Sunday, 27 January 2019

Soaking Up Summer

I've been very lucky to have enjoyed the past few weeks away from work to spend time at home with the Sonofaguns, the weather and the garden.

Our tomatoes are producing quite well. The Diggers Heritage breeds do much better than the standard ones. 
Tomato 'Black Cherry' (and a few blackberries)
And this Lebanese zucchini (also from Diggers Seeds co) is pumping out heaps of produce.

The strawberries are growing in a large patch but despite bird netting, the cheeky buggers are still finding their way in the devour most of our delicious strawberries! Any leftover strawberry carcasses go straight to the guinea pigs!
I absolutely love my blackberry plant. The real fight here has been with the weather.We have had an occasional horrid hot day where the temperature flies up over 40c and a hot wind blasts through turning almost ripe fruit into desiccated lumps.
At some point the Bear threw some seed potatoes in. I kind of ignored them. They didn't seem to do much apart from a bit of green above ground. But the other day he did a bit of prodding around in the soil and filled a bowl with these wonderous treasures!
The Mariposa Plum tree put on a lovely show of flowers in Spring followed by a profusion of baby plums. But most of them dropped off leaving just 3 to keep growing. Every couple of days I would check to see if they were still there. I watched them grow.

And grew they did! A few days ago I finally thought, "YES! It's plum picking time!" Which would last only a few seconds because there was only 3 but it would be 3 GLORIOUS SECONDS of PLUM PICKING!

Some little bastard bird had already destroyed one plum leaving the mashed remains on the ground. The other 2 looked ok. 
I picked them and discovered to my horror that little bastard bird had a go at both remaining plums on the other side!
Now I know it sounds a bit gross but I cut them up anyway, threw away the picked at bits and we sampled the 'good' leftover bits. They were delicious and sweet! 
Our pergola outside is now mostly finished. It's lovely out there now. The Bear found a 2nd hand projector and screen as well as a proper pool table. I been reliving a youth well spent in pubs playing games of pool, and curling up on cushion filled chairs watching movies on the big screen.
I have been making Amazona Parrots, Stevie Birds and Pearly Hummingbirds using the Scheepjes Catona which I was gifted for Christmas. They are much larger than the originals but look gorgeous in the bright variety of colours!
This morning I took a little drive with a very dear friend and her daughter to The Garden at St Erth in Blackwood, just 55 mins out of Melbourne. 

 Would you like to come for a little walk with us?

 This beautiful Clematis was near the cafe where we had coffee, Elderflower Sodas and scones.
 I love this gate made out of garden tools.

 Lots of New Holland Honeyeaters and this pretty Eastern Spinebill drank nectar from the flowers.
I loved this beautiful Copper Beech tree. It wasn't as 'coppery' as you expect.
A magnificent Copper Beech
 Check out the bark!

Tromboncino squash
Too. Much. Pollen. Can't. FLY!
Hellebores growing under apple, pear and quince trees.
Lichen on the apple and pear trees
Apparently these are a type of sunflower!

If you know what these are, let me know. They didn't have a label...

 So that's what I've been up to lately. What's been happening in your part of the world?

Red Haired Amazona

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Aussie Amazona meets Best Bloggy British Buddy

Just over 4 years ago, I started this blog thing up and have had the pleasure of meeting so many lovely people around the world.

One of the first people to actively reach out to me was a lady all the way up in Jolly Old England.

At first we worked together to translate a hat pattern.
Then we started helping each other with other projects. 

If you're a regular reader of my little bloggy, you would know I'm talking about this lovely lady.

Vicki from Off The Hook!

Since we met online 4 years ago, she now facilitates craft workshops via her business The Makers Cabin, AND most excitingly she has had her crochet patterns published in Simply Crochet and Inside Crochet magazines.

We chat almost daily via Facebook! Sometimes we chat about crochet stuff, test patterns for each other, help with pattern edits, offer advice and most often about the daily happenings in our lives. We became more than crochet penpals. We've become wonderfully close friends!
Just after Xmas 2017, Vicki showed me some pictures of the snow in her backyard and had been complaining of the cold. I boldly said:

We pondered the idea as her husband has a brother who lives in Adelaide, South Australia.

Then a few weeks later she said this:

How exciting! I would be able to meet the lady who had been my best bloggy buddy for the past 4 years in person!

I sent her a 2018 calendar of Melbourne where I dodgily handwrote in a countdown to their trip.
Then in the middle of December they flew all the way down to the bottom of the planet to Australia!
They had a few days with family in Adelaide which is about 8 hours drive west from Melbourne. Then flew over to spend a few days in Melbourne with ME!!!

We spent most of the 1st day at Melbourne Zoo.  Here we are together with a photobombing seal...
 I arranged for Vicki and her family along with Sonofagun No.2 to have an up close experience with some kangaroos.

 While I had a rather interesting conversation with an emu.
The weather was quite hot and humid. The poor UK natives got a bit sunburnt.

Sonofagun No.2 believes that penguins are his spirit animal. We often take him to visit the Australian Little Penguins (formerly known as 'Fairy Penguins') at either Phillip Island, the zoo or at a local colony who nest at St Kilda Pier close to the Melbourne CBD. 

Vicki said she really wanted to see the penguins. We did see some at the zoo, but I thought it would be much more special to see the St Kilda penguins. 

So later that evening we had a lovely dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant, then made our way to the pier.

 Water rat or penguin?
 It was a bit of a wait. They normally start to swim in from the bay just after sunset which was around 8.45pm.
 The local volunteers allow photography without the use of flash. They have red torches to light up as apparently the little creatures can't see red, so the torchlight doesn't bother them.
 Some penguins come right up onto the boardwalk to check out the weird large lumbering humans... 

Sonofagun No.2 (back to camera) sits and worships his spirit animal.
 I only had half a day the following day before Vicki and family flew back to Adelaide so we went for a walk through a very small part of the immense Melbourne Botanical Gardens.
 This cubby house is in the bamboo forest in the Childrens Garden.
 Vicki's two kids had so much fun exploring the Childrens Garden. Sonofagun wanted to go to school as it was the last school day for the year. But has since said he wants to go back for a visit.
 There are so many beautiful trees.
 It was so interesting to hear Tom and Vicki comparing the gardens to what they have back home in England. In Australia we have an abundance of European, African, Asian and US trees, shrubs and perennials which we plant mixed with native Australian trees and plants.

 They were surprised to see this perennial bed filled with calla lilies, dahlias, agapanthus and salvias. But then there are native eucalyptus in the background. And I have many of these in my own home garden too!
 We made our way back to the Childrens Garden and while the kids ran around, we took some time to do what we do best!

After chatting via Facebook messenger only for the past 4 years, we were so comfortable hanging out together that we remarked a couple of times that it didn't feel like we were meeting for the first time. It was like 'hanging out with Vicki again' even though we had never met in person.
Actually I was knitting much to Vickis horror. But I had to finish a pair of socks for my sisters Xmas present!!
 Poor Tom was very patient while we crocheted.
That afternoon Vicki and her family flew back to Adelaide for Christmas with family, and explore other parts of Australia. Go check out her blog post about their travels downunder here!

Red Haired Amazona