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 I hope you all are having a lovely Christmas season.  In the time between Christmas and New Year I usually spend some time reflecting on the year that was and my plans for the year to come - not that planning is ever a perfect science because we never really know what is around the corner. In comparison to this time last year it is lovely to see green grass, blue skies with lots of clouds, our trees laden with fruit and some limited success in our vege garden. In this strange year I achieved many things around the house from restoring furniture to renovating. I read several good books but I also wasted much too much time on my screens. It all started with checking "Fires Near Me". This was too quickly followed by the virus which had me addicted to the horrible soap opera - checking the numbers, learning the rules and the suspense of the border wars. I was lured into binge watching TV series. And social media grabbed its chunk too. I knew for sure something had to change last
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Humble Royals

For the past week or so we have been on a pre Christmas Sweet Wayfaring trip through the Riverina and outback NSW.  It has been on my bucket list to drive the Kidman Way for a while.  We have previously done the 'ends' but not the 'middle' section from Griffith to Cobar so that was our destination this year. As is always the case when I am on new roads I keep my eye out for more Royal Hotels to add to my collection  and was rewarded with two on this trip. Royal Hotel, Mirrool This  beauty is in the tiny town of Mirrool which is not much more than the pub, a couple of houses, a small church and the ubiquitous wheat silos beside a railway siding. To get there we traveled through vast acres of grain country where this year's bumper harvest was in the process of being gathered.  Next we passed through the Riverina which has huge vineyards and orchards where irrigation makes the dry landscape flourish.  It is just astounding the scale of agriculture in this region. To r

Christmas decorations

At Christmas there is never a more perfect time for a home to have a fireplace, a place to hang the Christmas stockings. I keep things simple with my decorations, however Rose Orchard Haus has unusual niches in some of its walls.   At Christmas time I change things around a little and give the objects on display a Christmas theme. A little Christmas bird seems to have snuck into this one. And nature is not to be outdone in joining the fun.  At Whistlers Rest, our bush block, I thought I had seen every plant and flower there was until I saw this among the cypresses this week.  It's as if it has grown its own Christmas baubles. And at Burnbrae Garden the dogwood has its Christmas stars in flower. Have you put up Christmas decorations in your home? Does your garden have any special Christmas plants?

Back to church

Having done online Church at Home since March for the last two Sundays we have gone back to physically attending church - last week at the cathedral in Sydney and today in our little country church. At the cathedral the normal congregation is larger than the numbers currently allowed.  They delayed recommencing the morning service until they could get 250 people in and live stream to the rest. It was very organised with advance online registration, ushers explaining where to sit and how to socially distance on entry and exit.   It's a rather odd experience with no congregational singing (there was the choir), no handshaking or hugging after not seeing each other for so long. People are encouraged to wear masks so most do. No mingling in the corridors after the service and no morning tea so not a lot of opportunity to chat. And the seats were hard because the cushions have been removed to facilitate the extra cleaning required. At our little country church things were somewhat more


 For the past several days I have been excavating some stone steps at Burnbrae garden.  They had become overgrown by pineapple sage on one side and on the other side I "temporarily"  dumped some mulch  6 years ago! Moving the mulch (now compost) is a big job especially as it is now riddled with tree roots.  Plenty of worms there too. It has been a delightful spring.  Gorgeous green, wet and warm with enough cool weather to get lots of jobs done and bid winter a gentle goodbye without having to order in another load of firewood. The garden is looking good with the Acanthus currently in flower. Summer starts this week so the hydrangeas are now beginning to make an appearance. It's been a scorcher today with a very strong hot wind blowing. On the train coming back from the city this afternoon we saw the smoke and beginnings of a bushfire which is still burning but "being controlled".  I hope this is not the start of another horror season. The wind is now blowing co

The end of the line

One our recent holiday I was keen to visit the town of Gwabegar, partly because it seems such a strange name but more because it is at the end of the railway line that passes through our town (the line is mostly inactive).   This is what I found. Gwabegar is a tiny town (population 160) that has clearly seen much better days.  Nestled in the heart of the Pillaga Forest it apparently once boasted 12 timber mills, perhaps this was one of them. The mills were making sleepers for railway lines cross-crossing the country at the time. The housing is old and eclectic as is often the case in country towns.  Here's a sample of what I found. There were all of the expected community things, a school (1 teacher, 12 students), police station, community hall,  church (now a home), CWA (building gone), rural fire service and local park. Funny thing is I don't remember seeing any shops or pub. I guess they travel the 30-40kms to the next town for supplies.

A little holiday

Last week we took a break from gardening, camping at Coonabarabran.  This is a nice spot close to the Warrumbungle Range, Pilliga Forest and Siding Spring Observatory so plenty of things to see and do.   Warrumbungles, interesting rock formations Pilliga, a large cypress forest (and other timbers) There are nice dark skies, perfect for the observatory There were lots of wildflowers and it was also interesting to see the recovery from big fires up that way in January 2013.   The farmers out west seem to be having a good year with healthy crops and lots of haymaking going on, though I understand some of them are having difficulty getting in their bumper crops because of rain. Sorry I didn't visit your blogs last week .... I run out of mobile phone data allowance.