Archive for May, 2007

Day Trip to St Helens

May 25, 2007

Hi All

Hope this email finds you all well.  I managed to “twang” my back again yesterday and so have been confined to bed this morning in the hope of restoring it more speedily.  Well, it may be that the family were all sick of listening to me groan and just wanted to get me out of the way, that is another possibility.  Anyway Josiah has been doing schoolwork with me, delighted to have me unable to escape from him it seems.  He made a treasure hunt with clues for Lydia which he is currently busy forcing her to do so I have a break for a few minutes.

On Wednesday we decided that we had been good and housebound long enough and it was time to do some more exploring, so we decided on a day trip to St Helens, which is on the east coast.  Now, the problem with me… okay, ONE OF the problems with me is that I tend to extremes, so in this instance I would often tend to race around packing lunch etc and badgering people to get going, and then rush the trip and forget to enjoy it.  However this time Kim reminded me to consider it a holiday day, and not to be rushed so I did.  So this time, because of the extremist nature I mentioned, I went to the other extreme and meandered around getting organised and we finally drifted out pleasantly on our trip, stopping at odd shops I noticed along the way as we went through Launceston.  We drove north to Lilydale Falls reserve where we stopped for lunch.  Kim and I have fond memories of Lilydale falls because we camped there a couple of times when we visited Tassie 13 odd years ago.  Its a lovely little spot with pretty deciduous trees, picnic tables, sheltered bbqs and a playground.  After our picnic lunch the kids played some soccer and then we went for a wander down to the two waterfalls.  Kim, of course, had to stop and take photos with his new camera so it took us a little while before we packed up and moved on to Scottsdale.  There was some really lovely scenery as we drove, Tassie has had some good rain recently and the place is really looking green again and with all its undulating land, it is good to look at.

Scottsdale was a reasonably sized town because it had a library and a Woolworths.  I classify the towns now by what they have, you know if they have an IGA then they rate a 2, if they have a library then they rate a 3, if they have a Woolies then a 4 and if they have a Woolies and a Coles then they rate a 5.  So Scottsdale was a number 4 town which meant that we had to visit the library while we were there.  I think the kids want to visit every library in Tasmania if possible, certainly they go into every one we see.  The library system here is rather cool, you can take books out of any library you like, and return them to any library as well, and we are definitely helping to shift the population of books around the state.

After the library it was about 3pm, and intelligent people would have decided to head home, but not us, forgetting everything we knew about Tasmanian roads we decided to forge ahead to St Helens.  After all, it was only 100km away so we would be there in no time.  Off we headed, up and down and round about.  We went through a sweet little town called Derby (a number 2 town I think) that Sam and I really liked, it was just a one street wonder with houses climbing up the hills about 2 deep on either side of the road.  Then on through Weldborough pass, so many bends that I was getting dizzy.  Half way through the pass we came upon a rainforest walk, so we all levered ourselves out of the cars, rugged up and went for a wander.  I do love rainforest, they are just so beautiful with moss and ferns everywhere.  Once again Kim had a great time taking some photos before we piled back into the cars and headed on again.

This time Sam got to drive one of the cars, he is on his L plates and drives well, but somewhat slowly.  We were still in the pass and so continued to wind our way up and down and round and round and round and round (if you get the idea).  After a little while we got to a lookout and all raced to the top for a look.  However the wind was blowing up there and it was probably the quickest stop we made as we no sooner took a quick peek than we all ran back to the cars with their shelter and heaters and off we went again.  Finally coming to the end of the pass I rounded a corner to be confronted by a big black cow standing on the road.  We cautiously drove around her and then stopped at the next house to let them know there was a cow out.  The farmer grunted his thanks and disappeared, reappearing shortly afterwards on a quadrunner, he went tearing down the road after her.  Sam was thrilled to be able to add stopping for a cow to his list of driving achievements when he rounded the curve shortly after.

Eventually we arrived in St Helens at about 5:10pm, just as it was getting too dark to see!  I hadn’t realised it was getting dark so early over here.  We bought some fish and chips for tea and ate it on the wharf, but we felt rather cheated because we were sure the scene across the water would have been fantastic, if only we could see it.  🙂  St Helens is a number 3 town but to the kids disappointment the library was closed.  After tea we headed home, deciding to take the southern route and hoping to cut down the 2.5 hour drive by trying out a shortcut to Blessington.  So off we went, though St Mary’s pass, more ups and downs and tight bends only this time accompanied by great road signs advising us of how narrow the roads were, of how rocks might fall on us and recommending that large vehicles should contact each other on UHF to ensure that if one truck should meet another coming the other way, that they ensured they did not meet on a bend!

We managed to find our turn off at Fingal and headed onto the shortcut and we were doing quite well until the road became gravel.  After that our speed went down considerably, in fact a few times we were doing less than 20kph and slipping through mud.  The beetle didn’t mind the mud much, being a rear wheel drive and being driven by Kim, but the front engine, front wheel drive Audi was beginning to slip a bit so I kept it slow.  Charging along later at 35kph we almost missed the turn off, and would have ended up back at Scottsdale if Sam’s sharp eyes hadn’t picked it out.  The road seemed to go on forever but we finally made it safely home at 9.30pm.  I think we might actually have been home earlier if we had taken the long road, but it was a cool adventure – and we know not to take that shortcut again!

 Kim has been out working on cars this morning, yesterday the Audi developed a wierd puffing/squeaking noise in the back wheel, it sounded like we were in a steam train rather than a luxury car.  The problem turned out to be a small rock caught near the brake disc, and resetting the fuses fixed another problem we had where the central locking had stopped working.  Now I think he is changing a brake light switch on the beetle, he is most annoyed about that because it is the third time he has changed it in 12 months.  He hopes he has managed to buy a better quality part this time.  When he has finished that there is always the door on the wagon to get back to.  🙂   It never ends.

I think I have no more news so I better finish up.  I’ve attached some photos for you to see.



Lilydale Falls picnic area

Lydia birdwatching

Lilydale Falls

At Lilydale Falls

Big tree

Ferny stuff

Path at Lilydale Falls

North East farmland

Rainforest walk

Fungus on log


Small World

May 22, 2007

Hello again

You know I was just thinking back to my youth, back in the dim distant past, and remembering how I tried to start a journal a couple of times. Somehow it just never worked out, it seemed so odd to be writing to a book, which no-one but myself would read. I have now discovered the solution – email. I enjoy writing about things we’ve been doing, even when it isn’t much, and it has so much more purpose when it means I am keeping in touch with you guys at the same time.

Anyway I was going to tell you what a small world it is. We have started going to this church in Launceston full of foreigners, you know – Tasmanians. Well whilst chatting after the service on Sunday we met a fellow called James and were having a good old yarn. It turned out that James was from WA and is related to Carol Heerema, who was our neighbour in Kelmscott where we lived before moving to Albany. Then we were invited to the home of Ben and Tina for a cuppa, and off we went. In the depths of deep and meaningful discussion I discovered that Tina was also from WA. She also knew the Carol mentioned above and more than that we actually went to the same high school and were in the same year! Neither of us remember the other, and Tina left after year 10 while I soldiered on to year 12, but there you are. It’s a small world, or perhaps Christians with reformed beliefs just hang out in isolated areas. 🙂

Life definitely has settled down, I can tell because I feel like I have no news of any interest, however I’ve always managed to fill the silence with words and I’ll make a valiant effort to fill the email with typing. Josiah is doing well at learning to read, whenever I can drag him off the computer to actually work on such things as school work. My latest plan is to try to do all his school work in the mornings, and then he can play after lunch. I tried it for the first time today, and because he wanted to have the afternoon free he was prepared to put in more of an effort than he normally does, so it went well. I’ll just have to see how it goes from here on. Truth to tell most of the work he does he enjoys and probably doesn’t even realise that he is learning things at the same time. Our current theme is water, and so we have been learning all sorts of facts about water, reading books with a water theme, doing mazes and colouring etc of pictures that somehow relate to water. After reading a Magic Schoolbus book Josiah very enthusiastically made me help him to make a big poster of the water cycle and the way water gets processed and delivered to our homes, because that was what the kids did in the book. I like having a theme, it helps me to come up with more ideas somehow. We have frozen water, boiled water, floated boats down the creek and checked out steam engines, it’s all good fun.

Sam and Lydia are now working with a weekly to-do list, that way they can press on and get their work done early too if they want to. Also it means I don’t have to work out what I want them to do each day, they can make their own decisions just so long as it all gets done – or there is a good reason why it doesn’t. Sam has been suffering from his nausea again since being in Tassie, just like he was before we took him off wheat and milk. In desperation he has stopped eating spelt as well recently and that seems to have had a good effect, unfortunately it makes it harder to fill him up, but at least he feels better. It is most annoying timing since I just bought 25kg of organic spelt flour for him to use, but never mind.

Kim has been getting ready to take my 71 VW wagon over the pits, the one we restored the body of just before coming over here. All was going well, he had even tracked down a place who assured us they had the parts to get the windscreen washers working, and then on Saturday the boys had a bit of an accident with it. It was one of those stupid things that happen when people are in a rush, but the end result was that the car went backwards through the gate with the drivers door open, and suddenly the drivers door didn’t look the same anymore. Poor Kim, he was rather sad. However, we brought with us all the gear that we used when doing the old girl up and the technique is still fresh in our minds. Kim has been busy today sanding, panel beating and placcying the door so, God willing, the car will soon be back in one piece and driving around again. The Audi already has Tasmanian plates, and the beetle is going to have to go off the road for a while as it needs some serious work, and I think that working on the block is going to be the priority for a while.

In other dramas, Caleb accidentally kicked Sam’s favourite soccer ball into the creek, this ball has great sentimental value as it was a goodbye present from Sam’s best mates when he left Albany. The creek was in it’s raging torrent mode at that time, and the ball went racing away with Caleb in hot pursuit, however bushes and barb wired fences stopped him from catching it and he came flying into the house with the news. Kim and Caleb whizzed off down the road in the car, stopping at various spots along the way where the creek could be seen or where it crossed the road hoping to catch sight of the ball as it travelled. Sam in the meantime went hiking through the bush beyond our block trying to see if the ball had been caught up anywhere. Surprisingly the ball was actually recovered! Sam found it caught in a branch and managed to wade across the creek to rescue it. We have since suggested making a ringlock barrier over the creek at the end of the block, or better still, getting their skills up so they don’t boot the ball where they don’t want it to go.

We found a good music shop and have ordered a new bodhran (Irish drum) for Caleb, since he was devastated when the skin on the one he got for his 21st ripped badly. We are not sure if it had a flaw in it or whether it was just through such vigorous use, but we have ordered a “pro” version which has a double skin, in the hope that this one will last longer. Caleb still plays his guitar and Lydia continues to persevere with her violin playing while Sam is constantly playing his tin whistle. We have also ordered a special Clarkes original tin whistle for him. For a bit of variety they are trying to learn the flute now, and on odd occasions the clarinet, trumpet or keyboards get a hearing. It is a musical household to be sure.

Well, its time to finish up this not terribly exciting email. My love to you all.



May 16, 2007

Hi All

It occurred to me that I should send you a photo of the property we are buying, but unfortunately we have very few photos to choose from. There is one which shows the outside of the main shack which has a lounge, kitchen, clerestory bedroom, bathroom and carport and another of the inside of the smaller shack which has just 2 rooms, so I have attached them to show those who are interested. Check out the jackets and beanies we were all wearing – it was COLD that day. We will have to get some more photos to show at a later date. There is also a photo of the kids playing soccer in the paddock here on our rental property.