As the long Summer evenings shortened into Autumn, finally tapering into dark winter nights, there was an opportunity to spend ten night's in one of Melbourne's richly historic and specialised gardens, learning about horticulture from stand out experts in their field.
As soon as one hears all about this course, its hard to "unhear" it. A fascination for three years filled with "maybe's" finally led to the opportunity to spend ten glorious golden evenings at Burnley, and I savoured every minute.
Where once a coastal town nicknamed " little piece of Cornwall" thrived and exported burnt lime to build houses in Melbourne, now lies a charming little cove with clear blue waters.
Walkerville South is a little crescent shaped piece of coast line that overlooks Wilsons Promontory, the most southernly tip of mainland Australia. There are but a few homes dotted along the cliffs and its peaceful waters are home to many seabirds, seals, and humpback whales that journey up and down the coast.
Such a small island is Ireland, after living in Australia, you can forget for a minute that it doesn't take too long before you can get anywhere really.
In Australia, walking from one town to another seems a crazy feat, but its quite possible in Co Wicklow, as you take the stunning scenic walk from Greystones Harbour in County Wicklow, along the cliff side up to Bray, which sits south of Dublin. It's a two hour, 7km walk, and on a fine day or evening, is magical!
Professional Gippsland photographer, Alison Landmeter, recently received two silver awards for her local newborn images and has now also qualified for the National Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) Awards to be held later in the year.
Oh with the bizarre return of "high summer" temperatures, and a really dry brown view of our hills to contend with (poor farmers), ice-cream making has returned to lift my spirits while in the kitchen (aircon firmly back on while cooking). When it's really hot and the long weekend seems even longer, nothing is better than indulging with a sundae that calls for a rich strawberry sauce.
It's simple, tried and tested (honestly more than a couple of times), and so delicious!
This week popular Irish band "The Corona's" played a one-off show in Sydney and announced dates for their upcoming Australian Tour in November 2018. As a Saint Patricks day celebration on the blog I revisited an article that I wrote in November 2017, when they last played at Melbourne's iconic Corner Hotel ...........
While spending a weekend recently in East Gippsland, to do something as mundane as getting the old jalopy serviced, we decided to head a further 16kms to Paynesville for the morning, only to find we had stumbled upon the "Paynesville Classic Boat Rally," completely by accident!
The rally, which only began in 2016, is a celebration of the boating history and lifestyle of the Gippsland Lakes. The town was buzzing with activity and onlookers, like ourselves, from the very early hours of the morning, right up to the boat parade at 11am, where all the local, vintage and hand built boats were paraded.
Where to take the biggest little bookworm I know in the world? To the oldest book and longest library in Dublin.
Even first thing in the morning, the line outside Trinity College in Dublin can be long (and drizzly), but thankfully there's a brilliantly placed coffee cart halfway down the line, where you can perk up and get your caffeine hit before you walk in.
The courtyard at Trinity is an experience in itself, with a beautiful kept lawn, buildings and small cobblestones to walk on, its entrance is memorable to say the least.
Like stepping back in time, its a hint of whats to come.
All the "Back to School" hype of the last couple of weeks led me back to the cookbooks and trolling the internet for some healthy style snacks for the lunch boxes. My youngest son tends to be a "grazer" so I figured some light bread style muffins filled with vegetables from the garden might be just what was needed.
As I only bake gluten free (due to my own coeliac disease, I do not need to be inhaling flour dust), I decided to give these ones a go to see how they would turn out. They came together really well and actually rose, which is rare when using gluten free flour, but I did notice that putting them in the patty papers is not effective as they stick to the side a little, and I have adjusted the recipe to reflect this.
This recipe is a great snack that can also be made using nut milks so it can be made vegan. I noticed my gluten free mayonnaise was also vegan.
Serving suggestion: They would also be nice served, cut in half with a spread on it, a little like a savoury scone.
My son loved them, a win for the lunchbox!
It's been a hot one today, the mercury hit 40 degrees (celsius), and after an intense amount of watering the outdoors everything, it was time to spend the day eating cold icy things.
Think "Baking Day" but all icy recipes!
As the dust settles after the flurry of present giving and incessant pavlova making, the turkey is (almost) all eaten, and it's finally time to sit down, we'll enjoy some quiet time here in the hills.
This has been such a popular article, we have re-publlished it again today as an excellent resource for planting your first sunflowers:
From one Sunflower two years ago, to now having a dedicated "Sunflower Patch", we completely understand the love affair one can have with the big bright yellow flower.
How can one not be happy when taking in the bright yellow leaves, all the different varieties and heights. Children of all ages adore them, chickens love the sunflower seeds, and even the dog likes to sit underneath them for shade.
Sunflowers are ideal for beginner gardeners, for a strong and tall flower, it needs little fuss. As its name suggest, a sunny spot is the main factor for its success with growth, and you can even grow them in pots inside if you live in a cool climate.
Undoubtably having $20 on you (or local currency equivalent) is commonsense while travelling, especially if you are on your own. Having $20 in a "just in case" fund or placed in a safe place on your body or tucked into the back of your wallet that you cannot touch for everyday purchases is certainly an unwritten "rule" for me.
The easiest cheesecake recipe you'll ever need, especially if you're in a hurry......
The unusual garden "Victors Way" is located just outside of the village of Roundwood in Co. Wicklow and while the 22 acre property features small lakes, stunning views and forested areas, it's a scenic purposeful walk with a focus on meditation.
First published: Thursday 9th April, 2015
"Cloudehill" is a must-see for vegetable and ornamental gardeners alike. It has been created at the top of the Dandenongs where a maze of stone walls and garden rooms are set within woodlands of magnificent and historic call climate trees.
The plantings orginated in the 1920's when then owner Jim Woolrich began planting shrubs, trees, and bulbs for the cut flower market. This market garden thrived all the way through to the 1960's, then after a 20 year rest, Jeremy Francis bought the garden and began creating "Cloudehill" in 1992.
No matter what season you visit, there is something new to discover. Its design derived from Italian renaissance gardens, english craft gardens and contemporary meadow gardens. The property also now includes "Seasons" Restaurant providing fresh and local ingredients, some from the exceptional heirloom vegetable garden being grown at the rear.
Jeremy Francis and the Diggers Club have worked together to launch a new garden shop on the property so that Cloudehill can provide the Diggers wonderful seeds from heirloom varieties and as a gardening hub for ideas, plants and education.
We visited Cloudehill's Autumn Festival, when the garden was at its very peak. There was gardening workshops, passata making, and "little diggers" activities for the kids. My favourite part was the Heirloom Tomato Tasting. I have trailed many of the diggers tomatoes myself in my own garden and thought i had tasted all the best ones, but by far the standout best eating tomato (in my opinion) was one that i had never tried! It is called "COSTOLUTO GENOVESE", which is one of the oldest tomatoes derived from Pomo Doro Rosso Grosso. It was the sweetest tomato! So thats something added to my list for next summer.
A beautiful day walking the grounds, pots painted and sowed with heirloom lettuces for the kids, and a new variety of tomato to trial in the coming summer. It was a great day all round.
Diggers Shop : www.diggers.com.au
Seasons Restaurant : www.seasonsatcloudehill.com.au
Address: 89 Olinda-Monbulk Rd, Olinda Victoria, 3788 (closed Good Friday and 24-26 December only)
Have you been to Cloudehill? Tell us about it below in the comments:
Located on the southern tip of the Victorian Alps is the special little village of Walhalla. Its high up in the coolness of the mountains, and has a variety of scenic nature and village walks, some that take you high over the township.
Tasmania is a state that has much to offer visitors in the winter time. With vast world heritage listed forests it provides a wonderful escape for the nature lover. While visiting for a 10 day tour of the whole of the state, we found Tahune Airwalk, which is one of the most visited tourist attractions.
This year we are having a late season on all counts, with all our summer vegetables in the garden. I love to have a pantry full of bottles and jars for the winter, so I can literally open a jar of "sunshine" on a Winter's day and taste the garden.
This year I looked at my usual pickles recipe and decided to add to it and change it up a bit and added a few of my favourite flavours. For example instead of plain old vinegar, why not a full flavoured apple cider vinegar?
What is a Piccililli? It is a pickle of chopped vegetables, mustard, and hot spices, which is essentially what is in this recipe.
I can tell you the end result was so delicious and the kitchen was filled with these great smells of warm vinegar and spices.
Worldwide spike in social media user activity on Mondays.
(*hootsuite research stats)
Planning and Presence
Schedule posts Monday to Monday, then be present online on Mondays to interact, while you plan and schedule all your posts.
Use the day to research and add followers, interact and acknowledge new fans.
Callington Mill in Tasmania is a must-see if you are near Hobart and travelling around. Its in Oatlands, right in the midlands of Tasmania, which is a Georgian town, that hails back to the convict and early settlement era of Australian colonialism. The mill was built in 1837 and is the only working (Lincolnshire tower) mill of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
We came across this unique and curious building when we were in Renmark, South Australia recently. The town of Renmark is full of buildings in this era, and some of them are heritage listed and have been lovingly restored, like the magnificent and pristine Renmark Hotel.
The Ozone Theatre, which immediately captured my interest, has a surprising discovery for anyone who can peer in the doorways, and thats a beautiful marble and wooden centred staircase that takes you up to the second floor. Unfortunately, you really need to be lucky enough to walk past this old grand building to see the amazing gifts inside, which seems to have been largely left alone.
The Ozone was built in 1925, and was then called the "New Arcadia" (it replaced an older theatre that had burned down), and renamed the "Ozone" in 1940. The last screening in the Ozone was in 1966, due to interest in going to Drive In movies nearby.
It then became and Arts and Crafts Centre for Adult Education, was sold to the council in 1990, and was then controversially sold off by the council in 1996, to a private investor. When we walked by, it looked like it was being used as a clothing warehouse and the roof was being utilised as a mini solar farm.
The marble staircase leads to upstair seating in the theatre, and to two cafes that were either side of the landing.
For such an imposing building, right on the Murray River, it seems as shame to me that you cannot go inside.
Wishfully thinking, maybe one day, fate will change for this beautiful building, and it may come alive again........
3 cups cooked Brown Rice
3/4 cup cheese
3 cups vegetables (of your choice, from the garden)
Salt and Pepper
Rice Bran Oil (or olive oil)
Method: Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
1. Beat 3 eggs in medium sized bowl
2. Grate vegetables. Add to Bowl.
3. Add cheese, rice, salt and pepper, and use a spoon to combine mixture.
4. Grease large (12) muffin with Rice Bran oil.
5. Fill muffin tins to top, and pat the top flat with a fork
6. Bake 200 degrees for 15-25 mins ( the more golden, the crunchier!
These are so delicious, you can add to lunch boxes, keep in fridge, eat hot or cold and are great for parties.
Tip: adding zucchini makes them fluffy! Enjoy!
On the weekend I was lucky enough to sample a simply stunning dessert, as part of the Prom Local Country Dish Competition. Jaci Hicken, from Jacican in Mirboo Nth created this for the competition using local produce and it will be available at her food studio for the rest of November.
Jaci's food studio focuses on food, meals and produce from and in the Gippsland region, as well as holding high teas, private functions, and cooking classes for both adults and school aged children.
We had a lovely time with Jaci, who also took us for a welcoming wander outside in the sunshine, where we gazed upon the food produce in the garden, and met "Barbara" the goat.
Jaci's dessert, that she named the "Heart of Gippsland", is a berry and white chocolate dome atop a chocolate beetroot macaron, lightly covered with a decadent strawberry chocolate.
The Prom Country Local Dish is a friendly food competition that aims to promote local eateries and local produce. It involves local eateries to work alongside local producers to create dishes that uses a minimum of 60% local food ingredients.
If you like the dish, then give it a vote online at www.localdish.com.au and go into the draw to win one of four terrific prizes.
Over the last few weeks theres been a bit of a revolution happening here in our lovely little potato growing town of Thorpdale.
Some of the local farmers here are setting up direct sales to customers driving through the area.
Right now you can buy a few different varieties of potatoes, organic produce and onions direct from 3 different outlets.
Here is a rundown of how you can get your hands on some "Thorpy" spuds:
Bruthen is a small town located alongside the Tambo River between Bairnsdale and Ensay on the Great Alpine Road in East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. At the 2006 census, Bruthen had a population of just 624(now about 900).
Its a small rural town with some gorgeous buildings EST 1860. While spending time in East Gippsland, on a 30 degree day, we decided to forgo the beach for a stroll under the magnificent trees and take in the "retro".
The one and only Main Street is dotted with trinket shops, bazaars and used good shops. and food cafes, bakery and the new Bullant Brewery, which is becoming well known for its delicious food and craft beers. Civic gardens with gazebo, roses and trees sits in the middle, like a village green.
Although the town is small, its beauty and out of the way positioning is a drawcard for many visitors who would like a sunny afternoon strolling under the shade.
New Gippsland retro food van business "Sweet Betsy" is on the road and ready to hit towns all over the countryside. Established by sisters Kirsty Brooks and April Patton, and close
friend Lindy Kennon (based in Warragul), "Sweet Betsy" promises great coffee and sweet treats.
Sweet Betsy has been a labour of love for all three ladies and their families, with the retro caravan being completely refurbished, then kitted out with kitchen and appliances, tailoring the space for them to use as they work out on the road. You can follow the refurbishment and see before and after shots on their Facebook page.
Painted and designed by some of the worlds most well known mural artists, the murals around Belfast portray a wide range of themes and people.
From the Hunger Strikes, Culture, Sport, Irish Language and more, some originally painted over 30 years ago, they are constantly being restored, updated and added to.
Everywhere you look in Belfast there are murals, too many to count, even the tourist maps only feature a selection, so a visit to the city is the best way to see all the murals you can.
(Pictured: Falls Rd)
With Melbourne being one of the most liveable cities in the world it's no surprise that it's also one of the most date-able! Make your first date memorable by having a look at these following ideas, tried and tested, guaranteed to be pleasant, even if your date's not! You might even get a goodnight kiss at the end of it for your efforts!
1. YOU CAN'T BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYBODY.
Just because someone once told you were entrepreneurial and "internet savvy", doesn't mean that you are savvy enough. An acupuncturist is no more a marketing guru than a welder. A Marketing
Specialist is the only marketing guru. Nothing compares to working with a qualified consultant that has a great track record.
2. YOU CAN'T IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.
When you are immersed in every facet of your business you cannot be objective, you're too absorbed in the running of your business. In this sense, you cannot be strategic. Effective strategic
planning only comes from an unbiased perspective from outside your business.
Friday March 29th, 2015
The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is on in March every year at the gorgeous Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens in the middle of the city. This years highlights included the much anticipated "Food Forest" and beekeeping gardens, showing a shift away from the "high end" designed gardens and drought loving plants of past years and focusing on sustainability, food production, and achieveable gardening, bringing inspiration to melbourne home gardeners and designers alike.
"Food Forest" by Phillip Withers
Layers of edible ground covers and herbs, vegetables and fruit trees was a sensory delight and to a vegetable gardener like me, it was heaven! In fact the idea behind the display for the show was to invite visitors in "feeling like Adam and Eve," tempting the senses with smells of rich lavender, basil, mints, thyme and even fragrant citrus fruit! I visited nearing the end of the show and it astounded me that all the vegetables that had been set up a week ago still looked and smelled amazing, as if they had always been there. The use of space was amazing, every spot made very usable and productive. The centrepiece was a lovely green outdoor kitchen and vertical gardens, a picnic table to the right were the garden could be enjoyed and a chicken run to the left that included a childs slide, bringing lots of fun to the garden. This garden would definitely keep people of all ages entertained!!
"The Bee Keepers Garden" by Jenny Smith Gardens
As soon as the show kicked off this garden was creating so much interest. Its message is clear. The bee is the most important creature in the garden, without bees there would be no colour in our world. This garden used three striking colours to the max, purple, yellow and black. Yellow coneflowers and lavender, which are both fantastic bee attracting plants highlighted against the black backing and features in the garden. Yellow to the left and Purple to the right only. Honey pot features, sculpted bees and hexagon shaped tiles and seated areas were delightul. And there were lots of bees of course.
"Diggers Garden Display"
I have been a member of the diggers club for a few years, their heritage seed saving efforts are amazing and this year they went all out for the garden show. They created a pumpkin hill with 1100 heritage pumpkins! Truly stunnng. Their other veggies were also on display as well as a little greenhouse and a Gypsy Cabin from Blackdown Shepard Huts.
"Achieveable Gardens Walk"
A highly inspring walkway with gardens created by local university students in a small space using affordable materials and planrtings. These competition gardeners show us what can be done with so little, and the results are amazing. "Crossroads" was a favourite of mine and also "The Pollinator Partnership", another bee keeping garden, ideal for suburban and urban spaces.
Diggers Club: www.diggers.com.au
Blackdown Shepard Huts: www.blackdownshepardhuts.com.au
Phillip Withers: www.phillipwithers.com
What was your favourite thing about the flower and garden show this year? Let us know in the comments: