Category Archives: Birds

Things that go BUMP in the day!

Streaky Bay

Streaky Bay

It took us a couple of weeks to travel from the farm at New Norcia in Western Australia, to Traralgon in Victoria where we plan to base ourselves for a few months.

After leaving the farm, we spent a night at Coolgardie caravan park, a night at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, another at Nundroo Roadhouse, then six at Streaky Bay.

We did a bit of fishing and crabbing at Streaky but really didn’t do too well until the second to last day when we caught 10 tommy ruff and 8 whiting and missed a few good sized crabs that came in on our fishing lines. No matter, it was a nice stop in a really nice park that we’ve always enjoyed.

Our next night was spent at a caravan park at Crystal Brook (not far from Port Pirie). It was a lovely surprise to have a long-time family friend Chris Daley and his partner Miriam pull up outside the van and stay the night in a tent near by. Always fun to catch up with Chris and all the gossip, share a meal and a few drinks.

On our way to Keith the next day, we stopped at a red light on a pedestrian crossing. Unfortunately, the woman in the car behind us didn’t! We heard a dull thud as we were pushed forward by her car. Jumping out of the ute, we hurried to check the damage. At first glance it didn’t look too bad so we pulled off the crossing and swapped details.

The harder we looked though, the more damage we could see. The van’s rear bumper weld had split, she’d pushed the whole bumper back into the van and bent the spare tyre mount. We could see where she’d hit the boat trailer too. Russ managed to pull the bumper out and we took off the spare tyre and put it in the back of the ute to travel on.

We contacted our insurance company and drove on.

We spent 2 nights in Portland with friends, a night in Port Fairy with our son and daughter-in-law, another with friends then arrived here in Traralgon. On the way, Ian Grant Caravans (who we nominated to do the repair) called so we dropped in there on the way past and they quoted the repair.

Caravans are super expensive to work on so I was expecting a few thousand dollars. The quote was reaching $7000 when he asked if there was any interior damage. We hadn’t actually checked, so it was a bit of a surprise to lift the bed and find the inner wall of the van is cracked as well. To fix it, the bed and wardrobe and all side panels have to be removed and the inner wall and outer panels replaced. Ka-ching!!!!! The quote just skyrocketed to around $14,000. If that bit gets accepted, an old dent Russ did dropping the boat on the van will be fixed too!

At home here in Traralgon, Russ tried to get the boat trailer built so he could take the boat off the ute. The trailer axle has been bent so he had to take to it with a hammer to just get the boat on. We’re not sure if the wheels go round properly, but the van repairers have added the trailer into the quote!

The repairers are also going to fix the van for us while we are in Bali for 10 days in January.

It’s so lovely just being here with my son and our grandchildren, I’m really not worrying about the van. No one was hurt so that’s the main thing!

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Louth and the Norfolk Broads

early morning mist on the broads

early morning mist on the broads

On Friday October 3rd, we left Edinburgh and drove about 300 miles to stay for three nights with friends Joy and Simon in their gorgeous home on the edge of the not-s-small village of Louth. We had a really fun and relaxing three nights and two days with them that went all too fast!

I met Joy many years ago when we both belonged to an internet recipe site called Recipezaar. At the time, she and Simon were living in Wales but she and I had become good enough cyber friends for Russ and I to visit her when we holidayed in the UK 7 years ago.

Joy and Simon are actually Australians, with family there, so they decided a few years ago to move “home”. We caught up with them quite often in Perth. The move to Australia lasted just over a year- until they realised how much they missed the UK and all it offers them.  They’ve been back just over a year and are very happy now!

Joy is a fantastic cook and hostess, and Simon is a great host who hates to see an empty glass at the table so needless to say, we felt very much at home! On the night we arrrived, we had a great Chinese meal followed by an impressive cheese board.

raclette

raclette

Night two, we had a raclette. I know Joy and Simon love raclette, so I’d hinted I’d love to try one. I wasn’t disappointed.

Raclette is a melting cheese, and in Switzerland, I think they do just that-melt the cheese, then scoop it up with crusty bread.

Joy’s version is quite different. We each got an assortment of chopped and prepared ingredients, and starting with the raw meat and onion, added things to a dish on the hotplate (of a machine sitting in the centre of the table) in the order they took to cook. When they were done, we topped with raclette cheese and popped under the grill part of the machine. Each dinner had a bowl of baby skin-on potatoes and split a couple of them on their plate before topping with the cooked and cheesy mixture. It was really yummy and lots of fun and I’m having a machine!

Sunday, we took Joy and Simon out to a pub we’d had a drink in the day before. Daniel Craig is known to frequent it, but he didn’t show up. Still and all it was a lovely lunch in a really quaint little pub. Dinner was a marinated Thai chicken breasts with great salads and another fantastic cheese board.

Louth Church

Louth Church

We took a lovely walk around the village of louth, caught up with all our laundry, had a fun visit to friends of Joy and Simon, and I even managed to cook and freeze two meals for our time on the boat on the Norfolk Broads.

We left Joy and Simon’s in pouring rain and made our way to our boat on the Broads. We arrive at the boat yard outside Norwich around 4pm, and by 5pm were underway (still in the pouring rain) on our 4 night adventure.

On most holidays, we allow ourselves one really extravagant activity With this holiday being 10 weeks long, we allowed ourselves one each. Mine was to fly to Switzerland to visit our dear friends, and Russ’s was the boat on the broads. I’m so glad we did them both as they were amazing times

Raining on the Broads

Raining on the Broads

Like I said, it was pouring when we left the boat yard, so we made our way up stream very carefully mooring at Coldham Hall Pub for the night. We popped into the pub for well earned glass of wine, to use their Wi Fi and to just unwind. After our drink, we went back to the boat and made ourselves a warm salad of salmon capers and dill, baby potatoes and asparagus. Exhausted, we both slept like logs!

early morning mist on the broads

early morning mist on the broads

Tuesday, we woke to a mist over the water and the promise of a lovely day so we got underway. The boats on the broads are only allowed to do 6 mph in most places and as low as 3 or 4 mph in others, so it’s a pretty leisurely way to see the Broads. Mid week and out of season was a wise choice too-I can imagine it would be manic with boats, and moorings would be as scarce as hen’s teeth in the high season!

We putted up the river stopping for lunch at Hardley wind mill. As luck (?) would have it there was a windmill enthusiast on hand to give us the complete and utter run-down on the mill and all mills in general.

Hardley Wind Mill

Hardley Wind Mill

We were able to climb three very steep sets of stairs, then 2 equally steep and scary ladders to the top. When I said I might miss out on the ladders, he said I’d regret not seeing the view and I should do it. The view was great (I even walked out around the sails,) but OMG it was scary! All this for a 2 pound each “donation”

Our boat from the windmill

Our boat from the windmill

After lunch and our very educational visit to the mill, we headed up the Chet River to Loddon where we planned to spend the night. The Chet River was really narrow and windy and we were thrilled not to meat a boat on it’s way out. The banks were very weedy and a fouled prop on the boat would have cost us 250 pounds if we called out the engineer!

Loddon's lovely library

Loddon’s lovely library

With the boat safely tied up, we took a long walk across the fields to the lovely village of Loddon. I really loved the buildings around town especially the local library and church.

Back on the boat, we had pre-dinner drinks on the back deck to watch the sun go down. It was lovely to be visited by a family of swans (mum, dad and 7 cygnets) to talk to locals as they walked their dogs and watch the fishermen in their little boats head home. We had chilli con carne (made and frozen at Joy’s) for dinner  and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Moon over the Broads

Moon over the Broads

Wednesday, the good weather had moved on so after a lazy late breakfast, we headed back up the Chet River and moored at the mouth while we waited to see what the nasty weather would do. Our good luck at not seeing another boat on the river deserted us and we had to pass three boats and were over taken by another-quite nerve racking but we survived!

Sunset over the BroadsAfter lunch we decided it was silly to move on, so just stayed put on our mooring for the night. The weather lifted a bit so we could sit and watch another pretty sunset on the back deck then we had chicken, leek and mushroom casserole for dinner

In the morning, we motored back towards the boatyard, stopping off for lunch and more Wi Fi at Coldham Hall Pub, then moored at Bramerton for the night. Once again we took a long walk around that very pretty little village before having dinner-left over casserole with asparagus, parmesan and sour cream added and all served over pasta. Same but quite different.

remains of a windmill on the broads

remains of a windmill on the broads

Our boat was a bit of an old donga, but everything worked and the bed (especially the pillows!) was comfy, so we didn’t let its old age or the rain spoil our days! If we’d taken a better boat, it’d have been double the price so we were quite happy with it. We saw lots of bird life (heaps of swans, ducks, geese, herons, harriers etc) I think I saw a mink and we saw rabbits and hares.

This morning we returned the boat to the boatyard around 9 am then drove to our last cottage just outside Matlock in the dales on the edge of the Peak District. Talk about saving the best til last-it’s gorgeous. And to make it even better, the owner had lit the wood fire and left us some fresh fruit scones, jam, butter, milk and laundry detergent.

We have 4 nights here, then we’ll drive the 1.5 hours into Manchester on Tuesday and catch our plane back to Perth Wednesday morning.

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Perth

Meigle House steading

Meigle House steading

Thursday 18th, while Scotland voted Yes or No on Independence, we drove to Perth to do a bit of shopping. It was raining and miserable, so we stopped at a Tesco supermarket, did our shopping and drove on, not getting a look at the town I imagine gave it’s name to the city of Perth in Western Australia.

At Tesco, we were thrilled to get a fresh duck at a very reasonable price (Aus $14) and hovered over another Guinea fowl but decided against it.

Meigle Church where they found 30 Pict carved stones in the church yardWe drove on in the rain to the small town of Meigle to visit the Pictish Sculptured Stone Museum. The museum houses around 30 stones and fragments (mainly from the church next door) and is really quite interesting. More interesting though to me is the fact that Meigle is the oldest known settlement in Scotland-it’s been inhabited since before Christ was born, and the church graveyard is believed to be the site of Lady Guinevere’s grave.

Pictish Sculptured stone museum

Pictish Sculptured stone museum

On the way out of town, I stopped the car in the rain to take a few photos of a building I noticed on the way in. It was falling down and covered with moss and lichen, grass and shrubs, and looked more like the earth itself than a building. I had to come home and Google to find out it’s the Meigle House steading and no one really knows who built it and when or why they did.

Meigle House steading

Meigle House steading

We were almost home (still raining) when I spied a dead pheasant on the road. It took about a kilometre to find a somewhere to turn around but I did, and we went back to check it out. It’s quite accepted here to pick up roadkill (but you mustn’t be the one who kills it) rather than see it go to waste, and I’d seen that this bird looked good. Russ leaned out and felt it was till warm, so scooped it into a bag and we went off home with our prize. He’s on the menu tomorrow night. It’s pheasant and grouse shooting season here now and the birds are everywhere. We’ve been keeping our eyes peeled for a fresh kill since we got to Scotland!

My pheasant plucker

My pheasant plucker

Dinner Thursday night was pan fried Scottish salmon served on creamed leeks and pea and potato mash and was mighty fine!

Salmon

Salmon

Today, (after a quick check to find out the vote was No) I got onto Tripadvisor to find somewhere to go for a drive. I found a castle in a fairly remote spot on the way to Oban-a town which lies at the end of Loch Evite on the North Atlantic.

We drove to Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe (certainly was Awesome), then through the Pass of Branda, to Aird Bay on one end of Loch Etive, for our lunch.

Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe

Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe

Castle Kichurn was all the reviews on Tripadvisor promised. Not easy to find, but remote and quite lovely sitting beside the loch. It originally stood on an island but had silted over over the centuries. It’s free, has no gift shop and is still well maintained with quite a bit of info on boards throughout. Some of the stairs were really narrow-if my bum was any bigger I think they’d have needed the jaws of life to extract me in one place! It was a great find!

Airds Bay on Loch Etive the old pier

Airds Bay on Loch Etive the old pier

One of us forgot the bread for our sandwiches (we had all the fillings) but we were able to buy a few bread rolls at a roadhouse along the pass so all was saved. We lunched at the Bay of Aird on a very untouristy part of the pretty Loch Etive. It was so unspoiled and undeveloped it really felt like a step back in time. The grassed pier and (rather old) new jetty beside the rotting remains of the (very) old one were lovely for a few photos.

Airds Bay on Loch Etive

Airds Bay on Loch Etive

After lunch we drove into the very pretty town of Oban and took a walk around the harbour and shops before heading home and cooking our duck.

McCaigs Tower Oban

McCaigs Tower Oban

Ducky was meaty, lean and delicious, and I made an apricot sauce for him with apricot preserves given to me in Switzerland by my dear friend and blogger Adriana. Her preserves were full of fruit, not at all sweet and made the base for an amazing sauce. * Here’s a link to her beautiful blog artandkitchen

Apricot sauce for duck (or chicken or pork)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced onion or shallot
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 cup apricot preserves-best quality you can get
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (add it slowly, tasting, until you like it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken stock powder
  • 1/2 cup rose (or white wine)
Apricot Sauce

Apricot Sauce

Method

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat, then cook the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli a few minutes until softened.
    Add the preserves, vinegar and sugar, stock powder and wine.
  2. Cook a few minutes to reduce, then taste and add more sugar or vinegar if you think it needs it.

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Scotland

Hikers in the moors

Hikers in the moors


As mentioned, on Saturday September 13th we and about 90 others went along to Simon and Iona’s wedding and 40th birthday party. When they married in December 2013, they had a small wedding ceremony with 18 people attending, so it was always their plan to combine something for it and Simon’s 40th.

It was a lovely, relaxed day at the Pudsey Cricket Club rooms. We all took along a plate of food to share, giving us an amazing lunch, Simon took along his pin-ball machines and they hired a jumping castle so heaps of fun for everyone. If you didn’t fancy jumping, lots of comfy chairs to sit and watch!

Iona and Simon cut the birthday cake

Iona and Simon cut the birthday cake

On Sunday after a brunch at Pudney Wetherspoons, to celebrate Pauline and Phil’s 40th wedding anniversary, we began our drive up to Scotland.We’ve done a bit of criss crossing and back tracking on this holiday so once again, we drove quite close to Scunthorpe at one point and Windermere on another. As Aussies, we don’t think too much about driving 190 ks to shop in Geelong from Warrnambool, but some here are amazed . We have found it’s not the distance, but the time it takes to drive it. The roads (including the motorways) can be pretty slow at times.

Peebles Scotland

Peebles Scotland

Anyway, we finally crossed the border into Scotland arriving in Gretna. We spent our first night in Lockerbie.

I’d heard how beautiful Scotland is, but arriving there, then skirting Glasgow the next day, I was sorely disappointed. I didn’t find it at all beautiful. However driving on here to St Fillans on Loch Earn, things improved a great deal. Finally we were amongst the craggy bare hills, driving along narrow, windy roads, through forests and tiny villages along the lochs. The sort of Scotland I’d imagined!

In Lockerbie, we stayed in a lovely pub/B&B overnight. We were eating in the dining room-enjoying a good feed and nice bottle of wine when a couple walked in with a boisterous, long-haired spaniel. I immediately started to sneeze (and sneeze and sneeze) so WE had to move to smaller dining area where dogs aren’t welcome!

B&B Lockerbie Scotland

B&B Lockerbie Scotland

Lockerbie was the site of an air crash in 1988 when a Pan Am jet bombed by terrorists exploded over the town. All on board and 11 townspeople were killed. The debris from the crash was spread over 2000 square miles. It’s a bit of a grim place, but the towns people fed all the emergency people involved, and washed and ironed all the clothing in the luggage on board after it was deemed of no interest to the investigation, and before it was returned to relatives.

From Lockerbie, we made our way to our cottage in St Fillans about 150 miles away. This puts us in the Perth Shire and what they call the heart of Scotland. It’s really beautiful!

Our cottage here is tucked away along a muddy lane running behind one of the local pubs. I’d say it originally belonged to the large house that sits in front of us, as the two buildings seem to have once shared the garden between. Sounds like we are shoved away round back, but we have lovely views from our sitting area of the lake! The cottage is the dearest (by 50 pounds a week) we’ve stayed in so far, but it’s also the nicest. It was renovated to a really high standard just two years ago and is just gorgeous. It’s just a pity that once again they allow dogs. Any dog staying in Scotland would mostly come inside wet and the place stinks of it-particularly the floor rug, one of the sofas and a throw rug (I had Russ throw it outside in a bag as it was the most offensive). Good on Australia for not allowing dogs in hotels, motel, cottages, restaurants, cafes and all other places. I’ve figured if you see a couple in a holiday spot here without one or two dogs, they’re not Poms! Love them, love their dogs!

Craigdarroch Cottage St Fillans

Craigdarroch Cottage St Fillans

Loch Earn by our cottage

Loch Earn by our cottage

On day one here, we took a drive around Loch Earn-it’s not a big loch being only about 10 ks long and 1.5 ks at it’s widest but it’s so pretty! It’s stocked with trout and salmon, so plenty of people fish here, and it’s home to a lot of water sports.

In the afternoon, we drove around Loch Tay then came home through the moors. Our little car nearly let us down on the road up into the moors. At one very sharp corner on a particularly steep part of the road it almost refused to go on. The moors were fantastic and even better for not seeing another vehicle on the way across. We’ve been across other moors in England, but always shared the roads with lots of cars, buses and lorries-this was such a treat.

Loch Tay

Loch Tay

As we reached the end of the moor road, we started to see plenty of grouse and pheasants and plenty of signs warning us to drive slowly and take care because of them. At the crossroads we saw a village hall and all the shooters. Dressed in their brown corduroy trousers, green wellies and peaked caps, all driving old landrovers, they could have stepped out of a TV series on country life!

Hikers in the moors

Hikers in the moors

Ben Lomond on Loch Lomond's eastern shore

Ben Lomond on Loch Lomond’s eastern shore

Yesterday (September 17th) we took a long drive to Loch Lomond. It’s considered the very best of Scotland’s lochs but we might be a bit biased now and think our little less touristy and more remote loch is nicer! It (Loch Lomond) is big (23 miles long) and has Ben Lomond (Scotland’s second highest mountain) shadowing it on it’s eastern shore, but we just weren’t as amazed as we expected we’d be.

Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

Our little loch was looking particularly pretty in the morning before the wind got up, as was Loch Lubnaig. We stopped at Loch Katrine but didn’t take a boat ride on it as the wait was too long. After lunching beside Loch Ard, we drove up one side of Loch Lomond but didn’t stop. It wasn’t easy to access the shore and where we could we couldn’t get a car park. We drove on the Balloch and spotted a boat cruise-as it happened, the next was in 5 minutes so we grabbed our tickets and jumped on board. The town of Balloch was full of tourists and the boat was crowded but the hour long tour gave us a look at the lake and a really good commentary on the history of that end of it.
Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

From Balloch, we headed home via Tarbet and the quieter end of the lake. We could have taken a cruise here and think we’d have enjoyed it more but it was time to get home and make dinner-Sottish rump steak so tender you could cut it with a spoon (well almost!), mushrooms, wedges and a big salad.We we stopped at a lovely farm shop for some local cheeses and cream, then made a final stop on the way at the Falls of Falloch for a walk and a few photos. What a great day!

Falls of Falloch

Falls of Falloch

One thing we’ve both enjoying is the roads. Scotland may not have the biggest or best roads, but with so little traffic on them right now, they are lovely to drive. It’s so relaxing after England!

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Fried Quail with Spicy Salt

Fried quail with spicy salt

Fried quail with spicy salt

Monday we put the boat in at Fowlers Camp and headed out to our fishing spot off Eagle Bluff. We’ve been fishing there for years always catching heaps of just undersized pink snapper and the occasional size one that we can bring home. It’s a beautiful spot that we often have to ourselves apart from the dolphins there fishing for the small pinks. We came home with 2 pinks and 1 black snapper and a big flathead-something we’ve never caught there before. I cooked one of the snapper whole in the oven, stuffing the cavity with lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and coriander stalks. Simple but good food!

Snapper on the plate

Snapper on the plate

It was so nice out there Monday, we headed out again Tuesday but couldn’t even catch the bottom!

Today, we spent the afternoon out crabbing at Monkey Mia. We had to wait for some dimwits on the boat ramp-they couldn’t back a trailer then pulled out and did all the tying down of their boat while we waited for them, then we only got 6 crabs and soaking wet in some promised rain that finally arrived. It was lovely to get home to a hot shower.

Before we left, I made the spicy salt and marinade, while Russ split the quail for tonight’s dinner. We didn’t shoot these quail, but bought them in Perth to enjoy one night in the future on our trip north. Tonight was the night. After an average day at Monkey Mia dinner was a feast!

I like my quail treated simply so the flavour still comes through-I think intense marinades kill all that-this recipe is one of the best. We ate the quail with a Green Papaya salad made with some of our last Carnarvon ingredients. It amazes me how long this good, fresh produce actually lasts; even now one week and 5 days after purchase the stuff is still better than if I’d brought it “fresh” at a supermarket today!

This recipe comes from a book Taste of China I bought years ago and is a family favourite for quail. I save the rest of the spicy salt, sieve it and use it on fish (especially sand whiting) and squid.

Fried Quail with Spicy Salt
Salt and Pepper Mix

  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

Quail

  • 4 quail
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper mix
  • (see above)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 2 -3 tablespoons plain flour
  • oil (for deep frying)
  • lemon wedges, to serve
Fried quail with spicy salt

Fried quail with spicy salt

Method

  1. To make the spicy salt and pepper, combine the ingredients and dry fry over a low heat for 2-3 minutes or until aromatic.
  2. Split each quail in half down the middle and clean well. I like to remove the back bone with my knife and pull out the ribs, breast bone and wishbone with my fingers.
  3. Marinate with the teaspoon of spicy salt and pepper, sugar, soy and rice wine for 2-3 hours, turning frequently.
  4. Coat each quail piece in flour, dusting off the excess.
  5. Fill a wok to 1/4 full with oil and heat the oil to 190c.
  6. Fry the quail for 2-3 minutes each side then remove from the wok and drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Serve with the lemon wedges on the side.

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Bali Make sure you check (and check again) that your passport has a clear 6 months before it expires

Waterlillies by reception at Puri Kelapa Hotel

Waterlillies by reception at Puri Kelapa Hotel

On Saturday January 3rd, we took Mick and Pip to the airport for their flight to Melbourne, then went to our photography workshop in the Perth CBD. It really didn’t teach me anything that I hadn’t already nutted out with the help of my friends Barb and Fay and a couple of good magazines. As we only took one camera, I gave it to Russ to use-I think he came away a lot more confident at using the camera in manual.

Sunday we went over to Todd and Deb’s for a family BBQ to say goodbye to Deb’s parents as they were to head back to the UK the following Tuesday after a 5 week stay in Perth and up at the farm at New Norcia. It was a really hot day so the kids stripped off all their clothes and played under the sprinkler-something I remember loving to do as a

The extremely gorgeous Harry at his Nan and Grandad (Phil and Pauline)'s farewell

The extremely gorgeous Harry at his Nan and Grandad (Phil and Pauline)’s farewell

kid.

Monday, Blair and Leah flew home from Bali after a 5 night stay. It wasn’t the greatest time for them with Leah falling sick early in the trip and it raining every day.

Tuesday, we took a taxi to the airport as we were heading to Bali at 1pm for a 7 night holiday. We got to the counter only to be told my passport had expired! I stood there close to tears as we’d paid for the flights and accommodation already and we weren’t going.

The lovely girl at the counter changed our flight to and from Bali, gave us the phone number and address of the Foreign Affairs Dept and suggested we call them. On the phone, we were told there was an appointment available on the 14th and I’d have the passport by the 16th (the day we’d changed our flights to to come home).

Back in a taxi to go home, the driver asked where we’d been and when we said “nowhere” and told him the story, he said”go to the office right now”! We did, filled in some forms, got my photo taken, paid the money, got the passport the following afternoon and were on our way to Bali just a night later. Boarding the plane, we got a change of seats to the more spacious exit aisle with just the two of us sharing three seats. I’d like to think that was payback for not becoming hysterical at the counter when we couldn’t fly. After all it was my fault.

Tourist boats fashioned on old fashioned fishing boats

Tourist boats fashioned on old fashioned fishing boats

And so we actually ended up with 8 nights in Bali and are here right now. This is about the 8th time we’ve been but the first time we’ve been on our own. I love all the people we’ve ever gone with but this is really good too with only the two of us.

Up til now, we’ve always stayed in the same hotel but over the years, the staff has got more familiar/intrusive so you can’t sit by the pool or your room without someone plonking down on a chair to gossip, and the place has got dirtier and dirtier. This hotel is old and tired, but it’s nice to have the staff friendly but not too friendly. We are closer to the beach and town and feel it’s been a good move. This morning we walked on the beach and heard a loud roar like 100 woks burning flatout nearby. It was a cremation, and by the looks of it, there were several more bodies waiting after the one being done. Yes, we could see it all as we walked by. The remains of the bodies are floated out off the beach when the cremating is done.

The hotel we used to stay at is next to one of Bali’s main temples for funeral services-called Pura Dalem, it means Death Temple (roughhly translated). We are so lucky not to be there as funeral services can go on for days, with road closures and people all over as the services are held. The most important funerals happen first, then other families sort of tag along afterwards fare-welling their less important loved ones.

The Hyatt is closed for two years of renovations but you can still hire their beach chairs for $5 a day

The Hyatt is closed for two years of renovations but you can still hire their beach chairs for $5 a day

We’ve had a quiet and relaxing stay, sleeping late, walking long and slow to find cheap and cheerful lunches, do a bit of shopping, then taxi home. Afternoons have been spent by the pool to keep out of the high humidity (it’s the rainy season here right now) and dinner has been a bit of a treat each night as we’ve looked for somewhere a bit interesting (and more expensive) to eat. We’ve found a good cheap laundry service, and a masseur nearby so it’s a great spot.

Yesterday (Sunday 12th), we took a day trip by fast boat (25 minutes) over to Lembongan Island for our first ever visit. Lembongan is only 8ks long and we’d been told we’d be able to hire push bikes but we never spotted a hire place or even a bike on the roads. Even small kids were riding motor scooter. Russ hasn’t ridden a motor bike for 30 years but we decided we had to do it or we’d be sitting on Mushroom beach for 5 hours.

Let's hire a scooter

Let’s hire a scooter

We got our scooter with no helmets or no insurance and only $7 for the day, and off we went. What fun. We basically rode over all the island visiting various beaches, stopping for lunch and stopping to take photos. It was great and

Wheretheheckarewe

Wheretheheckarewe

I reckon Russ’d go back over tomorrow to do it again!

Tonight, we had a special Balinese duck dinner. We had to order it 24 hours in advance, so they could buy and deal with the duck, smoking it, then steaming it stuffed with aromatics, in banana leaves. We’ve had this a couple of times over the last 14 years and love it so I was pretty excited. I had soto ayam (chicken noodle soup) for lunch today in anticipation. The verdict? It wasn’t the worst duck but it wasn’t the best duck I’ve eaten. We were advised to just have one duck between the two of us but it was tiny-definitely a duck but as small as a chicken. Years ago we ordered the same dish and thought “Balinese ducks will be tiny, we better order one each”. We got ENORMOUS ducks with breasts that’d win a wet T Shirt competition-they were massive. Not tonight. I could have eaten a duck on my own. However the duck was tasty.There's a duck in there

As always with us, it’s all about the food and we’ve had some great meals. Bali is known for it’s knock offs of clothing, jewellery, sunglasses and cheap DVDs. It’s the same with food. There is very little in the way of “real” Balinese food. The Balinese people mostly graze on rice and sambals and a little protein (fish, chicken pork etc). Fancy dishes like our duck dinner tonight and suckling pig are the stuff of festivals. Bali does Indian, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, English etc and often does it bad, so it’s good to find the places that do it well. This week, we’ve eaten good Indian, Japanese, German and then had some yummy local stuff too. We avoided the hotel breakfast of pretend orange juice, 2 eggs any way you like and sweetish white bread toast this morning and had Maccas instead!

Soto Ayam and rice $1.70 at Tootsies

Soto Ayam and rice $1.70 at Tootsies

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Amusing ourselves on windy days

We think this one is a verticordia

We think this one is a verticordia

Too windy to fish again yesterday, we decided on an afternoon drive out to Mt Frankland and a short walk to the summit.

After breakfast and before our drive, Russ had a go at making us a loaf of caraway rye bread for our lunch. It was a great success and yummy as open sandwiches of leg ham, avocado, tomato, cheddar cheese and red onion.

Mt Frankland is about 30ks from Walpole through big trees, farmland and along sealed and unsealed roads. The term “mountain” is used loosely-we were gradually climbing the whole way as we drove to the car park, then it was a 1.2 km return walk to the granite rock summit. The last 200 metres was a steep walk up (then down) over 300 steps and two near vertical ladders. All well worth it though as it gave stunning views of what’s known as the Walpole Wilderness-over 300,000 hectares of often untouched bush land.

Brown Tree Creeper

Brown Tree Creeper

At the car park, we got out of the car to the most beautiful bird calling somewhere nearby. It sounded like a bell. I looked down to see a little brown bird right at my feet making all the noise. At home we looked him up in our bird book and found he was a Brown Tree Creeper. We saw some climbing the trunks of trees looking like little woodpeckers and quite a few on the ground where they apparently spend quite a bit of time. They certainly weren’t shy.

After the walk to the summit, we took a 600 metre return walk to the Wilderness Lookout. It was a magnificent steel structure through the tree tops at the base of Little Mt Frankland (a smaller granite rock), for more views of the wilderness. We had this whole place with it’s huge information shelter, bbqs and amenities all to ourselves to enjoy.

Walking to the summit alongside Mt frankland

Walking to the summit alongside Mt frankland

Off home, we decided to take an alternate route down Copeland Rd as we’d seen both ends of it on our drive out. The word “road” was also a loose term with it not much more than a goat track in places. We had branches scraping the sides of the car and whipping the windscreen for most of the 12 ks.

Russ's Smoked Fish Pie

Russ’s Smoked Fish Pie

Last night Russ cooked us a delicious and warming smoked fish pie, using our own smoked fish. It was a great finish to a great day out.

This morning, we toasted the remaining rye and caraway bread and topped it with Donnybrook tomatoes and avocado for our breakfast.

Peaceful Bay

Peaceful Bay


After lunch (it was still too windy to fish) we took a drive to Conspicuous Cliff and Peaceful Bay. The beach at Conspicuous Cliff was deserted apart from us and another couple and really beautiful. Peaceful Bay is a tiny town consisting of several streets (First to Fourth Street and and the grandly named dirt Central Avenue), a caravan park and shop/office, fire brigade and emergency services shed. The fibro holiday shacks all have names like digabringabeeralong, sootz us, peace and quiet, the love shack, this’ll do, etc.

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