TUESDAY 26 APRIL PUNGALINA
First thing in the morning I made another loaf of bread, in order to have fresh for today’s lunch. The one I made yesterday would do for breakfast toast.
Sliced the date loaf and buttered it, and put biscuits out on a plate – for morning tea for the guests to have upon their arrival.
Then got started on lunch prep. Hard boiled eggs, peeled, mashed and lightly curried them. Chopped lettuce, red onion and celery, grated carrot. All these had come with us from Adels, so were somewhat past their prime by now! Mashed a small tin of tuna. Cut fruit cake (a bought one that came with us).
I took the water jugs that were chilling to each tent.
Heard the plane come in to the air strip and a while later O, with the Troopy, brought A and K to camp. All sat down around the morning tea table, outside in the shade. We welcomed them – John had a little speech that included do’s and don’ts. Whilst the latter must be kept to a minimum, some are necessary – like don’t walk around the camp at night without a light. Then I took them to their tents and left them to settle in. This would be the arrival routine with all future guests.
These two were content to relax, explore camp and the like, until lunchtime. It was a hot and humid day so not one for being super energetic.
Lunch was for the two guests, O and John – and I would have some too, but on the go whilst working in the kitchen tent. Sandwiches – four rounds of curried egg and lettuce, four of tuna, mayo and lettuce, two of cream cheese, celery, carrot and red onion. Fruit cake.
This was not quite the lunch I would have served, ideally, but came up alright, given the lack of supplies. I was so thankful that I’d stocked up somewhat on fresh salad makings at Adels, rather than trust that decent supplies would be here!
After lunch, O took the men off fishing at Croc Hole, where there was a boat moored.
Once lunch was over and wash up done, I got started on tea prep.
I had asked O yesterday, to take roasting beef, sufficient for four, from his freezer to defrost. He had forgotten! He did remember to bring the meat with him, this morning, but it was still part frozen. It didn’t look like any roasting cut I had ever encountered, either. I made up a marinade of grain mustard, red wine and garlic and hoped soaking in this would speed the thawing. I put the meat on to slowly roast, quite early in the afternoon, and hoped!
Prepared vegies – potatoes and some pumpkin that O had at the house. Made up a Yorkshire Pudding batter to sit in the fridge. Set the table in the dining tent. Because I only had to set for four, there was sufficient numbers of plates, glasses and cutlery. But I had to use a glass to put a small arrangement of some varied leaves on the table for decoration – vases were something else needed!
The fisher people returned with a 76.5cm barramundi. So they were happy – and I am sure O was relieved.
O had his own special, complicated, knots for rigging fishing lines that reduces the risk of losing the big fish. Because they regard this as a type of wild life sanctuary, only barbless fishing hooks were used, so mouth damage to fish was reduced. Fish caught could be kept if required for my kitchen, and guests could take one fish they had caught, away with them – frozen for them by O. Otherwise, the catch was returned to the water. I liked that policy.
I served pre-dinner nibbles of crisps and nuts, then roast beef and vegies, boiled peas (from a tin), Yorkshire Pudding muffins (had muffin pans in my caravan stocks!), gravy, mustard. Dessert was slices of paw paw with lime juice squeezed over – both from O’s garden.
The dining tent looked good for the evening meal, with the table set, and a decent tablecloth that had come from the camp stores. The subdued lighting from the outside spotlights along the creek was quite atmospheric. But I needed to get some candles and candle holders to finish it off – and a couple of small vases for table arrangements.
I served up the food in the kitchen, then John and I took the plates to the dining tent, being very careful not to trip over anything – that would have been a disaster! The way was not all that well lit, but we would get to know it well. John had been asked to eat with the guests. I found an excuse not to do so – I was still not feeling like any substantial meals and it would not have looked great for me not to be eating the meal!
John reported back that the beef was still pretty chewy though. I was already beginning to suspect that Pungalina’s feral cattle, possibly chased around a bit before being shot, were not exactly providing prime meat!
After tea, the men sat round the fire pit area outside (too hot for a fire though) and talked with O. John and I did the washup, boiling water in kettles on the stove to do so. Then I did some prep for the morning – put cereals into plastic containers (need more of those), sliced bacon rashers into smaller lengths, put jams into dishes and into the fridge, put the long-life milk cartons in the fridge to chill.
The guests retired to bed quite early, for which I was grateful, as it meant we could too. I was tired – as much from the preliminary tension as from the actual work. Managed quick showers – would have to try to fit my shower in between guest presences in camp, in the future.