Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Wow what a time we had! Pets, people, PARTY!!! Loved seeing Gregory Peck, glad he could come at the last minute! What a blast!

Food was great, we all had a wonderful time, thanks to Sydney for it's hospitality, especially the use of the Opera House (see interior) - see you all next year at ...... ??????


Col Paterson's Burra tour tips

Dear Jenny, you may like to use the attached picture in your Party 2008 blog. It has been mentioned that the Piddlesbury bus could do a side trip to Burra - these 2 snaps are showing the dugouts in the creek banks which were home to many Cornish mining families. One year many were drowned due to the creek flooding. These dugout residences were quite extraordinary. Hand dug into the creek bank, some were of 2-3 rooms with several chimneys dug vertically up to the surface consolidated by mud cement or timber square, old barrels etc, very few were in brick. Some had hessian or canvas curtain doors others had timber frames and doors and glass windows. Also to be viewed is the Redruth Goal in Tregony Street. A picnic lunch could be held on the old Railway Platform or at the Bon Accord Hotel across the road.
I can already hear the Pets Choir echoing in the old Railway Station. Lolloping Lorna and the Grand Duchess and The Coach Captain should reallyenjoy the visit. Allabest for the New Year and have a happy Xmas.
Col Paterson
Thanks Col - Of course, people can go back and virtually enjoy that tour any time they want to! I had really wanted to include the dugouts but couldn't find any pics - I remember hearing that an epidemic of some kind went through this community due to the very unhygienic conditions - but the miners had no choice, the companies did not provide them with housing, and they had to live somewhere!

A gift from Captain Vegemite himself!

Yes folks, the great man himself apologises that he cannot make the party in person, but has sent us this lovely version of a wonderful old Christmas tune ...... it will make Aussie hearts everywhere long for home!

And for the pets choir, he sent this one in ...... http://www.duluxchristmascarollers.com.au

Thanks Captain V!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mulled Cider

Found this while looking up scrumpy for Mrs Annear, and thought it might be fun to try for Christmas .... might be nice after the ball perhaps!

To spice up one quart of apple juice, use one stick of cinnamon, about twenty whole black peppercorns, 3 whole cloves, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. (The sugar quantity can be reduced down to one tablespoon, but I like it sweet.) In addition to these four ingredients, prepare some zest from a citrus fruit. In this example, I used the zest from half a Meyer lemon, but lemons, limes, and oranges all work perfectly. Use the zest from half a lemon, lime, or lemon-sized orange for each quart of apple juice. If you're using medium lemons, use about a third of the zest. Large oranges - use a quarter of the zest per quart of juice.
Select a pot or pan large enough to hold all the apple juice. Toast the cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns to bring out their distinct flavors and aromas. Do this by simply heating your pan over medium heat with the spices in the pan. Toss the spices in the pan occasionally to prevent burning. The spices should become very fragrant within a minute or two.
Pour the apple juice into the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. When the apple juice gets warm, stir in the brown sugar so it fully dissolves.
Once the apple juice is boiling, reduce the heat so it just simmers (small bubbles form and rise to the top in a steady rhythm, but not at a furious rate). Add the citrus zest at this time. We don't add the zest earlier because we don't want the brief hard boil to break up the zest to the point where we will have difficulty straining it. If you're careful, you can add the zest with the brown sugar and watch the temperature to bring the juice up to simmering but not to boiling. Maintain the simmer for thirty minutes. I do this with the lid off because it's easier for me to keep it at a constant simmer this way.
Pour the mulled juice/cider through a fine mesh strainer and into the container of your choice. If your cider has a great deal of particulate matter, you may want to place a cheesecloth or coffee filter in your strainer (or sandwiched between two strainers) to filter out the fine particles. Serve hot.

A comment was that you can add a bit of butter & rum as well .....

Chills up the spine at Fortuna, Bendigo

Fortuna villa is situated in Victoria's Bendigo, built in the 1860's and formerly the home of Australia's "Quartz King" George Lansell, the man credited with introducing deep tunnel mining. George was an extraordinary man who lived till he was 82, dying in the house. During his time there he spent a fortune on his fairytale mansion, importing antiques from every corner of the globe and installing stained glass windowns, turrets, decorated ceilings and delicate wood panelling for the walls. It is said when Lansell left Bendigo (after finding a coffin on his front lawn, a message from one of his enemies) the town languished, so the townspeople organised a petition to be drawn up which was then sent to England, urging Lansell to return. Fortuna was eventually taken over by the Survey and Mapping Regiment of the Australian Army and it is believed to be Bendigo's most haunted house.
What makes this house interesting is the numerous official reports from soldiers over the years have been recounted and documented including this one by Major John Bloor
Captain J. Bloor, February 1973: "Whilst on picket duty, at about 0450 hours, I crossed the road in front of the new barrack block to go down the stairs leading to the path around the lake. Out of the corner of my eye, just as I mounted the gutter on the lake side of the road, I noticed an object standing by the double doors of the kitchen. I stopped and took another look, because usually there is nothing in that position. I saw an apparition which was like a shroud hovering by the door and moving slowly from side to side. The form was about 1.8 metres tall. Brickwork could be seen through it. The apparition was moving very slowly and moved through the outer door of the kitchen and stopped by the inner door. The top half of it could be seen. It stayed there for some time and then turned around and returned to its original position. Once again it rotated slowly from left to right and then suddenly stopped. I got the impression that it had suddenly sensed my presence. It then moved about six metres to the east which, due to the building corner between us, put it out of my view. I moved back to the centre of the road to a position where I could see the apparition beneath the window of the kitchen. It was still moving slowly from left to right. Once again it stopped as if again it had seen me. It then moved back to its original position and disappeared. The whole sighting lasted for a couple of minutes."
Sergeant, 1982: "I was performing a security check of the main building of Fortuna and as part of my duties I was to check incoming telex messages. I checked the door to the telex room and found it to be locked as would be expected. I then proceeded to the main keyboard located in the switchboard room, and, as I was removing the telex room key, I heard a woman's voice say softly: ‘What are you doing here?' I was extremely frightened as I had carried out a full check of the doors and windows of the building and knew it to be secure. I then hurried to the telex room (a distance of some six metres). I approached the locked door and just as I was about to insert the key, the door slowly opened. I had not touched the door at this time and there were no strong draughts that could have caused this movement."
Corporal, 1965: "At 0300 hours, I was adding logs to the open fireplace in the billiard room (now the Corporal and Sappers mess). Suddenly I heard the sound of footsteps approaching the double doors that connected the ballroom and the billiard room. As I turned towards the doors, they both opened fully. As the building was locked and I was the only occupant, there was no logical explanation."
Footsteps are reportedly heard in what was once Sir George Lansell's bedroom and it's adjoining bathroom, also in the billiard room and officers mess. A female voice is also often heard. The voice, which seemingly comes from no visible body is supposedly that of George Lansell's first wife, Bedillia, who died under "uncertain" circumstances in the 1880s
It appears it has now got to the point where the soldiers refuse to stay overnight at Fortuna, though the Army does run Sunday afternoon tours around Fortuna, and with the proceeds hopes to restore the mansion to its original grandeur.
and from The Bendigo Advertiser:

4/06/2008 8:44:00 AM
SAVING Fortuna Villa as a cultural icon of Bendigo means the council must act now, a local group said last night.
The Villa Fortuna Action Group outlined its plans for the Fortuna Arts and Cultural Enterprise at a public meeting, calling on the City of Greater Bendigo Council to act soon in order to save the historic landmark.
Defence Department personnel are due to vacate the 19th century building in coming months but action group president Merle Hall said the council did not need to wait for Defence approval to place a bid for the building - despite comments made by City Futures director Stan Liacos in The Advertiser last Thursday suggesting the council's options are limited.
Ms Hall said the council must offer a priority or concessional purchase to the Defence Department as soon as possible, or risk having the Federal Government deal with the site in its own way.
"It's time for everyone to realise just how close we are to losing this forever. The idea is to raise awareness so that the council is aware that the community would really love to have this property as a major asset of Bendigo.
"If the council purchases it, we're giving them an excellent project plan that will show them how it can be utilised."
Ms Hall said Fortuna Villa could centralise many community functions and events, and she contended it could be self-sustaining in just a few years.
Representatives of vastly different community groups attended the meeting.
They included descendants of quartz mining magnate and original villa owner George Lansell, and a member of the indigenous Jaara people.
Ms Hall said the action group was yet to discuss its intentions with the Department of Defence, which uses the facility for its Geospatial Analysis Centre.
She also acknowledged that limited contact had been made with the council, although councillors Elaine Harrington and Rod Fyffe attended the meeting last night.
A business plan established in the next two months will be presented to the council and the community.
Ms Hall said the arts and cultural focus of the redevelopment had been chosen because the villa was ideally suited to it.
‘‘Some of our earlier groups have had the idea for this for a number of years.
‘‘We have a wonderful model for it in the Abbotsford Convent project in Melbourne.
‘‘It is in the black after only five or six years.’’

Come with us to Burra, South Australia

Lucky the Great Piddlesbury can cover such vast distances in such a short time, as Burra is about 1400 kms from Sydney! Click on the Google satellite image to view the route, or use Google Maps to explore further - use the 'Get Directions' function to follow the route we'll take. The country is looking very dry on Google maps, but after the lovely rains we've had, I'm sure it will be looking a whole lot better now.
You'll find streets called 'St Just', 'Sancreed', 'Ludgvan' and many other familiar Cornish names.
http://www.visitburra.com/History_of_Burra is an excellent place to start.
Top is Johnny Green, who sits atop a chimney stack, and 'tis said mothers used the fear of Johnny Green to get the children to behave!
Second is Burra's beautiful rotunda - nearly every town has or had one, as people loved to come out to hear their local band play on a Sunday afternoon.
Third is of course, the remains of an engine house which has been beautifully restored.
Fourth and fifth show what could almost be the same house at different periods of history - they're not the same, as far as I know, but they are typical of the houses built in the district - and later abandoned. South Australia has a very harsh climate with uncertain rains, and many a settler came in a good season, only to be driven away by drought.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The List Party leaves a record of it's visit to the Blue Mountains ...

Just noticed this - must have happened on our way to Hill End I should think, when Keith pulled up at Echo Point in the Blue Mountains. I didn't see anyone with flags - and who did the climbing, I'd like to know? I don't think anyone will notice tho, so we'll just say nothing, OK?

(In case you're thinking there are two Australian flags - nope, one is the New Zealand flag (bottom right), which is different to the Aussie flag. That's in deference to any Kiwis who might feel left out! Apologies to any other nationality, I'm happy to add your flag if it's not there, just let me know!)

And here's the Lone Star state just for you Grandma Mimi Meli!

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