Friday, 17 September 2021

Making space for an upgrade!

Although we enjoyed our October touring last year in the D9 camper trailer, we've been considering an upgrade.  We had discussions at different times but hesitated to proceed - for lots of reasons.  

In recent weeks we re-assessed priorities and talked more seriously about buying something that better suited us.

We first encountered a Cub Spacevan when camping in the Warrumbungles in 2012.  Nick's had a similar model on his wishlist ever since!  

The Spacevans aren't as readily available on the used market as other models - and as usual we had a budget, which also limited options.  

Interstate ads were not considered, due to Covid travel restrictions.  

A local-ish listing seemed to be for a 4WD/Spacevan package, so had been crossed off our "list".  On further reading though, Nick made a phone enquiry and arranged a viewing last week.  We really liked the sellers and their sale price - so paid a deposit before heading home and then collected our new-to-us Cub Spacevan yesterday! 

What did we buy?  A 2006 model, fitted with semi-off road transcontinental pack (which means a longer/stronger drawbar, reinforced chassis, high tensile axle, locking water filler and steel water tank protector).  Nick and I were married in early 2006, so quite like the fact that our Spacevan was built the same year!

The Spacevan came with a folder of paperwork including original advertising brochures, fridge and stove manuals, notes made by previous owners and the very important set-up instructions.  It's been very interesting to read through.

We've been organising this past week, hoping to test our new acquisition during the school holidays.  There's still a bit to do/improvise but we have fingers crossed for departure going ahead, more or less as planned!

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Tempted by Templin Museum

Templin Museum had been on my to-visit list for quite some time.  All the planets aligned today for Nick and I to go on a local-ish outing - and we were glad we did!

We arrived not long after opening and spoke at length to two volunteers in the Fashion House.  I was very interested in how they housed and catalogued their collection - and picked up some tips to share with my friend, for storage of props in her studio.  

I intended to take photos of all the calico garment bags but was too busy chatting and asking questions!  (I've been thinking of sewing a garment bag for our road-trips and am now rethinking it's construction).

There was more friendly discussion in the next building along, where a group of spinners and weavers offered advice on eco-dyeing, which is another interest.

When we'd driven up I could smell fire and the ticketing lady commented that the wheelwright was on site.  I wandered down to that area and really enjoyed hearing him discuss the repair of a hundred year old wheel - and very old bullock dray.

He showed the use of some of his hand tools and demonstrated one in particular, that I'm keen to buy for my own occasional carving efforts.  I was given a couple of pieces of wood also, which were a happy bonus.

It was about lunch time by that stage and the volunteers were taking a break.  Nick and I decided we'd visit again another time to see more of the displays and started heading toward home - though called in for a great pub lunch at Peak's Crossing along the way.  It was a lovely day to be out and about.  

Monday, 12 July 2021

Reward for good service?!

I don't remember the exact date we bought our thermoses but there are references on this post to them being about 10 years old in 2015.  We paid a splendid bargain price for all of them - and they have been very well used over the years.  

In 2015 I looked at replacing the lid seals but that was shortly before our Great Cull, so thermos care was shelved.  (While in transit we tended to use a small dual fuel stove for picnics as it was easier).

One thermos has seen more use in recent times, which prompted me to source new seals.  When inspecting the lids, I remembered one was damaged - so I ordered two lids and two seals.  

Total cost of the order, including postage, was just under $35.00.  Not bad for 15-plus years of service!  

I'll replace the seal on the undamaged lid and keep that one as a spare.  After ordering the new lids, I decided to give the thermoses a spa treatment. Denture cleaning tablets were recommended for deep cleaning and I bought a 48-pack for $3.50 from Coles.  

The method I found is to use two tablets per two cups of capacity.  As the large thermoses are 1.9 litres, I used 8 tablets for each of those.  Erin's thermos is smaller than the other two, so I used 4 tablets for it.    I dropped the tablets into the empty thermoses and then filled with hot tap water.  The effervescence caused fluid to bubble up, which was fun!  I stood them all in the sink till they'd stopped frothing.  They were then left for 4-5 hours before being emptied and rinsed.

Some people fill their thermoses with pre-made tea or coffee, which causes staining. We only carry hot water in ours (preferring to make drinks on site with provisions carried in our beverage case) so they didn't really need deep cleaning.  One had a little residue on the inside base, possibly water sediment - so had been sitting in the cupboard, beside the broken lid.  My bottle brush was too short for effective scrubbing (and didn't fit the neck of Erin's), so I gave each thermos a second treatment and left them to soak overnight.  Bunnings had a Sabco drink bottle cleaning set, which worked wonderfully for all three.  There were just eight tablets left in the box, so I've given our two food flasks a bubble bath, too!

Erin's thermos was purchased second-hand in late 2014 for the amazing price of $1.00 or $2.00 from a market seller who was packing up at the end of the day. We'd cleaned it after purchase, with hot soapy water and perhaps some bicarb soda.  Erin can't remember ever using it.  I had many denture tablets available, so cleaned it also.  As it happened, hers did benefit from the thorough foaming treatment.  (It has a narrow neck opening and was more awkward to work with).

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Fire appreciation!

I invited friends to enjoy a fire appreciation evening a few weeks back, which sparked (hah!) the purchase of a new fire pit - cos ours had rusted through (after nearly three years of excellent service).  The replacement was a $50.00 Facebook marketplace find, with a welded safety edge and legs.  How good is that?

We still had plenty of firelighters and wood from our Byron Bay weekend, as well as some old furniture pieces from a recent clean-up.  We dined on BBQ-ed sausages, corn on the cob, "space potatoes" (baked in foil) and a lovely salad made by our guests.

Nick and I achieved our 700th geocaching find during the week, so dessert was a celebratory cake (in fire theme) - after some giant marshmallow toasting.  Once all the cooking was done, we added magic flame packs to the fire and admired all the pretty colours.

We had giant sparklers as a finale but Mr Dog was very weird with those - and seemed to think he needed to protect everyone.  (Well, I assume all the barking and dashing about was due to alarm.  He was definitely excited and not in a good way, so we put the pack away again)!  

It was a great night and really enjoyed sharing it with friends.  Now that the weather is cooler, there may be opportunity for another evening under the stars in the not-too-distant future.  We might even drag the camper trailer out for some backyard camping - maybe!

I found lots of cake inspiration by googling "free printable campfire cupcake toppers".  After all the browsing I decided on one larger cake, dusted with icing sugar "ash". I used a mix of lollies and biscuits for the fire. The coals were orange, red and brown smarties as well as raspberry jelly sweets.  The firewood was Arnott's TeeVee Snacks Malt Sticks and some thinner chocolate Pocky sticks.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Exhibition rocks!

Even though the focus of our recent Canberra trip was to visit the Botticelli to Van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery (!), we were also approaching 700 geocaching finds and wanted to increase our tally while away.

There were caches quite close to our accommodation but this site seemed more interesting and we set off to find it.  


The information at the site described William Branwhite Clarke as the father of Australian geology.  His research formed the basis of the first geological map of New South Wales, published in 1880.  (We'd visited the National Library the previous day and wondered whether some of his maps may have been held there).  

From the creek we walked along the Majura Cycleway, a lot further than we intended - and we were very pleased an Uber driver responded to our pick-up request, quite near the Australian Federal Police training centre.  It was mid-afternoon by the time we made it back to our room (after stopping at a shopping centre for late lunch) and we needed a nap before our evening attendance at the Van Gogh exhibition!  (By the end of the day we'd walked more than 10km and a radox bath was greatly appreciated).

I've done a bit more research about Woolshed Creek since returning home.  I found this article.  We actually drove past the shale/sandstone uncomformity en route to the National Gallery!

Monday, 31 May 2021

Magic time away ...

We packed some of my fancy firelighters, a box of kindling and a couple of bags of firewood for our Byron Bay trip.  

There was a firepit on site, which we really appreciated!  

Nick was in charge of lighting the fire and gave my firelighters a great review.  (He lit them from both ends). 

As you can see the colour-changing flame powder was an excellent inclusion and made for superb fire gazing! We have used this or a similar product previously but these packs were extra magical - lots of colours, which continued for ages.  We were very impressed!

My initial plan had been to stay in Lismore because the focus of the trip was to view the Max Dupain exhibition at the Lismore gallery.  When looking for accommodation though, I spotted this lovely old van set-up in Byron Bay - so we booked it instead (and then discovered we were right next door to friends)!

Nick had received a leg injection earlier in the week and suffered an adverse reaction, which caused a lot of pain.  We managed a few activities but not as much walking as we'd usually do - though he very determinedly hobbled around the Lighthouse and down to the most easterly point of Australia's mainland!

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Firelighter fun!

Vaughan and I made basic firelighters when we lived at Clarkefield.  They worked well, all made from materials already on hand.

Kerry and I made far more beautiful versions when I visited New Zealand in 2016.  We'd gone for a lovely ramble first, picking up little pinecones, seed pods and various other interesting dry vegetation. 

It was a wonderfully peaceful, meditative activity arranging our finds into muffin cases - held in place with melted wax.

Nick and I have booked a few nights away at the end of the month.  Our accommodation has a firepit but we'll need to take wood.  I decided I'd like to bring some special firelighters (along with sparklers and colour-changing flame powder)!

I picked up dry grasses and bark yesterday, then found pine needles and pine cones once home again.  We had dried jacaranda in the backyard.

In more recent times Kerry made larger firelighters using paper cups.  

When I checked at home, there were heaps of Christmas cups which had red chevron stripes.  Some of our old address cards had the fire motif, so I trimmed those and used some double-sided tape to cover the "Merry Christmas" wishes.  Of course, the cups will be burned so it didn't matter that they were out of season but I like the revamped version better!

The method was simple.  I broke a small commercial firelighter into the bottom of each cup.  Most had a bit of bulrush fluff as well.  Some had some scrunched honeycomb packing paper.  The dried arrangements varied but I noticed they became larger and more elaborate as I went along!  When I started to get too precious about placement, I reminded myself that they were all going to go up in smoke anyway!  

We have a lot of cake candles, so I decided to give each firelighter one of those also.  I'm liking the end result.  Cheap entertainment for sure!

I don't know if I'm wearing the same jeans as I was in 2016.  The top is different but very similar.  Obviously great options for firelighter construction!