Archive for the “Blogging from Down Under” Category

Something in which I do NOT take after my mother. I love the idea of big gardens and growing things but mostly stuff just dies ;-) The only thing I have been successful with is my herb garden back home, which I really miss. I can’t wait for it to be warm enough to start one here on my balcony.


These are some of mum’s vegetable gardens. The netting is there to keep the chooks out, who otherwise have free run of the garden. This bed at the front has been planted with carrots, celery, brussels sprouts and some other stuff which I can’t remember, and mulched to help retain moisture.


Scampers the guinea pig keeps the grass down on the paths, behind him are the beds being prepared for climbers like peas.


My hands go nowhere near the soil, in case of plant-assassination, but I carried buckets of worm poo and untangled netting :-D I think these are cabbage seedlings mum’s planting here.




And just cause they’re cute - some chooks.

While I was home we had several meals which were almost completely composed of home-grown produce (including some yummy roast goat), it is so satisfying to be able to just pop out and pick whatever you fancy eating. The vegies mum planted while I was home will mostly be ready towards the end of winter and will provide nearly all they need for the season, plus plenty to freeze and preserve as well.

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… and sunny B-) are you jealous? I hear it’s been snowing in London. Console yourselves with the thought that there’s no decent coffee for 300km.

Today so far, I have had breakfast (home grown eggs, and locally produced jam and bread from the farmer’s market) fed the chooks, collected eggs, admired the goats, and helped put dinner in the crockpot.

Later Margie and I will hang out while Mum takes Alan to see the orthopaedic surgeon in the next town. I had planned girly movies and knitting - Margie says however that we may be shifting pigs from the paddock to the yards. Hmmm.

Tomorrow most of the breeding sows will be going, leaving just a couple with new litters and some weaners in one shed (the young pigs being fattened up). This will take a great deal of pressure off as there is a lot of work in feeding pigs scattered all over the farm every day.

Tomorrow M and I are going to Melbourne to get a coffee, and maybe do some shopping. We’re staying a couple of days with Cherie and baby Chloe, and a couple of days with my brother Shannon. Back on Saturday, and it will only be one more week then until I come home!

I’m missing you all heaps - I pop by here to read comments occasionally but can’t really get to reading other people’s blogs much or get onto Ravelry at all. Cherie and Shannon both have broadband however - so I will do some catching up this week :-D and upload some photos!

Take care, xx

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Well, it’s been ten days already - I can’t believe the time has gone by so quickly. I’ve managed to get quite a bit of spinning done, and have been working through a large pile of weaving books. Having Hope just needs another read-through and the maths checked and should be up tomorrow.

In-between-times I’ve been playing with the kitten and hanging out with my brothers who were both visiting this week - the first time all the family’s been at home at the same time since Shannon was married nearly 5 years ago! We dressed in our finest and had some family portraits done yesterday - It’s very difficult to get six people all smiling and not blinking at the same time!

I’m planning a couple of trips to Melbourne to catch up with friends but mostly I’ll be at the farm. Mum and I have set up a corner of the enclosed front verandah with spinning wheels and CD-player and a table for our cups of tea. We sit out there quite cosily, with Margie occasionally joining us with her knitting. From my chair there at my wheel I have a view out over the garden - full of roses in bloom - and the farm. The alpacas wander past occasionally and the goats try to jump the fence. It’s so tranquil and relaxed it’s hard to remember that I have work to do, and that I eventually have to return to the bustle of London.

We’re also getting the shed organised - the shed that’s approximately the same size as my flat (so, so jealous!). The ceiling is done, and we can start setting things up - not everything though as we have to get lining on the walls still. There are lights and power on though, and we’ve been planning the layout and trying to track down some people with muscles enough to move the rug loom.

Alan is doing well, and starting another round of treatment soon. He is able to get out and get quite a lot of things done on the farm - discovering ingenious ways of managing tasks which are difficult with his lowered energy and limited use of one arm. The socks fit, and the only problem now is pinning him down for long enough to get his boots off!

Hope to have photos next time - they take so long to upload on dial-up I haven’t bothered this time but will do soon.


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I am now only about three weeks behind on my blogging :-P (still to come, the rest of Christmas, Hong Kong, and the last two weeks of wintery London).

I’m up to Christmas. In the sunny Melbourne sunshine we celebrated Christmas in good aussie fashion with several barbecues. Did I mention it was sunny 8-) Sunny, but not hot, of course. In a fine and long-lived tradition, I buy a dress every year to wear on Christmas Day (I don’t wear dresses much otherwise, the occasional wedding maybe). Every year, Christmas Day is just too damn cold for dress-wearing. Some day I’ll learn. This year’s new dress is a brown and white floral print from Esprit, bought in Geelong in the rain (see an earlier post) and is hanging pristinely in my wardrobe here in London waiting for a sunny day. Hah! (Three days after Christmas, of course, it was 35 degrees in Melbourne.)

Here we are at my brother’s new house (which has a pool, and sadly - not hot enough to swim)…

Christmas '07

Later we got to open lots of presents (woo!), my SIL Kat did the honours…


And we took turns exercising off Christmas lunch…

Neil and Shan

We did it all over again the next day (Christmas Eve) with my Dad and Carole and more family, then again the next day (Christmas Day) with Neil’s folks. By boxing day it was all we could do to munch down our leftover-ham-sandwiches and lie back being entertained by Australia’s most famous eleven…


Next post: What I Got for Christmas :-D

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Typical London January weather outside - wet (ish) windy, cold and grey. For those of you experiencing similar pooey weather I give you a photo feast. Only three short weeks ago and I am trying very hard to remember what it was like. (Hover over pics for titles).


We had just one night in Lorne, all we could spare from the whirlwind of visiting and house-sorting in Melbourne. It was brilliant! Lorne is about a 2 hour drive from Melbourne and we meandered down, stopping in Geelong on the way as it was pouring so we thought we’d get a bit of shopping in.

Diane Lorne


Most of the beaches around the south coast are pretty dangerous to swim at so the life-saving clubs are important and most people will swim between the flags where possible.


Lorne Seagulls

When we checked into our hotel room we were a bit disappointed, we had a lovely view from the ground floor straight out onto the carpark. Upon asking about the possibility of a change we ended up with this - a whole $20 (£8/US$16) extra for a view of the actual beach about 30 metres away! (You can see a tiny surfer out there - click to embiggen).

Hotel in Lorne

This is one of my favourite places in the world. The Great Ocean Road coastal drive stretches something like 100km and is just breathtaking the whole way. I never get tired of it.

Great Ocean Road

Only 2 more years before I visit Australia again…

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Neil managed to read a whole book while I played in fibre with mum, but somehow we managed to have no time to get anything done - well that’s what it seemed like at the end of the week.

I showed you Latte’s scrummy fleece in the last post (oh, and I weighed the bag I brought back - it was 1kg :-D sadly, it’s being parceled out to a few friends, not all for me) and so I follow that up with a picture of the fleece from one of the sheep:

Kurrajong Fleece

Here it is on the wool table in our ancient shearing shed, and below a closeup in the sunshine…

Kurrajong Fleece

It’s a Border Leicester / Merino cross, staple length about 5″ and lovely and soft. Great crimp too - it’s very bouncy!

We spent much of the week playing around with our new Golding Ring Spindles (I bought one for mum for Christmas and got one for me as well to balance the parcel in the post) and digging through piles of mum’s fibres to find interesting stuff. Icame home with a bit of blended merino, some optim (it’s ick to spin but I’m determined to conquer it), australian cashmere, angora, and something else I forgot to label.

I also managed to talk mum into buying me my long-desired wool combs for Christmas and so we spent a fun afternoon playing with some dyed Finn she had. As it is my habit when visiting spinners to divest their shelves of any Spin-Offs I haven’t read, I also conveniently came across an article on combing in an old issue (Winter 1999?). Loads of fun!

Combing 4

The combs in this picture are small ones my brother made for mum some years back and they are beautiful to use. The Finn in the picture is unblended, but we also had play around putting it with some other fibres and practising colour blending on the combs.

Sadly, the whole week couldn’t be spent in playing in wool (and alpaca), I did talk to Neil a bit and hung out with my sister. I leave you with a family photo - enjoying Aussie fish and chips in the traditional way, straight out of the paper in the late evening sunshine by the river.


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I’ll have to parcel it up a bit I’m afraid, my intention was to be blogging regularly the whole time we were away - but, you know. Don’t tell Neil that he carried my laptop all over Australia and Hong Kong for basically no reason!

It seems a loooong time ago now and all that’s happened since is filling up my mind, but I will start at the beginning which was our four days with my folks up in Bairnsdale - four hours by train from Melbourne.

The farm has been pretty much dedicated to pork for about the last 15 years but as my mum and stepdad are thinking about retirement and my sister is looking to take over, they’re gradually moving into other areas. Goats are a growing industry in Australia at the moment and Margie is really keen on them. They are rather hilarious!

Margie and goats

Mum also has her sheep back after a long time without any (there’s no money in wool at the moment) and a few long-legged alpacas to keep them company.

This is Latte with the sheep, he looks a bit skinny due to recent shearing but he is rather cute still don’t you think?

Latte and sheep

And his fleece. You’d be surprised how much of this I managed to fit into my suitcase (it was a big suitcase).

Latte's Fleece

These two are a new addition, coming from a friend’s farm which was downsizing. They’re not as tame as Latte but didn’t mind posing for the camera as long as I kept my distance.


Finally, a shot of the front flats. Some time back I showed you a similar view under a lot of water. Rainfall has been pretty good ever since and we were amazed to see the flats so green. There hasn’t been water down there during the summer for years.

Flats Dec 07

Must go now, next post will be all about what mum and I got up to while Neil relaxed in the living room and read an entire book!

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Urk. Internet access is erratic and we’ve been running around like headless chooks here  (down-under expression) so it may be a while. Check by next week.

Non-photo posts are boring so I’ll save the details for when you can see me dancing around in the surf :-D suffice to say, we’ve been to the farm, the beach, the city, and the storage unit. I found comfortable underwear (Bonds rocks) and have survived driving a car for the first time in 15 months.

We have less than a week before we fly out to Hong Kong and we need to pack a lot into that time. Three Christmases with different parts of the family, cricket, movies, drinking with friends. We’ve had torrential rain but it’s shaping up to be fine for Christmas and about 30c by the time we leave. Woo!

I will try and make this blog more eyeful soon I promise.

Diane xx

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This project has been lurking out of sight a bit as it was destined for a friend who reads this blog. It’s safe now so I give you …

Quickie Cowl #2

Cowl 2

The first one of these I made for Kate to keep her warm while I sunned myself on the beach this Christmas. I will probably make another one before long, it’s such a great pattern.

Written by Fawn Pea, it takes one skein of Misti Alpaca 100% baby alpaca bulky, although I’ve seen people on Ravelry knitting it in all sorts of things and they all look great. It’s a really fast knit and prefect for a short-notice gift - as long as it’s winter-time!

Cowl 2

The pattern has you casting on, casting off and seaming the tube with mattress stitch. When I made Kate’s I thought the seam was a bit bulky so decided to graft this one for a perfect seamless finish. Famous last words.

There is garter stitch (not too scary) and there is 3×2 ribbing (freaky). Luckily there are only 38 sts and I persevered. There are at least four mistakes, all of which I hope are practically un-noticable. If you want to graft this, I recommend reading up on grafting ribbing first, I think Ruth may have a tutorial somewhere.

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Hello all! I survived the flight, largely due to the happy fact of getting my inoffensive bamboo dpn’s through security so I could knit all the way to Hong Kong. then I slept all the way to Australia and have only minor jet-lag. Woo! (NB: turn off ipod before falling asleep if you don’t want a flat battery - I probably should listen to those few chapters of the book again too.)

There were a few things I noticed straight away when I arrived back in Aus - this is our first trip back after leaving in Sept 06:

  1.  It’s really sunny. As in, I put my sunglasses on the minute I stepped outside the door on Monday, and I don’t think I’ve ever worn them in London.
  2. The streets are empty. Neil and I went shopping on Monday in Melbourne and after parking near, say the equivalent of Bond Street, we walked across the road without a blink - no traffic. City centre.
  3. Everyone here talks with an accent - it’s really weird.

And yes, the fish and chips is better.

As I am an idiot (Neil is too but I won’t say that on a public blog post) I forgot to buy a UK/Aus power adaptor on the way out (Neil did too) and I can’t use my laptop till I get back to Melbourne and find a shop that sells them. So no photos yet sorry.

I have taken some really cool ones though, of the goats, and the burnt-out forests around here (where the fires got alarmingly close to the farm) and the alpacas. I should have photos up by Sunday night I hope.

In the meantime, here’s one of my sister and her horse Izzy


More photos and updates soon!

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