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Friday, October 10, 2014


One of my strongest memories of my paternal grandfather was of him pottering in the garden.
He had a way with plants, as has his son ( my father) and he was always propagating and pottering.

He was a veteran of World War 1, traveling all the way to the war by ship with his brother who died from the dreadful flu epidemic without seeing any action on the war front.
Pop saw action in France and was a runner between the trenches carrying messages
 - a very dangerous task I imagine !
But then everything was dangerous in that dreadful war.

Pop was a very staunch member of the Returned Soldiers' League and the family treasures the citation for his services to the Cairns branch throughout WWII.

No matter where he lived his garden always contained some red poppies.
Every year these poppies would magically appear originating from self sown seeds of the flowers of the previous year.

Bright spots of red would bob up all over the place.
When I asked him he called them Flanders Poppies but never said any more about them
 but they are the flower that I most associate with him all these years later.

Now, of course, I know the significance of them and have seen them growing wild in France and England too.

Recently, on a whim, I searched the internet to see if it was possible to buy seeds with thoughts of them popping up in my garden as they had for him.
I was surprised to find them easily and soon dispatched an order for 1000 poppy seeds for the princely sum of $1.99 !
 Now I have to say that I have never seen these poppies growing anywhere except my grandfather's garden so I guessed from that that there might be a problem with growing them here in semi tropical Brisbane.
At first I gently scattered a very small amount of seed into a pot , gently covered them and watered and waited.... and waited.......and waited.

Nothing happened and I left the whole idea for a while.
  Then one day I came upon the seeds - such tiny specks of seeds -and thought I'd give them one more go.
So I sprinkled them ALL into this small pot and just watered it.
No covering the seeds with soil, no fuss. Nothing to lose ....
and do you know I think every single seed germinated !

990 tiny little plants all jammed in together !!! 

The instructions said they should be planted where they were to grow.
The did not transplant well.
Oh dear !
Well today I've carefully taken a few chunks of plants off one side of the mass, separated them into smaller clumps and planted them out into a bigger pot.

I've also planted a few small clumps into the dry stony ground that is our garden.
All I can do now is try to keep them alive with water and a little gentle fertilizer and cross my fingers.
It may be too hot here ... but then it's very hot in the south of France so you never know.


The big blue pots with their pretty annuals are now adding colour to the front of our house and seem to be doing well. Let's hope they can withstand the heat for a little while at least

As you can see our front yard needs all the help it can get!

A long dry Winter, no Spring rains and lots of windy days has left our front lawn very parched indeed.
Yes, this is a true colour photo of the dry, crackly stuff that is our front lawn

and with no rain to fill the tank there'll be no green grass here till it rains.
(It's too expensive to water the lawn with town water)


Monday, October 6, 2014


Something lemony was required for CWA morning tea
so a batch of Lemonies were whipped up.
Quick and easy and oh so lemony, they were a hit.
I knew I was taking a risk letting my little Lemonade tree bear fruit and when I noticed the poor thin little branch starting to split I hurriedly cut off all the fruit, new flowers and tiny fruit buds.
This is the harvest.
 Big, fat  Lemonades A little larger than lemons and very full of juice.
They turn yellow when ready but I couldn't wait any longer and risk too much damage to the tree.
I pruned the branches right back and gave the poor little thing a good hit of fertilizer and I promise to remove any flowers till it is a lot bigger and sturdier.
They are such prolific little trees with what seems like a constant supply of flowers and fruit.
Anyhow the fruit , though not fully mature, are very juicy and quite sweet and lemony
and the temperature hit 28C degrees so it was time for a cocktail.
Helsie's Downfall    to be exact !
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Australian Federal Police arrest a man during a raid on an Islamic store in Logan, south of Brisbane. Photo: Seven News

To re-cap the major points from the police press conference at 9.30am:
- The counter-terrorism raids are the largest in Australia's history
- Police allege the group targeted in the raids "had the intention and had started to carry out planning to commit violent acts here in Australia". Those violent acts would be carried out against random members of the public.(That has prompted comparisons to the murder of soldier Lee Rigby, who was killed in a random attack in England last year.)

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/live-antiterrorism-raids-across-sydney-and-brisbane-20140918-3fzkq.html#ixzz3DcZg6tla

It's time we stopped being such a walkover and bending backwards to accommodate immigrants who despise our laws, value systems and way of life.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/live-antiterrorism-raids-across-sydney-and-brisbane-20140918-3fzkq.html#ixzz3Dce887RM
- One person has been charged with serious terrorism offences and 14 others detained.
- 800 police officers were involved in the operation.

Friday, September 12, 2014


In Helsie's garden:
Spring, Queensland style, has sprung into action with the daytime temperature going straight to the mid to high twenties though the nights are still pleasantly cool - around 13 degrees C.
The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow ( Brunfelsia) is coming into bloom.
 Lovely perfume and flowers that change from purple (yesterday) to lavender ( today) to white (tomorrow)

The Grevilleas are well into their best and full of honey eating birds.

I'm trying some flowers in pots like they do in the UK.
Blue and yellow theme in this one.
Hoping for success before it gets too hot for them.

and this little tree.

This is a Lemonade Tree. Do you know this fruit?
It tastes like lemon but is not sour like a lemon.
Very refreshing.
I know I should not have let these fruit progress on such a small tree but I could not resist.
As soon as they turn yellow I'll pick them and prune the poor little thing right back to thicken it up.
They bear prolifically and there are lots of flowers and more tiny fruit but I'll be good and take them off.
You can't buy the fruit in the shops and I have a reason for growing them.
I have a delightful Summery cocktail that I have invented that I have named .....
Helsie's Downfall !
It can only be made with these lemonades.
Just lemonade juice and Malibu and shaved ice......
Delicious !!
(but not too many now ... and go easy on the Malibu !)

In the kitchen :
Corn fritters for Sunday lunch.
They tasted pretty good too.
Now I'm on a roll so Corned Beef Fritters planned for sometime this weekend.
We have a new BBQ, a Weber Q, so we had to try a pork loin roast on it.

Very successful and good crackling too.
A healthy breakfast

No, it's not that big !!
This is a tiny one-person pan !
It's made with one egg for protein, one tablespoon of oat bran for fibre and one tablespoon of low fat cottage cheese for calcium.
Add a bit of sliced tomato for vitamin C and you are not hungry till lunchtime for under150 calories.
The same breakfast in my new Firestone pan - as seen on TV !!!
It is living up to the ad so far.

Nothing beats red Paw Paw ( or Papaya )
Well mango does but it's not available yet !!
Salad, salad, salad.
Still a bit chilly for dinner but BBQs will soon be the order of the day.

Around the house:
The Positano Room had its unveiling recently.

One more cushion to go - that large cream one on the sofa.

 I have framed some postcards and placed some actual photos of the same place in Positano and hung that on the small amount of wall there is available for decoration.

Sorry for the reflections but this is the best I can do in the daytime.
Underneath the photo frame is the little table made out of an old Singer sewing machine where I always put out the coffee and tea things
 Above the door I hung some stings of plastic lemons I found.

It's coming along very nicely and can go back to normal very quickly with the removal of a couple of props.
 A bit of fun and bright and cheery too!
So that's what's happening around Helsie's Place.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


When we go on holidays we take hundreds, no thousands, of photos.
Tony has the you-beaut-DSLR camera with several different lenses
and I have a little idiot proof, point-and-shoot camera that I love.
 Taking lots of photos means we cement those holiday experiences in our memories
so the photos always include photos of the food we eat as well as the places we go and the people we meet along the way.
When we come home we spend a lot of time looking at them and it has become a tradition that we make a photo book - ( Blerb is our program of choice ).
Every year the book gets bigger and bigger - this year required two books.

The first, about Italy, filled 250 pages and it a real brick of a book

and the second much smaller ( thinner ) one is just about our week in Paris.
After all this studying of photos Tony has chosen one photo as the best of the holiday and it is this one :
And guess what?
 It is one I took !!
Apparently the play of light and shade in this Roman streetscape has made it a winner !
The one we chose for the cover of the photobook ( and coming in a very close second ) is this one of a Venice canal taken by Tony.
We've decided to have them enlarged ( a lot ) and framed to put on our family room wall.
They can take pride of place there for a time until they are replaced with the winners from our next trip.
These ones are photos we have had put on canvas from previous trips to England and Paris and will now gradually be replaced with this years selections.

 ( Tony has changed the setting on my camera so that it takes a photo that fills the whole screen of our new TV without distorting the image but it looks a bit weird doesn't it ?)

This photo below ( from this trip ) is a favourite of mine of the spectacular horses at St Mark's in Venice.
I have framed it and it already graces the wall in the dining room.

What do you do with your holiday photos ?

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Guests for lunch on Sunday meant a bit of extra effort.
 Chicken, mushroom and leek pie ready for a last minute trip to the oven.
Served up with roast vegies, red cabbage and peas it tasted pretty darn good !
Dessert needed to be something light
so Panna Cotta was just the thing.


My first attempt and they were perfect.
I topped them with berries
 - frozen raspberries and fresh strawberries gently cooked with a little sugar -
Mmmmmmmmmm !
Small Roma tomatoes oven dried .
full of intense tomatoey flavour they made a lovely lunch on buttered sour dough bread.
Other dinners this week -
 sweet chilli salmon

chicken and vegies stir fry
So today - Saturday - saw us up early and off to the Fresh Food Market to replenish supplies

This lot should see us through for the next two weeks. 

and now there's a pot of vegetable soup bubbling on the stove.
We've just bought ourselves a new " Weber Q" barbeque
to replace our big six burner which was a bit of overkill for just the two of us.
We 'll be ready when the warmer weather arrives.