the humble bumble

One of the things we noticed on our earlier visits to Tasmania was the presence of the bumblebee, something we had only seen in Britain. I was distracted from my gardening recently by the frenzied activity around the Grevillea.

1.Grevillea

I sat with my camera, trying to capture these gorgeous little creatures at work. Bombus terrestris have round, furry bodies with a yellow band across the thorax and abdomen and a buff coloured tail end.

2.bumble bee3.bumble bee

They were first found in Tasmania in 1992, presumably introduced from New Zealand. Like their honey bee relatives, the bumbles feed on nectar. They lap up the liquid with their long, hairy tongues, sometimes making a hole in the base of the flower to access the nectar.

4.bumble bee5.bumble bee

Our cooler climate doesn’t bother these bees, they can absorb heat from even weak sunshine and are well insulated under their thick coats.

6.bumble bee

Bumblebees are very social insects and, apparently, very smart. There have been many studies on the behaviour of bumbles, I like the idea that they can play football

https://www.nature.com/news/bees-learn-football-from-their-buddies-1.21540

7.bumble bee

Unfortunately, in Australia the bumblebees are considered feral, with some concern that, being such efficient pollinators, they will increase the spread of environmental weeds. However, their decline in Europe, North America and Asia is causing concern as they are important agricultural pollinators. Tomato growers in Tasmanian have fought for years to change the laws to allow them to use bumblebees as pollinators but their applications have been rejected on environmental grounds.

8.bumble bee

Newcastle, Eire

We left Edenderry early morning and headed for the east coast to embark on our counter-clockwise crusade of Eire. We had no accommodation booked, no firm destination. November in Ireland is not a popular time for tourists. We arrived at Warrenpoint around Guinness time and related our previous days escapades to the very friendly barman. He advised us to stick to the coast as, “there is nothing in the middle worth seeing.” Warrenpoint is in Northern Ireland, separated from the Republic by the Newry River. It was the scene of the deadliest attack on the British Army during the 30 year conflict between north and south. Eighteen British soldiers were killed and six seriously injured by two roadside bombs, aimed at their army convoy. The Warrenpoint ambush occurred on the same day, 27 August 1979, that Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb aboard his boat at Mullaghmore. The pervasive tranquility belies the violent history, the views across Carlingford Lough were stunning.

1.Warrenpoint looking west2.Warrenpoint Beach looking east

I wouldn’t mind living in one of these apartments.

3.Warrenpoint

The barman suggested staying the night at Newcastle, only twenty miles further up the coast. We called in at the tourist information office for some advice on accommodation. Most of it was quite pricey but there was one hotel that was awaiting star status so, for now, could only be considered one star. We were happy to have a look and found the Avoca Hotel, though not terribly attractive from the outside, was clean and comfortable and they served an amazing breakfast the next morning.

4.The Avoca Hotel

Overlooking Dundrum Bay and the Irish Sea, there were no complaints about the scenery, either.

5.Dundrum Bay

Newcastle became a popular seaside resort in the Victorian era following the arrival of the railway in 1869. The gorgeous buildings along Central Promenade are testament to that time.

6.Central Promenade

They all seemed well cared for, apart from one ‘renovators delight’ in the middle of the row.

7.Central Promenade

The Mourne mountain range, home to Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard, lends an impressive backdrop to the town.

8.Newcastle, Eire9.Newcastle, Eire10.Newcastle, Eire

As the sun was descending in the western sky,

11.Dundrum Bay

our thoughts turned to refreshments. We had passed a place on the promenade and returned to ponder the menu. O’Hares had a welcoming, rustic atmosphere

and after a Guinness, we advanced upstairs to enjoy a superb meal. On second thought, there may have been more than one Guinness.

15.O'Hare's Guinness

Chillout Bali

I love Asian food. Actually, I love any food. With the exception of offal and brussels sprouts. Consequently, I jumped at the chance to learn more at a Chillout Bali cooking class held at a nearby villa complex. Three of us attended while our fellow travellers did their own thing. Michael enjoyed (or should I say endured?) a massage. If you’ve ever had a Balinese massage, you will know what I mean. The outdoor kitchen was well equipped, with plenty of working space

1.cooking class

and the table was set in readiness for us to savour our concoctions.

2.lunch setting3.lunch setting

Chef Putu had prepared our workstations,

4.Chef Putu

the fresh produce was beautifully presented.

5.fresh produce

Trying to ignore the heat, we set about creating a feast.

6.Chef Kathy

Our competitive streak came to the fore with the art of folding and securing our pepes.

After a morning in the kitchen, we reaped our reward, starting with lumpia semarang, delicious spring rolls.

9.lumpia semarang

Next came soto ayam Madura, a chicken soup from the Indonesian island of Madura. It is more of a complete meal with broth, chicken and vegetables.

10.soto ayam madura

The main event was a work of art. Rendang sapi is one of my favourite Asian dishes, beef braised in spices, herbs and coconut cream. Our offering didn’t disappoint. The banana leaf package had been filled with a shrimp and mushroom mixture, folded and secured with toothpicks, then steamed to perfection. We couldn’t decide who had created the best pepes udang jamur. Accompanied by a tasty helping of sayur urab, rice and some vegetable art, we were most impressed.

11.rendang sapi, pepes udang jamur & urab sayur12.rendang sapi, pepes udang jamur & urab sayur

Fortunately, the finale wasn’t too heavy. The lovely shade of green is from the aromatic pandanus leaves, used widely for desserts, cakes and drinks. Dadar gulung is filled with coconut and palm sugar, a perfectly sweet way to finish a fabulous meal.

13.dadar gulung

Sandridge Bridge

I have never really taken an interest in the unattractive steel footbridge with the unusual sculptures that crosses the Yarra River, until our last visit to Melbourne.

1.Sandridge Bridge

Enjoying a late afternoon beverage at Southbank, I was captivated by the light and reflections on the water and started to appreciate the obscure beauty of the structure.

2.Sandridge Bridge p.m.

I have since delved further. The original bridge and railway line was built in 1853 when Port Melbourne, then known as Sandridge, became a thriving hub thanks to the Victorian gold rush. It was also the first passenger rail service in Australia. The bridge was replaced in 1857 with a timber trestle bridge, built at the oblique angle to redress the issue of the existing tight curve. The current bridge opened in 1888, one of the first in Melbourne to use steel girders rather than iron. The support columns are hollow iron filled with concrete, set parallel to the flow of the river, in groups of three. On closer inspection, each rivet seemed a work of art.

3.Sandridge Bridge p.m.

Even the ornamental pediments are made from cast iron.

The morning light of the new day offered fresh reflective images.

6.Sandridge Bridge a.m.7.Sandridge Bridge

The railway bridge was last used in 1987 and remained, as something of an eyesore, until Melbourne City Council committed $15.5 million for its restoration in 2003. Sandridge Bridge was relaunched in 2006 as a celebration of the indigenous and immigrant history of Victoria, a tribute to those who made the journey by train from Station Pier to Flinders Street Station. Artist Nadim Karam created ten abstract sculptures, representing the different periods of immigration, using more than 3.7km of stainless steel. The artwork is titled The Travellers and the figures move slowly across the bridge in a 15 minute sequence. I must admit, I have never noticed them moving.

8.Sandridge Bridge sculptures

A series of 128 glass panels line the walkway, each one offering information about the origin of the immigrants, in alphabetical order, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. It can take quite a while to cross the bridge, a rest along the way is sometimes in order.

9.welcome swallow

From the north side, nature’s reflections resemble graffiti

10.Sandridge Bridge

and the intricate angles are more evident.

11.Sandridge Bridge

Unlike nature’s graffiti, that of lesser mortals is unsightly and unwelcome.

12.painting over graffiti

Sandridge Bridge may not be the most appealing landmark in Melbourne but it is certainly a great memorial to those who contributed so much, not only to the state of Victoria, but to the nation of Australia.

13.Sandridge Bridge

tomato tempter

Two years ago, when I was inundated with tomatoes and running out of ways to use them, I shared this wonderful discovery

https://cannonhillchronicles.com/2016/04/24/too-many-tomatoes/

Last year, I was able to keep up with the supply and this year, I didn’t plant any. Renovations took up the time I would have otherwise devoted to the veggie patch through summer. However, three out of my four beds have produced a massive amount of self-seeded tomatoes that have run rampant. No large varieties, just the delicate, tasty grape and cherry tomatoes and my favourite Tommy Toe. Apart from giving kilos away, I am running out of ideas. I tried a tomato cake with tomato glaze last week, tasted great but was a bit stodgy. I had success yesterday that I want to share with you.

Tomato Spice Muffins.

Ingredients:

4 cups plain flour                           1 tspn ground nutmeg

2-1/2 cups sugar                              1/4 tspn pepper

2 tspn ground cinnamon               2 eggs

1-1/4 tspn baking soda                   1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 tspn baking powder                    2 tspn vanilla extract

1 tspn salt                                         5 cups seeded, quartered tomatoes

1 tspn ground cloves                      1 cup sultanas

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients; set aside. In a food processor, combine the eggs, butter, vanilla and tomatoes; cover and process until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Add to dry ingredients; stir just until moistened. Fold in sultanas. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 180 °C for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Makes two dozen (or a dozen small and 6 large).

1.tomato spice muffins

Yes, there is one missing, it was delicious.

2.tomato spice muffin

I took a dozen to work today and, although some balked when I mentioned tomatoes, all agreed they were very tasty.