the far side

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Hindsight… Throughout the past dozen years of my city living – highrise dwelling – office life I dreamed of a gypsy-like roadtrip around Australia and simple country life. A year later, living my dream life in reality I can report it’s nothing like I thought. Some aspects have been far more difficult, others far more wonderful.

my-gypsy-self free camping in a riverbed
my-gypsy-self free camping in a riverbed aka Barradale Rest Area off the North West Coastal Highway of Western Australia

For instance, my blog blurb states “Part of that dream is also to hook up a caravan to our ute and explore Australia.” It once also had the words “and blog about it as we go” tagged on the end. When it came to life on the road I couldn’t manage productive online time, only a single life as art blog post from Broome, NT on 12 August; 59 days into our trip, coincidentally the half way point.

I did manage 118 days -the duration of our travels around Australia- of Instagram posts. My fellow Instagrammers were marvellous company throughout the trip and provided welcome constancy and connection to balance my ever-changing days.

In planning and setting off on our trip we never had a fixed route-timetable. As a mud-map we were following a motorcycle ride the G.O. had done from Darwin to Perth via Broome over 40 years earlier and revisiting a short holiday we’d taken together in 2007 to Broome & Darwin.

We estimated we’d be away for three-four-maybe five months dependent on ennui, funds, weather. As it turned out all those factors became connected and under consideration as we left the north of the west coast and the dry season to encounter an unusually long, cold Australian winter season firmly entrenched down south.

From Broome, we journeyed in a southerly direction -along the far side of Australia- following the West Coast to Perth, across South Australia to Victoria where a stopover in Portland connected our travels to the trip we did in March.

An additional -unconsidered- factor turned out to be the G.O.’s bad knee which has worsened over the years and ultimately hit its tipping point via a long sunset walk along Cable Beach at Broome completed a little too quickly as daylight rapidly diminished. It was going to happen eventually but the timing was unfortunate. Despite him stoically nursing the injury it became apparent in combination with the other factors it was nigh time to head home, and save leisurely exploration of the south for a future trip.

Below is a selection of photos from the second leg of our trip.

Just south of Broome, WA is Eighty Mile Beach. 129 kilometres of waves, sand and shells. A Must Do for fisher-people, beach bums and shell seekers.
There’s no doubt that Red Dog (of the Pilbara) c. 1971 – 21 November 1979 featured in the 2011 film of the same name is well-loved. His statue in Dampier, WA is shiny & smooth from being stroked. We contributed our pats.
A regular refrain on our trip was Let’s Just Have a Look. Which is how we came to explore the previously unknown to us and stunning but chilly-on-the-day Cape Range National Park near Exmouth WA.
Feeling very much at home among the bananas. Proximity and availability -in August- of fresh tropical produce via farm gate stalls made Carnarvon, WA a foodie highlight.
Did we see the famous Western Australia springtime wildflowers? Couldn’t miss them!
However, we almost missed Monkey Mia, WA because I didn’t connect its location with nearby town Denham and the legendary Shark Bay. Which would’ve been a shame as it is one of our of Must Return To places.
Nor had we heard of Kalbarri National Park, WA famous for its coastline and wildflowers. Unmissable thanks to our fellow travellers.
Never too old or too late for hero-worship. Ignoring imperfect Perth weather we paid our respects at the final resting place in nearby Freemantle of Bon Scott (9 July 1946 – 19 February 1980) a Scottish-born Australian rock musician, best known for being the lead singer and lyricist of Australian hard rock band AC/DC. R.I.P.
Western Australia’s south offered many redeeming features as solace to the unseasonable season. The charms of Margaret River and Watershed Winery & Restaurant outshone inclement weather.
After enjoying the hospitality of Glenda & Maureen our friends of the Passion Fruit Garden blog, in beautiful Bridgetown, WA, we had a taste of the majesty of the native forests around the South Western Highway for which we will make a future return trip.
A roadtrip across the Nullarbor rates high on the traveller To-Do List along with the Great Australian Bight, en route. Standing in this spot was a trophy moment.
A.A. Milne’s Halfway Down poem jumped into my head at Kimba, SA halfway across Australia “It isn’t really Anywhere! It’s somewhere else Instead!”
Another wild wet weather day another pilgrimage… Maggie Beer’s Kitchen (location of the TV series The Cook & The Chef) in the Barossa Valley, SA was warm and dry.
Suitably stormy weather on the Fleurieu Peninsula, SA for a family history mission from Dad to find Currency Creek Cemetery and the grave (far LHS) of Herbert Newling Barker who died 1881 aged 11 years 8 months. R.I.P.
No point in attempting to outrun the weather, the journey and destination became one along the western volcanic plains and Victoria’s Princes Highway, home to numerous and impressive networks of dry stone walls.
Batten down the hatches part 2 in Portarlington, Victoria. A week earlier we’d been in the midst of the controversial #adelaidestorm. Throughout it all the nannavan didn’t leak a drop.
Dog lovers, we couldn’t drive past the statue of the Dog On The Tuckerbox, five miles from Gundagai, NSW inspired by a bullock drover’s poem, Bullocky Bill, which celebrates the life of an allegorical drover’s dog that loyally guarded the man’s tuckerbox (lunchbox) until death.
Day 118: the home straight into Taylors Arm village lined with flowering Paulownia trees and fat cattle.

Trip synopsis:
Departed Taylors Arm: 15 June 2016
Arrived Taylors Arm: 10 October 2016
Distance Travelled: 24000+ kilometres
At our first fuel-up at Dalby, Queensland the speedo read 160112 kilometres.
In between we travelled through the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria.
Our last fuel-up was at Pheasants Nest, NSW where the speedo read 180390 kilometres.

The second leg: Broome to our last stopover at Dad’s in Lochinvar before driving the very familiar 360 kilometres of Pacific Highway north to Taylors Arm.

“Hindsight, I think, is a useless tool. We, each of us, are at a place in our lives because of innumerable circumstances, and we, each of us, have a responsibility (if we do not like where we are) to move along life’s road, to find a better path if this one does not suit, or to walk happily along this one if it is indeed our life’s way. Changing even the bad things that have gone before would fundamentally change who we are, and whether or not that would be a good thing, I believe, it is impossible to predict. So I take my past experiences… and try to regret nothing. -Drizzt Do’urden”
R.A. Salvatore, Sea of Swords

We’ve been home for two four six eight busy weeks, and pencilled in a staycation to recover from our holiday and its aftermath. Future blog posts [under my new banner] and visits are in the pipeline but in the meantime for glimpses of our everyday life you can see my Instagram snapshots on the right (hover cursor over the pics for the captions) or if you’re an Instagrammer you can follow me at daleleelife101 and the G.O. at welshy055.

*The Far Side was a single-panel cartoon series, often surreal and anthropomorphic, created by Gary Larsen that was syndicated internationally to over 1,900 newspapers from 1980 for fifteen years.

P.S. If you think of it, would you please advise via Comments if this blog post appeared via email notification or in your Reader, as since changing to .blog it didn’t appear in my Reader until I unfollowed then followed. Thank you.


life as art

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Greetings from one of my favourites places… Broome, Western Australia, where we’ve made ourselves at home for a week enjoying an ensuite caravan park site with bonus shady mango tree, lawn and sprinkler!


Of our 59 days on the road to date most have had merit enough to render them a highlight… the G.O. and I have been, seen, experienced a variety of wonderful. Things people often comment are “once in a lifetime”. As one of the motivations for this trip is revisiting our brief Broome-Darwin highlights 2007 holiday, I don’t buy it for a minute, if somewhere-something is that good -all going to plan- we just might be back.

That is also by way of explanation why you haven’t until now seen a blog post from me and only adhoc visits to your blogs during our trip. It’s an art in itself, living this life on the road. What, if any, later art it manifests, who knows? It’s certainly transforming in subtle ways, and I can literally feel & see myself reshaping.

Last Sunday was one of several quiet days we planned to spend at Derby, Western Australia, after making our way across W.A. and a long, lovely day exploring the wonderful Bungle Bungles. But in a quirky way our Sunday turned out to be not quiet & quite memorable.

On Saturday we arrived, set up, ate lunch, washed clothes and ducked off to the mud crab races for a beer… as you do… before taking in the sunset at Derby Jetty. In passing we noticed the camper we’d parked alongside was the same one as we were next to a few days earlier at Wyndham. Easy to recognise the giant purple snail and name Max scribed boldly across it.

Also as you do, on Sunday morning we got chatting to these neighbours, who proposed an afternoon of fishing on the jetty. Why not, so we cobbled together our gear and joined the congregation enjoying the balmy north W.A. dry season weather doing the same thing. No-one caught much but the ambiance and sunset created a kind of magic.

So, should I have been surprised when chatting to our neighbours to find we have much in common including for B and I our day of birth? Calculating time-place difference, I’m the elder by about 16 hours. Or that B & Aquaman and Tanya & Al we encountered photographing the sunset are bloggers also? Their blogs are maxthesnailcom and Four Corners Australia. Or during the impromptu acoustic jam session of the same evening in the camp kitchen we’d meet travellers from Macksville, the small town nearest our village of Taylors Arm?

Yes, but with the kind of delight that comes from receiving marvellous unexpected gifts.

For glimpses of our travels you can see my Instagram snapshots on the right (hover cursor over the pics for the captions) or if you’re an Instagrammer you can follow me at daleleelife101 and the G.O. at welshy055.

Not lacking for blog inspiration & ideas, I began compiling a blog post for the first -Queensland- leg of our trip several weeks ago during our Darwin, Northern Territory stopover, which I’ll complete in due course. Since, we’ve moved further across another state. But I find the practical application of it somewhat distracting from the actual travel. However, below is a selection of photos from the last 58 days. Which in the meantime will suffice, I hope.

Mackay, North Queensland where we visited talltalesfromchiconia‘s Kate & Mr C.


Townsville, North Queensland looking towards the very attractive Magnetic Island


Kronosaurus Korner at Richmond, Outback Queensland where dinosaurs once swam


Our neigh-bours at Mt Isa, Outback Queensland


Retail therapy outback style at Daly Waters, Northern Territory


Up close and incredibly loud at Nitro Up North, Darwin, NT


Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin NT, the place to be on a Sunday evening


Everyone loves a sunset at Mindil Beach, Darwin, NT


We’re fans of markets big and small… Dundee Beach, NT


During our 2007 trip we saw Arnhem Land, NT from the air, this time on the ground


A view from a bridge… Victoria River, Gregory/Judburra National Park, NT…the G.O. rode a motorcycle across over 40 years ago


Dusty… Kununurra Rodeo, WA


Heading west, WA… we see a lot of this


A big, blue jewel in the Kimberley… Lake Argyle, WA


Five Rivers Lookout, Wyndham, WA on the Cambridge Gulf where the Ord, Pentecost, Durack, King and Forrest rivers come together


The Domes, 360 million years old, part of the Bungle Bungles, Purnululu National Park,WA… worth an 180 kilometre rough dirt road side trip


Another day another magic sunset… Derby Jetty, WA


Broome’s Gantheume Point where dinosaurs once roamed, looking towards Cable Beach, WA


“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” Anita Desai

From Broome, we’ll resume our journey in a southerly direction following the coast towards Perth, slowly towards Taylors Arm, NSW marked with the yellow star.


all paths lead home . . .

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mud map
Our “mud map” hangs in the shed. The blue texta line is where we travelled to and from Victoria in March 2016. The green texta line is the route we’ve plotted that will join us up with the furthest point we got to.

Seven months have swiftly passed since the G.O. and I moved to Taylors Arm at the beginning of summer. Now it’s winter and the dry season in northern Australia, the optimum time for setting off on our “big trip”, the one we’ve been planning for about ten years, so we’re packing away the house and packing up our caravan & ute with necessities for three, four or maybe five months on the road, and all weathers & environments.

June 2007 - A beach somewhere... north of Broome, Western Australia
We said we’ll be back, and we will. A beach somewhere… north of Broome, Western Australia. June 2007

In 2007 we managed a taster trip: a fortnight holiday flying from Sydney to Broome to Darwin to Sydney, exploring driving a hire car -as much as you can in two weeks- The Kimberley and Top End. For this upcoming trip we have given ourselves the time we envied those travellers in vans and campers we saw in caravan parks and campgrounds as we whizzed by or made overnight stops.

Getting there: Taylors Arm, NSW to Portland Victoria via Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia… indicative kilometres. Photo credit: Google Maps (source)

Our aim is to travel -as much as possible along the coast- from Taylors Arm, north up into tropical Queensland across to the Northern Territory, over to northern Western Australia, south to the bottom of Western Australia, across South Australia via the Nullabor to Portland – the most south-westerly location we got to during our Victoria roadtrip in March this year.

Vic-TA Trip
Getting back: Portland, Victoria to Taylors Arm, NSW… indicative kilometres. Photo credit: Google Maps (source)

After which we’ll figure out how to get home… route TBA dependent on time, money and travel ennui-enthusiasm.

all paths lead home
And though where the road takes us we cannot tell… the sticker on the rear of our caravan steers us.

I’ll be in touch… posting updates and visiting the blogging community as much as possible. For glimpses of our travels you can see my Instagram snapshots on the right and if you are an Instagrammer, you can find me at daleleelife101, and the G.O. at welshy055.

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
~ John Steinbeck

In My Kitchen: I want what I want not what you’ve got. It’s my money.

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Our planet is a mess. Our world is a mess. Our economies are a mess. Our politics are a mess. Our food culture is a mess. Too often I feel just one person -me- can’t do enough about saving the planet, changing the world, fixing the economy or persuading politicians… other than making my vote count at the next election by choosing as best I can from the options available.

Choosing as best I can from the options available is how I decide what to eat. And just maybe it will create positive change for the planet, world, economy and even politics.

What I choose to eat depends on my circumstances, time, budget, location, preferences… and principles. Food matters to me. I need to eat. What do I eat? Where do I spend my money? I was trying to care about good food without much information to guide me, relying on what the supermarkets sold me, and the right choices never seemed to come easily.

I’ve always played music in my kitchen -for me, it goes hand in hand with cooking. One day I was playing The John Butler Trio album Three, and a line from lyrics of the song Money stuck in my head… “So tell me man can you eat your money…” It clarified the confusion I had been feeling. So many places I was paying money to for food didn’t care about the food the way I did. It was just a Thneed they wanted to sell me to get my money.

Can you eat your money?
Can you eat your money?

I prefer to hand over cash in exchange for food to people I’m familiar and can have a conversation with; this from going to farmers markets when we were living in the city and learning about food direct from producers who travelled from the country. Now living in the country I’m exploring our new food neighbourhood and continuing have conversations… some are easier than others.

I asked, and learned from Dangerous Dan’s butcher they don’t stock feedlot meat. Their product labelling and conversational butcher told me their beef is grass-fed, pastured from the Manning Valley (200 kilometres). He said the lamb is from western NSW and the pigs are from local small holdings. But their chickens are Red Lea, have Free Range Accreditation but are not pasture reared. They don’t stock beef cheeks because they have to buy 20 kilogram lots. Macksville Quality Meats stock the local Burrawong Gaian chickens I buy which are pasture reared. Conversations with these guys are more prosaic. Their beef comes from Wingham (200 kilometres), and the story’s the same for lamb, pork and beef cheeks.*

We like to buy meat from our local Pub with No Beer, whose beef & pork is locally pasture reared (by the G.O.’s cousin who I can chat to and order beef cheeks from) and Kinloch Quality Meats at nearby Scotts Head butcher who grow their beef and pigs just up the road from us. We’re fans of Eungai Creek Buffalo who I first met many years ago at Eveleigh-Carriageworks Farmers Market when they had a farm west of Sydney. They moved to the Nambucca Valley, and now have a café on their farm adjacent to buffalo in the paddocks as well as a product range of meat, cheese, yoghurt and icecream.

Feeding my man local pasture raised meat from The Pub With No Beer & Eungai Creek Buffalo
“Feed the man meat” Local & pasture raised (in cryovac packaging) from The Pub With No Beer & Eungai Creek Buffalo

I simplify my choices and exercise my principles by shopping local, choosing independents over big supermarket chains. The nearby Macksville Foodworks Co-op supermarket meets most of my needs for basic grocery items and importantly stocks a reasonable selection of local products as does the other local independent, Richies IGA at Nambucca Heads.

Supermarket milk wars have recently shone a much-needed spotlight on Australian’s consumer choices for dairy products. Both these independent supermarkets stock my preferred local Norco (i.e. “North Coast” 100% Farmer Owned Co-Op) and Devondale (The Aussie Farmer Co-Op) dairy products as well as other small producers’. Foodworks hadn’t been stocking the G.O.’s favourite Norco spreadable butter, so I asked them if they could. A  few weeks later, it appeared on the shelf.

Recently at Woolworths Nambucca Heads searching for Australian company Republica’s organic fair trade coffee -our compromise on price, taste, ethics & availability- I noted local brands on the shelves were slim pickings… no local Norco dairy products. There were Nowra (650 kilometres) cheeses, prominently labelled local. I bought one… Hello, my name is Dale, I’m a cheese addict!

Close to home... local dairy products and home made yoghurt
Local dairy products & homemade yoghurt “Sweet dreams are made of cheese. Who am I to diss a brie… or a camembert”

Eggs were the first food choices I made from an ethical standpoint. Oh, the joy and satisfaction when I get my hands on good eggs from friends, neighbours, friends & family of neighbours, the Pub with No Beer, farmers markets and if necessary the supermarket… I advocate consumer free ranging to find good eggs preferably from pasture ranging chickens. Pastured chooks, being natural creatures don’t lay all the time, so the more sources the better. I’ve been a fan for a while of Flavour Crusader which lists directories for local, free range and organic produce – eggs as well as milk, pork, garlic, chicken, fruit and vegetables, and was excited to discover the newly launched CluckAR – The Free Range Egg Detector App with which “you can simply point your smartphone camera at a carton in the supermarket, and get a clear picture of which brands are selling eggs from the most chilled-out, happy hens”.

"You can't make an omelette with breaking a few eggs"
Local, pasture raised, organic and free range “You can’t make an omelette with breaking a few eggs”

Some food conversations are really awkward…. Mrs Well-Meaning Neighbour asked me if we liked corned beef (silverside). Sensing more to the question, I replied “yeeeesss” cautiously. She went on… would we like a frozen corned beef courtesy of their prodigious meat raffle wins? Knowing the raffle meat source was the local supermarket, I politely declined explaining we don’t buy or eat supermarket meat as it doesn’t agree with us. Several hours later the G.O. showed up at the back door, his face wearing a hunted expression and clutching a large frozen corned beef with which Mrs Neighbour had presented him at the gate. Upon seeing this I announced “we’re taking it back”. His expression became more woeful, so I agreed to look into its provenance. I Googled the name on the packaging, Thomas Farms… “innovative and value added-meat products” part of Thomas Foods, “Australia’s largest 100% family owned… third largest meat processor” and found several interesting articles which swayed the G.O. who said “we’ll take it back”. And we did, once again politely explaining we don’t buy or eat supermarket meat as it doesn’t agree with us and this product was likely via a feedlot i.e. AFO/CAFO (Concentrated/Animal Farming Operation). To which Mrs Neighbour responded “we don’t know anything about that, but my daughter will be happy to have it”. The experience left the G.O. and I feeling need-a-glass-of-wine-to-recover stressed. But a few days later, Mrs Neighbour triumphantly reported the corned beef had been well-received.

I care about my food and my money. Food shopping involves far more considering of choices and circumstance, time, budget, location, preferences than I believe it should but it’s my money and principles which give me power to influence food culture. When I can’t find what suits me I walk away without buying anything, often remarking

“I want what I want not what you’ve got. It’s my money”.

Thanks to Maureen at The Orgasmic Chef for hosting the monthly In My Kitchen, and the blogging community for the inspiration & virtual company they provide.

* Correct at time of publishing.

south of the border

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Dearth of sombreros and painted mules notwithstanding, in Australia people resident in a more southerly state location are often collectively & somewhat cheekily referred to as “Mexicans”. There’s longstanding rivalries between the states, one of the keenest being between my home state of NSW and the state adjoining its southern border, Victoria, where the elder of my younger sisters now resides.

01 Lake Tyers Beach_E
Top ten photos: Getting off to a good start, our first stop in Victoria at Lake Tyers, East Gippsland

Planning our year off, the G.O. and I pencilled in a visit to my south of the border sister for March 2016 to give us a break from moving and settling into our home at Taylors Arm.

02 St Kilda Pier sunset_E
Top ten photos: A perennial favourite. St Kilda Pier, Melbourne, at sunset

When the opportunity arose to join a blogger meet up in Melbourne we shuffled schedules and set off in late February. It also let us try out ourselves & our caravan on a shorter trip before embarking on a longer trip scheduled for mid-year.

03 Walking from Barwon Heads to Ocean Grove_E
Top ten photos: Walking from Barwon Heads to The Dunes café at Ocean Grove, Victoria

Having not done so before I accomplished packing the van remarkably efficiently without the G.O.’s belated advice to distribute the contents and thus the weight evenly.

04 Some of the Apostles, Great Ocean Road_E
Top ten photos: The Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria… If we had a bucket list, this would have been on it

We took away a few lessons from the trip: turn the fridge on early… ours came good about the time we arrived at my sister’s 5 days into the trip; fellow caravanners are great sources of information from where to stay, the mysteries of awnings, optimum tyre pressures, accessories necessary & not, and introduced us to that unique caravan park spectator sport – watching new arrivals reverse into a camping space.

Top ten photos: Contemplating the Shipwreck Coast, Great Ocean Road, Peterborough, Victoria
Top ten photos: Contemplating the Shipwreck Coast, Great Ocean Road, Peterborough, Victoria

We set off with a route in mind but thanks to many wonderful travel tips, abundant attractions throughout the state of Victoria and learning to balance distance & duration, our itinerary evolved as did our conversance with caravan lifestyle.

06 Portland_E
Top ten photos: So far from home, feeling so much at home. Portland, Victoria

My mantra as the trip progressed became “I can do this”. Since our December 2015 move from city to country & employed to unemployed, the complexion of my life had changed from city skyscraper office dweller to… flux. Much of what I had been good at professionally was irrelevant.

07 Halls Gap and The Grampians_E
Top ten photos: I can do this… walk.. climb… View of Halls Gap, The Grampians, Victoria from Boroka Lookout

About two-thirds the way through our travels, late on a warm night under starry skies camped at Wentworth next to the Darling River I had an epiphany while wandering along the track in the direction of the shower block, carrying my towel & toiletry bag… Life is good.

08 Murray River, Ned's Corner_E
Top ten photos: Camped on the Murray River, Ned’s Corner, Victoria

During the trip I experienced a real sense of accomplishment & enjoyment from adapting and stretching my literal & figurative comfort zones -physical activities to communal amenities- necessary for full participation in Australian travel on the road.

09 The Mallee_E
Top ten photos: The Mallee, Victoria… somewhere on the road between Halls Gap and Mildura

With that first trip and some essential maintenance work on our house behind us we’re now packing and preparing to set off shortly on our next, more challenging travel adventure, caravanning around the northern and western states of Australia.

Top ten photos: Where the Murray and Darling rivers meet, Victoria & NSW
Top ten photos: Where the Murray and Darling rivers meet, Victoria & NSW

Our Victoria trip route, 22 February to 22 March 2016 (late summer into unusually warm early autumn):

Getting there
Getting there: Taylors Arm, NSW to Portland, Victoria. Photo credit: Google Maps (source)
Getting back
Getting back: Portland, Victoria to Taylors Arm, NSW. Photo credit: Google Maps (source)


11 I'll keep your seat warm
Soossie-Cat: Off you go, I’ll keep your seat warm

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
[asked Alice]

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’
said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where -‘
said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’
said the Cat.

‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE’…”
[said Alice]

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Copyright Dale Newling 2016. All content on is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process, nor may any other exclusive right be exercised, without the permission of the owner who can be contacted via email dln011 [at] yahoo [dot] com [dot] au.


work in progress

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Work on our new life continues… on many levels.

work in progress... view from the verandah
work in progress… view from the verandah

Practically, our 1930’s house made it clear she hung on as long as she could in our absence. Once she had our attention, it became apparent we couldn’t ignore the few cracks that were appearing. When the G.O. looked at her underside, the bearers were holding her up without much support from the stumps.

work in progress... TLC needed
work in progress… TLC needed

This was the G.O.’s cue to bring forward beginning the restumping work he had planned for 2017. This involves the 6 foot + tall G.O. digging tunnels under the house, pulling out timber stumps, inserting temporary jacks, pouring concrete pads, bricking up new stumps.

work in progress... where does time go? 4 hours replacing door knob
work in progress… 4 hours replacing door knob

Over the past several weeks as well as attending to other ongoing repairs and work he’s completed replacing a dozen of the worst stumps, with only about 38 to go…

work in progress... where does time go? chopping wood... will it get cool enough to light a fire?
work in progress… chopping wood… will it get cool enough to light a fire?

Unable to assist sub-floor, as well as everyday domestic goddess cooking & cleaning I embarked upon the stages of sorting and spring cleaning I had thought to park until we returned from our travels, in doing so discovered the warm Autumn we were enjoying had created the perfect environment for seasonal sub-tropic climate mould-mildew we experience every so often.

work in progress... wiping and sorting
work in progress… wiping and sorting

This was my cue to twice wash every curtain, wipe all surfaces I could reach -climbing up & down a step ladder- with clove oil & hot water, wash windows and pull contents from cupboards and shelves to get into their nooks and crannies.

work in progress... re-sorting
work in progress… re-sorting

That done, on a roll, I revisited the shed’s storage shelves and cleared another load destined for a charity op-shop in town.

work in progress... sorted & destined for charity op-shop
work in progress… sorted & destined for charity op-shop

I’d like to say we are thankful and philosophical about this opportunity to embrace our new lifestyle but honestly, it’s not quite what we planned for this part of our holiday year. However, we are grateful we have the time, money, health and pleasant space in which we’re doing what we need to do in a home, place and among people we love.

WIP_Skip at dusk
There’s no place like home

Stay tuned… before we leave on our next trip mid June, I’ll share details of where we’re headed, some highlights of our travels through Victoria last March, and how we plan to link the two.

work in progress... Soossie-Cat holding the fort
work in progress… Soossie-Cat holding the fort

For glimpses of our new life you can see my Instagram snapshots on the right and if you are an Instagrammer, you can find me at dalelee011.

In My Kitchen: fellowship

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Once again I wasn’t sure if I’d manage it but once again I’ve scraped in before the 10th of the month IMK cut-off which makes me very happy because via this post I wanted to highlight the loveliness & friendship of our blogging community, and thank some special people.

First, thank you all for your generosity popping in and commenting even though while the G.O. and I are becoming accustomed to our new everyday my blogging presence has been sporadic.

Since my last IMK post in January, we were fortunate during February-March to take a trip to Victoria during which we met up with several blogger-friends. If you are ever going to be in a blog-buddy’s neighbourhood, all I can say is, the experience of sitting with, chatting and extending the connection is gratifying.

Fortuitously Francesca & Meeks live near my sister so we were able to catch up with them on their home turfs. Not just putting faces to names but places.  A few days later Kate, Ardys & I shared a lovely lunch in Melbourne CBD with Celi of thekitchensgarden and her cousin Maria. Before the G.O & I continued on our travels, along with Kate we met up with the delightful and talented Anne Lawson.

Francesca knows me well...
Francesca knows me well…

The Victoria locals shared some wonderful and useful travel tips which added highlights to our trip we’d have missed otherwise. And beautiful & thoughtful gifts left us with tangible mementos of our meetings to take home.

An Anne Lawson ink feather... waiting for its blue mate via Anne's Etsy store
An Anne Lawson ink feather… waiting for its blue mate via Anne’s Etsy store

Travelling with us to Victoria in our caravan fridge was a jar of my sourdough starter Polly, daughter of Celia’s Priscilla. Revived in my sister’s kitchen she was cloned as Holly. And has gone on to be very successful via my sister’s bread baking efforts.

My sourdough starter Polly daughter of Celia's Priscilla now has a sister, Holly...
My sourdough starter Polly daughter of Celia’s Priscilla now has a sister, Holly…

Upon our arrival home I was greeted by another beautiful & thoughtful housewarming gift sent from the UK by Mary, who although living far away feels very close.

A literary and floral gift from Mary... synchronicity at work, it resembles other items in my kitchen and my reading tastes...
A literary and floral gift from Mary… synchronicity at work, it resembles other items in my kitchen…

When I started blogging four years ago, it was to keep a bit of sanity in my life. The G.O. and I were living in a tiny city apartment and working hard towards making our dreams of a life in the country come true. At the time I had no idea the impact the interaction of the blog world would have. Connecting me with interesting & likeminded people worldwide it has fleshed out our dreams via their inspiration and companionship, distance notwithstanding. I’m truly grateful.

Thanks to Maureen at The Orgasmic Chef for hosting the monthly In My Kitchen, and the blogging community for the inspiration & virtual company they provide. Special thanks to Francesca, Anne & Mary for the lovely cards & housewarming gifts.

The G.O. digging in to Francesca's delicious homemade cucumber pickles
The G.O. digging in to Francesca’s delicious homemade cucumber pickles

life as a full time job . . .

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Choko vine - backyard treasure
Choko vine, backyard treasure

I was thinking of changing the tag for my blog from there is an art to the everyday  to  got the life I wanted… now what the hell do I do?

Red rose - front yard treasure
Red rose – front yard treasure

Since moving to the country and taking a long holiday from having a day job my everyday is unlike that of my city life when I created the blog. Another kind of art needed to manage it.

Yesterday – 4 loads of washing. Bottled 7 jars of choko pickles. Made yoghurt. Made pumpkin soup for dinner-freezer-MiL. Made lasagne for dinner & freezer. Made frittata for lunch & leftovers. Baked sourdough bread. Made pots of tea. Cleaned up kitchen. Made beds after swapping mattresses. Vacuumed floors. Watered vege garden pots. Took photo of rose in the front garden. Fed Soossie-the-share-cat [who has now been desexed] at least 6 times. Gave myself much needed mani & pedicure.

Soossie Cat, treasure who loves her food

I’ve taken today off… after ticking off a few jobs. Council final inspection of the shed. Create bespoke moisturisers by adding essential oils, and decant. Transfer birthday funds to the G.O.’s granddaughter. Clean coffee machine. Wash up. Collaborate with the G.O. to hang pictures. Rearrange shelves and cupboards. Make pots of tea…

Mid morning I found a quiet sunny-shady spot on the verandah to attempt to catch up on blogging life. And made a start – compiling 10 of the better photos from our Victoria trip. Watch this space.

Tomorrow – Thursday, is town day. A repeat of last Thursday… car services, errands and grocery shopping. Hearing test for G.O. Visit MiL. Maybe a birthday lunch with my aunt & uncle.

Took my car to mechanic for service and the G.O.'s broke 2 fanbelts
Took my car to mechanic for service and the G.O.’s broke 2 fanbelts

Friday – I’m hoping for another day off, and maybe another blog post and blog visiting.

Saturday – Macksville Show. All the fun of the fair and checking out the pavillion displays, woodchop, The Rooftop Express arena evening entertainment and demolition derby. Visit MiL.

Sunday – Take MiL to the movies at the old Bowraville Theatre to see The Lady in the Van.


We arrived home from our travels a fortnight ago, hit the ground running to clean, garden, shop and generally catch up. Even during our self-governed Easter break there were little jobs.

Vege garden in pots
Vege garden in pots

Life outside 9-5 and accustomed infrastructure, I now realise after 4 months, is equal parts rewarding and wearying. Not worse, just different, and requires more adaptation than I imagined during the city-office bound incubation stages of the plan.

Pumpkin soup and sourdough bread... time is the hidden ingredient
Pumpkin soup and sourdough bread… time is the hidden ingredient

Travel, I now realise after our month away, is equal parts stimulating and wearying. I will get around to writing travel (we took about a thousand photos between us) & other blog posts, visiting and commenting on blog posts, also to reading books (only 2 short books so far this year) and articles… and all the online people & things that are an important part of my life that I miss and think about.

In the midst of being busier than I ever expected via the throes of changing from one life to another I encountered a form of mental inertia that leaves me often unable to convert thoughts to keyboard strokes. Sigh. I was somewhat stressed about this for a while. After all, it is what I planned to do but I attempt to release the self-imposed pressure and console myself that for a while I’m simply being and doing.


The G.O.'s everyday...
The G.O.’s everyday…

the grass is greener . . .

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The grass is greener on the other side of our city to country-coast tree-sea change fence but it hasn’t quite panned out the way we expected.

We love our new life at Taylors Arm, and not given the city life we left second thoughts. A few days short of two months along, much has been accomplished; some planned, some figured out as we go. We haven’t had a proper break yet… in hindsight we realised even thinking it possible to combine holidays with a move was kidding ourselves. We’re settling into a home that’s been marking time for a decade, and fielding new challenges & opportunities including preparing for our caravanning travel adventures. Most things take longer and more effort than we think. More often than not our days leave us feeling exhausted. The effects of our previous life of 5 am starts 6 days a week has collided with the new and caught up with us. I keep repeating the words Relax – Patience – Process – Journey like a mantra. I have a multitude of blog post narratives running around my head and a miscellany of photos on my phone which I will need to share.

However, in the midst of it all we garden, which is a good place to begin catching up. I started taking photos and planned this blog post weeks ago. Ah well, these things take time…

Our situation is sub-tropical, coastal hinterland. We use little water on the garden as it only comes from the sky, the house rainwater tanks and grey water run-off (we use eco-friendly green household products). Over the years we’ve supplemented the original hardy garden -the house was built in the 1930’s- adding native & flowering shrubs & vines, cottage plants, herbs and odd little garden ornaments. We’re starting off simply with a vege garden in containers using those we had on our city apartment balcony and others cached from footpath discard piles because for much of this year we plan to be away travelling. We don’t use chemicals or sprays. No matter how much effort we put in, the garden will never be orderly… or finished. Having such a garden is a blessing.


In My Studio . . . aka the Backroom

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Ever since I read Anne Lawson’s inaugural In My Studio post I could hardly wait to shift furniture and unpack the contents of our new-old third bedroom at Taylors Arm so I could join in, and share my embryonic dreams of creative space. The reality is it was the last room to be sorted.

But in time for Anne’s January 2016 In My Studio post I can unveil… the Backroom.

It’s early days yet, and other than blogging & Instagram artistic creativity remains in chrysalis stage. But for now it’s enough that I created the Backroom. For 10 years I’ve been dreaming of occupying this room that opens onto the verandah where the G.O. and I could share space on our big old table made from floorboards and fence posts topped with pots of pens, photos, notebooks and… stuff. A room that fits our books and collected knickknacks, where the old night & day sofa that reminds me of one at my grandparents’ old house sits below paintings done by my Great-Aunt Emma in 1911. Tall drawers and a repurposed drinks trolley hold other stationery and creative bibs & bobs, some untouched for more than a decade since I last did art courses, and recent gifts of sketchbooks & pencils.

It’s a beginning and a space where inspired by Anne’s artistic life and Ardys’ creative life & mindfulness I can play with the seeds of possibilities and creativity that have so wonderfully come my way.