but not really needed. At the end of the day almost all gone. The few things left went to the op shop.

Not only things were being disposed of we also downsized the space we lived in. Moving from a 3 bedroom house to a one room Granny flat/studio. Keeping a few pieces of furniture the rest was sold/given away.

Now we were ready, we had the FREEDOM to travel.

But we then downsized even further and Matilda came into our lives.

Setting off

Setting off

This small van gave us the freedom to travel around Australia. For a year in 2010 we travelled 37000 kilometres, met many interesting people and saw the incredible diversity of this great land.

Crossing the Nullabor Plains

Crossing the Nullabor Plains

To see more about this iconic part of Australia click here.

Freedom camping at the beach

Freedom camping at the beach

Freedom camping in the outback, cooking over open fires in the camp oven.

Camping alongside rivers

Camping alongside rivers and billabongs in the shade of the mighty gum trees.

Feeling as free as the birds to follow our own path.

Feeling as free as the birds to follow our own path.

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The open road, the anticipation of what is over the hill. That is the great feeling of FREEDOM…

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Feel free to click here and go to Ailsa’s “Where’s my backpack” for many more glimpses into the freedom bloggers have found.

 

Categories: Australia, camping, freedom, freedom camping, outback, photos, travel theme | Tags: , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Travel Theme : Slow

What an appropriate theme Ailsa has chosen this week as at the moment I am living in the slow lane.

The slow way to town

The slow way to town

Life changes when you do not own a car. Everything takes longer. I am definitely more aware of the weather. Which direction and how strong the wind is blowing. Check the sky to see if any clouds are looming on the horizon. Usually the weather is consistently fine in South-East Queensland, look at that blue sky, but on the occasionally wet days plans are changed. How important was that trip? Can it be left till tomorrow?

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There is always public transport, but that can be slow too. Waiting for the bus to arrive can be frustrating. Timetables are often erratic so extra time must be allowed to get to an appointment.

But there are definite advantages to going slow. There is time to look around and spot unusual things.

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This smiley face had me reaching for the camera.

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“Say cheese”

Time to smile at passers-by and give a nod and a wave to other cyclists, look over fences at gardens and of course no parking problems or parking fees, just tie up near where ever you go.

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Then there is the money you save…

Yes living in the slow lane has many advantages.

Could you live with out your vehicle?

Categories: Australia, photos, Queensland, slow, travel theme | Tags: , , , , | 38 Comments

How does my garden grow?

It is a week since we built the no-dig garden bed. Did you see it in progress? (Here it is).

I’ve waited patiently for the heat from the compost to cool down. It is cooler now and rain is forecast for the weekend. A good time to put in the seedlings.

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Jack calls this a cradle for my babies! The crows and magpies thought I had built it for them to play in, so this fooled them and keeps them out.

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The netting is easily lifted to get into the bed. The green plastic wire at the back will eventually have beans growing up it.

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I planted these silver beet yesterday and they seem to have settled in OK, so now I am planting the other lettuce and rocket seedlings.

These are sunflower seedlings I carefully nurtured from seeds. This bed gets the full sun so I’ve put the old screen door over them for protection for a couple of days. I love sunflowers and these will grow to 5 feet, all being well…

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The seedlings are slowly taking over. Front right is the box I grew the sunflower seeds in. Still a few waiting to be planted out. On the seat I have some kale and rocket seedlings. Kale is one of the new super foods, even though the kale plants are still babies I pick one of the leaves as I wander by and nibble it. Maybe it will turn me into super woman (she says with a grin… )

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The first crop of lettuce have just about reached their use-by date. Home grown is so tasty, we have salad almost every day.

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This is the herb corner. Basil, coriander, oregano, parsley, rocket, chillies and at the end of the line a mini capsicum.

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These little beauties are just bite sized and I’m waiting, rather impatiently, for them to turn red.

This is a lovely time of the year. It is hot but cools down in the evening, that is when I love to be out in the garden.

Here are some flowers that add a splash of colour at the moment.

The clouds are rolling in, maybe we will get some rain, but I hope we don’t get the storms that hit Brisbane last week. (click here to see the storm) The poor folks in Brisbane are still struggling to clear up and another storm would be catastrophic. We are only 100 kilometres south of Brisbane but didn’t get any of the hail, torrential rain and winds that blanketed that area.

Categories: Australia, Burleigh, garden, Goldcoast, no dig vegetable garden, photos, Queensland, travel, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Looking forward, looking back…A photo essay of 2014…

This song by Slim Dusty touches the nerves of my gypsy soul. It brings back memories of the past year and starts me thinking of the year ahead.

It was this time last year when we sold Matilda our faithful camper van that carried us around Australia for 4 years.

Goodbye Matilda

Matilda takes off with her new owners to new adventures. Goodbye Matilda.

Now it is pedal power.

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I never thought I would be able to survive life, as I know it, without a vehicle. But we made the decision, in December 2013, to be carless for the time being, as during 2014 we would be travelling and having the use of other people’s vehicles.

 Our 2014 adventures took a new direction.

During February and March 2014 we were in New Zealand.

April and May we house sat in Geraldton, Western Australia, and had the use of Hector a grunty, rusty, old, diesel, 4WD Toyota land cruiser that I bonded with and loved driving. Made me feel macho…

June is winter in Australia and we had 4 weeks before the next house sit, so we hired a camper van and toured the south of Western Australia. Visiting friends made during previous travels.

Canberra was the next house sit, July, August, September, October. It is winter and Canberra has a reputation for very cold weather. But the house was warm and Canberra is an interesting place. This time we had the use of an almost brand new Mazda 6, and we had the company of an adorable “Labradoodle” called Molly.

2014 is flying by, we have been away from home almost 9 months but decide on one more 2 week house sit for the year. This time it is on the New South Wales coast. A delightful place called Valla Beach. We have the company of  Rufus, an affectionate blue-heeler, and 3 rather haughty alpacas. This time we are driving a Honda Jazz, a very zippy little car.

Finally we arrive home end of October.

Home

Home

So here I am back home for Christmas and taking time out to catch up with family and friends.

What is in store for us in 2015? Well I am already starting to plan our next adventure and it will be the slow way to New Zealand, something I have never done before and I’m wondering if cruising is going to be my style. Our friends tell us it is so relaxing. Am I ready for relaxing? In the past it has always been the road less travelled, roughing it and minimalist style travel, taking time to go where ever looked interesting.

I’d love to hear from my cyber friends if they have been on a cruise and what they thought of it…

 

Categories: Australia, Canberra, Geraldton, house sitting, New Zealand, photos, Valla Beach, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Travel Theme : Above

Mount Nelson signal  station 049_4000x3000

The view from the lookout on the top of Mount Wellington, Hobart, Tasmania.

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As I came down the mountain Hobart spread out before me on both sides of the Derwent River.

We house sat here for 3 months in 2013

*****************************

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Another memorable flight was over the Bungle, bungles in the Kimberly area. This is the view from above.

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This is the view as I walked toward these amazing formations.

**********************

Travelling is great and there is so much to see, but after an extended trip this is the best view of all from above.

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The best harbour in the world, Sydney. Can you see the iconic sails of the Opera House and the majestic curve of the Harbour Bridge, fondly known as “the old coat-hanger?

*********************

This post is inspired by “ABOVE” Ailsa’s Travel Theme challenge for this week.

Categories: above, Australia, Bungle Bungle, Hobart, Mt Wellington, photos, Sydney, travel theme | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments

The joy of creation in the garden.

I have been inspired by the gardens at the different houses we have been house sitting at.

At Geraldton, Naomi made raised beds from old water tanks and had a flourishing veggie garden on pure sand. (Take another look at it here and be inspired) Malanda had a large organic veggie garden fuelled by copious horse manure and lots of love. (Check it here)

So I came home determined to create an organic veggie patch.

The garden, now, is a crowded tropical paradise, lots of shady areas, so were am I going to find a place for vegetables? Then last week Jack pruned back some of the natives along the road front and suddenly the morning sun flooded along the front of the palms. But palms are voracious thieves stealing all the water and nutrients that veggies need. So I will use Naomi’s solution and make a raised bed.

First a trip to Bunnings, the local hardware store to do the homework. A 2 metre x 1 metre, ready-made corrugated raised bed would cost $99, ouch… I could buy a lot of veggies with that. So to plan B, make our own.

We bought 9 Planks @ 1.8 metres, 3 of them cut in half for the sides, and 4 battens for the corners at a cost of $14.

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Jack assembles the structure then paints the inside with a special paint that will stop any of the chemicals from the tanalising treatment seeping into the soil.

While he does that I clear the area where it will go in front of the palms.

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The blue box is filled with tough rhoeos that will be going to a new neighbour who loves receiving my rejects. Notice that large bromeliad right in the middle of the patch? It will have to come out…

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I will have to find this a new home.

Now to bring the bed around. I am going to create a no-dig garden.

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In the base goes cardboard, old carpet, papers that have been soaked in a bucket of water and other organic rubbish.

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The compost is ready and it goes in next.

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Followed by a liberal sprinkling of chicken manure. Then more compost.

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Lucerne mulch gives an added boost of nutrients, then more cow manure.

In the 28 degree heat the sweat is dripping off me by now, but it is nearly finished.

mixed garden bikes buses pc 038_3264x2448Finally top off with sugarcane mulch, and give it a good watering. Jack has built it with the corner battens raised so I can put netting across to keep off the birds. Crows are a real problem.

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Now I will wait for it all to settle for a week before putting in the seedlings.

Finally I want to share these photos of the Poinciana in full flower. It is about 9 years old and this is the first year it has  flowered so well.

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mixed garden bikes buses pc 011_3264x2448

 

Categories: Australia, Burleigh, garden, Goldcoast, no dig vegetable garden, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 39 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Angular

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The sun creates angles and patterns in the old goal. (Oops did you notice? It should be gaol, thanks Jude for the correction!!!)

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An unusual angle looking up to appreciate the interesting detail in this old pub.

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This exquisite bonsai is a rhapsody of delicate tracery and angles created with care and patience as the tree is manipulated over many years into a thing of beauty.

 

Looking up at the bold, geometric shapes

Looking up at the bold, geometric shapes and angles of the “Brutalist Architecture” of the High Court in Canberra.

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Looking up the tree at an acute angle creates a feeling of strength and power.

 

Windswept trees of the Greenhough Plains

The trees of the Greenhough Plains, near Geraldton, have been forced into this crazy angle by the constant buffeting of the strong winds, but still they survive.

******** ************

Not to put too fine a point on it, though this week, we challenge you to show us what “angular” means to you.

These are just a few samples I found that I think portrays this theme. Check more angles here.

LOGO - wordpress-2014

Categories: angular, Australia, photos, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , | 35 Comments

Travel Theme : Colourful

It is almost 6 years since I spent a winter on the Goldcoast, so that means I have missed the “Winter Sun Festival” one of the most colourful festivals on the Goldcoast, held the first weekend in June every year . It is now called “Cooly Rocks On Festival

It is a real nostalgia trip back to the 50’s and 60’s. The rock n roll era, days of the huge, extravagant American cars, Elvis Presley was King and the skirts and hair styles were big and bouffant.

It is all here, the music, rock n rolling in the street and the cars, hundreds of them. A rev heads paradise.

Let’s go cruising…

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Great Balls of Fire

Great Balls of Fire

Here's Looking at Yer...

Here’s Looking at Yer…

 

Lots of colourful characters too

Lots of colourful characters too

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Did you spot these shy kids???

Did you spot these shy kids???

Way to go!!!!!

Way to go!!!!!

Tear drops are falling on your head...

Tear drops are falling on your head…

 

Now who is that with TWO Elvises or this that Elvii???

Now who is that with TWO Elvises or this that Elvii???

Remember these big gas guzzlers?

Remember these big gas guzzlers?

No festival is complete without a clown and balloons.

No festival is complete without a clown and balloons.

To finish and put you in the mood here is a short video I took at the 2009 festival. Watch that cool old guy, he’s really rockin it…

**********************

Ailsa has asked us to cheer her winter days up with colour, I hope this makes you feel good.

Categories: Australia, colourful, Cooly rocks on festival, Goldcoast, photos, Queensland, travel theme, video | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

Revitalising Rain.

Today it is drizzling. OK that is not going to get down and dirty into the soil, but oh how much the plants love that soft refreshing moisture.

Look at them, they are smiling as they lift their faces to the heavens.

Desert Rose

Desert Rose

I've forgotten the name of this one...

I’ve forgotten the name of this one…

But take a close look at it, it is beautiful

But take a close look at it, it is beautiful

Even the water lilies enjoy the rain.

Even the water lilies enjoy the rain.

Nasturtiums delight me with their orange glow and peppery taste

Nasturtiums delight me with their orange glow and peppery taste

This is only tiny and almost a weed, it tends to take over the rockery area if I don't curb it's enthusiasm.

This is only tiny and almost a weed, it tends to take over the rockery area if I don’t curb it’s enthusiasm.

Finally here are my lettuce only just 4 weeks old and giving me a delicious wholesome feed.

Finally here are my lettuce only just 4 weeks old and giving me a delicious wholesome feed.

It is a pleasure to wander around the garden and share the beauty of nature.

Categories: Australia, flowers, garden, Goldcoast, photos | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

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Postcards from Ian and Margaret

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