The period between Christmas and New Year is quite a relaxed time of year for us. The rush leading up to Christmas is over and it’s time to sit back, relax and catch up with some outstanding tasks.
We have had cool and moist weather over the last three years because of the La Niña weather effect that produces lower-than-normal air pressure over the western Pacific Ocean. La Niña has finally dissipated, so we are back to some normal warm weather at this time of the year. The temperatures over the last week have finally got to the high 30s C (high 90s F) so this will also be the time for getting back to outdoor picnics and our traditional summer dinners of fish and chips (with a bottle of wine) in the local park.
As with most people, our Christmas time is spent with family. It was good to, once again, catch up with our extended family. Each year we put up a tree that we call our ‘International Christmas Tree’. It has a small memento from most of the places that we have visited on our travels. It made me feel quite sad to reflect on the wonderful places to which we have been over past years while for the last three years we haven’t gone anywhere because of Covid. I resent how the virus has taken up so much of our potential travel time at a stage of our lives when we are still fit enough to get around. As I review the last two years I am, however, surprised at the number of local driving trips that we were able to undertake during windows of opportunity when state borders were open and Covid restrictions were relaxed. Let’s see if we can get to some more enchanting places in 2023.
Fireworks welcome in the New Year in many cities. Sydney with its harbour bridge and opera house create a spectacular backdrop to an incredible fireworks display. Here, the city of Melbourne puts on a very good display along the Yarra River and from the top of city buildings. At this time of my life, I mostly see it on TV news reports as I am well and truly enjoying a sound night’s sleep by midnight.
I remember that last year, our first tomato plants hadn’t ripened until the middle of February. Then, those in my vegetable garden, were then eaten by rats or possums – even netting them didn’t help much. I’m trying a different strategy this year – growing them in pots along the back wall of our house. The bricks create a warm micro climate which really suits tomatoes. In contrast to the last three cooler years, we picked our fist ripe tomato this week.
Meanwhile the plants in my vegetable garden are growing well. We picked a large quantity of rhubarb a week ago, the potatoes will be ready to dig up soon, the beans are beginning to grow pods and the kale is ready to pick. Because vegetable seedlings come in punnets of eight plants, we always had more food than we could eat. I’m now only planting small runs of each type of vegetable, and that gives us more room for a greater number of varieties.
This warm weather is very good for the plants. Our back lawn needs mowing every ten days. Recently, I collected a bundle of cuttings rfom some yellow flowered plants in our front garden called Biden. They are related to the Aster. These cuttings all developed roots after a few weeks in a jar of water and now they are growing well in !little pots. Soon, they will be planted out in one of our gardens as a mass planting. They make a good ground cover and flower for most of the year. I think my horticultural skill are now adequate for me to take orders!
This quiet time of the year also lends itself to some cleaning. I’ve taken four big bags of old clothes, sheets and towels to the opportunity shops bin at the local shopping mall. We’ve even been working through some of the food we bought as emergency items during the lockdown. Our lunch today was a fry-up’ of canned frankfurters, salami, onion and tomato on toast. You would never find a dish like this in a silver service restaurant but it would have kept us fed should we not have been able to get to the supermarket.
I had a new solid state disk drive delivered a few days ago and I have spent many hours transferring the 80,000+ images my photo library to a new, and faster, home. I’ve also cleaned the oven and microwave – tasks that only get down when I am fully psychologically prepared. (I’ve found that the easiest way to clean the glass door of the oven is to crush up a dishwasher tablet onto a damp scourer, scrub for a few minutes and then rinse with a damp kitchen sponge. (I’m offering free kitchen hints here as well).
Sitting by the air conditioner on a very warm day is very conducive to writing another blog post.
We hope that all our family and friends have a very prosperous and successful year in 2023. We look forward to keeping in touch and sharing our travel stories with you.