The old bush pig

If you have an old empty gas bottle, some pipe for the legs, a small grate, pipe for a chimney and bits and pieces for a door handle, you can make a ‘bush pig’.
Our little portable stove (pictured above) looks almost like a small pig; it can be used to boil a billy of water, or cook with a fry pan or a wok.
The stove is also great for heating a small area. Sparks cannot escape as the door can be closed and the top grate covered.
Small enough to take camping – especially if you place it in a box to contain the soot and carbon – this stove is a handy accessory. The only drawback is that, owing to the small firebox, the wood must be cut into small pieces.

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Water Birds at Davistown

An afternoon stroll along the waterfront reserve at Davistown is always a treat and today was no exception.
Calm water, an amazing assortment of water birds, moored boats and an occasional passing ferry make some interesting photo opportunities.
Pictured above are some of the seagulls, pelicans, ducks and cormorants that we encountered on our walk (as photographed by my grandson).
During this pleasant level walk along the Illoura Reserve, you pass the Lintern Street Wharf – which is one of stops for the ferry service that runs from Davistown to Woy Woy – and informative signs, containing information about the past history of the area.
Continuing along the waterfront, you pass remains of Aboriginal shellfish middens. This area was reputed to have been the location of one of the largest Aboriginal camps in the district at the time of European settlement.
Further along the waterfront, a large children’s playground and an enclosed swimming pool on the edge of the sandy beach make an enjoyable picnic destination.

Davistown is on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia.

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Interesting tree trunks near Warrah Trig

These interesting markings on the scribbly gum are made by larvae of the Scribbly gum moths. They bore a meandering tunnel through the tree’s bark; eventually, when the tree sheds the outer bark, it produces scar tissue which shows these intricate patterns.

Looking closely at the base of this scribbly gum tree, you can see the trails in the decayed heartwood that show previous white ant occupation. The tree has also been scarred by fire but, amazingly, it still shows signs of active life, with a good canopy of leaves overhead.

Looming above this huge boulder – which seems to have eyes and a gaping mouth – is this shapely gum tree. I couldn’t resist the chance to capture this unusual photograph.

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Warrah Trig Walk

Following the Patonga Drive, and heading south towards Patonga in the Brisbane Water National Park, turn left into Warrah Trig road and drive until you reach the carpark.  Follow the Tony Doyle track from the old Warrah Trig Station down the ridge, along a well formed rock path – which includes some wooden stairs. At the end of the trail, you’ll find the spectacular Warrah lookout.
Along the way you will encounter many native wildflowers and waratahs for which the area is well known.
From the lookout, there are fantastic views to the distant Barrenjoey headland, Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River.
Photographed above are just a few of the lovely native wildflowers we encountered beside the track this morning and a view from the lookout.

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Fabulous flowers

These prominent and fuzzy buds on our Magnolia stellata, are just starting to open to reveal delicate pink and white petals.

A new out of season flower on our Kangaroo Paw plant gives a glimpse of spring.

The Ardisia crenata which has been recently planted in the garden after years in a pot, seems to be thriving. A new crop of seedlings are growing nearby from the fallen berries.

Some newly planted potted colour are starting to spread and will create a nice display.


Oil Painting classes

View to Pindimar

Bagnalls Beach at Port Stephens was the location for this oil painting.


This still life of two pears -using oil paints – was painted during a lesson at the adult education centre at Nelson Bay, New South Wales.


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Early morning garden snaps

In Australia we are in the middle of winter but still have some spring-like surprises in the garden.

My lemon thyme – photographed this morning – has spread out and is hanging beautifully over the raised garden bed.

A selection of my growing collection of succulents are enjoying some early morning sunshine.

Sprays of buds on my cymbidium orchid are ready to burst open.

The kalanchoe is almost showing its bright orange flowers, which will contrast nicely with the glossy green leaves.

A dainty light green and waxy-leaved groundcover – Sedum ‘Little missy’ – has almost covered the top of this pot and has spread over the edge.

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Vegetarian Potato Kugel

6 small potatoes, grated
3 carrots, grated
1 onion, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley (or small zucchini, grated)
¼ cup wholemeal breadcrumbs
½ cup cream
1 cup grated tasty cheese

Combine vegetables, onion and garlic in a large bowl.
Lightly beat eggs with the oil, pour over the vegetables.
Stir in parsley, breadcrumbs and cream.
Spread into a greased 20cm square Pyrex dish and bake in a
moderate oven for 50 minutes. Sprinkle with the grated cheese
and bake a further 15 minutes.

Looking through my recipe books, I came across this long forgotten recipe for a vegetarian potato kugel.  It makes a delicious casserole and will probably become a family favourite. Served with green vegetables or a salad, it makes a hearty vegetarian meal.
Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole, most commonly made from egg noodles or potato. It can become a sweet dessert by omitting the onion and garlic, and adding grated apple, chopped walnuts and raisins.

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More Unique Owls

Part of my collection, the owls featured in the photos below are some of my favourites.

These two little blue owls seem to be the perfect companions and were both made in India. Cast in brass and coloured with oxides, their features have been etched into the metal. The beak and eyes on the smaller owl have been rubbed back to reveal the brass colour.

Cast in brass, the taller owl – with his intelligent eyes and strong claws – was made by a local artist in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. The fine detail of its feathers and face make a very lifelike figurine.  Beside him is an enameled owl, made in Italy from a heavy cast metal. The delicate colours accentuate the owl’s features, and I like the way these two owls seem to be looking at each other.

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Succulents and Agave

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The plants featured above include :

Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’, whose leaves look as if they are positioned upside-down.  Looking spectacular with its soft green curled leaves, it has produced a couple of new plants to the side of the pot.

A pretty pink Kalanchoe – just bursting into bloom – is spreading out in a small rock garden.

An Agave, whose leaves are spotted with marks from the tiny hailstones which fell a few days ago.

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