Wardrobe cleaning

Today I worked on some comics, and also did some housecleaning with my wife. We pulled everything out of the top shelf of the wardrobes in the bedroom and went through it all, dusting things off, checking there was no mould (there wasn’t), and deciding what could be thrown away and what needed to be kept. This freed up some space to put away some other things. So the wardrobe is just as stuffed, but now we’ve put away some of the other stuff that had been cluttering up other areas.

Unfortunately I pulled a muscle in my back, and it’s a bit sore now. Not terrible, and I’ve done some stretching exercises to hopefully alleviate anything bad, but we’ll see how it feels tomorrow after a night of sleep.

New content today:

Easter family lunch

Easter Sunday is all about getting together with my wife’s family for a fancy lunch. We went to my mother-in-law’s place, which she’s just had repainted and cleaned up, and it looks really good.

We had a roast chicken breast roll with apricot stuffing, roast vegetables, and a salad that I made with rocket, pear, walnuts, and blue cheese. After that was a selection of individual cakes which my sister-in-law had brought from a bakery: salted caramel tart, lemon meringue, berry cheesecake, and strawberry sponge. And of course a selection of chocolates and Easter eggs of various types, including chocolate bilbies. These are a common alternative to chocolate rabbits here in Australia, where rabbits have a bad reputation as an invasive species.

A key thing with this gathering was seeing my wife’s nephew for the first time since 2019, since he’s been in Europe for the entirety of the COVID pandemic and this is his first trip back home. So there was a lot of catching up.

After lunch we walked down to the nearby small harbour beach, and were surprised to see that almost all the sand had been washed away – likely by the recent storms and heavy rains, combined with heavy ocean swells. So it was mostly just a bunch of sandstone rocks, left a metre or so below the normal level of the sand.

Tonight back home… I think we’re just going to have a grilled cheese sandwich or something for dinner. Too full to eat much else.

New content today:

Easter Saturday in the mountains

With a break from my teaching meaning I had free time, my wife suggested that today we go for a driving day trip. We set out about 9:30 in the morning and drove west up into the Blue Mountains. Google Maps says the route we drove up is 106 km. We came back via a different route, which it says is 111 km. So 217 km of driving, plus a bit extra to account for some back streets we drove around at the destination.

The first stop was Leura. This is a small town which has become a bit of a day tripper attraction, with the sort of cafes, antique shops, and other things that attract tourists. So it’s fun to walk up and down the short main street. After doing that, browsing in a few shops, we went to the Bygone Beauties Treasured Teapot Museum and Tea Rooms. They have a small museum with a collection of fancy tea paraphernalia, and a cafe serving high teas, sandwiches, cakes, and drinks. And Devonshire tea: scones with jam and cream. We had the scones, with my wife having a coffee and me electing to substitute a chocolate milkshake (since I don’t drink tea or coffee). They were soft and fluffy and very good.

After this morning tea, we drove out to the Sublime Point lookout, which has a beautiful view across the Megalong Valley and the Blue Mountains wilderness area.

Sublime Point

It’s impossible to capture it all in a single photo, so I took a panorama:

Sublime Point

This is also a great spot because it’s relatively unknown compared to the famous and extremely touristy Echo Point in Katoomba, just 10 minutes’ drive away. There, it’s impossible to park, and it’s crowded with tourists, and also you can’t dogs to the lookout spots. Here at Sublime Point, we shared the place today with maybe a dozen people, and we could walk Scully all the way out to the lookout (where we met a couple of other people who had brought their dogs too).

After this we drove over to Katoomba, although to the centre of town and not the lookout. We walked up and down the main street, which is larger and has more places than Leura. One spot that my wife likes to check out every time we come here is The Hattery. Today we both bought new hats, her a floppy felt one, and me a simple sports sunhat to replace my old decrepit one.

We grabbed some sushi rolls for a quick lunch. All of the cafes and restaurants were packed with people, often with queues waiting for tables, so we just got the take-away sushi and ate as we walked. We departed around 3:30pm for the drive back home.

The different route we took was down Hawkesbury Road, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never driven before. There is a lookout spot overlooking the Hawkesbury River and providing a view east over the Sydney plain back towards the city.

Hawkesbury Lookout view

Again, a panorama:

Hawkesbury Lookout view

We stopped near home to grab a few groceries to make a salad for tomorrow’s family Easter lunch, and made it home a bit after 5pm. It was a full day, but lots of fun!

New content today:

Pastry crawl

Today was Good Friday, a major public holiday. We decided to go for a big trip into the city, and grab something nice to eat at a French patisserie in there in The Rocks. We walked down to the nearest ferry wharf and got on a ferry for the city. We had Scully in her dog backpack, which we thought was adequate for the rule that dogs must be confined. But when we disembarked at Circular Quay we got rounded on by a staff member who told us the backpack wasn’t good enough and dogs needed to be inside a closed container.

Circular Quay was busy! There were tourists around! There was a huge queue for the ferry to Taronga Zoo – it must have been several hundred people. It snaked all the way around from Wharf 4 to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I guess all the tourists got up this morning and realised it was a public holidays and everything was closed except the zoo.

The Rocks was busy too, with all the food places open and people crowding in for lunch. We managed to get a table at the patisserie and had some lunch.

We decided to walk back home over the Harbour Bridge, instead of risking the ferry back and being denied entry.

Harbour Bridge crossing

It was a lovely autumn day. Sunny, with scattered cloud, not too hot, with a breeze, and nice for walking around.

Harbour and Opera House

We also got a good view from Lavender Bay while walking back home too.

From Lavender Bay

For dinner tonight I made pizza, and I made some extra dough with which I made bread sticks, rolled in sesame seeds.

New content today:

Hot cross bun crawl

My wife had today off work as an extra day before the Easter long weekend, and I had no classes on today. We went for a big walk together at lunchtime, in search of hot cross buns. We decided to get some from each of our two favourite bakeries, which involved a loop walk across multiple suburbs, covering over 7 km by the time we got back home.

Here’s Scully along the way, in her Easter bandana.

Scully's Easter bandana

Tonight we went for dinner at our local seafood restaurant. A nice relaxing meal to kick off a double long weekend. On the way home we walked past a group of brushtail possums. A young one was in a tree right near where I was walking, and I got a fairly close photo of it.

Baby brushtail possum

New content today:

A dish that nobody has ever had before?

Today I had my last 3 online ethics classes before a week off, for the Easter break. There are plans for a family lunch on Easter Sunday. My wife’s nephew is flying in from Europe tonight for the holidays – he hasn’t been back to Australia since before COVID began (he has a job in Paris).

Tonight I made sourdough bunya nut okonomiyaki!

Sourdough bunya nut okonomiyaki

I have a strong suspicion that we may be the first people in the world to ever have this dish. I was wondering what I could do with leftover sourdough starter, and also the last of the most recent batch of bunya nuts that I’d peeled, when I had the idea of making okonomiyaki. There are several recipes for sourdough okonomiyaki on the net, but none include bunya nuts.

Sourdough bunya nut okonomiyaki

I made a special trip to the Asian supermarket up the street to get some Kewpie Mayonnaise, okonomi sauce, powdered seaweed, and dried bonito flakes for the topping. There’s also sesame seeds on there. The batter is just sourdough starter and eggs, and in it is shredded cabbage, grated carrot, chopped shallots (aka “scallions” in the USA), and chopped bunya nuts.

New content today:

Park vandalism

Out walking Scully this morning, I walked through the small park not far from my place. We go through here a lot. Just before Christmas the local council did some renovation and landscaping work in the park, making some of the areas look really nice.

There’s a slightly sloping grassy area, about half the size of a tennis court, which they beautified. They relandscaped it, installed new seats, added some nice sandstone blocks to define the area which can double as seating, mulched the surrounding planted areas, and laid brand new turf.

With all of the rain recently, it’s become a bit muddy.

This morning when I walked past, I saw that overnight someone has driven a car in, must be 200 metres from the street, along a pedestrian path barely wide enough for a car – they must have been scraping bushes on both sides.

Park vandalism

And they’ve driven back and forth across the whole area churning it all up into a mud pit, with wheel marks 10-15cm deep.

Park vandalism

Ugh! What sort of idiot does something like this?

Park vandalism

I passed a few other people who were also looking at this mess, horrified like me.

Park vandalism

Now the council is going to have to come back and spend a bunch of money to fix this up again. Some people really make me sick sometimes.

Oh, and yesterday I spoke too soon. There was some rain overnight, so yesterday in fact didn’t end up with no rainfall recorded, making it 7 days in a row with rain. It hasn’t rained yet today, but there are showers developing now as I type.

New content today:

Hobbit punday

It was time to make another week of Irregular Webcomic! strips. And today’s new one is another entry into the run of hobbit puns.

The weather was unusual today. It didn’t rain! It’s the first day it hasn’t rained in a week. Although it won’t last – we should get about 10 mm tomorrow.

For dinner I made pizza, with pumpkin and bunya nuts. I’v used a bit more than half the bunya nuts that I collected a while back. Soon I’ll be able to put the remaining ones in the freezer into a smaller container and reclaim some freezer space.

New content today:

Bath day for Scully

Scully got a bath today. It was a nice day for it, being mostly sunny, and only a brief sprinkle of rain in the morning. (I counted it up – we’ve only had 18 days without rain since the start of February.)

Before bath time, my wife took Scully down to the Kirribilli Markets to check them out and get some gifts for her sister. And for me – she got me some nice chocolates.

News-wise, the main thing today was the Prime Minister has called the federal election, which will take place on Saturday 21 May. This was pretty much expected, but not confirmed until today. The incumbent Liberal-National Coalition (a conservative alignment) is way behind in the polls, so maybe this time the Labor Party (a more progressive party) can take power, unlike the unexpected come-from-in-front loss they managed three years ago.

Besides two online ethics classes today, I mostly worked on my current secret project, so there’s not too much more I can say. For dinner I made pasta with the bunya nut pesto I made the other day. I also helped my wife by taking photos of a whole bunch of hand-made bangles so that she can put them up on her Etsy shop.

New content today:

Booking travel again

The big thing I did today was to book an overseas trip for the first time since 2019. The next ISO Photography standards meeting is in Cologne in Germany, at the end of June, and we are finally having a face-to-face meeting again. My wife and I are both keen to travel, since we missed the chance to take our planned 25th wedding anniversary trip last year. So today we booked flights.

We decided to fly into Frankfurt as it’s the easiest access to Cologne, and then back home out of Amsterdam, after spending some time after the meeting touring around and visiting the Netherlands for the first time. We’ve arranged to leave Scully with friends while we’re away. She’s stayed with them before and they have a dog who is Scully’s friend, so that will be good.

Now I need to find and book hotels and train connections and stuff like that, as well as figuring out exactly where in the Netherlands we want to visit. Amsterdam obviously, but we want to visit a smaller town or two and see some things a little quieter than the main tourist attractions.

Also there’ll be handling COVID requirements for travel, which we’ll need to work out. Looks like we need proof of negative test results both before leaving Australia and before leaving Amsterdam to return to Australia. I’ll also need to see if we need a test before crossing the land border from Germany into the Netherlands. But I’ll work that out between now and departure.

And I took this photo of Scully on our walk today:

Scully exploring the streets

New content today: