Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Christmas and the Pavlova.(667 recipes)

December 24, 2018

IMG_0052 a horse, a horse

We have bought the ingredients for the pavlova including the cream. Helvi thought that the cream was overdoing it, but reading the recipe on the box, it clearly stated that cream was needed. The supermarket was in a total pandemonium. Some people so swept up, they grabbed whatever they could get hold of. As if possessed by voodoo magic. It is the same each year. People try and remain calm but then totally loose it during the last few days. Hospitals are on standby, broken bones, bloodied faces and marital whiplash are so common during the Christmas festivities. For some it just gets too much. The say; ‘uncork and unwind’ does come with consequences!

My Christmas started early when I found an abandoned trolley with its 2 dollar coin still in its little holder near my car.  I suspect some shoppers might well think it costs two dollars to go shopping. They walk to the car with the full trolley and after loading the car just leave the trolley to its own devices. All the better for the canny shopper on the look-out for trolleys with 2 dollars. Something for the school kids to latch onto.

Getting back to the pavlova. Its history continues to be a much disputed item over a sweet dish made in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured New Zealand and Australia during the 1920’s. It is a dish made in honour of her. Till this day both countries still claim ownership of this dish. Some even totally dispute the Pavlova being of NZ and Australian origin, and say it was invented in the US. Another in-depth study claims its origins are Austrian.

This from Wiki.

“Keith Money, a biographer of Anna Pavlova, wrote that a hotel chef in Wellington, New Zealand, created the dish when Pavlova visited there in 1926 on her world tour.[7]

Professor Helen Leach, a culinary anthropologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, has compiled a library of cookbooks containing 667 pavlova recipes from more than 300 sources.[8] Her book, The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History, states that the first Australian pavlova recipe was created in 1935 while an earlier version was penned in 1929[2] in a rural magazine.”[1]

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A potpourri of pre-Christmas events.

December 20, 2018

Last week we drove to Sydney to visit our daughter who was meant to visit us. Due to storm damage  the trains were delayed and the buses were not running, we thought it easier to drive to Sydney instead. Trains are often risky and even a rogue wombat can derail trains. I bet the old ‘fast-train’ service will be raised again now that an election is due soon, together with the perennial second Sydney airport.  It keeps us nice and docile. Gee, the French sure know how to get things moving. I like their spirit.

IMG_0215

This is our daughter and her youngest son, Max, who has reached that stage of being a teenager very drawn to languorousness.  This means he likes to adopt a seating arrangement between sitting and lying. He is Tom’s brother who is almost at the end of his Indonesian adventure and at present in Bali’s Ubud. Tom is 18 and now taken to sitting upright again.

The lunch was beautiful and included as a dessert a nice chunk of water melon ‘infused’ with mango gelato. This coming Christmas day she and both our Grandsons will be visiting us for a Christmas lunch with a possible stay over-night. Of course, that has the proviso the trains are running and that the wombats stay away from the rails.

The latest new’s item that really stunned me that for over 150 years a Tattersall club in Brisbane, Queensland, prohibiting women becoming members. They excluded women. Can you believe this? A vote was taken on the issue and the ban was lifted. Oh, Australia; where is your Santa list for moving forward?

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/brisbane-s-exclusive-tattersall-s-club-votes-to-allow-female-members-20181219-p50na1.html

The vote in favour of allowing women wasn’t all that overwhelming. It was mainly for financial reasons and not because it was so outrageously  misogynistic.

I wonder if the Republican issue will be dealt with soon? I suppose, we are waiting for the English queen to pass away. Another terrible sad bit of news is that the issue of refugees on Manus and Nauru will not be resolved before Christmas. When, oh when, will Australia be dragged in front of some court to face charges of crimes against humanity?

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-20/boy-raped-on-nauru-asylum-seeker-lawyers-claim/10632882

But, there is also good news. It seems that keeping pets helps to keep children healthy and possibly avoid getting infections. And…the more pets, the better!

A baby lying on the ground beside a small dog.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-12-20/pets-allergies-asthma-dogs-cats-immune-system-microbes/10630174

We are both now fitting in some more medical appointments as well. The medications we now ingest are keeping us alive as much as possible. This morning at 9am I was ordered to get in my underpants and take my valuables to the medical room and submit myself to a bone-density test. It was a remarkable experience. My feet were strapped in while laying on a hard surface in the horizontal position. ‘Just relax’, I was told by a female technician operating a sliding monitor taking images of my totally prostrated body. You know, when it was all over, I had trouble getting vertical again. The woman had to actually lift me up and prop me up a bit. The ignominy of ageing. It seems only yesterday we were skating and somersaulting about.

And now, look at it!

 

 

The Hydrangeas are coming.

December 17, 2018

IMG_0225The Hydrangia

The Hydrangea.

It always seems that when Christmas gets closer the days give up less of their time for the normal things to do. This morning at 8.45 we had an another appointment at the local hospital. Just a routine visit but the waiting room was already crowded. The oncologist who saw us said; ‘Christmas is a crazy time’, the sooner it gets past, the better’. This was wholeheartedly agreed. Helvi said a few weeks ago; ‘oh dear, Christmas is coming. We so much like normal times.’ The waiting room was so full, we stood upright, no empty chair, and the TV was on some commercial channel espousing the benefits of a face-cream, guaranteed to take wrinkles away. Most of the patients were glued to it, I suppose, any promise is better than none, even though no cream has ever taken away a single wrinkle. We believe in magic as we believe in a jolly Christmas. The doctor told us he read somewhere that thirty days of food are bought for just one single day when the shops are closed. I enthusiastically added; ‘. We have seen people buying complete trays of mangoes and 5kilo hams.’

So when we got home, we took Milo for a walk hoping he would do his ‘business’ under the bushes. He is very hygienic normally and have no need to take a plastic bag with us in case he does it on the food-path. He did it once in front of a kitchen shop and people were hopping about, while Helvi quick as a flash distanced herself from me and Milo. However, he again happened to do it on the street in front of some pedestrians, but I pretended not to have noticed and bravely walked on. ‘ Hey, someone shouted, look at this,’ pointing to the still steaming little tart. I joked, ‘I did not do it.’ The woman looked totally perplexed but lacked humour. ‘Of course, you did not do it, your dog did. Go and do the right thing.’

Helvi was furious with me, especially when it was added, ‘finders keepers’ to the humourless woman. All social graces seem to have gone. Where are the good old day when there was laughter about? Is this the Christmas spirit so many bang on about?Surely, no one could have taken my remarks seriously?

When we got home  and things cooled down, Milo looked me in the eye. He winked. What do you feel about the above Hydrangea? Isn’t it a beauty?.

 

Buffet.

August 13, 2018
IMG_0815

Grapes, strawberries and figs.

We sometimes like  to eat out.  This eating-out is usually a lunch. The winter cold keeps us inside more than is necessary. But, winter-cold and getting older seem to result in an increase in staying indoor. However, when we do take the courageous step to eat out we chose venues for value and lively atmosphere. This usually means either a pub or a well-run restaurant or café. There is nothing worse than eating in a place that is empty. So, a good lively crowd is part of our occasional lunch or dinner.

Our choice of eating out last week was a buffet dinner at a Returned Soldier’s League (RSL) club of which both of us are members. They do give exceptional value. I play my twice weekly indoor bowls at different soldier’s clubs. The value those clubs give are due, to no little part, to gambling and poker machines. The income from gambling gives discounted meals and cheap drinks to members and friends. I feel a bit ambiguous about that. No-one seems to care much about socials ills that gambling brings. The ‘free choice’ is often muttered. But many mums and dads go home to hungry children. How free is that?

Part of this generosity are discounted meals and drinks on member’s birthdays. Mine was last week. I received a letter congratulating me with an enclosed list of vouchers which gave free meals and discounted wine and something called ‘Tombola’. I don’t know what Tombola is. It might have something to do with winning a meat-tray or a chance at Karaoke gift.

One gift I received was a discount of $25.- on a buffet bought by at least two people costing $37.50 each. Last Thursday we braved a fierce evening’s arctic storm and drove to the RSL club at Mittagong. This buffet includes table settings on white linen with an impressive assortment of cutlery only outdone by a linen napkin the size of a bedsheet and in red. I suppose the red is to camouflage any wine stains.

It was a self-service which we both are very comfortable with. Nothing worse that a waiter hovering about like a drone on a flattening battery. The entree was impressive. Cooked prawns, Pepper Calamari, Potato and leek soup, chicken Vol au Vents etc.

The mains including Roasts; Glazed ham Yule, Penne Boscaiola, Peppered medallions of Steak, Curried Prawns & Rice. You name it and it was there.  Breasts of some poor Turkey. Pork and Crackling. All that with vegetables/salads.

But, the best was yet to come; Desserts! Being mid-year, Christmas was thrown into the mix. Christmas Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce& Custard. Pavlova with Fresh Fruit Salad including Figs. Triple Chocolate Torte, nut Tartlets and so it went on. And for those still standing up, Tea and coffee bread roll & White Christmas.

Now here comes something totally amazing and worth mulling about. A couple, both ruddy faced and corpulent did the same as everybody was doing. Getting the cooked Prawns, Calamari rings followed by generous helpings of many Roasts and Main courses. You could tell they enjoyed it all. He, I assume a husband, was very quiet till he had his fill. His wife looked at him waiting for the moment he would say something. And he did. His became animated and you could tell they were enjoying themselves.

After they had eaten all the choices and varieties of the food courses, both ambled towards the table with the Pavlova with Figs and Fruits and Cakes.  We too ate some dessert. We are not normally given much to desserts, but what the heck? We too enjoyed the eating out, and the size of the napkins really gave the experience a totality normally missing. Part of the table setting was a small dish of water and slice of lemon swimming. We could wash our hands in this. This is how I came to understand the size of those napkins. They seconded as towels.

At this stage and after the eating of the Pavlova we thought the evening was coming to an end. The couple near us seemed to also had their fill. The husband got up again. I thought perhaps a call of nature, after all that drink and food. No, I was wrong. He came back with a plate of prawns and rings of Calamari. We were flabbergasted. How could he? But, that’s not all. The wife got up, all shiny with mirth and pork crackling. She came back with a plate of curried Prawns and rice. They hoed into it with gusto, yet again.

Unbelievable.

 

 

Australia day, where is the ‘joie le vivre?’ It seems a bit lacklustre.

January 26, 2018

 

Almost ThereThe night before last we watched our PM Malcolm Turnbull, lavishly praising himself while handing out the ‘Australians Of The Year Awards.’ Sam Kerr who won the  Young Australian, was my favourite. There is just no one like her, and she has put soccer in the limelight not seen since Dutch Abe Lenstra in the fifties. Of course, the Quantum Computer builder, Michelle Simmons is the worthiest recipient of this award ever since it was introduced. And what about the other two recipients? Eddy Woo. Amazing, an inspiration to all. The taciturn Senior, Graham Farquhar was outstanding, such talent.

Next day, Helvi and I got up early to go out and sample the exuberance of Australia Day in Bowral. There could be no doubt, there would be music and all-round jollity with neighbours forgetting old feuds, congratulating each and all on the all inclusive and diverse nature of this lucky brown sun-kissed land of Australia. But, it was all eerily silent and quiet. No tooting of horns nor flag waving. We noticed many shops were closed and the few elderly people that were about looked a bit lost. I quickly hovered over the idea if they too were struggling with accessing ‘Aged Care’ and perhaps had lost their ID numbers!

Some years ago, canny estate agents had put out little flags stuck in lawns in front of every house. Not this time. In fact not many flags at all. We went home and had a coffee, pondering about what the reason was for this lack of Australia Day fervour. Was it the previous heatwave that had sapped remaining energy already depleted through over-indulgence during Christmas? I know I had witnessed mothers loosing their cool with kids’ demands for ever more ice creams or mango slushies. I overheard one mum telling her son, ‘wait until I tell your father’, an ominous warning for the poor boy.

I suggested to Helvi we have another go at sampling Bowral exuberance some time late in the afternoon, when heat had sunk below horizon giving people time to re-charge and give outbursts of National pride a fair chance. I also suggested to Helvi I might ask some of the passing pedestrians how they celebrated this momentous event and it if they knew where there might be music or even public dancing?

We waited till about 8,30pm, and for the second time went about sampling Australia Day. The evening was lovely and balmy. I wore sandals without socks. It was almost dark anyway. Again, there were not many people about. The main street was empty and a black crow was screeching its head off sitting on top of a telegraph pole. At least the bird was giving festivities a bit of a leg-up. There was no music. In the distance we noticed three people coming our way and I had my question ready. When we were level with each other, I noticed they looked dark, possibly Indian. They were three men with one of them wearing a large dark coloured T-shirt with AUSTRALIA emblazoned across it.

I congratulated them on Australia Day which surprised them. They smiled and I quickly asked them if there were any celebratory events they might be looking for. I explained we too were celebrating Australia Day and were looking to share this. ‘It is very quiet,’ I said, and followed this up, ‘where are the celebrations’? And there was this immediate response of recognition. ‘Oh, always very quiet,’ Australia is quiet country,  one man smiled broadly. ‘Maybe across the road in the pub is a bit of life,’ another offered.  It was true.

We all had reached common ground.

An unexpected journey.

January 12, 2018

 

photoflooded riverThe Oosterman Treats has been a bit quiet lately. Let me try explain why. My wife Helvi  was diagnosed with breast cancer some three months ago. Perhaps I should use the more gender neutral word of ‘partner.’ Apparently the gender police want reference to male or female lessened or at least only allow it used for pass-port applications. The same-sex ideology seems to get a bit over-excited.

Anyway, breast cancer struck way out of nowhere. Who would think that having reached the age of late seventies it could still happen? The annual letter to have free mammograms stopped after seventy. The funding apparently is tight and limited.  Helvi never wanted to make a fuss over herself and wasn’t all that keen for me to write and use it in my blog. She is just that kind of girl, always concerning herself about others and isn’t keen to talk about herself or sicknesses anyway.

The subsequent chemotherapy thrice spread at three weekly intervals left her immunity very low with the ever opportunistic infections promptly taking advantage and giving her pneumonia. On Christmas day with a kilo of raw prawns, a leg of lamb and the pavlova ripening in the fridge, I took Helvi to the local Bowral Hospital just a hundred metres from here. She was so weak and could hardly stand up. I get choked thinking about how she was.

Helvi was taken to ‘High Dependent Unit’ and stayed there for five night before going to a recovery ward for another six nights. One night I was asked to spend a night with her and a special roll out bed was provided. She was so sick and agitated. Helvi has lost 15 kilos during the chemotherapy period.

The good news is that the chemo has worked with the experts very pleased. The chemo has now been delayed giving Helvi the chance to get her appetite and reasonable health back again. Within the next couple of weeks Helvi will be operated to have either a lumpectomy or mastectomy. The journey is ongoing.

Her care in Hospital was fantastic and the dedication of nurses inspiring. Nothing was too much and to consider the shortage of staff and the hard work they perform I am amazed the system still seems to work so well. I so wished they would get paid accordingly. I noticed some of the most vital equipment seemed in need of repair or modernising. The sink had been taken out of her ward because it was needed more urgently elsewhere leaving the taps open for patients to get water running over the floor. Someone then taped them up to avoid flooding.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-12/nsw-set-for-major-shortage-of-nurses-and-midwives/9321464

So, that is the story at this stage.

A mere bagatelle is that my Visa Credit card had been compromised to the tune of $1100.- I never use credit or any bank cards but have it to get dividends paid in and for automatic payments such as Toll charges and subscriptions. I suspect that my renewal for Norton Anti Virus was used by some scammer to fleece my account. Strange transactions in US dollars in Hong Kong and Cayman islands turned up. My Visa card was stopped and the fraudulent transaction credited to my account. With all that what was going on with my dearest Helvi, I could have done without that.

Please, wish Helvi well.

The Art of Recycling the yellow lidded bin on time.

January 5, 2017

Almost There

Do you find it confusing too? We have two rubbish bins. The Red-lidded one gets collected weekly on Thursday. The Yellow-lidded fortnightly, also on Thursday. You can never go wrong with the red one. I simply put it out each Wednesday at the front on the much heralded ‘nature strip’.

This nature strip is an Australian invention as is the Hill’s Hoist. Both quintessentially Australian as a prawn on a barbeque during a boozy summer’s afternoon quaffing from a Coolabah Riesling wine-cask. The nature strip fulfils two main needs.
1. For dogs to defecate on.
2. For residents to drop their unwanted and over-bought consumables, mainly in the form of excess mattresses or bright-blue sagging Nights-and-Day sofas.

The dog defecators use the nature strip mainly at night.They are the night stalkers. They walk their dogs without the aid of a plastic bag to pick up or catch the dog’s load, and simply allow the nature strip to get used as a toilet under the cover of darkness. I would not be surprised if the walkers themselves at times follow the lead of their dogs and do the same! I am suspicious of the look of some of those turds. I am no expert, but even so.., they don’t look very doggy to me.

The third one is of course to put our full bins out on for the local Shire Council to collect. The confusion lies in remembering the collection of the yellow lidded recycling bin. We know that fortnightly means once every two weeks. Yesterday afternoon I put out both. I had not given much thought about the Yellow bin but assumed it was time. It was very full! The Christmas festivities and associated New Year gaiety are often trying times for the Yellow bin. The grandchildren and their presents caused much refuse. Paper wrappings, boxes and soft drink bottles. We do allow some sugar intake for the grandkids during the Christmas holidays. 😉 Hence the plastic bottles. However, we also stock up on lots of bananas and mangoes for balance. The glass bottles, of which there were many, used to contain lovely Shiraz or mouth watering Pinot-Gris.

I often am the first one to put out the bins. And so it was yesterday. It seems to encourage others to do the same. By late afternoon an army of residents were diligently putting them out.There were rows and rows of both Red and Yellow bins festooning the ‘nature strip.’ Imagine this morning discovering that the Red bin had been emptied but not the Yellow one.
Did I have my dates wrong? It was just as well that no-one noticed it was me who, as a result of putting the Yellow bin out first, encouraged all the others to follow suit. A bit like the pied piper.

It means that many residents now have to drag to Yellow one back inside. The yellow bins are really much bigger and when loaded very heavy. (One could almost live in one.) Anyway, I feel a bit foolish now. My over-concern is punishing innocent people.

It’s not a good start of the year! Is it?

A proliferation of ‘Happy New Year.’ But Easter eggs are coming soon.

January 2, 2017
Thomas without tablet (de)vice

Thomas without tablet (de)vice

There has been an unusual number of repeat ‘Happy New Year’ wishes this time. Did anyone else notice it? Perhaps with the hectic use and proliferation of a multitude of IT connectivity such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. there are more opportunities than ever before to give Happy New Year wishes. That’s apart from the Jacquie Lawson E-Cards. It becomes confusing and one should really keep a little book in which to record those friends that were wished ‘a Happy New Year’.

I too have re-wished Happy New Year to the same people several times over. We don’t want to be seen as stingy when it comes to wish well to others in the coming year. Of course, wishing and achieving ‘wellness’ is a different kettle of fish. We all do our best.

There are now more books than ever on achieving ‘happy’. Although I suspect that cookery books still beat ‘happy’ books. Last week, just before Christmas, a cranky woman stormed out of our local bookshop. She looked at me with hurricane eyes. I and our dog Milo were waiting patiently outside. I immediately dove down for cover. There is nothing more dangerous than facing a cranky woman exiting a book-store. I mean, what if she had stormed out of a butcher shop and I was waiting for Helvi to order some lamb-chops? All those knives about? To become furious inside a book-shop is unusual. What could have been the reason for her steaming-hot ire? Were it all those diabolic Cricket books or the Pork Belly recipe Books featured in the window? The picture of crackling so real, some hungry vagabond had started to chew on its cover.

I did not have much time to consider possible reasons for her fury, and by squatting down I drew attention to our Jack Russell, Milo. I petted him and said somewhat inanely; “good boy, good boy.” It was absolutely the right thing to have done. It took the murderous intent away from the woman. She melted in front of us and her eyes relented, becalming the raging mind storm. I thought it safe to venture carefully about the reason for her fury; “It’s all so hopeless, isn’t it,” I said, encouraged by her becalmed facial expressions. “Oh, yes, she repeated, all is hopeless. Where are all the children books? They should be at the front and not all those stupid cooking books. I have to buy thirteen presents and I want good children books.”

I immediately agreed heartily and egged her on by; “I bet those cookery books are bought by people who never cook, they are always seen to come home, night after night with pizza boxes under their arms or plastic bags with take-away Chinese muck.” She was now as calm as a lamb and after patting Milo crossed the street to be on her way looking for thirteen present to buy. I suppose, for her grand-children.
Don’t you like it though that she got so upset about the children books not being at the front of the shop, especially at Christmas time?

What is it about all those cooking books? Even on the TV. Show after show. It makes me furious too.

Post Christmas Blues. You are a swine Mr Dutton!

December 27, 2016

With more than seventy Christmases behind us, we of ‘Oosterman Treats’ are enormously qualified to speak and deal with Post Christmas stress, or PCS in medical or psychiatric parlance. It comes from huge unreal expectations. You can just imagine those poor sods having lined up outside the department shops for hours hoping to buy yet again another unwanted and unneeded item. Boxing day ‘specials’ with discounts so big, many items are almost free. Did you see those contorted shoppers’ faces on TV being interviewed? One girl proudly stated that shopping is her only aim in life.

Of course, the Christmas revellers stomachs are just as churned up. Huge loads of sugars and fats having to be regurgitated with cuds re-chewed and worked through. It generally hits most people about a day after Boxing day. The money is gone and the new hand-bag or T-shirt are just that, a bag and T-shirt. The pavlova has melted and made a mess at the bottom of the fridge. The ham is souring and so are the kids. ‘We are bored’, is now a common refrain uttered by thousands of kids and echoing above waves and sand throughout the country. Spare a thought for mums having to cope with that! Dads can go back to work after nursing a head-ache from too much Pinot Gris.

Pardon this serious reflection but believe me, it will pass. The answer is to do nothing. Life goes back to normal and the passing of this Christmas will be seen by many as a relief . Normality is to be preferred after all. We have to gather strength to do the vacuum, chuck out the wrapping paper, scrape the plates clean and heroically face the next few days. New-Year’s Eve is still to be wrestled with, but that is just a few hours and doesn’t generally include anywhere near the pandemonium that Christmas holds. At least we won’t have to hear those supermarkets jingles over and over again.

What took the gloss of this Christmas was the death of yet another refugee on Manus island. The poor man had begged to be treated for months. It was ignored and the medical nurse told him to stop faking. He can’t fake now. He died. He spent over three years on Manus and had his refugee status approved.The Government will not commend on his death and his family wasn’t even notified. How could we have a Christmas with that happening?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/12/24/27-year-old-sudanese-refugee-held-on-manus-island-has-died/

I tell you now, if we ever move again, it will be away from Australia. This government has reached the bottom for compassion and humanity. They punish and kill refugees for not having drowned in the first place.

You are a swine Mr Minister Dutton for killing refugees, and so is your boss, our PM Turnbull.

Milo in the fox trap. “2017 is knocking”

December 21, 2016

Almost There

A few more days and it will all be over, but don’t let this fool you. Anything is still possible! Christmas time is as unholy as ever. It seems that even football is now to be avoided at all costs. This, the latest of sexual abuse in the English speaking world;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_football_sexual_abuse_scandal

Twenty police forces are now investigating! Can you believe it? What is it? Is it something in the English fish-chips?

” By mid December, in response to allegations from 350 individuals, The Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, several football clubs and over 20 UK police forces had established various inquiries and investigations; on 21 December 2016, 155 potential suspects were said to be involved in alleged abuse of 429 individuals at 148 clubs.”

Mind you, Australia is also at the forefront and riddled with sex scandals. No school, no matter how exclusive or expensive has been found lacking with ‘School Masters’ ( a silly title if ever there was) sexually abusing their students. In fact the more exclusive the worse it seems to get. Cranbrook, Kings College, Scots College. They all queue up like tin soldiers. Former students are fronting up in Royal Commissions telling of their dreadful abuse by former teachers. Headmasters were flat out confessing they should have put a stop to it. But…they did not! One teacher after years of abusing students was finally sacked but given a glowing reference and a handsome pay-out figure. Can you believe it.?

I just thought to update you of the latest, before year’s turning.

I spoke with Harley next door giving condolences for the loss of his beloved chickens. That’s the thing with foxes. They are cruel and kill for the sheer fun of it. It’s not as if they kill and eat one for hunger. Just like us humans really. Kill for fun. The Syrian massacres the latest sample of killing for the sake of killing. A horrible dance macabre. A bacchanalian killing field. And then those serious black suited men sitting around conference tables arranging buses and tut tutting about peace?

Anyway, poor Harley felt a bit rotten about it all. His faithful but dead Barnevelders laying and lying all over the place. (but not with eggs) ‘For once I did not lock them in’, he said looking me in the eyes, a trace of guilt. It reminded me of how the foxes had struck many times on our farm. Dead ducks, chickens and so often too. Foxes, at least the Australian variety, can climb fences. We ended up with the chicken pens having wire over the top as well. A fortress type enclosure was the only way to go. Yet, rarely would one see a fox. You could spend years living in the outback, never see a fox.

As a last resort we bought a strong wire cage as a fox trap. It had a trap door that would clamp shut after the fox had entered to get to his prey. We were told to put in a dead bird and to handle the cage wearing gloves. Any human scent would deter the canny fox. They are smart. Nothing happened. No fox ever trapped. One morning I checked and poor Milo our Jack Russell was inside the trap, looking sheepish. At least he hadn’t touched the duck. It was too smelly. When we sold the farm it must have found a new owner.

Milo in a fox trap. Oh dear!