The Travels of Mouse: Full day, full belly

Well, we certainly packed in the activities today.

And, as Mum has pointed out, we also filled our tummies to the point of needing a bit of a lie-down. Today was the day we went back to Mungalli Creek Biodynamic Dairy. After a sad experience last time, Mum had been having some email conversations with Michelle, the marketing lady at the Dairy. So we went back this morning and the Staff had an absolutely delicious morning tea of scones, rainforest jam and thick lactose free cream. And naturally I had my usual! So yummy was it all that the Staff bought takeaways: LF heavy cream, creme fraîche, banana choc chip ice cream and espresso ice cream. I can’t help noticing that none of these delights appear to be designed with Me in mind…

We took a fairly scenic route home, across the Tableland via Mareeba, and took the curly-wurly Gillies range down the mountain, one of Dad’s favourite motorbike rides. It’s not my favourite mainly because of all the bends, which I find unsettling, and the Staff were lucky I didn’t make my displeasure smelt felt.

We took a short break from zooming around so that I could snooze and the Staff could have a drink and catch up with a few things. And then Mum said why didn’t we go up to Copperlode Dam? This is one of the main water-storages for the city of Cairns, and is a natural bowl in the mountains above the city which has been converted into a dam, or reservoir. It’s also known as Lake Morris.

Mum also saw a sign about the gigantic electricity towers on the mountain.

At 75m (250ft) high, they were built extra tall to keep the wires clear of the rainforest canopy with minimal environmental impact and placed so that they can be serviced without disturbance to the local ecology. Where this is not possible due to location, the towers have a landing pad built into the top of them so that the repair crew can be flown in by helicopter without touching the ground. Isn’t that good?

The views from the 16km (10 mile) road up the mountain are amazing, says Mum. You can see all of Cairns laid out below, surrounded by rainforest which sweeps on up the side of the mountain. I didn’t like the road much, too much sliding about in the back of the car. Would this wiggly road torture never end…? I’m talking to you, Dad!

The last part of the day was all about Me. And about time too. We went to Goomboora Park, which is a large mixed leisure space, combining rainforest, creek and open grassland where families and children and Staff with their doggos can all go to have fun.

There are barbecue areas, a shallow creek where children can swim and doggos can join in and paddle, open grass where doggos can run about, socialise with their friends, chase balls and retrieve things, and Staffs can stand about and chat or sit at tables. It’s wonderful, and the only downside is that it isn’t fenced, so the Staff are concerned about letting me off the leash in case I get over excited and disappear into the distance before they can call me back. I think I may be able to persuade them to start small and work up to longer periods off leash. It all looks too much fun to miss out on…

Blue Quandong (Elaeocarpus angustifolius). The fruit were lying around everywhere. They look artificial, don’t they? You can eat them, but they’re a bit tart, so best made into jam or pickles, etc, apparently.

Mum says she hasn’t retouched the colour of this image at all, that’s the true colour.

There was curry for dinner for Mum and Dad. It smelt interesting but not altogether enticing, something a bit too exotic there for me, although the humans woofed it all down like they were worried about where the next meal was coming from. Also, it was not photogenic, according to Mum, so no, there won’t be a photo of that.

All in all, it was a great day, but very busy and I’m rather glad we don’t have so much planned for tomorrow.

I’m tolly, tolly zorsted.

 

Miz Lizzie Adventures: down the range and up again

My word, we’ve done a few sharp corners today.

So far, we’ve spent our time in Far North Queensland up on the Tablelands, where it’s cool and breezy. Today, we decided to head down into Cairns for a spot of retail therapy and a Big Lunch. To get from here to there, we have two choices, both involving steep, wiggly roads. One is the Kuranda Range, which is fairly busy as it’s the main thoroughfare up to the tablelands. The other is the Gillies Range, and it’s awesome. 19 kilometres, over 260 bends ranging from gentle to hairpin, and over the 800 metres of elevation change the landscape goes from lush, wet tropics at the top to dry tropics part way down, to farmland at the bottom. We took this one… obviously! It’s a favourite route when we’re on the motorbike, but even in the car, it’s fun.

There’s a wonderful craft shop in Cairns, a wonderland of all sorts of tools, fabrics, yarns, beads, and canvases. I went in hoping to find a few fabrics to add to my stash. It quickly became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to choose just a few. Just as well, perhaps, since they were almost all $25 a metre and well beyond my budget. But if I ever need something really special that I can’t find elsewhere, that’s where I’ll go. I consoled myself with some crochet cotton for making face-washers/flannels. I love those ice-cream colours in the variegated one, don’t you? And it gives me something to do with my hands now that I’ve finished the sewing I brought with me.

After that visit and a quick purchase of new 2-way radios (walkie talkies) to replace our old and now quite dead ones, we decided it was time to head to our favourite Indian restaurant for an early lunch.

Hyderabad lamb biryani, poppadums, mint raita, chicken korma, basmati rice and plain naan bread. All fresh, hot and quite delicious. I could have done with a large snooze after that, but instead, we tootled back up the range and looked at a couple of waterfalls and I got photos to add to my collection.

It’s our last day here, so I’m glad we’ve managed to do so many fun things. I haven’t even told you about everything we’ve done, but it would start to get boring if I banged on about the hot springs we’ve discovered and will visit next time we’re up here (and have our bathers with us!), or the other places to stay we’ve investigated, or…. I did say I wouldn’t bore you, didn’t I? Tomorrow we’ll be back in Townsville to collect the overlocker and catch up with friends for dinner.

And then home on Wednesday 🙂 

Curried ham & pumpkin soup with dumplings

Here we are, the recipe that wasn’t quite ready yesterday.

Curried ham & pumpkin soup with dumplings

Curried ham & pumpkin soup with dumplings

It doesn’t look that fascinating, but it’s very, very tasty.  It’s been driving the Husband into a frenzy, filling the house with fabulous aromas.  The dumplings were an afterthought, but took it over the line from good soup to pig-out country…

You’ll need:

1 medium hard fleshed pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut up into chunks
2 large potatoes, a variety that mashes or bakes well, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large ham bone or a smoked ham hock
2 litres/4 pints water
1 teaspoon mild to medium curry paste
125g/4oz self raising flour (or all purpose flour and baking powder)
50g/2oz chilled unsalted butter
Dried sage & thyme, salt & pepper
Smoked paprika

The night before, cook the ham bone or smoked hock in the water until the meat is falling off the bone.  Cool the bone and strip the meat, reserving it for the soup. Next day, bring the vegetables to the boil in the ham stock, and then simmer till they’re all cooked and very tender.  Using a stick blender, blitz the soup till smooth.  Add the curry paste and a good shake of smoked paprika. Return the ham to the soup, and continue to simmer.  Check the seasoning; at this point you may want to add a teaspoon or so of sugar.  The soup will be good like this, but will also be very happy to have a glug of cream added… Dust the flour with salt & pepper, dried sage and thyme. Grate the chilled butter into the flour, then rub in. Form a dough by adding about 100ml/3floz cold water.  Roll into balls about the size of a large cherry tomato.  Add to the soup with a slotted spoon and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until light and puffy and tender.  I also added a handful of brown rice after blending and cooked the soup long enough afterwards to ensure the rice was tender.  It’s not necessary, but makes it a bit more filling as lunch for the Husband.  As if the dumplings weren’t enough…

I’m definitely on a soup roll here.  The Husband’s in hog heaven, something new to try almost every day.  I’ve got a big pot of chicken stock waiting for the next extravaganza.Wonder what’s next….?