Friday, February 27, 2015

St Ayles Skiff Regatta

David and I had a lot of fun as volunteer timers during the St Ayles Skiff Regatta in Franklin over the weekend of 8 and 9 February. There were rowing teams from Franklin, Cygnet, Taroona, New Zealand, as far away as Scotland, and even a team of Iranian refugees from South Australia. They were rowing in a variety of in 1km and 2km women's, men's and mixed races. It was very competitive, tiring and so much fun. It was clear the organisers had put in many months of very hard work to make the weekend run so smoothly.

There were so many highlights - the 'French Connection' team of ladies from Castle Forbes Bay in their striking red berets and navy-and-white striped shirts who just about scooped the pool; and the over 70s men's race, who were up against a 'youth' team of fit young rowing lads... who came last! The old blokes on the other hand were amazing. Hats off to them.

Saturday evening's corporate challenge event of 250 metre races proved very entertaining, with many teams dressing up for the occasion. David's karate class had a team and they looked great in their white uniforms! The day ended with balladeer Hairyman singing of whaling, whores and rum as the light faded over the Huon. We collapsed into bed at the end of the weekend, and we weren't the ones who rowed many kilometers over the weekend.

The St Ayles Skiff movement is an amazing story, starting only in 2009 and now with around 200 community-built boats in various countries. Wonder where the next regatta will be held... I reckon New Zealand will be a likely contender.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What happened to January?

Of the 31 days in January, I only spent six here at home in Tasmania. Unfortunately this meant I missed the summer festivals that Tassie does so well, like MOFO and the Cygnet Folk Festival. It also meant my summer gardening efforts were, well, pretty much zero or wasted. I came back to many kilos of broad beans that had to be picked, blanched and frozen immediately. Loads of snow peas. Tonnes of rhubarb. And after that, pretty much just weeds.

So where were we? I had work meetings in California in mid-January, so we managed to fit in 10 days holiday in San Francisco beforehand. It was my first visit to that lovely city and we stayed in an Airbnb right on the Powell-Hyde cable car line and two blocks from the famous Lombard Street. It was enough time to see almost all we wanted to: the Golden Gate Bridge of course, Sausalito, Alcatraz, a hike on Mt Tamalpais, Walt Disney Family Museum, hopping on and off historic cable cars and street cars. Then back home for five days and off to Singapore, again for work, but still managed to squeeze in a few sights. It has been great to be home for a few weeks, even though we were both knocked out by some horrible lurgy picked up on the flight back. So now the end of February is rushing up on us, and we are savouring the beautiful summer days and long evenings.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Holiday gardening

Finally, I managed to spend a little time in the garden between Christmas and New Year. Pulling out weeds. Planting seeds. Chopping grass. Picking piles of snow peas and broad beans. Digging up garlic - not such a good crop this year, but enough. Uncovered a surprise crop of new potatoes while weeding one overgrown garden bed. I guess they grew from potato peel in the compost, as I have not grown potatoes in that bed before.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas chicks

A lovely present on Christmas day: the sight of two mother hens outside in the sunshine fussing over the four little chicks that hatched. It's hard to spot them, as they tend to disappear under the hen as we approach. A lot of the eggs did not hatch, and one chick died trying to get out of the shell, but we are still happy to have four healthy chicks being cared for by the hens and out free ranging. It's one thing to see them hatch in our incubator; quite another to see it done how it should be. Super cute. Last night they took themselves off into the bush and slept the night out there, but all still there in the morning - so far so good.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Barnevelder hen birthday cake

Brilliant, isn't it? My birthday cake, made by Michelle from a photo David sent her of my own chooks. If you want to see more of her work, visit the Cakes by Chelle Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The hatch

For three weeks, two of our hens have been sitting tight on a clutch of eggs in the shed. Finally, when I went down to let the chooks out this morning, I heard cheeping coming from under one of the hens and she looked a little perturbed. Have not sighted any chicks yet, but I'm hopeful it won't be long! It's the first natural (i.e. non-incubator) hatch we've had, so we're pretty excited.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Summer solstice sailing

Three years ago, a beautiful 1930s Danish ship showed up in Franklin after a round the world voyage. The family who sailed her here decided to stay. Now, this summer, you can spend a Sunday afternoon aboard the Yukon, sailing down the Huon River enjoying locally sourced produce prepared by chef Ashley and Jacinta from Pantree Produce. It was an amazing special treat for my birthday. The whole experience was understated, relaxed, personal - an afternoon on the river with friends and great food. "The duck we are eating came from that hill over there," says Jacinta, pointing to the hills south of Franklin. "See that roof there? That's the house they came from." Fresh peas, broadbeans, beetroot, peaches, berries, river herbs and flowers, pink eye potatoes. To drink: local wines including a sparkling chardonnay from Wombat Springs (also in the hills of Franklin), Seven Sheds Ale, a stunning pinot noir from d'meure wines at Birchs Bay and home made limoncello - and yes, the lemons were also from Franklin. We could see where most of our meal was grown. David and Ea who own The Yukon told us the story of her restoration and how she came to Tasmania. We got to explore below decks - the galley, engine room, bunks and bathroom. Wonderful.

I have been completely and utterly spoiled this weekend. First, my dear friend Cheryl flew down from Sydney - a surprise visit plotted weeks in advance with David. I had no idea she was coming until the car pulled up in the driveway on Friday. Cider and burgers at The Apple Shed on Friday evening. Saturday morning shopping in Wilmot Road, Huonville and at Salamanca Market and relaxing in the garden in the afternoon. And then yesterday's feast on the Yukon. Happy, happy days.