This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

Leave a comment

2005 Travels August 27


We took a day off today, to have a rest after the recent burst of activity.

When John came back from the daily watering up at the house, he reported that O had begun work on the new house foundations. This involved clearing the surface of a large area to the back and one side of the existing dwelling, then building a very long retaining wall – some ninety metres long – just at the edge where the drop down to the river started. Quite a massive task and one that would take some time. He was expecting a young couple he knew to come in and camp near the house to help him with the building works, in October.

Resize of 09-10-2005 05 Owen's House 5

Site for the new house

The house, when built, would have a brilliant view across the river. It would be a high set style, allowing for cooling breezes under it, storage, and also raising it (hopefully) well above any flood level.

Resize of 09-10-2005 06 Owen's House 6

The house would have this view over the Calvert valley

John had slung a net in the creek and came back with what we thought was a cherabin – a sort of fresh water prawn. There was only one, so we let it go again.

Resize of 08-27-2005 01 Cherabiun

We were expecting friends V and F to stay, arriving Monday. They had just finished the season’s work at Adels Grove. So John tidied up the area beyond our van where we had previously put M’s tent, a couple of months ago. We were looking forward to having some friends here, and showing them the place. They could be future workers here too. A couple of months ago, O was talking of maybe setting up a rough camp area down at the Gulf Track end of the old track to Borroloola. If he were to do so, V and F would be ideal people to run that for a season.

When we first came here, we had hoped that my son and his family would be able to come and visit. The plan was that they would fly in to Mt Isa, hire a 4WD and drive here, via Adels and Kingfisher Camp. We had brought our big tent all this way, in case. Anyway, it had not eventuated. I think son’s wife had found the prospect of being so remote, with a three year old, too daunting. Pity.

It was lovely to have a peaceful happy hour again, in our clearing, with time to relax and watch the sunset.

Resize of 08-27-2005 04 August Sunset

Leave a comment

2005 Travels August 25


John worked 4am to 10pm. I worked 8am to 10pm.

O and John organized breakfast for the guests – cereals and toast – and I cleaned up after I got up.

The fishing party left for the coast before 5am – well before dawn in these parts.

O was to drive the little Daihatsu, with John following, with the fishermen in the Troopy. They would do this until reaching just beyond the Stinking Lagoons. Then all would transfer to the Daihatsu. O believed that the light weight of this would enable it to traverse the salt flats and potentially salt marsh areas, and thus enable a group to reach the coast for the first time, here. He had surveyed the area in the Jabiru plane, and thought he’d seen a way they might be able to get through.

Resize of 08-31-2005 10 Stinking Lagoon August 2

Stinking Lagoons

O  had fastened two old car seats into the back tray, to enable such transport for four.


Modified Daihatsu

John had difficulty following O in the pre-dawn darkness. O was kicking up dust, which combined with the dew to coat the Troopy windscreen with mud. O was also going faster than John was really comfortable with – knowing the track better.

At one stage, near the Lagoons, where the track was very ill defined, John hit a big pig wallow hole that he did not see before hand. The guests thought it was all one big joke. Just part of the experience!

Resize of 06-26-2005 14 Stinking Lagoon 2

Feral pig damage around the Stinking Lagoons

Resize of 05-14-2005 20 Calvert Lookout 2

Lower Calvert River

The plan went well and they did reach the sandy shore of the Gulf coast, just west of the Calvert mouth. It was about 10am by then, so they only had a few hours of fishing.

The guests caught lots of fish. Some were returned to the water, after being photographed. Some were kept for food supplies for camp and house. I had “ordered” a thread fin salmon, if one was to be had – and it was. I consider them really excellent eating.

O said they had to pack up at 3pm, to get back to camp between 7 and 8pm. He fired the pistol that he always carried in areas where there might be crocs, as a signal that it was time to start packing up. John made a joke of it and told the boys that they must hurry up and pack, otherwise O would shoot them!

It was decided that O would drive the Troopy back from the Lagoons, because there were some sights he wanted to show the guests on the way. John would drive the Daihatsu back. Unfortunately John had not gone far – O had already departed – when the brakes on the vehicle gave up. Nothing there. John continued on, worrying mostly about how he was going to manage the occasional down slope, and especially the long narrow ridge down to the Calvert crossing.

Resize of 05-14-2005 08 Calvert RiverCrossing 3

Calvert River at the crossing

He managed reasonably well, using the gears alone, until the Calvert ridge. He managed that by putting the vehicle into reverse gear and rolling down with the clutch in. When the speed got too much, he would let the clutch out and thus very abruptly slow the vehicle. This probably did not do the gearbox and clutch much good though! But he got down the ridge unscathed.

A couple of times where there were sharper bends that he miscalculated, he ran off the track and into the bush, scraped trees to slow down.

It was a most uncomfortable trip for John because there was no upholstery on the driver’s seat – it had all been chewed off by the dings. His back was very sore by the time he got back to camp. The vibrations had been such that his heavy-duty plastic fishing tackle box was broken!

Resize of 06-03-2005 02 Ding Guard 2

Not a comfortable ride….

John was back before the guests. I had been anxiously watching out for lights once it got dark and was most relieved when John appeared about 8pm.

O was not too far behind. He had taken various side tracks to show things, so had gotten behind John almost from the start. He asked John why the hell he’d gone bush bashing in a couple of places, and was quite surprised when John explained why. I think he may have quietly admired the feat of doing that track without brakes!

The group cleaned up and had a very late dinner. I had cooked a whole barra – Asian style – with chippies and salads. Dessert was pannacotta and berry sauce.

The fishermen were on a real high. They had never had an experience like today’s. O and John were pretty happy too, despite sore back.

Poor O had to drive out, after a few hours’ sleep, to get to Redbank Mine to pick up the supplies from the truck.

I was quite envious of John, having actually gotten to the coast!

Leave a comment

2005 Travels August 16


Day off for us. John went up to the house to do the vegie garden watering, as usual, though.

O came to inspect the camp. He still seemed rather disgruntled, but could not really find fault with how the camp was looking. About all he could come up with was that, after all the recent work, the generator needed a service. So he changed the oil and air filter on that.

We went driving back out to Bathtub Springs, for another look at it – so pretty.

Resize of 08-16-2005 04 Bathtub Springs

I was fascinated by the underwater gardens growing at the edge of the river, where the water was clear and light penetrated.

Resize of 08-16-2005 01 Clear Water

Under water garden. Dry bank at extreme right side of photo

Spent some time watching a grey fantail flitting about in the bush and trees, but could not get a really good photo of it. The bird was very curious about us.

Resize of 08-16-2005 03 Grey Fantail Northern For

Out on that part of the property, there were places where there were lots of termite mounds, quite close together. Then there would be some distance where there were none. We figured it had to do with soil structure, moisture retention and the like.

Resize of 08-16-2005 06 Ant City

The progress of the seasons was obvious in that the grasses that had been so tall and green, back in May, when we were clearing the tracks out there, were now brown and lying more flat. I could begin to see how late Dry Season fires could be such a problem, once they got going.

Resize of 08-16-2005 07 Ant City 3

There were young saplings re-growing on parts of the track. They would be fodder for next year’s early season slashing.

Resize of 08-16-2005 09 Ant City 4

Resize of 06-26-2005 03 Rotation of Pungalina 6 080

Unusual leopardwood tree growth – with bark free dead branch



Leave a comment

2005 Travels August 14


Day off. We enjoyed a decent sleep in.

Pottered about at camp, read my paper.

After an early lunch, we drove out to the wetlands, and took out the canoe onto the lake. Tried as best we could to do a bird count, but mostly just enjoyed the paddle. Went right across the far side and in amongst some of the dead trees that clustered quite thickly in the water there. It felt rather surreal.

Resize of 07-21-2005 03 July Wet Lands 2

Resize of 07-21-2005 06 July Wet Lands 4

Back to our camp, where I read away the rest of the day. John spent time on the lap top.


Leave a comment

2005 Travels August 8


A day off, after working 15 days straight! And most of them had been long bloody days, too. Right now I was feeling thankful that the camp was not more heavily booked.

The camping party left.

We needed to go for a drive, just to get away from the camp environs.

Back in July, O had found time to slash the track that went in a circuit, around by Kirkby Waters, on to Bathtub Springs, and thence back to the main track near Mystery Shovel Waterhole. It had been the last track area to dry out enough to take the tractor and we had not had time to explore it yet. So that was today’s destination.

The main track to the north – to the Calvert crossing – was getting pretty well defined by now, with regular guest groups being taken to various sites along it. Of course, the further away from the house and camp it got, the less well defined it became. It was still no speed route – the surface was too rough and there were too many twists and turns for that.

Resize of 08-08-2005 11 Melaleuca Viridiflora 3.JPG

Our first stop was where the recent caving party had done some exploring and found some new caves. We had no intention of exploring down same, but just wanted to look at the opening and the limestone ridge around it.

When you knew what to look for, the fig trees that could be a real marker for caves, were obvious. They grew in such locations because their roots were able to get right down into the ground and find sufficient moisture way down, to sustain them.

Resize of 08-08-2005 07 Cave Marker Tree.JPG

Cave marker tree stands out from the rest of the vegetation

There were also stromatolites in the area.

As we walked up the hill to the cave opening, caught sight of a very large python disappearing fast, down into the cave. Had we’d had any thoughts of exploring down there, that would have been enough to squash same! Then, as I was wandering about looking at things, spotted a big tree snake up in a tree.

Resize of 08-08-2005 04 Cave Entrance 2.JPG

Cave entrance amongst stromatolites

Resize of 08-08-2005 01 Cave Near Bathtub Springs.JPG

Pays to look where you are walking, on this place

Resize of 08-08-2005 05 Cave Entrance 3.JPG

Cave up a slight rise from the track

As we followed the rough and slow track towards Bathtub Springs, came across a few of the feral cattle that were still on the place. They did not seem at all concerned by us trundling slowly along, and just kept on grazing near the track.

It was easy to see that this track had been damp until recently, by the number of bottlebrush trees there were around – and in profuse flower.

Resize of 08-08-2005 12 Melaleuca Viridiflora 4.JPG

Melaleuca viridiflora?

Resize of 08-08-2005 10 Melaleuca Viridiflora 2.JPG

The Bathtub Springs area was really pretty. The springs there had created a sort of creek/small swamp, fringed by huge paperbarks.

Resize of 08-08-2005 49 Bathtub Springs 33.JPG

Bathtub Springs

There were wonderful reflections in the waters, too.

O had a boat moored here for the season. It was the most recently bought one, considered rather tricky, because of an accident involving its previous owner. So, John knew to be careful operating it.

Resize of 08-08-2005 16 Bathtub Springs.JPG

The boat at Bathtub Springs

He took us out on the Calvert River. Just downstream from where the boat was moored, the river narrowed to one of its choke points -shallows and jammed trees – but we were able to motor upstream for several kms on a wide, slow, stretch of the river.

Resize of 08-08-2005 41 Bathtub Springs 25.JPG

Resize of 08-08-2005 25 Bathtub Springs 10.JPG

Resize of 08-08-2005 29 Bathtub Springs 14.JPG

It was scenic, peaceful, pleasant, really enjoyable.

On one of the wide reaches of the long water hole, there was just enough breeze to ripple the surface of the water, which created the illusion of stars dancing on the water.

Resize of 08-08-2005 31 Bathtub Springs 16.JPG

The river was lined by pandanus and big old paperbarks.

Resize of 08-08-2005 38 Bathtub Springs 23.JPG

The far bank was, for most of the length of the water hole, a low, red rock bluff. The colour contrasts were great. We could see where higher flood levels had caused damage to some of the vegetation at the sides of the river.

Resize of 08-08-2005 32 Bathtub Springs 17.JPG

Resize of 08-08-2005 43 Bathtub Springs 27.JPG

After spending some time on the river, we continued along the circuit track, to where it joined the main one to the coast, not far from Mystery Shovel.

Along there, we deviated to look at another creek and water hole, and saw a huge black feral pig wallowing around in the water, with a white egret on its back, doing whatever egrets do. This was the first feral pig we’d seen on the property.

Resize of 08-08-2005 58 Pig 3.JPG

Feral pig, with egret

After that, it was the trundle back to camp, via the house, where we reported back to A and W, so they would know we had returned safely from our adventuring.

This was a wonderful day off, after such a busy period.





Leave a comment

2005 Travels July 29


We worked 6.30am to 10pm.

O arrived back during the morning with the supplies from the truck, so I had that to sort and put away.

It was also mail plane morning. Suspected it would be some time before I would get to read last weekend’s Australian, which came on the plane, as usual.

Resize of 09-10-2005 01 Owen's House.JPG

We were expecting a couple in today, coming in their own plane, for five nights. They had visited here last year, too, so this was a return visit. I finalized a tent for them.

Did the men’s breakfast. Like yesterday, they did not require a cooked component, so it was relatively easy. I sent them off with biscuits and cake for smoko.

Marinated chunks of roasting beef for tonight.

The expected couple arrived, were met by John and brought to camp, settled in, and joined the survey men for lunch.

Lunch prep involved me making roti breads, boiling and mashing eggs to make a curried egg spread, mashing tuna for a spread, mashing cream cheese, chopped ham and pineapple together for a spread.  I served the roti  with these and the cannellini bean spread made yesterday. Made a green salad to go with this. I warmed up leftover Apple Danish and served slices of that, with the ginger cake made yesterday, and fruit, as afters.

I was hoping that the cakes I’d made fresh, together with a reserve of sultana cake, and zucchini cake, in the freezer, would see me through this period.

We sat down with the couple and worked out their program for their time here. They had some very clear ideas, due to their previous time here. She had some health issues and had brought her own supply of water, which I had to keep chilled and separate just for her. I felt some sympathy for her – not easy to be touring remote places, with unknown water quality, with such issues.

They would just relax at camp for the rest of today. Tomorrow they would be taken to the wetlands, Fern Springs and that area, with lunch out. Sunday would be down to Bathtub Springs, Bluff Waterhole and those parts, again with lunch out. I did like lunch out days – much easier! Monday they would explore some caves, Bubbling Sands and Croc Hole, have lunch in and nibbles on the Escarpment for the sunset. Tuesday would be either the Lower Calvert or Hot Dog Creek – lunch out again. O was going to be busy over that period, being the guide!

Resize of 05-07-2005 31 Tree Study Hot Dog Creek 3.JPG

Preparing the evening meal kept me busy through the afternoon.

The nibbles I prepared for tonight were salted peanuts, eggplant, semi dried tomatoes, olives, salami rollups.

Dinner – at 7pm – was the usual roast beef meal with all the trimmings, followed by an Apricot Cream dessert. Coffee was served with Pocos.

The survey men headed off to bed early, but now the couple was here, O – and ourselves – must stick around till the couple was ready for bed. The man was content to sit round the fire and talk – for ages. Talkative type. I hoped he might be more tired on future nights and turn in earlier!

Leave a comment

2005 Travels July 23


We took our day off today, because tomorrow I had to do a meal for camping guests.

They were a party of six, again  known somehow to O, from his childhood home area in northern Victoria. He had put them in a site not often used – beside the Safari Camp Creek, but on the opposite side. We hadn’t noticed when they came in and hadn’t been told at the time, but I thought it must have been about last Sunday. They had been doing their own exploring about the place, although O had taken them out and about a couple of times.

We decided to try to find Ringo’s Song, out to the east. This spot was marked on the mud map of the place, and O had talked about it. He had indicated that the track out there should be dry enough, now, to travel on, but he had not had time, this year, to clear it of any debris.

I was intrigued by the name for the place. Apparently, it derived from when there was a mustering group camped out there – when the feral cattle were mustered, after the purchase of the place. The mustering crew were from the neighbouring Seven Emu Station. One of the stockmen – Ringo – had a guitar, and did some singing around the evening campfires. Quite a poetic name, I thought, and I was keen to go see if the place lived up to it.

Took the driveway track, then the one towards the wetlands, for a little way, then branched off this to the north.

We had to proceed even more carefully than was usual on the property tracks, because the track was hard to discern.

Resize of 07-23-2005 02 track towards Ringos Song.JPG

Track towards Ringos Song

In some places, we had to clear light fallen timber from the track.

It was worth the effort – there were a couple of really pretty water hole/creek areas. I thought the first one of these was what was marked as Shadforth’s Camp on the map. This had a lot of water lilies growing on the water hole.

Resize of 07-23-2005 05 Waterhole Ringos Song 3.JPG

The track went sort of round that and across a gutter like creek, then further on we came to what seemed to be more of a flowing creek, and presumed this was Ringo’s Song. But we were guessing, really. Could not discern a track going further on, though the mud map indicated it did.

Resize of 07-23-2005 03 waterhole Ringos Song.JPG

We walked around for a while, exploring.

Resize of 07-23-2005 07  creek Ringos Song.JPG

Admired the excellent stands of pandanus growing here, particularly a fan shaped one.

Resize of 07-23-2005 13 Pandanus Ringos Song 2.JPG

It definitely was worth the effort to get out there.

Resize of 07-23-2005 08 creek Ringos Song 2.JPG

Leave a comment

2005 Travels July 3


Our day off.

We slept in. Pottered about our camp for a while.

Took a packed lunch and drove out towards the wetlands – Lake Crocodylus.

On the way, stopped and had an explore at an area beside the track that looked like a sinkhole – quite a large depression in the land. Later, O said it was not really a sinkhole.

Resize of 07-03-2005 05 Pretend Sinkhole.JPG

Sinkhole-like depression by the track

It was pleasant enough, wandering around in the bush.

Resize of 07-03-2005 06 Turkey Bush

Turkey bush

At Crocodylus, the mud around the edges had dried up enough that we were able to take out one of the two man canoes, kept out there. We attempted a bird survey, results to go off to Birds Australia. It was hard to even begin to count all the ducks and other waterbirds, though. There were so many. We could not get very close before they took off in groups, flying. But there was one hell of a lot of them perched in the dead trees, particularly across the far side.

The paddling on the lake was easy and really enjoyable. The only down side was getting in and out of the canoe and getting muddy feet doing so – like well up the ankles!

We decided to try to drive back the long way – via the Jabiru wetlands track, but a little way along it, realized it was still too wet to be passable, so turned around – before we got bogged! Backtracked the way we had come.

Resize of 07-03-2005 04 Track Clearing.JPG

Some track clearing

I read for what was left of the afternoon. John spent time on his computer.

O flew out this morning to go to Brisbane to visit his lady friend.




Leave a comment

2005 Travels June 27


Our second day off – to make up for the one we missed last week.

A leisurely start to the day – suddenly, we appreciate these anew!

There were all the usual chores to be done – like vegie garden watering. While that was happening, M pruned the citrus trees in O’s yard. He had wanted that done, but wasn’t sure of the best way to do so. M had the knowledge.

Then we packed some snorkelling gear from the camp and drove to Bubbling Sands.

Snorkelling in the pools there was a brilliant experience. The water was a pleasant temperature and totally clear. Mostly, the range was from waist to chest deep on us – they were much deeper than they appeared.

Resize of 06-12-2005 06 Bubbling Sands 3.JPG

The pale green foreground vegetation was actually growing under half a metre of water

Using the snorkel masks allowed us to see an incredible underwater world, close up. I wished, so much, that I had an underwater camera. There was lush growth around the edges of the pools. One could see, close-up, the water bubbling up from the sandy bottoms of the pools. Where these little springs bubbled away, there was no plant growth.

Resize of 06-12-2005 09 Bubbling Sands 6.JPG

No vegetation on the bottom of the pool, where water was bubbling up

I wondered how old this water was? How many aeons it had been since it had fallen as rain, wherever, permeated into the ground water layers, and made its way along, before emerging here?

Resize of 06-12-2005 11 Bubbling Sands 8.JPG

There was a surprising volume of water flowing down stream

We spent quite a while there, enjoying both the swimming, which was a bit of a rarity here, and the unique pools.

Resize of 06-12-2005 13 Bubbling Sands 10.JPG

Back to camp for a late lunch, then we just lazed about for the rest of the day.

O had offered to take M for a flight in the Jabiru and show her much of the place from the air – in appreciation of her contributions whilst here. She accepted the offer with alacrity, and really enjoyed the flight.

M then had to get her stuff together, so she could get away in good time tomorrow. Her plans involved following the Gulf Track around through Borroloola and Roper Bar, to Mataranka. Then she would be driving through Arnhem Land, to Gove, to visit friends who were teaching there and take in the Garma Festival. Adventurous lady. We would probably catch up again in Melbourne, closer to Xmas.





2005 Travels June 20


We were up early and into the work.

John only needed to rake leaves and do a last tidy up, before he went off to do his morning watering at the house.

Resize of 08-02-2005 02 aerial pic safari camp.jpg

Aerial view of Safari Camp. The new tent was by itself out on the right.

I thought we had the place looking as good as it possibly could. It had the “wow” factor that we hoped for – that all-important first impression. It was a pity that A’s wife S would not be with the group – a last minute omission that cut the group down to ten. Originally we had been told it would be twelve. I would be cooking for twelve or more though, as O would eat with the group every night, plus we had to eat too, and O’s daughter may join the group tea at times.


Not going to run out of food!

M gave the amenities a final clean, after our morning use of same. We put the jugs of cold drinking water into the tents.

When John came back from watering, he brought the supplies I’d requested from the house: defrosted pieces of roasting beef, greens, frozen kabana, pita breads, pawpaw picked from trees there.

I marinated the chunks of meat in a mix of red wine, grain mustard and garlic. I defrosted the packets of pita breads and made some roti dough. Got loaves of bread started in the two bread machines – O’s from the house, and mine. Set out the morning tea of the biscuits I’d made, onto plates.

The group was only coming from Adels Grove, so they arrived mid-morning. There were two planes: the main group in A’s company’s twin engined one, and a couple in their own plane. We heard the planes coming and saw them fly low over the camp – showing the guests how it looked from above.

They were transported from the airstrip to the camp in the Billycart – a proud achievement.

06-20-2005 11 Billy Cart.JPG

Billycart arriving at camp

We got the group seated around one of the big tables, that we’d carted out and set up in a patch of shade, for morning tea and the welcome briefing about the camp. This covered things like location of facilities, charging cameras at the switch box, not leaving tents undone, and the like. I told them the tent allocation and they were escorted to these after they finished the morning tea.

One of the guests – a relative of A’s – had brought a home cured side of gravlax, in an esky, to donate to the camp food supplies. I found a space for this in a fridge. Got the impression that he had not been sure the camp catering would run to any upmarket items!

A had brought up my laptop computer, fixed and delivered to his home address by our obliging friend.

Then the men took over, taking the guests out for a brief drive around, before lunch. M and I cleaned up after morning tea and kept going with prep for the rest of the day.

I made the pannacottas for tonight’s dessert and put them into some of the limited fridge space. Made jam drop biscuits and a carrot cake. Made the tuna salad for lunch – did one bowl with mixed greens, tomato, chick peas, flavoured tuna, cucumber, capsicums. The other bowl had tuna, cannellini beans, red onion, garlic, oregano. Both of these turned out ok, but I made a mental note to try using large tins of chunk tuna – less mushy.

We set the table up outside for lunch – just plates and cutlery. We made up a fruit platter – paw paw, rock melon and pineapple.

Refreshed the supplies on the tea tray – teabags and coffee bags.

I cooked the roti bread for lunch, which worked really well. Next time, I would not bother with the frozen bought flat breads at all. Put out the roti and flatbreads on plates, with bowls of hummus, baba ghanoush, with bought tubs of avocado and smoked salmon.

Lunch went well. I think there was enough variety, and it was (mostly) fresh and light. I thought that I should be able to find a better recipe for the baba ghanoush, though.

06-29-2005 03 Kitchen Tent.JPG


There was no rest, or let up, for us. While the guests were eating lunch, we pressed on with the prep for tea, and with putting together the afternoon tea box, to go out with the group as they toured some of the sights. I packed biscuits, sulatana cake, fruit cake, muesli bars. Tea and coffee making gear had to go in, and some fruit. O would be boiling the billy for hot water – and for “bush” atmosphere.

The group went off, and M went with them, to get in some sight seeing.

After a while, a call came in on the portable CB radio set that O had set up for communication over the duration of the camp. There had been a near disaster! A front wheel – one that had a guest sitting directly over it – had come off as the billycart was trundling around a turn in the track. Oops!  No injuries and the incident seemed to be taken well by the guests. John had to take the Troopy out to ferry visitors around. W was summonsed to rescue the billycart and do what he could to restore it for use for the remainder of the visit. Eventually, a much stronger undercarriage was fitted to the beast, but that was later.

I’d put the beef chunks on to roast at 3pm – it had to be slow roasting, to try to tenderise it.

Got the dining tent all set up for tea. First time the new set up of the one long table, created by putting two together, had been used. With the new table cloths on, it looked like one long table. The dining tent looked good, with a couple of low small vases of bush flowers, and candles.


Setting up the table in the dining tent

I refreshed the water jugs in the tents with fresh chilled water, ready for the returning group.

We always had to make sure that the fire was going in the donkey water heater, to provide ample hot water for showers (and later for washing up after tea). John did that when he was in camp, otherwise I kept an eye on it.

Made Yorkshire Pudding batter and put that in a fridge to sit. Made up some horseradish cream to go with tonight’s beef. Pan fried some eggplant with dried oregano. Prepared the potatoes, pumpkin and onions and put them on to roast at 5pm. Thank heavens for a fairly large oven!

There was a vegetarian in the group, so I had to be careful not to use meat fat for cooking the little pudding muffins, and to make some extra vegetables for her. I put in some kumara to roast, and would add eggplant to her plate.

Got the pre-dinner nibbles ready: salted peanuts, kalamata and stuffed olives, eggplant strips, kabana slices, semi-dried tomatoes (from a jar), and thin slices of the Gravlax. I put these out where guests could help themselves – or have them taken around – wherever they chose to sit around and have drinks before dinner.

After bringing the group back from the afternoon activities, O headed back to his house, for a break and to freshen up for tea. I cleaned up the tucker box, washed up the afternoon tea mugs.


At work in the kitchen tent

I took the meat out of the oven to rest under foil, cranked up the oven temperature, and put the pudding muffins on to cook, in my muffin tins, about 6pm. The peas went on the stove top to boil – unfortunately they had to be the dried ones – not enough freezer room on the place to keep stocks of frozen vegetables, even though the latter taste better.

Meat was sliced, Gravox gravy made, to go in the new jugs. I served it all out onto the individual plates, which M and John took to the dining tent. I didn’t think the beef was as tender as I would have liked, but had done the best I could with it. At any rate, there was not much left on the plates when they came back!

John and I had a major disagreement, over clearing the plates. He wanted to go into the dining tent while people were still eating, to start clearing, and hurry them along. I did not want him to make a move until everyone had finished their course – too intrusive. It was important, in my view, to allow a leisurely meal, if guests were so inclined. In the end I had to pull rank – “my kitchen, my job, my way” variety. There were times I did not like working with my husband!

I opened the cans of raspberries to go with the panncotta desserts. Arranged a platter of cheeses – a good cheddar, a brie, blue, with water crackers, dates and walnuts, and put some after dinner mints in a bowl.

The main course plates were duly cleared, the pannacottas arranged – they looked yummy – and delivered to the diners. Later, after they were cleared, the cheeses, mints and hot drink makings were taken to the dining tent, with a kettle of boiling water.

Guests who had wanted wine with their meal had earlier had to select their own from the drinks fridge, writing the item in the drinks book by that fridge, for later tallying up and payment before they departed. This honesty system worked well.

We tackled a big wash up! Oh for a dish washer…..But it did not take too long. The group had adjourned to the fire pit, where O had lit a camp fire, and they sat round talking.

The group did not stay up too late. We had to wait around to close up until all had gone to their tents. Turned off the camp generator on our way to bed. We were in bed by 11.30pm – pretty damn tired!

I think A was really happy with the appearance of the camp, and with the catering, to date. He might not be so happy about the wheel coming off the billycart, though.