Miz Lizzie Adventures: Townsville to Cairns and the Tablelands

I know, I know, I’ve been neglecting you.

But I have been having such a lovely time. It has been a tad too hot, at 34°C/93°F and about 70% humidity, but that’s what air conditioning in cars and caravans was invented for!

The journey north from Rollingstone was uneventful and we made good time, to the extent that we took a 40km detour to look at Mourilyan Harbour, where sugar is loaded onto ships, but chiefly of interest to us as a place where the Husband did military exercises in small aluminium dinghies with outboards (universally known in Australia as ‘tinnies’). He has not-so-fond memories of constantly grounding the tinny on sand bars and having to get out and push it off. Which doesn’t sound so bad, until you read the signs…

We passed Queensland’s two highest peaks on our way north, which to be honest isn’t saying a lot: the tallest, Mt Bartle Frere, is only 1622m/ 5,321ft high, and the second highest, Mt Bellenden Ker, is only 1593m/ 5,226ft high. Not hugely impressive by European or US standards, but they are thickly coated with very lush tropical rainforest. The area is volcanic, so on the tablelands you see a lot of volcanic plugs, but the climate does tend to erode anything high quite quickly.

We are staying at the Crystal Cascades caravan park in the north of Cairns, in a valley between rainforest-covered hillsides. It’s ‘off-season’ as far as they’re concerned, which means we can enjoy the facilities virtually undisturbed apart from a few people who are also looking for peace and quiet in beautiful surroundings. In the early morning, the tops of the hills are still draped in cloud, while the sun lights up the lower slopes. It’s an amazing sight to see such contrast.  Imagine that sight, with the sound of birdsong and the smell of frangipani and jasmine to round the experience off!

The one downside of coming here in February is that it’s the month when many of the foodie places on our gastronomic trail seem to be taking their own holiday! Nerada Tea Plantation, the Tolga Woodworks gallery and Mungalli Creek Biodynamic Dairy (which I’ve written about before) and Jaques Coffee Plantation (which was new to us), are all closed. It’s a well earned rest, but we were a bit surprised, as there was nothing on any of their websites. Still, it’s made us slow down a little, which is no bad thing… On the upside, we went to Coffee Works in Mareeba yesterday, which was lovely! They grow, harvest, roast and sell their own coffee as well as blends and beans from all over the world. The smell is heavenly! They also have a gift shop which is a twinkly wonderland of coffee and tea cups, pots, chimes, candleholders, vases, etc, and best of all, an almost cold chocolate shop, where they make their own in all shades from white to 85% cacao, in flavours like lime and pepper, lemon myrtle, ginger and jaffa. Well yes, we did buy rather a lot of chocolate, and yes, we’ve sampled a fair bit of it already, but who could resist…?

We’ve also been back to Gallo’s, a working farm where they milk 200 Friesians every day. Rather than add their milk to the general supply, they have decided to add value and create a niche market and an interesting addition to the tourist offering on the Tablelands. They make their own cheeses and chocolates. The chocolates we bought are long gone, but I can remember the flavours: salted caramel, peppermint truffle, crystallised ginger, chilli, cherry ripe, berry bliss, almond truffle, hazelnut caramel and mandarin creme. And that was just a tiny selection from the huge display case of options. Besides, it was a hot day, and they might have melted… But the cheeses are still with us, and will be featuring on today’s menu, together with linseed, raisin and pumpkin seed crackers and some rather tasty grapes.

Last night it was time to visit our favourite Indian restaurant in Cairns, Tandoori Nights in Sheridan Street. We go there at least once and often twice when we’re staying here, and the food is simple, but great. The Husband had goat curry, plain steamed rice, garlic naan and a share of my subzi makhani, a creamy vegetable curry. I also had chicken korma and plain naan. Not adventurous, but what we both craved, and we left with contented smiles on our faces 🙂 By the time we’d though of taking photos of the food, it was much, much too late!

On previous visits, we haven’t had time to visit the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum out at Caravonica, so this time, with a couple of hours to spare, we turned in. It’s probably chiefly of interest to a couple where the husband is a Reservist of 20 years’ experience and the wife’s father was in the Normandy landings in WWII, landing on Sword Beach on D-Day 2 in his tank as a very, very young 2nd Lieut… We spent well over an hour exploring the vast display of tanks, armoured cars, mine clearers, mobile gun platforms, howitzers, field guns, etc. They had exhibits from Australia, the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Czech Republic and Russia, they had small arms, uniforms, badges… Well, you get the idea. It’s impressive, fascinating and vast, and worth a visit if you’re interested in that stuff. I’d only add that it’s an open-sided building and isn’t air conditioned, so I’d recommend visiting in the cooler months (May – October) if you’re not used to the heat.

We’re giving ourselves a lazy day today. It’s Saturday, and there are more visitors at the caravan park, the ‘sights’ will be busier and the city will be bustling. Time to lie back, enjoy the blue skies over the rainforested mountains, do a bit of handwork, and eat some of that cheese! We might tootle out and visit the Crystal Cascades after which this holiday park is named… or not.

But if anything interesting happens, I’ll be sure to let you know!

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Curtains for Miz Lizzie

This job has taken forever to get started. And an eternity to finish.

Somehow something more ‘important’ always seemed to get in the way. Anyhow, it’s done. Miz Lizzie is now adorned with her new curtains, and I love how they’re looking.

To remind you, here’s a before shot, showing the bunchy dark blue (and incidentally grubby and slightly niffy) curtains she came with.

I do love the new fabric, and feel that she looks fresher and less gloomy with them in place. I’ve also greatly reduced the volume of the net curtains behind them. I could probably do without the nets entirely, if it weren’t for the fact that they do stop people snooping through the windows, which is almost irresistible when strolling around in caravan parks…

It’s going to be a while till I get round to recovering those 1980s pinkish seat cushions with blue and white ticking, especially the backrest parts, but the quilts and cushions do a decent job of hiding most of that.

She’s looking smarter now, ready for our summer holiday trip in February. We’re heading back north, for another gastronomic tour: Townsville, Ingham, Cairns, the Atherton Tableland, Port Douglas and Mossman. We’ll be visiting all sorts of places for a taste of the tropics and a chance to sample freshly grown and produced delights. More on that when the time comes.

Now, what shall I work on next…?

The Blue Hour quilt, finished

Here it is at last, all done.

I’m really pleased with it, and so, more importantly, is the Husband. It’s been quick, enjoyable and fun to work on, all highly desirable qualities in a quilt. It has used quantities of my dark blue scraps, and comparatively small amounts of new fabric, mainly for the back and sashing. I decided on very narrow binding for the quilt, which was a bit more laborious to attach, but I love the effect.

Without the distractions mentioned in my last post, I’d have had it finished a week ago, but it’s done in good time for our next trip, which is next week. I think it unlikely in the extreme that I’ll have mine done in time, but I plan to make a start!

Now, I wonder what that one will decide to call itself…

Flitting (and riding)

I love that word.

It so beautifully describes the butterfly motion of darting from one thing to another. Which is what I’ve been doing the last week or so, only less beautifully and gracefully 🙂

We’ve been spending some fun time with ST motorbike-owners-club friends from south east Queensland, who are passing through Mackay with their caravan and their Honda ST1300 on the back of the ute. Now that’s a sweet setup! Deep envy, to have both their big motorbike and their caravan along! We’ve done a couple of half day rides with them around the local sights, which has reassured me that I can cope and my back won’t fall apart under the strain when our own time comes to do the big ride south for the bike rally later this year in October. No lavish Miz Lizzie caravan comfort on this trip, it’ll be Rolling Thunder towed behind the Scarlett Thunderbolt, and a tent for a few nights.

We had part of the back yard landscaped and a hard surface put down. We can now get Miz Lizzie under cover without the need for 25-point reversing to get her between the posts of the patio roof. Straight in, bish-bosh, no messing about. Bliss! We can use our new turning circle to get the car in and out in similar style. I have a hard, dry surface to stand on when I hang out the laundry instead of being ankle deep in wet grass and green ants. It will not turn back into a swamp the next time we get a serious amount of rain. Oh my word yes, I love that new surface! And the Husband, let’s face it, is not heartbroken about having less grass to cut…

A few days before the work commenced, Sir Horace and Lady Laetitia Bush Stone-Curlew went off somewhere for several days. We rejoiced in a slightly guilty fashion, but it was very pleasant to have quiet nights, unbroken by their harsh screams. We thought they’d moved on, finding the modest bustle of our back yard insufficiently tranquil for raising this year’s family. Regrettably, they have now returned from their vacation and are back in their original spot, glaring at me every time I set foot outside the back door, and in full song at night. Oh well. At least we didn’t drive them off with the landscaping work…

I’ve been doing some secret sewing for a friend who is visiting from the States. As it’s a secret, I won’t be posting photos till she has it, around the end of the month, but it’s fun, pretty and useful, so I hope she likes it. I’m sure if she doesn’t, she won’t feel compelled to tell me so!

And finally, I’ve got the Blue Hour quilt two thirds assembled, just one big seam and the binding to go, so I’ll be able to do my ‘tah-dah’ post for that soon. And yes, start thinking about my own! I haven’t forgotten that I also have the Sea Glass quilt to sandwich and start quilting, but it’s a big job and as usual, I’m procrastinating furiously…

So while there’s been scant news from Chiconia recently, as you can see, I have not been idle!

L’heure bleue

The Blue Hour is one of my favourite times of day.

It’s that time between twilight and full night when the sun is below the horizon and the world is coloured a soft shade of deep blue and other colours start to leach away. It’s a time when I often find myself in my sewing room, pottering about; it’s not long enough to start anything big before I have to go to the kitchen to make dinner, but it’s too good to waste doing nothing.

I’ve at last begun, appropriately enough, a mostly blue and white quilt for the Husband’s bunk in Miz Lizzie. So far, all the blocks are from my sorted scraps and smaller stash pieces, but I suspect I’ll need some more fabric soon, some bits of dark blue.

Also included in the line up are pieces from Granny Maud’s Girl; she sent me leftovers from the quilt she made for her father from his old shirts, and I’ve made entertaining use of the patches featuring pockets! I’m getting along nicely, a couple of blocks here, a couple more there, and making good use of my Blue Hour time. This early layout is most of the dark centres with light out-sides. Coming soon are the light centres with dark outsides…

And because of course all colour has a sound track, I leave you with Acker Bilk and the marvellously and appropriately named Bent Fabric, playing The Blue Hour.

What do you do with your Blue Hour?

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Here at last…

It has been a long few days…

Mackay to Cania Gorge, Cania Gorge to Toowoomba, Toowoomba to Mt Warning, Mt Warning to Nambucca Heads. About 1500kms in 4 days. We also seem to have had an unerring instinct for choosing spots with little or zero phone and internet signal. Lovely and peaceful, but not conducive to posting!  We finally arrived last night trailing a tyre on Miz Lizzie which has a big gouge out of it, one of the steel bands in the tyre has been cut by something (probably one of the many savage potholes on Mt Warning), and the tyre is bulging dangerously. One of today’s first jobs is to replace that with the spare and buy a couple of new ones.

We’ve had lovely sunny weather the last 4 days. Of course, last night it started to rain… Not torrential, just steady. This morning is damp but the rain is clearing. I hope for some photos! Here are some from last night, to give you an idea of just how crowded and built up our holiday beach is… The sand is almost white and very fine silica sand, it squeaks underfoot, not like the coral sand up north. The images are small so I could get them all in side by side, but the files are larger so you can click on them if you want a closer look.

 

 

 

We met up for breakfast yesterday with Nanette, a fellow blogger whose town and home have been devastated by the floods that followed Cyclone Debbie. It was great to catch up with her, and we’re lost in admiration at the resilience and spirit of everyone affected so greatly by the flooding.

With luck, I’ll have slightly more interesting things to show you over the next few days, now that we’ve stopped hurtling down highways for a while.

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!