Wasting time

House renovations are progressing, not to schedule of course, but we’re nearing completion.

Four days for the initial part of the kitchen stretched to two weeks. The floor, that was scheduled for between the two kitchen stages had to be postponed, as did the second part of the kitchen.

4 days dragged into 2 weeks with kitchen completely out of working order

We’ve been doing a lot of camp style cooking in the garage whilst the kitchen’s been out of order. Fortunately, being campers, we’ve managed to roll with the delays reasonably well. The delays weren’t that unexpected, as anyone who has undertaken renovations will attest to – they rarely, if ever go to schedule.

The kitchen has now been operational for almost a week between stages, and today the floor’s being prepped for the laying of the planks. The second stage of the kitchen (the splashback) is now scheduled for next Monday.  Fingers crossed!

Drawers, cupboards, dishwasher and benches fitted – floor and splash backs still to go

With tradesmen coming and going through the days and weeks, there’s been many days that we’ve virtually been confined to the back yard on puppy minding duties. We can’t really leave Tilly in the back garden, shut out of the house with strangers indoors, and expect him not to bark persistently. It’s also been one of those renovations where one of us at least has needed to be on hand for any queries that arise as the work progresses.

Only a few days more now…..

With time on my hands you’d think I’d be well up to date with all my reading, gardening and blogging. Not so.  As is often the case when one is out of sorts with usual routine, and with too much time available to do required tasks, I’ve been stretching things out to fill up my day. The result is I get to the end of the day and there’s a multitude of things I could have done, and haven’t.

Instead I’ve succumbed to a virtual reality home staging website. In it, I’m given a painted bare shell of a room, and have to furnish it.

A bare room awaiting furnishings

All of the rooms are judged by fellow participants and scored. The highest score available is a 5 (I’ve come close, but not there yet), but anything scoring more than a 4 wins virtual prizes (more furnishings and furniture to add to my available stock). The more rooms you enter, the more furniture stock you receive as prizes for future rooms, and as you progress, you go up in stages unlocking extras, like table decorations, pot plants, and wall art to add to your future rooms.

One of my early rooms when I had very little available to me in the way in art work or pot plants

Of course, the people who have attained the higher levels have more items at their fingertips. I’m up to level 10 now, and I think it goes up to around level 40. It’s good fun, if you have time to waste. Have I been wasting to much time on it – you betcha!

A more recent entry – with bowls of lemons and a bank of artwork accumulating now to choose from, higher scores are possible

Anyone who knows me well will know I love buying and selling houses. Goodness, we’ve bought and sold more than anyone I know…. I love staging the house, the declutter, the strategically placed pot plants, the quick visit to a the local cheap homewares shop for a couple of the latest trend items to add to the house, the last minute big bunch of fresh, scented lilies for the table – Paul’s not so enamoured with it all, but I love it. To have found a virtual reality home staging website ap – I’m hooked.

Do you have any internet big time wasters?

And as a post script – I just received my first 5

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Woody Nook ploughman’s lunch failed to please

I love a good Ploughman’s lunch. I don’t mind a good tasting platter either. What I don’t like is ordering a Ploughmans lunch, and getting served a League of Nations tasting platter.

A basic Ploughman’s lunch

The ploughmans lunch doesn’t date back century’s as you may imagine.The origin of the Ploughmans is much more recent, dating back only to the 1960s. It was conjured up as a British pub meal to promote the English cheese industry.

Traditionally a Ploughmans consists of good English style cheese – usually a cheddar, preferably cloth wrapped, but if cloth wrapped isn’t available, then at least a strong flavoured waxed cheddar will do. Then add a good chunk of English Stilton. Add some thick slices, or a small loaf of quality bread (think sour dough, or rye). Next, you’ll need some pickles – pickled onions, gherkins, piccalilli, or a good relish or chutney (add at least two). And don’t forget some salad ingredients, perhaps some crisp celery and cucumber, and some nice red slices of tomatoes. Crisp apple slices are good too.

Simple, fresh ingredients

Added optional extras can be a slice of cold pork pie made with a shortcrust pastry, (definitely not puff pastry), thin slices of cold meat, a scotch egg, or even hard boiled egg halves. Tradionally the whole meal is served cold, with either beer or cider.

Many moons ago I was a cook at a small boutique hotel in Perth.  One of our lunch time signature meals at the time was a Ploughman’s lunch. It was a simple meal of rye bread, cheddar, Stilton, pickled onions, piccalilli and salad. It was very popular.

It’s a meal Paul and I love, and one we often ordered for lunch during a recent lengthy stay in England. The meals we received there didn’t stray far from their origins, and never failed to please. The best we ever had was at the Wensleydale Creamery in the Yorkshire Dales. My tastebuds are doing a song and dance just thinking about that Ploughman’s –  the cheese, the bread, the pickles, the salad – it was sooooo good!

The best Ploughman’s ever – at the Wensleydale Creamery in The Yorkshire Dales

Today we tried a Ploughmans at Woody Nook Winery.  The meal we received had cheddar, and a chunk of bread on the board – and that’s where the similarity to a Ploughman’s ended. Although to be fair, the cold cuts of cured meat would have been acceptable too. There were olives – but no pickled onions, or chutneys or relish. There was a small bowl of lettuce topped with feta cheese. There was another piece of cheese (I think it was some sort of Italian cheese).There was a small piece of watermelon. And there was a small hot pot pie with a puff pastry lid (not shortcrust), and a fried chicken wing. There were also some sweet style home made biscuits, I think they may have been Anzacs. It was a League of Nations tasting platter, but from what I’ve come to expect a Ploughman’s lunch to be – it didn’t come close. I was disappointed.

The Ploughman’s is an English meal. If it’s listed on a menu in Australia, I wish chefs would at least try to stick reasonably close to what the meal is supposed to be. In its true form, and with quality fresh ingredients, it’s good honest food, and full of flavour. If chefs want to put their signature on the dish, make some good piccalilli to go on the side, ensure good sized wedges of cheese are served, and add some quality bread. What could be better!

The obesity epidemic

A touchy subject, and let me start by saying I’m most definitely writing this without judgement. How could I be judgemental on such a subject. It’d  be a case of the pot calling the kettle black for sure as I too am considerably over my ideal weight.

I was sitting at a picnic table overlooking the beach the other day, and couldn’t help noticing how many of the beach goers would have fallen into the morbidly obese category. I’m not talking a few kilos of excess weight here. I’m talking a weight of probably almost double their ideal weight. And I’m not talking one or two people. This would have been close to half of the adults in the beach.

How has this happened? Is it an unhealthy quantity of consumed takeaway meals? Is it that meal sizes are now huge? Is it because we’re constantly bombarded with food information, thus keeping food uppermost in our minds constantly.

There’s the healthy eating pyramid which has been drummed into us for years, albeit today’s pyramid is different to the one that was around 20 years ago. There’s all the information on so called superfoods. There’s the food fads (as apposed to genuine allergies) – the gluten intolerances, the dairy intolerances, the no meat, the sometimes meat, the no eggs….. the list goes on. Every magazine, and almost every newspaper will have at least one article divulging some new superfood, or some new food culprit that’s contribulting to our health problems.

And then there’s the cooking shows – there’s too many of them to list, but everyday there’s at least one or two we can tune into on our televisions. I don’t know about you, but I rarely watch any of these shows, and the rare times I do, I often find myself reaching for the chocolate as my appetite is stimulated. Watching the gastronomic delights being cooked up and consumed in front of me certainly gets my digestive juices working on overdrive.

The supermarket aisles are choc full of jars and packets of goodness what that you just have to add to meat to conjure up some sort of gastronomic delight. I have no idea what’s in them and who buys them, but the supermarkets wouldn’t be giving up their shelf space to these convenience foods if they weren’t selling heaps of them.

Like  I said, this is written without judgement. I just wish there was an easy answer. In my own case, it’s not takeaway, it’s not watching an abundance of cooking shows, and it’s not buying jars or packets of ready made sauces. Most times I cook from scratch, and I’m conscious of trying to incorporate the daily five veg and two fruits.

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Most days I get reasonably close. I’ve never succumbed to reduced fat dairies even when it was fashionable. I guess real food has always been my focus, and full fat dairy my biggest weakness. Together with a love of cooking, lack of self disapline when nibbles are on offer, and a haphazard, unregimented exercise regime I too weigh close to the morbidly obese line.

I know it’s easy for those that are slim to sit in judgement with statements like, ‘how can they let themselves get so big’. If you are reading this, and have made such judgements, let me assure you – THERE’S NOT AN OVERWEIGHT PERSON ON THIS PLANET THAT WOULDNT BE SLIM IF THEY COULD BE. It may seem easy to those that are either just fortunate by nature of their genes, or have sufficient self control and self disapline to remain within a healthy weight range. But for those of us like me, for whom the necessary attributes for remaining slim and healthy don’t come naturally, it’s bloody hard, if not completely impossible.

But this isn’t about justifying my own obesity, it’s just about wondering why. What used to be a rarity, is now evident in epidemic proportions. The culprit was recently considered to be fats, now it’s sugar. When I was growing up (back in the old days – yes l’m over 60), everyone had potatoes mashed with lots of butter and full cream milk almost nightly. We had our Friday night fish and chips, most often cooked in dripping. We had our Sunday roast dinners with several peeled and roasted potatoes cooked in the fatty pan drippings and smothered in gravy, also made from the fatty pan drippings. We had our rice puddings and custards to follow our main meals – made with full cream milk and real sugar. Yes, there were still people around with weight problems for sure. It just wasn’t in epidemic proportions.

The mind boggles. We didn’t question our food then. Meat, potatoes, and an orange and a green veg all cooked and served with sufficient salt and fats to make it palatable. Then a good serve of dairy to follow in the form of some sort of sugar sweetened concoction, usually with  some added carbs.

We’ve been trying to rectify our diets for the passed fifty years. There’s an abundance of research that goes into it and an abundance of information now available – yet the problem is getting worse. I don’t know why. What are your thoughts?

To, too or two

Do you have a problem with which witch is which, or which two is too? I know I do. No wonder English is considered one of the most difficult languages to master. It’s hard enough as a first language, imagine what it must be like for someone to learn it as a second language.

I’ve sorted out Principal (the pal at the end indicates a person – so that one’s the head of the school). That means the other principle is the one associated with morals.

I know that stationery with an ‘e’, we’ll there’s an ‘e’ in ‘pen’, so that’s how I remind myself how to spell that one. That means the other stationary with the ‘a’ means remaining in one place.

And as an aside, I know that we’ll should be well, (as in, ‘we’ll there’s an ‘e’ in pen in the above paragraph.) That’s the result of auto-correct, and auto-correct often gets it wrong. I’ve deliberately left that one in to demonstrate. Another frequent one auto-correct often gets wrong is we’re as opposed to were. Agreed though, I should proof read those ones and correct them. Only trouble is when I proof read I tend to read what I think is there.

I can give you good advice (rhymes with mice, a noun), or I can advise you (to make you wise – also rhymes).

I know the apostrophe in, ‘it’s’ replaces the ‘i’ from the is.  I know the apostrophe in their’s signifies that something belongs the them. But should I have put a comma after ‘their’s’ in that sentence?

When I write a blog post I tend to often put commas where I pause to think. I try to proof read everything before I hit publish, but invariably after I’ve hit the publish button there’ll still be at least a few spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Sometimes there’ll be more than a few….

I have a friend who has a good knowledge of written English. Wendy no doubt cringes when she reads some of my blog posts full of incorrect spelling, commas that shouldn’t be there, we’ll that should be well, and we’re that should be were.  Tentatively she broached the subject with me after my last blog post on momentum on the home front. I re-read the post, which I’d already proof read a number of times – and it was a nightmare of inappropriate commas and spelling errors. I’ve tried to assure Wendy that I’m definitely not to old to learn, and will be happy to have her as my teacher. So, yes please Wendy – I’ll appreciate feedback on my spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

I read other blog posts and am in awe as to how well they’ve been written. Not only is the content amazing, but the spelling, grammar and punctuation seems to flow from thought to written word perfectly. Kudos to all of you who get it right. I’m not sure I ever will – but I’m not beyond trying to learn. Thank you to all of you who have read my posts, cringing at the assault on the written English, and still you’ve returned to read the next post. Hugs to all of you.

Oh – and despite my opening sentence, I do know that two is the number, and I know which witch is which. I get mixed up on the other two to(s), and, I’m just not sure how many commas should be in the middle of that sentence!

 

Having two feet on the ground

It’s good to be able to shower without a plastic bag

My plaster was removed almost a week ago and I’m in a moonboot now for the next five weeks. The good news is I’m allowed to put tolerable weight on my foot. The bad news is I have to leave the boot on for most of the day and night. I can take it off for showering, but have to leave it on the rest of the time, including while sleeping.

So, sleeping’s not so great, but what a pleasure it is to have both feet on the ground again, even though ones not exactly firmly planted. Only four weeks to go now…..

Walking boot gives new freedom

 

What to do when you can’t do anything else

I thought I’d stockpiled plenty to keep me occupied during my two weeks of forced total rest (leg in plaster and must be kept elevated). I’d deliberately left dozens of posts from blogs I follow unread – I caught up with all of them in the first three days.

Yacht anchored overnight at Cape Leveque

Although I’ve written extensively on our recent trips to the Kimberleys over the past few years, there were a few experiences we had in the Kimberleys during our pre-blog days that had created great memories. I’d earmarked a few of them to write posts on – now all done. It was great to write them up, I almost felt like I was re-living the original experiences.

I’ve read a novel that had been recommended. ‘Our souls at Night’ by Kent Haruf. It’s only a short little novel, but a great read, and just little bit sad…..If you haven’t already read it, I’d recommend it.

I’ve accustomed Mr Tilly to being brushed a little more, and I’ve managed to sneak in clipping his nails. He’s always been reasonably tolerant of having a hair cut (with scissors only though, no clippers, and not around his face), but he’s not been tolerant of being brushed, or having his nails clipped. During my forced rest he spends a lot of time snuggled next to me on the couch, so I’ve used the time to good advantage. He’s getting a bit more tolerant now when he sees the brush in my hand – a way to go yet though.

Good company, snuggling next to me on the couch

I’ve begun researching a camper van trip to New Zealand’s South Island for early next year. I have two brothers who live in Christchurch, and one will turn 70 in February 2019.  All going well, we’ll coincide his birthday celebrations with this long awaited camper van trip.

We’ve done our research for our replacement caravan, and have decided to go with a new one. We’ve chosen a 16ft, Prado friendly (weights are suitable), New Age, Manta Ray. All finishings have been chosen. Would you believe it, the sales manager drove down here from Perth with all the samples so as we could get our order finalised for the earliest possible delivery. That’s a 6 hour driving day, plus almost two hours here. Now that’s what I call service! The van should be delivered by no later than 1st June.

I’m now starting to research this years caravan trip. This one is going to be whole new experience for us. With Mr Tilly being a new addition to our household,  he’ll be coming along for the ride. One thing I’m finding is that most of the on-line information on travelling with dogs doesn’t quite seem to fit our scenario. There’s lots of basic sort of information, what to take, and how to secure your animal for safer car travel, and there’s quite a bit of information on travelling with a dog and children together. There doesn’t seem to be anything much that actually gives a running account of how a triip taken by Grey Nomads with a dog goes. If anyone is aware of any, please let me know.

I’ll be starting a whole new set of categories. These will include preparing for a trip with a dog. And a week by week, or day by day account of any trips we take. These will no doubt commence soon.

I revisit the surgeon after two more sleeps (yes, I’m counting down the sleeps), and hopefully the plaster will come off and be replaced with a moonboot. I think that means I’ll still be considerably incapacitated for some time to come yet, so most of my posts are likely to be research based rather than based on actual experiences. And being sat on my bum, with plenty of time on my hands, I’m likely to have lots of time to put into research. Apologies if I get a bit boring!

 

Where do you keep your friends phone numbers

We’ve just shared a sausage sizzle with friends (Bruce and Wendy) and their four grandchildren who are camping nearby.

During the course of the afternoon Bruce shared the sad news that he has to return to Perth on Friday for a funeral. One of his friends passed away unexpectedly last week. He was only 62.

So – what has that to do with phone numbers….. Well the son of the deceased friend felt he should contact some of his dad’s friends with the sad news. However, all of the friends contact details are stored in his dad’s mobile phone, and he has no idea of the password to gain entry. Luckily the friends son is also face book friends with Bruce and Wendy’s son, and so contact with at least one friend was initiated, and from there further contacts have been found.

Our conversation today included a few, ‘what ifs’. What if we get killed together in an accident – do our families have access to our ‘contacts’. There was a time when we all either had an address book, or a teledex to list our friends and relatives contact details. Now,  if you’re like me, your address book will hold very little information, and your friends and relatives will all be listed in your mobile phone. A secret password will be needed to gain entry.

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely letting my children know my phone’s password…..