Greening suburbia

No-knead loaf with coffee grounds

A recent visit by friends from Sydney and a conversation about minimising food waste inspired me to save:

  • oil from marinated feta
  • egg shells
  • coffee grounds

I have reused the oil to make my own marinated feta. With the egg shells I made a tea to give succulents a boost. Also, combined banana skins, coffee grounds and eggshells in the food processor to make fertiliser.

How to make your own natural fertiliser using kitchen scraps

DIY fertiliser

Two of us drinking two to three coffees a day produces a lot of grounds! Not wanting to throw away the excess, I have been experimenting with what to do with them. This has successfully included grounds:

One of the friends from Sydney told me they had coffee bread at a restaurant. A quick search online yielded bread made with coffee liquid, not the grounds. Some discussion boards decried the idea, saying that the end product would be gritty.

Hey ho, throwing caution to the wind I added grounds to my latest batch of no knead bread. During fermentation the dough rose more than usual. Not knowing how well the loaf would retain its shape, I opted to use a loaf pan.

The loaf has been an overwhelming success. Being moist with an open texture and a slight espresso flavour, it is very dark brown in colour and grit free.

We have had it sliced with butter to accompany lunch and toasted for breakfast; avocado looked and tasted delicious on it.

Manly, Queensland

Manly Harbour from Norfolk Point causeway

My husband let me know that the house was making him feel claustrophobic. I agreed with him, having only accomplished one ‘explore Queensland’ outing in the car since moving to Brisbane last year. We settled on making an 11km journey east, to Manly.

Don’t get me wrong, we like living in a modern house with a private courtyard. What we find challenging is that there is no view, other than looking at the walls of the neighbouring property. Also, most of the outside area is covered by a roof. Great for shade, not so great for creating a feeling of openness.

We have accomplished a lot in the last three months as noted in my previous post, Avoidance. This has taken its toll. Believing that we should be constantly busy at home winds one up so.

Masts, Manly Harbour from Sea Vibes kitchen and bar

After a short spell at Norfolk Point, we completely relaxed while sitting outside Sea Vibes kitchen and bar. Lightly gazing at the masts in the Harbour and feeling a breeze that took the heat out of a 30oC day.

Avoidance

Since moving to Brisbane we have:

  • redecorated the guest bedroom
  • had three ceiling fans installed
  • painted the courtyard
  • hung pictures
  • taken delivery of the materials for a deck (January project)

Also, I have made three unsuccessful job applications and almost finished writing a step by step guide to baking bread that I plan to release as an eBook.

We have both celebrated birthdays that step us towards sixty. In what seems like a blink of an eye, we marked twenty five years together in December by enjoying a lunch at StokehouseQ, overlooking the Brisbane River. As you can see from the photo, one is not too old to sit on Santa Nicolai’s lap. Thank you to the BrisBears for making us feel so welcome.

All of the above is no excuse for my apparent avoidance of blogging. Instead, spending mindless hours scrolling through Instagram posts. Rest assured, I have given myself a severe talking to!

Taking this opportunity, I wish my dear readers a wonderful festive season.

Robert x

A timely bath

How true the adage that you don’t know what you have until it is gone. Showering is convenient, quick, economical, eco-friendly, and healthy. It has been part of my daily routine for the last four decades.

After eight years we again live in a house with a bath. Yesterday, I took the ‘plunge’ in making use of the modern plastic tub. Lying on my back; knees bent, in water that was not deep enough to cover my ever expanding stomach and arms wedged against my sides, thoughts of childhood bath time drifted through my mind. Especially the rose tinted memory of my grandparent’s vintage 1920’s bathroom in Warley, West Midlands, UK.

The room had dark brown linoleum floor covering, cream painted walls and gleaming white fittings with chrome taps. These were no frills taps; tee shaped from the side, they were connected through the back of the square porcelain sink and the end of the claw foot iron bath. The water flowed from the bottoms, nothing as fancy as spouts. The horizontally mounted, cross headed taps with small white porcelain discs, indicating ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ resisted when they were turned, emitting satisfying grinding screeches followed by soft pops.

It seemed that water gushed with the force of fire hoses, even though it took forever to be deep enough before I could slowly lower myself into this gargantuan steaming vessel. Once inside, the bottom and sides would feel icy against my skin. Also, the enamel was a little rough from eons of scouring with Vim powder. Time scented with the fragrance from Radox salts drifted up towards the ceiling. Dreamily I would exit when my fingertips had puckered and the grey soapy liquid had become chilly.

Even with its shortcomings, the contemporary experience of fifteen or so minutes, spent splashing about in late afternoon resulted in a physical and psychological calm that lasted well into the evening.

Box mystery

A week last Sunday, we returned home from our travels. Since then our days have been filled with moving and unpacking boxes, stowing contents, hanging pictures and redecorating the guest bedroom. Somewhere along the journey we seem to have misplaced two cartons; one containing a hifi the other, precious porcelain things 😱.

Our first task after getting over the thirteen hours drive from Sydney to Brisbane, over two days, was to remove the thicket in the tiny back garden. A lack of attention over the last six years had resulted in three plants creating a bizarre intertwining twisting structure that threatened to engulf the neighbourhood.

For the past week it has rained every day. What was a couple of muddy puddles have become a quagmire; ideal housing for a colony of mosquitoes. Clearing the undergrowth has revealed a drain that sits aloft the lapping waters of ‘Lake Morningside’. The Body Corporate have let us know that as the issue is in a private courtyard it is our responsibility to fund remedial works. The joys of home ownership.

I suspect the missing caskets have been taken by a creature from below the brown sludgy waters of the swamp.

Birdsong

Before our trip to Europe we were awoken each morning by a rousing chorus of crows. A month on, jet lag has us awaking around 4:30 am and falling asleep a little after 8:00 pm.

Thankfully the nearby birdsong has changed to tweets and flute like birdsong that is much more pleasing to the ear.

The other afternoon, I found it satisfying to hear a kookaburra calling.

Smell it in the air

As with most parts of the World, the Australian east coast is experiencing freaky weather. Forecasts of Brisbane receiving monster electric storms followed by a deluge of biblical proportions have so far not eventuated.

Official sources report that since the beginning of October temperatures have varied from 12.5oC at night to 27.5oC at their peak. On Wednesday afternoon our car recorded 33oC when we left the hardware store in Cannon Hill.

Fortunately there are major supermarkets located about ten minutes’ walk to the right of our home and smaller specialist stores to the left.

Yesterday, I ventured out to the shops a few times. While walking along the street I noticed that the air felt silky against my skin and I could smell the heat of Summer in the air. The local fragrance is one of slightly damp earth warmed by the Sun combined with the faint scent of bark, leaves and some flowering trees.

Happy memories

The great green glory of nature is encapsulated in the hypnotic rustle and sway of the grasses, surrounding Coate Water.

Nine years have passed since I last trod upon this pleasant land. Sadness and loss formed the backdrop of that visit. It took the wedding of a special family member and much coercing to get me to make the journey.

Time with family in celebration and basking in the warmth of friendship have made many happy memories.

In drinking deeply of the verdant oases of Swindon, Portishead and the surrounding countryside of Wiltshire and Somerset, I have renewed my love of England, country of my birth.

Invigorated and refreshed; we soon commence our return to Australia, via Italy.

Goddard Arms, UK

Swindon’s oldest hotel started life as a coaching inn when it opened its doors in 1810. It was named in honour of the Goddard family.

The following is taken from The Swindon Advertiser from 11 April 2008, Hotel’s History of Love and Murder:

The Goddard Arms became, for more than a century, the focus of Swindon’s commercial life.

Livestock and property auctions were held there and magistrates and county court hearings were held in its Assembly Rooms.

The hotel also saw drama and tragedies.

In 1819 hangman Jack Ketch, and the criminal he was to execute early the next day, both spent the night there.

The criminal, named Watkins, convicted of attempting to murder a Purton farmer on his way home from market, was reported to have eaten a hearty last meal before being taken in procession to the gallows, which had been put up at Purton Stoke.

The public hanging took place in a heavy thunderstorm and was witnessed by a large crowd, many of whom believed the condemned man was innocent.

In 1863 the body of a newborn infant, hidden in a lumber room at the hotel, was found by a shocked boots boy whose job was to clean guests’ shoes.

The body had been there for so long that it was impossible to discern the cause of death or even the baby’s sex.

Another, and perhaps even more shocking tragedy, took place at the Goddard Arms Hotel on April 29, 1914.

A 22-year-old painter and decorator named Walter James Harris arrived at the hotel and asked if he could see Frances Hunter, who worked there as a between floors maid, or ‘tweeny.

Unknown to anyone, Harris, described as “an eccentric but harmless-looking” young man, had a pistol in his pocket.

He had been walking out with Frances and was devastated when somebody told him she had had an affair with a married man while working in South Wales.

Harris took her to a coal shed at the rear of the hotel and asked her if the story was true.

When she admitted it was, he shot her dead.

Then he waited quietly to be arrested.

Within a week Swindon Magistrates sent him for trial at Wiltshire Assizes, where he denied murder.

His trial lasted less than a day and the jury took only half an hour to find him guilty.

They added a strong recommendation for mercy on the grounds of his youth and 5,000 people signed a petition asking for clemency.

Neither carried any weight with the Home Secretary. White was hanged at Winchester Prison on June 15, less than seven weeks after killing the girl he loved.

An estimated 10,000 people thronged outside St Mark’s Church for Frances’ funeral.