A day of cooking

Cooking on the road is different than cooking in a house. Consideration needs to be given as to what is cooked inside the caravan, and when. Fish, curries, and other highly fragrant meals aren’t pleasant in your bedroom! Additionally, cooking anything that requires several hours heats up the caravan considerably more than it does a household kitchen. Meals are more often than not something that we cook up quickly outdoors, with barbecues being the obvious choice.

Sometimes we miss the slower cooked meals, and will spend a day lazing around the caravan, doing normal household chores like washing, and doing some good old ‘slow cooking’ to stock up the freezer. Nothings cooked quite the same as it is in a household kitchen, as can be seen from today’s effort. Cooking in a confined space with limited  bench space and cooking implements means making do. It doesn’t look as pretty, but still tastes okay.

The bedding’s been changed, and all the linen’s freshly laundered and drying in the sun. Don’t you just love the smell of sunshine on your sheets after a day of drying in direct sunlight.

A rich, red bolognaise is simmering in the electric frypan outside, almost ready to portion up for freezing in small meal size quantities. I’ll cook up a box of penne to freeze in similar sized portions separately from the bolognaise. If we’re in a place without power I find it better to have the sauce separated from the pasta. After both are defrosted, I’ll heat the sauce in a large saucepan first along with any vegetable additions (frozen spinach if nothing else is available), then at the last minute stir through the pre-cooked pasta.

Sauce ready to freeze in meal size portions.

Later this afternoon I’ll cook a roast chicken with veggies. The left over chicken will make us a salad tomorrow, and also provide some cooked chicken and left over veggies to add to another couple of meals. As you can see everything is cooked in the one frypan. Firstly the chicken, then the potatoes and pumpkin. Then at the end I place the cauliflower and broccoli flowers stalk down with the flowers supported by the rest of the roast. Not as I’d do it at home, but it works a treat in the caravan situation.

A one pan roast dinner – cooking is very different on the road.

Paul (our bread baker) has made a couple of  loaves . He makes his own recipes in a Panasonic bread maker. He slices them up before freezing.

Yum, I’ve just been handed a crust from this fresh loaf spread with butter and honey.

And to top it off, a batch of pancakes for today’s enjoyment – what a pleasure!

 

A stack of irregular shaped pancakes cooked in the electric frypan

Pancake topping – chopped banana and fresh mandarin in a sauce of mixed maple syrup and bitter orange marmalade.

We’re fortunate that our caravan has a good sized fridge and freezer. I don’t know how people manage months on the road with only a tiny fridge. Our fridge is usually full, and that’s without drinks. We use the Engel for our drinks and for any spill over of fresh produce that won’t fit in the fridge.

We have almost two weeks ahead of us without power, firstly a week at Cape Range National Park, starting tomorrow,  followed by almost a week of free roadside camping as we make our way to Broome. Starting out with all the laundry up to date, and a freezer, fridge and pantry well stocked with the ingredients for easy meals is going to make the trip easier. We’ll  be out of range for phone and internet as of tomorrow, so if things go quiet – it’s only because we haven’t any internet connection. I’ll update with where we are and what we’re doing as soon as technology allows me to.

 

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Coral at Coral Bay

As promised, a few shots of the coral accessible just twenty metres or so out from shore at Coral Bay.

The water’s had a bit of chop on for most of the week, but yesterday it was a bit calmer so we took the opportunity to photograph some of the coral. We’ve seen fish in far greater numbers on other occasions when we’ve snorkelled the reef. Isn’t that just Murphy’s law though, the day you take your camera, they all become camera shy and go into hiding.

A short walk from the main beach around to the start of Paradise beach, don your snorkelling gear and swim out a mere 20 metres,  (actually you can walk most of it). Then drift slowly back with the current…

The dark horizon is the coral reef.

Tropical fish – this one must be an under water Eagles supporter!

Soft mauve tipped coral.

An underwater field of cabbages

Blue tips

A gigantic Rose

Twenty minutes or so later we were back at the main beach. Time for a  welcome drink of iced water, an apple and then a good read relaxing in the shade of our beach shelter on our beach chairs – talk about living the Life of Riley – what a pleasure.

Looking out from our beach shelter.

 

Coral Bay – a Ningaloo Marine Paradise

Book a week at Coral Bay and I can almost guarantee your first impressions will be, ‘what on earth am I going to do for a whole week.’ It won’t take you long to realise how wrong you are. For such a tiny town there’s a heap of adventures to be had.

Our first major trip here was twelve years ago when we rented a house for a week and came up here with eight friends and relatives.

Twelve years ago dressed for our Hawaiian night to celebrate our 50th milestone.

After dinner we watched the sunset over the bay.

and after the sunset -the ladies dancing in the moonlight – it was a great night, great memories!

The trip was to celebrate Paul and I reaching the mid century mark, and to commemorate the occasion we decided we’d like to swim with the Whale Sharks. What an experience that was – AMAZING!

There’s so many experiences to be had. As I mentioned there’s boat tours from here that take you out past the reef to swim with the Whale Sharks. If you enjoy snorkelling – this is definitely a ‘bucket list’ experience not to be missed. They visit Ningaloo from around April to June to feed on the coral, so plan your trip here at the right time of year to coincide.

There’s also boat trips that take you out to swim with the Manta Rays – gentle giants not to be confused with Sting-rays. This is still on our bucket list, but we’re undecided if we’ll do it on this trip, and whether we’ll do it from Coral Bay, or a little further up the peninsula from Exmouth.

There’s quad bike tours that take you out adventuring through the countryside and to surrounding bays where you’ll see turtles swimming.

There’s deep sea fishing charters. We’ve seen people coming back with some fish worthy of a photograph or two for their albums, not to mention several tasty meals from each fish.

There’s canoe coral snorkelling trips too. On our 50th birthday trip here we went on one of the canoe tours courtesy of our daughter. It was something we would never have looked at doing ordinarily, but I’m so pleased we did it. The coral we saw was awesome. I’d suggest another bucket list adventure for any snorkelers – it won’t disappoint.

And for the Littlies (and the not so little) there’s afternoon fish feeding of the North West snapper that live a protected life, in the protected bay. The crowd gathers in the shallows at 3.30pm Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, standing with legs apart. Small portions of fish food is distributed to the visitors to drop for the fish. Squeals of delight abound as the 50cm long Spangled Emperor dart in and out of legs with the sun bouncing off their iridescent blue scales. What a delight!

One of many Spangled Emperor, most of which are around 50cm long.

We were here at this same time of year in 2005 as we’re here this time. However, last time it was considerably warmer. This time the breezes are a bit stronger, and any breeze seems to drop the water temperature several degrees. My memories from twelve years ago are that we were all in the water virtually from sun up till sun set. With the breezes up this year, we are getting in most days, but it’s not ‘bath warm’ as it was then, so an hour at a time seems to be the longest we can manage.

As the main bay is a sanctuary zone, there’s plenty of tropical  fish swimming in the shallows just a metre or two off shore that will keep you spell bound for as long as you can stay in the water. There’s still remnants of the coral that used to abound in the bay, but unfortunately most of it has been eroded in this section now. Sadly things like coral reefs and tourists don’t co-exist very well without sanctions, and, in this case, the sanctions came a little too late to preserve the reef in it’s entirety. I’m pleased that the sanctions did come though, and in time to still preserve enough of Ningaloo Reef for us still to enjoy.

Fish living the life of Riley in their protected zone.

Tropical Zebra fish.

Pretty Sting-rays happily grazing on the sea floor.

Unlike the Great Barrier Reef where you have to visit on a big boat taking an hour or two to get you out to the reef, the Ningaloo Reef comes almost up to our shore. As I’ve said you can row out in a canoe taking less that half an hour to get to some amazing coral structures. However, you don’t even need a canoe. Apart from the small bits left in the main bay, a short walk around the point will bring you Paradise Beach.

A short walk past this point to Paradise Beach – amazing coral only twenty metres from shore.

Drop your towel at the point and walk about 100 metres south, don your snorkelling gear and swim out about 20 metres. Then drift back with the current – I’ve seen more fish and better coral on this 100 metre drift only 20 metres off shore than I saw on several snorkelling stops at the Great Barrier Reef. We haven’t as yet done the shore to Coral swim this trip as the breezes are creating a bit of water chop – but watch this space in few days time when hopefully we’ll have some awesome pictures of coral for you to see.

Galena Bridge to Coral Bay

After our night at Galena Bridge we headed for world heritage listed Shark Bay.

Green ‘twenty eight’ parrots at Galena Bridge

Reading all the Wiki camp reviews (our travel bible), it appeared that Hamelin Station had the best atmosphere, so that’s where we headed. We gather after our two night stay, that most of the positive Wiki reviews had been written by patrons who had been lucky enough to be there when a sociable crowd had gathered. On the two nights we were there, the travellers seemed to be more solitary, and stayed in their own caravans, so the reported atmosphere of commoradie wasn’t in evidence.

With Hamelin Station being close to the main highway, and over 100kms from the townships of Denham and Monkey Mia, we felt too far away from everything. However, we did enjoy the birdlife on the station.

A Rainbow Bee-eater

Zebra Finch

We took a drive to Nanga Station on Mother’s day, approximately 50 kms away, for an ice-cream. Then a visit to Shell Beach, and the Stromatalites. Shell Beach is literally a beach of undulating Shell dunes, millions and millions of tiny shells.

Small shells that make up Shell Beach.

If you’re not familiar with Stromatatlites, they’re the oldest living organisms known to exist on our planet, and I gather are one of the main reasons Shark Bay captured the attention for World Heritage listing. All interesting, but not as captivating for us they would be to Marine Biologists. There’s a boardwalk that goes out over the warm, shallow water so you get to look down on the rock-like, living, formations. While for us it was only mildly interesting to see, the ambience created by the water softly lapping over hundreds of Stromatalites was amongst one of the most peaceful ambiences I’ve yet to experience.

Rock-like living Stromatalites.

From Hamelin Station we travelled onto Carnarvan for another two nights, staying at the Winter Sun Caravan Park. An enjoyable two days there that included a successful mornings fishing. Paul caught a lovely flathead, several good sized whiting, and a few undersized bream. I only managed a couple of undersized bream, so nothing to keep for me. We’ve ear-marked Carnarvon and the Winter Sun for a return visit, with a longer stay next time.

Yesterday we arrived at Coral Bay. Temperatures are expected to be around 30 most days, the skies are blue, the water’s pleasantly warm, and there’s a gentle breeze blowing. We’re here for a week. What a pleasure!

A mix of blue waters in Coral Bay

And more of the same….

I’m pleased to say, so far we’re sticking to our plan of shorter travel days. All trips between destinations so far have been between two and a half and three and a half hours. Not exhausting at all.

Galena Bridge

We left Lake Indoon around 9.30 this morning, and arrived at Galena Bridge just after mid-day. What a pleasure it is to be travelling shorter distances in comparison to our usual full days of travel. With only a short distance planned for the day we had time for a cuppa in bed this morning, and I even read a couple of chapters of my book before rising. Then it was a leisurely breakfast of yogurt and fruit before filling our travel mugs with coffee, and starting out for today’s trip. With such a short distance – not even 300kms,  we barely even needed a loo stop.

A quick mini set up as we’re staying hooked up, then lunch cooked in the van. That’s almost a first. On our previous longer travelling days, we would make lunch to eat as we travelled along. I think, and hope those days are now long behind us. This is a much more leisurely way to travel, allowing us to enjoy the trip, as well as the destination.

Lunch and dishes out of the way, we set off to explore our surroundings on foot.

How good is this on your doorstep, and for free,

and this

and this…

The area is divided into two camping areas with caravans on one side of the river, and tent groups on the other. I’m not sure if that’s the usual way of things, but that’s how it is today. Over the river from us is a large group of back-packers on tour, all with their little tents supplied by the tour operator. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be in for a raucous night  as they seemed to be in party mode. All quiet now though, so perhaps they’ve burned out early.

The caravan/camping area on our side is quite large. We have dump points for our chemical toilets, lots of bins for our rubbish, and well maintained drop toilets. A shady walk track runs between the level caravan sites and the river.

Paul meandering down the walk track.

Black swans adding to the tranquility

There’s also several fire pit rings. Hopefully someone will have wood tonight for a bit of a camp fire – there’s nothing quite like a camp fire for the swapping of camping tales.

Free camps, particularly ones as good as this one tend to fill up quickly. We usually arrive late in the afternoon when planning a free stop only to end up on uneven sites nowhere near the best of views. Today, arriving earlier, we’ve found ourselves a  level site in a prime position.

Parked up for the night, and hitched up ready for tomorrows leg of our journey

It’s currently just after 4.30pm and now all the good sites have been taken. The place is filling up fast but there’s still a few spaces. No doubt by morning the area will be full to capacity as the younger back-packers  don’t tend to arrive  until after dark. They like to make the most of their time and money by filling their days completely in the towns, and then heading for a free camp spot to find a place to squeeze into later. I gather not many countries have the facilities we have here for visitors on a budget. They love it, and why wouldn’t they – what’s not to love. It’s good to be living in the ‘lucky country’.

On the road again

After five nights in Perth catching up with family and friends, we’re once again back to living ‘The Life of Riley on Wheels’. And let me tell you, it feels pretty damned good.

Firstly, the five days and nights in Perth. We arrived at our favourite Perth caravan park, Karrinyup Waters around lunch time on Saturday. Time to set up and a quick retail trip before Alice called around for a coffee.

One of two lakes at Karrinyup Waters Caravan Park.

The next morning we enjoyed a pleasant walk with Alice and Tim. Up the beach path from Ocean Reef to Burns Beach, a takeaway coffee (in house dining was to busy to even contemplate), and back again to Ocean Reef. With the coffee, approximately 2 hours, without coffee, not much more than an hour – the Burns Beach Cafe gets very busy on Sunday mornings.

Sunday Night we went with the family to a cafe in Northbridge as Josh had a gig there. The lead singer, Amber, was ill. Never mind, the band managed and compensated quite well without her, even though we could clearly see they missed her as the front person. Most songs went off without a hitch. We took photos of the band, but sadly the stage wasn’t lit well enough so none are good enough to post.

Tim and his dad

Alice and her dad.

Monday, Paul’s birthday – a much needed hair appointment for me, then a visit to friends in the afternoon.

Tuesday, lunch out with friends to celebrate Bob’s 65th birthday, and retirement. We stayed the night at Bob and Di’s, along with Marina and Terry. A lovely night was had by all, drinking, eating and playing cards. We had a good laugh, as we always do. We play an assortment of card games, Pontoon, Brag, various forms of poker, and our own made up version of something that I believe is called Acey Ducey, Shoot the Pot or In-betweens..

It’s an hilarious game, but lethal. This is how our version is played.

Each of us put a dollar’s worth of poker chips in the middle to form a pot.

The first dealer is nominated and shuffles the deck. Two cards are dealt face up to the person to the dealer’s left. That person then has to place a bet against the pot that the next card dealt will fall in-between the two cards already dealt. If an Ace is dealt the player can call it high or low. The wider the gap between the cards the higher the bet is likely to be. This, I believe,  is the basic In-betweens game.

In our version though we’ve added a couple of variations. The first is that should the first two cards not allow for a card to fall in-between, e.g. two threes, or a two and three, then the player nominates that the third card will either be higher or lower than the two cards dealt. Instances when two Kings, or two twos, or a two and three, or a King and Ace (with the Ace nominated as low), most cards dealt will win. Most people will bet whatever remains in the pot.

This is where the game becomes lethal (and often hilarious – thank goodness we all have a sense of humour). In our version we have a penalty should one of the first two cards be repeated with the third card dealt – double the bet must be added to the pot.

So, this is how the first round may go:

1st player is dealt an Ace and a two and nominates the Ace as high. The only possible losing cards will be another Ace or another two. There’s six dollars in the pot, so the player bets the full pot – and is hit with another Ace. He loses $12 and the pot now holds $18.

2nd player is dealt a three and Jack, and bets $2 against the pot. A four turns up so he takes $2 out of the middle reducing the middle to $16.

3rd player is dealt a two and three. She nominates any Aces dealt will be high, which means she can only be beaten by another two or a three. With the odds stacked heavily in her favour she bets $10. A three turns up. Amidst much laughter (and cussing) she adds another $20 to the pot. It now holds $36 and the first round hasn’t even finished.

You may think the odds of this happening would be fairly rare. Let me assure you, it happens often. I’ve seen a pot increase from $6 to over $100 before two rounds are completed. Fortunately, we’re all very good friends and try to ensure none of us gets completely fleeced – we always try and leave some in the pot for any big losers to try to recoup their loses. It’s rare for any of us to end up losing more than $20 over a whole night, and we don’t play often. There’s not many places we could be entertained for so long, with so many laughs for $20 or less a person.

The dealer continues through the pack placing all played cards upside against the unplayed cards. Once through the pack the deal passes to the next player. Should the pot be completely won, all players again replenish it with another dollars worth of chips each. Once the deal passes to the last player the play continues until the pot is completely emptied. It’s a game I’d recommend only with caring friends – without a care factor it could be easy to lose the shirt off your back. With caring friends it’s fast game, and a laugh a minute.

Yesterday, our last day we enjoyed a walk through Bold Park with Alice. Bold park is a very bushy park that feels like you’re miles from civilisation, yet it’s smack bang in the middle of Perth’s expensive Western Suburbs. A wonderfully maintained track, good hills to get our heart rates up, and the occasional glorious city view peeping through the trees – it’s a gorgeous place. Then Josh met us afterwards at Clancy’s Fish pub, overlooking City Beach – good food, tasty tap beers, and a view to die for,  a lovely last day in Perth for a while.

City views from Bold Park.

And today – it’s good-bye to Perth and for approximately five months. We’re now approximately three hours north of Perth at a free camp on the banks of Lake Indoon (near Eneabba). There’s flushing toilets, hot showers, and good shelter overlooking the lake for happy hour. And as it’s now just gone five, the shelter beckons….. It’s good to be back on the road. What a pleasure!

Pelicans landing on Lake Indoon.

Reality TV has a lot to answer for

I’ve just arrived home from Wednesday’s walk with my local walking group. The topic of conversation whilst we enjoyed our morning coffee was a further scathing restaurant review published in last weekend’s newspaper. On behalf of Amelia Park Lodge, we’ve all taken umbrage at this second review. None of us could relate to it, and we all found it to be not only completely unjustified, but cruel and malicious.

You’ll remember last week I wrote about the lovely lunch we had ALL enjoyed at Amelia Park Lodge. Our visit had followed on an unfavourable review by another local restaurant reviewer, so we hadn’t known what to expect. Not one of us could relate to that review, and now this second scathing review has us more than slightly annoyed.

In this latest review the baby Kale Caesar I had so much enjoyed had been given particular mention, the ingredients listed as an ‘improbable combination’, and given the pompous summary of, ‘Jesus wept’. The only thing that seemed to receive any sort of favourable commment in the whole review was the commercial seeded  mustard.

Reading this latest review, I’m sure,  if there is a Jesus, he would indeed be weeping. Not, however at the the menu, which John Lethlean summarised as, ‘a collection of dishes with no common thread’. I suspect Jesus would be weeping at how pompous and insensitive society is becoming.  Jesus would be weeping that people such as John Lethlean and Rob Broadfield are being paid good money to write what to all of us amounted to virtual libel. What is the world coming too! Has common decency completely gone out the window?

All of the ladies from the walking group live in the South West. We dine out regularly, including places that offer both good honest food, and fine dining amongst our choices. There’s no shortage of both in the region, and none of us are by any means country bumpkins that don’t know the difference.

Where has all this insensitivity come from? Why are these restaurant reviewers so scathing in their reviews? There was absolutely nothing any of us could relate to in either review. Even if there had been, we all agreed that a little constructive criticism would have been far more appropriate.

Reviewers seem to be following in the footsteps of the judges on reality TV shows. I think the contestants in such shows are screened, and groomed, and counselled to help them deal with possible psychological damage from the insenstivity of the judges. Sadly, nastiness seems to make for good TV ratings. The question arises in my mind as to how the chefs, staff, and restaurant owners are dealing with the maliciousness of such written attacks that are now commonplace.  Reviews such as these must surely be impacting the businesses, and the lives of all those who work there. How many people out there are in need of counselling to help them deal with the repercussions of reviews such as these.

To all the reviewers out there, please, please start to make this world a better place. You are not ‘reality TV judges’. The people suffering the repercussions of your cruel insensivety are not ‘willing contestants’ in reality TV shows. They’re just real people trying to make a living. The businesses have clientele who are being influenced by what you write. The staff of the businesses have friends and families who read these humiliating reviews. The reviews could literally spell the end for a restaurant, or the uncalled for sacking of a chef. The repercussions of both could go on to have further devastating consequences for the individuals involved, or their families. I’m not saying reviews should be dishonest, but constructive criticism would make for a far better world to live in than the destructive reviews of both Mr Lethlean and Mr Broadfield.  One Gordon Ramsay in the world is more than enough!