October 26, 2009

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside*

Last week Mr Fantapants and I left the Big Orange Cat in safe hands and headed down the Great Ocean Road (GOR) for a few days' R&R (reading and (w)riting). We were very lucky to be staying at the family holiday house of a colleague of mine, five minutes from a gorgeous beach (not that it was warm enough to do anything very beachy) and surrounded by bushland.

The GOR holds very fond memories for me and Mr F. It was the high point of our first trip to Victoria (indeed, our first major trip together) when we drove down from Sydney in 1998, mainly to see whether Mr F's 1968 MGB was capable of making the trip. It was September and, in typical Vic. style, a freezing early spring, but Mr F had dreams of driving the GOR with the top down on the car. Every morning I'd put on my thermals and my jumper and my other jumper and my big coat, and then we'd get into the car and I'd wrap the rubber-backed picnic rug round myself for insulation and we'd set off. And even though there were many scenic stops where I saw nothing but the scrub around the carpark because it was simply too hard to manouvre my Michelin Man padding out of the car and then rug up again to move on, it was a fabulous trip and the beginning of our realisation that we liked Vic. very, very much and might like to live down here.

Although the main point of last week's trip was the aforementioned R&R (deadline for Book2 is looming and the plot refuses to bend to my will, chiz), we did take a day to drive to the 12 Apostles. A lot has changed since 1998. Where we had pulled up beside the Apostles and gone for a quick trot out onto one of the nearby cliffs for a gander, now you are corralled into a huge parking lot, with adjacent visitor centre (closed for renovaton the day we were there, but undoubtedly home to an overpriced 'cafe' and 'gift' shop) and you have to walk through landscaped 'bush' to get to some very strict walking paths and look at the view from behind a high fence. All very safe and wotnot, but definitely lacking a feeling of a) adventure or b) being close to nature, but, given that the Apostles seem to be eroding and collapsing at an alarming rate (there are 7 left), it was good to see them while we could.

Highlights of our week away included:
  • feeding the very tame, very sweet king parrots who arrived every morning and afternoon at our house
  • feeding the gangs of cockatoos who hung around all day, not being tame or sweet but providing plenty of slapstick moments
  • seeing an echidna in the reserve at the 12 Apostles, nosing around for lunch and completely oblivious to the crowd of tourists gathered on all sides of it
  • reading Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams (truly faboo and worthy of a post of its own soon) and Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl, which was a lot more memoir than foodie than I expected but still a jolly good read
  • staying up late and sleeping in (well sleeping until the cockys started jumping up and down on the corrugated iron roof demanding breakfast)
  • fresh oysters and prawns from the Lorne fish shop (not local, sadly, but freshfreshfresh)
  • hanging out with Mr F, natch.
Of course, the only bad thing about holidays is that they have to end, and I now have a terrible case of work-itis. Ho hum.

*With a nod to Ms Boyle, my primary school librarian who led a choreographically-challenged group, including myself, in a performance to this ditty somewhere in the early 80s...

October 12, 2009

The vegies are in!

After months of panning and preparing our raised garden bed in the front yard (sorry neighbours), and making endless wishlists about what we might grow, our little vegie plot is finally in! We made the pilgrimage to Bunnings' gardening section on Saturday morning and ooh-ed and aah-ed over the seedlings until we'd narrowed it down to stuff we both eat (sadly that means no broad beans or asparagus for me), and then spent the afternoon planting, with some expert help.

We now have little rows of:
  • roly poly carrots
  • leeks
  • silverbeet
  • assorted lettuces
  • red onions
  • green beans
  • honeypod peas
  • assorted capsicums
plus, a yellow zucchini (in a pot - I've heard the zukes overtake entire beds if they're given half a chance) and a pot full of sebago potatoes, as well as some new herbs.

Now all we have to do is wait patiently for 4-6 weeks until they're big enough to pick, and hope that the slugs don't beat us to it .

October 5, 2009

Rites (and wrongs) of spring

Sigh. In Melbourne, the end of the footy season signals the beginning of the horse racing season, which has very little to do with horses and a lot to do with 'fashions on the field'. Now, I can appreciate that some people really love having an occasion to dress up for - don't we all - but the sight of so many goose-pimpled women braving a not-very-warm Saturday with nothing more but a thick layer of fake tan to keep their bare arms and legs warm makes me shiver. And not in a good way.

Of course, there are a lot of young men who enjoy all this dressing to the nines, too. Luckily for them suits come with jackets and long trousers, so at least they're warm. Unluckily, said suits are too often paired with  a lavender shirt/tie combo and white leather slip-on shoes with turny-up toes. Shudder.

Of course, at the end of a long day at the races looks no longer matter, as the barely dressed fillies slip out of their stilettoes and into their Havianas for the long walk to the pub, coccooned in the suit jacket of a guy who's just relieved himself in the members' carpark, and we remember that the racing carnival is a rite of spring after all.