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A walk around Scotland

The island is hard to distinguish, what with all these trees. Come in maybe 15% from each side and you should see a difference between foreground island and background forest.

Scotland Island, that is! It’s one of Sydney’s “hidden gems”; so hidden, in fact, that many residents have never even heard of it.

Where to find the island.

The island is accessible only with your own boat, or this rather cute ferry.

I stayed overnight at a B&B on the island recently. Once settled in, I headed off to walk around the island. It’s only about 1km in diameter, and the road that runs around the island is about 3km long. Don’t be fooled by the street names on this map; there isn’t a single street sign on the island!

The road is more like a bush track, but it made for good walking.

One thing that struck me is how close together the houses are.

You’d want to be on good terms with your neighbours, living so close to them!

Another thing I noticed is all the ****ed trees blocking the views! A glimpse of a view here and there, but mostly you’re looking at trees. I felt quite hemmed in.

Some of the houses nearest the water would have clear views, but not the ones higher up, tucked among the trees.

For example, this is the view from my room at the B&B: nice trees.

Considering all those trees, and how close together the buildings are, fire is a real concern. I spotted a number of these little fire service depots along the road, plus there is a real station.

A reassuring sight.

I think the only real vehicles belong to the fire service, but I did see a number of golf carts as transport.

This cart has seen better days!

Every house has a water tank or two. According to my hosts, the tanks are the main water supply on the island: no rain equals no water, in which case it must be brought from the mainland. In my best city-dweller manner (and remembering the glasses I’d guzzled in my room), I exclaimed, aghast, “You don’t drink it, surely?” They filter it, both with something mechanical and also with a laser filter (“like they have in hospitals and kindergartens”, she said; I’d never heard of such a thing) — oh well, I’m still here to tell the tale, and I must say the water had a nice taste!

This house needs some attention! Yet you can see the TV antenna and the electricity wire, so presumably it was occupied fairly recently.

Quite a contrast to other houses, prices for which exceed $1m.

I laughed when I spotted this street library housed in a old fridge.

More books are available at this ferry wharf.

Whatever was being given away here seems to have been popular.

If you keep an eye out, you’ll spot a number of curious objects along the way.

Another glimpse of a view, blocked by more trees.

Flowers everywhere!

These people are ready for winter with their stockpile of firewood.

A variety of house number styles.

And here we are at the highest point on Scotland Island, some 100m above sea level. There are some very steep roads on this island. 😦

A lovely, peaceful spot — from which to admire the trees.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk.


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Cyclamen on a rainy day

Cheerful spots of colour

Here in Sydney, we are facing days of heavy rain. Summer never really happened, due to the rain (thanks La Niña). Now it’s autumn, and the rain seems to have increased. We shall all soon float away! Sitting on my sofa today, in the early evening, I realised that this small pot of cyclamen on my windowsill provided the only colour in a grey, grey world.

(ps: WordPress, if you are eavesdropping on people’s posts – I HATE this block editor and the associated interface that you are now forcing me to use!!!)

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Tomato Diary 11

15 Oct: Ripening very nicely, thank you!

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.)

There’s not much left to say about the experiment. I think we can all agree it was a success, albeit not a quick one. From seed planting in early May, it’s taken almost seven months for the tomatoes to reach the eating stage (I had five for lunch on Sunday!). So yes, seeds scraped from a store-bought tomato will germinate and the plants will grow in a Sydney winter, but they definitely prefer the spring with its overall warmer temperatures and longer days. (So do I, actually.)

22 Oct: Good enough to eat?

Remember in September, I started to water one pot with milk and to not use chemical fertiliser? That experiment was not a success. The milk didn’t seem to hydrate the plants as well as water, and the pot is significantly heavier. Some digging with a stick revealed that the bottom 3 or 4 inches of soil has turned into a type of semi-solid swamp that released quite an unpleasant smell as I dug around. The liquid oozing from the drainage holes was a sort of thick green. (It’s the pot on the left in the photo below.) My advice: don’t do it!

The powdery mildew problem has not been cured by spraying the leaves with diluted milk, even with the addition of baking soda to the mix (a suggestion from Jude). You can see in the group photo below that these plants have a lot of naked stems! If you’re wondering why they haven’t gained much in height, the answer is that I’m pinching off their tops when they get to the height of the stakes because the plants generally sit on the balcony’s raised bed (visible at left) and there isn’t much vertical room.

22 Oct: Not the healthiest looking tomato plants you’ll ever see! But there are 80-odd tomatoes, the largest the size of a golf ball or small plum.

Interestingly, the star performer of the five plants has been the runt that I retrieved from the rubbish because I felt sorry for it (the small black pot above). It was the first to flower and the first with ripening fruit, and is taller than two of what were apparently the four strongest ones.

I’m keeping a tally of harvested tomatoes, and when this is all over I’ll let you know how many I get.

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Pride of Madeira (and bees!)

I love those pink/purple stamens sticking out.

On a visit to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney a couple of weeks ago, I came across a very large planting of Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans)*. The large flower spikes are at about eye level — and the bees absolutely loved them. I was very glad these were non-aggressive bees!

It’s interesting how the flowers appear in spirals.

Let me at that pollen!

The photo below is a crop of the one above, to zero in on the bee. That “pollen basket” (thanks to Jude for introducing me to that term) is so blue that it looks like an enamelled jewel adorning the bee’s leg.

This bee is kind of cute with its hairy front.

*Don’t be too impressed by my plant knowledge — being a botanic garden, everything has a label. 🙂

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Tomato Diary 10

Time to eat one of these babies!

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.)

I wasn’t sure if this was ripe enough, but only one way to find out!


It was not quite ripe enough — slightly bitter, and not exactly full of flavour. There are 81 more on the plants, sized from marbles to small plums, so no doubt I’ll eventually get the timing right.

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 11.