Sunday, 27 September 2020

Jam appreciation picnic!

I made six large jars of pretty mulberry jam yesterday.  The lid of one jar didn't seal properly, so it was destined to be opened first for proper sampling.

Today seemed a perfect day for a jam appreciation picnic.  I made a batch of scones before leaving home and then we set off - with Bandit.

I hadn't planned a destination but was pleased when we arrived at Moogerah Dam, particularly as we had this large picnic pavillion to ourselves in spite of the many cars parked nearby.

Well, not quite to ourselves.  As I set the table and Nick organised our little stove, he spotted a possum in one corner of the roof.  It was curled up at first but seemed to start moving about when I opened the jam - and it then was obvious that we were sharing the shelter with two possums, a mum and youngster.

How was the jam?  Excellent!  And the scones - well, they weren't bad either!

The $1.00 op-shop remnant I bought in Dalby was enough to make three smaller size tea-towels, which I've packed into our various picnic cases.  

One tea towel came with us today, for it's first trip out.  (We generally rinse our mugs with leftover hot water from the kettle, to be used again on longer outings.  They are washed properly once home again).

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Dalby dallying ...

Nick's been looking forward to using his Gladstone bag and toiletries case, so appreciated a chance to road-trip out to Dalby!  

We took our time getting organised on Thursday morning and arrived around lunchtime.  After a very nice cafe lunch, we checked in to our motel room and then spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening with lovely new friends.

Nick and Ann met online via a song-writing group but it was great to meet in person.  We were treated to afternoon tea and then they played guitar.  Both sang some of their original songs.  And then we picked lots of mulberries, still chatting all the time.

We checked out on Friday morning, had a huge brekkie at a nearby cafe (where we'd lunched on Thursday) and then looked at all the op-shops in town.  As usual, we found a few bargains.  I was happy with some remnants - including a $1.00 linen tea-toweling piece. 

Although we have visited Dalby a couple of times, we hadn't seen much of the larger township so drove around a bit (and found a cache) before heading back toward home.

There were a couple of detours along the way.  Oakey was a longer stop, cos their op-shops were also open - happy days!

We enjoyed a late lunch cheese platter in the park, where we've stopped previously.  

There was a cool breeze and we could see a little of the creek, so we lingered for a while before packing up and driving the last stretch back home.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

As the crow flies ...

Nick and I really enjoyed seeing all the displays at last year's Carnival of Flowers. I suggested to Erin that she and I do an overnight trip to view them, before the official program commenced.  The suggestion was made around lunchtime and initially I had thought we might head up that day.  

As it happened the afternoon was busy and we drove up on Saturday morning. (Toowoomba is less then an hour and a half from home, so not a huge trek).

We detoured to see Spring Bluff (which is self-proclaimed as the most beautiful railway station in SE Queensland). And yes, it is lovely!

From there we drove up to Toowoomba, making a couple of op-shop stops and wandering around the markets, before enjoying our picnic. 

I had Erin pose near the little vintage van because it was the same as the one I decorated for her (and Nissa) many years ago.  The story of that van, is here.

We viewed the Queens Park gardens and then those at Laurel Bank Park (where I exclaimed "look at the wisteria" and Erin heard "look at the posterior")!  By 3ish, we decided it was time for afternoon tea and a rest so farewelled Toowoomba and drove across to our accommodation at Crows Nest.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Bedding upgrade / backyard camping!

Since purchasing our camper trailer almost three years ago, we've tried a few different bedding options - with varying levels of success.

Nick and I had an overnight stay in the trailer at home just before Easter and were very uncomfortable.  There were a few issues but the main problem was we'd recently upgraded our bedroom mattress (finally replacing the one that I'd bought new in 1997) - and had become used to much more luxury!

I don't know if you've bought a mattress lately but we were stunned at the starting prices.  After touring several retail outlets and becoming very confused by the choices, we opted to buy a mattress in a box.  It's been marvelous!

Given we'd only outlaid $800 for our usual mattress upgrade, we really baulked at paying similar money for low-profile/camper trailer specific options.  (And no, the mattress in a box wasn't an option for the camper trailer due to being too high and too heavy).

So the plan stalled again.  At some point though I'd found irrigation matting for a good price and we put a layer of that on the bedding area of the trailer.  (During our stint of caravan living we learned the importance of ventilation beneath mattresses).

Nick and I recently visited a local camping store to collect a product for another project (more on that later).  While there, we spotted a Blackwolf Mega Deluxe camping mat.  It was lovely!  Once home, I did some more research and sourced the same product for $289.00, delivered (a saving of $80 over store's sale price, and less than half the full retail cost).  While we waited for it to arrive, I washed down our four 4WD camping mats and chose two to use in the camper trailer.  (They rest on top of the irrigation mats and under the new Blackwolf mat).  We tested our good work for the first time last night and are extremely pleased to report success!  Hooray for us!

Of course, the benefit of this configuration is that it can still be used for tent camping if necessary.  The 4WD mats and the new Blackwolf mat are all inflatable and can be deflated/rolled for packing.

Monday, 6 July 2020

I do like Scrabble!

Although there is no mention of Scrabble on our Fun n Games page, it remains a firm favourite, so is regularly played at home and when we are away. In our very early days together, Nick and I were both quite broke.  We ate at home and played a lot of Scrabble!

I had a standard Scrabble set for many years (ie. long before Nick came along)!  We acquired Super Scrabble from an op-shop during our Victorian era - for the princely sum of $15.00.  We have well and truly had our money's worth from the game.  It does take a lot longer to finish, so both boards are packed cos some nights we prefer to use the traditional version.

We have tried travel editions of the game but find the letters too small for our fingers - and eyes!

Both Scrabble sets went away with us on our recent trip to Jandowae.  You can just see them in one of my hand-crafted shopping bags, packed in below Elmer's back seat.

Since coming home I've been working on Nick's Gladstone bag (and doing a little more to mine).  I was also scheming for a better way to pack our Scrabble sets.  For whatever reason it didn't occur to me to take them out of the boxes when looking for a single case to store them in.  Once I got past that sticking point, I remembered this $5.00 op-shop computer bag - and the project grew!

The two boards are stored in a back, divided pocket.  Rules and an op-shop Scrabble book are in the front pocket.  The more used components are in the main section of the bag.  I used an online tutorial to make two flat-bottomed zip bags to hold the tiles for each game.

The bags are larger than I envisaged, so store two racks each.  Usually it's just Nick and I playing, so four racks will be enough if all the family plays.  (The other four will remain "spare" at home).

And yes, the tile bags are lined with our wedding outfit fabrics!  Nick's shirt had a number of holes but I was able to salvage three dragon pieces (one is the lining for the larger dictionary).  My top is long-gone and the pants had a laundry accident but I have plenty of fabric for when I'm feeling like sewing slippery silk!

I bought a fat quarter of Scrabble fabric and used that on the tile bags and two book covers for our dictionaries.  We generally just use a notepad for scoring but I decided to print off some official score sheets.  (The Scrabble pencils were a past birthday or Mothers Day gift).  By checking through the old score sheets I was able to match some to particular places and that prompted the small photo album of game memories.  I expect future photos may well feature our new 70-cent trophy, rather appropriately housed in a Smash container, cos often it's my score that is well and truly smashed by Nick's!

I spent just over $30.00 putting our Scrabble bag together.  The largest single purchase was $8.00 for a new budget Macquarie dictionary from BigW.  (For many years we used a pocket dictionary that was at least 40 years old)!  I'd purchased the computer bag from an op-shop warehouse sale last year for $5.00 but have included that cost in the tally.  (The two official Scrabble books were op-shop finds bought long ago).  Tis a small outlay for all the fun we'll have!

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

More loo bags!

Given all the current (Covid-19) focus on hand washing, I was even more pleased than usual of having a loo bag (or two) in Elmer during our weekend trip! 

Although soap was supplied in the public loos I used while away, it's more usual that we need to BYO.

I've posted of my loo bags before.  These pics are of some others I made.  Nissa's (bottom left) was the prototype - pictured here with other items in her new car kit, including a rubbish bag. 

Di's colleagues liked hers so much that I made one specially to live at their ambulance station, for the paramedics to take on their traveling shifts (bottom right).

The pelican loo bag is a more recent creation and now lives in New Zealand with Kerry!  It's slightly larger because I've found it works better to house the toilet paper in a recycled plastic container.  The bags dry quickly if they are plonked on a wet patch at the hand basin.  The paper rolls don't fare so well!  I've used Staminade containers for my bags, which only just fit. I've also used slightly bigger, protein power, containers for more recent bags - and adjusted the sizing to accommodate the extra volume. 

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Lake Broadwater

I've seen the turn-off for Lake Broadwater on other trips, when detouring wasn't an option (due to time issues or because we were travelling with Bandit).  I'm glad we deviated this trip.  Even in the rain, it was a lovely spot.

There were a few soggy roos about and quite a lot of birds to entertain us.

We had thought we might dine at the "bottom pub" on our second night in Jandowae but opted to stay in, enjoy our splendid cheese platter - and play Super Scrabble!

We chose a picnic table near the water and set up to boil the kettle.  (Nick's good work on the stove the previous day meant it worked wonderfully, which was great).

I set out the leftover cheese platter goodies, so we had quite a flash picnic.  The crows were very keen to share our supplies.  One in particular was a pate fan - he/she was not at all impressed when offered sundried tomato as an alternative! Nick had left the tailgate down and needed to shut that again - cos two crows were on a mission to get in the back and rummage through our stuff! 

Soggy Sunday ...

It was a smooth pack-up on Sunday morning, albeit a damp one. We left a little after 10:00am, so as to have a last, quick look around town before starting the drive home.  I took a few pics (in the light rain).

The pink building is the Club Hotel (or "top pub").  It was the first two-storey construction in the town, though no longer seems to be in operation.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Bell beauty ...

We found ourselves at Bell later in the afternoon.  I used the public toilet in the park and spotted a sign inviting visitors to view the church murals. 

As beautiful as the murals were inside the building I was quite taken with some of the other details, particularly the pressed metal ceiling and the bell design on the front step treads.

The church, grounds and gardens were obviously very well cared for, which was lovely to see.  We had a quick stroll around The Biblical Garden next door.  There were some interesting plants but we didn't actually realise the full significance of the garden till we were driving out of town and saw the sign stating many of the plants were from biblical times.  There's a great article about the garden, here

Dingo Fence Drive

We hadn't planned to do much while at Jandowae but did want to revisit the Dingo Fence Drive, so traveled in Elmer Fudd rather than our small, red car.

On the way out of town we pulled over to check some signs I'd seen the previous day.  They were not large enough to read as we drove past, so it was good to see one up close and view the grass around it.

As previously, we stopped to read the information board at the start of the track.  I think we might have been just as taken with the tenacity of a prickly pear growing in the upper branches of a dead tree, too!

We made our way to the Boiling Springs Lookout and set up our chairs and picnic table to enjoy a cuppa and some late morning tea.

Nick had packed two small stoves as one was being finicky.  He was able to do some minor repairs to it though, which was great work.

We sat for quite a while, listening to the wind in the grass and nearby trees.  It was a very pleasant interlude. 

A group of apostle birds visited briefly - and we caught a quick glimpse of a mistletoe bird.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Athlone Cottage

We had a late lunch on the verandah of our cabin and then drove the short distance into town to explore a bit.

There was much excitement when we spotted a huge lot of whistling ducks on a little dam just on the edge of town!  That sight required a couple of u-turns to enable photos and footage to be taken.  No doubt the locals thought us crazy!

We'd seen a little of Jandowae on a previous trip, when we'd stayed at Dalby - but had been very focussed on the huge bottle trees, rather than much else of the township.

Nick and I had a bit of a wander around the outside of Athlone Cottage.  The charcoal fridge on the verandah was interesting as were some of the out-buildings.  (The cottage is open for viewing at times but not during our visit).

We then strolled down the street for another smooch with the bottle trees - and to revisit the dingo sculpture.

Both the "middle" and "bottom" pubs offered meals both nights of our stay.  Due to Covid-19  restrictions, we made a booking at the Exchange Hotel for later in the evening and enjoyed dining out.

During our walk-around we realised we'd been saying Jandowae to rhyme with "the place to stay" rather than "the place to be" as was on the welcome sign.  We tried very hard to correct ourselves from that point on!

Jandowae - the place to be!

We were up early to finish packing and organise Vaughan for school.  Even so, we didn't expect to depart the driveway before 9:00am - so were quite chuffed to be on the road at 8:30am!

As is usual with road trips, we filled Elmer's tanks close to home.  (Nick had done various checks and topped up oil etc as necessary).

It was a lovely day to be travelling, with clear skies and pretty clouds.  We didn't stop along the way, just chatted and enjoyed being on an adventure!

When booking our Jandowae cabin, our hostess confirmed check-in was any time after ten.  We arrived later in the morning and then talked for ages before unpacking.

I'd created our mini-bar/goodies hamper before we left home, using a basket that had been gifted to us at our wedding (over 14 years ago)!  We didn't end up eating/drinking all the provisions but I did like how everything looked on the kitchen bench!  Coffee, lots of tea, my baby teapot and some breakfast supplies were housed in a different small container.

Glad to Get Away!

We've done some daytrips since last September and we had an over-night backyard stay in our camper trailer - but mostly we stayed at home.  Covid-19 has obviously impacted in recent months but sometimes it's just tricky to organise time away.

Our Young Master is now a teenager and prefers not to venture too far from his room.  (The extended stint of caravan living also scarred him somewhat)!  Erin suffers motion sickness, even on shorter drives - so she offered to hold the fort at home, to give Nick and I a chance for a short break.  Given restrictions in Queensland had only just eased to allow unlimited interstate travel, our first choice of beach-side accommodation didn't work out.  Instead we opted for a budget cabin further inland.  There were a few other guests but we felt as if we had the place to ourselves - and really appreciated the quiet.

We booked a two-night stay and I was finally able to us my rejuvenated carry-all!  (I still haven't attempted to restore the tarnished metal clasps but my efforts to remove the musty smell paid off.  I found a large lavender sachet my mum made and that now lives in the bag).  Di gifted me the smaller, hand-crafted bag for Mothers Day and I used that for some other bits.  I really like how they look together and am seriously considering re-lining the leather one with similar happy yellow fabric to make them even more of a pair.