Tuesday, 25 June 2013


My family nerped while I was growing up. No you won't find it in the Oxford or Macquarie Dictionaries. But it should be. Here's my definition of a nerp.

To take a different route instead of the usual
To choose to take the back road not the highway
To keep your eyes and ears open for surprises
To always keep an open mind 
To change the routine of the day to give yourself a 'jolt'
To share the finds of the nerp

Anyway I think you've got the picture. My father was a great nerper! I suspect he had a PHD in Nerping! His nerp often entailed driving home from the office a different way as often as possible. And if he saw something of interest we were bundled in the car to go and see it. It might be a gate, it might be a rose in bloom, it might be a drive to the hills to look over Adelaide as the lights were coming on (described by my grandmother as her jewel box). It might be the Christmas lights on a house, it might be - well I could go on. See what I mean?

It also entailed my mother setting up dinner in a different room of the house (with a different view). It was about change and jolting the routine."Where will we eat tonight?" The kitchen, dining room, sun room, sitting room overlooking the city, living room in front of the fire, on the balcony, in the garden. If there wasn't a table nearby (not often!) then a fold out table (remember the old bridge table?) would be produced - and decorated! The choices were - and are - everywhere - if you choose to look. Even in a small apartment it's amazing how sitting in another chair at the table gives you a different perspective on the room. Try it. You won't regret it. And it's fun. 
The Edge of the World - Dee Jones
Now Dee Jones in the above painting was probably not a nerper. She described the reason for painting The Edge of the World (one of my favourites and the one most commented on in my picture-laden-home) as the security you feel as a child inside the gate of your garden and the unknown once you step outside.

Growing up I thought nerping was the norm and that everyone did it. It's time it went into the dictionary of life. Nerping will enrich your life. I guarantee it! As I say in my welcome to my Musings: 
The world is full of hidden gems. 
The more you look, the more you see. 
The more you see, the more you look!

Did your family nerp or do something like it? Are you going to give it a go? I hope so! I'm off for a nerp now! 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Fairyland on the Ayeyarwady

In an earlier post in May (see here) I talked about a very special event that took place while on the Road to Mandalay cruise during my stay in Myanmar.

And then one evening the crew had a special surprise for those who waited up till nightfall around 9.30 p.m. (not everyone!) Thousands - and I mean thousands - of candles floated silently down the river towards us. Tightly packed and taking up the entire expanse of the river it was an awe-inspiring sight. It was such a moving experience that my camera 'blew up'! The silence on board was amazing. So you will just have to imagine it. It was one of those unforgetable moments in time. The piece de resistance! And I missed recording it!
From the darkness came the light/s
Well finally I have tracked down some photos from my friend who had travelled on an earlier cruise (the same friend who described her single cabin as a cupboard - albeit a glorified one!)  

Fairyland dispersing around the boat
It's hard to explain how beautiful it was. A balmy night, silence on the river, silence on the boat. The breeze and the river in control. The wonder of it all. 

Thank you Helen.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Preserving olives

Life seems to have come full circle for me. I grew up in part of an old olive grove in suburban Adelaide and in those days olives were hardly for eating by Aussies. It was the immigrants who had arrived from Greece and Italy after the war who lusted after them and seemed to know what to do with them. Every year they would come a-knocking on our door and my father would agree to allow them to harvest - albeit with certain rules. It was not about the olives - they could have as many as they wanted! It was not about sharing their finished products with us - it never occurred to us to ask! No it was about them agreeing not to damage the precious rose gardens nearby! Of course every year we would watch as they spread their tarpaulins under the trees and beat the olives onto the ground. And dare I say stomped on the rose gardens in their excitement to gather the prodigious crops. And yet every year my father would agree to another group (whoever knocked first!) taking the olives in the hope that maybe, just maybe, this year the roses would be respected. They never were!
My pleached olive hedge
And so over the years the gnarled old olives continued to bring joy to all - but us. Until one day many years later I moved to my current home in inner urban Melbourne with its tiny garden and what did I plant? Olive trees. And every other year (well I had a few this year but...) these two 10 year old trees bare an abundance of fruit. By this time I had 'got the taste' for olives and thought I would preserve them. After all we were coming into the new and fashionable 'hunter gatherer' period. Well I have tried the Biblical 'change the salt water ever day for 40 days and 40 nights' - ridiculous, I've hung them in coarse sea salt in hessian bags in my garage watching them drip their juice on the floor and been unable to eat them. In fact I've tried a million recipes - even one where the amount of salt should float an egg (?!) but I've finally been given the easiest recipe ever. 
Only one measly jar of olives this year
As this was a (very) lean year for my olives a friend delivered a bucket load the other night. She has so many and didn't know what to do with them (a regular plea from so many I know) - so here we go!
A nearly full bucket load of olives delivered to my door
(let me know if you have a better one!)
The brine solution: 125 gms cooking salt dissolved in 4 cups water
1. place olives in a glass jar and cover with mixture of 3 cups brine solution and one cup malt vinegar
2. carefully pour a light film of cooking oil over surface of brine and vinegar
3. screw lids on jars and store in cool dark place for 3 months
They can be use straight from the brine or if they are too salty soak them in water for 24 hours 
Then get creative by adding herbs/spices and oil
1. place olives in a glass bowl and cover with water
2. place clean cloth and plate on top of olives to ensure they remain completely submerged
3. change the water every day for 5 days (not 40 days and 40 nights!)
3. drain olives and pack into glass jars and cover with mixture of 3 cups brine solution and 1 cup white vinegar
4. carefully pour a light film of cooking oil over the surface
5. screw on lids and store in a cool dark place for 2-3 months before using
Then get creative by adding herbs/spices and oil
One bucket load of olives off to the cupboard for 3 months!
So if you've been scared to 'have a go' at preserving olives then be brave and try. You might surprise yourself! And it's fun to offer your own to friends.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Gurrumul and Delta

Recently on the TV programme The Voice (yes I watch it occasionally - shock horror!) the extraordinarily talented indigenous singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu joined one of the judges - the beautiful Delta Goodrem - to promote Reconciliation Week with a duet Bayini. If you haven't heard them singing this soul-stirring performance then get ready to be 'blown away'.

Yellow is the colour of reconciliation

His critically acclaimed multi-award winning solo album Gurrumul is an absolute must have - either in CD form or downloaded from ITunes (I'm an android gal myself!). The duet Bayini is also available on ITunes and proceeds from the sales will go to the Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation investing in youth programmes in Arnhemland. 

Gurrumul album cover
Gurrumul was born in 1970 at Galiwin'ku off the coast of Arnhem Land 600 kilometres from Darwin. Born blind he only speaks a few words of English. Extremely shy, he sings hauntingly beautiful stories of his land in both his native language Yolngu and English. 

With the announcement of the untimely death this week of the former lead singer of indigenous rock group Yothu Yindi, of which Gurrumul was a former member, the renowned former Australian of the Year Mr Yunupingu (neither his visage nor his first name are mentioned here in respect to the tradition of his people - unlike many newspapers and television channels who showed no respect to these traditions - shocking) reminds us of how far we still need to travel with reconciliation in this country.   

Take your time 
Remove any pre-conceived thoughts
Breathe deeply
And go for the ride
(Hang in through the ever compulsory advertisement) 

To hear them singing just click on this link

You won't regret it

I bet you get goose bumps!