The Sensory – Unique Gifts and Unique Smells

I admit it, yes it was the sign out the front of The Sensory stating that it was agent for Anvers Chocolate that drew me into this shop to begin with, however upon entering I found there was so much more to experience inside.

Tasmania is a beautiful part of Australia that is largely untouched by big business and pollution.   There are some distinctive smells of nature that many tourists may wish they could bottle for ever.   Well some smart scientists have done just that and created a unique aromatic experience for visitors.

Unfortunately they have not created bottles of scent for tourists to take away yet but they have created three sensory domes in store to allow visitors minds to be transported aromatically back to relive a bit of the wild.  The sensory domes are clear plastic domes in which visitors can put their head and allow unique southwest Tasmanian aromas such as Tasmanian devil, Tasmanian rainforests and Leatherwood flowers, to gently permeate their nostrils.

The Sensory is also prides itself on being a retailer that promotes locally made products.   They are a southern outlet for Bridestowe Lavender which means you have the opportunity to pick up some amazing Lavender gifts such as Lavender soaps and oils and even florally cards.  They also have an eclectic range of handmade jewellery and locally knitted jumpers.

If good quality tasty food is your thing there is an amazing range of locally produced honey for you to try, each with its own unique taste.   The flavours are richer and more intense than anything you can buy in the supermarket.   Some had a very strong floral taste, some almost caramel while others had a rich and creamy finish.   Then of course there is the chocolate.


This photo of The Sensory Tasmania is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The chocolate is all handmade from the finest ingredients, they are so confident that you will love them they offer free chocolate for tasting.    As predicted I did not leave empty handed, we bought a selection of handmade chocolates from the case mostly fruity ones and a few chilli ones.   We also bought a bag of what they called ‘bark’ which are sheets of chocolate with various toppings.  I can definitely recommend these.

The Sensory is truly a feast for your senses I highly recommend a visit when you are in Richmond Tasmania.

Ok now it is really cold!

Today’s blog is more about photos than words.  You see up until recently I thought sure Tasmania is colder than Sydney, but really it is not too bad.      We have had a few mild frosts but then I spent many years in a place called Taumarunui, a small town in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island, where every winter morning we were greeted with fog as thick as pea soup, icy roads and frost the crunched under my feet.    So I was quite disappointed by the mild frosts put on for me in Richmond Tasmania that was until …..

The  kids were slow getting ready for school this morning and as we were rushing out the door I had to deal with this.

 

 

Our land was blanketed white; however the sun on the hills opposite gave us hope for cracking weather ahead.

The trees were not immune to Jack Frosts touch

Nor was the trampoline

 

It all burned off by 11am to a beautiful day.

I Have Found My New Coffee and Food Utopia

I think I am in food heaven….

Richmond in Tasmania is a quaint little town with a total population of 880, it is 20mins drive from the nearest Coles or Woolies and you could stroll from one end of town to the other in less than 10 minutes but when it comes to good food Richmond offers cuisine to rival any upmarket city restaurant, as we found out when we visited Czegs, a quaint little café in the middle of town, for a bite to eat on a cold wintry afternoon.

Dont be fooled by the quiet exterior Czegs Cafe is buzzing inside.

Despite the quietness of the street outside Czegs café was absolutely buzzing with people inside.    We found a table by the roaring fireplace and sat for a moment staring in wonder at the eclectic collections of silver tea services and fine china cups displayed in the cabinets, around the room.  S immediately spotted the old children’s novels that lined the shelves around the fireplace, and wanted to pick them up and read them immediately.   I would have liked to flick through them myself but fear of the ancient yellowing pages disintegrating into dust between my fingertips was enough to curb that impulse.

After soaking in the ambience it was time to order.  The moment I spotted

There are no words for this seafood chowder from Czegs

the seafood chowder I became blind to the rest of the menu and as soon as it arrived I knew I was not going suffer food envy today.    There are no words in my vocabulary to describe this creamy little bowl of heaven, filled with large chunks of fish, huge prawns, and mussels.

Paul chose the pork belly with the crispiest crackling ever.  When I asked him if he enjoyed it he replied “there is nothing left on my plate is there?”

There is no separate children’s menu but that did not worry our kids with J choosing the croque monsieur, yes I know that is a ham and cheese toasted sandwich but that did not stop him squealing with delight as sumptuous gruyere cheese ran down his chin.  S went with salmon on Turkish bread and did not allow the adult size portion stop her from polishing off everything on her plate.

All this delightful food was washed down with freshly squeezed juices for the kids and the most amazing café latte and cappuccinos we have had in recent memory, I am pretty sure this is going to become my regular morning coffee stop after school drop off.

 

A new two story nesting box for the girls

Too many chickens too few places to lay?

We thought that perhaps one of the reasons curly became egg bound was lack of nesting boxes (there were three boxes for 11 chickens) so Paul decided to build some more so that the girls didn’t have to fight over them.   Out the back of our property is a pile of wood planks.   Paul thought some of these would be perfect to create a two story nesting box.

After much measuring, cutting and hammering, a new if slightly rough looking two story nesting box hotel was born.   The intention was to provide 8 new nesting boxes – four  on the top floor and four on the lower floor.  After moving it into the coop we filled it with shredded paper, and for good measure the kids decided to pick up the chooks and put them in their new nesting boxes to see if they liked them.

It turns out the chickens love it, well the last two nesting boxes at the end of the lower floor, which is where they all seem to lay their eggs.   The other spaces and the old nest boxes remain unused.

I did a little research on the matter and found that it is not uncommon for chickens to want to use the same nesting box according to this forum from backyard chickens.

Perhaps Paul didn’t need to build the extra nesting boxes or perhaps the hens will use them in the summer when they are likely to lay more often.  In the meantime at least the girls are happy with two of the nesting boxes.

Fresh Tasmanian Produce Pizza Night

Tasmania is a foodie paradise.   There are so many fresh food farmers markets on the weekends it is so easy to find delicious produce recently picked ready to eat.  After shopping at Farm Gate market in Hobart where we picked up some locally made cheese, spinach, and other fruit and veges it seemed appropriate to make something delicious for dinner.  As luck would have it we also have an outdoor wood fired pizza oven on the property so it seemed family pizza night was a no brainer.

The secret to encouraging children to eat is to get them to design their own pizza and they were all so amazingly delicious I decided to share the recipes.

Pizza Base

We started by making the bases using a simple premix packet, and we allowed the bread maker to do all the heavy mixing and kneading, then we placed them into pizza pans and left them for three hours to rise.

Once the bases has risen sufficiently, we precooked them in the oven for 10 minutes at 100 degrees celsius, because in the past we have found the pizza oven cooks the toppings much faster than the bases.  Once cooked slightly I coated mine, J and S pizzas with garlic oil and tomato ( we just used a jar of Bolognese sauce), and from there everyone took responsibility for their own pizza.

Pizza Toppings

Sara’s Smoked Salmon and Brie Delight

  • Fresh spinach leaves spread across the base

    Smoked Salmon and Brie Pizza

  • A generous amount of hand ripped smoked salmon slices.
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Huge chunks of Coal River Cheese Company brie
  • Half a handful of cheddar cheese scattered over the top

Place in the pizza oven until the brie has melted.  Bite into it and wait for the taste bud party.

 

A ‘Lil Bit of Everything

S was inspired by the half and half pizzas for those who want a bit of everything and cannot make up their mind.

  • 1 handful of cheddar cheese sprinkled over the base

    A Lil bit of everything Pizza

  • ¼ red capsicum diced into tiny pieces
  • Fresh spinach and rocket
  • Thinly sliced mushrooms
  • One piece of smoked salmon roughly ripped and spread over half pizza
  • 1 piece Parma ham ripped and spread over the other half of the pizza

Place in pizza oven until the cheese has melted.

J Random Things Pizza

J was inspired by his appetite and lack of interest in green vegetables.

A handful of grated cheddar cheese spread where ever

Smoked salmon ripped and spread leaving quarter of the pizza exposed

Two slices of mushroom to place in the empty corner where there is no cheese or salmon.

Place in pizza oven until the cheese has melted.

 Pauls No Cheese Option

Paul’s creation was inspired by the notion that if you avoid cheese you can eat as much ice cream and chocolate as you want without any health problems. His base was covered with barbecue sauce and topped with

  • Fresh spinach and rocket

    Pauls No Cheese Option

  • 3 slices of Parma ham
  • Red onion

Cook until it looks ready.

As a family choose a movie on Netflix and enjoy your pizza in front of the TV.  Follow it up with white chocolate bark from The Sensory in Richmond Tasmania.

A Huge Milestone Nearly Slips By

J started big school today.   It should have been a relaxing day when mama paparazzi could have taken lots of pictures, then walked him into his class said goodbye and gone home to worry about how he is doing and contemplating how fast his childhood is slipping away… In reality the morning was spent screaming at his big sister to get moving then spending hours trying to comb a tennis ball sized (and shaped) knot out of her hair that she had cultivated over her three and a half weeks off school…

I have been contemplating childhood today and how we have so much time to spend with our first born versus subsequent children.  Well I only have two – just as well really because I would hate to think how I would cope.    It seemed I had all the time in the world when S was born.  I would stroll around the streets of an afternoon with a dreamy smile on my face pushing my beautiful new-born daughter in her pram contemplating how amazing women’s bodies are to be able to create such a beautiful little thing.    Other cooing parents would stop, stare into the pram and comment on how gorgeous she is.     Poor J, the only strolling I ever did with him is a hurried walk up to the school grounds to drop of his older sister then rushed home to clean up the kitchen before the next feed  a nap and then back in his pram for another brisk walk up the road to pick her up.  No time for cooing strangers.

Now here we are nearly five years later and after spending his formative years tagging along while we dropped his sister at school or watched her assembly performances or took her to drama, it strikes me, he got no quiet time with his mum to contemplate life and ask a million questions like – why is the sky blue?  Why are cats furry?

Today I would have liked to spend a leisurely morning gushing about how handsome J looks in his uniform and taking lots of photos to display proudly on Facebook and on my phone.  Instead  the morning was spent screaming at his sister for letting a tennis ball sized knot grow in the back of her hair over the holidays, while brushing it a little too roughly.  This was promptly followed by screaming at them to hurry up and get in the car as we only have 10 minutes to get to school.

The frost on my car hadn’t time to melt, as we sped along the country lanes, warning alarms on my dashboard sounding, and icicle symbols that I had never seen before lighting up.  Perhaps the car was not supposed to be driven that fast before it had a chance to warm up but hey it’s been a long time since I have had to drive in those conditions.  Thank goodness for country roads and no traffic or traffic lights it turned out we were only about 8 minutes late but not a good way to start at the new school that that was so crowded it had to turn away 17 other families and only just took us out of zone because we were house sitting for another school family who were away overseas.

When I got to the kindy room, the lovely kinder teacher let me take a few hurried pictures of J outside the classroom, unfortunately the sun was in his eyes and he was squinty and distracted.  I felt that I had already intruded on the teacher’s time too much to ask her if I could try few more angles to get a good shot.

A quick squinty photo

The school is amazing and J’s teacher rang me at 11am to tell me that J had seamlessly transitioned into the school routine and was having a good day, just because she knew I was worried that he would be behind all the other children who had started at the beginning of the year and had been drilled on the routine for the last 6 months.

At pick up a happy child came up to tell me he had two Dojo points and had borrowed a book from the school library.    The teacher, who is lovely spent time with me showing me what J had accomplished,  but also gave me a firm reminder of drop off times and could I please get him there earlier in future.

S also had a lovely day despite her teary start and came home happy that she had made a friend to play with at lunchtime and earned a dojo for PE.   They also had school assembly where both S and J were asked to stand up so all the students could say a special welcome.

To top it off I also got a few pictures of them in their uniforms when they got home before they wanted to race off again to climb the tree before dinner.

 

That’s it – We are in Charge! Vineyard and Chicken Farmers

At some ungodly hour this morning Paul drove the vineyard owners to the airport to catch their flight to Germany and now it is up to us to keep the vines alive as well as look after their brood of hens.   How hard can it be….?

Who knew chickens thrive on routine?   Every day it is the same, each morning feed them half a scoop of grain, keep them locked in the coop until about midday, then let them out to scratch around for grubs and other chicken delicacies.  At about dusk (around 4.30pm -5pm), they will come to the back door to demand we bring them our food scraps, we bring out the scraps and they happily follow us back to the safety of their coop for  a delicious dinner, ready  to be locked in for the night.  If it is cold and wet, they usually start congregating from about 3pm ready for an early mark, who can blame them I hate being out and about on a cold wet night as well.

S putting the chickens away

On our first night in the farm house we were late with the scraps, as we had to pick up our cat Thomas from the airport after he had caught an afternoon flight down to Hobart from Sydney.  The chickens had given up on getting our scraps that night and gone back to the coop on their own.   I went over to the coop to count them, it was pitch black inside I only had my mobile phone torch.  The chickens made it especially difficult for me by crowding into one small corner at the end of the coop.  After counting them several times and coming up one short I went hunting for the missing chicken.  I finally found her  huddled at the end other end of the coop on her own in a dark corner.  I thought nothing of it because chicken behaviour is all new to me.  I locked up and went inside.

The next day we let them out at midday as usual, but one stayed behind, the one the kids had named Curly.  She was near the grain tray with her head down and tail up.   The owners had told us before they left there was one hen walking around awkwardly and she may die soon she as she was old.   We picked her up her abdomen was tight; we did some research and thought that she may be egg bound.  We found a wonderful site called Backyard Chickens we followed their instructions and gave her a warm bath.

Curly struggled when we first put her in the bath but then she relaxed and seemed to enjoy it a bit (and who doesn’t feel relaxed in a warm bath?).   She seemed rather perky after her bath and, wandered off for a little snack.  We left her to see if she would lay, she didn’t.    That night she followed the usual routine.

Bathing curly

The next morning when we let the chickens out Curly was head down tail up again.  We gave her another soak and she seemed ok, however when we checked on her later the poor thing had collapsed, this time her tail wasn’t in the air, it looked like her legs had buckled awkwardly underneath her.  We gave her another bath and fed her crushed calcium and magnesium tablets which are supposed to encourage contractions, we also considered trying to lubricate the egg so it could slip out easily.   However the backyard chicken site stated if she is egg bound we should be able to see the top of the egg, which we couldn’t so perhaps we were wrong in our egg bound diagnosis.

Feeding Curly calcium and magnesium

We brought Curly inside and kept her in a cage where she would be safe and warm for the night to see if she would recover, she didn’t.  Curly died peacefully in her sleep that night and was cremated the following morning.  RIP Curly.

The Neighbours

Living rurally does not mean living in isolation, in fact you rely on your neighbours a lot more than in the city,  therefore one of the first tasks as the new vineyard managers was to attend a drinks session with the neighbours and people who have connections with Charles Reuben Estate.  What a great bunch of people.

Most of the farm owners in this area do not make 100% of their income off their land.  They all have other jobs in the one of the neighbouring towns; however it is abundantly obvious that their passion is their farms and creating their own lifestyle business.

I was intrigued by some of the amazing people and how they created income.  One amazing entrepreneur I met was Clare from Port Arthur Lavender.  As well as growing lavender on her farm and creating products from the oil, Clare owns several other businesses that have grown exponentially in recent years.

Three years ago she added a cafe to her lavender business, so that tourists who stopped by to view the lavender and distillery could have a coffee and a scone.   Little did she know that the business would grow so quickly that within a year she would have to rip out her small oven and install an industrial kitchen.

As well as a thriving lavender business, Clare also runs tourist accommodation as well as being a mum to three children.  Wow I am in awe.  I am looking forward to catching up with Claire again for coffee once school returns.

Hello Tasmania

A cold frosty Devonport morning greeted us as we drove off the Spirit of Tasmania at 6.45am.  We grabbed an overpriced but hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs at a nearby motel before hitting the road Richmond bound.

There were whinges of how cold it felt from our poor Sydney born children but once we were on the road and the car had warmed up, the whinging soon gave way to exclamations of amazement as they stared out the window at field upon field of frosted grass.

frosted grass

The long stretches of straight motorway soon gave way to long, winding sealed roads that lead us into the hills that surround Richmond.  The frost soon burned off, the fields of white giving way to the sight of the tough brown grass that covered the hills.   I am sure as winter fades and the vines spring back to life this area will look amazing.

We arrived at Charles Reuben our new home for the next  six months around 11.30am, after introductions and a brief lunch we moved into the accommodation on the property.  Now the adventure is about to begin.

Chrales Reuben Estate Tasmania

The Spirit of Adventure

The Spirit of Tasmania only does overnight sailings during the winter months, but you still get a spectacular view of Melbourne’s city lights as you depart.

Boarding Spirit of Tasmania was smooth and painless; we drove aboard, parked in the non-descript car park and were in our tiny cabin within 15 minutes.   The cabins were small; neutrally coloured, comprised four bunk beds, and a tiny bathroom which contained a toilet and a miniscule shower.  We were told we were only able to bring a small carry-on bag each into our cabin and it is clear as to why.

2017-07-10 17.26.45

 

After dropping our bags in our room we headed up to Bar 7 for a glass of Shiraz (the kids had fruit juice).    We found a table that was perfectly poised to watch the sunset and the bright lights of Melbourne drift away over the horizon as we left the port.   Once it was pitch black outside it was time for a bistro style dinner at TMK (The Market Kitchen), the ferry’s on board restaurant.  We retired to our cabin after that as we had a long day ahead of us the next day starting at 5.45am and we wanted to get the kids into bed.

The captain warned us that once we passed the Melbourne heads at about 9pm we would have some rough sailing conditions due to strong winds.   Little did I know how rough as I lay on the top bunk I was trying not to vomit as the bed tilted roughly backwards and forwards length ways.   Going to the bathroom was a mission in itself as I stumbled toward the tiny en-suite like a drunk, crashing into the bunks as I went.  Unable to sleep I lay there listening to the creaking sounds as the life rafts outside swayed heavily on their ropes.    The good news was that the rough weather soon gave way to a gentler rocking helping me drift off into a peaceful slumber.

At 5.45am we were woken by a firm but friendly voice telling us that it was time to get up and prepare for disembarking at 6.30am.   We were called back to our cars by deck number, once we reached our car it was only a few minutes before the doors opened and we were able to drive off the ferry into the cold Devonport fog.

The Spirit of Tasmania is a great way to travel, the on boarding and disembarking process was easy and efficient,   I would highly recommend it.