Guess who bought an air fryer

Air fryers seem to be the latest ’must have’ appliance, and although I’m not one who likes to have a lot of kitchen gadgets, Ive decided to give one of these a whirl. We don’t have an oven in the caravan, so I’m thinking it’ll be useful when we’re away. After reading the reviews I chose the medium sized K-mart one for $82.

For the first test I tried a roast of pork. 30 minutes at 200°, followed by an hour at 180°. Then I rested the meat in the oven at 150° while i cooked the pumpkin and par-boiled potatoes. Apologies for forgetting to photograph the vegetables. Everything cooked perfectly, and that crackling tasted as good as it looks. I think I’m going to enjoy my air fryer!

Dog friendly – Rustico at hay sHed hill

Paul booked us into Rustico at Hay Shed Hill for lunch to celebrate our 39th anniversary. The on line booking system had a box that could be selected if a dog friendly table was required. We decided to give it a go….

It wasn’t overly warm so, expecting to be outside, we rugged up warm and set off for Rustico at 511 Harmans Mill Road, Wilyabrup, Margaret River. I took charge of Mr Tilly while Paul went inside to find out which of the outside tables was allocated to us.

Lovely views over the vines, but a bit chilly – never mind we were rugged up!

Paul returned with a look of total surprise – our table was inside in the warm. In we went, passing the doggie treat table, to a fully enclosed patio with ceiling heaters.

Treats for the dogs

We’ve been to dog friendly places before with Mr Tilly, but never before have we been to a place that actually welcomes furry family members so warmly. I briefly spoke to another couple who were there with their fur baby too. They were as pleasantly surprised at the seat allocation as we had been.

Mr Tilly was thoroughly spoilt with cuddles and treats from two children at a neighbouring table. The jars of doggie treats from the comfort station must have been sorely depleted.

Mr Tilly had lots of cuddles from children at the next table

Ok – so Tills was very, very welcome, but what about the food? Rustico is a little different than most places. It has a shared tapas degustation menu. Five courses for $75 per person, and $45 extra for premium wine pairing. We went with the food only and chose our own drinks. Paul had a stout to start with, I chose the Giniversity pink from specialty gin menu. Later Paul had a beer, and I had a glass of Hay Shed Hill bubbles. All very enjoyable.

Now onto the food. Firstly a bowl of mixed olives was served to nibble on while we waited for our first course. I know the menu lists five courses, but each course consists of two seperate plates or boards of tapas, so in actual fact it was more like ten courses. I’ve had tapas many times before, but never like these ones. Each dish was so beautifully cooked and presented that it was closer to fine dining than it was to tapas.

There’s a vegan menu, and a child’s menu too. I think my grandson and his girlfriend, who are both vegan, would be very happy with the choices on the vegan menu.

The waitress asked at the end of our meal if we had enjoyed it enough to come back again. Without hesitation the answer was a definite yes. Every course was sensational, there was a good selection of drinks and the two each that we chose didn’t disappoint, the surroundings were awesome, and as far as dog friendly, well I’ve never taken Mr Tilly to more dog friendly place before.

You’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Tuscany. The surroundings are stunning.

Rustico at Hay Shed Hill – what a pleasure! We’ll definitely go back.

Doonas/Duvets

In Australia a duvet is called a doona. I don’t know why, we just had to be different on that one. They say a rose by any other name smells just as sweet. Well in my, not so humble opinion, I’m here to tell you that the duvet, or doona, or whatever name you give it, is just frustrating!

When I was a child our beds were made using two flat sheets, blankets, a bedspread, and perhaps an Eiderdown for extra winter warmth. The sheets, both top and bottom were washed weekly.

In the pursuit of easier bed making, a few things have changed over the years. The bottom sheet is now fitted, and I love that – providing the sheet is big enough to fit the mattress. So far, I’ve not had much success with any sheets other than Sheridan. All other cotton fitted sheets are a fraction to small to easily be fitted over the mattress. I’ve just purchased some Aldi, hotel quality, cotton sheets but haven’t used them yet – fingers crossed that they’ll be a good fit. The top sheet, the blankets, and the bedspread seems to have been replaced by the doona and its cover. I think the idea was for bed making to be easier, and also to be less weighty. Perhaps less weighty wasn’t such a good idea though as I notice weighted blankets are now a popular addition to the bed making process. Whoever sold the idea of a doona being easier could have sold ice to an eskimo. It may be slightly easier each day to make the bed, but when you factor in trying to get the doona into its cover, it’s definitely not easier.

There are numerous tutorials on how to easily fit a doona inside it’s cover, and it possibly is easy to do if you’re 6’ 6” tall. OK, I know some shorter people seem to manage ok too, but I’m definitely not one of them. As fitting the cover was such a frustrating exercise for me, I kept my top sheet. That way my cover didn’t need to be washed weekly, but still the doona would screw up inside the cover and look an unsightly mess. I ended up using the doona as a blanket, and the cover as a bedspread. Now I’m back to using wool blankets and a bedspread (coverlet) in our bedroom. However, I do use doonas in the caravan, but to make the job slightly easier I use two singles . I’ve just finished putting them into freshly washed covers. it took me the better part of half an hour to do it, and prompted this post.

I know some people, like me, still use a top sheet, but many just use their cover. I wonder if the cover gets washed each week like a top sheet gets washed, or is that just to hard. Hotels, in the pursuit of time management, couldn’t seem to perfect fitting the doona inside a cover. instead they often now use triple sheeting, a method of bed making that uses a fitted sheet over the mattress, and then a flat sheet either side of the doona to mimic a doona cover. I love that idea, but I didn’t want crisp white as my top layer, and couldn’t find any other sheet that I liked the look of for my top layer.

Hence, I bit the bullet, depleted the bank account, and lashed out on good wool blankets, a coverlet, a good set of Sheridan Millenia sheets, and two throws for added warmth when needed. It’s easy to make, easily suited to summer or winter by the addition or subtraction of a one or both of the wool blankets. In the middle of summer the coverlet with the two throws is plenty. I like the way its always smooth, without the bunched up look that happens with a doona.

And now that i’ve had that little whinge and got that off my chest, its just about time to snuggle down under those blankets and get some sleep……good-night! zzzzzzz

Walga Rock

Located 48 kms west of Cue, Walga Rock is definitely a worthwhile day trip when in this area. At 50 metres high, 1.5 kms long, and approximately 5 kms around the base, its reportedly the 8th in size of the monoliths in Australia. In case you’re not familiar with what a monolith is, its basically one very big rock. I’ve heard conflicting reports on where this one is in the order of size, including one local report that claims it’s second to Uluru – but research indicates 8th is nearer to the truth. The rock itself is impressive as you approach it, and there’s a track that runs around it’s base, and it’s definitely worth the drive around to see it from all angles. I believe it’s relatively easy to climb too, but I can’t vouch for that.


As you approach the rock you’ll notice a high but shallow cave.

Inside the cave is a very impressive collection of early Aboriginal art, making the site of deep cultural and spiritual significance to the local indigenous people. The gallery, painted with ochre, is predominantly motifs that are non-figurative. One outstanding sketch stands out:

The ship shows two masts, rat lines, rigging, and square portholes in the hull, and is believed to depict one of the Dutch ships that would have visited the coast in the 17th century. However the site of the cave is more 300kms inland which raises questions as to whether or not the artist could perhaps have been a sailor from one of the ships. I guess we’ll never know.

Its amazing the things you find when you stop over in some of Australia’s small towns. Walga Rock was definitely worthwhile stopping over to see.

Perth to home -day 33

Breakfast out with the family first thing this morning, then we were on our way.

It’s good to be home!

Having been unmotivated to write now for longer than I care to remember, I’ve used this holiday to try to force some writing motivation. I set out with the intentions of trying to post a blog every day of my holiday. I skipped some days, but then I posted two on other days. know a lot of my posts have been a bit wafflie, and for that I apologise. However, the forced motivation has worked I think. I’m pleased to say I think I have my writing mojo back again…..

Chasing Sun and Wildflowers – Day 32

Mingenew to Perth

Tonight we’re in Perth. Tomorrow we will be home – and I feel a need for a Staycation. Apologies to all of you who have no choice but to stay put in your own homes, but right now, home is where I want be. We’ve travelled far to many kilometres in to short a time. I’m feeling it, Mr Tilly is feeling it, and Paul, who does all of the driving, is definitely feeling it.

I love Broome, and I love the Wildflowers, and I love road trips. We’ve been retired now for eight years though, and we still travel as if we’re making use of annual leave. I don’t know how we’re ever going to manage to slow down, but we’re going to have too. 5000 kms for the trip, plus incidental driving each day, in less than 5 weeks – madness!

Mr Tilly has his back firmly turned away from me in the car. He’s clearly, ‘not happy’. Mind you, we did nearly poison him on this holiday, and he’s still recovering. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t intentional. In fact, it was a necessity. On the Vets advice we fitted him with a Seresto collar to protect against the Kimberley Brown Tick. Most of the time that we’ve been away he hasn’t been himself, and has had an upset tummy on a few occasions, including bright red blood in his stools. We took him to the vet – the verdict was that his tummy was tender, possibly due to some chicken, nothing serious – antibiotics, and a bland diet of chicken and rice was prescribed. He improved marginally. Three days before we were due to leave he had a sort of minor fit. Paul was getting ready to take him for his regular morning walk when suddenly his eyes glazed over and he had fit of what I can only describe as uncontrolled, air humping. It was really weird, but clearly he had no control. It was definitely some sort involuntary sort of spasms.

We had been thinking he was stressed from the travel, (although we’d stayed put in Broome for three weeks), or that it was just too hot for him. Broome did seem hotter than usual this year. We both had a inkling that possibly the collar was a contributor, except the vet hadn’t even given the collar a seconds consideration. Anyway, we left two days earlier than planned, and as soon as we were far enough south we removed the collar. In less than 12 hours there was a marked improvement. He had started to eat, and his tummy seemed much more settled. He’s more of his old self again – albeit still clearly over the car trip. It was only after we’d removed the collar that I looked up possible side effects . He had almost every one of them. We both have absolutely no doubt that he reacted badly to it, including having the fit. Apparently a number of dog deaths have been attributed to it. I wonder why the vet didn’t consider the collar as a possible cause for his vomiting, lack of appetite, listlessness and the blood in his stools – these are all known side effects. I’m trusting vets less and less as time goes on……

If we go up to the Kimberley again next year, two things have to be assured. One is an alternative to the Seresto collar for Mr Tilly. I’ve been looking on line, but so far I haven’t found an alternative that looks to be conclusively effective. If anyone knows of anything, please, please let me know. And the next thing is, we have to slow it down. I don’t want to be nearing home ever again feeling exhausted from the trip. One more sleep….

Flowers amongst the ruins

The historic town of Big Bell lies 27kms west of Cue. Now a ghost town in ruins, in the early 1950s the Big Bell gold mine had 470 men on its payroll, and the town supported over 1000 people. There were 160 houses, a big hotel, a picture theatre, and a dozen shops. Plus there were a further 40 houses, and 130 two-man huts on the mining leases.

The town was first established in 1936. Mine production was suspended during the Second World War so as to free manpower for the war effort leaving only 15 people employed by the mine in 1944. When the war ended the mine returned to full productivity, before ceasing production in 1955.

Now all that remains is the shell of the hotel, the shell of the church, and the concrete pads from a lot of the houses. Chicken wire, barbed wire, broken glass, and pieces of tin litter the ground. The wildflowers are slowly reclaiming the land that was once theirs. The town has been abandoned for as long as I’ve been on this earth. I definitely won’t see another 66 years, and I doubt that at the current rate of decay , Big Bell is likely to either.

The ruins of the hotel

Flowers are taking over with wild abandonment.

A billboard on the way out provided a bit more history.

The crumbling remains from the era of Gold, an interesting place to visit when in Cue. I only hope the township of Cue doesn’t follow suit.

Chasing Sun and Wilflowers – day 30

Cue to Mingenew

We left Cue at around 7.30 am, stopped for a cuppa in Mullawa, and arrived in Mingenew at about 12.30 pm. Fields of wildflowers stretching for miles into the distance show definite promise for tomorrow’s self drive tour of the special wild flower spots in the area.

We set up as quickly as we could, then took a walk into town to find the famous Mingenew Bakery. Meat Pies and sweet tarts for lunch – yikes talk about an unhealthy lunch. Tasted good though. The caravan park has fish and chips on for dinner too, so as my old mum would have said – “May as well get hung for a sheep as a lamb”! We’re nearing the end of this trip, and I’m just a bit over cooking.

We’ve planned out our route for tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have some spectacular flowers to show you, so be sure to watch this space….