Vege Porn and Mr Do-Bee

The 20th of May was World Bee Day. Did you miss it? It was designed to highlight awareness about Bees and celebrate the role they play in our environment.

Here’s some fun facts about Bees:

1.  Honey bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey
2.  The average bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
3.  A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.            
4.  Honey has antiseptic properties and was historically used as a dressing for wounds and a first aid treatment for burns and cuts.
5.  The bees’ buzz is the sound made by their wings which beat 11,400 times per minute.

And lastly, Bees are sexy critters as they communicate with one another by dancing. It’s called the “waggle dance”. ( How’s that for trivia?)

I like Bees and encourage them to visit my garden with native flowering shrubs and a fertile vegetable patch. Currently, the sound of Bees at work pollinating the pumpkins filters around the neighbourhood, which sure beats the drone of lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Some neighbours even have pumpkins growing across footpaths.

Warning : R Rated Adult Content

Last year, presumably because of the lack of rain, Bees were in short supply. We had to pollinate the pumpkins manually. Yep, vege porn. The pumpkin crop proved a huge success, thank goodness. Lots of soup to sustain us throughout winter.

I grew up with the children’s TV program, Romper Room, in the early 1960’s which encouraged my affection for Bees.

Mr. Do-Bee was an oversized bumblebee character who taught children proper manners. His sentences began with, “Do Bee good boys and girls for your parents!” Of course, there was a Mr. Don’t Bee to teach what not to do. How I longed for a Mr Do-Bee puppet…

Do-Bee good this weekend and have fun. Be kind a play safely.

S E Qld : Forest Hill

Travel restrictions were eased last weekend allowing Brisbanites to enjoy day trips of up to 150 kms away.

Forest Hill is a township in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, which is renowned as South  East Queensland’s food bowl.

Forest Hill was once home to five hotels, a hospital, a bakery and butcher, and was the largest rail freight hub for agricultural produce in Queensland and a more productive outlet than both the older townships of Gatton and Laidley. It also sits on the Cobb &Co Tourist Drive as a staging post for coach transportation in South East Queensland.

Most of that has gone now though the remnants remain in the form of early Australian architecture and Heritage listed buildings, such as the Lockyer Hotel.

The Forest Hill War Memorial, also Heritage listed, was erected to commemorate those in the district who had died or served in World War 1. It was unveiled by five mothers of deceased soldiers on 26 March 1921.

The old buildings now house Cafes and Gift Shops which make it easy to lose a few hours exploring.

My favourite retail outlet is Queenies, a local co-operative where those with a crafty bent are able to sell their lines. Some wonderful early Christmas shopping was achieved here. Earrings anybody?

Cafe 4342 is located in the original Post Office building and utilises fresh farm produce wherever possible.

During the 2011 Queensland Floods much of the population of Forest Hill was required to be evacuated by helicopter to nearby Gatton to avoid rapidly rising floodwaters. The entire region has also been hit hard by fire and drought so it is well worth the effort to clear your own cobwebs by taking a drive whilst spending a few bob in a country town.

TIP: Take an Esky. There are heaps of food stalls along the way.

Around The World Reading Challenge : France

Little Thomas didn’t have time to finish his stewed apple. His mother hadn’t given him the slightest chance. The speed with which the poison circulated through his blood simply meant he didn’t suffer when he died.”

These are the opening lines of Ines Bayard’s debut novel, This Little Family. Intrigued? It certainly had me hooked.

Marie and Laurent are a young, career couple living in an apartment in Paris and are discussing starting a family. Her contentment and comfort with life is shattered when Marie experiences a violent encounter with her new manager at the office which threatens to derail her life.

Less than two years later, the family’s apartment is cordoned off by police tape as forensic officers examine a horrific scene in the family apartment. Three bodies around a dining table. Marie, Laurent and their little toddler, Thomas, in his high chair. All three of them have been poisoned by Marie.

Over this two year period we watch Marie slowly spiral out of control as she is driven by extremes of disgust and dread in the aftermath of a rape.  

This is quite a harrowing read as Marie descends into madness. The story is tightly written which only exacerbates Marie’s mental health. Just when you think that the situation can’t get any worse, it does. 

This is a dark, compelling read. For all her wrong doings I still bled for Marie. And of course there’s a twist!

About The Author

Inès Bayard was born in Toulouse, France, in 1991. She lived and studied in Paris for several years before relocating in 2017 to Berlin, where she is currently based. 

Nominations: Prix Goncourt des LycéensGoncourt List, Poland’s ChoiceGoncourt List, Romania’s ChoiceGoncourt List, Belgium’s ChoiceGoncourt List, Italy’s ChoiceGoncourt List, Switzerland’s Choice

Wombats


Wombats are short legged, muscular marsupials that look like little bears. Marsupials native to Australia they live in burrows. They spend daylight hours underground in their burrows and emerge in the night to forage for grasses, herbs, seeds, roots and bark. They have a very slow metabolism and it takes about 14 days to complete digestion. This aids wombats’ survival in arid landscapes. Interestingly – well, to me – wombat droppings are square in shape. How that works is beyond me but fascinating……( Keep that one in mind for your next trivia night!)

Wombats have been well represented over the years in Australian Children’s Literature, with the most popular including:

The Muddleheaded Wombat   –  Ruth Park

Wombat Stew  –  Marcia K Vaughan

One Woolly Wombat   –  Kerrie Argent

Diary Of A Wombat  –  Jackie French

Sebastian Lives In A Hat  – Thelma Catterwell

Wombat Goes Walkabout  – Michael Morpurgo

Did you know that we even have an annual Wombat Day ? The official day in set in Australia for October 22, but since the first celebration of the day in 2005, the rest of the world has seen fit to jump on board. As such, October 23 is World Wombat Day.  Add that to your diary now!

In Australia to be called a wombat is almost a term of endearment. A wombat often refers to an overweight, lazy, or slow idiot. He’s probably your best friend and eating Doritos on the couch right now. Or more bluntly, a Waste Of Money, Brains And Time.

Why are we even talking about Wombats today? Because I’m adding a Wombat experience to my Bucket List.

The Wombat Awareness Organisation in South Australia is the only free range, cage free wombat sanctuary in the World. It is also the only place where you can see two out of the three species of wombats living harmoniously together.

I’ve just scrubbed Disney’s Magic Kingdom off the list. I want to sit on a sofa with a wombat instead. See http://www.wombatawareness.com.

A Mother’s Day Story….

My mother had long blonde hair the colour of corn. My strongest memory is of her nightly ritual of curling her hair into little pinwheels which she would tightly fasten to her scalp with a collection of bobby pins. When this task was completed she would dampen the pinwheels and then cover her hair with a scarf ready for bed. In the morning, after she had removed the pins, her long hair would be wavy and beautiful – reminiscent of Rita Hayworth’s hair in Gilda.

I’ve generally worn my hair long over the years. Mousy in colour, or Rat Blonde by those more charitable, it is dead straight and totally devoid of any waves, bounce, curls or anything else to make it of any interest.  And I’m certainly not fussed or vain enough to try curling rods or the like.

Both my daughters have inherited my hair, though one is blonde as in creamy coloured, and the other is dark. Very dark. So dark that she believes her true ancestry to be Persian. (She’s also inherited her mother’s imagination.)

Over a lengthy phone chat with my eldest for Mother’s Day, my pearl-and-stiletto loving child who moved to rural and remote East Arnham Land earlier in the year, advised that her hair is the topic of much discussion within the community. Long straight hair makes for great paintbrushes for our First Australian artists apparently. She has been asked to donate to the cause.

This weeks task is to research Indigenous artwork. I’m wondering if there is a market niche that the three of us could satisfy.

Interestingly, my sister scored the naturally thick wavy hair with matching eyelashes. That’s how most sibling rivalry starts.


Long Weekend Reading – Two Book Reviews.

Reclaiming Raylyn by Dixie Jackson

After twenty-seven years of marriage, more than a dozen overseas deployments, and five children, Gavin McIntyre returns home from his latest marine placement to find his wife missing.

Raylyn McIntyre hasn’t simply forgotten to pick Gavin up from the bus, she’s done a runner. Gavin finds his home set up boot camp style with money in the cookie jar to pay his taxi fare from the base to home. All evidence of his family has been deleted.

Raylyn McIntyre has spent almost three decades playing the dutiful military wife supporting her husband in his career in every possible way, including following him on his various placements, and virtually single handedly raising the family. Now an empty nester Raylyn needs to rediscover herself and Gavin is forced to support his wife’s needs if he wants to continue their relationship. Someone so entrenched in the Military that they can focus on someone other than themselves? You just know it’s going to be a hard ask, don’t you?

Closeup detail of red/ maroon leather texture background.

This novel was fast paced and it didn’t take long to gain insight into all the characters within the McIntyre clan via Gavin’s efforts to locate his wife through his five adult children. What could have easily been another depressing tale of a marriage breakdown was one littered with humour and relatable situations. Of course, there were a few bumps along the way…….

Reclaiming Raylyn is an enjoyable read and one which could easily translate to film. Finished it in a single sitting.

*Thank you to author and fellow blogger Dixie Jackson https://dixiejackson.net/ for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.

Missing William Tyrell by Caroline Overington

All Australians are aware of the suspected abduction of 3 year old William Tyrrell on 12 September 2014. William had been playing at his foster grandmother’s house with his sister, and was wearing a Spider Man suit at the time of his disappearance. A reward of A$1 million was offered for the recovery of Tyrell though as at this time there is no knowledge about his whereabouts.

This case caused an absolute media frenzy and was the topic of water cooler discussions around the nation because of the perceived secrecy about William’s family.

The author takes the reader on a step by step re-enactment of the search for William from the moment of his disappearance, then providing all the information behind the non disclosure of the family situation. Overington neither favours the biological parents nor the foster parents, but merely reports the facts (and the law).

This was a fascinating read despite its inconclusive ending. Like me, you may also be shocked by the number of middle aged sex offenders running around the country.

Damn Damper

Home Isolation means that I’m cooking and eating way too much. Mostly good healthy tucker using fresh vegetables from the garden, but it’s the need for “comfort food” like Damper that is getting me in trouble.

Damper is an iconic Australian bread historically prepared by stockmen, drovers and swagmen as flour and salt could easily be carried. Just add water – literally. Damper could be cooked over the coals of a campfire or in a camp oven, and was eaten with salted beef or lashings of Golden Syrup ( also known as Cocky’s Delight or Cocky’s Joy).

According to the Australian Dictionary Centre the name was derived from “damping” the fire, covering it with ashes. This preserved the red coals, ready to re-kindle the fire the following morning. The damper was buried in the ashes to bake. 

Damper has seen a revitalisation and gentrification of sorts. Each Australia Day, the 26th of January, the traditional Damper recipe is tweaked by thousands across the nation and is served alongside prawns, barbecued lamb chops, and lamingtons or pavlova. Ingredients can include goats cheese, chives, dried tomatoes, olives and spinach leaves. Even pistachio nuts. These days the bread base can include baking soda, powdered milk, or beer. No longer is the humble Damper something simply to warm the belly and enjoy with a Billy Tea, but rather a culinary experience. 

I prefer individual Dampers which are cooked and served on a stick. This method was popular as they were just the right size to soak up the meat juices, baked beans or fried eggs when travelling the outback. Yes, my weakness – soaking up the meat juices very a la Henry VIII. No apologies whatsoever to vegetarians. They were hung off a string that went from one side of the fire to the other and cooked over the heat of the fire. That’s the Dampers, not the vegetarians.

They’ve always been a success when I’ve cooked them. And who said we have to wait till next January?

Recipe

2 cups of Self raising flour

1 cup of water

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of butter

Mix. Divide into eight oblongs. Stick a skewer through the middle. Cook on bbq 15 minutes.

                                                   Or

Place in cake tin, wrap in alfoil, and surround with embers. Cook for 45 to 55 minutes.