Thursday, 27 April 2017

Celebrations, Reunions, New Life and Food.

Once again our  calendar has been really booked out over the last few weeks.
Brian and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, it's so hard to believe that we have been hitched that long (only old people have been married 40 years) lol.
We were in town at our local bowling club and I saw the lady who now lives in what was the church we were marries in all those years ago and I approached her and asked whether it may be possible for  Brian and I to get a new photograph in the  church doorway as we did  on our wedding day,
She was more than happy to allow us to do it.
 When I look at it now, we were so young, babes actually !
This is the church( now converted to a home that the lovely Denise lives in) that we got married in.
So, here we are 40 years later, a little worse for wear, but  still happy as two pigs in mud.
We had a lovely day, the photo shoot first ( and a look through the church, Thank you Denise! )
then a lovely drive and a catch up with  some old and new friends, another drive and lunch at a  lovely old pub in Gilgandra and then another enjoyable  roudabout drive home. All in all a lovely way to spend our day.

  Along with our  normal  routines and commitments we  were also  busy helping with some organizing for a party that was being held for two of Brian's brothers who were turning 60 and 70.
Brian and our next door brother  slaughtered two pigs and three sheep to be used over the weekend on spits and BBQ's, next they headed into our local showground and played tag team on the grass  mowers clearing two  areas for camping and caravans.
We all headed top the showground with our caravans on the Friday to set up camp.
The caterers ( whoever volunteered) had worked hard  getting pig on the spit number  1 ready for the hungry hordes. They did a great job it was delicious.

 Most of the campers had arrived by Saturday morning and as many of the family are all keen target shooters  on the Saturday they had arranged a  family friendly shoot at the local shooting  range named after  Brian's Father. It was a huge day with at least 60 shooters taking part.
The Saturday also happened to be the day   that my High School class 42 year reunion was on.
We met at the school, had morning tea and a tour around  to see all the changes to the school since we left and then headed over to the local hotel for a finger food lunch to  talk and remember all the good old days.
We were only a small gathering( we were only a small class)  and it was lovely to see my old maths teacher there( she was one of my favourites).
 This was our 1974 3rd form class photo, I am front row third from right,
 And this is  our current photo, that's me in the middle up the back with the smirk on my face.
We decided that we would regroup in two years, with hopefully the rest of the class and a few more teachers, It will also be a celebration  as most of us will turn 60 that year as well. It was great to see everyone, many of them I haven't seen  since 1975. I want to say a special thank you to Donna and Heather for  putting this reunion together, we appreciate their work and forethought to do so.
The showground filled  quickly and  was roughly divided into two camp areas, the younger ones in "tent city" over one side of the showground circle,
This was the noisy "party" side, where as us "Oldies" camped over the other side in  peace and quiet.
We have just as much fun over our side , with the added advantage of  less noise when it's sleep time.
It was a wonderful night with about 200 people in attendance  .
Pig  and lamb on the spit number 2 were cooked with great care,
The beautiful food that was organized was unbelievable, all the people involved did a tremendous job.

It truly was gluttony, but what a way to go. !!!
It was a wonderful weekend, but one truly amazing thing was , that all 10 of the surviving  siblings in  Brian's family were all together for the weekend. Very hard  to get together when there are so many.
And of course we got a picture, not a great one but  it does record the event for future  history.
That night  we  celebrated the 6oth and 70th birthdays in a great way, great food and  great company, and then
after some speeches  there was  a brilliant performance by our nephew on the bagpipes.
The next morning we headed home with the caravan and caught up on a few things around the place,
returned to town for a while and my SIL  a cousin and myself  headed to our rail barracks and turned over the 22 beds as it also had been booked out by party goers for the weekend.
It was a   great  catch up, and it is being  discussed that it may be repeated in two yeras time as other siblings reach certain birthday milestones.
The showground venue offers great services, unlimited camping for the weekend, toilets and showers, a great kitchen facility and a huge amount of undercover weather proof entertainment  area in the pavilion .
We headed home to  pack and get organized  for the next weeks adventures.

On Monday  morning we  travelled down to the coast to spend a few days with our daughters family.
Our beautiful 6 year old granddaughter was recovering from having her tonsils removed and  Mum and Dad had to return  to work, so we  were lucky enough to be able to spend some wonderful time with her .
We went to the movies a couple of times, had a few meals out, did some shopping and just hung around home together catching up. I was also able to have a short catch up with my sister who happened to be visiting nearby as well.
It was a lovely few days.
On returning home I got in and started work on  using some of the meat in our freezer up as we were due to have a turkey processing day again soon.
I made up a couple of big batches of turkey and vegetable  soup and canned it up.
 I  canned up a variety of jar sizes for different reasons, the larger quarts for when two of us  are having a meal, the smaller pints for when just one of us wants soup and the smaller half pints just for my Mum, she finds this size just perfect  with some toast or bread for a meal for her. Now in her 90's  she  finds that she only requires small meals to satisfy her appetite  these days.
I then decided to  have a trial run on some lamb curry( Indian style),
I decided to pressure cook the lamb first to tenderize it ,
Then  I separated the bones out and discarded them,strained and reserved the liquid, adding some of it to the sauce, added the meat to the raw potato,carrot and onion and then added a massive variety of  sauces, curry bases, spices ect until I got the required look and taste I wanted, I even added a can of coconut milk. There is no actual  recipe for this and I must state that this is not a recommended safe canning recipe.
I filled the jars with this mix ,
Pressure canned them for 90 minutes at 15 lbs pressure( the lid was locked down after this phot was taken.)

After processing, it did split a bit,(because of the coconut milk) but a gentle shake of the jar remixed it immediately.
For dinner that night we ate the curry that did not fit in the jars( after  cooking the vegetables )
It was beautiful, not too hot( as I am a bit of a chilli wimp), just right.
I had 3 seal failures, so I froze those into individual servings.
The  liquid from pressure cooking the lamb that I reserved, I placed in the fridge overnight and this morning removed that hard layer of fat that had set on top of it.
I then used that base as the beginnings for the  turkey soup that I made and canned today.( I know it's lamb, but  It's flavour, and to me that's all that matters.)

We now have 11 sweet baby lambs here on the farm, all very cute and individual.
I adore how they  run and frolic and play together like small children, and I especially love it when the mums join in the fun and games.
A couple of days ago when we were having our early morning coffee out on the back verandah, we noticed a  ewe who appeared to be having a problem birthing a lamb.
 Just as we were about to intervene and help ,
The clever girl just stood up and delivered all by herself.

After cleaning him up  and  looking after him, she encouraged  him to stand  and feed in no time at all.
She looks like she is going to be a good Mum, he is already   improving rapidly.
We checked our bee hive yesterday also, and it appears to be active , the bees were freely  flying in  and out of the hive and all seemed well. We will have a closer look when our friend Rob comes out to help.
It's been another huge few weeks with no sign of it slowing down, but  truth be known we probably are happier that way. There has been lot's more  that we have done and been involved in, but there is not enough time for me to document everything.
So until we meet again sooner rather than later,
Take care of  each other,
Jane and Brian.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

100 years of rail in Binnaway 1917-2017

Last weekend our small community of Binnaway celebrated exactly 100 years since  the railway came .
When we  realized that the anniversary was  this year we decided that we really  must do something major to  recognize the occasion.
We decided that it was really too big of  a project for our small rail heritage group and  that we needed to   make this a community event which would also share the load.
This photograph was taken 100 years ago  on the occasion of the first train  at Binnaway Railway Station.
Among the plans  decided upon was that we would start a mural project  down in the main street/
A few local people were approached and they agreed to  produce a few small pieces that would later be added to.
The owner of a building in the main street was also happy to  have the murals on the building.
The first  piece was the ticket seller in the old buildings window, with the restored "ticket" sign from the old station office.
The next  item   placed in the street was the original restored seat from outside the old station.
Then finally  the train and some travellers were added. This is a work in progress and there is still much more to come.
We then began in ernest to move all the memorabilia from our rail Barracks storage area up to the showground pavilion. We had decided on the showground   with the blessing of the show society as it has a huge undercover area  in case of inclement weather, brilliant catering areas and in general a great function area. While were sorting  things at the barracks, I took this panorama of a train in section of the barracks.

Brian and his mate Dennis moved  the heavy  vehicles,
Other members of the team spent several days, sorting, transporting and arranging items for the displays.
Finally the  day arrived and we were all up with the sparrows to get into town to get  our selves organized.
There were many displays,
Brian and some other men, mostly ex railway workers , were on hand to explain what many of the various older  pieces of equipment were used for and current railway men also had a display outside with   the  equipment still in use today.

There were various stalls, Our local Progress Association sold Binnaway souvenirs
  The local Lions  Club ran the BBQ lunch stall  which was extremely popular.
My brother Don brought his two stationery engines over for the day, everyone loved them, especially the men , so much that he didn't get away from them all day.
A couple of  vintage car clubs from around the area also made their way to the showground, I heard there were about 16 in all, prizes being awarded for winners of  certain categories.
Our Rail Heritage Group ran the Devonshire teas, the girls were run off their feet  making a healthy profit for the day.
My Rail Heritage   friends graciously  allowed me to escape the Devonshire tea work and as  my sister Maree and her husband had come over , they set up a silver jewellery stall along side my  preserves stall. I was so busy all day, that I barely got time to take photos.(unusual for me)
I was so  shocked at how popular my stall was, I ran out of a few things and even took orders for  some  items. I managed to sell about 25 of my bookmarks and took  an astounding  profit for the day of about $325, my sister  did really well with hers as well.They sell handmade sterling silver jewellery.
There were the official  speeches and presentations by the boss of our local railway to the rail heritage group,our President Norm and his wife Pat, both founding members of our group were on hand  to  receive the  presentation.
A small collection of the Rail Heritage volunteers gathered for a photograph but unfortunately many more were not in the picture as they were  working in other areas and couldn't leave.
One of the main attractions that we had wanted for the day was a train, to do small trips for all the  visitors. With much negotiation and with the extremely generous financial  help from The Progress association, our Rail Heritage Group , the Rifle Club and other groups  we were able to  accumulate enough funds to  have our train. This was only finalized a couple of weeks before the event.
Paterson Rail Motor Group from near Maitland in NSW  came with their wonderful rail motor which holds about 96 people.
It was the highlight of the day, and worth every penny.
As people returned from  the trips on the train, they were full of excitement and wonder, the train  did  four runs from Binnaway to Merrygoen, a return trip of about an hour and a half or so.
We didn't think we would get a ride as we were tied up  at the showground ,when we received a message telling us there were 8 seats left and that they were ours.
My Mum had also came over for the weekend and we made her come too(walker and all)
We had a ball !!!
What a ride, windows open, wind in our hair, we all had such fun, what a great way to end a fabulous day of celebrations. The top photo is Pat and Norm our President and his wife, the middle pic is Brian and our mate warren( one of the mural artists), the the bottom picture is my Sister in Law Kerry and my Sister in Law Pam.
At Merrygoen the train  rested for about 10 minutes before the return journey. I saw these  beautiful old water towers out the window, these were used in the old steam train days, but this pair have the honor of still supplying water to this small village.
We returned back to the platform at Binnaway  and sadly stepped back off the train,
Even Mum(her walker just visible between other travellers, was disappointed for it to end.
What an amazing day it was, we were completely astounded by the sheer numbers of people that  travelled back to  their little home town to celebrate with us, most were family of ex rail workers in our town( Binnaway used to be a major railway hub in it's hey day.
We headed home and a few of us gathered at our place for an impromptu  BBQ, Mum surprised me by being in on it all, she told me later that night that she had a wonderful weekend, "and wouldn't have missed it for the world", I am so glad.
The next morning , routine returned  very quickly, The Barracks had been full of guests (24 people) for the weekend and now we had to turn the rooms over and clean as they were booked again that night by family and friends of a  well known town resident who had sadly  passed away.We all turn up en mass to get the work done quickly.

That day was also  our monthly newspaper compiling day and three of us  sorted that. The following day all the available volunteers  returned all the memorabilia back to the storage area at the barracks while I  escaped that and was entrusted with printing the paper for the day.
It has been a huge 2 weeks, full of hard work, long hours, short tempers and tiredness   but in the end it has been  worth every minute of it.
I cannot express my gratitude to all the many,many people who donated  time, money, expertise, memorabilia, muscles, we are forever in your debt, Thank you, Thank you,Thank you.
for making  the 100 years of Rail   a most memorable occasion.
On a very happy note and nothing to do with rail, we  were very fortunate  to discover this morning that one of our beautiful  dorper ewes had given birth to  two sweet bundles of joy, all is good in our world.
So until we meet again,
please take care of you and yours,
Jane and Brian.