A Star is Born! (And a Sunday Gig)

Back in August (before life got seriously weird) I told you all about my friend Callum, who I’ve had the privilege of working with the last few months. Well, I’m extremely proud to say that his debut was the most fun I’ve had in ages and a resounding success!

Meraki Management runs a beautiful gig each Thursday called UNLOCKED at a The Waratah Hotel here in Hobart. It’s designed to nurture new music and let emerging artists rub shoulders with more experienced performers. And it was the perfect forum for Callum to strut his stuff.

The lounge was packed with Callum’s wonderful family, most of the staff from OAK Tasmania and his extensive network of friends. And he didn’t disappoint! Sadly, I haven’t been able to get any good footage to share with you all – it was one of those “you had to be there” moments.


At the end of his set, he thanked his family and friends, turned to me and said “oh yeah, thanks to my assistant”. In a true Wayne’s World moment, I bowed down – not worthy!


It was a night to remember! After we played, Callum worked the room like a real pro, making sure he thanked and talked to everyone who came to support him. Something many performers neglect, but it gives an idea of the sort of person he is, polite, kind-hearted but with a wicked sense of humour. He even got hold of a marker pen and signed people’s wrists. Like most folks there, I was the proud bearer of an autograph. It was sad when I finally washed it off❤



In the meanwhile Callum’s back at rehearsal. We’re getting more songs together, looking for gigs and planning a recording in the near future. This is incredibly exciting news and I’m really proud to be involved in bringing this young man to a wider audience.

And for those of you in southern Tasmania, I’m playing at another Meraki Management show tomorrow, Noteworthy at Customs House Hotel, down on Hobart’s beautiful waterfront. Also on the bill are two friends, Matt Dean and Ian Murtagh and it’ll be great to catch up with them too. It’s the first time I’ve played a full set in quite a while and I’m looking forward to it. Playing music is like gardening for me – great therapy😀


All the Sadness, All the Joy


Hey, I’m back!

I’ve taken some time off blogging for a myriad of reasons. University got pretty intense, the garden demanded my attention, I had some health things to deal with and work was busier than usual – particularly with the amazing Callum playing his debut gig (an absolute blast, that I will write about in coming days). But mostly, I was too sad to write anything for public consumption that made much sense. 2016 has been a tough year to deal with.

Last month, my dear friend Jacqui passed away and it hit me and everyone who knew her very, very hard. It wasn’t unexpected, her health had been failing for a long time and she was having more bad than good days. Her funeral was a bittersweet affair, with equal amounts of laughter and tears, and punctuated by lots of music. And she would’ve loved every bit of it! I performed her favourite song, “Jamaica Farewell” acapella, which we used to sing together most Mondays.

Below is the last photo of the two of us. It was a Friday session with the Superstars back in July and Jac was having a bad day. She didn’t want to join in – but she still wanted to hold my hand and say cheeky things to Chris the photographer, while the others played and sang :-D

Jacqui and me

Jacqui and me

I’m incredibly grateful that I got to know her in the last few years of her life and enjoyed such a friendship. It was joyous, at times raucous and always filled with music and with love. This was proved again today when one of The Superstars played a beautiful little piece of music and announced to us all when she finished “that was for Jacqui”.

She will not be forgotten❤

The Superstars05resize

Introducing Callum!

Hi everyone,

I’ve got some fabulous news! I’m proud to announce that one of my students is going to make his debut performance with me at Meraki Management‘s UNLOCKED gig Thursday 25th August at The Waratah Hotel in Hobart.

Callum is a really great guy who is working towards a Duke of Edinburgh award through OAK Tasmania. For those who aren’t familiar, the DofE is open to young people under 25 and comprises four areas the participant has to complete – service, physical recreation, skills and an adventurous journey. We identified that learning to play the guitar is a skill and performing in front of an audience in a public place would certainly be an adventurous journey. It takes a lot to get up in front of a group of strangers for the first time but this man loves music and is determined to do well. And it’s that level of passion and commitment that makes it all worthwhile from my perspective as a teacher.

Both Callum and I are indebted to the wonderful Amy Fogarty from Meraki Management who has been so supportive, everyone at OAK but especially Teena who has guided both of us through the process.

It’s been a lot of really hard work but Callum is a great student and a natural performer. I’m really looking forward to it🙂 If you’re in Hobart Thursday 25th please come down and support us. We’re on at 7pm❤

Rock star in the making!

Rock star in the making!

PS: The Superstars have been making a video! More about that next post🙂


Celebrating – Achievement Unlocked!

Hi everyone,

I know I’ve been a bit lax posting lately but I’ve been busy with all manner of things. Despite it being winter, a time when a lot of folks think there’s nothing to do, I’ve been flat out!

I’ve planted dwarf apple trees in wicking barrels, made sauerkraut, started shooting a music video with The Superstars, preparing for a debut gig this month with my student Callum, also from OAK Tasmania – all of which I’ll write about in the coming weeks.

But last month I reached a milestone – I’m officially halfway through my online Bachelor of Communications with Griffith University and Open Universities Australia. I won’t pretend – it hasn’t been easy! And there have been times when I’ve thought (however briefly) about giving up.

So to celebrate my achievement, tenacity and sheer bloody-minded stubbornness I bought myself a little present. Below is a fresh Tasmanian black truffle that arrived Friday via courier from Perigord Truffles. There were two in the pack, which are now nestled in tissue paper in a glass jar in my refrigerator. While I’m working out what to cook with them, they require daily airing which makes the whole house smell utterly divine…….


With the chickens laying again, I’m definitely having scrambled eggs with shaved truffle in the coming days and I’m planning to make ravioli with some herbs and vegetables from the garden too. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know how it goes🙂

Meanwhile, I have to get back to researching another assignment. Take care one and all, and don’t forget to be nice to yourselves occasionally as well as others❤

Playing a Gig and More Winter

Hey everyone,

A very quick post. My fruit trees have arrived but winter’s decided to come back with a vengeance this weekend, so I won’t be doing anything until next week, once the rain and wind leave. These are mostly apples on dwarf root stock and I’m going to grow them in wicking barrels.

And before you ask – yes, I will do a full post about it with lots of photos!🙂 I made some boxes for the front balcony last summer that have been fabulous and I’ll be using the same basic principles. But I got the idea from a very extensive and instructive video on Rob Bob’s Backyard Gardening YouTube channel. Despite the fact Rob is in south east Queensland and grows a very different suite of plants to me, it’s well worth a look at his practical and cost effective ideas.

Also, I’m playing a set this Sunday – a rare thing for me at the moment! University study is taking a lot of my brain space and I’ve actively pulled back from live playing to concentrate on getting my degree. But I love this Noteworthy gig a great deal – not to mention the woman who runs it and her business, Meraki Management🙂

So if you’re in Hobart this Sunday, come down to the Customs House Hotel. The gig starts at 2:30 with Duxie Franklin, I’m on at 3:30, followed by the excellent Finn Seccombe at 4:30. Hope to see some of you Hobart folks there😀



Therapy with the Bees

Since I last updated this blog, Britain voted to leave the European Union, lost its Prime Minister (and most of the Brexit big wigs along the way) and gained a female PM. Australia has seen a painfully protracted election count (to follow the longest campaign I’ve ever seen!) And this week Hobart had snow to sea level, followed by cyclonic level winds and finally, flooding in the south of the state.

Then I switched on the television news a few days ago and saw what had happened in France and (at that stage) 50 or more people dead. I immediately switched the TV off. Yesterday, it was a failed coup in Istanbul, another 250 plus people dead and I wondered, not for the first time, what happened that the world got to be such a mad and angry place. My response was, as it is to most traumatic things, is to hide in the garden, pull weeds and talk to the animals – they seem far more sensible than a lot of people at the moment.

The wind did some reasonable damage to parts of the garden and I had to spend some time Friday morning making sure the baby bunnies were safe and secure after their hutch was damaged in the gales. Apart from being pretty skittish, they were ravenous as ever and settled back to normal once food appeared. I think the greenhouse roof is going to be okay after tightening roof bolts but I really hope it’s solid for September and October, the traditional months for high winds here.

All in all, we got off fairly lightly compared to many homes and gardens but I’ve been stitching up bird netting today and there’ll be a lot more of that over the coming weeks. Some of it ripped branches of fruit trees and they’ll need attention too.

Over the weekend I finished weeding and pruning the raspberry bed, moved some escapee canes from the path back into the bed, top dressed it with straw from the rabbit hutches and repaired the netting to keep the blackbirds out. I think it looks pretty good and hopefully we’ll get another bumper crop this coming summer.


I finally got around to liberating the cabbages and some of the kale from the mass of weeds that sprung up during the mild, wet weather. This winters’ crop are an Italian purple savoy type I haven’t grown before and I’m really impressed with the colour and the growth they’ve put on for this time of year.


All in all, this weekend’s been gloriously sunny and despite the damage that had to be dealt with, it’s been a joy to be out in the yard and away from the madness of the world. Also, I met a lovely young woman who came around to do a plant trade and found we had a lot more in common than a love of growing things. I hope that’s a friendship that develops.

Sometimes I feel quite overwhelmed with sadness about where we’re heading globally, and I tend to retreat into things I have some modicum of control over, such as the yard and tending the animals, providing clean food for my family. And then I meet people like Kate and things start to make a little more sense again. Perhaps that’s where the real revolution is waiting – one yard at a time😀

Finally, both my rosemary plants are in flower despite the time of year, and they’ve been literally covered in bees the last few weeks. It’s been lovely to take a break and just sit and watch them🙂


Take care of yourselves people, be kind to one another and when you have the opportunity, plant more seeds and take time to watch the bees❤

Winter, Seeds and Sunshine

Well, we’re over halfway now – past the winter solstice! As I said to the chickens this morning, that means the days are getting longer again and they should start laying a few more eggs soon. At the moment most of my girls are freeloading but one of the Isa Brown hens (affectionately known as B1) is still laying about five eggs a week, for which I’m very grateful❤

Although we’ve had some cold weather, it’s been surprisingly mild the last week or so, with cold mornings and mostly sunny days. But this is Tasmania, and we usually get our worst weather through July and August.

Also, I’ve been sick again. There’s been some horror viruses doing the rounds and I seem to have caught most of them this year! Nevertheless, my immune system is better than it was. A few years ago I would’ve ended up with bronchitis or pneumonia instead of a cold, and I’m sure these last few years of eating mostly home grown, organic produce has contributed positively.

Today, I spent some time in the yard after feeding the animals and really enjoyed the sunshine. The mild weather has seen new (and relatively large) spears on the asparagus, heaps of growth on the cabbages, broccoli and salad greens and flower buds forming on the broad beans. Unbelievably, there’s still a few raspberries on my neglected canes but I’ll be cutting them back over the next week, weeding the bed and mulching it heavily in preparation for another summer of delicious berries.

In the greenhouse, I collected another pocketful of fresh chilies, which is incredibly impressive for July and some of my potato experiments are starting to shoot. I also did a quick check of some blueberry cuttings I did in autumn and they look very promising. Some of the chilies are starting to show classic signs of magnesium deficiency, yellowing of the leaves.


This is really common in pot grown heavy feeders, such as chilies and citrus is an indication that the plants have exhausted nutrients in the potting mix. It’s also quite easy to rectify, with a foliar spray of manganese sulphate, (aka epsom salts) and feeding with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser. In the case of this particular chili, it’s been flowering and fruiting non stop since last September. I’m planning to cut it back at the end of winter and repot into a fresh, rich mix for the growing season as well. Epsom salts is easy to find in supermarkets or hardware stores and I mix two tablespoons in a bucket (about nine liters) and use a misting bottle to make sure both sides of the leaves are covered.

The rhubarb is still an ongoing project – I got sick in the middle of lifting and dividing all the crowns but the ones that don’t have new homes yet are heeled into the side of the bed until I’m well enough to get that job finished!

Wandering around the garden in the sunshine did get me thinking about what I want to plant this spring and summer and seeds arrived in the post today from Rangeview Seeds who are up in Derby in northern Tasmania.

So tonight I’ve sat on the couch and sorted through all my packets of seeds, something I do every winter. It’s a daunting but oddly satisfying task, working out what’s out of date and what to keep. This year too, there’s been an outrageous number of my own packets, particularly with chili seeds! (I will do a post devoted to propagating chili seed in the next few weeks too).


I think it’s the sheer potential embodied in all those packets that intrigues and inspires me. All the possibilities of delicious salads and preserves, food shared with loved ones and flowers that occasionally grace the table too❤

Tomorrow, Australia votes in the longest federal election campaign in something like 80 years. Frankly, I’m well over it, despite being a student of politics and having worked as political analyst many years ago! I’m not a big fan of either of the old parties and sadly, I think it unlikely that the Australian people will be winners no matter who forms government. Nevertheless, I refuse to submit to cynicism and intend to make my vote count – particularly in the Senate. And after the mandatory voting, I’ll be retreating to the garden for some more sunshine therapy😀

As always, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing on this beautiful planet, go gently, be safe, happy and well❤

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