At the beach

We ended the year with a couple of christmas dinners, with wwoofers Timo and Alina as well as Allison’s daughter Jessica, partner Philip and their child “D”.  Very pleasant.

Since then, Allison and I have been off at the beach, at Port Stephens north of Newcastle.  Most of Allison’s family has been up here.

We’ll be back at the farm shortly: Timo and Alina have been running it in our absence — thanks guys.

2010 was a very big year for us.  Happy to have a quieter year in 2011.

We didn’t get much opportunity to ride the horses in spring: all that wet weather.  So hopefully that will be a big theme next year.

Gawaine, my young Clydesdale horse, has been off having some training.  This turned out to be extremely easy, and he’s back on the farm now, relaxed and easy to please.  They did hop on his back (easily, at first attempt) and we’ll put a light rider on him for a short time every few weeks, to keep him engaged.  Nothing serious yet as he’s still a bit young.  He loves people.

The interesting news is that, buoyed by this success, the breaker is having a go with his mother, Domino.  She’s a rescue case, and terrified of people, so I don’t know how if it will work. Joining some dots, she has been severely beaten in the past, and our many attempts to make friends with her have had just modest success.

I’m told that she loaded onto a float easily enough, and is now at our friend Jan’s place to be gently introduced to some training.  I’ll settle for being able to lead her around, though it would be handy if she were able to be ridden too.  I want to put her to a Friesian stallion next spring.



The flood

I’ve written here how much rain we’ve been having — showers basically every day.

On Wednesday, the heavens opened.  Our rain gauge overflowed at 180mm.  That’s a quarter of the average annual rainfall.

Run’o’waters Creek runs through the bottom of the property.  It turned into a raging river, and flooded our lower paddocks.

Our place runs across to Parkesbourne Road, and the creek crossing there was well underwater and the road closed.  This meant, by ancient arrangement, that traffic from the village of Parkesbourne came through our fields so they could get to Barkers Lane, thence to Goulburn.  Otherwise they were cut off.

Many roads were closed, and towns isolated.  The Federal Highway to Canberra was cut.  When I drove to Goulburn, the water was nearly over the Hume Highway, but not quite.  There were huge sheets of water all the way into Goulburn.

Goulburn was laid out in the 1840s, obviously by surveyors who knew what they were doing.  All the sporting fields and parks are underwater (still) but the town itself did pretty well.  Apparently there were still 100 houses evacuated; I don’t know how many houses were actually flooded.

The city of Queanbeyan is further south, near Canberra.  I think they got less rain, but much of the shopping centre is near the riverbank.  They had major flooding, and the area has been declared a natural disaster.

The river in Queanbeyan is the Molonglo, and it runs into Canberra where it has been dammed to make Lake Burleigh Griffin, the centrepiece of the city.  Lots of flood debris washed into the lake, and there were sewage overflows too.

As it happened, we had been invited by our friend Jane to join her for a lake cruise that she had won.  Friday morning was quite unpleasant, so we were worried about the weather, but dare not stay away.  As it turned out, the sun came out in the late afternoon and bathed the lake in lovely golden light.  The various guests brought nibblies, and Jane brought some (formidable!) cocktails.  In the end we had a wonderful time, cruising around the lake and watching out for whole uprooted trees floating past.

We’ve had a few good days since then, but this week we’re due to go back to showers every day.  Summer is delayed until further notice.


Sometimes nothing is as it seems

We held our Feast of Misrule on Saturday, and I was running the kitchen. It all worked reasonably well but I’ll say up front that things didn’t run quite as efficiently as when Allison is Chief Cook.

We started with Blue Soup. Really just a white bean soup, except it was blue, and served with fish-shaped croutons. I did this many years ago, in a small country SCA group called Dark Skies, and it worked better that time.

We selected our Bright Prince of Burning Love (a period title for a bean king), a young guy from the local Lieder Theatre. His Highness declared, with some justification though he hadn’t tasted it, that He wasn’t having Blue Soup and neither were any on the High Table. Fortunately we also had a Low Table, run by the Duchess of Dismal Dumplings, who declared that Blue Soup was a fine thing, and that everybody on Her table was getting some.

The soup was followed by Golden Apples, actually meatballs covered with an eggyolk and flour glaze, with a mint sprig on top. They looked great, and they are a recipe from 1390. The kitchen had elaborated when I wasn’t looking, and some of the apples were red and green.

Then we had Dragon Pie, lamb in a pepper sauce, covered in red pastry scales. This was a popular dish. We had a vegetarian variant too.

My friend Jane made some wonderful pies up to look like whole fish: apple with almond meal and gingerbread. They tasted and looked fantastic, and I think were the highlight of the meal.

We made some “fried deer entrails” too, again a documented medieval recipe where you thread fresh and dried fruit onto cotton and cook it in a beer batter before you pull the cotton out. These were delicious, but maybe threaded a bit tightly, so that they looked more like dagwood dogs and less like lumpy intestines. Still working on that one.

Then we had some silly songs, jugglers, and the wonderful Daly brothers (Craig and Shane) gave an acrobatics performance. There are actually 5 brothers, and they can all do some acrobatics!

The second course included luminous green meat snakes guarding red pickled eggs on a bed of salad.

There was roast cockatrice (made from chicken and rabbit and bread sculpture).

We served mermaids (smoked trout with human(ish) bodies).

And we finished up with Snow in Summer, a fool made with whipped eggwhites, cream, sugar and rosewater. Tasted good but could have been a bit firmer — we didn’t get a chance for a trial beforehand.


There were about 30 people there, including the Baron & Baroness of Rowany (Sydney SCA) and those of Politarchopolis (Canberra SCA).

Overwhelmingly the attendees were local, which is a good sign for us to become a sustainable club in Goulburn.

Our advertising was good, but about a week later than it should have been. There’s a lot of competing events at this time of year, and a big feast next weekend in Sydney.

I think we did a pretty good job, maybe 7 out of 10.

The biggest hole, to my mind, was lack of dancing. That’s always a good energiser and helps to engage people. So maybe we can put more effort there in future.