Yes. I am getting ridiculously excited about the tiniest bit of new growth on a plant, but bear with me.
When we moved in here about 15 years ago much of the back garden was a barren wasteland, although the previous owner clearly had delusions of grandeur and had planted a few things on the hill.
When I say planted I really mean ‘hacked out a wedge of clay and inserted a plant’. Over time most of them died leaving only the dent in the hill to show they had ever been there. (Yes, the impressions are still here after all this time. Our hill changes at glacial speed….)
One of the few that still soldiers on was a lemon tree, although calling what it is doing ‘soldiering on’ might be a tad optimistic.
When we arrived here it was about hip height and not the healthiest specimen. Now, all these years later, it is about chest height and not in any better condition. A few weeks ago I resolved to actually care for the poor thing in the hopes of reviving it. After all, what is a food garden without a lemon tree?!
The first thing I did was drag a short, fat fallen branch from the pile of waiting-to-be-cut-up wood to use as a barrier against any more dirt being washed away from around it, and then pinch some soil from another part of the garden to sprinkle it around it.
Over the next few days I made a short wire fence around it to keep Jack away from the chook poo I spread around the base. It has now been pruned and mulched with pea straw to within an inch of its life in the hopes it will retain some kind of damp when the weather warms up.
The kids have also been instructed to relieve themselves on it whenever they feel like it. Number 1 is a little hesitant, the chance a neighbour might look out of the window at the wrong time is too much for him, but Number 2 cares less about what people might think and has taken up the challenge with relish.
Clearly all this attention has had some effect and hopefully this tiny bit of new growth is the start of an abundance of lemons. Well, I’m not holding my breath but I can dream! 😀
After yesterday’s post about Banjo Paterson I thought today I would write about another of his poems. Banjo Paterson also wrote the poem Waltzing Matilda, a variation of which is probably better known as a song rather than the original poem.
Waltzing Matilda is about a swagman who, after settling down under a tree and making camp (boiling his billy), steals a wandering sheep.
The squatter (landowner) and police arrive and to avoid capture, the swagman jumps into the billabong and commits suicide, the poem ending with his ghostly voice haunting the billabong.
A swagman is a homeless man who travels about the bush looking for work. The lifestyle of the swagman was often romanticized but I doubt that being homeless, with very few posessions, and viewed with suspicion wherever you go is the happiest existence…
I am also using the swagman reference as a tenuous link to include this photo of a framed print by William Hatherell* my mum and dad found at a market a few months ago and passed on to me which is, very conveniently, of a swagman with his swag and a billy hanging off his belt.
It also means I get to include Waltzing Matilda as sung by the late Slim Dusty. I am not a country music fan, but who can resist an Aussie icon singing another Aussie icon.
Andrew Barton Paterson was born on 17th February, 1864, near Orange in NSW. He was not only a poet, among other things he was also a journalist, a war correspondent and a WWI soldier.
Banjo Paterson wrote many poems about the harsh life in the Australian bush, although this one published in The Queenslander in 1901 called A Mountain Station is more amusing than anything else. 🙂
He also wrote some of Australia’s favourite poems, The Man from Snowy River, Clancy of the Overflow and, one I’m sure you have all heard, Waltzing Matilda.
The Man from Snowy River was even made into a film in the early 80’s, and Banjo Paterson is also on our ten-dollar note, along with an illustration of The Man from Snowy River.
I was looking for a Banjo Paterson clip to add and found this one, accompanied by great images, old and new illustrating the tale of Clancy of the Overflow (with the strains of Waltzing Matilda playing in the background).
On the ceiling of a room in Frederick the Great’s palace in Germany, San Souci*, is a painting of a spider in its web.
This spider was painted in honour of the arachnid whose last (and probably first) bath inadvertently saved His Majesty from a horrible end.
The story goes that every morning King Frederick would partake of a cup of chocolate in a room adjoining his bedchamber.
Once morning, before drinking, the King returned to the bedroom for a forgotten item and on his return he found the spider flailing around in his cup.
Naturally he requested another cup (and possibly the head of the spider-shy maid on a platter) and this request was met with an unexpected pistol shot.
Apparently the cook had poisoned the first cup of chocolate and, after hearing the request for another, thought the jig was up.
I wonder what happened to the bedraggled spider? Was it left to drown in the poisoned chocolate or did some kind servant return it to the garden? I expect that it was probably forgotten in the mayhem of the attempted assassination and suicide, and gasped its last before sinking beneath the deadly, chocolatey waves….
I have no idea if this story has any truth or is just an interesting myth, and my research hasn’t helped clear the waters. You’re an eclectic and well-travelled lot, has anyone been to the palace and noticed a large spider on the ceiling? If you have anything to share please do!
*Sans souci means ‘without concern’ or ‘no worries’ and there is a suburb south of Sydney in New South Wales that also goes by the name Sans Souci.
When I hear that name I can’t help but think of that Aussieism no wuckers‘. I’m not sure King Frederick would be too happy about his palace being thought of as ‘No Wuckers Palace’ though…
Something they all tend to have in common is that they usually feature a god or animal turning a vast emptiness into a world appropriate for human use. Oh, and devils. Just because life was never meant to be easy.
Australian Aboriginals use the term Dreamtime to describe the time when their world and ancestors were being shaped. One of the most famous and important Dreamtime characters of Australian Aboriginals is the Rainbow Serpent.
According to myth, the slitherings of this giant snake created the mountains and valleys. This story is probably the most well-known and widespread of all the Dreamtime myths.
Of course, Australia is well-known for its unusual, and at times dangerous, animals but I think that we are pretty lucky we don’t have giant, valley carving snakes travelling around the countryside today!
This post was inspired by this interesting article in the Herald-Sun about the discovery of giant snake skeletons in outback north Queensland. These snakes weren’t just big.
“Dated back to the Pleistocene epoch, between 2 million and 11,700 years ago, the fossils are believed to be akin to a constricting python, a predator that grew up to 7m long and as thick as a telegraph pole.”
Bushwalking wouldn’t have held the same kind of pleasure in those days would it? Although I love the comment from Dr. John Scanlon, one of the finders of giant snakes, who said;
“Serpent myths are universal, but whatever way you look at it, the world was a far more interesting place with giant snakes in it.”
Yes. It probably was. Although that kind of sounds like that old curse, ‘may you live in interesting times’. If there was a chance of coming across one of these guys in your garden (or a 5 metre Megalania, giant lizards and giant snakes at the same time, eek!) I think that Australians would be known for living in bunkers and having a tank parked in every driveway….
For those of you who have never heard of the Rainbow Serpent or Dreamtime myths here is a clip of the Rainbow Serpent story. It is narrated by the famous Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil and features the 1975 art of David Roughsey.
We are staying in Wedderburn for the last few days of our holiday. We are only a few hours drive from home, and should really just keep going as there are plenty of things we would probably be best attending to back there while we have some time off. Nevertheless, we are still officially on holiday, and as such will be remaining in that state of mind for as long as possible!
Wedderburn is a small town with a gold mining heritage*. We have stayed out in the bush here a few times, fossicking, but this time we are staying in the caravan park. We have stayed in lots of caravan parks over the years, some are good, and we go back to them whenever we pass through, some are average. Others are bad and we would avoid them at all costs. This caravan park fits into the good category. We stayed on our way up to Broken Hill as well. The couple who run it, Andrew and Gaye, are lovely and the park is small with nice gardens, and is a short stroll from the main street. It is dog-friendly, which is always a good thing, and Andrew and Gaye are always up for a yack.
When we got here yesterday there was a sign on the front door saying “Out for a while. Choose a site and we’ll see you later” and Andrews phone number. That is our kind of caravan park!
We set up just in time to put the tv on and watch Ford lose the race at Bathurst to Holden. Here is the last lap, the kids and I watched it again just now in the hopes that in this version the Holden would crash. No joy.
Unlike our usual efforts where we tend to holiday off the beaten track, and out of season, the caravan park at Broken Hill was filled with kids on school holidays, so it was something of a shock to our two squids! They are pretty happy to be the only ones here as it means they get the foosball table in the rotunda to themselves, no feral kids shouting around the caravan at the crack of dawn keeps the Man and I pretty happy too!
As school holidays finished on Monday our kids have been told to keep their noses clean or we’ll enrol them in the local school for a week….
A quiet day in town.
Gaye pointed us towards Inglewood today, telling us it had great second-hand shops. We didn’t need telling twice and decided that we would take the drive out there for lunch (about 28 kms).
It is a town with great historic buildings, many of them with a plaque on the front detailing its individual history. I love it when local organizations go to that much trouble to inform passing tourists.
We stayed in Ouyen earlier in the week, it is a small town and really has no large attraction to keep people around for more than a day. The bakery is famous for its Vanilla Slices, but that is it. Nevertheless, each significant building in town has a fantastic brass plaque with an image of the building and some information about its history. We always look out for those sorts of things and I think that they are the best ones we have ever seen.
In Inglewood this sign was on the front of the butcher. No, it isn’t historic and many other country butchers have similar ones.
Do they do house calls I wonder?
PRIVATE BODIES CUT AND PACKED.
The small handwritten addition underneath was what made us all laugh though.
mother in laws 10c extra a kilo.
We had to buy meat for dinner so that was definitely the shop for us. We didn’t get mother-in-law sausages though. I think they keep them out the back 😉
The only problem with going to a small country town with great vintage shops is the decision of what to buy. Amazingly, I didn’t buy a single thing. It is not that I didn’t want to, it is just that there were so many things I wanted I couldn’t whittle the list down to an acceptable level!
The kids were overwhelmed with choices and didn’t make a single purchase either, I suspect that there may be a negotiation with our driver (the Man) later in the week and we will return with what remains of our souvenir budget and we will spend freely 😉
The Man did make a purchase though, the Inglewood Emporium (I love that name, call any old shop an Emporium and I’m in) was the best shop there, and had a great section at the back with old tellies and records. Upon entry, the Man zoomed straight up there only to find Moving Pictures 1981 album Days of Innocence just sitting on the top of the nearest stack. In vinyl. For ten bucks.
He clutched it to his chest and did everything but a Woo Hoo! and fist pump… 😀
The song What About Me? is on this album and as a teenager was one of my favourites and a favourite of the Man as well. The video for the song was filmed in a country town and so it is completely appropriate that the Man found the album in a similar one so many years later!
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