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Travel Memories 6: Madeira

Walking along Ponta de São Lourenço

While I lived in London (1989-99, 2004-09) I usually went away for Christmas. In 2007 I went to the island of Madeira, and while there I joined a guided walk along Ponta de São Lourenço, the easternmost point of the island. “Stunning” is an understatement! Rugged landscapes, sweeping views and weather very unlike London in December. It was an exhilarating day.

You can see the path of the walk in the feature photo; I’ve indicated the path with dots, and circled the people along one stretch. You can see a zoomed version of the stretch with people here. I don’t recall it feeling as dangerous as it looks!

Travel Memories: a single photo from a trip — one that always makes me smile, or reflect, or want to go back.


click here for a larger version of the map below

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Tomato Diary 8

You can see all the tomatoes coming along — and also see where I’ve picked off all the dying bottom leaves.

The experiment: to grow tomatoes on my balcony during a Sydney winter using seeds scraped from a store-bought tomato. (Although we’re well into spring now.)

Oh dear, things are looking worrying. Last evening it was very windy so I moved the pots to the balcony floor, which meant that this morning I was able to look down on the leaves. Powdery mildew is rampant!

A selection of the leaves I’ve removed in the past few days.

Not happy at all.

So off I went to Google again to see what is suggested. And would you believe it — milk! Diluted 1:4 or 1:5, and sprayed on the leaves weekly. So I have diligently done so. As for the pot that is being “watered” with milk, I can’t say that those two plants look any better or any worse than the three plants getting more conventional fertiliser. It’s the middle pot in the photo of all three pots at the top.

They look good from this angle!

Now the race is on: will any tomato ripen and be edible before all the plants die from the bottom up?

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 9.


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Me and my shadow

My shadow on the deck of Lord Nelson, 2013 (Indian Ocean)

This week’s Photo Challenge assignment is “focus on the shadow of your subject rather than the subject”. Here are two photos of my shadow back in my intrepid sailor days.

Shadows of me (at left) and other crew members on Tenacious, 2004 (leaving Jersey)

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Tomato Diary 7

5 Sept: The largest tomato is golf-ball size now.

The experiment: to grow tomatoes on my balcony during a Sydney winter using seeds scraped from a store-bought tomato.

Sadly, we are back to a mix of good and bad news for this update. 😦 As you can see above and below, I have lots of tomatoes coming along.

We’re out of winter and into spring now, and the temperatures are warming up. The sun blasting onto the exposed pails was quickly drying out the soil. Easily fixed, though: I put up some black sunblockers to keep the pails in the shade, and made nifty covers for the soil on top.

Sept 5: Keeping cool!

However, here’s the bad news: the lower leaves are yellowing again. You can see it in the photo above. I shall try fertilising twice a week rather than once, and see if that helps. However, in true experiment fashion, I’m going to try something different for this pot (you may have noticed the yellow straw on the right, there to remind me that this is the experimental pot). I read that tomato plant problems are often caused by lack of calcium in the soil. Well, what has lots of calcium?

Calcium and B vitamins — not just for mammals!

Yes, milk! And sure enough, various gardening websites told me that “watering” tomatoes with a 50-50 water/milk mix is a “thing”. However, once plants go on the milk diet they can’t be given standard fertiliser because the chemicals break down the good bacteria in the milk. So we’ll see what happens!

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 8.


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Succulent flowers 2

Not a very promising start.

As mentioned last week, here is the Unknown Succulent with its flowers. At first I thought the drooping ends were just more weird growth, but after a while I realised there was something inside.

What is going to burst out of those pods??

The droop disappeared and the things at the end of the stalk formed a sort of umbrella of downward-pointing flowers.

I had to stake them upright because the weight of the Noisy Miner bird, foraging for who knows what, knocked them over.

Quite pretty, actually!

Posted for #FloralFriday

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Travel Memories 5: Coober Pedy

Hole in one, maybe?

Hands up if you have actually heard of Coober Pedy. I certainly had not until I’d lived in Australia for a while. However, if you’re an opal lover, you probably are familiar with this small mining town in the outback. Due to the searing summer heat, many people live in underground houses carved from the rock; there are even underground churches.

However, it was the golf club that really caught my attention. There’s no grass whatsoever, but there is carefully raked sand and gravel. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Forgot your clubs? No problem, you can rent some.

Travel Memories: a single photo from a trip — one that always makes me smile, or reflect, or want to go back.


click here for a larger version of the map below