Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Model trains at Hartzview

We often take visitors to Hartzview Vineyard, in Gardners Bay, only a short drive from Cygnet. They make some delicious fortified wines and liqueurs, the best (in my view) being a honey mead, served in a slightly warmed glass. The cassis is lovely as well. The vineyard is in such a pretty location, on a hill with - as the name tells you - a perfect view of the Hartz Mountains. They also have a collection of old pickers huts on the property that you can take a look through. And a very friendly cat.

David found out a while ago from owner Anthea that there is a shed containing her husband Rob's model trains on the property. He's been trying to gain access ever since. In fact there are two sheds, each containing a couple of different layouts. A few weeks ago, we read in the local paper that they would be opening the sheds and running the trains to raise money for the Salvation Army's Red Shield Appeal. What a great fundraising idea. Apparently they had so many people on one day last year that they opened for two days this year. We arrived bright and early, just as the volunteers who would be running the trains arrived, and were treated to a personal tour of one of the sheds. It's quite a collection.

If you're a Huon local, keep an eye out on the local paper and classifieds to find out about next year's model train expo fundraiser.

Monday, September 14, 2015


As I write, it's warm and sunny. We've had three days of T-shirt weather. The welcome swallows are back again for the summer and swooping around, with their distinctive chirping. Bright yellow daffodils have popped up in the front paddock. We've been out in the garden on the weekend, digging, planting, weeding, watering, relocating raised garden beds. It's light enough to be outside at 6pm. The tomato and basil seedlings have popped up in their warm, indoor pots. Soggy patches of ground have dried up. The strong scent of wattle fills the air. Tiny buds have appeared on the fruit trees. Sebastian the rooster has a spring in his step and a look in his eye as he chases the ladies around the place. With our windows open, cheerful bird and frog noises float in. I know the warm days won't last (I'm not about to plant the potatoes yet), but for now, isn't spring wonderful?

Monday, August 10, 2015

A bird's eye view

Our neighbours are fantastic property photographers and run the Tasmanian franchise of Open2View, a nationwide real estate photography and marketing network. Shortly after we moved here, they acquired a telescopic pole on a trailer that they would tow to client properties to take elevated shots of the property. Now, technology has moved on and it's all about drones. The photos they can take are amazing. During last week's snow, our neighbours drove past our home just as the sun came out and flew the drone to take some photos for us. How nice is that! I just love the photos.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The logistical challenges of snow

Our minds last week were preoccupied with snow logistics. How to reverse out of the garage without sliding sideways down the driveway, for example. Or if we got out and down the road, how would we get back? Would Vinces Saddle (the highest point of the highway between Hobart and the Huon Valley) be closed or have black ice? Maybe we could walk down the hill and get a lift or catch the bus? Who gets to take the 4WD?

I am certain that the people I mentioned this to thought we were pathetic mainlanders* or just making it up. It last snowed a few days ago and down in the valley life has returned to normal. It has been sunny and warm(er). But up here, very little of the snow has melted. Instead, overnight frosts and sub-zero temperatures have turned it into hard, slippery blocks of ice.

So this afternoon I drove the two-wheel drive car back from Hobart in the glorious winter sunshine. As I came over the last hill, there was our place, still completely white! I stopped the car in the driveway and David made a couple of attempts to get the car in the garage for me, but the ice was too slippery. We parked the car and started to unload the shopping, when the car started moving! It slid backwards down the driveway to its current resting place in front of the water tank. There it will have to stay until the ice melts.

I think our caution and conservatism on snowy roads is a good thing. As I ventured into Hobart on Wednesday afternoon, only a few hundred metres down our road we encountered a woman in a two-wheel drive Camry who had slid backwards into a ditch and was unable to get out. What was she thinking? And to all those people whinging about the road to Mt Wellington being closed at Fern Tree - get out and walk if you'd like to see snow. It will be safer for you and your family.

* A term used by Tasmanians to refer to Australians who live on the 'north island' :-)

Hobart morning walks

I needed to be in Hobart early on Thursday and Friday this week, and as I wasn't confident I would be able to get there with the snow and ice on the roads, I stayed in town for two nights. One thing I do like about city living is the early morning walk or run. At dawn, before the influx of office workers. The main difference between walking or running in the city and where I live is pavement. It's harder on the legs, but it makes weather irrelevant. There's no snow, mud, darkness or frost to deter me from getting up to go outside.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The big snow

Our friend Ursi from Switzerland arrived on Saturday afternoon to stay for a couple of days, and today we have about 20cm of snow, the most we have seen since we moved to Tasmania. Even Hobart and Kingston Beach have had a good dusting today. The ABC TV news bulletin is saying the snow is down to the lowest levels since 2005. It might not make the news in Switzerland, but it does here. Ursi was supposed to fly back to Sydney this afternoon, but some of the roads between here and Hobart are closed. So we moved the flight and instead we're spending the day playing with the dogs in the lovely, powdery white stuff and thawing out by the fire. It will be a cosy evening ahead, with chicken, potato and saffron soup and perhaps a glass of red or two.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The interloper

I never envisaged spending late afternoons standing guard at the chook shed door, chasing away pademelons so the birds can go inside to roost. There is one particular offender:

As darkness falls he hops out of the bush and makes a beeline for the shed, where he knows he will find leftover grain and other tasty treats. If I get there any later, he has invited some friends. He is very persistent. If I shoo him out, he simply hops around in a circle and attempts to re-enter the shed. But they are so cute, it's hard to be annoyed.

One of these things is not like the other ones:

As one of my friends commented, this ain't New York! Here at the other end of the earth, I feel so privileged to share our home with so many wonderful, entertaining creatures.