Miz Lizzie: Cushion creatures

Miz Lizzie has a couple of new adornments.

In addition to sorting out temporary hacks for fitted bunk sheets (aka strategically placed quilting safety pins to hold them tight), and in lieu of making the 4 sets of curtains I’d promised myself, and which the cyclone clear-up cancelled due to lack of time, I’ve managed to get a couple of cushion covers done. We have one each, same fabric, different binding. They’re the perfect plumpness for leaning on while we’re reading or doing something online.

Don’t you just adore that fabric? Mostly Australian birds and butterflies, and it’s a really nice weight of cotton/linen blend décor fabric. I just couldn’t resist it when I saw it, and a metre was plenty for these two. The colour scheme is not exactly right to match the curtain fabric, but close enough that it doesn’t clash visually. And I needed a tiny bit of pink in the future ocean of blues and neutrals…

The process of making them was not without its moments… Originally, both cushions had a zipper in the back. However, as I was inserting the cushion pad into the pink-bound cushion, the zipper pull self-destructed. I couldn’t face the prospect of removing the binding, taking the cover apart and extracting the zip so I could replace it.

So I thought of buttons, and that’s what I’ve got, holding the opening closed with elastic loops. I’d probably have replaced the zip if it was for someone else, but this was my cushion, and although it’s not perfect, I find it quite OK; the buttons blend well with the colour scheme and they do a good job of holding the cover closed without gaping.

Just a few days now before we go away. And still so much to do!

I just can’t help myself

I think it must be a character defect. I just can’t seem to control it these days.

I’m talking about doing fabric pulls and starting new projects with three already on the go and nowhere near complete. I have the Secret Sewing job, the TWX Ovarian Cancer quilt to get done by the start of May, and Sea Glass. And that doesn’t even take into account the Hat-box BM&I quilt, the Anemone ScrapHappy quilt, my embroidery, and two entire sets of F²F quilt blocks waiting to be assembled. I have never in my entire life had such a log-jam.

So I’m knuckling down to get at least the Secret Sewing quilt top completed. Not too much left to do still, but it’s meticulous work and I want to get it right. Quilting will be very straightforward and simple, so I hope to have it done in a week or two. Then I’ll have to get cracking on TWX. There are a couple of blocks still to come in, but I can certainly start sandwiching and quilting the ones I have. My lovely SIL is, she promises, happy to wait for Sea Glass, which is perhaps just as well…

Anyway, no prizes for guessing what the fabric pull is for. Yup, a pair of bunk quilts for Lizzie. Simple pieced squares, some small, some larger; dark and light blues, taupes, greys and creams and pale brownish pinks. Nice.

Now, let’s see how long I can hold out before I succumb to the urge to start pressing and cutting.

Bickies for Miz Lizzie

… or if you’re one of my transatlantic friends, Cookies.

lizzie-bickies-1I was standing in the post office queue today, waiting to send a parcel off to a friend, and my wandering eye caught sight of some-thing. Australia Post sells post-related gift items at certain times of the year, and those that don’t sell at the right time are usually greatly marked down. And so it was with this. A wonderful old-fashioned biscuit tin, with embossed replica stamps on the lid, featuring that subject currently very close to my heart, caravans! It was even in a suitable colour scheme to go with Miz Lizzie’s planned interior. Talk about serendipity…

lizzie-bickies-2The four stamps feature Australian caravanning in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, with iconic ‘vans and cars of the era. Sadly, I’m unable to test the contents, but the Husband tells me he’ll be able to deliver a verdict on the chocolate chip cookies inside in, say, a week or so. He’s such a hero! Once the bickies have been abolished, I will use it for something in Miz Lizzie’s kitchen, elegantly displayed on the counter.

Perhaps even bickies that I can eat too… :-/

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Wagons roll…

Our time on the Tablelands has drawn to a close, sadly.

It was a wet night, and we rejoiced at being warm and dry, and most of all, at not having a huge bundle of wet tent to take down, clean off, fold, roll and pack – and then air out at the other end. Coffee, showers, breakfast, and then stowing everything securely, taking down the pop-top, detaching all the lines, hooking her up to the car, and away we go. We’re learning to work together at the process, so it goes more quickly each time we have to do it. Rain all the way down (but it IS the Wet season, so to be expected), and because it’s mid-week, traffic not too heavy. We are in Townsville tonight.

sea-eagle-nestThe trip was remarkable only for being very, very wet, and one other thing. We saw a sea-eagle’s nest right beside the road, and were fortunately able to stop in time to take a photo without causing a pile-up. The nest is about a metre across, a dense but fairly informal construction, more of a platform, really. You can see more about the Australian White-Bellied Sea Eagle here. They’re big, impressive birds; sadly we weren’t quick enough to capture that with the camera too….

We’re waiting to hear from some friends about the possibility of getting together for a meal tonight. Keeping one eye on the skies, I might add, which are interestingly half blue and half black. And then tomorrow, it’s packing up again, and on the road for home.

This short break has gone fast, too fast. Something I rarely say about wet camping trips in a tent!

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Cheeses and Chocolates

And now for the drier half of yesterday’s activities.

The Atherton Tableland is famous for its dairy farming. The climate is cooler than down by the sea, the grass is thick and lush thanks to the plentiful rainfall, and the rolling hills are full of Friesians and Holsteins. I’ve mentioned the Mungalli Creek dairy in a previous post, but this time we went to Gallo’s, drawn irresistibly by the lure of fresh cheese – and chocolate!

gallo-cheesesIt’s a family business, and rather than jumping on the same bandwagon as other local farmers, and selling their milk through supermarket chains, they’ve gone the other way. Their milk is channelled into cheese and yoghurt production, and the added value products seem to be paying off for them, as their large shop and café were bustling, even mid-week. You get offered tastings before you buy, of both cheese and chocolate (oh, the hardship!), the prices are reasonable, and we came away with modest quantities of both. The Husband went for Gallo Volcano, a wax covered block of hard cheese with sun-dried tomato and chilli, and I bought some lactose-free Gallobert, a Camembert-style soft cheese, wonderfully lactic and complex.

gallo-chocolateAfter a bit of chocolate sampling, we also bought a bag of assorted chilli, salt caramel, ginger, hazelnut and orange chocolates. The only difficulty was in restricting ourselves to three of the bonbons each – I’d happily have bought one of everything!

gallo-cheese-factoryOne of the entertaining things there is that you can watch the cheese and chocolate factories at work: there are large viewing windows. The cheese is all about huge vats of steaming curds and whey in gleaming stainless steel, with a large crane gantry for lifting the vats and pouring the contents into cheese baskets or trays. The chocolate factory is a much more hands on and peaceful process, with trays and trays of different chocolate bonbons being hand poured and unmoulded.

Today’s Adventure is still along the gastro-tour lines, as we shall be going to the Nerada Tea Plantation, which produces a significant proportion of Australia’s home grown tea, and very nice it is too. I’m hoping to come away with samples… And our morning tea will be at an old favourite, the café at the Tolga Woodworks gallery, where not only do they do a mean flourless chocolate cake, but also some very beautiful hand crafted wooden art and craft gifts.

Sadly, tomorrow it’s time to pack up and leave Atherton. We’ll be heading home via a night in Townsville again. I need to do a little shopping and laundry before we leave… almost like being at home.

Oh… We ARE at home, thanks to Miz Lizzie 🙂

Right, on with the day. More tonight!

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Waterfalls, Weather and Walsh’s Pyramid

We knew we were in for some rain today.

We were right. It’s been soggy on and off all day. But it didn’t stop us, and indeed, we decided to add still more water to the equation by doing the Waterfall Circuit, a 15km loop drive which takes in three of the Tableland’s more notable falls. Without further ado, then, I bring you Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls and Ellinjaa Falls.

millaa-millaa-falls zillie-falls ellinjaa-falls

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the cloud and downpour got too heavy for us to enjoy the scenery, and we descended from the plateau down to sea level and into sunshine.

En route, we saw some pretty amazing evidence of just how fast and how heavily rain in the tropics can develop, as a thick roll of dark cloud built up out of nowhere above Mount Bartle Frere, teetered briefly at the top and then tipped itself over the edge. You can’t even see the top of the mountain, and it’s the highest in Queensland!

weather-1

Rolling down over the mountain top, having appeared out of a clear, innocent blue sky….

weather-2

… and dropping its load in a sheer curtain of water.  Ten paces from the cloud’s edge, the ground was dry!

On our way into Cairns for a bit of shopping and a bloody fine curry at our favourite Indian restaurant, we passed the peak which is the ‘gateway to Cairns’, known as Walsh’s Pyramid. Well, you can see why, can’t you?

walshs-pyramidThis remarkable peak is the location of one of the most gruelling mountain runs in the southern Hemisphere. It’s 922 metres or 3,025 feet high, and the run consists of 6 km (3.7 miles) of road and 6km of sheer mountain; up, and then down again at headlong speed. If you’re interested, you can go here to read the history, stats and records for the race. And why do they do it? Because it’s there….

We did a fair bit more than I’ve documented here, but it’ll have to wait for another day.

 

 

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Townsville to the Tablelands

We didn’t rush things this morning. To put it mildly; in fact, we slid sheepishly out of the campgrounds a mere 30 minutes before we would have been ejected!

Still, we were in good trim, and ready for the next leg of the trip. Despite the regulation enormous holiday breakfast, we were getting peckish by the time we approached Cardwell, a beautiful little town on the Hinchinbrook Channel, directly opposite the looming bulk of Hinchinbrook Island, the largest island on the Great Barrier Reef.  You can see the island to your right for ages as you head north before you arrive in Cardwell and it becomes obvious that it’s an island – it looks just like distant hills. Cardwell was flattened by Tropical Cyclone Yasi in 2011, the wind and waves drove the entire sandy beach up and over the town, huge old trees were uprooted, houses lost or de-roofed. Today, there’s no sign of that. It’s lavishly beautiful and neatly groomed, a wonderful place to stop for a breather, a meal, a walk along the promenade, or a nap in the shade of the surviving trees.

hinchinbrook-from-cardwell

tablelands-waterfallAfter Cardwell we pressed on, and in the early afternoon were making the long, and at times slow, ascent to the Tablelands over 900m/2,950 ft above sea level. There’s a pernicious myth that cars towing caravans/ camping trailers are slow and get in the way. We had no trouble keeping up with the flow of traffic even on the climb, but found ourselves held up by other road users a fair bit!  Large trucks and timid drivers who can’t steer confidently around corners were particularly annoying… At one point we pulled over when the truck in front slowed to a 20kmph/12mph creep. Happily, there was a small but beautiful waterfall for me to admire while we waited for the truck to clear the range.

The campsite is as good as we remembered, and even better than our last visit there as it’s virtually empty!  It’s school term-time so there are no families with noisy and active children to distract us from the peace. Second time round, setting Miz Lizzie up for our stay was a lot smoother and easier. I’ll need to find a new home for a few items which persist in flinging themselves out of cupboards and off shelves as we travel, but for the most part, our belongings were well behaved. One useful lesson; don’t take too many fresh vegetables. While you’re towing the van and the aircon is off, anything that’s not in the rather small fridge gets warm and starts to deteriorate a bit. It’s not a disaster, but good to know. We had produce in a styrene cool box, but it wasn’t enough… Another time, I’ll buy more while I’m away.

beer-time-at-lastFinally, it was beer/ cider o’clock and we could kick back, enjoy the view, the quiet and the sound of the birds in the treetops.

I’ll leave you with a selection of the foliage to be found in this beautiful spot. The campsite/holiday park has been carved out of rainforest and includes a seasonal watercourse and a small disused quarry. The grassy sites are level and closely mowed, the facilities are lovely, but for me, the charm of the place lies in the rainforest that surrounds us, with towering trunks, lush undergrowth and vines reaching for the sky.

campground-rainforestI have a large list of fun things to do around here. We shall wait and see what tomorrow brings and how many of them I get done. Or maybe we’ll just relax, take it easy and revisit some old favourites.

What the heck… I’m on holiday 🙂