Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. -Maya Angelou

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wild Wild West

I could have been in Nashville but nobody was packing any heat. I was in in fact at Boyup Brook Western Australia  for their famous annual country music festival. The little town was packed with caravans of every shape and size, awash with folk in checked shirts, denim and assorted cowboy hats, and a wannabe Slim Dusty on every street corner with his twanging guitar. For those of you who know me well this was not my idea of heaven..........country and western music is my "bete noir" and is apt to push me over the edge if listened to when I am feeling low.........another sad song of "he gone and done me wrong, now the dog has died and I'm in jail" is enough to make me want to commit bodily harm to my person........however I am now married to a fan of all things country so compromise is the key. By the end of the week I was foot tapping along with the rest of them. My favorite a blind guitarist called Lorin Nicholson a man with real vision and speaking the universal language. Mind you......we had a young girl playing next to us at the street market, who moaned her way through every song in her repertoire and definitely needed to be put out of her misery.  I could have cheerfully shoot her myself , there is only so much one can take.

We stayed at Harvey Dickson's a few miles out of town, a rustic campsite, no power or water but at only $8 a night whose complaining We took lots of al fresco showers and enjoyed the dusty solitude.........and merciful silence. We went to a "brekky showdown" in his shed, the ceiling of which is festooned with objects from yesteryear and a stage dedicated to the KING. Some wonderful Bush Poets, regaled us with humorous Aussie verse,so funny we cried with laughter.
Tommy became the talk of the town, winning first prize and $300 for his "bush sculpture"entitled "Sacrifice". I have an amazing husband who has more chutzpah than anyone I have ever known. While we were at Quininup he spent time picking up old iron railway sleeper nails, barbed wire and gnarled bits of wood, and using some of my beads magically turned them into works of art. I was so proud of him! Trouble is we are now living with "an artist" they need lots of TLC


It must be a weatherman's heaven,forget the precipitation he has far more exciting scenarios  like heat waves,cyclones, flash floods and now bush fires to report on.. Enough already! Give us a break,  please.  In the last few weeks we have run through every weather  imaginable except perhaps snow! At the beginning of the month Tommy and I had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We had to go back to Armadale Hospital for Mr T's  annual checkup and as we drove into the outskirts of Perth we hit smoke. I had booked us into  a quaint chalet in the hills above Armadale, right next to a picturesque dam and with stunning views. We realized something was wrong when the proprietor came out to greet us and to tell us there was no electricity. As we got out of the car and gazed across the hillside below us all we could see were hugh billows of smoke.  He said we were in no immediate danger as the wind was blowing away from us but we felt uneasy. As we unpacked  we heard a terrific noise as a helicopter dropped down to suck water up from the dam right outside our room to water bomb. We realized that  the  fire was obviously nearer than we thought.  Then a ranger came past and advised us to leave.........so we hastily crammed everything back into the car and made a quick getaway.. Armadale was chaos with frightened people flocking to the town hall, for safety. Most of them had lost everything and had escaped with what they stood up in, many had their pets in their arms. It was a sorry sight but thankfully no loss of life,and started by an off duty policeman using his angle grinder. I don't fancy being in his shoes with over 80 homes lost, he's got a unhealthy amount of guilt to deal with poor man.

Room with a View

We are now camping at Cheynes Beach, on the south western coast, trying to catch some fish but not with much luck.......not biting!

Soul Food Kitchen

Pork and Spinach Soup

 Had an enjoyable couple of evenings with Jan and Brian Beattie and this is Jan's recipe for a delicious heartwarming soup.
Especially good after an alien sighting on the Nullabor!

1 Pork Hock
1 onion chopped

Place in a large saucepan and cover hock with cold water and add some salt. Cook until meat is falling off the bone, a pressure cooker will do this in a jiffy. Remove hock, put aside to cool. Add the following, all chopped finely.grate ginger and crush garlic.

1 bunch of spinach
1 clove of garlic
1 small knob of ginger
1 chicken stock cube
2 tablespoons of soya sauce
1 cup thin vermecilli noodles

Disolve stock cube in one cup of liquid, bring to the boil and cook until noodles are soft. Meanwhile take meat off the bone and chop into small pieces. Add to soup.

Delicious, enjoy with some crusty bread.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Advance Australia Fair

Waltzing Matilda
Two days anxiously watching and waiting for Cyclone Bianca to hit us with expected winds of 120ks an hour  but luckily the lady was a no show. We didn't even need to tie the kangaroos down mate and  finished the month with a whimper and not a bang. Poor Queensland wasn't so fortunate with Yasi ,devastation of homes and farms near the coast but thankfully no loss of life, in fact three babies born, imagine they will dine out on that story all their lives..........but guess we wont be having bananas any time soon. One of things I am trying to come to terms with living in Australia is the sheer scale of the disasters they have here.Nothing small about this country,and their hearts are just as expansive. It is time for us to be moving on. We have mixed feelings. The longer you stay in one place the harder it is to move, and Quininup has become a special place for us. We have loved the camaraderie here in the camp and have made some good friends. We celebrated my first Australia Day with bunting flying from the awning and the fishing rod as a makeshift flagpole. Had a  traditional "breakfast barbie" with  Carol and Nev who cooked up some great Aussie tucker and spent the day waltzing with the roos. I now have a tame "28" parrot, who has lost his tail, (does that make him a "14" I wonder.).............we have named him Waldo, don't ask me why.  He has taste for sunflower seeds and will happily munch handfuls but  attacks any other parrots who dare to muscle in on a free lunch.

Jenny and Jack with their two small boys, Jackson and Braydon and not forgetting Scruffy the dog, have spent the last sixteen months on the road.They have been in Quininup for the last eight as caretakers of the park.  They opted out of the rat race,selling up their business in Queensland to spend more time together as a family. Home is a 16 ft caravan filled with all their worldly possessions. I take my hat off to them, not many of us would have the courage and resilience to bring up a family in such a confined space. Though they do have one enormous advantage, the whole of Oz is their backyard. Whilst they have been here they have managed to grow tomatoes and cucumbers up their awning ropes. I am filled with admiration as Jenny  home schools  the computer savvy  boys with  the help of S.I.D.E.  (Schools of Isolated  and Distance Education). The boys have a taste for rice smothered in balsamic vinegar.......maybe some budding gourmands! They love the adventure of the open road with  new places to explore, and they will be heading off soon to the Eyre Peninsular in South Australia and no doubt Jackson and Braydon will be fishermen like their father the next time I see them. Travel safe guys.

Waldo and me.......
On one of my walks around Karri Lake I came across a family of Emus busily eating blackberries. I don't know who was more surprised, them or me.The adult and six babies eyed me in alarm,gathered themselves into a line like a miniature group of burlesque dancers and sashayed off their tail feathers bouncing. Their choreographer chiding them on faster with clicks "C'mon girls ,shake that bootee and give them a grand exit!" The female Emu is a liberated bird. Once she has mated and laid her clutch of aqua blue eggs she hands over all responsibility to her husband. He then sits, hatches and generally cares for his brood till they are large enough to fend for themselves. Can't you just picture it........."That's it honey......I'm off to join the girls down at the Bramble Bar, catch yer next year for a bit of whoopee.".... now there's food for thought.
Ye ha!  I am dusting off my hat, squeezing into my jeans and heading  inland to Boyup Brook for the Country Music Festival for five days. Hoping the local cowboys and girls have a liking for beads as I have been busy decorating cowboy hats  Intsimbi style.
Wagons roll!

Soul Food Kitchen

This is a delicious dip to share around the barbie or whenever a group get together for "happy hour" Feeds many!

Quininup Corn and Bacon Loaf

450g  round cob loaf
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of fresh garlic crushed
250g tub soft cream cheese
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
1 dessertspoon Dijon mustard
2 rashers bacon roughly chopped
420g can of creamed sweetcorn
1/4 cup of sour cream
Couple of dashes of Worcester sauce
Handful of chopped fresh herbs,parsley,chives,thyme.

Slice the top off the cob loaf. Remove the inside soft bread. Place cob on a baking tray. Cut the soft bread into small strips and arrange the extra pieces on a separate tray, spray them with oil.
Fry bacon and onion in a little oil for 2/3 minutes. Cool. Place in a mixing bowl and add other ingredients. Mix well and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.Spoon into prepared loaf. Place the top back over the cob.
Bake the loaf at 200C for 25 minutes, then add the bread pieces to the oven. Cook the loaf and bread pieces for a further 10 minutes or until the filling is hot and the bread is crunchy.Wrap in foil until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature. Use the smaller pieces of bread to dip first and then break up the cob loaf from the top as you work your way down to the bottom. There won't be any left, believe me! Delicious.