Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Lal Lal last Sunday

Here I am in the Lal Lal pub.

Outside the window is pretty much all of Lal Lal.

And in front are the memorial trees. Lal Lal is just outside Ballarat, and once it had iron and coal mines, not very big ones.

 The wattle was everywhere, the creamy-scented sort, I can't remember its name.

I'd come out to see the railway station again. It's a beautiful little bluestone building, and no longer in use.

It's pretty much intact.  Even the old wooden dunnies are still in place.

I wish they still ran passenger trains along this line - I'd catch the train out to the pub on a Saturday afternoon.

Looking across to the east.

Driving home.

Back behind Warrenheip

Baking escape

It has been another hard week - lots of work paid and unpaid (mostly unpaid work unfortunately), all involving stressed people, deadlines and no time for making stuff.  I found a very pretty English magazine full of baking and cottages with lovely tables of treats. I needed a little of that fantasy.

I found a tin and baked some cakes to use up the last of the Christmas fruit mince in the fridge. The tin was important. Fruit cakes are better the day after they are cooked, and they keep best in a tin.

I've never cooked such small Christmas cakes and they were delicious.

Inside the almanac

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The weekend reading

This weekend I've been reading (or rather, attempting to read) a  traditional Chinese almanac. Spring has aroused a desire to complete all my most quixotic projects!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Step out with care

A few of the older, two-storey brick buildings in Ballarat have these wooden additions sticking out from the second floor. Most of them are additions at the back - and some come a fair way out. They have an airy, isouciant feel - there are a couple on Bakery Hill I would love convert to a study/studio.
This is the top frontage of a shop down the bottom of Sturt Street.  It's a relatively narrow buildout - possibly because it's over the main street.
You wouldn't want to step out too carelessly, but I can imagine a coffee here on a summer morning, dangling my feet over the main street.

This pic gives a better idea of how it all sits in the street. I may be wrong but I don't remember this sort of addition to equivalent Melbourne buildings. Perhaps vigilant town engineers had them removed in the modernising seventies? Certainly a vigilant city engineer seems to have removed the old verandah from below this one.

On bread and the advantages of not being too organised

Sunday morning's bread dough. I think this will be a low-rise, dense loaf.

I make bread every second morning or so - depending on how quickly we eat the previous loaf.
I use a basic recipe that I know by heart, I mix and  knead by hand and the whole process takes about two hours or so. A lot of that time is taken up by an hour of the dough rising, and about 30 minutes of baking.
It's quick and easy, but despite the regular routine, the loaves are always a little unpredictable.
I may not have let the yeast  or the dough rise enough or  maybe I didn't put in enough water so we get a dense, chewy loaf - as in the one this morning. Sometimes it is as perfect in texture and as light as a French bakers loaf.
It might be all organic white flour, it might be all organic wholemeal, I might make it half oatmeal or rye or polenta - it might be a bit overcooked, it might be (worst scenario and meaning toasting loaf only) a bit doughy.
Some cooks are meticulous, as Yin is, and make sure they cook exactly what they plan. I quite like the variety that cames from going easy with the bread making.

I must add that I love the way Yin says 'I'll cook fried turnip cakes' and they always have a solid jelly texture, studded with crunchy dried shrimps and with just the right crackly fried texture on the bottom. Always.

Nectarine flowers

Nectarine blossoms in the back yard. Spring is most romantic for me when it is misty and the new blossoms glow against the grey sky.
Maybe if you click on this picture you will see the delicate mist on the blossoms.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Buninyong Makers Market

I found treasures at the first Makers Market in the Buninyong Town Hall on Saturday. Gorgeous dresses in amazing fabrics,

the best buttons (and mugs and other ceramic lovelies), and cards and books.......I certainly won't miss the next one in October

The work was of an admirably high standard, and everyone I spoke to was local - Ballarat, Ballan, Creswick.

City stroll

I started off from the Mechanics Institute, after returning a bag of  books to the library there, at the bottom of Sturt Street

from the bandstand in the middle of the street I could see Minerva on the top of the Mechanics Institute on one side.

And this lovely piece on the opposite side at the entrance to Camp Street (all goldrush towns have a Camp Street where the soldiers and police set up)

Down from the bandstand and along the little path in the centre gardens

Past Queen Vicky and her fairy (yes I know it's really the goddess Victoria)

Past the nicely wrapped town hall

Around into Mair Street. Here's a remnant of the old School of Mines (one in every Victorian Goldrush Town once) which has taken over the Ballarat Brewery and the Ballarat prison and morphed into a university.

Not many milk bars left now - once they were on every second corner.

Then I walked around the newly flowering gardens in Mills and Frank Streets, just near the city centre.

These wide streets always feel good. Not too well-curbed and paved, with lots of room for people who like to walk.

And even around these neatly made-up houses you can come across a bit of informal loveliness.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Green door

I rambled around today, having been given a 'day in lieu' for overtime I worked recently. I took a few photos and I added some doors to my collection.

I even ducked in behind the fence, I liked this door so much. Usually I'm too shy to do this sort of thing.

It's the door to a church hall in central Ballarat.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Zines and magpies to share

I often stop off at this place, the Sticky Institute  zine shop in Campbell Arcade, an underground laneway from Flinders Street station.  I love the unpredictability of zines. Last year I found this zine, and its maker seemed to love magpies too. It's been in and out of my pocket since. (I always travel with things to read and play around with).

A couple of days ago I found that the maker, Bridget Farmer, is still drawing birds (and other things) and has a blog.

So I thought I'd share this, as other people have shared good things with me.

Maybe her drawings will please you too.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Moss gardens

I found moss gardens on the shore of Lake Burrumbeet