What’s in a name? (Drop in for a yarn and I’ll tell you)

Sunset, Currawinya National Park, Outback Australia
Sunrise, Currawinya National Park, Outback Australia

Hey Baz…what’s with this “Baz, The Landy” thing? 

Didn’t your parents like you or something?  

It is a question I field every so often…

And yes my parents do like me and in fact my mother, Fay, was only saying the other day…

“Be careful out there Baz, you know I worry”.

Mind you she said that as I was heading to work!

Heaven forbid, if she knew what I got up to when I’m not at work…

Baz  - climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – climbing Sweet Dreams, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz - Mt Aurora, Southern Alps, New Zealand
Baz – Mt Aurora, Southern Alps, New Zealand

 

But what’s in a name I hear you ask…

Go and grab a cuppa and make yourself comfy on the sofa…

…Crikey, that was quick, you still drinking that instant stuff?

Anyway, you see Australia is a diverse country, the driest continent on the planet in fact, but despite this the colour of the outback is spectacular. An endless blue sky kissing the dry, cracked, red earth of the outback in the far off distance…

Mayne Range, Diamantina NP, Outback Australia
Mayne Range, Diamantina NP, Outback Australia

From the Channel Country, a vast expanse of the Queensland Outback, an area that has spawned more yarns and tall stories than a Friday night at the pub.

A place where the country unfolds to the horizon, featureless apart from the Mitchell Grass that stretches as far as the eye can see, swaying in a light afternoon breeze, mesmerising the senses as you squint to see through the heat haze.

Outback Australia
Mitchell Grass swaying in the breeze, Outback Australia
Simpson Desert, Central Australia
Simpson Desert, Central Australia
Simpson Desert, disappearing into the horizon
Simpson Desert, disappearing into the horizon
Sand dunes in the Australian Outback
Sand dunes in the Australian Outback

To the deserts of the central region, the Simpson Desert, where the sand dunes cut their way across the salt pans, never ending until you reach a famous oasis on the desert’s fringe, Birdsville and the Birdsville Pub.

Birdsville Pub, Outback Australia
Birdsville Pub, Outback Australia

And what about up north, strewth, it has got to be some of the best country in the world, a place we call the Gulf Savannah, a place that is thick with red bull dust until the summer monsoon floods the land, quenching the parched earth, breathing life into the flora and fauna that inhabits the region.

The Flora
The Flora
And Fauna
And Fauna

Did I ever tell you about Lawn Hill Gorge?

If you never visit anywhere else in our neck of the woods then be sure you make your way up there.  We visit as often as we can, there is something refreshing about being up in The Gulf, a place that rejuvenates your soul.

Lawn Hill Gorge, Gulf Savannah, Outback Australia
Lawn Hill Gorge, Gulf Savannah, Outback Australia

Take a refreshing swim in the spring-fed gorge and don’t worry about the freshies. You know, the fresh water crocodiles, they’re mostly harmless, not like their saltwater cousins, you’ll be right if you leave ‘em alone.

Australian Freshwater Crocodile, Lawn Hill Gorge
Australian Freshwater Crocodile, Lawn Hill Gorge

And its worth knowing that just to the south of the gorge is the World Heritage listed Fossil Mammal site, Riversleigh.  It is one of the most significant fossil mammal deposits in the world and the richest known in Australia.

Riversleigh World Heritage Site
Riversleigh World Heritage Site

I must say, there were a few old fossils running around the gorge last time I was up there, and TomO, the cheeky little fella, reckons one of them was his Dad…

Anyway, I was telling you about how I got the name “Baz, The Landy”.

Well you see, travelling around this great country of ours is all good and well, but to get into some of these remote areas you need a vehicle that can take the pounding that the corrugations on the outback roads can dish out.

The Landy and Tvan, Outback Australia
The Landy and Tvan, Outback Australia

If you can call them roads, sometimes there isn’t one.

A vehicle capable of taking all the gear and toys you need to play in the outback.

Our choice of vehicle is the trusty Landrover Defender. They get called many things, a ‘Fender, the truck, some will even say a box of trouble on wheels.

The Landy, Outback Australia
The Landy, Outback Australia

In fact we’ve got two of them and they go by the names of  “The Landy” and “Red Rover”...

We designed “The Landy” with long-range remote area travel in mind when we rebuilt it in 2006. It was a stock standard Landrover Defender 130 until we set to work on it.

The Landy - pack full of toys
The Landy – packed full of toys
The Landy, packed full of toys
The Landy – packed full of toys

Equipped with long-range fuel tanks it can travel up to 1,800 kilometres without being refuelled. That’s a long way I hear you say, but mate, let me tell you, the outback is a long way from nowhere.

TomO takes control on the Cooper Creek, Outback Australia
(A young) TomO takes control of the inflatable boat on the Cooper Creek, Outback Australia

It carries an inflatable boat and outboard motor for travelling on our inland waterways, and it even has a long-range radio that could put you in contact with someone on the other side of Australia, if you wanted to…

Hey, check out the roof, its got a roof top tent that we can take, if we don’t want to tow our T-Van camper trailer. 

The Landy, with Penthouse views, Outback Australia
The Landy, with Penthouse views, Outback Australia

I always promised Janet a penthouse to live in…

And it’s even got a fridge to keep Janet’s wine cool store perishables.

I could rave on about it for ages, but I think you’ve got the picture by now and it has served us extremely well and will continue to do so whenever we venture west of the Black Stump.

“Red Rover” is my stock standard Defender 110 that I rebuilt a few years back and serves as my commute vehicle.  It looks splendid in fire engine red and I proudly park it at work, down amongst all the Mercs and Beamers in the car park.

Red Rover
Red Rover, a class act amongst the “Mercs and Beamers” 

Yep, it makes the trip across the Sydney Harbour Bridge each day and I even gave it a bit of a wrap in my blog some time back, Red Rover – Tale of a Landy Make-over.

But don’t go thinking it is some show pony, far from it, it gets Out and About frequently, and I can’t keep Janet out of it…

Red Rover - no show pony
Red Rover – no show pony
Janet - always happy to take the wheel
Janet – always happy to take the wheel

Crikey, you’ll be thinking I’ve got a few ‘roos loose in the top paddock.

Wasn’t I telling you about how the name “Baz, The Landy” came about?

Well, every four-wheel drive vehicle I’ve ever owned has been a Landrover Defender, so it seems inevitable that someone was going to end up calling me Baz, The Landy.

 I guess!

Besides, how would it be if I was called “Baz – The Red Rover” – strewth, you might go thinking I was out of some kids fairy tale book, or worse…

But getting back to our island continent, Australia,  it isn’t hard to ramble on a bit about how fantastic this country is, you know, the one hidden in the summer for a million years, so why don’t I just leave you with this video that our tourism gurus’ put together to the music of one of our greatest musicians, Iva Davies and Icehouse

And hey, if you’re ever out here visiting make sure you give “The Landy” a wave if you see it go past, we’re a friendly bunch and I’ll even stop and have a yarn with ya!

The Landy - Out and About
The Landy – Out and About

 

 
photos by Baz, Janet, and TomO

Jingle Bells – The Aussie Way

Baz, Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz, Terrigal Beach, Australia

 Strewth, it is Christmas Eve in the land “Dowunder” already and Janet, TomO, and myself would like to wish all our friends around the world a happy festive season, however you may celebrate it.

We’ll be down on the water for sure!

And if it isn’t something you usually celebrate, that’s okay, just give your family and friends a big hug, or something like that and have a little sing-a-long with us anyway…

TomO, Paddle-Boarding
TomO, Paddle-Boarding

Janet - the one and only

Jingle Bells – The Aussie Way

Dashing through the bush, in a rusty Holden Ute,
Kicking up the dust, esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side, singing Christmas songs,
It’s summer time and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongs.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer’s day, Hey!
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Engine’s getting hot, we dodge the kangaroo’s,
The swaggie climbs aboard, he is welcome too.
All the family’s there, sitting by the pool,
Christmas Day the Aussie way, by the barbecue.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer’s day, Hey!
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Come the afternoon, Grandpa has a doze,
The kids and Uncle Bruce, are swimming in their clothes.
The time comes ’round to go, we take a family snap,
Pack the car and all shoot through, before the washing up.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer’s day, Hey!
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Translation (for those who might need it!)

Holden Ute – A make of car

Esky – ice container to carry drinks in (usually beer!)

Boot – Trunk of a car

Kelpie – Australian dog

Singlet – Undershirt

Thongs – Footwear (hum, not women’s underwear)

Swaggie – Someone walking the country looking for work

Family snap – a picture

Shoot through – leave

 

Dope on a Rope – The Saga Continues (What – You can’t tie shoelaces?)

Okay, confession time, I can’t tie my shoelaces.

Phew! That wasn’t too bad now I’ve finally got it off my chest, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that before.

Actually, I did admit it to TomO, my 12 year-old son a few years back when he was struggling with the concept. And I recall being a little snookered at the time, especially when he asked for a demo of how it was done.

I just didn’t want to go there and let’s face it there are plenty of things that can mess around with a young mind and this didn’t need to be one of them. So I ‘fessed up and sent him to speak with his mother.

And speaking of his mother, I did mention it to Janet, as there was some risk of tripping over as I led her arm-in-arm down the aisle on our wedding day. Believe me, I’m assured of tripping at least once a week with the way I tie my shoelaces. Imagine the wedding shots with me sporting a black eye in them, all because I tripped on a rogue shoelace that had come undone.

I’m sure many would find the recounting of such a story funny, but I’d be the brunt of endless jokes down at the local football club.

“Hey Baz, you didn’t even get down the aisle and you’re sporting a black eye already”. Bluey and the boys would be on to me with the ferocity of a ‘pit-bull terrier’ nipping at your heels…”

I ran the gauntlet when playing football as a pre-pubescent teenager growing up in Townsville. The other boys were always impressed my mother turned up for every single game we played, always on the sideline cheering away, but of course I never told them that mum and I ducked around to the back of the sheds before the game so she could tie my boots up.

Only a loving mother could do that, and boy it saved me from embarrassment at a very delicate age. We won every game that year and the boys nominated mum as our lucky charm.

I think I can even trace back my life-long habit of sleeping without bed-clothes, you know, in the nuddy, due to this problem, despite telling Janet I was just a new-age type of guy. It did start a trend though…

Remember those flannelette pyjamas, the ones with the draw-cord that you had to tie off?

I still have nightmares over them and go into a cold-sweat whenever I pass a rack of jarmies at our local K-Mart store…

I used to tie them off in my usual way, but after a few tosses and turns in the bed my bow would become a knot.  Invariably I’d wake up needing to visit the little room, you know, the call of nature, make a quick dash down the hallway worried I might only just make it, only to find the knot at the last critical moment.

Talk about panic, sheer panic!

No one ever owned up to who hid the scissors in the little room, although I think mum has always suspected me.  Perhaps the tell tale sign was a severed cord in my pyjamas, but funny as it seems now, she never asked why I didn’t need any new pyjamas from that moment on.

And what about Dunlop Volleys, I had stacks of those in my young adult years. The first thing I did when I opened the box was to rip the laces out and throw them away, problem solved.  I thought it looked so cool walking around in them without laces. Mind you it should come as no surprise that I would put that sort of spin on it.

It did look cool, didn’t it?

I mean Janet never said it didn’t, but back then we were freshly wedded and you know how those things work, nodding yes, but thinking no! Mind you she never criticised those yellow pants I used to wear, well not back then anyway, but she’s managed to toss that one out there a couple of times recently…

These days if I had a pair of the old Dunlop’s on without laces someone would be offering me 5 bucks to buy some and telling me to keep the change to get myself a feed.

While we’re on shoes, how good are running shoes these days? The ones with the Quicklace for one pull tightening, no need to tie anything. I was right on to them when they first came out.

My running mates were impressed and I was singing their virtues so often that I’m sure they must have been thinking I was on some sort of retainer from the company. The unfortunate downside is they made my stockpile of Dunlop Volley’s redundant, after all how am I supposed to offload a dozen pair without shoelaces?

So by now you are probably thinking, okay Baz, bravo, but what’s with it? I’m sure there are others with a similar problem even if we’ve never come across them…

Well you see any mountaineer worth his or her salt will have a repertoire of some complex knots that they can perform blindfolded. And I’m sure there is one knot for every letter in the alphabet, and then a hundred more!

The girth hitch, a water knot, a figure eight fisherman’s knot, the munter hitch, and something called a stopper knot that sounds like it’s a pretty important one.

On a recent abseiling course my marker was finally called in…

I had a quick mental debate over whether I should admit to our instructor that I couldn’t tie my shoelaces, but thought better of it because it might be me first up on the rope after I’ve tied it off.

Besides, I’m sure there is a climber’s creed that says something like, you tied it, you try it!

And it would save them any embarrassment when under cross-examination in a coronial inquiry.

Imagine having to defend a fact that you allowed someone who could not tie their shoelaces to tie off the anchor points on top of the cliff that lead to the sudden demise of some poor family man with a dozen mouths to feed.

Yep, there’d be no doubting they’d be too smart to be caught out like that, so it was more likely to be me abseiling at 100 kilometres an hour with one end of the rope in each hand.

Mind you I did think of mum, but a fear of heights ruled her out. Besides, would I really want my mother with me asking have I got my handkerchief just as I’m about to abseil over the edge?

So here it was, my moment of truth. 

Actually it wasn’t too bad.

They all thought it was a great joke and everyone laughed loudly. Even though this was serious business it could still be fun and there is nothing like a rope joke to break the ice.

But the laughing floated away into the valley below when I explained it was true!

I could even see a couple of them processing this and clearly questioning in their minds whether it was in fact a tree root I tripped on as we made our way down to the cliff-face from the carpark. And like wandering eyes drawn to the busom of a woman in a low cut dress, they spent the rest of the day fixated on my shoes.

Our instructor was quite good about it really and offered some comforting words and said I shouldn’t worry as there are probably many people like me, and thinking they probably weren’t abseilers though.

As soon as I turned my back he was right on to those knots I tied. Strewth, I would have been if I was him, especially as he was clipped on a safety line that I had just tied-off. The colour drained from his face as he stepped back from the cliff edge, shaking visibly!

But we did work away at those knots; the figure eight was popular, very strong and guaranteed to hold everything in place, just as long as you got it right.  I practised away, at times feeling like I had a fistful of thumbs as I worked on those fisherman’s knots. But I was mastering it, on my way to becoming a pro!

And my rigging was successfully put to the test; but mind you I still have a problem of sorts.

I’ve been working so fervently on my climber’s knots that I still haven’t got around to working out how to tie my shoelaces.

Remember as a kid when you got your first pair of shiny black shoes?

I do. I refused to take them off for a week, even insisting on wearing them to bed despite being offered as much ice-cream I could eat in return for removing them.

You see I’ve been practicing my fisherman’s knot on my work shoes (Doh!) and anyone with even a basic understanding of knots will know the fisherman’s knot is designed to never come undone, something I overlooked as I was high-fiving TomO.

The penny dropped as I headed for a shower and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, and a couple of those naughty words did slip out.

But there we have it, tonight it looks like I’m going to bed with my shoes on for the first time in years and no amount of ice-cream is going to save the situation. I just need to broach the topic with Janet.

It’s kind of funny really; here I am dressed to the nines for bed in just my work shoes. Who would have thought my mountaineering journey would have a twist like this in it?

Am I alone on this one, or is there a huge group, inspired by my confession, about to come-out?

Come on; join the movement… if you belong, I’ve got some Dunlop Volley’s you can have for the asking!

Vegemite – The Yeast that bonds a Nation (An Aphrodisiac for the Soul)

 

Just for a change we aren’t heading to the mountains to climb this weekend, but we are packing “The Landy” and heading for some camping. In the mountains, of course…

 It is hard not to like the mountains at this time of year, well, at anytime for that matter, but there is something very renewing about being Out and About in Spring.

Okay, “The Landy” does have ropes stored inside it, just in case…

The Landy

Our destination is Turon Gates, situated not too far from the Mudgee wine producing region. An area that also has a history steeped in gold mining.

Turon Gates

There is a creek running through the property and as it is coming into yabbie season we are hoping to get a feast of these sweet crustaceans’ to eat. TomO, our son, is good at catching them, and I’m not too bad myself.

Although Janet, my wonderful partner, has  suggested she packs a leg of lamb that can be cooked up in the camp oven, just in case the boys’ fail to catch any there aren’t any around, and of course an adequate supply of the staple food of every Australian, a jar of Vegemite.

Now I know some of you are saying we’re a weird bunch for liking this savoury delight made from left-over brewers’ yeast.

But strewth, I could give you a hundred reasons why we are weird, but eating vegemite isn’t one of them…

Vegemite on toast. I have a larger version. I ...

Besides, you wouldn’t be a ridgy-didge Aussie if you didn’t smear your hot buttered toast with this delightful tar looking substance for brekkie each day.

And we’re not unique in having our own special breakfast…

I mean, it’s a bit like our good American friends and their door-nuts and cor-fee donuts and coffee, or the Poms and those bloody smelly kippers they throw down for brekkie, (no wonder they’ve got a chip on their shoulder) or for that matter, the Germans and their half-dozen steins of whatever beer they can get their hands-on.

Come to think of it, the way the Germans’ drink beer you’d think they be all over something that is made from brewers’ yeast…evidently not.

Seemingly, the good people at Kraft are yet to make an alcoholic version of vegemite (note to self).

Strike-a-light, if they did make an alcoholic version, the cops, never to miss an opportunity, would be down at the local child-care centre breath-testing any kid riding a tricycle. It’d be like a turkey shoot…couldn’t miss.

After all, every Australian kid grows up on vegemite; no wonder we’re such a rugged, sturdy bunch.

As an aside, research suggests that smearing vegemite on your face before going to bed does wonders for the complexion.

Granted, I did read that on the inside of a beer bottle top…but still, sounds plausible!

I mean, I read somewhere else, might have been an old copy of News of the World, that some people cake their faces in mud, and lie back with a couple of slices of cucumber covering their eyes. Pretty sure that isn’t happening in Australia, otherwise it would have shown up on that “weird list”.

But given I can be a little bit naughty am a research freak, the one time I smeared it onto Janet, she thought I was getting all weird in the struggling paddock.

You know, the bedroom!

Truly, I thought I’d try my luck wasn’t getting weird, and rest assured after I got the black yeast onto the new satin pillow cases there was no chance of that happening anyway…

Crikey, she was fuming.

“Fair crack of the whip” she screamed…

“Why did you go wasting the vegemite like that” …still yelling at me!

Anyway, I’ve sort of digressed a little bit and can’t even remember the point of this yarn I was spinning telling you…

So let’s just finish it off on this note, when in Rome, do as the Roman’s do.

When you foreign tourists that keep turning up, ringing our doorbell down in the customs hall of Sydney International Airport with the voracity of an Avon woman on uppers, get with the program, get adventurous, and get some of our vegemite into ya!

And don’t you worry, we’ll be sure to return the courtesy, especially when we visit Germany!

Good weekend to all….

Strewth – I’m in strife (I think I’ve woken them up)

The Shed

Okay, so many of you will know that I am a self-confessed lover of the pre-dawn. At this time of the day I can usually be found up in the “shed” having a row to kick-start the day.

Or I might be doing a weight training session.

 Crikey, I just love standing at the door of the shed between sets of weights, looking up and gazing at the stars. Yes, for sure I’m a bit of a dreamer, and what better way to dream than looking out at the universe.

And while I’m on the universe, have you ever wondered where the centre of it is?

Well, I got to thinking as I looked at all the stars, no matter where they appeared, I was at the centre, all points back to me – pretty cool hey?

But maybe that’s a little deep for this time of the day.

I’ll be back in a sec, another set of squats to do.

Baz – squatting

 I’m back…

Sorry, that took a little longer as I needed to set-up for my next group of exercises, the bench press.

Baz – Bench Press

 Geez, where was I?

Oh yeah, right, speaking about being a little deep for this time of the day. I was flicking through my iPod thinking what should I listen to this morning?

By the way, did I tell you someone stole my iPod from Red Rover the other day? Okay it was parked out on the front driveway of the house, and yes it was unlocked, but crikey, thieving mongrels! Vent over…

Red Rover

 Anyway, back in a sec…

Pearl Jam, there it was, obvious, why not put on Pearl Jam’s “Ten”? One of my all-time favourites.

Don’t worry; I haven’t got it cranked up too loud. Well, just slightly louder than I should probably have it for this time of day. But, I think I’ll get away with it, after all, Theo, our good friend and next door neighbor is a touch deaf (I think), either that or he doesn’t mind the music I play, cause he never complains!

Another set to do, don’t go away…

As I was doing that set there was a clash of sounds happening. A guitar rift squealing out of my set of Bose speakers, a kookaburra heralding in the first rays of light on the eastern horizon, and the sound of half-a-dozen wines bottles being emptied into the garbage truck outside our house.

Today is rubbish bin day and they turn up at the crack of dawn. And by the way, I don’t drink wine (okay a glass here or there!) so hey, if Theo hates that sound on (every) a Thursday morning he can take it up with Janet, my lovely wife!

Janet - she's wonderful!

And speaking of the rubbish truck, and that Kookaburra (he’s still going), I couldn’t help but snicker smile at the thought of all those people rolling in their beds right now pulling that pillow over the head to drown out those sounds.

I have just tweaked up the sound on the iPod a smidgeon; after all at least there is a melody happening here…

 Garbage truck, Kookaburra, Pearl Jam?  Take your pick…

Best I move this yarn and training session along a touch here…

Strewth, a light has just come on in the house and there are signs of people stirring and it isn’t even 6am yet (unheard of in our place!).

Crikey, Janet is up, and looking just a tad unhappy. Mind you, she’s a pretty happy go lucky sort of person…usually!

Oops!

One of a couple of things happening here.

She’s been woken early by the sound of those wine bottles of hers Pearl Jam’s Ten cranking out on the iPod, it can’t be the Kookaburra even if they have a habit of waking you up because she loves wildlife, especially birds, or she’s found that new pair of mountaineering boots I bought.

Yes, another pair of mountaineering boots, but that story is best kept for another day ‘cause Janet usually reads my blog most days, and I don’t want to “dob” myself in yet, just in case it is just the sound of those wine… Pearl Jam that has woken her.

Okay, catch you lot later, I’ve gotta quickly finish this last set of weights, and go and jump in the hot tub make Janet a cup of tea, give her a kiss and tell her I love her…

But just quickly,

Wadda you reckon?

I’ve had a shot of caffeine, a dose of Pearl Jam’s Ten, and pumped a few ton of iron and it is only 6am in the morning.

 How do you think my day is going to go!

(Hint – Amped up!)

I’ll chat to you blokes and sheilas’ later…C-YA!

I stole someone’s dog (Yes someone’s pet!)

The other day I was relating a story about the early days of living with Janet, my partner, in a small cottage with two sofa chairs, one bed, and a Great Dane Dog. 

It was a lovely cottage set in a suburb not too far from the centre of Brisbane.

We loved that cottage, our first place together, which was nestled away in a small street, surrounded by plenty of greenery and flowering trees.

A real little love nest…

Pause…

Anyway, the subject line is true, but possibly I’m being a little harsh on myself, although Janet has just called out that I did kidnap the dog,

pure and simple Baz…”

But let me explain.

Firstly, I love Great Dane’s they are so majestic looking and all the ones I have met have been very well natured.  Mind you, a suburban back-yard is probably not big enough for them to run around in and perhaps the reason you don’t tend to see them in the city.

Back in those days we had little money to spare, not that we needed it, crikey, sitting in those two sofa chairs, gazing into each other’s eyes, before retiring to the only other piece of furniture we owned, the bed, popping jellybeans into that jar like rabbits on a mission…

Mind you, we’re still happy to do that these days, but a 12 year old son, who is on the cusp of puberty, usually walks in just at the inopportune time.

Pause…

So what about the dog…yes, the Great Dane, let’s call him Barney, because we never really got around to giving him a proper name.

We didn’t own any white goods back then, you know, a washing machine to clean our clothes, so this was done at the local shops where there was a Laundromat. Now I can say that is a place I haven’t been in a very long time, a Laundromat…

Every few days we’d make the trip together, happily sitting there watching the dryer spin around until it was time to head home and sit in the sofa chairs, well you know, until it was time to put another jelly bean in the jar retire again…

Anyway, on one particular evening Barney, the Great Dane turns up, he looked lost and was hanging around. And even if I say so myself he took an instant liking to me.

A Great Dane, my favourite!

It didn’t take long to convince myself that he was an orphan, after all he had no tag and he was rummaging around the bins seemingly looking for a feed.

September 1959 Ford Anglia 105E in Wales

So I quickly dashed home in Janet’s little Ford Anglia, a Harry Potter car, to get him a feed of mince. It didn’t take long, but by the time I returned Janet broke the news. He’d left.

“How could that happen” I asked?

This dog loved me.

Concerned for his well being I hopped in the little Ford Anglia and headed down the back streets to find him, to give Barney a good meal, to kidnap him, and a good home. After all he was neglected, clearly, surely?

My heart raced, there he was, looking forlorn, standing dejectedly outside a large home with a large wooden gate.

Yes, he recognised me.

Okay, in hindsight it might have been the mince I had in my hand that I was offering up, but strewth, I was as happy as a pig in shit mud.

Now this was the tricky bit, but I did get Barney inside that little Ford Anglia, eventually. It was a bit squashy, especially once Janet hopped in with a basket of clean washing.

We I was excited as a new dad bringing the family home for the very first time. And Barney settled in well, those first couple of nights he just sat back and lapped up all that attention. But geez, have you seen what these things can eat?

Bloody hell, this was at a time in our lives that we managed baked beans on toast every couple of days if we were frugal. We didn’t even have two brass razoo’s to rub together.  And a good night out was spent in the sofa chairs starring lovingly into each other’s eyes…

A few days later, as inevitable as the sun rising in the east, there it was, a lost notice in the window of the local shops.

“Much loved pet, a Great Dane, lost a few days ago in the local area. Brown in colour.”

Whoops, the description sounded just like Barney.

The person at the other end of the phone sounded  lovely, distraught, and anxious for any news.

She didn’t live too far away so we decided to walk Barney “home.”

And home was behind a large wooden gate, yep, the one in which I had coaxed Barney away from with my offering of mince only a few days earlier. His owner was elated, and Barney reunited himself in a scene reminiscent of Fred and Dino straight out of the Flinstones…

She couldn’t thanks us enough for looking after her best friend while we tried to track her down.

Gulp…

Yes, we loved Barney, and still think of him fondly, but I’m sure he would have sent us broke before heading back home.

Yep, I think he had us me sussed from the outset, live it up for a few days and then move back home!

Thanks Barney, we loved your visit…

 

Cold Rose-Hip-Soup (You’re kidding me, right?)

Cold Rose-Hip Soup, it should be bottled and dispensed from a chemist, a pharmacy, drug store, but eaten to be enjoyed, surely not?

 Whilst being a self-confessed meat and three veggie man myself, I am always happy to try something new, after all I love my food, but for me this was pushing the boundaries and I’m no wall-flower when it calls for pushing boundaries…

 I have a wonderful mother-in-law, Clare, with whom I enjoy a very good relationship, she tells me what she thinks, pulls me into line if I need it, but loves me to bits; she’s only human after all, I guess!

Yes, I lucked out, a beautiful partner and wife, Janet, and a great mother-in-law. Many would call that Nirvana!

English: Some rose hips in close-up

But the relationship was put to the test when we were called upon to try out a new culinary offering from Clare. You see as part of a group that Clare, and her husband, Archie, belong to, The Beef, Steak, and Burgundy Club, it was her turn to produce a menu for an upcoming dinner.

Now family dinners around the Fawthrop table are always enjoyable affairs, plenty of fun and laughter, the usual offering of early childhood stories of Archie’s upbringing in Colonial India, and of Clare’s on the family’s sheep station in far Western Queensland; Outback Australia.

And Clare is a wonderful cook, very home-style just how I like it. So it was with great trepidation that I approached the first course, a rather large bowl of cold rose-hip soup.

 It’s okay if you’re feeling a little squeamish. I was at the mere thought of it.

Now being the only son-in-law present it somehow fell to me to be the taster and by the look on the faces of all those present they appeared more than happy with this arrangement.

I faced the bowl off, like a man condemned, and raised the spoon, feebly, to my lips, like it would be the last thing I would ever do…

Fair dinkum, this was the worst thing I had ever tasted in my life.

Well, there were a couple of doses of castor oil in my younger days, and by now I’m thinking this could be bottled as an alternative!

Clare, anxiously awaiting endorsement of the wonderful soup she toiled over, looked my way, expectantly.

If we were not on such great terms I could be forgiven for thinking this soup would be better named mother-in-law’s revenge.

I weighed up my options…

I could do the right thing and tell her it was fantastic, but crikey, then I would have to finish this bowl, plus another helping for sure.

I was still gagging on the first spoonful…

Or I could tell her the truth, usually a good policy, as I tell our son TomO, unless a little white lie is called for!

Self-preservation is a wonderful instinct that we mere humans are well adapted to…

“Clare, this soup is bloody terrible”

There was a pregnant pause around the table, followed by the sound of half-a-dozen spoons being quickly placed back in their bowls, soup untouched!

The look on everyone’s faces confirmed the verdict, I was safe – phew!

 So a question to you, my good friends out there…

Is there such a thing as a good, cold, rose-hip-soup, and do you have a recipe, or am I on-the-money and it really is “mother-in-law’s revenge?”