Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Off again

Off to Bellingen for Christmas tomorrow - will go to the library for internet for whatever the next post may bring.

Christmassy stoat

Sunday, 18 December 2011

First ride of the new board

Today we had a nice lazy start and I made pancakes, and we went to the Pass to surf. I went down in jeans and walking boots and it made the sun come out! I felt clever. The waves were 2-3 foot, no wind, gorgeous. I was totally energyless and wasn't going to go in (anyone seeing a pattern?) but Zappa once again persuaded me to have a little go, and I was itching to see what sort of thing our savings had got us. I was pretty scared that it was badly shaped or something, because why else would someone sell their McCoy?! Plus Zappa was saying things like he had to pull the front of it up before he popped up everytime, so I was like oooh nooo....

I asked Zap to push me into a little already-broken wave, cos that's all I was up for. I popped up...and stayed up! Woo! It was loads of fun. Then I realised I was headed straight for a guy standing in the water - and turned round him! Score! It handles nicely. I rode right up to the beach and daintily sat back down on the board instead of falling off. I felt better already. Zappa didn't need to ask me if I wanted another one.

The second one, as Ray said, the universe handed to me. It was the best wave I've ever ever had. It was still green, and the guy already riding it fell off just in time for me to have it. I paddle-paddle-paddled, and it looked like it could get away, but I wasn't letting it. I pushed down so the board was tilting down the wave and popped up whilst still going down it - before when I've caught green waves I've stayed laid down until I go whoosh down the face and bump onto the bottom of the wave, and I'm trying not to be bucked off, and fight to stand up - but this time I just glided down, turned right, and it's still green and glassy, and I'm like wow, ok, I'll turn left, and I glided round to the left, WOW, and then I thought, I'll try that thing people do of stepping back, bringing the nose round to the right, yeeeah look at me go, it works! I passed an old skinny guy with a beard on a board, and he whooped at me, and I realised I'd been whooping, and then I thought hmm I'm slowing down, so I stepped forward on the board, and it sped up, and the wave broke, and I rode it right into the beach. It felt amazing! And I know it's probably very boring that I've broken the entire ride down, but I'm just so amazed that those things that are sposed to happen when you move a certain way on the board, actually happened when I did them. And it felt soo good! Green waves work. And the Pass is such a good place to ride them because they're often nice and small, and gentle. Perfect longboarding waves. Longboarding is not hectic.

We didn't take any pictures today but here is a video of a gorgeous girl on her longboard, part of a DVD about Byron Bay that we watched recently. She's very much inspired me, she makes surfing into a sort of dance, which very much appeals to me, but sadly I won't ever have Argentinian legs like hers, no matter how much surfing I do.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

How to Make Concrete Slab with Shed Garnish

I have been observing the boys as they've been making Ray's new shed, and taking notes on how to do so, and as this is partly an educational blog - yes it is. I've told you about Australian wildlife and the price of hoodies - I will impart said knowledge to you.

1. First make a sandpit. Make sure you play in your sandpit because it won't be there forever.

2. Look at your sandpit through your toy teloscope.

Try not to be disheartened that your teloscope doesn't work, imagination is the key.

3. Get concrete lorry man to come over.

4. Put metal mesh hovering over the sandpit, through the middle of where your concrete slab is going to be. This strengthens the concrete. Turns out the sandpit is just there to fill up space, because it's cheaper than concrete.

5. Get concrete lorry to give you some of its concrete into your wheelbarrow, and tip concrete out onto sandpit and mesh. Do this many many times.

6. Somehow concrete gets flattened - I think you get what looks like a big swiffer mop and swoosh it flat and smooth. I have to admit that your researcher got bored watching between these pictures.

7. Guard concrete from animals and rollerbladers for 24 hours. Try not to get impatient. Attempting to dry it with a builder's hairdryer won't help.

8. Get someone really anal to do your flatpacked shed for you (e.g. Zappa). They will lay all the parts out and check each serial number and drilled hole against the instructions, and triple check everything as they go, while you supply beer. Everyone wins.

10. Realise your flatpacked shed is quite a brain twister but persevere. Eventually it will appear.

Ta da!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Emma's birthday - by Zappa

My first blog. How exciting for you all.

Today has been Emma's birthday so I took the day off work (helping Ray our byron bay friend and host building a shed) and told Em we could do anything she wanted. We were deciding between snorkelling at Julian rocks – a short kayak ride from the pass in Byron, or going for a surf. After much deliberation we decided we’d go surfing on big yellow – rays 9’8” Malibu (which I have nicknamed big bird).We packed the boards and ballon animals and away we went.
The conditions were beautiful – the water was clear, the sun was shining it was amazing. Look see:
Em got some great rides – one of which she took this video of:

Check her out – groovy surf chick she is.I had some good rides on big bird so decided to get my 7’6 board out and have a little ride as I’ve been riding Ray’s custom Geoff Macoy’s (two beautiful and amazing to ride boards) and been making some good progress. Getting on my board made me realise it’s a bit too small and hard work for my abilities. It got me thinking – I should really trade this in for something a bit more sensible.... I probably shouldn’t tell Emma as she’s the sensible one when it comes to money.Anyway, after a great little session we went to buy Emma her favourite (gluten free) burger from in town. As she was so excited she obviously had to take a picture:It was sooo good and feeling very satisfied we decided to go home – but we thought we should go see Mad Dogs surfboard shop on the way home – Ray said the rafters contain an awesome surfboard museum. It was amazing, the history of surfing was all just there on display - old plywood boards and older surf skis.
Emma passed this and had to take a picture as its so pretty.

Then i spotted it. 9'6". Macoy. Immaculate. Dangerous. I was convinced Em wouldn't let me as it was $750 (prob over double that new). But she was as enthused as I was. I spoke to Mad Dog and left the shop to go seek out Ray for his advice - he successfully convinced me about a week before not to buy a beaten up old longboard so i was convinced he'd try and slow me down. Ray being a Macoy rider himself and loving his board was just amazed we'd found one so cheap and was as excited as we were. So anyway 10 mins later we were back selecting board bags and leg ropes to go with our new board and left my little board behind to find a new owner. It took us a good hour of sitting at home staring at it and pinching ourselves to be convinced it had all just happened.

So naturally - back to the beach:And then off out for some amazing sushi.I certainly enjoyed Em's birthday - particularly the present we bought ourselves. She should have birthdays more often.

Emma says: 'I had the best day EVER!!! I love EVERYTHING!'

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Sunday at Byron Bay

On Sunday Jenny and Ray took us, Big Yellow (9'8" and Big Blue (8'4") to The Pass for some beach time. I wasn't feeling too good so I was just going to sit on the beach and make me some vitamin D.

The view from the viewpoint. Nice conditions but crowded - I said to Ray I felt like we were in Disneyland or something.

The boys went surfing, I got some videos, but they're pretty slow to load so here's some stills:

Ray on Big Blue

Zappa on Big Yellow

Zappa popping up

Zappa riding Big Blue.

Big Blue is Ray's most treasured possession. He got it custom made.

I was chatting to Jenny when Zappa came out and said 'You gonna have a go then?' and I was like 'Yeah.' Why not ey? The deal was, Zappa would get Big Yellow out through the waves for me, I'd just get on it, and he'd push me out. Not very strenuous. As it was, I was so feeble he ended up towing me and the board out. Heehee. What would I do without my handy Zappa?

My wave came along and I caught it, popped up, which was stupidly easy because the board is so big and wide and steady, but not only that, lo and behold, it TURNS. Like, EASILY. I love foamies because they're like catching a train, but you can't go left and right much on trains. I fell off and came up laughing and asked for another go. Zappa was very obliging and I caught an even better one, and I turned LEFT and brought it back, and felt like a real surfer! It felt WONDERFUL. I'll tell you something, I was all like 'Yeah I've decided to finally admit to myself that surfing is not for me. I am terrified by waves and it's too cold and too mean.' But when the waves break in chest-height water and don't hurt you and don't turn your hands and feet white then blue then purple then red and excruciating - to sum it up, when you don't mind falling in, WOW is surfing the business. And on top of that, this board is the shiz!

Next I caught a greeny (unbroken wave) for the first time in my LIFE! Woooo! Again did a nice little left turn, brought it back, turned right. Wave was running out. Go for the hang 5!!! Sprint up board! Board goes nose down and flips! Everyone's wet! Had to be done. Yes I know you have to be going more than 1mph to hang 5, but like I say, it has to be done, because it's a massive board and you love it.

High five from Zappa and one of us, with Ray's surfing magazines from the 60s that we had a read through in the back of our minds, suggested attempting tandem riding. Me at the front. Him at the back. First attempt nearly worked but I didn't stand up. Second attempt while I was popping up I bashed Zappa off the board with my bum. Hilarious. Tandem attempt to be rescheduled.

And do you know what, after the surfing I felt better than I had done in days.


Oo guess what. Tomorrow is my BIRTHDAY!!!! I am excited. Once upon a time there used to be animal-shaped balloons in Tescos. I believe I gave one to Sammy T (or was it Scott) when one of them had a birthday house party. They were wonderful (imagine, you're blowing up a ballooon and when you're finished you look at it and it's a mouse face with balloon ears!), and when I discovered they'd been discontinued I mourned for years. Then lo and behold, I found them in IGA, the local supermarket! IN the shopping basket you go. I have a birthday coming up. I have got my gluten-free mud cake packet mix, and extra chocolate to go on top and in the mixture, and purple shiny candles (this is to recreate a Cadbury's effect. If I had some gold foil to put on the base it would be complete. Cadbury's don't do that gold foil around their dairy milk etc anymore do they? FOOLS. Throwing away a big part of Cadbury heritage there). I nearly bought Happy Birthday candles because they were rainbow coloured but somehow it seemed really sad making yourself a cake that says Happy Birthday on it. Anyone know what I mean? Ehh.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wow this is actually almost Decembery

It's cold! I'm wearing 2 pairs of trousers and jumpers. It's been raining for 2 days. Apparently it's the coldest December for 40 years!

...it's 19 degrees C. Which is confusing because that is warm in England. But I'm cold. But I don't move and I don't make heat so there you go. I find myself wishing for an aga, a very strange time and place to do so.

Luckily the Aussies feel the cold too and understand. Ray made a fire for the first time in history in December last night!

I made a veggie pie last night and I was so impressed with it I thought I'd do a food blog.

Bean and Veg Pie with Polenta Crust

For the filling:
6 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped (I used half an onion and half a leek)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
700 g mixed vegetables, baby carrots, Jerusalem artichokes (didn’t use), cauliflower, sweet potato, squash, parsnips, turnips, button mushrooms, button onions etc
1x400 g tinned cannellini beans (I used a ‘4 bean mix’ instead), drained and washed
500 ml dark vegetable stock
150 ml red wine
400 ml passata
2 tsp arrowroot (didn’t use, you can us cornflour instead though)
black pepper
1 tbsp chopped tarragon (didn’t use)

For the topping:
2 eggs
150 ml plain yogurt
125 g cheddar cheese, grated
100 g instant polenta
100 g '00' flour (used gluten free)
1 tsp baking powder
50 g parmesan, grated  
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the onion, leek and garlic for a couple of seconds to soften slightly.

2. Add the vegetables and fry for a while, until golden.

3. Add the beans, stock, wine and passata.

4. Mix the arrowroot/cornflour with a little water and add to the pan, stirring well. Bring to the boil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the tarragon.

6. For the topping, whisk together the eggs and yogurt, then stir in the cheddar cheese, polenta, flour and baking powder.

7. Spread the mixture over the vegetables to create a thick crust. Scatter over the Parmesan cheese and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot.


Zappa goes surfing everyday at 6 (including this morning, when it is chucking it down!). Yesterday he took Ray's big mal out ('Big Yellow', 9'8"!) and when he came back I don't think I have ever seen him so enthused, ever! He was raving about how amazing it was, the 200m ride he got all along the break, that he could just do that all day forever...quite funny cos he was a bit reluctant to get a bigger board, and wanted manoeuverability, and when he tried the mal he was just instantly converted! Oo I think he's just come back in, wonder how it went...

Apparently it was alright, bit messy, there were some big waves, he got plenty of white water rides, and his towel got wet in the rain.

Now you know.

Breakfast time!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Jungle's Big Brother

Some of you may be familiar with my chlorophylled partner in crime, Jungle, whom I take with me everytime I go back and forth from Nottingham to Somerset and Buriton. If anyone has ever sat in the back left seat of my car, he is the reason the footwell resembles a flowerbed. Now. I am very fond of Jungle and he even has his own height recordings on the kitchen wall, as ever since I saw Anne Baker's Ficus Benjamina (that's what Jungle is), which is about my height or more, in her hallway, I have had such high hopes for Jungle. I have tended him lovingly for nearly 5 years, and he has grown a measly 6cm in that time, now standing at about 50cm from soil level. It will be many, many years until he is as tall as me. *sigh*.

Yesterday some brief but hurricanelike winds had blown over the Gordons' ficus, which was in a big pot.
Yes. LOOK AT IT! Never mind as big as me, that's a tree!! Someone please show Jungle. He needs to be thinking bigger!
The cheeky plant had decided it resented being a pot plant any longer, and just pushed its tap root straight through the bottom of its barrel, down through a hole in the drain cover, and down the drain!

Ray investigated where the roots had gone.

But they had managed to find a way back to the earth again, and didn't carry on down the pipe.

The ficus will get its way and have to be put in the garden, a proper tree, pot plant no longer.
It could have just asked, honestly.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Byron Market and Picnic Bench Friends

Yesterday we went to Byron Market. It was rather large, and there were so many pretty things, I was very lucky that my non-spending mood present in Nimbin was still holding, or we would have been POOR.

Zappa decides it's time to find food:

We found someone selling kayaks with sails! Genius!!!

The other day I went with Zappa when he went surfing at the Pass. I didn't feel up to surfing so I lay around and read my book. I got bored of lying on the beach after a couple of hours, so I went on a little walk on a bush path:

...and went and found myself a picnic bench. After a while of sitting there I noticed a tiny pile of dirt from the floor was moving along the table.

Don't know if you can see but it has legs:

What a clever bug! Disguising itself as some dusty stuff.

I was also visited by a magpie (I love them)

And a bush turkey. Bush turkeys are funny pieces of poultry that you usually see a lot of on the beaches around here. This is a picture of one when I was sitting on the beach earlier:

And I was very honoured by one coming to see me at my picnic table.

I gave it some pastry from my honey nut slice. Because I am a good gluten freebie and I leave the pastry.

Bwaarrk! Bush Turkey!


Zappa picking avocados for breakfasts and lunches.

Happy Birthday to Miss Emily Evans! 23 today. I hope I'll be able to ring you. I don't have your number yet though. I'll have to solve that problem first.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Good morning! Zappa got up at 6 to go surfing with Ray, and they're still gone (9am) so I thought I'd write about recent expeditions. This will be a wordy one because I feel like writing, so feel free to ignore the words and look at the pictures.

The other day Zappa was working with Ray, and I was excited about exploring the area but didn't have a clue where to start. So I asked Jenny for suggestions, and she said I could come along with her, as she had a few errands to run but she'd take me round and show me places too. Score. I thought she meant she'd just show me where she was going, which I was very up for, but she actually went way out of her way to show me other places.

First we went to the alkaline water place, because it's supposed to cure every illness and be generally good for you, so I thought why not try it for a couple of months. Ray and Jenny are on it and Ray's arthritis in his fingers has got a lot better, although I think he started a chondroitin, hyaluronin and glucosamine supplement at the same time so who knows. It was empty except for us, and the salesman guy there seemed to enjoy the chance to tell us all he knew. We had nowhere to be, so we sat down on a sofa and let him give us the Alkaline Water Saleman Show. I was ready to have a good old fight with a pseudo-science pusher, but he did quite well, only saying a couple of stupid-sounding things. He has a degree in clinical sciences so he wasn't just reciting a load of stuff he learnt, he could answer my questions about the chemistry and biology he was talking about. But yes he did announce that although scientists think it's exposure to the air that makes blood clot, it's actually acid, and your skin's acidic, so that's why it clots when you cut yourself. And soo, when you're more acidic in your body than you should be (the modern health scourge), your blood is thicker, so it's harder to pump round your body. I was like *CHOKE* what?! What so your blood is 'slightly' clotted in your blood vessels is it? Right. So how come if you take a blood sample from a vein and put it in a test tube, it clots? 'Ah,' he said, 'that's because it's reacting to the acid in the AIR.' .......never mind, let's move on.... Basically I'm still skeptical, but it's worth a try. I came away with a drinks bottle with a special filter and an alkalising teabag with little metal balls in. We will see.

Next we went to Bangalow, a little villagy town sort of thing, whose main street is very cute and looks like this:

(not my picture)
We had a look round the shops and had coffee in a very nice cafe (cos I drink coffee now yknow, but only if it's super posh, decaff, and mostly air). It was nice to have a proper chat to Jenny, she is such a lovely person.

Next we did some department store shopping off a main road, Jenny needed a feather boa and some twenties style shoes for a party. I got myself a top. Success.

Then I think we went to Lennox Head, which apparently the real estate of it is more expensive than Byron, which is as bad as Sydney! Spose they have the nice beachy countrysideness but without the drunk druggy school leavers every year.

Lennox Head main street (not my picture)
We stumbled across a gelato bar, which I cannot say no to. I decided that a smoothie would be healthier so got one of those, but it had so much ice cream in I don't think it was that angelic. It was good though, and was so filling it was my lunch.

Just beside Lennox Head is Lake Ainsworth (I feel fond of it just because of it's name. Such an unmagnificent name). It's lined with Tea Tree...trees (they're a type of eucalyptus), which are called that because they leech this dark brown stuff into water their roots are in, and make it look like black tea. So it looks a bit icky but apparently it's not, and is supposed to be good for your skin. Apparently people windsurf on it in the summer, so Zap and I might look into that.

Next we went to Broken Head, home to the campsite Jenny and Ray met at! It claims a stretch of the seemingly continuous creamy beach that runs down this part of the coastline. We went for a walk on the beach and a paddle, and we saw dolphins!!! I was so happy! This is the best picture I got of them, but it's still evidence:

Can you even see them?! While we were watching, one of them jumping right into the air and did st sort of flip!
At Broken Head, I found the place I want to take our naked climbing photo. The trouble is, it's prohibited to go to. We shall see. To be continued!

Yesterday Zap was again working with Ray so I decided to go on a lone expedition to Nimbin. I'd heard it was a hippieish place. I saw it on the map (see above) and was like cool, it's quite nearby. Put it into the sat nav and it said 1 hour 5 minutes, and I thought wow that's longer than I thought. Ah well! Expeditions are made more expeditionary by being further. Now. Sat navs aren't always the wisest of things. Whereas it should have taken me to Lismore (South West area of the map), and to Nimbin from there, taking the main roads, it didn't, and took me the more 'direct' route, which turned out to be through an extremely wiggly road though copious amounts of jungle and over a small mountain. It took over an hour and a half! It was exciting though, and the views that suddenly happened now and again were amaaaaazing! It really was like being in a rainforest with a road through it, and when I went up the mountain and got a view, I could see the canopy stretching for miles and miles, and I felt like I was in one of those wildlife documentaries, where they show you the forest with a helicopter. I had The Williams Fairey Brass Band on the stereo, which turned out to be perfect music for an explorer. Look it up, it's so good!

The roads were pretty bad, craters would suddenly open up in the road and it was generally worn away. As I got closer, the bumps and potholes started being highlighted, almost decorated, which were great for giving you more warning and showing you the shape of them. I was grateful.

Eventually I got to Nimbin! It was a stinking hot day. I roamed the high street, looking in all the wacky shops and talking to people. The guy from the environmental awareness sort of shop ranted to me about coal seam gas for a while, and asked me why I was so far from home. I told him I had CFS and a lady behind me suddenly said 'OH Nimbin's a good place for you then. It'll help you get better, and also hemp oil, when I put it on my face my back goes all relaxed.' I chatted to the guy in the art gallery and he wanted to know about Bellingen, and said he'd like to go there sometime. He revealed to me that the decorated potholes are done by a local guy who actually does it illegally, but people give him money for it. He said one day he's going to get himself runover. I browsed through a mad clothes shop and listened to a woman giving healing advice to the shop owner about her cat, explaining that it was a fungus spreading through it and definitely wasn't cat flu so not to worry. I went to a crystal shop and listening to the girl running it advising a customer what pretty stones would be good for her to buy - by reading straight out of a crystal book.
I found the food emporium, which had big buckets of stuff with little spades in so you could help yourself, like gluten free muesli, dried figs, kelp, soy crunchies and things. I was tempted by many things but was in a can't-part-with-money mood so didn't. I went to Happy High Herbs, where the girl behind the counter couldn't tell me much about the healing herbs or liver-supporting teas, but when a group asked her about legal highs or what properties each type of smoking herbs had, she was very forthcoming.
I sat down on a bench for a rest and was offered marijuana by an old Aborigine guy. Someone came and comically-try-hard-subtly bought something from him. Then I went into the hemp shop, which told me hemp was the best building material, clothing material, reading material, antimaterialistic material, antimatter material......and would you like to buy a pipe?  

 This was one of the posts that held up the walkway cover. I thought it was cool.

Eventually I'd seen everything I wanted to and decided to go home, via Lismore this time. Lot quicker. Here is a picture of Nimbin Rocks, that you see as you leave.
When I got back I couldn't wait to get in the pool! Zappa came and joined me and we played childish games like who can sit on the bottom for the longest and race you to the other side underwater with your eyes closed. I was in there for nearly 2 hours! I was nicely knackered after that. I LOVE swimming. I'm going to swim everyday.