31 August 2010

We're back in Lavrio!

We made it back to Lavrio just over a week ago and it is so good to be back 'home' in our little apartment.  Our trip went faster than we expected but we were very uninspired by Tunisia... I didn't even bother to take photos (which is very unlike me).  Malta looked beautiful and mysterious as we were coming into Grand Harbour at 11pm at night.  

Unfortunately we left again at 4am the next morning while it was still dark and didn't get to see any more of it.  We made it to the Ionian islands of Greece around lunchtime that day.  A pretty fast trip!  Tunisia to Greece via Malta in less than 24 hours!

We spent some time in the Ionians and found it was pleasantly different from the Aegean area.  Much more vegetation on the islands and the water was beautiful.  However, it was also more crowded than the places we usually go in the Aegean.

We also saw what has to be one of the ugliest superyachts in the world!

We came through the Corinth canal Sunday afternoon.  It really is rather narrow...

A feeling not helped by the evidence of frequent rockfall at the side...

I am pleased to be able to report that some of our modifications in Palma have helped give the boat more control at slower speeds though and there were no gasping nail biting moments as we went through the canal.

Gee but its great to be back home!

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

30 August 2010

Monday, Monday...

The start of another week and we have to get the plumber and gas fitter out to the house.  The hot water cyclinder is leaking profusely again and two plates on the cooker top won't switch on... which isn't the worst, there's a very strong smell of gas in the cupboard under the cooker!  Not good.

I thought it might have been my imagination, but my neighbour agrees... it's definitely gas.

I suppose that's what happens when a house begins to get old. 

All that aside, it's a lovely warm(ish) day and if we do get rain it will be much later this afternoon.  So I'm continuing on with my protracted spring-clean.  Think I'll do a few inside windows/frames today. 

April Blackbird

PS:  Arabella, I have undone the connective stitching on the blanket I've been making for our littlest man.  Took your advice and have now blocked the squares and they're already looking a lot better.  What a lot of work 'undoing' it all was, but I think it'll be worthwhile in the end.  Wish I could have got more of that wool... his blanket is slightly smaller than his sisters.  Thanks for the great tip!

27 August 2010

Time to make your Christmas Mince

This is Granny Sybil's recipe for Christmas Mince.  It's absolutely delicious and well worth the effort and time spent making it.

You're going to need spotlessly clean, sterilized, preferably glass bottles.  Get them ready first.

500g currants
500g seedless raisins (large)
500g sultanas
250g mixed peel
500g apples (weighed, peeled and cored)
500g castor sugar
250g butter
1/2 glass brandy

Wash and clean and dry fruit the day before making.
Mince all fruit together.
Add castor sugar.
Stir well.
Leave overnight.
Add melted butter and the brandy.
Mix well.
Bottle.  Don't forget to seal your tops well.
Make at least 3 weeks before needed.

Homemade Christmas Mince, beautifully labelled and 'capped' makes a fabulous Christmas present.

April Blackbird

26 August 2010

Food for thought #4

This week's news announced that alcohol abuse is costing Australia $36million pa.  The link will take you to a great article on the where/why/how of it all. I won't try to re-invent the wheel, it's all been said before.

It's seriously sad stuff.

For years I had a totally unsympathetic (and in retrospect, terribly judgemental) outlook on this huge subject.  I'd like to think that I'm wiser and more empathetic now, but I still don't have an answer as to how to curb the problem.

I do know that I have 'young corn on the land' and I'd like to see a workable solution to this social problem asap.

If you were 'in charge' and were able to influence policy, what would you do to bring about a real change in this area?

I'll get the ball rolling:
  • show real life pictures of the ravages of boozing on people's faces and bodies - 
    • show 'before' and 'after' photos  
    • put them up in bus stops, railway stations, schools, shops, hotels, pubs, village centres, medical rooms
    • broadcast interviews on TV and radio
    • appeal to our ingrained 'vanity'
 April Blackbird

24 August 2010

Tuesday and the Council still hasn't picked up the inorganic collection

Funny how 'rules' only seem to work one way.

Council threaten ratepayers with a $1500 fine for putting out 'junk' for the inorganic collection ahead of time.  They don't want it cluttering up the pavements.  Which is right.  It's an absolute eye-sore too.

That said, they haven't picked it up as stated on their pamphlet.  They'll probably get around to it eventually some time today. 

In the meantime, the 'vultures' have swooped and piles have diminished and been redistributed.  I believe a lot of people make a very good living out of doing the rounds and picking up 'junk' for recycling.  I reckon 'good on them'.  We're such an incredibly wasteful society, I'm happy to see things used rather than being dumped.

It's now illegal for these people to pick up like this. One has to wonder why.  Surely it's 'fine' if they don't make a mess by spreading a pile across the pavement (which really annoys me)?

Someone even picked up my old, rusted through and very broken mop!  I wonder what they'll do with that?

One of the guys I used to work with lived in a very wealthy neighbourhood and he told me that his neighbour put out two brand new bicyles.  My friend's kids used them for years.  As I said, a wasteful society. 

April Blackbird

22 August 2010

Sunday and tomorrow we have an inorganic collection...

When we first moved to Australia we were thunderstruck by the 'junk' we sometimes saw on people's pavements.  It took a little while for us to find out that this 'junk' was put out in preparation for an 'inorganic' collection, which happens once every few months. 

It's a good way to get people to stop hoarding junk in their back yards and I've grown to look forward to these collections.  It's a great incentive to 'spring clean' the house and garage.  This house is going to need one mighty big spring clean after the long, wet winter we've just had.

I have all the doors/windows and cupboard doors wide open to air at the moment and I'm in the process of wending my way through the cupboards, removing anything that has any sign of mould on it. Thank heavens for vinigar and oil of cloves.  It looks like I'll be using it extensively (again) this week. 

My books are all looking a bit the worse for the humidity too and that truly peeves me, but once again I am reminded that these are all just things.  We can live without things, they do not define us.  So I'm dumping yet more of my collection and I'm passing the children's books onto my littlest people.  I hope they'll read them.  One never does know.  Perhaps, by the time they're old enough to be interested in reading Little Women they'll decide they'd rather listen to it on their iPad's. 

Some of these books belonged to my mother.  I hope my little people will cherish them too, but they might land up at Vinnies 'cos they're looking a trifle sad around the edges now.

Oh well, the vinigar water beckons.

April Blackbird

20 August 2010


There are so many 'bugs' floating around that I suppose I shouldn't wonder that I finally managed to catch one. Nothing major, definitely not the pneumonia type thing that has laid so many little folk so low this year.  My neighbour tells me that her ward at the North Shore Hospital is full of very sick little people battling everything type of bronchial related 'infection' possible. Which is why I'll stay away from our littlest chickadee until I'm absolutely sure this 'thing' is history.

I'm just glad to have woken up this morning, feeling more than half way normal again.

So, we visit via Skype and it never ceases to tickle me that we're able to watch our littlies grow and develop via the internet. Beats not seeing them for yonks 'cos you don't want to infect them, or they're too far away... I got a great 'goodbye' wave last night from our littlest chickadee; watched our UK littlie totter back and forth between his parents on Sunday night; heard him calling his mother (by her name) in his father's voice; heard his big sister sing a couple of beautiful songs and watched her doing her 'letter and number' books and got to view her latest art work (the kid is talented, her granny says so!).

I will soon be able to give my UK littlies a real hug... I'm off to visit them mid September.  Our 'big' chickadee is having her tonsils and adanoids out and granny is going over to lend a hand for a bit.

It's a glorious day out today and I'm seriously considering getting to that weeding that needs doing again.  I've planted a lot of groundcover out recently and once it's grown that will cut down my weeding extensively.  I just don't know why I didn't do it before now.

Arabella, I have finished knitting up that fluffy pink wool.  I'd intended it as a doll's blanket, but our littlest chickadee has taken such a fancy to her 'cuddly sheets' that I reckon I'll give it to her to use as a 'portable' doody.  I'll let her mother write about how delightful she is, we had such fun with her at Perisher.

Time to open all the windows and doors and let the fresh air and sunshine in. I love this time of year.

April Blackbird

17 August 2010

Shared memories...

Busy day and not much time to blog, but I do want to share some of our gorgeous winterscapes with you.

Thaw, then more snow... tiny icicles fight for life!

I believe it's been snowing at Perisher and that they have plenty of snow to ski on.  That will make everyone happy. Just goes to show... one never knows.

April Blackbird

15 August 2010

Back safe and sound from a rapidly warming Perisher

We left a very bright, sunny and rapidly warming Perisher yesterday morning.  It was so warm when we left that I didn't even bother putting on my gloves and hat and I didn't need to fasten up my jacket.  The snow was melting on the rooftops and the roads were turning to slush and it wasn't even 9pm yet.

Crowds of people were pouring in to watch a competition and they would have had a brilliant day out in the sun.  We enjoyed the sun on our faces as we drove back to Sydney via Jindabyne and Cooma and Goulburn.  I love the scenery around that area, it reminds me of the good old Transvaal/Orange Free State.

We stopped in Bredbo for morning tea and were joined my New Mum Chick and her family.  They make scrumptious pancakes and really good tea at the little restaurant we like to stop at. 

Lunch in Goulburn, at the old bakery with the huge open fireplace, is always a welcome break.  They make great pies there and I had a really nice salad and chicken roll with a huge skinny latte.

The roads were busy!  Lots of people going to and from the snow.  It got even busier once we 'hit' Sydney outskirts and we had to keep reminding ourselves we were still on holiday and should just relax and enjoy.  Must say, I did find myself 'enjoying' the scenery around Sydney again. 

Today is washing, cleaning and general un-packing day.  There are piles of post and emails to sort through.  The front garden bed needs weeding and I should go and do some grocery shopping. We've just had a huge hail storm and there's more rain hanging over the sea.  It is however, nice and warm.  We even pulled the blanket off our bed this morning.  Spring is definitely on its way. One can't help wondering how much more skiing/boarding will be done at Perisher this year...

April Blackbird.

12 August 2010

Another from the Rooftops.

Palma's beautiful old terracotta rooftops

A great big light show over the mountains

A wet old world

We've been so fortunate to have lived here, thank you Spain for providing a lovely, soft landing pad for we three. 

Now we're off on a new adventure with our lovely friends Arabella and her amor. 


08 August 2010

Blog candy on one of my favourite card making blogs!

Hiya!  Sorry for the long absence.  We have been super busy lately getting the boat ready for the guests to have their first trip of the season after some pretty major renovation work.   The owner arrives on Monday and we head to Sardinia on Tuesday to pick up the rest of the family.  We are heading to Greece via Tunisia which should be interesting.  

Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and say hasta la vista (meaning: until I see you) for a while as I am going to be very busy cooking meals for 14 people and cleaning and making up cabins and travelling for the next few weeks.  I will try to find some time to post some pics along the way if we get good internet access and some spare time.

I also wanted to let you know about the fabulous stamping and paper crafting blog candy that Amy is offering on her blog A Thousand Sheets of Paper.  Amy designs awesome stamps (Sweet November stamps) and is my favouritist ever card maker.  Her copic marker colouring skills are totally enviable.

Amy is offering up some awesome design paper and a huge stamp package to celebrate her one year blog anniversary and her thousandth sheet of design paper used in her cards since she started posting them!  Apparently this is what a thousand sheets of paper looks like...

Anyway, do stop by Amy's blog to enter the draw or just to browse the images of the beautiful cards she makes!


Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca.

04 August 2010

Adios and Kalimera!

Yikes! It's here.  The deferred excitement/ nervousness of moving overseas, so beautifully put off by first port of call being the familiarity of Mallorca.  The crew chickies motor off on Tuesday and we 1.5 are due to come on 25th with faithful folks in tow and there for brilliant moral support.  

Our little chick is rolling all over the place now and quite pleased with himself.  He's very excited about his trip to Greece and learning how to eat spanikopita one of these days.  I'm very much looking forward to the great salads and lovely fresh feta.  I hear tell the Kalamata olives are not as we expect but I'm prepared to seek some out that taste fabulous!

Much research is going on to find out all about our new location and I feel blessed to have my folks coming so I can do some little scouting trips with my mum and find out about English speaking doctors and perhaps even nursery schools.  not to mention shopping! I have the very important job of sourcing some hard to find items for the boat which does give me a great sense of purpose!

So, sadly we wave goodbye (yet again) to Mallorca and all the incredible things she has to offer, but we move on to a home, for the first time in our lives together.  A place in which we can buy a spice rack, heavy books and homewares and stop always selecting the smallest bottles on the shelf at the supermarket.  And my nesting gene, which has been switched off now for about 5 years, can finally be given free reign.  Even describing that makes me feel a wonderful sense of relief.  

So Lavrio, here we come!  With bells on! (Oh, and Noah with his little back-pack.  He's agreed to helping with the luggage load...)

Have gorgeous days.  


02 August 2010

Places I have been #7

As we'll be spending next week up at Perisher in the Snowy Mountains (with New Mum Chick and our littlest chickadee) I thought it was about time I told you about something Australian. I even have some photos for you...
It all starts here.  You park your car and catch the train up. Everything goes up with you. Which is why NMC was talking about the need to hire a Scherpa.
Snow guns at Blue Cow.

This is the view from the lounge of the lodge we'll be staying at next week. It's snowing at the moment and I believe they had half a metre of snow yesterday.  Which means that the early morning skiing today was something not to be missed.  Those gums you see are 'snow gums' and they're hundreds of years old.  I think they make the most beautiful snowscapes.
This photo was taken in 2008, Arabella might remember sitting out on that patio having a BBQ in Summer. There's a crowd of people who go down to the lodge at the same time as us and they use that BBQ in the middle of winter.  Far too cold out for our crowd.  
Falling icicles are definitely hazardous to the health, but rather beautiful.

You can't keep a good engineer down... that's 'my man' busy cutting steps.
The 'Hanz' Oversnow - far better than traipsing up the hill with all your gear
Now I'll be honest, I haven't been up here...    
'Our' oversnow... you'll be surprised what you can pile into it! I took this photo from our bedroom window (through the mozzie net).  Well, this has to be all the photos for now.  This post is giving me lots of editing problems so I'm going to cook dinner.