Tuesday, December 23, 2008
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
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 .....
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.
BY NINO BUCCI[BB]
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.’’
Sunday, December 21, 2008
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!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Michael Stecker is the author, and he is obviously a man of eclectic tastes - go to his home page when you've finished reading about Australia and find out about his other interests.
He has a great audio version of Waltzing Matilda and I have asked his permission to TRY and use it here - but in the meantime, go to his site and hear it, it's great.
And don't be put off by the funnel web spider - hardly anyone ever dies!!!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The sun burns hotly thro' the gums
As down the road old Rogan comes --
The hatter from the lonely hut
Beside the track to Woollybutt.
He likes to spend his Christmas with us here.
He says a man gets sort of strange
Living alone without a change,
Gets sort of settled in his way;
And so he comes each Christmas day
To share a bite of tucker and a beer.
Dad and the boys have nought to do,
Except a stray odd job or two.
Along the fence or in the yard,
"It ain't a day for workin' hard."
Says Dad. "One day a year don't matter much."
And then dishevelled, hot and red,
Mum, thro' the doorway puts her head
And says, "This Christmas cooking, My!
The sun's near fit for cooking by."
Upon her word she never did see such.
"Your fault," says Dad, "you know it is.
Plum puddin'! on a day like this,
And roasted turkeys! Spare me days,
I can't get over women's ways.
In climates such as this the thing's all wrong.
A bit of cold corned beef an' bread
Would do us very well instead."
Then Rogan said, "You're right; it's hot.
It makes a feller drink a lot."
And Dad gets up and says, "Well, come along."
The dinner's served -- full bite and sup.
"Come on," says Mum, "Now all sit up."
The meal takes on a festive air;
And even father eats his share
And passes up his plate to have some more.
He laughs and says it's Christmas time,
"That's cookin', Mum. The stuffin's prime."
But Rogan pauses once to praise,
Then eats as tho' he'd starved for days.
And pitches turkey bones outside the door.
The sun burns hotly thro' the gums,
The chirping of the locusts comes
Across the paddocks, parched and grey.
"Whew!" wheezes Father. "What a day!"
And sheds his vest. For coats no man had need.
Then Rogan shoves his plate aside
And sighs, as sated men have sighed,
At many boards in many climes
On many other Christmas times.
"By gum!" he says, "That was a slap-up feed!"
Then, with his black pipe well alight,
Old Rogan brings the kids delight
By telling o'er again his yarns
Of Christmas tide 'mid English barns
When he was, long ago, a farmer's boy.
His old eyes glisten as he sees
Half glimpses of old memories,
Of whitened fields and winter snows,
And yuletide logs and mistletoes,
And all that half-forgotten, hallowed joy.
The children listen, mouths agape,
And see a land with no escape
For biting cold and snow and frost --
A land to all earth's brightness lost,
A strange and freakish Christmas land to them.
But Rogan, with his dim old eyes
Grown far away and strangely wise
Talks on; and pauses but to ask
"Ain't there a drop more in that cask?"
And father nods; but Mother says "Ahem!"
The sun slants redly thro' the gums
As quietly the evening comes,
And Rogan gets his old grey mare,
That matches well his own grey hair,
And rides away into the setting sun.
"Ah, well," says Dad. "I got to say
I never spent a lazier day.
We ought to get that top fence wired."
"My!" sighs poor Mum. "But I am tired!
An' all that washing up still to be done."
"C.J. Dennis"Herald, 24 December 1931, p4
On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
One Michael Magee had a shanty.
Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
For the youngster had never been christened,
And his wife used to cry, "If the darlin' should die
Saint Peter would not recognise him."
But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,
Who agreed straightaway to baptise him.
Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,
With his ear to the keyhole was listenin',
And he muttered in fright while his features turned white,
"What the divil and all is this christenin'?"
He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,
And it seemed to his small understanding,
If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,
It must mean something very like branding.
So away with a rush he set off for the bush,
While the tears in his eyelids they glistened-
"'Tis outrageous," says he, "to brand youngsters like me,
I'll be dashed if I'll stop to be christened!"
Like a young native dog he ran into a log,
And his father with language uncivil,
Never heeding the "praste" cried aloud in his haste,
"Come out and be christened, you divil!"
But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,
And his parents in vain might reprove him,
Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)
"I've a notion," says he, "that'll move him."
"Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;
Poke him aisy-don't hurt him or maim him,
'Tis not long that he'll stand, I've the water at hand,
As he rushes out this end I'll name him.
"Here he comes, and for shame! ye've forgotten the name-
Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?"
Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout-
"Take your chance, anyhow, wid 'Maginnis'!"
As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub
Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,
The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head
That was labelled "Maginnis's Whisky!"
And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,
And the one thing he hates more than sin is
To be asked by the folk who have heard of the joke,
How he came to be christened "Maginnis"!
The Bulletin, 16 December 1893.
Thanks Corinne, one of my favourite bush poets! 'From 'Banjo' Paterson:
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"
"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.
It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.
'Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.
I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best;
It's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Picture courtesty Sea Eagle-cam.
The Jelbart tractor was invented in Australia by the Jelbart Bros of Cornwall, who built a foundry in Ballarat.