Monday, December 27, 2010

Thursday 23rd – Friday 24th Dec.
Mystery Island – a flat coral island that takes just 2 minutes to walk across. There is an air strip built by US during WW2 and still in use. The Japanese thought it was too small to have one and didn’t know where the planes were coming from, hence the name Mystery Island. None of the islanders live on the island but there is plenty of them there on the day a ship calls selling their wares etc. We had coffee at a very primitive café. The cups were on the tables under a grass shelter. The coffee tin, Nescafe was placed on the table along with the hot water in a small old battered aluminium kettle and you made your own. We had a swim (J had a snorkel on a small bommi). The water was beautiful.

Isle of Pines – a small island amongst many in New Caledonia. It seems to have evolved both from volcanic and coral build up. We had a swim in a couple of beaches in the pristine waters. The sand feels like pure silica under foot. It has to be one of the prettiest islands I have ever seen with quite a magical quality because of all the big old gnarled trees, almost blocking out the sun on the island. There are also lots and lots of what appear to be Norfolk pines on the island thus the name “Isle of Pines”. It’s under French rule. Unfortunately we missed out on the few tours of the island which I’m sure had a lot more treasures to reveal. There were signs indicating a town about 6 Kilometers from were we were. After cooling off in the water’s around a sacred rocky (coral) rock with little grottos at it’s base, and walking through the forrest, we had a cool “Number 1” beer brewed in Noumea which resemble a light pilsner. We then made our way back to the pier to get the tender back to the ship. We are about to head out to sea again to make our way back to Brisbane. Merry Christmas to all, J & M.

Pictures will follow later due to Satellite problems

Christmas Eve was very traditional with lots of carol singing, artificial snow and an excellent Christmas Eve show then partying till very late. Today, Saturday- Christmas day has also been special with Santa arriving down the chimney and then into the Atrium lounge where he distributed presents to about 400 children on board. We then did our usual trivia before going to a special Christmas lunch – basically a variation on the usual menu. After lunch the kids on board did a nativity play in the main show room. The 6 degrees separation has really been evident today. This morning we sat with a couple who live only a couple of kilometres away from us and in addition they live in a home where close acquaintances of ours once lived. Then at lunch we sat with a couple of ladies from Warwick. Since leaving High School I have often wondered what became of a close friend of mine who I thought may have ended up in Warwick, but whom I have never been able to track down, though I have tried quite a few times. I was not expecting anything positive but, low and behold, these ladies had been close friends and were able to give me contact information. Well only one more full day of sailing before we are back home again.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cruise dairy

Saturday 18th Dec Mon 20th: After Dave dropped us off at the port it didn’t take too long to embark and unpack our carry on luggage. Our suitcase arrived mid afternoon. We left port pretty much on time about 2.00. Since we were on the ship only a couple of weeks ago we’ve been able to help a lot of the passengers wandering around looking lost and point them in the right direction. However it took us a little while to re-orient ourselves as we are on the opposite side of the ship to the previous cruise and tended to head in the wrong direction.
The weather has been particularly kind with flat seas. There seems to be a little bit of a swell this afternoon. We’ve been adopted at dinner by a young couple with a couple of nice young children a little girl of 7 and her brother 9 years of age.
The ship is decorated beautifully with Christmas decorations everywhere and all the staff wearing santa hats. We’re doing pretty well at trivia – we’ve heard them all on the last cruise – but not well enough to win yet. A lot of the staff have recognised us and welcomed us back like old friends.
Tomorrow we sail into Lifou and have booked a tour called “Melanesian encounter”.
We are sitting in our cabin (nicely arranged with access to the window) having sundowners.
Cheers to our followers.

Tuesday 21st Dec. We arrived at Lifou this morning around 8 pm. After a leisurely breakfast we boarded the tender to go ashore for the tour we had booked. It has been a hot clear day. The tour took us across the island to a church built in the 1800’s. It is a protestant church as is most of the churches as they were the first missionaries here. The chiefs dwelling is close by and we were invited in to his round house. (Like a free sauna!!!!) It’s actually just where he ‘smokes’ his people. It’s made from big poles and palm thatch. Then on to a green coconut drink, straight from the tree. After that a traditional cooking demonstration after which we got to try a dish they had prepared earlier. It was chicken cooked with taro, sweet potato, po po (paw paw), green banana and coconut milk wrapped in banana leaves. It was then back on the air conditioned bus (open window) and back to the little beach we arrived at. They had their markets set up selling food and their wares. We tried a slice of quiche which contained their local spinach and a lemon meringue pie – both very nice.
I then went for a swim in the pristine waters while the Great Dane cooled off under a palm tree before catching the tender back to the ship for a rest. Now about to go off to trivia before dinner.

Wed 22nd Dec. Port of call today is Vila, Vanuatu. We have been here a few times before so not taking any tours. It’s hot and a few showers fall. Firstly we had a look around the stalls set up near the port. All much the same merchandise, most of what you would expect. The prices are also quite inflated. There are taxis lined up for a couple of hundred yards. Of course with the strength of the Australian dollar, they preferred that to their own vatus. It was possible to barter though. After freshening up we then did our bartering to take a taxi into town. It started at $15.00 au but we got it for 500 vatu which is about $4.00 – it is only a short drive but too hot to walk. All I wanted to buy was some white slacks but since women here don’t wear slacks I didn’t have any success. I had left my white ones home and wanted to wear them with the rest of the outfit I brought with me for Christmas eve. The high highlight of our visit was lunch. We had intended to have it at an old haunt but found out it has been closed for a couple of years. We were directed to another restaurant who served a good coconut crab dish and I have to admit it was just as good as we would have expected at the now closed Ma Barkers. It took us a good hour to eat our way through the dish. We then took a taxi (for the same price) back for a long afternoon nap before dinner.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

River Gondula at Christchurch

The Fjordlands

Milford Sounds

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday 7th Dec
After posting yesterdays blog, with the wrong month on it, we went off to dinner and then a show. Today we arrived at the southern end of NZ and headed into Dusky sound and out of Thompson Sound. As you would expect it’s quite spectacular. We then moved in a northerly direction through Acheron Passage and exited via Breaksea Sound, equally spectacular.
It is bitterly cold out at sea in this part of the cruise unless you can get out of the breeze. After lunch and a nap we found we were entering Milford Sound where the ship must use a pilot because it is narrower than the other sounds we have been in today.
There is snow on the peaks along with the remains of an ancient glacier, so we have been informed.
Tonight we will be going to a late show in which our table waiter will be singing along with other members of the crew. He’s looked after us well each evening for dinner so even though the show doesn’t start till 10.00 pm we can’t miss it even though it’s after our bed time!!!! The weather has been exceptionally kind to us today. It was feared that we may not have been able to do the fiords if the weather had stayed like yesterday. We are now setting a course for home and have been told it could be a bumpy night with a low forming just ahead of us between two highs. It won’t worry these two mariners though.
Cheers till we report again,
The Great Dane and Gemini.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thursday 2nd to Sat 4th

Tauranga – a pretty little place. We didn’t take a tour but did some laundry instead before going ashore and having a very nice seafood lunch at a seaside (ocean beach) café and walking back to the ship along the inside beach.
Napier – we went on another wine and cheese tour in the morning and tasted some very nice wines. The first winery was in a monks old missionary. It’s still owned by them but run by a management group. Their label is “Mission Wines”. I particularly liked a lightly sweetened late harvest wine. I hope we can find it in Australia when we get back home.
The second winery was “Sileni” where they also served cheese with the tasting and also had a tasting of a salsa promoting some of their other products for sale. We bought some of their nice cheeses for our sundowners back on board.
The third winery was one I can’t pronounce so I won’t try to spell it. They also had a great cheese, fruit and cracker selection plus a local NZ Ice cream.
We then returned to the ship and refreshed and headed back into town for some lunch and a look around in the mall.
Wellington – Since we have been here for a few days before, we just took the shuttle bus into the city and did a little shopping for essentials and then had a nice lunch at a German pub. Back to the ship for a nap then an afternoon coffee up on the top deck.

There is a bout of NORA VIRUS (a very aggressive form of gastric and vomiting wog) going around the ship for the past couple of days so it’s been necessary to be particularly careful about what you touch and lots of hand washing the code is RED ALLERT.
Apart from that and our air conditioning not working last night it’s been a very pleasant but uneventful cruise. The weather has also been very kind with cold mornings and nice sunny days.

Sunday, 5 December 2010
Arrived at Lyttelton this morning at 8am. This is the port for Christchurch. After a leisurely breakfast we caught the shuttle into Christchurch. It’s a busy weekend as they have a cycle race on around the city this morning as well as a Christmas parade this afternoon. We spent a couple of hours walking around one of the most beautiful parks/gardens I have ever been in – the roses were spectacular.
We then walked into the main part of the city still showing signs of the earth quake a couple of months ago.
We took a punt barge, like a gondola, along the Avon River through overhanging trees and under about 5 bridges. It’s really a lovely quaint city.
We then had lunch at the Art Centre before catching the shuttle bus back to the ship.

Monday 6th Nov

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cruise Log.

It’s 4.30 pm Tasman Sea Time Tuesday 30th Nov. Thanks D for driving us to the ship. After finding where we had to embark it took about 1 and ¼ hours to go through customs, board and find our cabin. It’s nicer than the one we spent 3 months in last year. Apart from sleeping and eating, we have been to a couple of trivia sessions and two excellent evening shows. We are dining with two other couples about as young as we are. One couple are actually from Cleveland and go to the Centre where I play cards on Thursday, except they play indoor bowls there. The other couple are from Port Macquarie. At breakfast and at lunch we have also struck a lot of nice happy people. The food is good and too tempting, which means we’ll have to starve ourselves the week we spend at home before the next cruise. The seas have been calm to moderate but it’s pretty windy out on deck. We know we are going south as the temperature is heading the same way. It’s another day at sea today and the tomorrow we arrive in Auckland where we have booked a wine tour.
Will keep you posted as December rolls up, Cheers J & M

Wednesday 1 December 2010
Woke up this morning - already docked in Auckland. Had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room before getting ready to go ashore for our Wine Tasting tour of the Auckland area. We visited Soljans winery and gave a big tick to “Kumeu Pino Gris”. We then moved on to Nebilo Winery and enjoyed “The peoples Chardonnay” as well as “Selaks – The Favourite Merlot”. The next winery we visited was Matua Valley. There were about 4 of their wines which we thought worth looking for in Australia when we get back home. The vineyards here are relatively small. When we got back to the ship, we chose to have lunch in town, which is right at the port. After a bit of shopping for a couple of essentials we spent the afternoon sleeping off the morning’s wine tasting. At the moment – 5.30 pm, we are preparing to sail away. Tomorrow we expect to wake up in Tauranga. We haven’t booked any tours there. Will keep you posted, Cheers the Great Dane and Gemini.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Well time to feed the blog again.
I have finished dressing the garden with lucerne mulch.
I chose Lucerne this year mainly because of 3 new veggie beds, the new soil I used has great moister holding capacity and drains well, I added the usual starter nutrients such as Blood and bone, Dolomite, dynamic lifters, Sulphate of Potash for healthier and stronger plants, as well as sweeter fruit, Garnet dust also known as rock dust for all the ancient rock minerals, as well as trace elements and a good dressing of Sea-Mung.

Lucerne mulch is well known for its higher Nitrogen content, as well as trace elements from its very deep root system.

I found that the Lucerne mulch covered a lot more per bale than cane mulch, and in the long run it works out a fair bit cheaper due to the greater coverages, it is a lot finer than Cane mulch and I thing a greater moister protection and cooling for the soil,it will be interesting to see if it last as long as cane mulch.

However the garden is ready for our very hot summer and ready for planting the summer crop such as cantaloupes (I grow the moister one the size of a cricket ball and very sweet) my Pumpkin is up as well as the water melon. and so is the Mango Melon (seeds from GB on the farm)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To days harvest.
It is a luxury to just go into the Veggie garden and pick the days produce for our meals.
We hardly ever visit the Green grocer any more we are self sufficient as far as vegetables is concerned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two more Cheeses new variety, I have recently had the coultuer for Danbo and other Danish cheeses brought in by GREEN LIVING AUSTRALIA,it took close to 3 months to get them here due to the Northern hemisphere country's all go on holiday over the northern summer and most factories and businesses close down for that period.
I am very happy with the the outcome first time using the coulture making DANBO cheese and KING CHR.X cheese with caraway seeds using Jersey milk which is the best for cheese making.
This style style of cheese will mature in just 2 months delivering a mild flavoursome cheese, they can be matured up to 8 months with a constant increase of taste to very tasty.
The Chr.X cheese I added some Lipase enzyme to make a traditional stronger cheese.
A number of my hard cheeses has started to show some signs of early maturity and we have been eating some of the first Cheddar, very exciting!!.
A nice harvest of red cabbage, the seedlings was planted at the end of July,3month from seedling to maturity is very good for a new garden bed.

6 jars good size of pickled sweet and sour red cabbage Danish style, that will keep us going till next season, I am also making 1 jar of Red cabbage sour kraut.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Air drying 2 cheeses that I made late last last week
SWISS Cheese and a EDAM.

I have come across a dependable supply of Jersey milk, the Jersey is some of the best milk for cheese making, the result after only pressing and the salt brine bath looks stunning, I am confident of an excellent result the colour looks so creamy and rich.

In amongst the heavy rain I have harvested quiet a crop of Curly Kahel that I will process this evening.

I will simply tare the curly leafs of the ribs, lightly chop them after they have been washed, place them in a large sup kettle with a couple of inches of water and steam them about 10 minutes till they wilt, remove from the pot onto a drainer board let cool a little, then by hand squice the excess water off before chopping the Kahle a lot finer after which i form them to tennis size balls for freezing for later use, the kahle don't like our very hot summers.

I was kindly asked over for Sunday Lunch at Patrick & Merilyn on Sunday.

P & M started growing vegetable for the first time ever, earlier this year,
Pat build a table height bed and a lover bed early Autumn, it didn't take them long to get the soil and plants in after the beds was build.

Gemini and I have made a couple of visits to experience the progress, the garden beds has been a great success and regular harvest has taken place with much pleasure for both P & M. also Merilyn has branched out to some smaller pots as well.

Merilyn has been growing Orchids for many years with a results that would make many a hobbyists growers envious.

As well Pat & Merilyn have a quiet a collection of Bonsais that they attend to on a regularly basis.

As one would presume, the growing of veggies would not have been all that difficult to get started.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My first Asparagus is up only 6 days after planting, it may not look much, but I am impressed

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The first dig of new kafler potatoes, the potatos was planted on the 16 July,I am extremely pleased with such a result in succh a short time

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It has been a busy week with one thing and an other, the 11 days of planting in the veggie garden finished last Monday, just in time to plant the Asparagus crowns that GB. On the farm gave us after a lovely weekend visiting at the farm, in addition I found a small potted crown at Bunning’s but that will take a couple of years before to starts producing.
The Savoy cabbages did well in the garden , these afternoon I put down some for sour kraut in the stone ware pot, it will take 3-5 days to ferment before I press it into jars and to keep in the fridge.

I mix a sliced apple and a little finely sliced carrot with the cabbage, personal choice!!!
on the 3rd day I will mix in a little caraway seed as well.
Tha sour kraut will have sufficient flavour after 10 – 14 days, but will improve over time to reach maximum flavour at 4 month, that is if there is any left.
I have a big crop of Red cabbage coming on in the next 4 – 6 weeks, some I will make into Sour Kraut and the rest I will Pickle the traditional Danish way.
To morrow I will make a “Traditional English style Vintage cheddar” that will sit in the Cheese cave for at least 10 months to mature.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Again a nice supply of fresh vegetables, the Cabbages will be pickled to Sour Kraut,
the Cauliflowers and turnip will be part of dinner no night with chicken Apricot.

We spent the weekend at the farm with Linda and GB!!
having a very relaxed weekend helping Linda getting started with Cheese making, as well as a Sunday morning trip to Kenilworth looking at a couple of galleries, and a visit to the Cheese factory before hitting back to the farm making a Tasmanian style Blue cheese.
We had already had made a Cheddar on the Saturday,
the local milk supply is Jersey, some of the best for cheese making
we had a wonderful weekend
GB send us home with a couple of Asparagus crowns for the Veggie garden as well as a few avocados.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A new variety of tomato to the garden, "Green Zebra"
it is a Heirloom Tomato, it will be interesting to see if it cross breads with the other tomatoes,
I will take seeds and plant on the next moon cycle of planting!!!
It has pale green flesh and a mild flavour low acidity.

The beans has started to crop well sins the weather has started to warm up, and the first sugar loaf cabbage of the season.
I finally got around to put electricity and fluro light in the garden shed, and tidy up as well!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

To day we had a visit from the air-conditioning company to install some diverters plates in the ducting, this has been going on since late January this year, we have 2 systems as the house is rather a long house, one of the systems have been running without any problems, the other one we have had no end of trouble, in the heat of the Queensland summer with high humidity we could not cool our bedroom or my office below 28C on a hot day, the family room and kitchen was fine.

The A/C company changed hand late last year and the new owners just didn't want to know any costumers with a current warranty!!!

We have had 3 visits from the technician without having any thing done, the last visit 6 weeks ago and he said the office will phone you in a couple of days to arrange the installment of the extra equipment, nothing happened, I chased it up again late last week and finally the problem have been fixed, and plenty of air is now coming out of the register in both the bedroom and my office, apparently the system had never been balanced?
lets hope that is the last of it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Well the long awaited rain finally arrived over night we had 34 millimeter of rain, the tank is full whereas yesterday it just dieseled, barely sufficient to make any impression on the water gauge.
The garden looks sparkling and refreshed this morning, and the pool is overflowing ready for a back flush, great start to spring!!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hi Linda
Thank you for the comment on the Toamccicum?
comments are always welcome, at least I know some one reads my Blog Spot.

In Fact to any other readers and followers, I would like comments and questions!!
so that I am are more aware of how many readers I have as well as their interests.
The Viking ( GD)

To day is fathers day. As usual we have a different breakfast as from the rest of the week. As I had started to plan breakfast in my mind, Gemini was very firm about only having a soft boiled egg and a slice of buttered Rye. She told me that I had to watch my sugar level!!,

I reluctantly agreed thinking that I would make up for it at dinner.

I will be cooking a Lamb Shoulder slow roast a la Jamie Oliver.

Already having planed to make an other Brie for the Cave, later to go into the deep freezer for later use over the festive season.

Surprise surprise; soon after returning from Woollies with 6 liter of milk and just started the cheese making process I hear people coming through the front door (which is open most of the day when we are home), shouting out Happy Fathers Day, the Brisbane and near by based kids with a Friend turned up with morning tea, Bread rolls, Danish Pastry etc.

All organised a few weeks ago between the gang and Gemini, therefor the reason for the light breakfast only!!!!!

In addition to all goodies we had to break into a couple of the hard cheeses that are just about ready, and they passed with flying colour.
I will still have the Lamb Roast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In addition I think I have scored well.
They all went home with a supply from the veggie garden as well as some cough mixture from the herbal dispensary.

well here is a possible freak of nature, the square tomato Gemini picked yesterday on the berry cross tomato vine, in amongst the Tomato's I also grow miniature Capsicum?

I don't know if a natural cross pollination has happend, but the tomato is shaped like a capsicum and upon cutting it open it has a hollow space like a capsicum and the seed cluster was also shaped like a capsicum but tasts like a tomatoe.

the flavour is extremely rich and sweet, and the colour is reader than a normal tomato,

I have taken seeds for propagation, it will be interesting if I have stumbled on a new variety of

(let us call it a) Tomacicum

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Spring has sprung!

The Polly tunnel has had its polly cover taken of.
we are the 4th day into spring, the weather has wormed up considerably,
Minimum night temp 16 - 17C., day temp in the high twenties.

we still have quiet a crop of Tomato's both ripening as well as green yet to mature, I have my new plants in and flowering , ready take over when this lot has finished

an other addition to the Cheese cave, "Greek Fetta Cheese Limos style"
I made the cheese at the beginning of the week,
Fetta is easy to make but messy messy.
I only used a little more that 1/2 the recommended Salt which seems sufficient,
Fetta by tradition is very salty, but I tasted my way through the process.

Fetta is ready for use within 5 days and keep well in the fridge after spending 30 days in the cheese cave.
the Cave is set at 10 C where as the domestic fridge is set at 2 - 3 C.,
the cave temp. is for the maturing and the domestic fridge with a much lover temp stops the maturing process.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gardening update for those of my followers that are now gardening in elevated beds,
the cabbage and potato bed is progressing well, hope to pick red cabbage and Brussels sprouts in about 4-6 weeks, and potato in about 6 weeks.

The 2 different species of Avocado that I planted together in the same hole last year has done extremely well, the Haas has put on twice as much growth on and would eventually kill the green one, therefor i have joined them with a graft cut and tied them together about 10 inches above the root graft , this was done about 2 months ago, and the union has taken, the bark is joining them both well, this way they will both feed from the same root system and if weaker root system dies it doesn't matter

here is the garden helper 7 year old Couch a American foxhound cross, we think the cross is a Labrador?, he is a lovely dog and a gentle soul.

Savoy cabbages, 6 week old in new garden bed are forming a head cone , we will be starting to pick them in 3-4 weeks perhaps earlier - the same bed from a distance.
I used the cheapest of Bunnings potting mix , liberally added Blood and Bone meal,
Lawn Dynamic lifters which is a finer granule than the normal chook poo pellets, therefore breaks into the soil almost instantly.
a liberal application of Dolomite Lime and some trace element and sulphate of potash for plant strength and strong health and of course some "Sea Mun Gus"
the Bunnings potting mix has a lot of fine pine bark through it and keeps the moisture in as well as gives good drainage.

same garden bed from a different angle

and here is the loyal gardening companion again, and he gives me a nudge on the leg from time to time to be patted on the head

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Rosenborg Danish style White Castello Cheese has surpassed all expectations, the flavour and texture is perfect flavour mild the way Genni like her cheeses, I like it a little more mature.
It goes well on a small dry biscuit with Sundowners!!!

The Potato and Cabbage patch are thriving well

The New bed I build at the beginning of July is doing well all the vegies are growing fast.

Another new garden bed, there is no longer room for any more,
this one is for Rhubarb, Horseradish, Ginger, Eggplant and its kind.