Oops, there go the ribs again!

I think I need to take a good long look in the mirror (with the glasses on) and see the reality of what’s there, a 62 year old overweight body – not the 25 year old one I still believe I have most of the time.

We wrote an article here about how I broke a number of ribs dumpster diving in Tasmania. After all this time they’ve finally healed (it took nearly a year to be completely rid of the pain)!

It was on the last break we had in Brisbane while staying at the unit in Maroochydore that a similar mishap was to befall me.

You see I have this problem.

It comes from a desire not to frighten or upset people.
I don’t like to show off my unclothed body at beaches or swimming pools lest I cause women and children to run screaming in fright and I’ll often take great pains to avoid the practice of swimming unless there is no sign of other humans.

So this particular day was hot and sunny and from the balcony of the unit I could look down at the superb blue, cool looking water in the complex’s swimming pool. The idea of a swim was so appealing I decided to put my inhibitions aside and give it a go.

As I approached the pool I spied the few other people within and torn twix the desire for a swim and my modesty I opted for the former but with a shrewdly hatched plan to minimise my exposure.

I would take my towel and whilst still sporting the shirt I would drift around to the end of the pool, slip off my shirt and inconspicuously slip into the water while no one was looking.
My shirt and towel would be there to wrap around me hurriedly when I got out.

The plan went well and succeeded except for a minor flaw – the end I chose was the deep end!

In my mind I casually calculated there would be a slight difficulty in getting out and accessing the shirt and towel tidily piled at poolside but this did not detract from the pleasure of swimming in the cool water.

As was bound to happen, a steady flow of traffic caused the pool to become somewhat crowded by the time I needed to repair to dry land but it was with relief that I saw my towel and shirt in the corner of the pool and I smugly grinned that I did not need to climb out via the only ladder which required one to stand, as if on a pedestal, in full display of every one of the many spectators.
All that was needed was to swim to the corner, haul up onto the side and with one deft motion pick up the towel as I was catapulting up and over the side of the pool.

This, of course, was something that a decade or two ago would have been easily executed.

This time would be a little different.

I placed both hands on the poolside and with a couple of bounces for leverage hauled out with full force.
Up through the water the body shot, in my mind resembling a sleek dolphin leaping out of the water.
The trouble was that although I catapulted with all my strength I was only able to get the upper part of the body onto the pool side.

This meant that instead of the sleek dolphin easily taking flight from the water, myself landed splat on my chest on the poolside rather more like a beached sea lion after a macabre struggle to alight on to the rocks with blubber shaking and little legs still dangling in the water as snorts, barks and groans of agony were released as I felt at least three ribs crack fiercely under the weight.

This naturally caused the opposite to my intended outcome of anonymity as I became stuck fast rocking to and fro on the pool ledge with my ribs acting as the fulcrum for the rest of the body.
Everybody stared!!

The resemblance to a stranded sea lion must have been uncanny.

The resemblance to a stranded sea lion must have been uncanny.

It would only have been half as bad if the Princess (Kerrie) was not a spectator to the scene.
She of course reverted to her usual reaction that accompanies my misfortunes by screaming with uncontrollable laughter, ensuring that anyone who might have missed the scene before was now most definitely a part of it.

Oh the embarrassment!

The sight it must have been for the onlookers!

I don’t remember how I finally hauled out the rest of my blubber from the pool, but I vaguely recall lying spread eagled, straddling the pool’s surround on my ribs, one leg uselessly dangling in the water and the other on dry land, and catching the looks on the sea of faces now absorbed in my plight.
I was expecting them to throw pilchards to me in appreciation for the entertainment.

I remember the searing pain which accompanied putting on my shirt and dragging myself shamefully from the pool area.

Sleep was out, sitting was out, standing was out – nothing was achieved for the next three weeks without the ever present pain.
The only comfort I could get was a few short hours of sleep sitting bolt upright in bed with a handful of pain killers washed down with a scotch.

Putting up the green house, cooking for the camp, helping Kerrie with the workshop stocktaking and the rest of the duties has made life miserable for three weeks.

I’ve also had to endure many replays of the awful experience as the Princess recounts the story in every detail to every person we meet, that is when she can speak clearly through the howls of laughter!


A New Garden

It may seem strange to be writing about establishing a garden on a blog called Wandering Australia, a blog that seemingly describes the lives of a couple perpetually travelling around Australia, but the new garden is a significant part of this journey.
You see it was always one of our many dreams that one day, when we had finally found that perfect place to plant our roots for the remainder of our lives, we would reestablish our hydroponics operations.

We loved our experiments with hydroponic gardening at Wurtulla on the Sunshine Coast where we once lived and we knew that one day we would again capture this interest.

On our travels we came across a hydroponic system in Melbourne that we had heard of but never seen in action, the Auto Pot system. We wrote about it here.

It was always something we knew we’d try one day.

Well that day arrived recently when it became obvious that the farm was fast running out of water.

Water, naturally, is the driving factor with most things agricultural and as such the disappearance of the precious commodity from the farm’s massive reservoirs has a major impact on what is planted next season.
Simply put No water = No Planting!
Of course no planting, or the planting of a much reduced crop, could mean no staff on the camp for us to feed.
No firm plans have been announced by the farm’s manager as yet but most of the people realise that they need to be aware of the worst case scenario.

(It’s now been announced to the staff that the farm will close by May.)

So what happens to us if we don’t get the massive amount of rainfall that’s now needed to guarantee a crop next season? We’ve suggested to our boss and the farm‘s management that we could stay on in an unpaid role as caretakers of the camp area. They’ve agreed that this is a possibility if the worst happens.

The camp and the surrounding areas would quickly fall into an overgrown and untidy state if left untouched. To keep this area clean and tidy as well as be available for any other work the farm may want to use us in and for us would be a value add on for the farm and it would give us a base from where can take our planned road trips, such as the Eyre Peninsular and the WA coast.

Of course since there would, for the most part, be no one on camp and therefore no Camp Management work, we would need to feed ourselves. Currently our food is included in our wage.

So here’s where the new hydroponics setup comes in.

We decided that if we were to build a system it would need to be much more manageable and self-sufficient than all of our old systems and certainly more manageable than the large conventional garden we originally created on the farm.

The climate out here is very harsh on gardens and you generally need to cope with a good quantity of heartbreak to see a successful vegetable crop.

We decided that in order to grow vegetables out here we needed to manage 4 main areas:
• Climate
• Creatures
• Water
• Weeds
The system would need to cope with Climate; summer temperatures out here often reach 48-50 degrees with winter temperatures often below zero, killing delicate vegetables from the ensuing frost.

It would need to allow a high level of control – Not eradication – of Creatures; these include bugs of many varieties that very soon chomp through plants as well as rabbits, foxes, kangaroos and birds.

Then we’d need to control Water; the watering system must use a minimum amount of water and must automatically water the plants as they require it without us in attendance for many days.

Lastly we need to be able to control Weeds easily; the weeds out here are tough and need very little water to sprout and grow rapidly. In the big garden the control of weeds became a huge drain on our time.

So it’s with these requirements we set about planning our garden.
We opted for a greenhouse which would enable us to easily control the winter temperatures and eradicate the damage from frost and by removing the roof panels and using commercial grade 50% shade cloth we could create the best summer environment and limit humidity while still having an enclosed structure.
Greenhouse 2

We bought the “Maize” 2.5m x 3.5m greenhouse system online from Bunnings and picked it up from our nearest Bunnings Store, which meant a 660km round trip to Warwick.

We erected the green house with the help of Kristjan and Merlin, two of the Estonian backpacker’s. It was over 40 deg as we assembled it and we are eternally grateful for the help we received from this wonderful couple.

So far we’ve found no fault with the system and we’re very happy with the whole set up.
The plants are growing rapidly and require almost no work. We’re already eating lettuce.
The tomatoes, beans, cucumber and  capsicum are already fruiting 3 weeks after planting.
We also like the fact the greenhouse is clear, so sitting on our “Verandah” looking at our garden is very relaxing. Of course the best part of it is that it’s all able to be pulled down and moved easily.