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Winter sunrise: Venus and crescent moon

Venus, crescent moon (plus star Aldebaran)

06:22 (eek!) Saturday 20 June, Sydney

Venus, crescent moon (plus star Aldebaran)

Six Word Saturday

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Early morning spider web

This little spider has been busy! I haven’t noticed any activity (the duranta tree is on my balcony), but this morning, with the early sun at the right angle, I clearly saw her/his handiwork. The spider itself is tiny (you can see it right in the centre, glowing in the sunshine), and by the same token the web is not as large as a dinner plate. What I love about this shot is how clear the web pattern is. You can easily imagine this little creature patiently crawling one way, turning, crawling another, turning … That’s a lot of effort to catch your dinner.

What I don’t understand is how spiders set those anchoring strands. Do they just shoot out some silk and hope it latches on to something?

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Tomato Diary 2

23 May, down to 8 seedlings in 4 pots.

The experiment of growing tomatoes in a Sydney winter using seeds scraped from a store-bought tomato continues. On 23 May I ruthlessly discarded all but the sturdiest 8 seedlings and put the winners into four small pots.

23 May, aerial view

Above on 23 May, after repotting. Below on 6 June, after two weeks of growing.

6 June, aerial view. Definitely bigger!

Despite the less than ideal conditions, they are growing. Daytime highs now are 15-20C (59-68F) and they get only about five hours of morning sun — and that’s with me moving them four times to try to avoid shade as the low winter sun passes behind trees. Of course, many days are overcast and wet. Not what you’d call optimal!

Interesting to see the size differences. All the seeds are from the same tomato, but not all seeds are equal!

Yesterday I ventured to a garden centre for soil and stakes, being very optimistic that the plants will grow high enough to need staking! Some of you may be wondering why I bought “seed raising and cutting” mix. The answer is that I don’t have a car. Not following that logic? I had to buy soil in a bag small enough to fit into my backpack and of a weight I could carry. All that was available in this bag size was mixes for seedlings, cacti or orchids; this seemed the least-bad choice. I do have about the same amount of regular potting mix so when the times comes I’ll combine the two.

Ready to go.

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 3. (Tomato Dairy 1 here)

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Tomato Diary 1

8 May: Something’s happening . . .

So, you know how gardening has taken off in lockdown? (Along with baking and cooking, but I’m too lazy for that much effort.) I read or heard, I forget which, something about how to grow veg even if you are a total newbie. One of the comments was that you don’t need seeds: plant a potato, carrot tops, the seeds from a tomato or cucumber. So I scraped the seeds out of a medium sized tomato — all the seeds — into a small pot of soil, chucked more soil on top (and as you can see, we’re not talking specialist seedling soil here), watered them … and mere days later, much to my astonishment, green things began to appear.

9 May: More things are happening!

10 May: Uh oh, things are getting out of hand.

Oh dear, a LOT of green things! I never expected such a freakishly high germination rate! When I counted 30 seedlings, it was time for action.

I’ve pulled out a number of little noodle-y seedlings, and am down to about 15. It’s survival of the fittest now! I plan to get the number down to under ten. Then when they’re bigger, I’ll move them into their own small pots and see how they go. (note: the photos above are so awful because they’re from my phone)

19 May: A forest of tomato seedlings. Which will make the final count?

Will they actually produce tomatoes? I doubt it. It’s autumn now, winter is looming, and my balcony gets sun only from 7:30am to about 1pm. The sun is so low now that nearby trees cast shade as the sun no longer passes above them — while I’m working from home I can nip outside and move the pots, but I’m not sure how much that will help!

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 2.

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Familiar but strange

This is a photo I never thought I would ever take! There is usually a mass of people walking here, with waiters dashing back and forth across the flow from the restaurants on the right to the outside seating beyond the pillars on the left.

On Sunday I ventured out of my immediate neighbourhood for the first time in weeks. I took the ferry from my local wharf (I’ve never seen more than a handful of people of that route, so social distancing was absurdly easy) to Circular Quay, where I stepped into an alternative universe: the buildings were all there, but the vast majority of people had been stripped away. My goal was the botanic garden (still open in the lockdown, although all its buildings and cafes are closed) and the easiest route is to walk along the quay and past the opera house. All so unthinkingly familiar — but this time, also so very strange.

I generally scurry along this stretch, dodging dawdlers and tourists. No need for that now.

Where are the hundreds of restaurant tables?

The next shock was the forlorn, stripped-down Opera Bar. This place I avoid like the plague — so noisy, so crowded!

Opera Bar — no tables, no chairs, no bar, certainly no people.

Looking back at Opera Bar from the other end. I’ve never taken a photo with all the people; the one on the right, below, is from https://www.sydney.com.au/images/circular-quay-restaurants1.jpg.

I then walked around the opera house, rather than crossing in front. At the harbour end, I encountered one other person; there are usually dozens here.

At the harbour end of the opera house.

It was time to head for the gardens. My ferry is only hourly, and this eerie ghost town with its memories of happier times was not somewhere I wanted to have to kill time if I carelessly missed my return. I took one look at the hordes on the main path that runs along the water and chose another route.

And indeed, away from the harbour, the gardens were fairly deserted, and as lovely as ever.

Bridge and birds of paradise.

Something bushy sticking through a fence.

Bonus points if you spotted the man up the tree!

This is the approach to the cafe. A lovely spot, with good food (and it’s licensed).

These chairs and tables are usually spread all over this area, full of people.

This looks like a painting, doesn’t it? The reflections give everything an undefined look.

More reflections.

Clumps of plants, backlit by the low autumn sun.

The various little buildings where you might sit with a group are closed.

But the benches are still open! I sat here for a while.

This protea caught my eye while I was sitting. Protea Cyanoides ‘Little Prince’, according to its sign.

Usually, after a stroll around the gardens I’d finish off with a glass of bubbly at Portside, another venue at the opera house but much quieter and more civilised than Opera Bar.

No bubbly at Portside this time, alas. Certainly quiet, however!

So it was back on the ferry and home again.

Heading home.

Posted as part of Jo’s Monday Walk. (I see she has a cheese fest this week, oh yes!)


sydney-strolls-badge

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Sling your hammock

Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks — heritage-listed former barracks, hospital, convict accommodation, mint and courthouse — has reopened after extensive renovations and renewal. One room is set up as a dormitory with reproduction convict hammocks; audio brings alive the experience of trying to sleep in a room crowded with men talking, snoring, shouting, singing, fighting, etc.
The very rough texture of the rope used to hang the hammocks looks as if it would play havoc with soft modern hands and I hope the workers who tied those knots wore sturdy gloves!

Posted Posted as part of Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge, specifically: Texture; and also Debbie’s One Word Sunday Challenge, specifically: Knot.

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Floral Friday – planters in the city

Mobile gardens.

I always know when summer officially arrives in Sydney — it’s when these planters magically appear overnight! The city is full of them, metal squares stuffed with plants in pots. Instant gardens pop up on streets everywhere. The plants don’t last the whole summer, so one day I’ll come along and completely new fresh plants have appeared. Though I’m not sure about what appears to be decorative cabbage in the planter above …