Saturday, 14 July 2018

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND



OFTEN IT IS THE SMALLEST THINGS THAT CAN GIVE THE MOST INTENSE PLEASURE



The crowd of Spring daffodils are now just lifting their golden buds out of the lawn, another week and they will open. In the meanwhile though, out from my kitchen window I see a single yellow jonquil flower which appeared from the hedge a couple of weeks ago. A continuing spot of intense yellow reminding me of the simplicity of the art of Japanese Ikebana.













By the back door a seedling Cape Gooseberry appeared in the tub of Italian parsley. I never got around to weeding it out and it continued to grow its long lanky arms. Now, here it is winter and I just wait for the day the next fruit will be ripe. The burst of intense flavour in the mouth is just about too much for the mind to absorb or comprehend.
 


















And the  4 week old twin granddaughters give a continuing intense pleasure all of their own. So much perfection in such a small package!  I continue to be amazed.  And then, later again,  

there is the other moment of magic when the two girls are asleep at the same time. Emily is on the left and  Isla is on the right.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND

 I LOVE GETTING FREE USEFUL STUFF by belonging to, and using, the loyalty card for FLYBUYS.  I have been with FLYBUYS for maybe about 30 years??? and it's amazing how much I have received for free....phones, a slow cooker, covered frypan, microwaves, magazine subscriptions, kitchen whiz-stick, a couple of breadmakers, Christmas gifts...the list goes on.

This week it was picking up a free food dehydrator and I have spend the weekend playing with it. But I am sure there are some 'tricks' to getting the most out of it. Seems such a lot of fuss, and putting up with that endless noise (!!!!) to only get such a small bag of dried fruit at the end of the process.


On the plus side - the end taste is amazing, I had thought the fruit may loose its flavour instead of concentrating it. I tried out a sample mixture:  apple - that was the quickest time, next quickest was the rock melon but the persimmon and the banana circles seemed to take foreverrrrrrr. I have sealed them in a lock-seal plastic bag. Is this the best way to keep them fresh?

I think I'll take the unit outside to the studio when I do the next batch of fruit..

Any comments and helpful hints gratefully received.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND

Those are multi-coloured freesias starting to come up through the conifer ground cover.
NO FLOWERS AROUND AT THE MOMENT BUT there are always the bromeliads to add the bright spots to the dark green winter gardens until the bulbs start their display in another month. My sister, Diana Holt, though, who is an enthusiastic hybridiser of  Bromeliads, and who has just returned from an international conference  in USA on them, would not say these were the best examples and colours available. But Bromeliads really appreciate poor soil, poor feeding, and very little care as long as they can get some sun - therefore an all-round excellent Island plant for me.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND

NOW WE HAVE PASSED THE SHORTEST DAY OF THE YEAR, our real winter starts.

On the Island the temperatures are up to 3*C warmer than just across the water on the Mainland, today in the morning it was 8*C outside, now it's 12*C , not cold by other people's standards, but even then I feel the cold and it seems to creep into my bones and they take ages to thaw out again.

The thermostat controlled oil filled fin-heater I had been using was just not quite keeping me warm enough and the choice came three years ago of having to decide between replacing the broken wood-fired fire or getting a heat-pump. After pluses and minuses I decided on a heat pump.

The trick of heat-pumps is to keep them running 24 hours a day and rely on the thermostat to do its thing. ( A thought that makes most people shudder). I turn it on as soon as it gets cold, around the end of April, beginning of May and at first the pump is working hard. Then the walls, furnishings, books, clothes in the wardrobes etc. warm up and the heat-pump  just tops up the air temperature. I keep the temperature at 18*C when I go to bed and bring it back up to 21*C when I get up in the morning.This is now its third winter and the house, which is not insulated, has stayed cosy.

But there were other things to learn about owning a heat-pump. The 2nd year the electricity account increased to the same cost as running the oil-filled  fin-heater. Oh! I found out I need to regularly wash its air-filter screen. My neighbour Phil showed me how to do it this past summer and I was surprised how clogged up it was and easy it was to clean -  and now, in comparison to last year, I am only paying on average $50 a month more than my summer electricity account. To compensate for the electricity used to run the household water pressure controlled pump, summer and winter I do only turn on my hot water every 2nd daythough and then only to heat the water back up to temperature again, and I only use the oven occasionally, using the covered frypan as the alternative.



Enjoying the sunshine on top of washing machine