Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Let's make some new cliches

It seems these days every farm blog needs at a good couple of posts on the following two topics: baking and bonfires. While I was trying to steer away from such clich├ęs, I actually indulged in both this week, so thought I’d get this out of the way quickly and smoothly.

On Sunday night ST and I had a bonfire; it was magnificent.

We cooked lamb chops, spud in the jacket, pumpkin and corn on the coals; it was magnificent.

We watched the flames, and drank whisky, and talked about the world, which was magnificent.

Also this week it’s ST’s dad’s birthday. Last year I baked him a mob of sheep inspired biscuits.

So this year I went up a notch with these sheep inspired cupcakes. They are lime and ricotta flavour: magnificent!

Now, that wasn’t so painful was it?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bright lights, big city

Driving out of Melbourne last week, dodging rain and slow pokes in the fast lane, I could physically feel my lungs breathe deep, exhale and relax again, as if I’d been holding my breath for the past 24 hours.

A flying trip to catch up with a long lost favourite cousin, in the Victorian country town I grew up in, turned into a three night sojourn across the state. On a whim (okay, maybe I’d been planning it for weeks, but only just managed to convince ST it was a good idea at the last minute) we ducked down to Melbourne to see the footy – my type of footy, AFL. And before all my gorgeous Melbournian friends jump up in disgust, I’m sorry! But we literally arrived with enough time to scoff some awful food court fish and chips before cheering Geelong home at Etihad, sleeping off the cheap wine, gorging breakfast in Hardware Lane, jumping in the car and navigating our way back out of that bitterly cold, windy city.

According to Google Maps, we’re about 760km from Melbourne via the most direct route, with the last 130km of that being dirt roads. It’s a long trip home, especially when you have to stop along the way to do the grocery shopping – Here’s a picture of my pantry so you can really envision what the “grocery shopping” involves.

But I digress, also according to Google Maps, Burragan is 891km from Sydney (but of course you have to cross the Great Dividing Range which really slows things up), and 817km from Adelaide – so I guess you could say we're pretty “central” really! “Huge house, renovators delight, open fireplaces throughout. TLUG plus more off street parking. Extensive backyard with room for sheds and pets. Situated in quiet cul-de-sac, fantastic central location!”

It doesn’t take long to adjust to the spaciousness of station life - and suddenly the city feels suffocating.

Months ahead I’ll plant the seed of a big city trip in ST’s mind, craving the excitement of shops (Oh! How I love shops!) and real coffee (Oh! How I love to shop all morning and then stop to refresh with real coffee!) and restaurants (Oh! To shop, have coffee and then go out for dinner!). And within 24 hours of actually arriving in the city, I’ll be hyperventilating having to cross the road without a pedestrian walkway.

On a fleeting trip to Sydney last year, I actually tried to go down an up escalator. That’s right folks – the fluid steps were coming up towards me, but of course, I’d already committed my body to going down. Stepping on, my legs were thrown backwards, while my body – and arms laden with a day’s worth of shopping – continued to fly forwards. Thrusting my arms out to save myself, my bags, purse and umbrella cascaded over the edge of the escalator, tumbling down who knows how many flights of Myers…. And from my lips escaped a booming, “Ssshhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiii – ver me timbers!” – Except maybe that’s not the exact phrase I used at the time. Did I mention I was in the kids section?

Since living out bush, I’ve also been known to strike up in depth conversation with city strangers, whom I forget probably aren’t as interested or inviting as my Burragan neighbours. ST calls it “doing and on-and-on-and-on-er”. One time he lost me in crowded mall after a spruiker asked me how my day was and I stopped to discuss this with him. The salesman was left laughing as ST grabbed me by the arm and dragged me away saying, “You just say, ‘I’m not interested thanks’, and keep walking like everyone else does Bess!”

And it’s not like I was born being completely inept at traversing city protocol. I did live in Brisbane for 18 months after leaving home at 17. And there were certainly many Melbourne holidays dotted throughout my childhood. And I’ve survived trips to Singapore, Hong Kong and Shenzhen without any issues (well, except for the time my brother and I spent an entire afternoon drinking cocktails at Raffles and then paid a rickshaw driver our last $20 to take us back to our hotel, and he dropped us in the middle of nowhere instead – click here to watch it!)

So the only thing I can put it down to is being totally acclimatised to a space and time different to that of the city. A space where you can breathe easily, and a time when you’re not going to get ploughed down by a delivery van if you’re a little slow on the zebra crossing.

So city friends… you might just have to come and visit me instead! It’s not that far after all… Pretty central really.