I feel that Christmas was something the British pretty much invented. Obviously it stems from a religious origin but the way in which it is celebrated by the western world is essentially British. When those first intrepid travellers hit the shores of Oz back in 1788 they were desperate to bring a bit of the old country with them, nostalgia forcing them to ingest hot turkey and Xmas pudding in the heat of an often 40 degree summer’s day. All this in an age of long dresses and suits, no aircon and cooking over open fires. They must have been VERY homesick to recreate what is a lovely meal for a winters day all snuggled up inside out of the weather as opposed to in searing sunshine and with flies swarming at the mere sniff of meat in the Antipodean sunshine…..
All of this has led to the increasing popularity of Christmas in July here in Australia. We’re cold(ish) and inside for a change and wearing big jumpers that cover up a multitude of sins (as opposed to December when it’s beach weather) and we’re definitely ready for some good grub and a vat of Cab Sav. If you can share this with some of your nearest and dearest all the better so in this vein we invited as many people as we had beds for to come and enjoy a Winter Weekend in The Meadow with a festive meal thrown in for good measure. The Man of The House excelled with his rolled stuffed pork which we enjoyed alongside duck breasts in cherry sauce and loads of veg and copious quantities of homemade gravy all washed down with the aforementioned vat followed by a moreish Xmas pud with custard made from our own chook eggs. Yummo and thank you Jesus for being born.
After a late lunch we removed ourselves from the table and headed outside where Cam got a lovely bonfire going and the last of the vat was imbibed under a blanket of stars.
I have had some more gaps in Germania’s family tree filled in with the entire list of owners now ticked off and we are officially the 7th owners! Johan Morschel bought it from Charles Lamond (the original owner) in 1914 and his daughter Lillian lived there from 1917 to 1933 with her family. I’m pretty sure that this photo (below) was from that era as when we blew it up we could see a child playing on the front steps. The original was actually a black and white photo that had been made into a postcard by Kodak. On researching we found that Kodak only did this between 1902 and 1930 and as there is no mention of Charles Lamond having any further children whilst at Germania we think it is probably Lillian Lyndbery’s child. They are still alive and I’m hoping to get in touch with them through the local network that seems to be have very strong links as many families intermarried and mostly stayed in the area. Only 2 degrees of separation around here folks!!
When Lillian’s Dad died he left the house and farm to his son Len, who rather than move in chose to stay in his family home with his brother, neither of them married but they continued to farm. During this time he rented our house out for 20 years until 1953 when rather than do some repairs and maintenance to the old place Len allowed a local farmer, Frank Bell, to use it to store his hay. This continued until 1973 when Ray and Marcia came along with their dreams to return it to a beautiful family home. I’d like to see if I can find out a bit more about the years Johan lived there 1914 -1917 and see if we could find any old photos from that era so my next project is to contact the living family members and quiz them!!
I found an old photo from when Ray started renovating it, installing the fence that we still have today and planting some trees and hedges on the boundary which have continued to thrive. Happily I also found the original concrete planters from this picture buried in a heap of rubbish behind the garage and they are now restored to their rightful place on the front steps
Then and Now
I have been enjoying some local walks lately. The weather has been pretty good with the exception of our arch enemy – the westerlies, and the clear blue sky days have encouraged me to take the Choccy Drop and head towards the river. Any opportunity to swim or immerse herself is gratefully taken by our water loving hound and her ears prick up as soon as I mention ‘swim’ or ‘river’ and most especially ‘beach’ but it has been too windy for that. It is a lovely time of year to walk as it is still not too hot to go in the middle of the day and therefore there is no pressure to go at a certain time. The spring blossom is everywhere now – cherry, magnolia, pear and jasmine. Despite the fact that Spring doesn’t officially arrive for another couple of weeks our resident birds are all starting to collect bits and bobs to customise their new nests which is a sure sign that the seasons are once again on the move in their ever changing cycle of life.
There is something however that despite looking pretty is really NO GOOD AT ALL. If you look at this photo you may enjoy the scenic beauty and think that the yellow flowers are pretty as I did. WRONG. Apparently it is fireweed, a noxious weed that seeds VERY well and that no animal will eat as it makes them sick. You can’t spray for it (even the dreaded and very effective roundup doesn’t eradicate it) and the only way to get rid of it is to pull it up by hand. If we had had some decent winter rain that may have been feasible but the ground is rock hard and NOTHING is coming up easily. You could spend 5 hours doing one paddock and in the space of one puff of wind 300 more seedlings could establish themselves. It really is a thankless task but one that needs to be done and if you are relentless and do it regardless of the rather discouraging statistics you may live to win the battle. Perserverance is the key….
These are the inocuous plants that can ruin paddocks for miles around if left to their own devices. Not your pretty canola, mustard or rape seed but the dreaded Fireweed.
We have a couple of new residents in The Meadow. Cammo has named them The Pointer Sisters and bought them on a whim last week as our ageing chooks are a little low on the egg laying side of things. Despite looking a bit scary (black and Gothic-cy) they are actually the sweetest and gentlest of the lot! Still too young to be laying they are immediately at the whim of the hierarchy in the Chook-Mahal. I seriously doubt if any other animal can be as mean as a chicken is to newcomers. Despite being the same species they are constantly run at and pecked just for daring to be in the same yard/area as the others and heaven forbid if they want to eat or drink – the older chooks ensure that THEY are numero uno at all times. The whole pecking order thing was definitely invented by chickens. I seem to spend a lot of my day ensuring that the black ones are allowed outside (and not harassed by the others) or conversely allowed inside to eat and drink. I may have even armed myself with a big stick to fend off the unwanted attention of the head chooks as they try and charge the newbies. Life’s tough in the Chook Pen.
Our new girls spend most of their day avoiding the others
This was their first introduction to their new home…..
So the next project we are attacking is the installation of our wood fired pizza oven. Cam has had the old doors of the original oven from the house in 1896 restored as we are going to utilise them in the new setup and they look as good as new! A hole has been dug ahead of laying a concrete slab to support the oven’s 180kg weight and next weekend we will have it all finished ready for the bricky who is going to punch a 1.4m square hole into our existing curved bbq area to create the new space and finally the oven gets built into it by our little Italian man who knows everything there is to know about pizza!! Fingers crossed in another month it will be up and running and then the fun really begins! I have visions of pizza, slow cooked roasts and homemade bread….