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Only in the Country!

I have often written of the joys of living in a small town, the sense of community, wonderful countryside, friendly folk, a more relaxed lifestyle, slow food, local produce markets and special events like a festival in praise of the common spud. There are tractor pulls, vintage tractor ploughing by the local farmers who relish putting their trusty old machines through the mud once more, and various other sometimes eccentric activities to enjoy.

One town nearby is celebrating its annual Daffodil Festival, so despite having a garden absolutely full of many varieties of Daffs, I went to have a look at what was going on.  I cannot see the connection to the Daffodil, and was surprised when I came across something I had only heard about, but never seen – Ferret racing!  There were about 30-40 folk, young and old, each with at least one ferret who were competing for a number of trophies.  The ferrets all had names, very smart carrying cages with hammock type beds made out of polar fleece in which to lounge until it was their turn, and much chat amongst the owners.  The race consisted of putting the ferret into a 3 metre long piece of poly pipe, and the first one completely out, tail and all, was the winner. Not all of them were speedsters either!  Amazing!  Luckily I had the camera with me. Click on any image for a larger view.

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I have never seen these magnificent large Black Cockatoos in this area before today when a flock of about 20 of them landed in very tall pine trees on the border of my property.  I was alerted to their presence initially because of the raucous noise they were making, quite different to the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos that are common here.  Of course, I grabbed the camera hoping to catch a shot, but these were the best I could do even with a 200mm lens.  Most of them were hidden by the branches, but several were right at the top, eating the new pine cones or shoots – it was hard to determine exactly what had attracted them.  I do hope they come again.

Thread thingy……

While photography has become a major interest, I have not totally given up stitching and other crafty things.  Currently I’m knitting (!!!) a cowl or more likely a neck sock with some gorgeous Noro yarn I found in a bargain bin. Also successfully using circular needles, which is a coup as I am very much an old school traditional knitter – two or four needles if I need to knit something round.  Anyway – it’s a change and easy to do in front of the television – though Australian television these days is full of foolish politicians trying to outdo each other.  I read somewhere that the main party leaders were referred to as Dr No and the Flim-flam man.  Seemed appropriate somehow.  I’m longing for September 8th when hopefully the whole business will be over.

Back to some stitching  – I made this recently as part of a birthday gift for one of my stitching group.  A nifty little container in which to keep orts.  If you do not know what this word means, its origin is from late middle English or German meaning food remains, however in this case it is for scraps of thread.

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The other item I have actually finished is a triptych made after a class at the Embroiderers Guild.  While quite pleased with it, there are a couple of things I might do differently next time.  Sadly it is not possible to post a larger image here, but this is actually more than 50 cms wide and the detail is lost in this puny picture.

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Now just because the last picture is not so good, here are a couple I took today of one of the many Kookaburras that visit this garden daily.  I know someone who occasionally reads this spasmodic blog will enjoy them.

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Cute Overload

A friend who lives nearby is agisting a herd of goats for another local farmer who no longer has a farm.  They are Boer goats, which were indigenous to South Africa, but are now being bred for meat production.  The females often have twins or triplets, so financially they are a success.  This herd numbers about 50+, and they are currently dropping their kids, so yesterday when I visited there were about 20 week old kids to enjoy.  The mothers were very docile and did not mind me getting close, while the kids were curious and kept nibbling at my jeans or shoes.  They were absolutely gorgeous, but did not stay still for long – I was only sorry I did not capture any of them leaping and frisking with each other, which was most amusing.

As usual, click on any image for a better view which is not greyed out.  I changed my blog theme to this one, and am not sure I like the way the photos appear.

After a week in the warmth of Alice Springs, with sunshine and temperatures by day in the low twenties, with cooler nights and mornings, this place is like the Arctic!  The fire is once more burning 24/7 and thermals are the order of the day!

I had a fabulous time, saw extraordinary scenery, traveled many kilometers, twice flew in helicopters, saw wild dingos, camels and emus, ate a camelburger, learned a great deal and took some amazing photographs of landscapes, birds and reptiles.  Trekabout Photography Tours were the group with whom I went to the Red Centre, and would highly recommend them for anyone who wants to do this sort of workshop.  Initially we were told there would be up to 16 participants with two tutors, but it turned out there were only four others, due to various reasons.  The two leaders had considered cancelling the trip, but decided to make it a holiday for themselves and take three weeks to drive from Brisbane, taking their time on the way home.  Of course for us it was fantastic, and meant extra excursions not included in the original itinerary, and more individual attention from Mark and Michael, the tutors.   Now I need to save some pennies in order to do one of their other trips!

I came home with over 2,500 images, and am still going through them all, doing the post processing on those I wish to keep and ditching all those I don’t.  Here are just a few to give you a taste.

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I’m soon to be off on a great adventure!   I’m joining a week long Photography Workshop and Tour exploring and photographing the Red Centre, with a couple of professional photographers from Brisbane as tutors.  We will be going to the Wildlife Centres in Alice Springs with special access to photograph reptiles, marsupials and birds in flight.  A couple of days will be spent in the MacDonnell Ranges where we will visit Standley Chasm, Simpsons Gap, various gorges, and the Ochre Pits.  We also do an overnight trip to King’s Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta with sunset photography at the Rock and a champagne dinner under the stars!  There should be lots of landscape photography, plus various animals and macros of the wildflowers.  There  may even be an opportunity for a helicopter flight – something I have never done before.

In addition to all those wonderful experiences, the Alice Springs Beanie Festival will be on at the same time, so I’m hopeful that I will get an opportunity to see those creations as well.

Back with some great pics – I hope – in due course!

 

Cumquat Marmalade

14 Jars of the most delicious golden goodness……….

Recipe – Simple

2kgs of cumquats, sugar.

Halve the cumquats, remove pips, then cut again into quarters.  Reserve pips and tie in a piece of clean muslin. Barely cover fruit with water and soak overnight. Next day measure fruit and water in cups.  Cook fruit until soft, then add as many cups of sugar as there were cups of fruit and water.  Boil vigorously for about 25 – 30 mins until reaches setting point.   Rest the marmalade for 10 mins, then stir to distribute the peel and bottle into hot sterile jars.  Cover while hot.

Don’t worry about the calories – eat on liberally buttered toast and enjoy a delicious breakfast treat!