Friday, September 30, 2011

Mr 225.

Farmer Bren's morning tea masterpiece.

110 carriage train crossing our path on the way into Port Hedland.

A mountain of salt at Port Hedland.

Miss Pepper test driving Bren's new ukelele.

Honeymoon Cove - Point Samson.

The other day we were driving from 80 Mile Beach to Port Samson and pulled off the highway for a lunch break. The hot and dusty rest stop was deserted, with only one other car and caravan in sight. They looked like they'd been there for a while with their laundry hung out to dry and their solar panels lined up to charge.

We cut up some vegies and started assembling our sandwiches.

After a while, Indi looked around at the other car and asked if we thought their number plates, MR 225, were personalised and if so what they meant.

We all thought about it for a while and then I told them all a 'once upon a time' story about a man who had had a very poor upbringing and was living on the streets when one day he found or got given a metal detector. He spent years traveling around the country with it, metal detecting and digging. One day in the middle of nowhere he heard the thing beeping and carrying on like crazy. He started digging immediately. And digging and digging and digging. And there at the bottom of his very deep hole he found a box full of gold coins and bank notes. When he measured the hole he found it to be 225 feet deep. Of course with his fabulous find he bought himself a car and a caravan and the rest is history for MR 225.

Miss Jazzy then piped up and disagreed, saying that she was certain he was born on the 22nd of May.

Farmer Bren had the idea that the woman we now saw camping with the man was his 225th wife!!

Miss Indi was certain he had made his fortune playing Tats Lotto once and his lucky winning numbers had been 225.

And Miss Pepper thought that was his name. Mr Twohundredandtwentyfive. Oh yeah!

So what do you think? Who was this mysterious MR 225? Can you solve our mystery?

Have a wonderful weekend and happy travels.
I'm off to do a bit of crochet - yes! there still is a little bit of craft going on around these parts.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

She collects sea shells by the sea shore.

She collects sea shells by the sea shore.

She listens with amazement at the rush of swirling air of the beach that is coming from her shell by the sea shore.

We all love a treasure hunt by the sea shore.

She likes mother of pearl shells. She likes the smooth rainbow of colours and dreams of finding a pearl one day by the sea shore.

He has time to dream and plan a mobile made from white shells with holes in them found by the sea shore.

She loses track of time and distance on a walk with her Mum and comes home with sore legs and a bucket full of treasures from the sea shore.

And she (I) adores cowrie shells. She can't help but pick them up and admire their patterns and shapes. She dreams of finding a large dark one with white spots one day by the sea shore.

We fill our hands and our pockets with sandy treasures by the sea shore.

We collect greedily, hungrily....and then, after a while....we drop a lot of sea shells for others to find and use as habitat by the sea shore.

And she, my big girl, spends hours soaking and washing and rinsing and cataloguing the shells. It makes me so proud when people walk past to ask and admire them and listen as she tells her stories and answers their questions.

Thank you for a wonderful time 80 Mile Beach. We feel beachy and sandy and are enjoying the clinking sound the shells make in their box as we travel to the next sea shore.

Happy travels. xx

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gone fishing.

In the very beginning when we were charting our itinerary, we decided to road trip down the West coast of Australia instead of the East because we dreamed it would be more of an adventure. Less built up, more rugged, less touristy, more natural. 80 Mile Beach, the second WA beach we've camped at so far is most certainly that. A 10 kilometer drive down a corrugated red dirt track and there is nothing but a caravan park and beach at the end.

The caravan park is low key and friendly. It feels old school even though much of it has been rebuilt since a cyclone came through and destroyed it in 2009.

Some people come to 80 Mile Beach for a holiday and don't leave. Many people come for seven or eight months of every year, every year.

Without the distractions of Internet and phone coverage and with a looooong stretch of gorgeous but shark infested beach, there is not much more to do than fish. And collect shells, walk on the beach and read and fish some more.

We are not fishing people. Farmer Bren kitted himself up with a rod and some stuff before we got there, but other than that all the different hooks and sinkers and knots and tidal information is a bit of a mystery to us.

According to local lore, us blow ins with no experience and brand new rods should have caught a meter long King Salmon. But we didn't. Actually, we didn't catch anything but a small non-descript fish we used as bait.

But don't worry, we didn't go hungry, we were given lots of fish to eat by friendly neighbours.

But all the catching and gutting and filleting was a bit confronting for a vegetarian of 20 years. I know that if you are going to eat fish, which I have chosen to, then this is the fish to eat. A couple of hours out of the ocean, caught locally off a rod, one at a time, by someone fishing it as a hobby to catch enough for a meal or two.

But still, the blood and guts, the smell, the sound of the flesh being ripped off the skeleton and those eyes that seem to follow you around the fish cleaning area. Ugh! (sorry!)

It would probably have been exciting to have reeled in a great big fish or two, but it's probably more ethical to cook up and eat some one else's excess.

I have hundreds of photos and stories in my journal from 80 Mile Beach. I loved it there. I think if it weren't for the sand flies and the need for groceries, I could have easily got stuck there for a while longer.

Happy travels you guys. x

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I like...

I like a little Saturday drive to a cafe out of Broome town.

I like that NASAA sign. It is also our farm's organic certifier and it makes me feel confident of the food we are about to order and the type of people who grew it, bought it and cooked it.

I like a menu that proudly announces the ingredients grown on the farm and also lists those that weren't. This menu lets you make your own informed decisions and doesn't try to hide anything or trick you.

I like the 'today's bread' menu. It feels wholesome and I appreciate the hands that kneaded, punched down and formed those loaves. So much of the bread we have come across on our trip is frozen and mass produced and I like this type so much better.

I like an open kitchen where you can watch and talk to the owner/chef. He can tell you his farming/cafe story and explain his trouble with bread dough that rises too quickly and must be popped in the over before the next order is made.

I also like happy, friendly staff that have time to stop for a chat and tell you their menu favourites, their personal stories of how they came to be there, where they are from and ask you about yours. I especially like it when they ask about my crochet and what I am working on.

I like places with baskets of Lego for the kids and shelves of magazines and newspapers and books for the adults.

I like simple food made with ingredients I can recognise.

I like foods with smells that remind me of home. Fresh rocket mmmmm...

I like food that is made from ingredients grown and chosen with integrity, love and respect.

I like it that when good food is placed down in front of my children, that I don't have to ask them to eat, they actually want to.

I like food that tastes wholesome. That you feel like it's doing you good as you eat it and you enjoy eating it.

I like food that makes us feel happy.

I like colourful, fresh, local, seasonal, organic.

I like a toilet with a story. Just for fun. This composting toilet is set on the right hand side of this room. While sitting on it you get an open aired view of the chook yard and part of the garden. I liked that it didn't smell and I didn't mind at all the many, many visits my kids made to have another look.

I like a place that welcomes our family and makes us feel at home. That encourages us to spend hours eating, drinking and hanging out.

And I like a place with hammocks strewn between the trees and a couch for when you just feel like laying back and relaxing and watching the world for a while.

Thanks 12 Mile Cafe for a wonderful afternoon.

I wonder what you like?

Happy travels. x

Monday, September 19, 2011

The itch.

I'm feeling itchy. Physically (sand fly bites) and emotionally. I'm not entirely certain that it is possible to feel emotionally itchy but this afternoon I do.

Little bits of home are creeping in and I'm not sure how to deal with them. Bush fires nearby to our farm, a springtime glut of eggs to find customers for, the thought of my sewing machine and some pretty fabrics and laces and the perfect easy breezy sundress they could become.

Little bits of so many conversations that end up talking about how we'll do things differently when we go home.

The fact that we cannot seem to leave Broome. We'll have been here a month this Thursday. Until yesterday I thought it was because it is so perfect here, the beaches, the friends, the relaxed lifestyle... Yesterday it was suggested to me that maybe we are struggling with the fact that until now we have been heading North and West. Broome and the far north west coast were always the destination we were most looking forward to. So when we start to head south from here it kinda means we are on our way home. Even though we have months of travel left, we are heading south and that is a little sad.

I haven't got enough yarn with me to get stuck into a long term project and there is no wool shop for miles around. I am crocheting little flowers for all the girls' friends to wear in their hair, but they are not doing the trick. I need to knit long rows and tune out and let my fingers do the work.

Miss Pepper woke me up three times in the night crying hysterically about nothing at all and needing to be cuddled back to sleep.

I have no space. There is always someone talking to me, wanting something from me, hassling me. Yep, I know you are thinking 'der, what did you expect in a caravan??' But most of the time it's ok. Most of the time I love this constant family time. But today it's irritating the crap out of me. The sound of Miss Pepper watching Annie on the ipad, the sound of a million Muuuuuuuuuums!!!! The thought of the pile of wet towels and the sandy clothes and the ants in the honey...

I know I probably shouldn't publish this. 99 per cent of my days are wonderful and this crap afternoon should be endured and forgotten but without my knitting and my sewing machine, blogging is the next best coping mechanism I know. I write it all out, I publish it, it helps me process it and get rid of it.

So feel free to ignore this post if you like. Or read it and take from it that life on the road is mostly wonderful but occasionally irritating. You choose.

As for me, I'm going to pour myself a glass of vodka and old fashioned lemonade, chuck in a few ice cubes and go and sit outside and knead the pizza dough. Until someone needs me. Doesn't sound all that bad really does it? What on earth am I complaining about then??


Saturday, September 17, 2011

This moment...capture it.

Hello from beautiful Broome, Western Australia.

It's a gorgeous Saturday morning here. Perfectly sunny, blue skied and warm.

Miss Pepper is playing with friends in the caravan next door, Miss Jazzy is at the play ground, Miss Indi is sitting here with me writing a story and farmer Bren has pulled apart one of our walkie talkies and is slowly putting it back together again.

And me? I'm right here. I'm happy. The laundry is all done and hanging on the line, the caravan took us all of about 20 minutes to clean and I am sitting here wanting to capture this moment for some later date when I am struggling and cannot remember how it feels to be still and calm and happy in the moment.

I am reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Yesterday I sent Miss Jazzy to her friend Grace's caravan to borrow a book from her Mum. This is the book she came back with. So far on page 162, so good.

I am also reading my Mum's blog and hoping that one of you, or someone you know, will be interested in buying their farm so that they can move across the road from us.

I am drinking my morning coffee. Slowly. It has a love heart on the top. I know I should drink some water too, I'll get to that.

I am eating salads and fruit mostly. It is too hot to eat much else.

I am constantly frustrated by the limited supply of fresh fruit and veg on the road. Supermarket shopping for stuff we usually pull out of the ground or collect is less than ideal. Hopefully as we travel south this will change.

I am listening to Miss Indi read the story she just wrote to her Dad. I love that she has started writing long, creative stories again. I am wondering a lot about school and creativity and how to keep them both alive at once.

I am wearing a black dress over my bathers. Broome is all hot days and cool nights. Perfect.

I am writing a lot in my journal and a magazine article about our road trip.

I am crocheting a lanyard for Miss Jazzy's walkie talkie. It's blue with white flowers.
There is a gang of kids who ride their bikes around this caravan park and keep in walkie talkie contact with their parents on channel two.

I am planning a visit to a caravan up the row to teach a woman how to join her crocheted granny squares together.

I am loving the bikes, the Independence, the walkie talkie talk, the friendships and the freedom. Living on a farm, this is the type of stuff our kids miss out on.

I am thinking a lot about home today. About how to bring this feeling home with us. How to minimise our stuff, slow down, live in the moment, entertain friends more, drive less, stress less.

So what are you up to??

I hope your weekend is wonderful.

We are off now to visit a mango farm for lunch and then home for siesta.

See ya. x

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

from here to where?

I've spoken before about how although this road trip looks like a holiday from the outside, that it is in fact about lots of other things too. Things like slowing down, being together as a family uninterrupted, making a game plan for the next phase of parenting, the celebration and acknowledgment of two big milestone birthdays and the discussion of the where to from here for Daylesford Organics.

Those who have been reading along for a while now will know that Daylesford Organics is our family farm and business. It is a certified organic mixed farm. Our passion is diversity and so we grow so many different things, the more the better-forty varieties of apples, hazelnuts, plums, raspberries, hundreds of different colours and flavours of vegetables and 1,500 chookies for eggs.

We moved to our farm 10 years and one week before we drove down the driveway towing our caravan a few months ago.

In the past ten years, while we were growing our family, we also built up a really great business. We have won some amazing national awards and supplied some of the best cafes and restaurants in Australia. Of course we have set up and sold at hundreds of farmer's markets too. We came in as they were just starting up in Victoria and we really believe that a lot of our business's success has been because of them.

We have had amazing and plentiful crops over the past years but we've also had disaster seasons. Killer droughts, humidity, a bushfire, locusts, hail, and in the last season we had three floods.

To be honest, we felt a bit burnt out. We'd lost the enthusiasm. Where once a stroll through the rows in the orchards and paddocks filled us with excitement and inspiration, this last season made us feel sad, disappointed, tired.

We believe strongly in Daylesford Organics. Good clean food grown with integrity and responsibility to Mother Nature is what we strive for. But something needs to change.

Perhaps we have to grow something new? Perhaps we have to shift our thinking and grow in a new way? Perhaps we have to expand or contract? Perhaps we have to find a new focus? A new method? A new model? A new concept?

Who knows? I do know though that we had to get distance from it to see it afresh and in perspective. I also know that it took about two months and 10,000 kms distance until we were ready to start thinking and talking about it. I also know that there will be a lot of talking about it for the next four months and 10,000 kms.

I am starting to get excited about the possibilities though.

So while it may look like we are spending our days strolling along some of the world's most magnificent beaches really we are in a very important - and long - business meeting.

Oh and did you know that after Maggie Beer had spent 10 years running a restaurant at her Pheasant Farms she closed it down for a year to reassess her future direction? Looks like we might be in good company with our six months of reflection.

See ya!

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