Zero waste wayside stops.

Today as I was sewing the handle back on this bag, I thought it might be nice to share how we are always ready and able to stop and have a cuppa anywhere we feel like it. Well, anywhere when we are on the road driving, can’t say this would be ideal on a tram or a bus! Zero waste,  always at the ready for road trips. We keep this little bag (that was a token gift to Mr ATMT at some function) packed with a little butane gas stove, a windshield for the stove, a billy, tea, sugar, a set of cutlery, plates, scissors, a first aid kit, sunscreen, a wine bottle full of water and a small bottle that we fill with milk and wrap in a chill pack before leaving. The mugs were being washed when I took this but we do pack those too. There is also a very old plastic bag we first got in Tassie about 5 years ago incase we need it for some reason. Sometimes we will add a nibble or two such as nuts, dried fruit, lollies or bickies as well.We usually find it easy to refill the water bottle along the way as well as rinsing out the cups ready for the next stop. The bag has a compartment at the bottom which has two little folding stools stowed inside it so we don’t even need a table and chairs available for our refreshment stops.The whole bag is quite compact and we leave it in the boot just making sure we have fresh water and milk packed before we leave home.It really doesn’t take much to think a little bit ahead to avoid visiting those horrible service centres that rob you of seeing the landscape and usually make you leave loaded up with waste.

PS. I should have taken the needle out from my mending job before trying to zip it up. Did a nice slice through my thumb which added a few decorations to the bag!

What do you do to minimise waste and to make your road trips enjoyable?

Lunch at King Island

Last year for Mr ATMT’s ‘special’ birthday celebration we had organised  to spend the weekend in Melbourne with all the family  sharing an apartment, going out to dinner with a close-knit group of friends and then heading off on a hot air balloon ride over Melbourne at dawn. Well the apartment and dinner went well, but the balloon ride was cancelled due to being too windy. A voucher was issued that could be used within 15 months on any number of activities. Because we had done the AMAZING balloon ride in Turkey, we didn’t think one over Melbourne would have anywhere near the WOW factor so he chose flying to King Island in a DC3, having lunch and doing a mini explore of the area around Currie in the South West section of the island. King Island is a small island located in Bass Strait about halfway between Victoria and Tasmania’s main island. We headed to Essendon Airport which is about a 2 hour drive but being Sunday morning it didn’t quite take that long. Here is our transport for the day. DC3 “Gooney Bird”  a beautiful plane that first flew in 1935.

DC3 Gooney BirdThe interior complete with vinyl quilting and ashtrays in the seats.Inside the DC3King Island is renowned for its high quality dairy products, fresh seafood,  green pasture where cattle graze and fatten into quality beef and more recently a thriving kelp forestry/harvesting industry. Apologies for the following photos. It never works well taking shots through bus/plane/train/car windows, the weather was awful and I am struggling with a terrible ‘Man Flu”. Wonder I got out of bed to make the trip really! Sometimes though, you just get carried away with the moment and keep snapping away regardless and expect everyone else will have the same appreciation for your enthusiasm. Like here, where along with 3/4 of the wing you get a glimpse of Melbourne from about 1500 feet.DC3 over MelbourneOr here, where we are heading towards Port Philip Bay, the safe shipping harbour for freight entering Melbourne from overseas and where Melbournians spend many recreational hours at the safe beaches along the shoreline. IMG_9165 Or here where we have passed over “the Heads” and entered Bass Strait territory.Out the headsAt this point we hit quite a bit of cloud and didn’t have much to view until we landed at King Island.

One of the more recent industries to develop on KI is kelp harvesting. Apparently kelp is used in the food, textile and agricultural sectors. I don’t know a lot about this industry but the appeal to me is the sustainable and organic concept. I will be doing some reading to find out a bit more. This is a shot of some kelp that has been hauled from the beach drying in readiness to be put into a ‘chipper’ to make little kelp bits that are exported to wherever they need to go.Kelp harvest curing An example of some of the rugged beach near Currie.Currie Coast King Island with some pretty little coastal plants holding onto the banks.IMG_9235 King Island is renowned for its lobster, oyster and prawn quality. Some lobster pots near the harbour.Lobster pots This cute little boat house is known as ‘The Restaurant with no food’. Apparently it is available for parties, community use and anything else that is self-catered for. It sits beautifully overlooking the harbour.Restaurant without food After lunch, we headed off to the the King Island Cheesery and I was pleasantly surprised that they sold the cheeses at about half the cost of what we pay retail. So often you go to a direct outlet and it is so expensive it doesn’t warrant the hassle of carrying it, but that was not the case here. King Island Cheese selection You may wonder why there is no detail about the lunch that to us was to be an integral part of this day. Well in honesty it was awful. I suspect there may have been something going on in the background that led to things like canned chicken soup, tinned pudding, packet custard, store bought mayo and 1000 island dressing and gravox on the roast beef. I had only heard good things and seen good reviews about the restaurant so I’m going to be gracious and not do any naming and shaming here.  We did however have a lovely bottle of Pipers 9th Island Sauvignon Blanc and the oysters and prawns were fresh and lovely.

On our flight home, Mr ATMT paid a bit extra to sit in the ‘jump’ seat for our landing back at Essendon airport.

IMG_0742He got a birds eye view of the approach over the city and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.CockpitWe had a lovely day, the old DC3 is beautiful and I love the sound of the thump, thump, thump, throbbing of the engines. I found it extremely comfortable and would highly recommend it in a heart beat.

If however, you are hoping for a quality gastronomical experience, do some research first. Very disappointed. Once I have communicated with the organisers I will decide whether or not to comment on the establishment.

In My Kitchen, July or August?

Although our lovely IMK hostess Maureen is recuperating and no ‘formal’ IMK is in place for a while, there are quite a few of us who are still enjoying doing a post under the IMK banner. We wish Maureen well and hope she is back on deck very soon. Here is my ‘In My Kitchen’ for July or is it August? I never quite know if its about what happened the previous month or what’s on the upcoming horizon.

My very first In My Kitchen post was a little rundown on what limited facilities we were coping with and plans for the future vision. I am pleased to say we have come a long way (over a long time) in finally establishing a good working kitchen.

We recently travelled to Greece & Turkey and these are a couple of things I brought back as momentos. From L to R, a second-hand tap just like the ones you see on all the ablution washing stations on Turkey outside Mosques and call to prayer points. This will end up in the garden somewhere and I love it! Then there is a clay pot, some  assorted rolling pins and paddles that are traditionally used for transferring the delicious gozleme to the cooktop and off. I’m finding them very handy as little bread peels. See how well they blend in with the gorgeous bench tops?

Turkish souvenirsOn the right is a clay dish that is used for placing on the top of dolma or dolmades as they cook. Does the same job as a plate but I like the memory of buying it at the Çanakkale market. The shiny little dish below is for presenting little treats to guests, things such as Turkish delight, small pastries etc. I found a set of these in a catering store in Istanbul for 18TL (the set) and in the tourist spots I noticed they were selling for 25TL each. Happy with that find. I have a little bowl full of Ouzo lollies that we bought in Greece ready for anyone that takes a fancy.

Ouzo lollies I  did manage to bring a couple of Turkish plates back. I must admit I was a little disappointed with the shopping opportunities. At the limited places we visited, things were either cheap, or really expensive and not what we considered great quality or value. Love the colours of this plate and it reminds me of the hot air balloon ride we did at Cappadocia. IMG_8636This hand painted plate is very different but I just adore it.Turkish platesIn My Kitchen is the first loaf of bread baked in the new oven. This was baked Saturday and it’s now Wednesday and I had a slice tonight with just a smear of butter. Delicious!IMG_8659The view of cupboards (actually they are all drawers) in the island where the sink and dishwasher is going.IMG_8647New oven and a few more drawers. Why can’t anyone put labels on straight?IMG_8646 Below is the last of the makeshift kitchen. The ‘toy oven’ has been relegated to the shelves and most of the other stuff on this set of shelves will be going to the op shop or chucked. My bread books will be displayed onnsome shelves beside the chimney and the bread ‘trolley’ will probably sit in the chimney alcove.

IMG_8656 The existing wash up area is about to become a thing of the past (hallelujah!) Those beer bottles are not my breakfast dishes but some I tipped old sauce out of while clearing things out.IMG_8655I have an impending sense of being clean and organised, I like that!IMG_8653So, what’s in your kitchen this July? Or is it August?

Making do in the kitchen! Hot air balloon flight-Tick!

I have not been that motivated to do much since we returned from our holiday in the balmy summer warmth of the Mediterranean. I’d never understood why people head to warmer parts over winter, but I can now see why.  One bright and sunny thing we have going on is that our oranges are ready for picking to give us a daily serve of juice. These oranges are sweet but with a degree of tartness which I like to give you a bit of a zing.IMG_8488With the imminent move into the new kitchen, I’ve been trying to avoid shopping for much, as we will soon have to move everything from the makeshift kitchen to the new kitchen (never thought it would happen!). This means the fridge and freezer will need to be cleaned out and defrosted and all pantry items sorted through and some culled. So there has been a few “make do” meals happening rather than throwing things out. Breakfast today was sourdough pancakes with maple syrup, lemon and sugar, fresh juice and a lovely cup of tea. Didn’t use much in the way of pantry surplus, but it did mean I could use the sourdough starter that would normally be discarded. These pancakes are always so light. To make the batter I use approximately 1 cup 100% sourdough (SD) starter, about 3/4 cup of SR flour, a generous tablespoon of sugar, one egg and enough milk to mix to whatever consistency you prefer.IMG_8491Our first breakfast in the almost finished new family room. The pancakes look a little wonky but were fine.IMG_8493As I work through using (or chucking) anything in the freezer that should go, I’ve found that the ‘toy oven’ put on a very low setting is a great place to start the defrosting process. The item then goes back into the fridge to avoid contamination as it completes the defrosting process. I have some lamb chops defrosting on the top of the oven here. I also ran out of my normal bread flour so I am using up whatever is to hand. This Italian flour was used to make a loaf scored to resemble a sunflower about to open.IMG_8480It is quite pretty, not necessarily like a sunflower, but pretty. Sunflower loafThe chops were grilled with a pomegranate molasses glaze. I served them with leftovers of a dish I made earlier in the week. Stuffed eggplant (vegetarian), a red pepper burgul salad and some obligatory mash. Sadly the chops were as tough as old boots! The rest however was  delicious.IMG_8495 It is that time of year where we are inundated with oak tree leaves falling. This is one of the collection points from last year where we had added manure, grass clippings and other organic ‘stuff’ throughout the year. What is in the barrow is the result, beautiful black, crumbly compost. I emptied this bin and re-assembled it for collection of this years leaves. Once it stops raining I can start re-filling it. I do run the mower over the leaves to  hasten breaking down.IMG_8478

Holiday snaps – Hot Air Balloon flight, Goreme Cappadocia.

I had thought that on our return I would be very organised and would carefully put together a series of posts in correct sequence of our journey across Greece & Turkey but I just haven’t, so I’m randomly putting up a few shots. These are a few of our hot air balloon flight across Goreme Cappadocia. It took quite a lot of self-help to get me onboard and I am thrilled that I did. Being among 90 hot air balloons up in the air at the same time was amazing. I was fine once I had clipped the safety harness on, which alleviated my fear of jumping out. Over at Almost Italian, Francesca has just posted about preferring to look up rather than down. I know we’ve touched on heights before but I am so pleased (and chuffed with myself) that I overcame the doubt and fear.

IMG_2649Sunrise in the sky at 4000 feet.IMG_7283Capadoccia hot air balloon IMG_7212 IMG_7225 IMG_7242 Landing. These guys actually pull you in and ‘park’ the basket on the back of the trailer. Skill levels and brawn that would astound you!IMG_7294I think I took about 400 photos during this flight. It is still too amazing for me to sort inside my head to work through which ones are special and why.

I may still get to doing a series of better constructed posts, I hope so for my own sake.

Touring Tasmania

This has been our 4th visit to Tasmania and we explore a little bit more every visit. Sadly, our friends who live here are travelling Australia at this time so we will not be able to hookup with them. We have no plans apart from participating in a sausage making class at Tarraleah and going to the Salamanca Market in Hobart. Every other day is just ‘free wheelin’.
We travelled over on the Spirit of Tasmania II with our camping trailer. Weather forecasts of -4 in the high country at night are a little daunting but we can always choose to have some luxury (and warmth) by using a cabin if we feel it’s unbearable.
We had a great start to our adventure, I had been under the pump at work and didn’t think I would be able to get packed or mentally prepared in time but somehow did. I desperately needed some new shoes and had found no joy looking locally so asked if we could stop at the Melbourne Walking Company on our way through to the boat. Sure, no worries, trying to find somewhere to park in Melbourne with a camping trailer attached! No drama, loading zone right out the front, I ran in, managed to buy 3 pairs of shoes and was back out in under 8 minutes? This shop has a great system where can ‘Reserve to Try’ online, you walk in, check out your choices and it’s done and dusted. That’s shopping I can cope with!
Stopped in South Melbourne, had lunch at the Downstairs Bistro with our son and then walked to the National Gallery to kill a bit of time before we could be loaded onto the boat. Off to the South Melbourne Market to get some nibbles to have on the boat. Tasmania has strict quarantine laws so we couldn’t take any fruit and veg, that will have to purchased on arrival. Still a little too early to board, so we found a bar on the St Kilda Esplanade and had a glass of wine while watching the wind surfers.IMG_5651Was plenty of wind to keep them moving! I can’t imagine how sore your upper body muscles must be doing this sport.

Finally, onto the Spirit of Tassie, armed with overnight bag, nibbles, and an extra pillow. Watched the lights on the shoreline for a while, enjoyed some wine and cheese and settled into our cabin for the night. I love sleeping to the moving motion of boats and trains, I had a great sleep even though it was  quite a rough sea. Woke up in Tas!

Offloaded in Devonport and tried to decide on which direction to head over Breakfast. Decision was to go towards Deloraine via Mole Creek, and then to lake St Clair travelling past the Great Lake which is beautiful and has hundreds of fishing huts dotted along its shoreline, many of which look like recycled scrap. Don’t get me wrong, love the recycled thing but it doesn’t do much to the aesthetics of this landscape. It was freezing, wind was really strong and when seeing the snow still on the ground we were a little concerned about setting up camp in such conditions.

IMG_5684At lake st Clair we decided to stick with pitching the camper and set up on an unpowered site. Was not the best pitch we’ve done!

IMG_5701Unfortunately you can’t have fires at many places in Tassie so we gave our little butane camp heater a good workout. It was great. We had packed our Ozpig hoping to use it wherever we stopped but this didn’t seem likely so far. We survived the cold night, worst thing was when you want to go to the toilet in the middle of the night and its about -2 degrees! Good sleep (after I’d braved the cold for a wee), no leaks in the camper and no trees came down. Breaky of bacon and eggs cooked on the electric BBQ, cup of tea was very well received! Did the Platypus Walk around the edge of the lake, it’s so beautiful! Lake St Clair is one of my favourite sites in Tassie.

IMG_3619 IMG_5765Packed up the camper and headed off to see the Wall in the Wilderness. What amazing talent that artist has, well worth seeing. We continued towards our destination of Tarraleah for the Sausage Making Class. This town was originally the base for the community who worked and ran the hydro power station. A complete community that was once busy and thriving. When the hydro station was converted to automation, the town disintegrated and was virtually abandoned. Some forward thinking people purchased the entire village and have converted it to a dedicated tourism and accommodation facility. Cooking classes, conferences, weddings, golf trips, photography etc. You name it, I think they’d cover it. We decided to book a room for 2 nights due to the cold conditions and it was a well made decision.

IMG_5806
Our room in Scholar House, well our bed really, there was so much more to the room!
Hydro Station
Hydro Power Station that was the reason Tarraleah originally was.
IMG_5802
View of the grounds looking at Scholar House.

We stayed in Scholar House which was the old school that has been converted to comfy rooms.  Very reasonably priced and extremely comfortable. We’ve plugged the camping fridge into an extension lead to keep supplies all good, had a nice dinner after a few drinks at the pub the came back to sit by the open fire in our building. Great sleep in the comfy king size bed, waking up ready to tackle making some sausages! Wonder what we will learn! I’ll do a separate post about this class!

From Taraleah, we headed south and made a base camp at Richmond where we found a spot that didn’t mind us having a campfire. The great thing about touring Tassie is that you are never far from anywhere. We decided that it was better to travel a bit each day and come back to a comfy camp site rather than pack up and resettle everywhere. Good choice it turned out!

That’s it for the first leg, I’ll continue with the highlights next post. I hadn’t realised how much I wanted to say about this wonderful part of the world!

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