We’re constantly struck by the beauty of this island. It seems that every time you turn a corner, there’s another breathtaking view of mountains, rivers, channels and islands, gentle rolling hills, grapevines, crop-striped farmlands or forests, and sometimes all at once. Often all at once! People we meet are friendly and welcoming, and the food – especially the fresh seafood – is excellent. Below is the Coal River, which flows beneath the beautiful Richmond Bridge.
I mentioned in the last blog post that we are house sitting a very old house in Richmond. Known as “The History House”, it was begun in 1826 as the Jolly Farmer’s Inn, and completed in 1839 as it is now, pretty much. There’s a web site if you’re interested: http://www.tasmaniashistoryhouse.com.au/. It’s a wonderful way to experience Tasmania and feel the history first hand (especially getting out of a warm bed into a very cold room in the morning!)
The weather’s a shock to Territorians like us. It was 2C degrees outside the other morning, and it didn’t feel much more than that inside. Unfortunately this lovely old house also has 188-year-old heating systems, ie open fireplaces, which don’t warm the room much and consume vast quantities of firewood – another new experience for us northerners. Lex is becoming quite the axeman. He’ll be competing in the Royal Shows next. But when the sun is shining – which is most of the time – it’s just delightful. You can chop wood for hours and not raise a sweat…
The garden is a wonderful rambling mix of vegetables, herbs and roses, figs and fruit trees, grape-vines and violets. And quince trees! Hard to believe something so uranium-yellow is edible. In fact it’s impossible to eat until it’s been stewed gently with vanilla beans, sugar and cardamom for a few hours, then served hot (or cold) with yoghurt or cream. Most of the vegetables and fruits are finished for the season, but there are carrots, potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes still snoozing underground, and the odd late strawberry that the birds have missed.
What’s really coming into season now are scallops – those luscious, highly underrated jewels of the sea that Tasmania produces better than anywhere else. I was able to get hold of some early season ‘research’ harvest yesterday and stir-fried them with vegetables. We’ve been eating a lot of wonderful coldwater fish too, as well as my constant favourite, flathead (sorry barramundi). And then there’s the local oysters, and the Tasmanian wines… Just as well it’s good walking weather!
Above: The back garden which supplies so much food – and did I mention the BEES? There’s a hive in the garden as well, and the visiting bee-keeper presented us with a frame full of honey which we strained into a glass jar. Honey from the backyard! Just one hive supplies the owners with honey all year round, as well as providing the bee-keeper with his share.
On the downside, it’s COLD! Really, really cold. There’s a whole winter ahead of us yet, and that will sort out the men from the boys. Or the wusses from the toughies. Or something. I’m acquiring a collection of scarves and coats, and other woolly things I haven’t worn since I was a kid in Melbourne. The novelty hasn’t worn off yet, but check in with me in September, and we’ll revisit that thought.
Cheers for now, and stay warm!