Wednesday 28 March 2018

Completed Project for March

At the beginning of the month I selected some hexy place mats as my monthly finishing goal.

I ummed and ahhed and then did what any girl can do and changed my mind.  I was still going to finish this project, but I decided to change it slightly.  You see, I thought they would be too pretty for utilitarian place mats, so decided to make a table runner instead.

The length was determined by the width of the background fabric and, fortunately, I happened to have some red French General fabric in stash to use as the binding.  The backing was a red and cream stripe that was also in stash.  

Free motion quilting is not something that I have mastered, so I simply stitched in the ditch at the edges of the hexy panels.  The straight line quilting is spaced at the edge of the walking foot.  An easy guide to use.  

I must say I'm rather pleased with how it has turned out.  Much better than a pile of bits and pieces in a plastic sleeve.

I'm linking with Elm Street Quilts and am also checking in with Peg and Kris for One Project a Month.  Thanks ladies for the inspiration.  

Next month will be quite busy, so I have to think of an achievable project and hopefully continue to complete a UFO each month.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

The Changing of the Seasons

We are noticing a definite change in the seasons here in the Central Tablelands.  Autumn officially started at the beginning of March, but I'm one of those people who believe you notice the real change after the Autumn Equinox, which was last week. 

Friday, the week before last, Mick and I had a quick trip down to Picton.  It was an early start, but the sunrise made it all worth it.

There is a large row of Pin Oak trees by the highway at Lithgow and they are always some of the first to change colour, and what a stunning show they put on.  A little teaser of the autumn colours to follow over the next month or so.

After we had delivered a machine for repairs it was time to have a look at the town, not somewhere we usually go.  The car park was right next to a delightful historic church. After a coffee, it was back on the road home.

We've been hoping for no frosts for a while as we have the best crop of raspberries coming on.  We were given some raspberry plants before we even moved into this house and just kept them in pots.  As soon as possible they were planted in our garden.  As they only fruit on second year canes, we received very few berries in spring, but the amount of growth on the plants was incredible.  We kept thinking we will get a good crop next spring.  To our delight, late summer they started flowering again.  We've been picking a few each day, but there are so many big bunches like the ones in the photo in various stages of ripening.  Please, no frosts until we can enjoy them.

It's still really dry in the district, but we have been fortunate to be under a couple of storms.  Two weeks ago we received just under two inches - most of which ran off and caused havoc and minor flooding in storm water drains.

On Sunday we had a very wild and woolly storm, followed by some more rain overnight.  This time we received 10mm.  Not to be sneezed at. (You can see our raspberries growing either side of the arch in a rather overgrown hedge.)

Overall, the temperatures in March have been well above average.  We've even had one day of 34 C.  That's just not what you expect here. There have also been some nice days in the low 20s.  Yesterday was one of those days, but really windy.

What we didn't expect was to wake up this morning to a frost!!!!!!!  The photo doesn't show it too well, but next door's black roof was white!!!

I took a photo of our zucchini plant early this morning with the leaves looking a bit glassy.  Not good.

When I came home this afternoon they were looking very black.  That's the end of them for the season.  The dahlias are sad too.

On a brighter note, our street trees are looking a picture.

I'm so happy that we have nice street trees.  It will be interesting taking photos each year and seeing them grow.

As the month of March comes to an end, we are forecast to have maximum temperatures into the low 30s again and no sign of another frost for at least the next week.  Just crazy weather, but we will make the most of the warmth before our cold old winter sets in (well cold for Australia).  

We may get some more raspberries yet.

Sunday 25 March 2018

"Macquarie" - A Little of our Local History

Yesterday, while Mick was at work I ventured out halfway to O'Connell.  The occasion was an open day at the Historic property of "Macquarie".  I had driven past the unimposing front gate for the best part of twenty years, so it was interesting to finally see what was up the driveway.

It turns out that "Macquarie" is the first farm and oldest residence west of the Blue Mountains. In 1814 1,000 acres of land was granted to William Lawson  in appreciation of his part in the famous Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson expedition to cross the previously impregnable blue mountains and discover the fine grazing lands to the west. That was in 1813.  Next George Evans surveyed the route for a road and in 1814-15 William Cox, using convict labour, built over 100 miles of road in under six months, known as Cox's Road.  In May 1815 Governor Macquarie travelled across the new road and proclaimed the site of Bathurst. 

This part of the world never had a lot of trees, but there is plenty of clay, so all the buildings were constructed from bricks made on site.  It is estimated that there are over a million bricks in the collection of buildings.

As was the norm at the time, convict labour was used for farming and was also used to build the homestead and surrounding buildings. This was in the early 1820s. In a letter Lawson said at one time he had 100 convicts.  It is believed that there were skilled tradesmen among the convicts as the quality of the brickwork in the buildings and an underground silo is anything but rudimentary.  

The property was purchased about 10 years ago by the Hennessys who are endeavouring to restore it.  Yesterday was special, in that Professor Dame Marie Bashir, former Governor of New South Wales, came to unveil a plaque to commemorate the restoration of the Convict Barracks.  She is the third Governor to visit the property.  Governor Macquarie visited in 1821 and Governor Fitzroy in 1847.

I didn't get out there until lunch time, so missed the official bits, but was amazed to see so many cars in the paddock.  It appears that members of Historical Societies from near and far came for the day, probably outnumbering the locals.  There were long queues to tour the house and the convict barracks.

Let's go for a walk.

The homestead is Georgian in style and relatively simple, given the distance to transport items.  All the gardens are new.   It doesn't appear that the homestead ever had much of a garden.  The queue wound right across the front and down the side of the house.

Mr Lawson selected a wonderful spot for his home, being near two rivers but being on  a rise with splendid views.

It was quite crowded as we walked through the house, just down the central hallway to view two rooms on either side.  Notice how thick the walls are in the doorway.

This stag head has hung here for over 100 years, a relic from the previous owners.  The property has only had a few owners during its life time.  Prior to the current owners, the McKibbon family lived on the property since 1885.

The sandstone fireplace surrounds were beyond repair, so have been replicated.  In this sitting room a large window has been installed between the two original windows to allow more light and to make the most of the outlook.

The dividing wall has been removed here.  The building initially consisted of just the four rooms on display, with a separate kitchen.  With additions there were eventually 27 rooms.

This room had the fireplace moved from the corner to the centre of the wall.  The timber bearers under the floors were badly rotted and had to be repaired, but the original floorboards were used wherever possible.  There was much rising damp throughout the buildings which has taken quite some repairing.

You can see in this back bedroom how low the doors are.  A much simpler mantle piece here.

Considering how simple the architecture is, I was surprised at the beautiful craftsmanship on the staircase.  If you look to the top you will see a barred window.  The staircase leads to the attic area, which was the dormitory for the female convicts.  It was just one big bare room. 

A delightful garden has been planted to the rear of the house.  There are rooms on both sides of the garden creating a U shape.  There is also a cellar.  Note the dormer windows to the servants quarters.

Dame Bashir (on the left) was generous with her time, chatting to several people.

The Convict Barracks, now restored. Once again, it was in a very poor condition prior to its restoration.

I loved the look of the sky behind to rustic old bricks.

Once inside, we noticed where names had been written on the wall.

Don't you love the collection of old boots on the mantle. The pair on the left are true hob nail boots.

What a collection!!  That is a man trap in the middle.  Yuck!  The very large irons second from the right were punishment leg irons.  You could hardly lift them.  My, how times have changed - thankfully.  Having said that, life for many convicts apparently wasn't too bad when assigned to rural areas.  Governor Macquarie was all for the convicts to serve their sentence and then go on to make a good life for themselves in the colony.  That thinking was part of the reason he was recalled to England.  Australia was supposed to be a hell hole, not somewhere to have a good future. When you look at the list of names that served as convicts at "Macquarie", you see many well known Bathurst names, that indeed did well themselves, or their descendants have.

Once outside again I noticed the lovely brickwork above a door.  

Inside that door is a very simply furnished room.

What a nice, simple vignette.

Now it was time to explore some of the outbuildings.

The carriage house is still in its dilapidated condition.  Notice how the bricks are suffering from rising damp.  This was prevalent in all the buildings.

Yes, there is even still a sulky.

I love checking out old shearing sheds.  They are wonderful buildings and have that very distinctive smell.  Lawson, after John Macarthur and Samuel Marsden, was one of the earliest prominent sheep breeders in Australia.

The side of the shearing shed shows the short lengths of corrugated iron used on the roof.  I'm guessing all the buildings would have originally had shingles.

Remnants of old shearing plants.

A selection of wool bale stencils.

By now the sky was getting quite dark to the south and looked wonderful behind the shearing shed.

And finally, a view of the rear of the house.  The Convict Barracks are just to the right of this photo. The lean to at the back of the Convict Barracks was originally the blacksmith's shop.

I'm so pleased I took to trouble to go and visit.  It is great to see such significant early buildings being saved and the homestead turned into a family home with modern comforts, while retaining its historic features, rather than let fall into total disrepair. Hopefully, it will continue to be looked after for generations to come.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Out and About

Now that the sting has hopefully gone out of the weather there are lots of local events.  Late February through to early May sees multiple events every weekend, and of course, we like to get out and about and join in the fun.

On the last weekend in February we hopped in the car and drove out to the Sofala Show.  This is always a great little show, but we haven't had the opportunity to go and visit for over ten years.  The weather was forecast to be wet in the afternoon, so we headed out mid morning.

Here's a bit of what was on offer.

We had seen this much when we had a short sharp shower.  A good time to check out the pavilions.

The rain cleared for us to sit outside and have our lunch.

It was a nice warm day, without being too hot, so ice creams were on the menu.

It was just after this that the skies really opened up.  The show has very strong horse events, but we didn't get to have a look as it was too wet. Time to go home.

The sky was rather dramatic.  We heard from friends that it continued to rain for most of the afternoon, which was very welcome.  We had about half an inch in town.

In summary, the show was still a good little country show.  I think exhibits were down on our previous visit, but that is the trend across the board.  People we spoke to said there were less stalls, but a good crowd of visitors.  The weather forecast may have kept some away and we did feel for the stall holders, as the rain was very heavy.  Hopefully it won't be ten years till we visit again.

Last Sunday we hopped in the car nice and early and headed out to Oberon.

It was a glorious morning, with mist in the valleys and on top of the hills.........which included Oberon.  It wasn't long before the fog cleared to reveal a glorious day.

Our destination was the Oberon Swap Meet.  This is a lovely little swap meet.  It isn't huge, but you still find some interesting bits and pieces....and free range eggs.

This Model T Ford runabout was rather tasty.  Apparently it was imported from the USA about 10 years ago.

I had thought about having a stall, but Mick has been starting work at stupid o'clock each morning lately, so an extra early start on the Sunday was abandoned.  It was still nice to go out for the drive and catch up with lots of our friends that had the same idea.

We'll have to see what other outings we can fit in over the next couple of months.