Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Got my camera working

Spring! Glorious, beautiful spring. Wildflowers are everywhere, so many I've never seen before and I feel a bit taller, a bit stronger, going on long ambling walks through the nature reserves that seem to be in every conceivable direction down here.


The boys enjoying the dapply sunshine


 Tracey doing good pointing

I'm looking forward to seeing an explosion of lamb, calf and fawn springing up in all the paddocks around the place.

We have quite a bit of new life here as well. Four chickens have come into our lives after Trace's dad built them a stately home in our backyard. Steadman and Lamington are the bantams, and Margaret and Rosie O'Donnell the Isa Browns. I never knew I could fall so hard in love with poultry, but there's something about the way they live their lives that really melts my butter.

They each have distinct personalities. Rosie is the ringleader, very bossy and vocal and will do a big poo on your shoe whilst chattering away if she's not keen on what's happening. She'll follow you around the garden and if you stop and catch her she'll pretend she wants nothing to do with you. I love her spunk. Here she is mid purposeful march.

Margaret is quiet and reserved, and has a great love of smoked salmon and cake. here she is being camera shy, not wishing to come outside of the safety of the coop.

Steadman is the nightwatchlady, perching on top of their bedroom within the coop and keeping an eye on everything. She also has beautiful autumnal plumage and a jaunty mohawk that a recent visitor described as being perfect for Mardi Gras. Here she is perching on top of the compost and surveying her domain.

Lamington is a black bantam crossed with an Aufington, and will peck your hand gently if you try to take the eggs too soon. It clearly states "not yet please", the peck. She has a lovely plump bottom that's all bushy with gleaming black feathers and she waddles around, tilting her head and sussing everyone out.

We found them on gumtree, and drove to Pakenham to a veritable wonderland of pigs, chickens, dogs, alpacas and sheep to select them and brought them home, just like that. The girls started laying within the first day so by all accounts that means they're very happy here. They're free-ranging in the backyard at the moment, having a fantastic time finding all the worms after the rain. I love their contentedness with a simple existence. They are enough just as they are, more than that they are adored for it.

A few weeks ago the dogs escaped into the backyard while they were free ranging and attacked. Steadman flew over the fence (returned by helpful neighbours an hour later), Lamington hid, but the two Isa Browns copped it pretty badly. Everyone is still with us, but it was a harrowing and heartbreaking afternoon. Margaret has a bald patch up on her neck, and the feathers are starting to grow back now, just like on Rosie's bum. Margaret was quite traumatised and wouldn't come out of a dark corner of the coop for a few days - but Rosie literally went and gave her a talking to. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it, and the next day Margaret was out and about again, engaging in life.

The week before that the dogs attacked Gingko, our thirteen-year-old beautiful ginger cat. We've been teaching them to co-exist inside*, monitoring the situation carefully until everyone was quite calm about being in the same place at the same time. Nobody had looked hungry or pissed off or mental for quite some time, but then after returning home from Jordan's funeral Happy and Clem thought that a fine time to try and eat Gingko.

* Yet another dramatic animal tale! Nice elderly neighbour next door turned out not to be so nice after all, coming to pay me a visit off his chops on a Friday afternoon and told me to put down my cat or he'd catch it in a cat trap. Good times.

A great deal of my time is now spent juggling animals. When the chickens are free-ranging, the dogs are in the loungeroom and the rest of the house except for the study where Gingko luxuriates in a sunny window. When the chickens are safely in their coop, the dogs are outside and Gingko has the whole house. Damn dogs and their blood-thirsty instincts. It's just become part of life so it's all ok really.

The good thing to come from all of this was that after the chicken attack, we froze the dogs out for a few days and did not shower them with ridiculous amounts of love and attention just for sitting there or having faces, so they're a lot more obedient now. We'll never trust them again but it's a good start. Here's a picture of Happy Jesus feeling ashamed of himself and also confused.

The garden is going great guns, there's lots that we'd like to change so occasionally Tracey or I will rip out some uggo plant that we don't like and feel all mighty and powerful. On the flip side of that, we've been raising some plants from seed in the sunroom and I can't tell you what a thrill it is to see those seeds bursting into wee little seedlings. So far we've got rocket, lettuce, peach melba nasturtiums, tri-colour zucchini, five-coloured silverbeet, edible chrysanthemum, pink melaleuca, seed potatoes my sister gave us and a few other bits and pieces. I'm waiting for the weather to be a wee bit warmer before going into      the springtime seeds.

We found some great raised garden beds online, had them and a big tonka truck of dirt delivered and Trace is wheelbarrowing the dirt through in batches, and we have one full box o dirt so far for the seedlings. It's pretty exciting. Tracey planted a garden gnome, pictured left.

Life's good and precious and fleeting. It's been fun playing with the fancy camera, blowed if I know how to format this blog though. Got a lovely book in the mail - The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker (she wrote The Color Purple). I'll look forward to stealing a patch of sun and reading it in the backyard with our girls. Happy spring to you and thanks for reading xo

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Remember

Much has happened down in our quiet little pocket of Victoria, and I've been remiss in updating this, but I want to post today to remember an old friend and everything he means to me.

Yesterday I received the shocking news that my best friend in primary school had died last week in a terrible car accident. He was on holidays in Kakadu with his partner, a trip together before Jordan was leaving to go overseas and study for a year.

This is some of what I remember about my friend. I could write a thousand books about the fun we had, but here's the highlights.

We met on the first day of school when we sat next to each other, and both drew our J's back to front. Instantly we were fun little friends, we found everything hysterical and were soon separated in class for causing a ruckus. It didn't matter, because every playtime, lunch, after school and weekend we were inseparable.

It didn't take long for the unthinkable crime of being boyfriend and girlfriend to be the taunting finger pointed at us by most of the kids at school, but we didn't care. Well ok we did, but as future homosexuals of Australia we found familiarity and adoration in each others company and it was worth it.

If we weren't playing at each others houses we would be on the phone for hours and hours. I don't remember what we talked about, just that we had a LOT to say and most of the things we said, we said over and over again. Once we found a good joke or a good story, we'd stick to it and use it up til it was sucked dry, and then use it some more.

One of our favourite jokes was Jordan ringing me up and asking "Have you seen Problem Child 2?" I would feign annoyance and say "NO!" then we would crack up and end the call. To this day I don't understand why we found it so funny, but it still makes me smile. I still haven't seen the movie either.

I remember Jordan got a skateboard for his birthday, maybe when was 7 or 8? Mum and I went shopping to find knee and elbow pads for his birthday present, they were rainbow of course.

Jordan had the best house and the best toys, he had an Apple IIE computer, and we would play Space Invaders, Sammy Lightfoot and Lemonade Stand for hours. He had all the cool boy toys like Transformers and cars and stuff, and a giant stuffed tiger. He got an awesome bike for his birthday one year and we would ride around the streets of Somers all the time, getting lollies from the general store and playing at the beach. He even had bunk beds and stairs.

Jordan introduced me to Lucille Ball, Labyrinth and the many films of Bette Midler that were big in the 80s  and 90s. We both adored Beaches and Big Business. Camp as a row of tents and I loved him for it, because I was too.

We would make his little brother David cry by singing the alternative version of the Play School theme song that involved an electric chair and hand grenades.

Both of us found farts to be the funniest thing the world could offer up, and were fascinated by them to the point of discussing them for hours. What colour were they? How were they made? How many could we do in the space of an hour?

We never wanted the fun to end, and one day when Jordan was at my house and night had fell, his mum came to pick him up and we hid - climbing up a massive tree in my front yard so they couldn't find us. I fell out of the tree and got a huge scratch up the back of my leg. It was really funny at the time.

I still have the polaroid his dad John took of us the day he drove us to the football together for the first time, we all barracked for Carlton and I think Jordan and I were six years old. It was a long drive up to the G, listening to Young Talent Time cassettes and eating little packets of chips, then we chucked the wrappers out the window to watch them flying into the sky. Forty minutes later we would say we could still see the packets up in space.

Apon arriving at the football, we got pies, I lost my beanie and scarf that my brother loaned me and after the first siren I chucked my pie on the ground and we both announced we were bored and wanted to go home. Poor John! He drove us all the way home again and probably wanted to listen to the match on the radio, but we demanded more YTT even though Courtney was a mole.

Jordan was loved as a member of my family, even though my mean older brother would call us Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumbest. I remember on mum's birthday he would always make a point of talking to her and wishing her a happy day, making home-made cards. Unlike other kids he would always ask my parents how they were and have a chat - quite unusual for kids under ten I think.

He was quite the practical joker, and had me convinced for years that every time he sneezed he couldn't help saying "Ah-chooey-pooey!"

One year he even arranged a surprise birthday party for his mum Gervaise, hatching an elaborate plan with mum and I to arrive after he took Gervaise out to the movies, and on their arrival home the house was full of friends and music and tiny food (the greatest of all the foods) and drinks and laughter.

Jordan changed schools in grade four I think, he went to a boys school closer to his house after his mum and dad divorced, and we stayed friends. I even remember us going out in groups in high school - me and a bunch of girls from my school and him and a bunch of boys from his. Movies and timezone and pizza hut in Frankston.

We drifted apart after he went to France after high school finished, but he found me on facebook a few years ago. It was a dazzling summer Saturday when we met in the afternoon at Southbank for a few beers and a catch up. How strange to see my little friend with facial hair, so tall and broad-shouldered and in love with another man. So happy and lucky and blessed. I think Jordan made his own luck. He worked damn hard in his studies, had a brilliant career in law and a great love in his life. He was the light in so many peoples lives, and he listened with great excitement to all my tales of happiness, and truly empathised and felt the pain of the sadder tales for myself and my family.

He was so, so thoughtful and had such a big heart. I can't believe I'm using the past tense to describe the man who is my oldest friend.

Jordan, I have thought of you so much throughout our adult lives. There's no point in regretting not spending as much time together in recent years, but I want to thank you for giving me such a happy start in life. Thank you for teaching me about the boundless love of friendship and all the comfort that brings. Thanks for letting me play on your computer, we didn't have one at my house and it was really cool of you to let me play yours for hours on end. I'm sorry I cracked it at you that day the women's mud wrestling was on tv and you found it funny and I was being a staunch feminist at age 9 and told you that you weren't allowed to be my friend anymore (an empty threat that lasted all of five minutes, but five minutes is a long time when you're a little kid).

I'm finding it hard to understand that this is so final. I keep thinking of you, and in a single second my heart feels so happy to have you in it, and then remembers that you're gone and is crushed, all the wind and light gone from my sails.

Until we meet again, lovely Jordan. My heart aches for your family and friends.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kapow and Splat

It's been a bumpy few weeks here on the inlet. I think Trace and I are both starting to truly settle in, haven't got any major jobs to do with the house as it's beautifully liveable now and we can freely potter and take our time with the List Of Things We Need To Do Over The Forseeable Future. It's been about six to eight weeks of high stress with mortgage business, packing, shifting our lives, yada yada yada, and the calm after the storm has been happening over the past few weeks.

Some people have a gentle fall to earth when the adrenaline subsides, I've had more of an ungraceful, messy clunk. Moving is the gift that just keeps on giving, no?

In the interests of bringing myself back to basics, today has been a beautiful exercise in being gentle with myself and doing lovely things.

The morning involved watching some Highway to Heaven on DVD while mainlining chocolate for breakfast, and once I'd had enough of that (two episodes and about half a block) I did a great tidy up around the place. Trace and the boys and I went for a stroll down to the water and back, all rugged up and moving slowly, then pored over the Diggers Club catalogue, circling our wishlist of things to grow in the garden.

I planted lavender, magenta brachyscome, whisper white diascia and some yellow daisies in the earth that we've had in pots for awhile. Digging little holes uncovered all these root systems I had nothing to do with establishing, and crumbly sandy soil that I'm not familiar with, and I must say I felt a wee bit triumphant to be putting a stamp of my own on our garden. It was one of the first steps in spreading out like a vine, becoming a part of every space that is ours. I feel a bit shy about it at first, and jumping in like this was good for the confidence.

I also chopped up a tamarillo tree because I don't like them, it was taking up a lot of space and was uggo. There's amazing power wielded in these here parts, that's for sure.

We've both had a good potter around inside and outside, wandered over and met one of our neighbours (Col, a sweet elderly gentleman who enjoys listening to the radio at great volumes), and Tracey ventured out and got us some goldfish for the pond in the front yard. There are now nineteen of us living here including all the pets, which bodes well for good times.

I'm starting to feel a bit more like myself again, helped mightily by an overnight stay in town the other day and lots of lunches, morning teas, dinners and general hanging out with people who know me well. It's good to see friends and shoot the breeze indeed.

Here's a list of things I'd like to be good at now I'm laying my hat in this neck of the woods:

- Digital SLR Photography (I've had a fancy camera for years, purchased with the K Rudd financial stimulus dollars, unexplored and intimidating)
- Making pizza dough from scratch (for the pizza oven Trace and her dad put together for us the other day)
- creating a fun rambly garden with lots of edible components and vibrant colours
- stretching every day even if I feel reluctant
- fishing
- feng shui
- bird watching
- being an exclusively handmade gift-giver (cool stuff not lame stuff, obviously)
- figuring out how to find like-minded pals around here to hang out with. I'd like popping over for cups of tea kind of friends in the vicinity.

For now I'm going to keep poking around in the garden and work out where to plant things, try to sleep a bit more and keep plodding along. Winter isn't my friend at the best of times, but there's great light and warmth to be found in the familiar and the new.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Floods, Earthquakes, First Planting and First Baking

It's been a time of natural phenomenon over the past week, with Facebook nearly collapsing under the strain of every single Melbourne hipster (myself included) updating with something along the lines of "earthquake?" at exactly the same time.

Truth be told I didn't notice until Tracey asked me what was up with the roof shaking (I've had funny ears the last week after getting off a plane so things are generally off-balance at the moment) but then it made sense how tense Happy had been and the concerned look on his face for the hour before the plates beneath the earth did their thing. When we realised it was an earthquake, I thought perhaps we should go outside in case the roof caved in. We agreed that it was too cold and we couldn't be bothered, so after a while I turned off the tv so we'd notice any aftershocks and got my social media on.

What did people do before the facebooks? Talk to each other? Read newsletters hand-cranked on a printing press? Head to the town meeting and shake angry fists? All valid options and frankly ones I would have expected in our new country lifestyle.

Here's Happy afterwards, exhausted from being protective and worried.

We had reservations for Hellenic Republic last Friday, and in keeping with the baptismal theme of water taking over prior plans, floods and torrential downpour closed roads and prevented us from making it to the big smoke and the delicious Greek delicacies to be shared with friends. We turned back after an hour of detours that were going nowhere and got some local pizza instead. Not bad - and when you pay, they get you to cut a deck of cards and if you flip it to the Joker you get a free large.

We were talking about the difference we have here - nature seems so much bigger somehow. If it rains, you just can't go where you thought you would be going. QED. I like that, the way the elements demand respect in big, loud living colour.

Having said that, I'm glad the house didn't get flooded out. That would suck a whole lot.

We visited a beautiful farmers market not far from here last weekend, and were having a great time. Started off with a bacon and egg roll, wandered around sharing a coffee, chatting with the lady who makes wonderful kindling collection bags out of recycled billboards and the organic berry lady who said with great queer emphasis that she had travelled from her "partner's house in Brunswick". Then we came across the scary honey woman.

She had the most beautiful things for sale - local honey of all sorts, honeycomb dripping away lazily and sweetly, bee paraphernalia like tea-towels and pot holders. She had gorgeous hand-knitted baby jumpers and cardigans that her elderly mother makes - "it keeps her entertained". But then the ground cracked open and the fires of hell made themselves known as the backdrop of the terrible tale of the lady who had wanted to buy a pink jumper for her little boy. Well she just thought that was revolting, and what is the world coming to when a boy will look like a girl. Etc, etc, etc.

Her audience of two ladies very much in love bowed out and went elsewhere, getting some beautiful pears and apples.

Not such a big deal, sure, but it left a sour taste dripping quietly through the whole experience. Part of me was wondering when this sort of thing would rear its ugly head, but when we got home we planted a native in the garden - the first thing we've put in the earth here. It was a pink king protea planted in memory of Addam Stobbs - the wonderful flamboyant man who taught me how to broadcast, and died two years ago on that day. It seemed a fitting end to that particular outing.

We had our first overnight non-moving-day guest last week, so I made a pudding for dessert. It turned out smashingly so I thought I'd share the recipe.

There are no quantities really, I just made it up as I went along to make a small serving, so do whatever feels right.

"Adam Quayle Visits" Pudding

raw sugar
vanilla extract
SR flour
raw cacao powder
white chocolate melts (the ones that look a bit like 20c pieces)
a jar of those morello cherries in juice - the sweet ones, not the ones that taste like medicine
an egg
cream to serve it with

preheat the oven - I put it on super low because we have a scary electric oven that roasts potatoes in about ten minutes and we're still getting to know each other.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and pour in a mixing bowl with the sugar, mix together well and add in a splosh of vanilla and the egg. Mix again (I just used a whisk)

Sift in your flour, add a good splosh of milk (any kind will do - soy, cow, almond, oat, rice) and whisk it all up, adding a pinch or two of cinnamon. You could put in any superfood here - I chose a tsp of raw cacao because I've been putting it in my smoothies and it's gorgeous. You could also add chia seeds, sunflower seeds, goji berries, whatevs.

Once that's all mixed together have a good taste of it and see what you think. It should be just like a cake mix, not too runny but not too doughy.

Get a pudding bowl or glass pyrex dish - I had a round pyrex dish that was the perfect size for two people's dessert.

Spoon in the cherries so they cover the bottom of the dish, and one more layer of cherries, then cover them with the juice. Sit some white chocolate melts over the top of the cherries, don't mix them in. Then pour your cakey mix over the top.

In our scary oven you need a lid but not sure if you will in yours. Cook til the cake bit is cooked. The juice gets mostly absorbed into the cake mix and makes it all berrylicious. Serve it up with a dash of cream, because when visitors come you need cream with your pudding.

The day after the pudding, we took a drive over to Fork To Fork, which is at Heronswood in Dromana, and had the most delicious lunch the world has ever known. I was so full I couldn't eat any dinner that night. I have got to get some Jerusalem artichokes growing in my garden, they are delicious.

If I thought the day couldn't get any better, I was mistaken. Not ten minutes after remarking to Adam how much I wanted to plant some rhubarb in the garden so I could experiment with cooking it, there were rhubarb plants for sale on the side of the road. Massive beautiful leafy ones with big red stalks - I bought three and put my money in the honesty box and we went on our way.

I'm feeling more and more at home in this place as time goes on, I'm already at the point where I can't imagine living anywhere else. I love the drives along country roads with horses and cows and sheep dotting all the paddocks, eggs and poo for the garden and fruit and plants for sale on the side of the road, the expansiveness and childhood familiarity of it all. So little traffic! So much less rage! I feel very fortunate.

The day after this is when the flooding happened so I baked some pumpkin bread sourced from the wonderful She Cooks, She Gardens. She has so many simple and satisfying recipes, and this one was perfect. With the excess roast pumpkin puree, I made Trace and I a quick lunch of spiral pasta with burnt butter, garlic and sage stirred through with the pumpkin, and freshly grated parmesan on top. Incredible!

Here's the pumpkin bread - I encourage you to make it, it's really easy and absolutely delicious.

That's all for this week, I'll leave you with an image of Gingko harnessing her talent for irony. Thanks for reading xo

Monday, June 18, 2012

The First Week

Two ladies, one sea/tree change, one blog. Here we go.

I'm Jenny, my partner is Tracey and we've moved to a little fishing village a fair ways out of town. We still commute for work a few days a week but have a decent amount of time at ye olde homestead to kick back, stare at the potbellied stove and take walks with our dogs.

We're both pretty similar in that we love the latte lifestyle of Northcote. The music scene, the hipster watching, the farmers markets with fancy cheeses, our friends, but by gum we get a bit cranky pants about the traffic. We are both overstimulated by the city. We are both exhausted and constantly craving holidays by the seaside, where it's quiet and you sleep a long heavy sleep and wake up feeling all bendy and ready for things. Things like reading all day or slow-cooking some shanks. Sometimes if we're feeling wild and crazy, combining the two. That kind of stuff is the business.

A few days after the decision was made to go ahead with the big move there was an article in the Good Weekend all about how sea changes and tree changes usually go bad, people get all excited by a few weekends away and make a big move that sees them living in Bumbonk Idaho with no friends, no prospects, shonky educational options for their kids, ignorant backward-thinking hicks on every paddock and broken relationships.

Here's why I think it'll be different for us:

- My lifelong obsession with Little House on the Prairie
- We both grew up in vague proximity to where we've ended up, so it's not unfamiliar and we have family nearby
- Blind optimism
- Articulating what we want has often led to each of us individually finding good pathways in life. We wanted trees and water and quiet and a garden. Hey presto!
- Did I mention the potbellied stove?
- We're not going out at night folk, unless it's out for dinner somewhere with nice wine and the word "foam" somewhere on the menu, so zero nightlife apart from the local open mic night is not a problem.
- I've got a two year membership to the Diggers Club, a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens, and yesterday I bought a $10 flanellette shirt from the supermarket

Wish us luck, will you?

We've been here for about a week so far and it's lovely. Every day I find myself saying (out loud to anyone who will listen) how amazing it is to be able to live here.

The house has a fresh coat of paint on the inside to give a new look to the holiday-house primary colour explosion of bright blues, pinks and yellows. (We went with Dulux Cottontail from the multitude of whites on offer, with our front door painted in a bold Porpoise Place peacocky turquoise in case you're interested). It's small but open and has a friendly feel to it. There's a great bushy garden with a massive gum in the front and an olive tree and herbs in the back. We're looking forward to welcoming friends down for the weekends to have a bit of time out. There's a spa! And I just won a woodfire pizza oven on eBay.

There's still a fair bit to do but I'll save that list for the next installment. I bloody love a list.

(Gingko the cat is very pleased to be living here)

Moving day was pretty exciting. Exciting in that 'first anxiety attack pre-8 am' kind of way! We had the greatest moving guys in the world, who did their best to cram our entire huge household plus shed full of stuff tetris-like into the too-small truck the lady on the phone organised for me. Thanks lady! Maybe send a bigger truck next time like you said you would!

Tracey's bro and mum took a round trip and filled a trailer up, Beverly Hillbillies style. That and a few carloads and we had it covered. Bless em! They even brought the gross worm farm that leaked worm wee everywhere. We had a great first night with a roaring fire, Superman III on the telly, homemade lasagne and garlic bread supplied by Tracey's mum and our friends Ange and Shannon, who were absolute champions with the unpacking on moving day. Slept like the proverbial on new flanellette sheets and did a big cook-up brekkie for everyone.

Shannon decided to go for a run with Clem the schnauzer by herself, so after she got back Trace, Ange Happy Jesus the pomeranian x, Clem and I went for a walk along the beach. This beach is an inlet beach so it's not a wave festival, but a calm little mangrovey beach. It's really sweet and Trace and I had paid the beach a visit a fair few times before moving down here but had never been for a long walk along it.

It was a nice winter day, a few clouds and quite grey, a little breeze accompanying us on our jaunt. It is so peaceful, we didn't see another person and it was great to stretch our legs and shake off the stiffness and stress of moving day. We came across a sweet little rowboat up on the sand, and I think it was at this point that I casually asked if we should turn back (Shannon needed to get home that morning and Ange was catching a ride with her) or keep going. "Let's keep going! I want to see the pier," Ange said. I think we'll all look back on the moment and remember for years to come, the turning point.

Soon after this the sand started to get a wee bit muddy. What an adventure! How fun! Various nieces and nephews will love this! Wow, my foot is slightly wet! This never happens in the big smoke!Just some of the thoughts bandied about.

Then I started getting that sinking feeling. No really, my feet were sinking in the the mud. It was a bit Bog of Eternal Stench from Labyrinth (complete with the farty noises the mud was making in the mangroves), a bit Artax sinking to his death in The Neverending Story. I focused on my left foot and wiggled that one out eventually, then needed a bit of assistance.

We could not stop laughing. Was it the laughter of fun or hysteria? We'll never know! But my right leg was in past the knee, then suddenly mid-thigh. Oh dear. Ange and Trace were yanking my arms to try and pull me out, the dogs were having a great time playing in the stinky mud, and all of us were absolutely cacking ourselves. After awhile of getting nowhere with the arm yanking, besides Trace saying in a rather deep voice that I hadn't ever heard before "SO MUCH PAIN. SO MUCH PAIN", I gave up any illusions I had of not being completely filthy and got on my left knee and hands, and asked the girls to give my pants a good hard yank.

We got there eventually, sweaty and muddy and in fits of strange laughter. Then we realised we were surrounded by this stuff and couldn't actually turn back or the same thing would happen again. Looking forward we were probably twenty metres or so from sand so we decided to go forward, and ran as lightly as we could across the muddy quicksand and found the sand was just as sinky. The only thing for it was to crawl out of the mangroves on  hands and knees, as we didn't sink as far that way.

There was a lady fishing on the pier who watched the whole thing and was clearly finding it very entertaining.

I had my phone on me (grabbed at the last minute with whimsical notions of documenting our first walk after moving in) and had given it to Ange to stuff in her bra while they were yanking me out of the mud to try and save it from falling to its doom. She still had it, so we decided to try and swim across the inlet and call Shannon to come pick us up. I looked at the maps function (bless you iPhone) and it told me it would take two hours to walk back. We were all wet and cold by now so it was a bit of a recipe for disaster.

I went first and found the water to be pretty much what you'd expect in the middle of winter, but could walk across and only get wet up to my neck. No worries! When the water hit my lungs I had a bit of difficulty breathing but outwardly and loudly remained cheerful cos I thought Tracey was quietly freaking out a bit and didn't want her to worry about any possible hypothermia or death. My vocal communication consisted of "yep it's ok! Ok! A bit deeper! Deeper! But Ok! No worries! Ha! Pretty deep! Haha! Ok! Oh good, shallower, shallower, shallower, shallower, Yay!!!!".

Clem had swum out to hang out with me while I took this detour from our walk, but I knew Happy would be well, unhappy to have to swim so I shouted out to Trace that she'd have to put him on his lead. She met me halfway with the phone held over her head, and I turned back to my side of the shore and called Shannon. No answer.

Kept calling while the girls were coming over with the dogs and broke the news there was no answer when we were all safe on the much less sinky sand.

I tried Ange's mobile, Trace's mobile (both left back at the house where Shannon was) and our landline a few times. No answer. After a few minutes Shannon called back and came to find us (we sat on tarps in her car, bunch of stinky ladies). It took awhile as she got lost but we were home within an hour or so.

(Happy, Tracey, Clem and Ange after emerging from our swim. RIP Ange's boots and my runners).

Shannon and Ange took off and Trace and I had hot drinks with a good glug of Baileys in them, watched DVDs on the couch with a few million blankets and cracked up at regular intervals over the corker of a joke "remember when we got bogged in the mud?"

Yep. Good times.

We met a local a few days later who told us about some people who had to be rescued by police after a similar thing happened so we didn't feel like such giant dorks.

This is just a (long and rather wordy) snapshot of our first week in our little house on the inlet. Other fun things like chatting with the owners of the local store and hearing about how there used to be some "bad eggs who did wheelies on their bikes" but are "no longer a problem" have given us a feel for this quiet place.

Stay tuned for shopping lists for Bunnings and talk of rosehip syrup making! Thanks for reading xo