01 July 2015

Slow Living Journal - March to June 2015

It was so lovely today to receive a message on my last blog post from Linda at Greenhaven, just checking in, given it's been so long since I last did a post.  Thanks for your thoughts Linda.  All is good here, just not so much slow living going on at the moment!  

I headed over to Linda's blog to check out what's been going on in her part of the world and realised it was time for the monthly wrap-up, something I haven't managed to do for many months.  It was lovely to catch up with Linda's happenings, and then I started looking at the categories... well I guess if I cheated a bit and did it for a few months instead of one I might be able to scrape something together and get back to some blogging... So thanks for re-inspiring me Linda, this list is for you!

My dear friend E has been continuing with her love of planting fruit trees at her country place and harvesting as much fruit as possible, both from her own trees and from gleaning on the side of the road. So there's been constant gluts of various produce as the year has gone by, and we've become adept at peeling and chopping large quantities of produce to deal with it all!  

The preserving we've done I've included below in Prepare, but the definite highlight so far has been our successful apple cider.  Slightly sweet, definitely apple-y, bubbly deliciousness. The only problem was that we didn't make enough!  We have calculated that next year we need to harvest 78kg to make enough for one bottle each per week for the year...

Let's just say that we're not going to run out of jam or chutney for quite a while thanks to the gluts :)

There are now Farmers Markets in bike-riding distance of the City Garden every Saturday morning of the month, and they are firmly entrenched in our Saturday morning ritual.  Pretty much all our food that doesn't come from the City or Country Gardens comes from these markets.  What a fabulous resource.  We are so lucky to have such great farmers dedicated to selling their produce in this way every weekend.  They must all get up ridiculously early to get to the market to set up before 8am, and I for one appreciate that enormously.    

The Country Garden has gone along reliably supplying 80-100% of our vegetables for the last few months, but now with the colder weather it's down to probably around (a not very scientifically calculated) 40%.  The last of the capsicums came out last week, and the berries have all been pruned, but there is still kale, silverbeet, beetroot, carrots, leek and some herbs.  Excitingly, the first of the purple sprouting broccoli is poking through, so should be ready to harvest shortly, and there's also broad beans, snow peas, celery, kohl rabi, turnips, parsnips and more beetroot on the way.  Two beds are sitting empty ready for potato planting come September, and we might even manage to harvest some asparagus this year.

In the City Garden, after a really successful summer/autumn crop thanks to the chickens having free  access to the garden area last year, I made the decision to pull out most of the garden bed, leaving enough space to keep us in silverbeet and a few seedlings that a permaculture friend gave me from her garden when we met up recently, and planted a hedge of feijoa trees in the rest of the space.  The reason for this is that our neighbours have a hedge on their side of the fence, but the trees stress them out as they need to be maintained, and they are clearly not natural gardeners, so I expect that as some stage in the not too distant future they will chop them all down.  This would leave us very exposed and bare, so it seems sensible to get a head-start to creating our own.  I chose feijoas as they are beautiful trees with lovely flowers and hedge well.  I don't actually like eating feijoas that much, but I'm sure that once E and I give them our glut treatment, they'll be delicious!  

One of the highlights of the last few months was a trip to NZ.  We didn't take much luggage with us as we were cycling for part of the trip (see Enjoy below) and as a result I only bought one item to take home with me: a skein of possum/silk/merino wool.  It's so soft and warm!  There's only 100g so I took a while to work out how best to use it, and in the end decided it would make a beautiful scarf because of its softness.  I took the same chevron pattern as I knitted last winter but used bigger needles so it's quite loose and hole-y.  It's about the slowest knitting project I've ever done, but come summer I should have a lovely warm scarf... ;)

I was only in Tasmania a few months ago, but we decided to go down again and discover what Hobart is like on a quiet winter weekend without any special festivals on.  What can I say?  Quiet exploration of MONA, rugging up to venture out to great bars and restaurants, Willie Smiths Apple Shed (with its collection of hundreds of heritage apple varieties), open fires and my favourite discovery: hot toddys made with great Tassie whiskey!

I'm not sure I've been enhancing much lately, but I've certainly been enhanced by my lovely next door neighbour who lives by herself, and every so often I get a phone call from her at about 5pm telling me that I have to pop in to visit on the way home after work because she's done a big cook-up and made dinner for us.  Invariably this means not just a main course but a delicious dessert as well!  I love those phone calls and it also inspires me to cook up batches of biscuits or cakes sometimes on weekends to reciprocate.  

I was going to say my trip to NZ in general, but perhaps I'll focus more on bike riding, as we did a four day ride in NZ through the Central Otago region, which was amazing, and have then kept up doing longer rides (well, long for me, not so long compared to my uncle who is riding across the US at the moment!) on weekends once we got home.  This gets us out often into the countryside, or exploring parts of the city we don't know so well.  Last weekend we did the Melbourne Roobaix, a 50km ride between sections of cobblestone laneways with about 2500 people, lots of them dressed up and with decorated bikes.  There was a treasure hunt with questions along the way, and stops for beer and free donuts.  Great fun!  But even so, no ride we've done so far has beaten riding through the quiet plateaus of Central Otago between old gold mining towns.  Magic!

I hope you've had a great month.  Don't forget to check out what others have been up to this month on Linda's page.  x


  1. Wow, what fun - that bike ride looks marvelous. The scenery anyway, can't imagine how hard that is (those seats are so narrow) you have my respect!! The apple cider looks lovely and I had to laugh at you finishing the scarf for summer, I just completed slippers for the summer here!! Thanks so much for sharing your fun!!

    1. I can ensure you that there was lots of gel padding in the bike seats! And I wonder how many crafty people there are around that are wearing items that are completely wrong for the season?!

  2. I love that your neighbour regularly has you over for dinner! It's the way life should be. And I'm blown away by your knitting skills! Mine are so rudimentary. The scarf is gorgeous and I'm envious of your yarn. It even manages to look soft! (Nice to know you'll be warm and snuggly this summer) I would love you to do a post on making apple cider. My friends make it but they're not bloggers so I don't know the process. I'm thinking I could buy apples from an orchard. The whole 200kg that I would need going on your recommendation!!

    1. The recipe we used seemed to be a much simpler version from many I've read, so I'll have a go at writing about it. As for buying apples, my friend E seemed to be quite confident that we would be able to glean/forage/scrounge the 78kg we would need from the side of the road if we got in at the right time before the birds, so perhaps you could look out for roadside apple trees in your area too, or take a country drive to southern Vic?

  3. What a great neighbour to have. My parents have done the rail trail ride in Otago is that the one you did? I hope to do it one day when we finally move back. I love the thought of the 2 of you prepping 78kg of apples next year, you might want to have some cider on hand to get you through.

    1. That sounds like a vicious cider cycle - love it! Might need to up the quantity of apples in that case...!
      Yes it was the Central Otago trail, I can't recommend it highly enough, and can't wait to explore lots of the other trails around NZ.