Making Room – Day 10 NaBloPoMo

This will be a short post as I’ve got to get ready for an early set tonight as I mentioned here a couple of days ago and I’m still not absolutely certain what songs I’m going to play. Something short and vitriolic feels kinda right at the moment.

While the world seems to be coming to terms with the US election, I gardened hard this morning. I picked heaps of snow peas, and there’s loads of new flowers and peas coming on. It’s been a wonderful crop and hopefully with last another month or two.

I also ripped out a couple of giant Italian Parsley plants that are going to seed and stripped them for use in the kitchen over the next few days. Then I got stuck into the broad beans in the next bed and picked the largest pods I could find and shelled them into a bowl while the chickens looked on. Again, there’s still heaps of flowers and new beans forming, so this is going to be a good crop. All the parsley heads and bean husks got chopped up and fed straight to the chickens, who are giving us loads of eggs this year.

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I’m the only one in the house that likes broad beans as a fresh vegetable but they dry very well, and we go through a lot of dried beans each year in curries and stews to make meat go further. I’ve laid out what I imagine would be a meal’s worth and I’m going to see how long it takes for them to dry out. It could end up being a dehydrator job but at least these will have a start.

Also, I gave up waiting and decided to lift the rest of the garlic. Some of it is a little small but it is what it is – and with the parsley, I want to make that other great Italian garnish – gremolata.  I’m going to experiment with reconstituting some of my dried lemon zest and adding that instead of buying fresh lemons. My lemon tree is flowering but no fruit until next year.

And the big reason to harvest these plants is the amazing realisation that I’m running out of bed space! I really need the room to plant out more beans, tomatoes and zucchinis. It’s hard to imagine that I’d ever run out of space in this yard. When I arrived here (7 years ago next month) the back yard was a huge mess. Many of the fruit trees were diseased and some were dying. What is now the greenhouse was an overgrown shed that had suckers from a cherry tree growing inside and most of the yard was a jungle, with weeds almost as tall as me.

This year’s garlic was in the first bed I made. I remember the soil was impoverished, dry and hard, with little worm activity. After all my layers of compost, mulch and crop rotations, today it’s black, rich and alive. When I first started here it was easy to get overwhelmed by all the mess and everything that needed to be done, but over the years I’ve created 6 more beds plus the greenhouse and got it to the point of producing almost all our vegetable needs and some of our fruit year round. One is dedicated just to asparagus, another just to raspberries and one is in the permanent home of rhubarb and acid-loving berries.

Now I go down the yard and still get overwhelmed by everything that needs doing – and because of all the rain the weeds are out of hand again and the grass is tall – but that’s good for the rabbits and there’s food to pick while I consider my options 😉

Today’s cute bunny pic is a double feature. Bernard Black has undoubtedly grown

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But this is my British Giant doe, Boudica. She is a lovely girl, very good tempered, but HUGE – especially when compared to BB!

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I love the “one ear up” pose from both of them 😀

I’m off to get ready to play music. Go gently and be well friends ❤

Greenhouse Action & Musings – Day 8 NaBloPoMo 2016

Today, I’ll start with an apology – there’s no gratuitous cute bunny pic in this post. In truth, I forgot to take one today. To Bernard Black Bunny’s fans, I promise I’ll make it up in tomorrow’s post!

I went into the city today for lunch, catching up for coffee with a dear friend and calling into my favourite bookshop, but this morning after I fed the animals, I had a little bit of fun in the greenhouse.

I grow strawberries in pots so I can move them around the yard throughout the year and I’ve been picking fruit steadily for the last few weeks. But one poor plant really wasn’t looking great a couple of weeks ago, so I took it into the greenhouse, fed it some of my home made worm juice fertiliser and promptly forgot about it. What a lovely surprise this morning when I discovered this luscious beauty and more on the way 😀

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A few weeks ago, I planted my precious stash of chilli seeds for the coming summer. While I usually keep a few Cayenne and Rocoto in the greenhouse to overwinter, most get treated as annuals, so this is a big deal for a chilli-lover like me. I was thrilled to see the first of this year’s crop poking their heads up this morning. The weather has been downright cold at times in recent days, so I was worried that I wasn’t going to get any to germinate, not uncommon if temperatures are too low. I’ll post some pictures in the next couple of days.

This winter was so mild, there’s more chillies than usual held over from last summer, including a few Poblano Ancho and I’m really pleased the Cayenne are starting to flower already.

After, I went into the city and (not for the first time) I was quite astonished at the difference between my oasis here and being in town. All the more so that it’s a 10 minute drive or a 25 minute walk from here to central Hobart – it’s not like I like in the bush or even an outer suburb.

I had a great time with my friend but my last stop was the best – catching up with Richard and Mike at Cracked & Spineless New and Used Books. I love bookshops but this one is really something else. It’s not uncommon to bump into friends there, it can be hard to navigate around the shelves depending on how many boxes of books have arrived that day, sometimes you’ll even see the shop’s stick insects fornicating in their tank (I have photographic proof of this!) and for me it’s almost impossible to keep track of time once I set foot in the door.

And while I always come away poorer in monetary terms, I’m always enriched by the books I buy. Today I picked up a new sci-fi thriller, The Tourist by Robert Dickinson, and a very important book from my early adolescence, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

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My father gave me a copy of this same printing when I was probably 11 or 12 and it quite literally changed my life. It caused me to think about making a smaller footprint on this fragile planet, something I still strive to do to this day but above all, it brought me even closer to my father. I’m looking forward to re-reading it and remembering my dad ❤

Finally, for those of you in southern Tasmania, I’m playing a short set Thursday night at the Waratah Hotel in Murray Street. I’m opening the wonderful UNLOCKED show that, now the days are getting longer (and sometimes warmer), is back to being a weekly event. I’m really looking forward to playing 😀

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A Month of Blog Posts – Day 1 NaBloPoMo 2016

Hey everyone,

It’s that time of year again! November means my annual writing challenge – a month of daily blog posts, otherwise known as NaBloPoMo. With the year I’ve had, it would be very easy to rehash the sadness and grief but I mean to focus on the many positives that surround me.

Having said that, I’ve recently been quite seriously ill, but with support from those closest and my GP providing the right medication I’m feeling much, much better.

Also, today has started out especially wonderful. Early this morning, our new (and rather dashing) black British Giant buck arrived. He’s only 8 weeks old and impossibly cute. Like most British Giants, he’s also very affectionate and loves being held and petted, but if he gets to the size of his parents he’s going to be a handful to cuddle! In keeping with the household tradition, we wanted a “B” name for him. And given our love of the iconic comedy series Black Books there was only one thing to do.

Meet Bernard Black ❤

Bernard B Bunny

Bernard B Bunny

There’s heaps of good things happening in the garden, a bumper crop of broad beans and snow peas as well as the the usual forest of kale, silverbeet and various salad greens that produced right through winter. This is despite a very wet spring that’s kept the soil temperature quite low and of course the chickens are in full laying mode at the moment. But at the moment I’m focusing on university and my current unit, Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Because I’ve been ill, I’ve fallen behind with the work but I have a fabulous tutor and I’ve been granted an extension on a major essay. It’s not an area I feel particularly comfortable with despite teaching music to young folks as well as adults. I think it’s because I’ve never specifically thought about writing for those audiences and I tend to read so voraciously that I make little or no distinctions about genres. For example, I think of novels such as Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wind in the Willows or The Hobbit as great fiction rather than children’s books – and of course, all those titles fulfill both criteria. As a result I’ve learned a tremendous amount and found the unit quite interesting at many levels.

But I must get back to work, slaving over academic papers through the Griffith University online library and trying to make sense of my early notes. Then I can justify spending some quality time with Bernard, Boudica and Bella later this afternoon 😀

I’ll be back tomorrow, be well friends!

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.

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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).

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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 ❤

Winter Bits – Potatoes, Strawberries and Raspberries

Hi everyone,

It’s been a busy week in the garden despite (or because of) all the rain we’ve had down here in Tasmania. Last year because I was late getting my last crop in, I determined that despite the frosts we get in this garden, it could be possible to grow potatoes year round with careful preparation and the right site. So today I’m putting it to the test!

A few weeks ago, a dear friend gave me a Pink Fir Apple potato. She’d been given a handful of tubers by another gardener, who claimed this is the absolute, all time best waxy potato for boiling, steaming or salads. The long, knobbly, pinkish tuber is an heirloom variety that can be traced back to 1850’s France. It’s been sitting on the coffee table in my loungeroom for month or more, starting to get a few small buds from the multiple eyes.

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The Pink Fir Apple is a late season maincrop variety so I’m really stretching the boundaries planting it now but while I’ve been off work sick, I’ve been doing some research. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about wicking barrels in preparation for the dwarf fruit trees, which should be arriving next month.

Along the way, I discovered Dan and his Yorkshire Dales Allotment Diary and something I’d never thought about before – growing potatoes in plastic pots! I remember growing them in drums when I was a child with my father and a couple of times in grow bags over the years but I’d never considered putting one or two in a pot and gradually earthing up as the shoots appear. Now the greenhouse is gradually emptying – it is no longer the House of Basil 😦 – I’ve got room to put a few tubs in to overwinter.

Frost is the big issue for potato crops and every autumn I get “volunteer” spuds coming up in random spots. The first good frost of winter and they’re done. And there’s no denying it, potatoes take up a lot of garden bed space! But in the greenhouse they are protected from the 8-10 hard frosts we get here each winter and by the time spring comes I can move them outside to finish off.

So, I used spent potting mix from the basil crops, mixed it with a few handfuls of old mushroom and put some in a IMG_20160610_111227clean 30 liter pot. I cut the Pink Fir Apple into four pieces, each with an at least one active eye and covered with a layer of the potting mix. Importantly, I remembered to label the pot!

IMG_20160610_120641Then, I did a few more pots with the early Pink Eye, possibly Tasmania’s favourite potato. I’ll keep you up to date with the progress, but my aim is to grow potatoes year round, or as close as I can get to it. Potatoes take 100-140 days in summer depending on the crop, so I anticipate I’ll be testing the first of the pots in mid-late September.

While I was mucking about in the greenhouse today, I checked up on another of my gardening experiments. About a month ago, I took my three first year Tioga strawberry plants and trained their runners into prepared pots. Strawberries need to have their crowns above the soil, so I cut pieces of soft, flexible wire to pin them to the top of the soil. I’ll be reusing these in spring to layer herbs such as thyme, oregano and marjoram.

The results were impressive. I now have six more Tioga plants and about another eight or so that are just starting to put down roots.

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I grow my strawberries in pots because of slug problems and generally only keep plants for a few years as they produce less and less the older they get. Again, the key is making sure the pots always have a dated tag, it’s too confusing otherwise!

IMG_20160609_111344And yesterday, I discovered not only a ripe and utterly delicious strawberry but IMG_20160609_112056(for me) a first in my garden – ripe raspberries in June! While they were delectable, the flavour wasn’t as good as the summer berries. And no wonder really, these are (supposedly) a summer only variety! Along with the raspberries, there was a load more chilies – mostly Habaneros but there’s still Cayenne, the wrongly labelled Inferno and the last Jalepenos of the season. I’ve started cutting back a lot of the chilies now and retiring the weaker plants to make room for new plants in the spring.

Weirdly, the Poblano Ancho, Hot Portugal, Razzmatazz, Serrano and Rocoto are still ripening, which I suppose also underlines how mild overall the weather has been. While it’s been wonderful to have such a long extended growing season, it worries me too.

Many of the crops I grow – the brassicas, winter salad greens and especially the fruit trees – really need the cold weather. The apples, apricot, nectarine and even the espaliered peach need a certain number of chill hours in order to stimulate flower production at the end of winter.

Well, I won’t have long to wait for some cold weather – tomorrow’s forecast is for a possible thunderstorm, hail and snow on higher peaks. Maybe winter is here at last?

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Winter harvest!

 

Rain!

I caught a break in the mad weather we’re having to take a few pics of the garden and a short film of the Ladies Who Lay, who were looking quite bedraggled this morning. Being down in Hobart, I think we haven’t had as bad a time of it as friends up north or on the east coast. Nevertheless, the tropical low that’s torn down the eastern seaboard of Australia has left it’s mark here too. The rain gauge was overflowing and my water tanks are (thankfully) filling again, but normally free draining areas are starting to pool, particularly in the chicken’s run. I’m also worried about the rhubarb bed as the crown’s are overdue to be lifted and divided. But as the changing weather patterns keep telling me, it will be what it will be and we’ll cope with it 🙂

Italian Purple Savoy Cabbages with baby weeds!

Italian Purple Savoy Cabbages

Further to my post last night, some of these photos will give you an idea of how much things have grown in the last month. Especially the weeds! It’s hard to imagine I had most of the beds clear three weeks ago, but with the mulch it’s fairly easy to remove them and the chickens love the tender new shoots.

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Some of the Kale in the foreground, looking to Silverbeet, the remaining Leeks, mini Broccoli and Garlic in the next bed. And thriving weeds!

Also, I checked the new asparagus bed, which I top-dressed with seaweed and aged chicken poo from Cluckingham Palace. I’m thrilled but also slightly disturbed by some of the shoots the bed is still throwing up.

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The crazy asparagus bed

Given I’m in Hobart, asparagus should be well and truly dormant by now but these barely six month old crowns are still throwing up new fronds – and some ridiculously big ones too! Since planting them out in March this year when it was still very dry (and abnormally warm), the plants have thrived. To get an idea of how much growth they’ve put on have a look at them here.

The rabbits being mostly sheltered from the north easterlies are doing fine and I suspect wondering what I’m fussing about – they are getting more than their usual ration of greens at the moment because of all the sudden growth. I should point out too that after consecutive days of frost last week, yesterday and today have been very mild. I was out in my wet weather gear and sweltering!

I’ll leave you with my lovely little hens, who are still laying enough eggs for my needs despite a statewide shortage of free range eggs ❤

My heart goes out to all the folks who are inundated across not only Tasmania but the entire east coast of Australia, as well as France, Germany and parts of the US. Wherever you are on this beautiful planet, take care ❤

Debut! – The Superstars

Well, we did it!

On Friday The Superstars had their debut performance outside of OAK Tasmania – and it was a HUGE success!

Final Rehearsal L-R: Tim, Sally, Kelly [back], Megan and Kathryn

Final Rehearsal L-R: Tim, Sally, Kelly [back], Megan and Kathryn

We were asked to come and play at the Ability to Create exhibition opening at Waterside Pavilion, Mawson Place down at the docks in Hobart. It was a very grey, showery day but we had a great time – and I think the audience did too!

An example of the beautiful art work we helped to open

An example of the beautiful art work we helped to open

I cannot begin to tell you all how proud I am of this group. I’ve been away, trying to recover from a really nasty virus – but even without me cracking the whip, they’ve still been rehearsing and honing their performance skills. And all their hard work and talent shone through ❤

Kelly singing up a storm! [Photo courtesy of Chris Rules]

Kelly singing up a storm! [Photo courtesy of Chris Rules]

And of course there was dancing! [Photo courtesy Chris Rules]

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that a lot goes on behind the scenes to make The Superstars happen that most people don’t see. None of this would happen without the support of OAK and their fabulous staff. Giving their best for the clients is their job and they do that brilliantly – but the support and encouragement they give me as a contract tutor cannot be overstated. You know who you are – thank you ❤

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Surviving the Storm – A Sunday Night Recap

Well, it’s been quite a week! I’m not sure where it disappeared to, but I’m rugged up on the couch and it’s Sunday night here in Hobart.

At the moment, Tasmania is in the path of a series of westerly fronts, bringing much needed rain but some very damaging winds. There was some respite yesterday so I took the opportunity to spend some time in the garden, rearranging mulch, repairing torn bird netting and salvaging what I could of the broccoli crop.

And of course, I got to spend some quality time with the chickens and the now month old rabbits ❤

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Earlier this week I processed the rest of the chestnut crop, which was pretty poor this year due to very little rain in summer and no water to spare for the trees. But I find them so delicious and useful that every little piece has become precious to me and my family. I’d never really paid much attention to chestnuts until I moved here, with a mature tree in the backyard that provides several kilos of nuts every autumn with minimal care.

For any of you interested in how I process them, I did a post here a couple of years ago.

On Friday, I got a parcel in the post from a woman I met through Facebook, who lives in northern Tasmania. In it was a self addressed post bag for some chilli seeds – and two beautiful, handmade beanies.

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The photo doesn’t really do them justice, they are really a very dark black and a luscious purple – my favourite colour 🙂  Fran is also a blogger and you can find her here. I finished packaging her seeds during the week, I’ve been drying them slowly on paper.

IMG_20160513_210229Like most repetitive tasks, I think there’s something incredible meditative about sorting seeds. For me it’s akin to weeding or planting but a little more demanding, particularly when you’re trying to keep track of numbers and sort out obvious broken or dud seeds – much easier with peas and beans!

Nevertheless, it’s one of those jobs that I really enjoy doing on a cold night with some good music or a favourite movie on.

One thing I should’ve done though is wear gloves. Despite using broad head tweezers, I still got enough capanoids on my fingers to sting!

Once sorted, I put the seeds into paper packets I make from old (preferably heavy weight) paper. The recent batch for all my seeds this autumn came from some old (and quite dreadful) music books I found in the local tip shop. Although I revere books, I’ve recycled these so that no innocent child is ever forced to play those songs again – they are truly dreadful!

 

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I think the finished product looks rather nice and I hope Fran and her family enjoy the produce. One day we’ll meet in person I’m sure 🙂

The rain and wind came back with a vengeance today, so I took the opportunity to catch up with my current studies at Griffith University. I’m doing an online degree and this unit is Television Studies. My head is still full of textual analysis and particularly David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. For something most of us take for granted, television is really quite a complex and surprisingly demanding area of study – and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning some of the history and depth of the medium. This week I have to finish drafting my major essay on the enduring appeal of Doctor Who which has meant I’ve had to watch quite a lot of it (mostly David Tennant) in recent weeks.

Seriously, I love my life 😀

Stay well and be happy wherever you are ❤

More Goodbyes

Hello friends,

It’s been a rough month. In fact, it’s been a really rough year and it’s only April. I confess I’ve been putting off writing this even though I know the act of doing so will be therapeutic.

In late February, my friend Jeff Weston passed away after a long illness, then another elderly friend passed away in early March. Late last month, my friend Leon Turner passed away peacefully up in New South Wales. I met him in the early 1980s through his youngest son Michael, who is a truly gifted songwriter and still the best rhythm guitarist I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

Leon was cheeky, irreverent and had a delightfully wicked sense of humour. I’m sad that I couldn’t make it up to his memorial service but he will not be forgotten by me and all who knew him.  Vale to The Cuddly Man ❤

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Leon Michael Turner 1930-2016

Then, last week my friend Kevin Gleeson passed away. Although he was a handy bass player, Kevin was best known in music circles across Tasmania and interstate for his fierce passion for live local music. There are very few musicians in the original scene statewide (and across all genres) who wouldn’t have come across Kevin as a sound engineer, gig promoter, or enthusiastic punter who just loved going to live gigs. He helped many of us any way he could and was always thinking of new gigs he could set up to showcase new acts as well as keep people like me with paid shows. He didn’t do it for any monetary gain, he did it because he loved the music and the people who made and performed it.

Last week, I went into 936 ABC Hobart with Katie Warren (another incredibly talented local muso) and we talked on air about Kevin and what he meant to us. It was undoubtedly one of the hardest gigs I’ve ever had to do. (Huge thanks to Jo Spargo for making this link available.)

Perhaps the most difficult thing about Kevin’s passing is how sudden it was, although he had been seriously ill for several years. And unlike the other folks I’ve been mourning, he was relatively young – a similar age to me. It hammers it home how precious and fleeting this life is. Vale my friend, may you rest easy ❤

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Kevin Gleeson 1960-2016 [Photo by Mark Young]

As I said recently on social media, I don’t place much store in concepts of any kind of afterlife, but I hope that Kev is having a great time at The Big Gig in the Sky, dancing forever with his beloved, who also left us way too soon a few years ago.

So, my mantra is live your life well, with honesty and integrity and love unreservedly.

Life is short.

Raspberries – The Birthday Week Continues

Ok, I know that NaBloPoMo is over for another year and I was going to have a break from blogging – but I had to share this with you all.

Today I spent the morning gardening, collecting eggs and picking more raspberries and this afternoon we baked a Raspberry Cheesecake and Raspberry Upside Down Cake for my birthday tomorrow. Here’s the recipes – they’re both very easy.

Raspberry Cheesecake 

Ingredients:

1 prepared biscuit base (for a 28-30cm spring form pan)

6 large eggs     3/4 cup of sugar     500g cream cheese (at room temperature)

2 cups of fresh raspberries (more if you have them)    1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method:

Break the eggs carefully into a blender jar, add the sugar and cover. Pulse until the eggs are frothy and the sugar is combined. Spoon the softened cream cheese in, cover and blend until smooth. Add the lemon juice and approximately half the raspberries and pulse. I like to do this very briefly so there are still chunks of fruit and the colour swirls through the cheesecake mix.

Pour this carefully into the prepared spring form pan and decorate with the rest of the whole fruit. Bake at 150 C (300 F) for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely and chill for at least two hours before eating.

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Raspberry Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:

4 large eggs, separated         3/4 cup of white sugar      1 cup Self Raising flour

1/4 teas Bicarbonate of Soda    3 tabs butter    4 tabs milk   1 cup fresh raspberries

a few drops of Vanilla essence (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to about 200 C (400 F). In a small saucepan, gently melt the butter. Brush a Bundt pan with a little of this and put the raspberries evenly on the bottom. Put the Bundt pan aside while you prepare the cake batter. Add the milk to the butter and turn off the heat. Do not let this boil!

Mix the egg yolks in a small bowl and put aside while you prepare the egg whites. Beat the egg whites in a large mixing bowl until soft peaks are formed. Slowly add the sugar and beat back up to soft peak stage after each addition. Very slowly sift the flour and Bicarb in and mix it thoroughly, ensuring there’s no pockets of flour left.

Slowly pour in the now lukewarm milk and butter and fold it through. Pour this very carefully over the raspberries in the Bundt pan.

Turn the oven down to 150 C (300 F) and put the cake onto a shallow tray. Pour hot water into the tray to create a shallow water bath and bake the sponge for 25-35 minutes.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so on a cake rack before carefully turning out onto a plate. Serve slices with cream and extra fresh berries.

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