Friday, November 30, 2007

So much happening...........

The last few days have been very busy. We picked up my motorbike yesterday from the repairer's. It looks almost like a new Harley, with new paintwork and many components, including shiny new chrome slash cut pipes, front fender, wheel, tyre, and resprayed tank with paint so deep it looks like you could swim in it......

My man rode it home and proclaimed it handled 'beautifully'.

Our Harley mechanic, who is also a friend, asked me if I thought I might sell it. He said there would be no problem doing that as HD no longer make that model, and it's a favourite with the 'one percenter' clubs. I have decided to give myself three months to decide if I can ride again. Hopefully that will demonstrate my ability to recover sufficiently. My Harley weighs over 600 lbs and requires a lot of control and muscle to keep it upright. There are local men already making interested noises. One of the many excellent points of owning a Harley is that they hold their value really well, and although having over 52,000kms on the clock, it is still worth around $20,000.

Of course, it's only been ridden by a Granny, and I have never thrashed it, apart from my recent tumble.

I had my MRI on my knee yesterday, and that was an interesting process. I have the films but no official results. They will come later next week which is a bit frustrating as I'm pretty sore still.

I have looked in my amateurish way, and have discovered that the sore area shows quite a large anomoly at the top of the fibular. It looks like the crack that my physio spotted on the X-rays could well be there.

It's not so heartening to know I have probably been walking round for nearly 11 weeks with a cracked bone in my knee, then twisted awkwardly on it and fell three weeks ago, to re-injure it all over again.


Coming back from the MRI, we called in to a few lawn mower dealerships, and bought a self propelled mower. After having a TAC funded mowing man for a few weeks, my man was amazed by the fact that he could mow our large and difficult area in only one hour. When I asked this fellow, he said he used a self propelled mower. Aha! That was the secret!

I used to mow our grass, including the many steep slopes, and my face would get so red I would have a headache for the rest of the day. The effort of pushing the blasted weighty mower uphill was really heavy duty work.

So, we bought one, brought it home and my man got out in the heat of the afternoon to learn to drive it. Many mutterings came in between mowing runs as his brain got around the process of clutch bar in and out.........

Then, he came rushing in saying a bee had stung him between the eyes, just above the eyebrow level. The sting was still in there, pumping venom into his head, so I scratched it out in a hurry and gave him a cottonball soaked in vinegar and some ice cubes in a cloth.

Over the next four hours, my usually cheery man muttered darkly about bees as his eyes swelled alarmingly, until finally, in a rare burst of humour he said 'he could blindfold his eyes with a shoestring'.

He does have an allergic reaction to crustaceans.... prawns, crayfish and shrimps, etc, so I began to get a little concerned. I remembered that the Victorian Government began an initiative a while back where they provided a 'Dial a Nurse' service, to help free up the hospital Casualty system (1300 60 60 24).

I rang them and got a very pleasant nurse, who, after getting our particulars, suggested because the swelling was in very sensitive areas around the eyes, he should go down to casualty to be checked.

Well, that put the cat 'amongst the pigeons'! After our recent traumatic trips to Casualty with my accident, he cursed and carried on big time, saying he wouldn't go. We finally agreed that if he had further symptoms like breathing issues or rashes we would go. He rolled off to bed early, and did wake up this morning, which was a plus. But the eyes look pretty bad.

He has not been a good patient, and as I said to him this morning, I am glad the accident happened to me , not him, because he becomes a real grump ..........

We have a special 60th party to go to this evening which I am loathe to miss. At first he said he wouldn't go, but as the day progresses, he says he might go as the 'elephant man'.

We'll see. He will certainly frighten the guests.

"A Grouch escapes so many little annoyances that it almost pays to be one."
... Kin Hubbard

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I went to visit my Harley yesterday to see how the repairs are going. It is almost back together again; just waiting on the fuel tank paint job, and the front brakes re-installed.

Robbie pulled it out of the line of bikes so I could have a go at pulling the clutch in, which I did, with difficulty, but I did succeed. Maybe I will be able to ride again.

I have decided to make closing the clutch in when the bike is back home my daily exercise!

I was chatting with a friend yesterday and telling her of the absolute exhilaration I get from riding my bike, and how closing the clutch in was such an achievement. She said, "You've got to get back on, Robyn!"

I will try. I don't know how I will feel being so exposed to injury again, but then I could get hit by a bus crossing the road. Indeed, driving back from dropping my man off at work this morning, I met the huge school bus coming round the steep winding roads we live on, and nearly had a 'confrontation'. Our corners are so tight that a large vehicle that doesn't bend in the middle can be a huge danger. I only remembered that the bus would be on its way 30 seconds before I met it, so was prepared to pull over in a hurry. It stopped, and I stopped, then we negotiated our way safely past each other.

Many residents report similar close calls, and we mumble about petitioning to get it downgraded to a smaller, safer vehicle, but never quite get around to doing it.

But, back to my original point, I could be hit by a bus!

I have an MRI on my wrecked knee tomorrow morning, which will be an interesting experience. My physiotherapist tells me it should only take about 20 minutes for a knee, so it shouldn't be too difficult. We are invited to bring our own music CDs to block out the apparently loud noises, so some Handel arias and similarly calming pieces will go too.

Always wanting to know more, I looked up MRI on Wikipedia. Bypassing all the technical blurb on how it works, I discovered it operated on a giant magnet, which could rattle any metal implants in your body. I don't know how it will affect my plate in my wrist, but they know I have that. My rings won't come off, so I should ring them today to see what to do about that. Further on in Wikipedia, I discovered a link to a You Tube that showed what effect the magnet had on a large oxygen bottle which was put on the table and run into the tunnel. It sucked the thing in with a crash, then banged it around like crazy.

Scary stuff! I might leave my oxygen bottle at home.........

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.
... Franklin P. Adams

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'I'll Show You How'

Watercolour, pencil on 300 gsm Arches paper
15 X 10cm

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Giant Crocodiles and Lost Pleasures

Saturday on my own saw me travel down to town to see 'Rogue' (Jaws revisited!). This movie had good reviews, and there's nothing like a good monster movie to get the blood pumping, in more ways than one.........

Our local cinema is terrific, with four small theatres, which are often nearly empty when a movie run is almost over. Saturday afternoon was no exception. I bought my ticket, and watched with trepidation a group of eight giggling teenagers who loudly proclaimed they were seeing the croc movie too. I nearly cashed in my ticket to go and see 'Elizabeth' with Cate Blanchett, but hoped they might quieten down watching the show.

They all filed in, girls and boys of maybe twelve to fourteen, chattering like budgerigars coming in to roost. My heart sank, and I kept telling myself I could still leave if necessary. The movie started and feet were up on the back of chairs and noise level wasn't dropping, so I put on my best teacher voice and asked them to keep it down; that we needed quiet to enjoy this type of movie. You can't do suspense with giggles.

They did try, some more than others, and every time the noise level rose, I would lean forward in my seat to look at them, and it would drop again. Fortunately there was a father and son sitting a couple of rows in front of me, and though he didn't turn around, his presence added authority.

The monster croc did his stuff; people got crunched, and the hero fought his last battle and won, saving the heroine who had been impossibly mauled. Enough to well and truly kill her! Great female lead, and other excellent Aussie stars. The huge croc was terrific, and the money spent on him was a good investment. But it was just another Jaws movie in beautiful Northern Territory scenery.

My man came home yesterday from his weekend away on his Harley. The dogs heard him from miles away and were looking down the driveway waiting for him to appear. Sure enough, a few minutes later, he came roaring round the corner and up the driveway, just as I put the poodles into the house to open the gate. He rumbled past me with his thumb up in greeting, and I felt a surge of grief that I probably wouldn't feel that extreme exhilaration again.

We used to make our last ten kilometres the best part of our ride, racing hard up the tight windies, me in front and him hot on my tail. Goodness knows what might have happened if a cow had been out on the road. There would have been no stopping.

We would roar up the driveway as he had just done, and along the veranda to the back of the house, the two Harley exhausts super loud under the iron roof. I would stop and get off and he would rev his bike up to make the rafters ring. Then we would Hi-Five in absolute joy. There is nothing that can possibly replace that adrenalin rush.

Later, after he had unpacked his saddlebags, I threw my leg over and lifted the bike off it's stand. I wanted to know whether I might be able to squeeze the clutch in. But, no, there was no hope ....... only pain. Early days yet, and my clutch has been operated on to make it softer, but it doesn't look good.

I was really gloomy after that. Maybe no riding ever again...............

"We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, 'Why did this happen to me?' unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way."
... Author Unknown

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A New Day Dawns


It was a full moon last night, and as I watched it rising majestically into the evening sky, I reflected on how it can send people a little nuts at times.

I put the television on and discovered that it looked like Australia was about to usher in a new Prime Minister; a Labor one. Out with the old and in with the new.

It has been a difficult decision, deciding how to vote, but we had to get rid of John Howard. Although he has done some very credible things for the country, at times he has also shown himself to be pretty ruthless and dishonest as well.

Kevin Rudd seems a bit soft for the job, but he doesn't want Nuclear Power Stations, seems serious about Climate Change, and will abolish the appalling Work Choices legislation that has distressed so many. Hopefully he will also block the ghastly pulp mill
in beautiful Tasmania passed by the Libs just before the election that has so many people up in arms.

Eleven and a half years of power has left JH arrogant and irritable, and so determined to have a huge surplus he forgot to care for those taxpayers voting for him and paying his wages.

Enough said, dear Kevin was piffling on in his acceptance speech and I turned him off, so now there's three years to look forward to with the remote in hand changing channels each time he talks.

Small price to pay for a fresh start!

We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.
... William Ewart Gladstone

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Retail Therapy

With my man hooning off up the highway to the annual Bombala Motorcycle Show and Shine, and me too broken to ride, I told him I was going to do 'retail therapy' and buy a worm farm. "Go for it!" he said, as he always does, never denying me anything. So I did.

I had a funeral to attend first for a lovely friend whose mother had died on Tuesday (at 94!). We 'don't do funerals' as my man states firmly, but she's a special lady, and it was also conducted by a celebrant I knew.

I was the first to arrive and sat on a couch watching people come in, noticing a tall man immaculate in a kilt, with his thick calves encased in knee high white socks. The old mum who had passed on hailed from Scotland originally, and had come out to Australia as a 'Ten Pound Pom', so I hoped this handsome man might play the bagpipes. He did, halfway through the service, and it was very haunting and emotional.

The celebrant did a great job, and, apart from the granddaughter having a sob through part of the service, it was a gentle celebration of her life..... as it should be. I sat quietly on my own, in the sun coming through the window, listening to the music Maggie had chosen, and watching a small jumping spider wandering towards me on the window sill. Great little spiders. I love them. They are the most entertaining creatures, appearing very inquisitive and can jump great distances. I resisted the impulse to poke at him, just watched him checking out the world. I recalled the documentaries where the spiders are magnified to a huge size, and pictured his many eyes, his busy little mouth, and all those legs working together, high at the front and low at back.

There was a clipped green hedge bordering green shrubbery through the glass at my elbow, so it was really pleasant with the music, the recounting of her life.

Leaving the funeral parlor, I kissed my stressed friend as she took off to the crematorium for a private send-off, and escaped. Sitting alone, politely eating sandwiches and having a cuppa until she returned was not on my agenda. She had all those relatives to attend to.

Off to Bunnings, where I picked up a few veggie seedlings, a gorgeous port wine ivy geranium, a tub carry-all, and my worm farm. I had spotted the carry-all on an ad on TV.... just the end of it, so I just had a rough image of what it was. With the limitations my weakened arm causes, to have something to carry mulch, wood, and anything else awkward in really appealed to me. The lady at the checkout says her old dad uses it to bring in his shopping! Wow! So will I......

So, back home, I planted my seedlings and other treasures, put my purchased ten kilo bag of spuds in my new carry-all (I love it!), and unpacked my worm farm.

I bought 500 worms, which was a bit stingy of me...... they say we need 1000, but who is in a hurry? The instructions are very clear, and here is the process.....

Set up the legs into the solid base and tap for the 'worm pee'. You dilute that with water and fertilise your plants. Then place a level with drainage holes on top and line it with the packing cardboard.

Soak the provided block of 'coir' in 3/4 bucket of water and break it up until all is absorbed.

Spread it over the cardboard packing from the outside of the worm farm pack.

Put your bag of purchased wormies in, spreading over the wet coir. Don't use worms from the garden; they must be compost worms, not earth worms, and would apparently die in normal earthy/drier situations. They need moist, composty conditions.

Cover with wet newspaper and kiss them all 'goodnight'!

Lid on, job's done!

Let them feed and breed, and as they expand, put more of the three provided levels on top one by one, and offer food on that next layer. the worms will crawl up to that to feed. When nearly all worms vacate the bottom one, that goes on your garden. Simple!

No onions, or citrus, they don't like that, or offer some neutralising fire ash to improve the balance .....

"Man cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen"
...Michel De Montaigne

A Vase Full

There's nothing like fresh roses everyday. This is the first year my rose bushes have been big enough to just keep producing, and producing......

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Scribble Scribble, fiddle fiddle..........

'Dream On'
15 X 11cm
Watercolour and pencils on paper

Her Garden is her Canvas

I have an artist friend who paints beautiful paintings, but sadly not very often. She also has a glorious garden, which reflects her creative and artistic talent.

I went for a visit yesterday, and we rejoiced in the beautiful drenching rain that was falling after a few hot days. The bigger the garden gets, the more water it needs, so this day of replenishment takes the pressure off for a while as summer heat approaches.

Each year I kick myself that I don't get down there for a viewing when it's in full spring bloom. It's a predominately green garden, which I love, where mine is a wild pallet of colours.

She has put in a lot of shade trees which throw dappled sunlight on all beneath, and create pockets of deep shadowed areas where interesting plants nestle.

Due to the rain I couldn't photograph too much, but while I waited for her I took a few snaps. The rest are from last year when she put on a fabulous lunch for our friend's and my birthday.

A truly magnificent garden..........

A King Parrot at a feeding station.

A constructed waterway.

Beautiful clematis and climbing rose.

Dear old Buddy enjoying a laze on the lawn.

Shallow pool outside the kitchen.

Close up of the rose above.

"Weather means more when you have a garden. There's nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans."
... Marcelene Cox

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Pastel Plonkers

'On the Beach'
10 X 11.5cm
Watercolour and Pencils on paper

It's been difficult getting out in the studio again after such a traumatic road accident, but today I did, and I'm quite pleased with my efforts.

For around 9 years, I have had a group of gal pals/aspiring artists come to my studio on Tuesday afternoon, where we drank a glass or two of champagne and ate delicious nibbles while we worked. We have dissected many problems tabled, supported when times were hard, and rejoiced when they were good.

These days it seems harder to get everyone together on the same day each week, but we're still going. Over those years, we have all become fast friends, and many works have gone out the front door to be framed and hung proudly on a wall.

My friend Pat was the only starter today, but she not only finished a work of hers that had been calling her, she also got me working again.

Our Christmas dinner/ annual celebration is coming up next month, and we're off to a beautiful beach side hotel restaurant to close down another year and welcome in the new.

"You can always tell a real friend: when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job."
... Laurence J. Peter

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Little Birds With Big Voices

Over the past five years, many birds have moved into our house yard, enjoying the cover our growing garden provided. One in particular is the beautiful Grey Shrike Thrush, renowned for its glorious voice. Each year a nest is built in an inconvenient place around the house and babies are raised.

The first year, two eggs were laid in an untidy nest made of bark tucked under the house eaves. The parents seemed unfazed by our comings and goings, especially as the nest was right next to the undercover clothesline. As I pegged out the washing, she would peer down at me, head on one side and one beady eye warning me to keep my distance.

The babies hatched, and as they grew, they would whistle at me with their clear belling call as I passed below. I would answer back, which began a lengthy discussion between us. I developed a real affection for these innocent little creatures and looked forward to them fledging and making their way out in the world.

The reality of life with our big poodles crashed in on me when I found little bodies strewn around the yard. That first clumsy flight to the ground had proved their undoing.

My heart broken, I resolved never to allow them to build in the house yard again. The next year, that cosy nesting place was blocked off with timber, and the following nest around the other side was demolished before it was completed. She finally got the hint, and moved out.

The season after, a manhole built into the studio veranda blew aside a little, and the lovebirds got in and nested there, leaving a trail of old bark and bird poop hanging out underneath. We had to leave it open as we could hear babies stirring inside.

Once they fledged, the door was put firmly back in place.

We had another year off, until this season, when my man’s shed was left open for a few days and they got in. Heart sinking, I shut the roller door, but that didn’t stop her. The babies hatched out and soon they were bustling around with dinner in their beaks. How did she get in?

The penny dropped when I saw her land in front of the cat door (no cat!), hop in and feed the babes. Next she flew out through the top of the roller door. Clever things!

Over past few days, the babies’ voices had strengthened and I began to worry about the poodles again. At dinner tonight, I thought the calls had changed position and went outside to see. Sure enough one was out, and Zara, the crazy teenager, was hot on its trail. Screaming loud enough to break glass, I tried to head her off. My noise slowed her down long enough for me to pick the thing up and put it over the fence, its squawking parent in hot pursuit. The man of the house trailed after me moaning about the drama, totally horrified by the racket and my behaviour.

Poor confused Zara was unceremoniously dumped inside while I went into the shed to see to the other. Clambering with my bung leg up the ladder, held at the base by my still muttering man, I thought I might pull the nest out, with baby intact, and put it over the fence. As I did, I discovered there were two in there, with one flying out and across the shed onto the window ledge.

The other one hunkered down in the nest with wide eyes.

Totally nonplussed by vulnerable babies everywhere, we dumped the poodles into their run for the night. The shed door is open, both babies are out of their nest in there, but flying OK, and the third down below safely ensconced in the maple tree for the night. Both parents are still plugged in and feeding them.

My idea of heaven will be to get up in the morning and all have gone safely into their new lives, up in the trees where they belong!


That done, the light was so beautiful, and so was my first iris to flower.

Dusk, and the colours are so intense.............

Postscript No. 1 : Morning has arrived and two babies are still piping away out in the shed. Today will be very hot (37C), so the poodles will have to be kept inside just in case they fly out onto the ground.

It seems the parent's problems are not over, our resident kookaburra has just flown past with a thrush in hot pursuit.

Postscript No 2: When I went out checking on the babies' progress in the shed, mother bird followed me in squawking. One chick was on the ground peeping away.

Still telling me off, she called to the babe, tempting it outside into the garden. So vulnerable and eager to survive ....

It flew clumsily up into a tree and upset the resident wrens nesting in there, sparking off a whole new neighbourhood problem! But it was safer...........

Postscript No. 3: After a hot day, the little voice in the shed seemed to lose confidence, and I worried about whether our last baby mattered as much as the first two. A parent would appear occasionally with bug in beak to feed it, which gave me heart.

After our dinner and the weather cooled somewhat, I found it out on the ground wondering what to do next. I picked the frightened little thing up and put him into a nearby tree, hoping he would keep calling and a parent would find him. Sure enough, she was delighted to find it out and safe and fed it some more.

The poodles were very disappointed to have to sleep in their run for a second night, but I do get a better night's sleep when they do. My man always finds things to say to encourage me to exile them at night more regularly.

This morning, I can hear babies over in our little 'forest' with their parents calling, so some have survived. Hopefully the kookaburra will eat elsewhere until they gain strength and flying practice.

Next year, all entrances will be blocked!

"You fall out of your mother's womb, you crawl across open country under fire, and drop into your grave."

..... Quentin Crisp

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Last week saw my damaged knee go out from under me and a clumsy slide down a steep slope with that leg tucked underneath. This ridiculous attempt at acrobatics has left me with my injury ramped up to pretty unbearable. By Thursday, and under the not so gentle hands of my physiotherapist, I was asked whether I might have broken something? That had never occurred to me, but as the day progressed and the pain escalated, I took my unused x-ray request from two weeks before and had it done.

Outside in the car afterwards, I peered at the films to see if there was anything obvious. Apart from what looked like some abraded bone surface where one bone could have twisted on the other, there were no obvious crack lines. I called in for a wait-for-it appointment and the doctor agreed with me, telling me to rest and take my anti-inflammatories.

The next day I was desperate, so much so I moved the surgeon's appointment forward two weeks, and went to see him yesterday. He was annoyingly uncommunicative as he twisted my leg up and down, causing me to really yelp with pain. He said he didn't know what the problem was, but wanted an MRI scan done, and was I happy to have an arthroscope done if necessary to tidy up the cartilage? "Anything!" I said, so long as it felt better.

So, the saga goes on. I constantly remind myself how lucky I was to get out with so few injuries, and as we see more road trauma accidents with horrific damage, I am grateful .... enormously so. An ad for a current affair show tonight shows a poor girl with what looks like a broken glass stab injury to her face, and tell myself 'there but for the grace of God go I........'

Soft bodies and hard surfaces don't go well together.

But my hand is coming good - gaining strength and much more movement. I even clipped two of my poodles over the past few days, which they really needed. Driving is easier now I can use that hand a little more.

On a lighter note, I am posting some photos of the different lavenders I have in the garden. My dear old camera's 'close up' opens up a whole new world!

"I always try to believe the best of everybody -- it saves so much trouble."
... Rudyard Kipling

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Kid on the Block - The 'Laughing Kookaburra'

I am delighted to report we now have a permanent kookaburra moved onto our property. He has been spotted here each day for some weeks now, hunting in the grass, parking on the fence, and today, bickering loudly with another on the front gate.

I was down below in the studio garden, and heard a loud purring noise coming from the back deck, and there he was, peering at me with his head on one side. He seemed unafraid, and watched me as I moved a little closer to try and get a photograph of him. He allowed me to get to around ten feet from him, when his courage ran out and he flew off.

My man says we could feed him, because they tame very easily, but the poodles chase all wildlife away, and I would hate them to catch and kill him.

I have done a lot of drawings of kookaburras and sold them on eBay in the past. I could pretty much draw one now from memory! Having one so close might tempt me to do some more.

Kookaburras live in large family groups, with the teenagers helping with hunting and feeding the current brood. The young ones can stay in this group for up to five years, even sitting on the eggs! We know where the local groups live, and can guarantee to see at least one on a particular section of road nearby.

This one might be an offshoot from one of these groups, and the other bird today may have been a sibling, or from another group grumping over the boundaries.

Sometimes a crowd will fly onto the roof and laugh uproariously, which can be quite deafening. I love them, with their large heads, intelligent eyes, orange and black striped tails, and blue feathers on the wings. When they call their strong beaks point straight up into the air and their tails rock up and down. Sometimes we see them with a small snake or lizard that they have caught, but they feed mostly on insects and worms in the grass.

"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn."
... Henry David Thoreau

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Trip to Sale and Back..........

We thought we might do an overnighter to Sale and attend the opening of the 'Flooded In' Exhibition at the Sale Regional Gallery. My flood painting would be one on show, and I was keen to see it in context with the theme. The area had been heavily flooded some months back, causing enormous trauma and damage, and the Wellington Shire has put together numerous events over the next few weeks to bolster morale.

I set up the three poodles in their luxurious 'Doggie Rooms', filled up with an early dinner, and promised visits complete with bones from a neighbour that evening and next morning.

We decided to leisurely tootle up the road, stopping for a delicious lunch in nearby beautiful Yarragon, and the purchase of a watercolour pad from Tritec, my favourite art suppliers. We met two artist friends there, one of whom had kindly rung me the night before to see if she could drive me with my broken wing to Life Drawing that morning.

On to Morwell, we went to Bunnings to buy paint. Dulux had its annual special of a four litre can of jelly beans if we bought two four litre cans of paint. What a couple of 'tubbies' like us need all those sweets for, I don't know, but we were fatally attracted to the idea.

So, loaded up with paint and all those lollies, we travelled on........

Then up to a Rivers Disposals Store at Traralgon, where I was thrilled to find two pairs of beautiful shoes at excitingly low prices. I am always notoriously low on shoes, finding so few that appeal to me, so this was a major coup.

We wandered on up the highway, stopping here and there, arriving at our booked motel in the late afternoon. It had been advertised as having an 'exotic garden', which we found highly amusing, as the lawn needed mowing and most plants were pretty ordinary. There was a magnificent dark red pelargonium which was blossoming at our veranda. I thought I might gently pilfer a tiny piece later on when it was dark.

Built in around the fifties and badly needing a tidy up, the motel also called itself 'international'. We assumed that was because they were both Austrian and offered sauerkraut, etc, in their restaurant.

The beds were clean, but there was not much else to excite, especially when we discovered there was not enough of those horrid little sealed milk containers for our allotted evening and morning cuppas.

After I discovered that, I snapped off a bigger piece of pelargonium before I went to bed!

At the Gallery, we met friends from nearby Stratford who were coming as well, and waited for the doors to open...... which they didn't! Starting to panic a bit, I asked a security guy whether we were in the wrong place. Sure enough, we had to do a quick runner up the road to the next building, not an easy feat for my wrecked leg, passing a cheerful brass band wandering up the pavement outside.

Inside, we were refused our complimentary champagne as it 'was over' (
we were 10 minutes late), but scored a pleasant chardonnay.

The venue was very nice, and the exhibition was opened with some ceremony by a local councilor, who had been affected by the floods himself. All very posh and a bit cliquey, and it was over in an hour. Never mind! Off to a nice dinner at the nearby Irish Bar,
my own champagne and a nice catch up.

The next morning, we had breakfast in the sun at a Stratford Cafe, having a chance meeting and a yak with a particularly manic friend we hadn't seen for ages. He is a taxidermist and a real character, and filled up the morning with his enthusiasm and special brand of craziness.

There was a shop next door, which we were told was very special, and it was. Owned by a Turkish man and his Australian wife, it was full of rugs, bowls, hanging lights and other assorted goodies ......
even belly dancing costumes! I was deeply tempted to continue my spending spree and buy a big pedestal bowl for our fruit, but got out before I caved in.

The wife's mother was a cheery, hard-sell type, and thought she might convince us to go on a 21 day tour next year to Turkey with the son-in-law. Around $5000 per person bought an all expenses paid trip around many interesting places, meeting families, tasting food, going to markets and historic landmarks. I think it even included a trip to Gallipoli. We have the itinerary, and it sounds great, but not now.....

Off to our friends' farm at the back of Stratford for morning tea, we had cuppas and freshly baked berry muffins on the veranda amongst her beautiful spring roses. She walked me around the garden with a plastic bag and a shovel, giving me small treasures to take home and bolster mine.

The farm is a show piece of around one thousand acres, where they successfully run a large herd of fat beef cattle and a sheep flock.

Leaving there, we toured some nearby areas where my man showed me how high the waters had risen at the height of the floods. We stopped at the property he had photographed for my flood painting, and it certainly looked very different now the waters had gone.

Along a side road, there was the Avon River still flowing over a washed away road; pieces of bitumen dragged up the river bed and bushes laid over.

Back home now, the poodles are fine (though hunting snakes again!), my cuttings from the rose garden are safely in their dirt, the boss has had his nanna nap, and my blog is done. Where's the bubbly?

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. "
.... Lin Yutang