Sunday, September 18, 2005

Going walkabout again

The old girl and me Posted by Picasa

I'm over here for a few days

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.......

Hang on, I'll backtrack a bit.

When I was a teenager in Adelaide there was a cavalcade of old cars that used to meet at Glenelg beach, travel through Adelaide, through the rolling Adelaide Hills and end up at the township of Birdwood. It was known and is still known as "The Bay to Birdwood" I used to love watching those old pieces of engineering barreling up some of those hills, the owners smiling and waving enthusiastically. People lined the roads to see them and they also featured on a television station.

I always wanted to take part in it one day and now I am.

A couple of years ago I bought an older Mercedes 450SLC which qualifies as an older than 30 year old car which makes it eligible for the Classic Class. So I thought I'd send in an application to finally enter. My application was accepted. I can cross off another one of those things "I've been meaning to do."

So I've set up a blog it will be sort of a travelogue across the inland areas between Sydney and delaide taking a route off the beaten track. Expect lots of photos from around Australia and pictures of lots of cars.

Petrol prices at the moment are rather high, so this is going to cast about as much as a budget overseas holiday. Not to worry, Australia has many things to see and do along the backwater route.... it should be fun.

The three sisters Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The finished loaf, resplendent with olives, caraway seeds and dried tomatoes. I just shared it with a friend with some fresh cheese, smoked pork loin with a chilli and tomato relish.


Now if I had some of the Scatchings sponsor product....... "Professor Phardtpounder's Colon Cleaner Hot Sauce" the afternoon would have been complete. Yet somehow I'll have to go without.

I don't believe this stuff would be allowed to travel across international waters via plane, ship or submarine. It sounds like some sort of seriously potent dangerous good, unclassifiable...... and I'm not even going to even think about getting it through Australian customs. I'd be on the person of interest "A" list in an instant.

Blogging and bread making

Proving Posted by Picasa

The above is my bread proving as I blog, would have taken a pic of the mixing but it was messy.

I thought I'd take a crack at bread making after seeing Jamie Oliver making his really simple basic bread recipe on the BBC DVD "The Naked Chef". There are some photos drom his DVD here of him making it. Bread has always been one of my weak cooking points and I'd love to cook it myself as I LOVE bread. Those electric bread maker thingies don't cut it as the skill level just ain't there, much like a popcorn maker. I want to get sticky dough on my hands, panic as I wonder if the dough is going to come off and them relax as it all comes together and I knead the warm loaf.

I've always enjoyed the way Jamie Oliver cooks, he really get physical with the food. Squeeze a lemon...... squeeze the guts out of it with your hands, grind up some herbs..... mash them to bits with a mortar and pestle and through in the whole mix.... wooody bits and all. There's a casualness and roughness along with a genuine air of enjoyment that I seem to identify and practice...... "blokey cooking" would be a good way to describe it. Yep, he's a little opportunistic but christ he makes cooking the way it should be....FUN!

I have fond memories of him hungover appearing on an Aussie morning chat show demonstrating how to whip up a "hangover breakfast" which consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, good sausages, olives etc all mixed together served with some good bread and HP sauce. Simple and delicious. British cooking no longer seems to be a bit of roast beef served up with three limp overboiled veg.

Anyway here's his "foolproof" basic bread recipe. I'll see if it works. I'm going to toss some good Kalamata Olives, sundried tomato strips and rosemary on top.



30g/1oz fresh yeast or 3 x 7g sachets dried yeast
30g/1oz honey or sugar
625ml/just over 1 pint tepid water
1kg/just over 2lb strong bread flour
30g/1oz salt
some extra flour for dusting

1 Dissolve the yeast and honey or sugar in half the tepid water.

2 On a clean surface or in a large bowl, make a pile of the flour and salt. On a clean surface or in a large bowl, make a pile of flour and salt. Make a well in the centre, and pour in the dissolved yeast mixture. With four fingers of one hand, make circular movements from the centre moving outwards, slowly bringing in more and more of the flour, until all the yeast mix is soaked up. Pour the other half of the tepid water into the centre, and gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough. (Certain flours may need a little more water, so adjust the quantitites.)

3 Roll, push and fold the dough over and over for five minutes, to develop the gluten and structure of the dough. If any of the dough sticks to your hands, just rub them together with a little flour.

4 Flour both your hands well, and lightly flour the top of the dough. Make it into a roundish shape, and place on a baking tray. Deeply score the dough with a knife, allowing it to relax and prove with ease. Leave it to prove until it's doubled in size. Ideally you want a warm, moist, draught-free place for the quickest prove, for example near a warm cooker, in the airing cupboard or just in a warmish room, and you can even cover it with clingfilm, if you want to speed things up. This proving process improves the flavour and texture of the dough, and should take around 40 minutes, depending on the conditions.

5 When the dough has doubled in size, you need to knock the air out of it by bashing it around for a minute. Shape it into whatever shape you want - round, flat, filled, trayed up or tinned up - and leave it to prove for a second time until it doubles in size again. Don't feel a need to rush through this, because the second proving time will give it a lovely, delicate soft texture.

6 Now you want to keep all the air inside the loaf, so don't knock it. Gently place it in the preheat oven and don't slam the door. Bake according to the time and temperature given in the recipe variations. You can tell if your bread is cooked by tapping its bottom (take it out of the tin first!) If it sounds hollow, it's cooked. If not, put it back in the oven for a little longer. Place on a rack to cool.

Post baked edit. I mistakenly put this in the oven which had turned itself off via the timer, so it had even a LONGER time to prove and rise. As he says, the second proving is probably the most important to let it rise well giving a fluffy texture.

Jamie doesn't supply a baking time and temperature. I cooked it at 180 degrees centigrade for around thirty minutes. For a crustier loaf I'd say turn the temperature up to around 200.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Cyclone Tracy

Cyclone Tracy Posted by Picasa

Thirty years ago there was a large cyclone downunder, which pretty well wiped out the Northern Territory capital of Darwin.

The aftermath and rebuilding can be further referenced at the Northern Territory library service here. It would be interesting to see how this disaster 30 years ago was handled differently to the Katrina aftermath.

Talking aftermaths.....a rather bizarre world of a FEMA camp for up to 3,000 post Katrina evacuees can be found at Above-top-secret.

There's a rebuttal from Ed Kostiuk from the Oklahama State Dept. of Health. Including a few gems.

This on those dastardly FEMA camp food tamperers..... I tell you what, these criminals seem to be everywhere.

The reason your “pop-tarts” were accepted is they are sealed in an enclosed package and are “tamper proof”. We are trying to protect our Louisiana friends from the criminal element and bad people that might want harm done to them. This is the reason Apples and Oranges were not allowed.

and this bit of newspeak....

Prior to Jesse Jackson making his comments our Governor and the State Officer of Emergency Management asked all Oklahomans to please refrain from using words such as refugees and displaced people. We were asked to use the wording "Oklahoma Guest". This went out on the media here in Oklahoma and in print.

Cat Doctor time.

He who has the highest position........ Posted by Picasa

The partner in blogging crime is off to the cat doctor tomorrow. This should be fun. The Heatsink is not that fond of visiting people who shove cold things up his rectum...... come to think of it, I'm not enthralled by the idea either.

The Heatsink who is approaching 12(which makes him about 72 in human years), has had numerous visits to the vet due to his rather boisterous and devil may care attitude.

Several fights (all winners), an unsuccessful road crossing, an unsuccessful leap onto a fence resulting in a large anount of stitches, a paralysis tick and the removal of several teeth. He's the only cat I've seen CHASE a German Shepherd (Alsatian) and take on a Pit Bull and WIN. We're talking one tough as old boots cat here.

He's getting a little older and slower now but he can still scrap with the best of them. An old warrior still enjoys a good battle from time to time.

Smart too. He knows it's vet time, try to catch him and he shoots off anywhere but near me. Food doesn't work. So it's a matter of turning the heater on and placing a rather interesting box nearby. In due course the curiousity will get the better of him and "voila" the trap is set off as the lid is closed.

Then it will be a bit.... make that a LOT of yowling as he travels by car to the vet. Then a freezing up accompanied by a cold sweat. A sudden jolt as his temperature is taken and a surprising calm as he has his latest flu shot. The another spate of yowling as we head home.

Let him out and I'll get the "You bastard human" stare as he skulks away.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Crook as Rookwood

Rookwood Necropolis Posted by Picasa

There's a saying in Sydney that goes , "Crook as Rookwood." Crook meaning sick and Rookwood referring to Rookwood Necropolis which is the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere. So if you are "Crook as Rookwood"...... you're pretty ill!

From Strathfield local council there is the following information about the site.

Rookwood Necropolis, at 283 hectares (700 acres), is one of the largest burial grounds in the world and one of Australia’s oldest cemeteries. It has been in continual use since it was established in 1868 and over 800,000 people have been interred within the grounds. The headstones and monuments reflect the history of the colony Of New South Wales and the development of the city of Sydney. The heritage values of the cemetery are protected by an act of Parliament.

The word Necropolis is derived from Greek roots Nekros, meaning dead body and polis, meaning City, , hence City of the Dead — another word for cemetery.

It is a rather interesting slice of Sydney's history since Victorian times. Lovely masonry work, wonderfully laid out gardens, decaying and long forgotten tombstones, some prominent Sydney names and others since lost in the ravages of time.

A bonus is some of the Victorian cottage plants growing in the area. A horticulturist told me that some of the best Freesia and Agapanthus tuber stock could be found at Rookwood. The Freesias, Wisterias and Wattles were in abundance at this time of year giving off some rather nice fragrances amongst the sombre setting, reminding me of the wheel of life and its cycling from death to re-birth.

The colours of the place are something else too. White marble carving shine out from a century of Sydney's black soot and grime, green and yellow lichen sticks to some surfaces, sandstone worn away from acid rain giving off some brilliant hues..... there was even some red coloured lichen shining out of the darkness which you will see further down the page.

I've found the Catholic section a rather peaceful area to contemplate life and realise that we're not down here for too long. As one sage puts it, "Mankind would do a lot more in the now and not plam to 'do something in the future' if he realises he will one day die. He would treat his fellow man more favourably if he realised this will occur to them as well."..... or words to that effect.

All these forgotten people once had loves, lives and families and now they sit pretty well forgotten except for some old headstones leaning precariously as gravity, time, erosion and decay takes it's toll. Visiting a cemetery (especially an old one) can be an excellent motivator!

Anyhow, enough of my musings mortal.... here's some photos and a small description where needed of photos around Rookwood.

Oh and there were a few crows around, what would a place called Rookwood be without a few rooks?

Click all these photos for some finer detail, some are worth it.

Crown of Thorns Posted by Picasa

I had to photograph this. The life and death cycle symbolism struck me immediately. The bush has pretty well grown around this old monument leaving the crown of thorns resting on the cross poking through.

This one is well worth clicking to get the finer detail.

Grieving Woman Posted by Picasa

Catholic chapel Posted by Picasa

The detail in the carving on the upper part of the Catholic chapel is amazing. weathered with time and acid rain.

Hogan Vault Posted by Picasa

Hogan Vault Detail Posted by Picasa

A rather lovely close-up of the marble temple sitting on the Hogan vault above.

Toohey's Vault Posted by Picasa

The Toohey family were beer brewers. Their name lives on via the Toohey's beer, still the favourite brand and largest selling beer in my state of New South Wales.

I think it rather fitting that one of the largest vaults in the Catholic section would be brewers!

I mentioned some of the varying hues and colours that seen come about with the ravages of time. This vault has whites, blacks, greens and light pinks all at the same time.

Triple Shamrock in cast iron Posted by Picasa

A triple shamrock, incorporated in a cast iron fence, surrounding a vault in the Catholic section....... representing the father/son/holy spirit trinity.

Slowly rusting away.Another century and it will be iron oxide dust.

Wisteria Posted by Picasa

Another example of life springing from death. This wisteria was growing wild in this plot and smelt gorgeous.

Maher Cross Posted by Picasa

The imposing Maher Cross standing at around six metres, carved from a single block of white marble with some of the most intricate masonry work I have ever seen. The detail of this is incredible, I have included some photos of the detail below.

It incorporates a curious mixture of Celtic and Catholic themes.

Maher Cross detail Posted by Picasa

Here's a closer shot of the cross. In the four corners you'll see a bull, lion, angel, eagle. These can represent the four apostles or beasts of the apocalypse. They also have astrological meanings. Bull/Taurus, Lion/Leo, Angel/Aquarius, Eagle/Scorpio and Cardinal themes along Earth/Air/Fire/Water lines.

These four symbols are seen in many cathedrals across Europe above the main portal.

Maher Cross Dove Posted by Picasa

A close-up of the dove in the centre. interestingly this is also seen in the Tarot deck on the Ace of Cups card on the Rider-Waite tarot deck.

An example can be seen here.

Maher Cross Serpents Posted by Picasa

A Celtic theme further down the cross.

Some finer detail of some intertwined serpents. Again carved from the single piece of marble. Even the scrolling down the side is worth a look.

Maher Cross meanderings Posted by Picasa

A REALLY celtic theme at the bottom of the cross. these creatures are called "beasties" or "Meanderings". Criss crossed and tangled up.

Again, click for a close up of some of the finer detail. You can see very intricate spiral scrolls carved in the "shoulder" areas of these "beasties" that are not visible to the naked eye and only to be viewed with a close up zoom lens. It's probably the first time these fine scrolls have been seen for many tens of years and a testament to the craftmanship and eye to detail of some long lost stone mason.

Angel Posted by Picasa

Surveyor Generals Vault Posted by Picasa

I didn't recall the name of this family's vault but remember it was a Surveyor General of the infant New South Wales colony. Surveyor Generals were held in rather high regard as the new land was explored, mapped and divided up.

Robert Hancock Posted by Picasa

A rather proud looking gentleman with his dog (love those trousers). This one has turned a rather strange shade of red.

I think this gent may have been a mine owner, as the Hancocks were quite a well known name in South Australia establishing Copper mines. The piece of paper has some rather obscure scribblings on it which look mine-like.

Chinese WWII Memorial Posted by Picasa

Chinese Area Posted by Picasa

Cathedral Vault Posted by Picasa

A rather anonymous minature cathedral sits near the road as you drive in from the western side of the necropolis. No names appear to be on the vault until you have a closer look at the carving above the main portal.

I've taken a close up which you'll see below with the name hidden amongst some finely detailed masonry work.