Miz Lizzie Adventures: Mackay to Townsville

Today was the first full day of holiday.

We arrived fairly early and got set up quickly. It’s a beautiful caravan park, and as it’s low season, we have the place almost to ourselves.

I was tired after yesterday’s packing and travelling, and after a delicious supper of grilled pork chops and pineapple (grown about a kilometre away), a brief walk on the beach 20 metres away and a catch up on what was happening in blogland, we both put head to pillow and were out like a light. I woke early to the most wonderful sunrise over the sea, and a very peaceful sound from the waves at high tide.

I’d booked my sewing machine in for a service in Townsville as I don’t much care for the local technician in Mackay. Need I say there was a very modest fabric purchase….? We also paid a visit to the Honda motorbike shop across the road (how’s that for convenience?) to see if we could find a handlebar mount for the satnav, but no luck, or it would have been even scores for me and the Husband. Then off to our first planned visit, the Heritage Tea Rooms, up the high and winding Herveys Range Road, just north of the city.

It’s gorgeous. A settler-style cottage, built of wood, with high ceilings, verandahs and a tin roof, it’s still filled with original furniture, zinc tubs, old mangles, dressers (hutches) filled with lovely old crockery, original floorboards and fascinating photos of people and scenes from 100 years ago and more. And the food… well. I had two huge batch scones (buttermilk biscuits), fresh butter and home made plum jam. The Husband went blokey and had a beef pie and a sausage roll (and the half scone I couldn’t manage!), washed down with an excellent iced latte. Delicious, home made, and enjoyed in the shady garden surrounds of the Tea Rooms.

Then back down Herveys Range, stopping for a photo of the stunning view from the top, with Mt Cataract in the middle and Townsville and the sea in the distance, and back to Rollingstone and the purchase of some beautiful locally-caught banana prawns and another very local pineapple for our dinner.

Not a cloud in the sky all day, 34°C/93°F, and as soon as I’ve written this, I’m heading for the swimming pool for an afternoon dip. It’s hell, but someone has to do it. Tomorrow we’re packing up in the morning and heading north once again, to Cairns and Far North Queensland. Plenty more to do there, but it struck us today that now we have Bill, we’d be able to head up to the Daintree and Cape Tribulation, something we couldn’t do in our previous car due to the roughness of the road. Something to think about… it’s nearly 18 years since I last visited the Cape.

See you in FNQ 🙂

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We’re on the road again

Miz Lizzie is packed, our schedule is planned and printed, and we’re off.

We’re heading north once again, into a fortnight of gastronomic indulgence, experimentation, and purchase. We’ll be staying at two caravan parks we haven’t tried before but which come highly recommended.

Part 1 of the trip is from Mackay to just north of Townsville, at Rollingstone, where the van park has absolute beach frontage. We’ll be there a couple of days. Part 2 is Rollingstone to Redlynch in the north of Cairns, right where the rainforest rolls down to touch the edge of the city. It’s not what we’d call a long trip. To put it in some context, it’s like driving from London to Inverness, or from the bottom of Florida to the top. It’s just far enough that we’re really on holiday, the scenery’s different and yet, it’s not an arduous journey when we have to turn for home. (And despite a recent news story from the US that left Australians giggling, yes, all that is definitely just one country, and by the way, only a bit smaller than yours… 🙂 )

I’ll be photographing, blogging, tasting, sampling, buying, eating, stitching, oohing and aahing. You’re welcome along for the ride. As always with our trips, there’ll be pictures and descriptions. We’re looking forward to it a lot as we’re both a bit tired and ready for a break. It’s been a while since we had a decent chunk of time off – May last year to be exact, when we went down to Nambucca Heads in northern NSW.

And because each road trip needs a sound track, here’s Miz Lizzie’s theme song:

Dizzy Miz Lizzie

(There’s a version with John Lennon and Eric Clapton performing this too, but I prefer the 1958 original)

SAL 58: just before we go…

We’re off tomorrow!

I didn’t think I’d be joining in this time, because of holiday prep, but I managed to get a bit of stitching done amongst the other handwork, packing, shopping, etc, that lead up to our departure. It’s not quite as much as I’d have liked, but that’s my own fault for slipping in all sorts of extra jobs: making and installing the Lime & Soda porch curtain, mending, crocheting dish cloths, making a pouch for our Garmin SatNav, and of course, the ongoing big job: hand quilting the Bonnard quilt I’m making for my sister.

This is where I left you last time:

And this is where I’ve got to. A bit more light green, and the first bit of white. I can see that the white is really going to make this piece sparkle, and I’m going to make the grey of the background a little darker than on the original design to give contrast.

Do go and take a look at what the others in the Stitch Along are working on. It’s all lovely, and well worth looking at. Do remember that we’re all in different time zones, so if their SAL post isn’t up when you look, do go back later.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
ConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaKathyMargaret,
CindyHelenStephLinda, Mary Margaret, Heidi,
Connie, Jackie, Sunny

See you next time, on 3rd March. Hopefully clearing up after the holiday doesn’t eat up all my stitching time 🙂

Lovely nubbly

I’m trying to do something about the amount of refuse we put in the bin each week.

We recycle hard plastics, aluminium, steel, glass and paper. We’ve just started recycling soft plastics by putting them in the Redcycle bin at our local Coles supermarket. I’ve bought two bokashi buckets for dealing with organic waste; we don’t have chickens or a worm farm (away too often for the first and too hot for the second), so I wanted a way to process the waste so that it could be dug into the garden. Apart from an infestation of fruit flies which has resulted in me exporting the bucket to the garage instead of the kitchen, that aspect is working well. I can put used paper towel into it, but I’d prefer not to. I don’t use much, but ideally, I’d like to stop using paper towel altogether, despite its handiness and multiple uses.

A number of friends have been knitting their own wipe-up cloths using cotton yarn. I don’t knit, but I can do basic crochet, so I found some bargain cotton yarn in 10ply and made myself a sample, using a 6mm/J/10 hook. It’s chunky, absorbent and has a pleasant nubbly surface that’ll be great for giving my benchtops a bit of a scrub and wiping up spills. Being 100% cotton, it’ll wash happily, and folded, it makes quite a decent heat pad. Best of all, once it’s knackered, I can bury it in the garden and it’ll rot down to nothing.

My sample is quite large, and subsequent cloths will be smaller. I’ll also probably buy 8ply for future cloths, once I’ve used up the yarn I have, and when the time comes to replace some of the microfibre cloths I’m currently using, so I have a range of sizes and textures.This size used the better part of one 100g ball, so smaller ones will also be more economical with yarn.

For the source of many of these ideas and some truly amazing lifestyle and cooking inspiration, head over to the lovely Celia’s blog at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Time to go and give my cloth a test drive 🙂

Who wants to play?

I think it may be that time again.

Many of you will remember F²F, Foot²Freestyle. For those who are new to Chiconia since we finished the last round of F²F, it’s a block swap for 9 or more people, which runs for as many months as we have members. Each month you make three blocks and send them out, receiving in turn three blocks from everyone else when it’s your month. Clearly, some people who’ve played before are pining for its return, as I’ve had several enquiries about when we’re going to start it up again.

It has run twice already now, the second time concluding a year ago. After the first round, I created a second blog just for F²F, as a place to hold all the images of the blocks in a gallery, as a record and as a source of information about colours and how the block swap works. If you click on the link above, it’ll take you there. There’s also a load of info about F²F from the first round on this blog, and a gallery page showing all the amazing blocks members produced.

Well… I’m very happy to get it going again, but I need enough people who’ll commit to seeing it through. You can see that the whole thing will fall apart if someone says yes, and then pulls out partway. Everyone else will end up short of blocks. So, for friends old and new, if you’d like to join the party, leave me a comment. If we get enough takers, I’ll start it up again. It’s fun, you get loads of lovely squishy surprises in the mail, and at the end, enough blocks to make a beautiful quilt (or porch curtain!) in a colour scheme of your choice. So go on, take a look at the information and decide if you’d like to play along too. It doesn’t matter about your skill level, the blocks can be as complex or as simple as you’d like. If you express interest, and we have enough members, I’ll need your email and mailing addresses to provide to other members, and will supply more detail on exactly how it works, timings and specifications, etc.

Join us. You’ll be welcome!

Travel trinkets

We’re off on our travels again soon.

This trip has been planned and anticipated for months and months, and we’ve come to realise that in the future, we’ll want to do a lot more trips with Miz Lizzie the caravan. We needed to reconsider our towing vehicle. We have a very nice modern car we love, with lots of useful features, excellent fuel economy and a very enjoyable driving experience. But it’s not really up to the job of pulling the caravan very long distances. It gets the job done, but long term it will suffer excessive wear and tear. We’re sad to see it go, but we’re selling it. Instead of doing what most people in our position do, replacing it with a new and enormous ‘tank’ with a vast and thirsty engine and multiple gizmos, we have bought a 12 year old workhorse.

I like the idea of recycling a perfectly good older vehicle, which has several benefits: there are scratches, dings and fading paintwork, so I’ll never worry again about putting a scratch on its gleaming surface; it comes already fitted with a number of things we’d have wanted anyway; it’s affordable (and so are parts!), despite being a much more powerful and roomy vehicle than we’re used to, and finally, it feels cosy and safe despite its size, unlike many new cars which are sleek, complex and intimidating. It has been looked after, and we will continue to look after it, so I hope to enjoy driving it for many years. Oh, and I love being higher up, with greatly improved visibility and larger windows.

Meet Bill. He’s a Hyundai Terracan, a 2.9L CRDi, with 7 seats and already set up for caravan towing. He’s capable of hauling 2 tonnes. We’ll be taking out the rear 2 seats to give ourselves an enormous cargo space. He’s tall, with excellent visibility, proper 4WD and chunky tyres. But there are three important things he doesn’t have. The first is satnav, a very, very useful thing in this enormous country of vast distances and poor signage. The second is a reversing camera. The car is nearly 5 metres long, and the driving seat is a very long way from the towbar… And the third thing is Bluetooth hands-free for our phones.

Hence the trinkets. We’ve bought a Garmin satnav after days and days of research, and it seems pleasantly easy to use and intuitive, plus it has Bluetooth built-in so it enables us to use our mobile phones hands free, safely and legally. The other trinket is a replacement rear-view mirror with a built-in display for a reversing camera and a forward-facing dashcam on its back. We can reverse safely, and also record our front and back views in case of accident.  The mirror is enormous, about 25cm (10 inches), so we get an excellent view too.

Naturally, I’ve made a little pouch for the Garmin. Well, you didn’t really think I could resist, did you? The Garmin’s not built in so it’ll need to be removed from the car when we leave it.

I’ve put a sheet of tough vinyl between the layers on the front of the pouch to protect the screen from damage by sharp poky objects, and the whole pouch is padded and quilted to give it a better chance of survival when I inevitably drop it.

Because there may be times when we need to get at it with one hand, I’ve made a button and elastic loop closure; no fiddling with a zip or buttonholes. Don’t you love the way the button matches the fabric? And that ribbon is just perfect; I got it from the lovely Annett in Germany as part of a package of goodies – this is absolutely the right place to use it.

And the car’s name? The Husband is responsible for that. Terracan -> Billycan* -> Bill. It’s a very good name for the car, who’s definitely a bloke 🙂

*For non-Aussies, a billycan is an essential feature of Australian outback camping, used for making tea and cooking over a fire of gum leaves and wood. Perfect for our Bill and the life he’s going to lead.

Lime & Soda: the flap is over

I don’t mean the panic, I mean the flapping of the curtain.

I knuckled down yesterday and got the extra bits made. Three ties for the right side of the curtain, and a wide channel for the left. Then I mooched about some more, looking for excuses not to do the last bit, as you do. I even went to the lengths of doing some overdue mending, gasp… We’ve had two days of heavy rain, the temperature is much more reasonable (if very humid) for working, and finally, I could procrastinate no longer. This morning I got the job done.

I drilled and screwed in three eyebolts on the right-hand, outer side of the porch, and fixed the ties onto those. Then I got another batten and cut it so it was just a bit longer than the channel. I then drilled holes in it, top and bottom, and corresponding holes in the wall. I ran the batten through the channel on the side of the curtain and screwed it in place top and bottom. Job done. The curtain is nice and flat without being stretched, and it won’t now get sucked into the compressor inlet. I haven’t tried to completely seal off the section behind the curtain; without some airflow the curtain will twang like a drum, and the aircon needs some throughput.

When we get back from our holiday, I shall move a bunch of plants into the porch to make it a bit less spartan. For now, they can enjoy the natural rainfall, which is forecast in generous quantities! Meanwhile, I’m searching the internet to find those ceramic watering spikes which have a tube to run into a bucket of water for automatic watering while you’re away. I used to have a load of them but they got lost in our last move. eBay has them aplenty, but no-one wants to mail them to Australia 😦  The search continues. Also on my return, I must make another curtain for the screen door at the other end of the porch, a simple, flat panel. I have plenty of lime, grey, black & white scraps left, so it should be fairly straightforward.

And now, I have no more excuses. Back to Bonnard, and the hand quilting. 13 rows to go.