Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Briony!!

It's Briony's birthday today and she's a wild and wonderful 16 years old!!!

Here's your birthday 'card', love! This photo was taken at 6 a.m. on a December morning (last week) ... already warm, and temperatures expected to reach 43 degrees in Lismore, but cooler here nearer the coast, high on the ridge where we can catch the breeze.

This is the view from the back step looking ENE (East-Northeast). Ethereal, hey...

Have a happy day Briony! I'm sure you will, seeing as your sisters have just wrapped you in cling wrap and ribbons and are graffiti-ing your back ... :-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

A map for Michele and Steve

Michele and Steve are going to spend a couple of days in Amsterdam, so here are some suggested strolls which take in some very special places. The Amsterdams Historisch Museum, the Begijnhof, the Oudemanhuispoort, Waterlooplein. Enjoy the walks, Michele and Steve! Have a great time!

View Walks in Amsterdam for Michele and Steve in a larger map

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Friends: and love

Tess spent the night with her dear and lovely friend Bonnie, who had a small bunch of friends over for a birthday sleep-over.

They got creative.

Body art, I'd call it. And very clever, at that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aerial view of the Grange

Click image for larger photo. The red border is the farm boundary. Thanks to Google Maps!

Animated commercial for the NZ book council: brilliant!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A new beginning: The Grange

High on the volcanic basalt ridge of one of Wollumbin's furthest spurs lies the village of Clunes, population 450 (or thereabouts). Possibly the first house built there is The Grange, built of local hardwoods (mostly teak), in the late 1800s. Although well cared for by the Battistuzi family from the 1970s till the turn of this century, it has since fallen into some disrepair.

This is the house that John and I have just bought, and will be gently and lovingly restoring over the coming years. It has five bedrooms, and comes with ten acres of undulating land for our horses to graze on (although we'll probably appreciate the spectacular views as in the photo above, more than they will). Most of all, though, it comes suffused with hope, and love, and space for new beginnings.

Welcome home John and Mieke, a place for us, a place for our daughters.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A musical thought

Not true of all modern composers of course, but worth a thought. Original source unknown but I got this through Stan's TYWKIWDBI

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tess' eyes

Brown, warm and merry....

Yarrow at Brunswick

... caught in the late afternoon sunshine, by Tess wielding the EOS 450D. A lovely Monday afternoon.


An early start, over to Peter's for a morning's muster. John on tall Gandhi, myself on gallant Blue (as Tess reneged, so hey why not use a great pony?), Peter on his Quad bike and Toby on the tractor, the kelpie dog freewheeling around the mob. The older herd needed shifting towards Skinner's Creek, and the newer herd brought over the disused railway and across the road, over the hill to the far paddocks near Pearce's Creek. The older herd went quietly and calmly, well used to the whistles and encouragements to "move on girls". They're happy.

Then back to fetch the newer mob. Not many of them, but Peter's tense and worried - he has no idea how they'll behave, whether the mob will break and go skittering across the countryside. "If one breaks, just let 'er go, hey ... we'll send the dog round first. Keep well back, we don't know how they'll move". Peter stays well clear on the Quad and John and I move around the new mob, who watch us warily. John takes the rear of the herd, and they move suspiciously towards the gate, but then head off towards the wrong corner. I click my tongue and Bluey spurts forward with his ears pricked and hurtles to head them off. He knows this game, and as soon as we're level he turns on a penny, nearly pitching me over his shoulder and he faces the closest cow. So there, he snorts, and the cow heads back towards the gates. The rest follow. Neat work Blue, and I rub his shoulder affectionately.

Once through the gates the herd takes off towards the disused railway. "Catch em up!!" Peter shouts, and John leans forward as the leggy Gandhi fair eats up the uneven ground in his stride. I watch John's slender wiry figure sit easy on the galloping horse, the subtle shifts of weight to take in the uneven hilly terrain, his body light in the saddle, and smile with huge affection for my wonderfully ept, competent partner. He's not feeling top notch today but he's giving it his all, on every level, and I admire him for it.

At the open road gate the cows balk, they think the gate is spooky and won't go through, huffing at it with amazed expressions. They turn round to face us, en masse. They're surrounded by two bipedals each with a horse under them; one on a Quad bike, one tousled lad with a large tractor, and a wiry dog. No wonder they'd rather stand and stare at us than at the gate. John starts to chuckle and cajoles them, "Don't look at us, you lot, turn round, and just look at the gate, go on, just turn round". And then Blue lets off three successive snorts, which horrify the cows and all of a sudden the gate is less spooky and they all stream through. I catch John's eye and shrug with a wry grin, who understands cows?

Despite Peter's misgivings about mustering along the road the cows trot easily along and eventually go through the far hill paddock gate with no trouble at all, as if they knew the way. Before heading back home along the road Peter asks us to bring them over the big hill and down to the river - gee that's no hardship, it's the loveliest thick grass to canter through. John takes the bull who tends to stick to one side and ushers him politely up the hill, and I take the main mob, the pony zig-zagging back and forth to work them along. When we reach the other valley the cows rumble through the gate and disappear towards the river. Job done. Little Blue's sides are heaving from all that zig-zagging on the hill so I slip off him and ruffle his forelock. Good boy. He stands there quietly. John's Gandhi, on the other hand, has so much more strength and energy, he's fairly dancing on the spot. "I'm taking him back up for a gallop", says John, and I grin and nod. It'll do them both good. I watch with pure pleasure as horse and rider take off, streaking across the ground, up the hill and bearing North over the brow, till all I can see is a dark speck surging along at an incredible pace. That horse's pace just eats up the ground, it's amazing. He's not easy to handle though and John does wonders with him.

When he comes back only the horse is puffing, and not very hard at that. Must have a good constitution, both of them. We head to the creek and let the horses cool their legs in the water. Both of them love the water and they splosh their noses and front legs around liberally, and I catch a soaking from Gandhi. Oy! I shout. John flashes me that grin of his, which I love. It's like the sun comes out, that grin.

As we canter up the hill towards the Hall Road a Wedgetail eagle flies low over my head. "John!!" I call as I point upwards, standing in the stirrups of the cantering pony, reins in one hand. "Look up, the eagle!!". He looks up, sees the eagle wheeling behind him, and nods his appreciation.

At the last gate I slide off the tiring pony and let us all through. Calmly we clop back along the road to Peter's, talking of those large, small and sundry things that partners talk about ... family and friends, future and past, hopes and plans.

On the way back we blow a tyre on the horse float. The horses didn't even notice. Poor fellas, they had to get out and be ridden home along the road. Tess hopped on Bluey bareback and ambled along with Yarrow and myself, chatting companionably, while John rode on ahead on the faster paced Gandhi. Once home we treated the horses to a good massaging wash with the pressure hose, which they love, and then we set to to fix the tyre.

And the sun still shone.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mist rising

Driving back from having dropped the girls off at their school bus, I took this photo of the mist rising from the hills, looking north from James Gibson Rd. I love the hoop pine with its fluffy "paws". If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can spot a bit of damage caused by the recent storms...

No Swimming

No, no swimming. But hey, feel free to have a dust bath, though...
(Photo taken with my old Canon EOS in Northern Territory in 2005)

Monday, June 1, 2009


Rest in peace, lieve Opa Centa. You've been so terribly ill... yet you carried all the discomfort with dignity and good cheer. Although we will miss you, we know that you have found peace and can finally rest.


... before the performance. Naturally. But didn't it go well? See below!

Tess' silks performance

Tess and the Level One circus troupe perform a silks act for the Circus Showcase, held monthly in the Byron Entertainment Centre. Tess is the one at the back, and the younger girls are at the front. Tess and Yarrow enjoy learning circus and trapeze skills with the wonderful CircusArts school (see ).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Small pothole on Oliver Avenue

Yes, well, sometimes it rains, and sometimes it pours ... Today I need to bring Tess to the dentist on Oliver Avenue (it only took the dental health scheme people a tardy two years to call her in for her appointment so I'd better make use of the opportunity). I don't know, though, can the Subaru negotiate the pothole left by the flooding on Oliver Avenue? Maybe I should take the climbing gear? A ladder?

I would say that the Council road engineers would be scratching their heads rather ruefully. Not to mention the two guys waiting for the bus there...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nope ...

.... Let's just give it a miss, hey? Yeah ..... No school today .... C'mon, let's go home ...
(click on the photo for a bigger picture)

Flood in Northern Rivers

The Wilson River has risen 10 metres in 24 hours ... and then the paddocks get a bit soggy (see above).
The towns of Lismore and Grafton are being evacuated, and more than 20,000 homes are without power. Not us here at 308, though... we're here on our eyrie farm high above the valley and luckily the power stayed on despite the numerous trees that fell due to the high winds.

PhD graduation celebration

A wonderful place, a superb full moon rising over the sea, the companionship of much loved family, friends and colleagues, made my PhD graduation celebration a most memorable evening and morning. Thank you so much Fran (and Dieter) for letting us share the space. See here the children dancing on the standing stones ....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hans leaves today to go on a long journey

Suppose that we, to-morrow or the next day,
Came to an end - in storm the shafting broken,
Or a mistaken signal, the flange lifting –
Would that be premature, a text for sorrow?

Say what endurance gives or death denies us.
Love’s proved in its creation, not eternity:
Like leaf or linnet, the true heart’s affection
Is born, dies later, asks no reassurance.

Over dark wood rises one dawn felicitous,
Bright through her awakened shadow falls her crystal
Cadenzas, and once for all the wood is quickened
So our joys visit us, and it suffices.

-- From C Day Lewis, Feathers to Iron

Hans, beautiful Dad of our gorgeous children, travel well; be safe; be happy. I'll resurrect this Blog - albeit under a slightly different name - to keep you and other far-away family up to date with photos and stories of our girls, and life here in the Northern Rivers.

(For the readers not up to date with developments:
I now live at 308 with my much-loved John. Hans, when in Australia, lives at The Myth, and when in Portugal, with his beautiful Niki).