And his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
I bought myself one of those ‘deals’ vouchers for a snorkelling lesson/guided snorkel early in the year. I LOVE snorkelling but just don’t make the effort to go unless we are on vacation, so thought this was a good way to get a snorkel in. (I can highly recommend Pro Dive Manly! ) After lots of procrastination (and some health issues), I finally booked myself in at the beginning of April before the weather got too cold. Sydney water stays warm till July at least but it’s nicer getting out into balmy air than chilly winds. And I did choose the last warm day for several months!
It was amazing! I loved it. It was just me and the guide in the “group” and we snorkelled for an hour in the marine reserve at Shelley Beach (right in Sydney – at Manly. How blessed are we Sydney-siders!). Shelly Beach is apparently unique amongst east coast beaches in actually facing west. Which makes it sheltered, calm and less windy and you can watch the sun set across the water.
The abundance of fish and sea life blew me away. I didn’t see any leafy sea dragons (have to go further out to see them.. maybe another trip?) But apparently one of the bronze whaler sharks that have become common in the bay since the marine reserve was established came within a metre of my face but I missed it. I was looking the other way! Which is probably good as I was a tad nervous about the resident sharks even though there haven’t been any incidents and there were SO many people in the water that I would not have been a logical target, even if one of them decided to turn mean.
I learned quite a few snorkelling tips and techniques as well as having one of those deeply pleasurable experiences that is almost spiritual in its intensity. Who would have thought Sydney is home to such incredible sea life!
The sun was setting over Manly as I lingered on the beach, not wanting to do the hour’s drive back home in rush hour traffic.
Here is Shelly beach in the late afternoon (my lesson was at 4pm).
See the waves beyond the rocks? That’s where you have the best chance of seeing the leafy sea dragons. We snorkelled to the left of this photo, following the coast towards Manly staying close to the shore.
And the view looking north towards the Northern beaches:
Click on photos to get a larger view. You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here at Skywatch Friday.
We got back last week from a week at Maqai Beach Eco Resort on Qamea island (east of Taveuni) in Fiji. It was wonderful despite the cold showers (no hot water) and the open boat crossing between the islands in driving rain to get there (no lifejackets!!) No shoes worn for a week (‘cept reef shoes or fins in the water and I donned my hiking boots for the “jungle walk”), the food was what the amazing ladies in the kitchen cooked (and it was superb – organic vegies from the garden and fish caught that day), snorkelling, crab catching (to feed the baby turtle), lazing, reading, table tennis, bird watching, kava drinking, fun, new friends, hammocking and just being transfixed by the unbelievable beauty of the views… it was heaven. We were restored.
Click on photos to get a larger view. You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.
We spent 2 weeks in Tasmania in December and loved it. On our last morning in Hobart we drove up Mount Wellington, were amazed that we were almost IN the cloud and that there were bits of snow at the top. We enjoyed the view (that’s where the Sydney to Hobart yacht race ends, folks) and tried to keep our hands from freezing before driving up the coast to some beach. It was COLD up top.. probably about 3C at 9am. This is mid summer!
and here am I…
Click on photos to get a larger view. You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.
The last stop of our recent (December) Tasmanian trip was Barnbougle Golf Course, near Bridport, about an hour north east of Launceston. C tried to pretend that the Tasmanian trip was for the purposes of a blissfully relaxing child-free (MissN was on exchange in China) driving holiday but no-one was fooled. We all knew that the purpose of the trip was for him to play golf at Barnbougle, which has been hailed as Australia’s finest golf course and one of the top 100 public-access golf courses in the world. (He also managed to get a game at the very newly opened – like 3 weeks before – adjacent Lost Farm course. His verdict is that Barnbougle is better and that he would like to visit both again SOON.) Hobart, Freycinet and Cradle Mountain were added to the itinerary to legitimise the golfing and make it seem as though we went to Tasmania on holiday. (Love ya, sweetheart! You may play golf any time and place you choose,)
I don’t do golf. I did walk around MOST of Royal Adelaide with him last April but by the 13th hole I was wilting and bailed (went to find coffee at Semaphore). So I left him to enjoy the stunning scenery of Lost Farm and the joy of hitting two little white balls into the dunes and I headed off to Bridestowe Lavender Estate which was about half an hour’s drive away (maybe less) through pastoral scenery and the very neat and prosperous looking town of Scottsdale. Much of Tasmania is wild or empty but this corner (patch?) is very ordered, farmed, green and quite lovely. Like a more hilly England.
The entry fee was $7 pp (during flowering season, Dec-Jan, otherwise free) which I thought was expensive, seeing as almost everyone would spend money in either the cafe or the shop or both. The estate was stunning scenically, the display was informative, the cafe good (I had scones with lavender cheese and lavender tea) and the shop was to die for. I restrained myself into merely buying a lavender deodorant, a bottle of essential oil (yes, it really is essential!) and a tin of culinary lavender. You know me – if it’s an unusual ingredient, I buy it and find how to cook with it.
They had recipe cards! I picked up a few (lavender brownies and lavender baby cakes to be tried soon). A batch of lavender blueberry muffins was my first attempt at cooking with lavender and they were a huge success. The lavender flavour is very aromatic and goes perfectly with the blueberries (which can be found on special at the moment at about $3 a punnet – usually fresh blueberries are prohibitively expensive here). It’s a moist (maybe the yoghurt?) muffin and not too sweet. Just perfect with a cup of Darjeeling. I will be making them again – soon.
Blueberry Lavender Muffins
(Recipe from Bridestowe Lavender Estate)
2 cups self-raising flour
1 TBS BRIDESTOWE CULINARY LAVENDER
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 TBS melted butter
I usually substitute spelt flour for plain flour and use soy milk but didn’t bother this time as I didn’t have a yoghurt substitute, and so the muffins wouldn’t be dairy free anyway. Sometimes you just have to break the diet!
Lightly beat the egg and mix with the yoghurt and butter (make sure the butter has cooled and the egg and yoghurt are at room temperature or the butter will solidify). In another bowl, mix the sieved flour, lavender, blueberries and sugar together. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together. Stir in the milk.
Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin. (I use the silicone thingies…)
Bake at 190 C for approximately 20 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.
And next morning whilst C played Barnbougle I went birdwatching on the beach
where I saw fairy terns with chicks and hooded plovers with chicks (both rare and endangered birds and life ticks for me) and sooty and pied oystercatchers and kelp and Pacific gulls, went walking in the wildflower reserve (where I saw more birds and numerous wallabies), had coffee at a lovely cafe in Bridport, and feel in love with the place. Roll on next golf trip!
Some ways you can contribute:
The Australian craft community are auctioning wonderful pieces of art and craft or having sales, raffles or giveaways with all proceeds going directly to the Queensland Flood Relief Appeal. Here is list of what you can bid on. This is a great opportunity to get an amazing “piece” and give generously at the same time.
Suzanne is making up 300 little sewing kits with help from Birch, Wildcraft Farm and myself which will have a needle,needle threader and thread cutter, thread, stabaliser, simple instructions and a design from NPNT already transferred onto fabric for those sitting in evacuation centres to keep busy, take their mind off things and have some stitching therapy. She is then making up extra kits for all of you to purchase with all profit going to the relief fund. However, she asks that you return your stitched blocks in the stamped envelope included in the kit and they will be made into finished quilts and then raffled to raise further funds. Suzanne, altho safe from the floods is in Ipswich and personally knows many who have lost their homes and even lives. She knows first hand what people are feeling and suffering and has thought carefully about how to make a difference and help.
I’m looking forward to stitching and returning my blocks (I LOVE Helen’s designs!) which will be incorporated into quilts to be raffled for funds for the Flood Appeal. Win/win!
The flood situation in western Victoria continues to deteriorate. Praying for strength and courage for all affected and that no more lives be lost.
A new year, and a resolution to blog more frequently!
And what better way to begin 20011 than with a Skywatch Friday photo or 2… or 4…
We spent two weeks in Tasmania in December – our first visit. It was special for many reasons, not least of those is that we nearly cancelled the trip 2 days prior because of some health issues I am dealing with. But – we went, it was wonderful and we hope to visit again soon.
As well as Hobart, Cradle Mountain and Barnbougle golf course, we had 4 nights at Freycinet Lodge in Freycinet National Park. On Christmas Day we drove up the coast (in the hopes of getting mobile phone reception so that we could call MissN who was in China on exchange) to picnic at Binalong Bay at the southern end of the Bay of Fires.
Our lunch was a picnic comprised of fruit and pastries from breakfast, cheese and a bottle of pinot noir we had bought at Freycinet Vineyard a couple of days before, and chocolate from the Christmas stocking (we didn’t exchange gifts this year). We watched some locals dive for crayfish and abalone and later drove as far north as the Gardens. (This area has been affected by flash flooding – the same weather system that has devastated SE Queensland, northern NSW and western Victoria – this week). We did manage to get to speak to MissN on our way home (there is reception at Bicheno). She was waiting (in the cold – it was about -2C there) to get a table at Pizza Hut in Tianjin with her exchange buddies. A very different Christmas for her too!
Dinner was at the Lodge – a rather uninspired buffet. But we had the view.. and the sunset.
Here are a couple more.
A blessed day.
It’s been a long while.. but I’m back blogging with a Skywatch Friday photo or 2.
MissN and I had a trip to Canberra (3 hours drive away) in July with Amy, her exchange sister, who is from Tianjin (near Beijing), China. Of course, Parliament House was on the itinerary. It was a grey, chilly day but there were patches of blue from time to time.
Here are the girls in the House of Representatives. I love the colours in the two houses. The green symbolises the eucaylpts, Australia’s dominant and defining tree.
The Senate is rose-pink – the colour of the new growth.
Parliament House is a remarkable piece of architecture. I love it, This is on the roof looking south. The vertical lines are part of the huge flagpole which can be seen from many partsof Canberra and acts as a guide to which direction to go when you get lost on one of the many circuits or roundabouts!
This is from the forecourt looking towards Old Parliament House and Mount Ainslie.
And here are the girls – dressed in grey for a grey day (apart from MissN’s socks!)
You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.
In the interests of climate change, Food from Afar is not to be taken literally! My commitment is to exotic food and the food of the various cuisines of the world but not to imported or processed food, both of which add considerably and unnecessarily to the expenditure of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gasses, which speed up climate change!
My passion is for simple, nutitious, delicious, frugal food (like this miso soup), bought in as unprocessed a condition as possible, mainly vegetarian, cooked or prepared simply from fresh, mainly unprocessed ingredients with as little waste as possible. My reasons – health, frugality, reducing our carbon footprint, reducing waste. And the results – delicious. No cardboard food!
Our next step is the development of an organic vegetable garden. We have a tiny backyard but one big enough to grow some vegies. The biggest challenge is the lack of sun. We did grow some vegies in pots last summer. The next step is setting up some no dig beds. Suggestions for shady gardens welcome!
Why is it so important to do what we can to halt or slow down climate change? Have a look at the top 100 effects of climate change. Consider how it will affect the poor of our planet and what responsibility we have to be stewards of the planet God has entrusted to our keeping.
For those who deny climate change is caused or exacerbated by man: it’s easier to argue against the evidence for climate change and our role in it and how that is connected to how we care for (or NOT care for) our planet and it’s
peoples, animals and lands than to change our wasteful and harmful practices. It comes down to selfishness not to change or ant to change.
Conversely – what will it cost our descendants if we don’t act collectively NOW? God will call us to account for our materialism/selfishness/wastefulness. I am convinced of that.
I love facebook. I love keeping up with my far-spread family (and interacting with my daughter on fb in another dimension). I love the photo’s, the updates… and I spend too much time blitzing jewels. I try to stay away from most applications for a number of reasons (privacy being one).
I have added some applications (like Growing Gifts, Free Gifts, Send Coffee, Pray for You) that allow me to encourage my friends. But it’s a worry when you get an email like this from the developer of an application:
We have decided to focus on something more exciting. Pray for You’s name and functionality will be changed next week to SpeedDate, a fun way to meet new people. Data entered into the original app won’t be used anymore. Feel free to check it out. Click here to use Pray for You. You can opt-out of this app here.
Pray for You
HUH? You can guess that I opted out… Imagine the marital disharmony this could create for some. “Sweetie, why do you have SpeedDate in your facebook?”