Friday 28 August 2009

The Daily Pie Blog

From hereon my intentions are to continue updating progress on the renovations to our Pie Shop bricks-and-mortar building, as well as our Test Kitchen escapades on a new blog - namely - The Daily Pie - .  If you wish, check there regularly.  Updates from my daughter, Sarah's point of view can be viewed on her blog -

We are truly grateful for your support and encouragement!

In Pies,
Helen, Emma-Lee and Sarah-Mechelle
(The Machinist and Samuel-son's talents will be showcased later at the Shop) 

Thoughts on a Relaxing Summer..

We bought the pool several years ago, at the height of summer's heat. It is one of those above-ground pools, but the Machinist built a deck around it and has covered the sides in with galvanised iron sheets, as they looked so ugly.  I have since planted greenery around the base of the iron sheets. When you float on your back in the pool it feels as though you are in an oasis, and only birdsong breaks the silence.  What lies beyond the greenery you see in this photo are acres of dry grasses and sorrowful remnants of saline-infused tree trunks.

Oh, and just the other side of the fence, amongst the blackberry bushes, there lives the grand-daddy of all reptiles - a huge brown snake.  The Young Adults have seen and fled from him on a couple of occasions.  Note to self; get the Machinist and Son to seek and destroy  relocate.  Otherwise, I don't think I could ever have a relaxing time this coming summer - especially not in the pool, knowing what lies just beyond....

Poem for the Machinist

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persevere,
That when we live no more we may live ever.

The Old School Bomb

Many years ago, in a far away land, and much to the Machinist's delight, the Machinist's wife worked for a motorbike company who specialised in Yamaha motor cycles. At the time, the Yamaha XT500 was 'the bomb' and the Machinist was determined to own The Bomb.  As in all good tales, his wish came true - and for a while, the XT500 was the only means of transport for the Machinist and his wife.  Until the Machinist's wife was with child and the Machinist's Ouma was so worried and insisted that her grandson obtain a vehicle for his growing family.

The Machinist loved his Yamaha XT500 so much that years later, he took it with him to the land Downunder. Due to reasons that escape the Machinist as he ponders his actions, the Yamaha was sold to another devotee and over the ensuing years the Machinist longed for his bike.  He was lost without it.

No longer is the Machinist sorrowful and longing! His patience over the years of raising his family has been rewarded and tucked away, under a protective sheet in a dark corner of the Workshop, the (now) old-school Yamaha awaits his dedication to revamp and custom build.  Just the presence of the Yamaha and what he can do to it fills the Machinist with great satisfaction ....

Fur Ball Invasion

A while ago, the Machinist and Son were visiting a customer who is also a good friend of ours.  This particular friend is a Showman or a "Showie" as they are called in Australia. He and his crew are always on the road and travel in convoy, housed in extremely large trailers, -  fitted with all the mod-cons, replicating the comforts of home.  An extremely important home-away-from-home pleasure for this family of Showies are their pets - a canine crew - who must be the most well-travelled dogs in the land. They are simply adored!

Earlier this year, a litter of puppies were born en-route, but later left at the home-base for the caretakers to - well - take care of and raise with - ahem - some stability and obedience training.  The Machinist and Son happened to visit the homestead at the time of said training and immediately fell in love and eloped with not one, but two of the remaining litter. They were told that the puppies were from pedigree stock.  Not necessarily the same breed, but pedigree nonetheless. Here they are - the Pug x Shih Tzu puppies.

This is Lilly:

And this is Pepi:

Our old girl, Polly, despises the two new girls.  As this photos will show:

"I don't care and I'm not looking..."

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Universal Soldier

Many years ago, my oldest brother, Alan left home to join the British army.  He signed up for two years yet his recruitment lasted seven years.  I can only remember seeing him once in that time.  We had driven to London to watch him in some sort of parade.  I can't remember much about our visit with him, but I remember an awful lot about a brown paper bag (or two) in the back of my Aunt Mary's car, and the mess I made splattered on her car doors before I was given the paper bags. 

During the course of Alan's seven year stint, my parents moved us to South Africa.  They hadn't intended for us to stay, but rather, as my dad had assured my mam, "...We're going on a holiday of a lifetime ..."  What started as a holiday, ended up a lifetime, as the six month return tickets my father had purchased expired and we were living on a farm with 3000 chickens just outside a small village called "Wasbank".
When Alan's time in the army came to an end, he joined us in South Africa.  We often joke that you can take the man out of the army, but not the army out of the man.  Although we are miles apart, I am delighted that because of technology and Facebook,  I can still stay in touch with our Universal Soldier.

Alan (holding rifle) in Ireland fighting IRA - early seventies. 
Alan (second from right) - in Ireland fighting IRA - early seventies

Friday 21 August 2009

Progress on the Inside


New, false ceiling. To the right - cafe / gallery. To the left - toilets.
Doorway leading to scullery & kitchen
Standing behind counter. View to right.

Standing behind counter. View to left (you can see the entry to the toilets)

Standing behind counter - looking directly in front
Standing behind counter looking directly in front.

Standing behind counter looking to the right.

Looking at area where counter will be built.

Looking at where the counter will be built (rear wall of shop)

Rear wall of shop - note the beams holding down lights.

There's the steps which once led to what is now the Grand's Cottage.

Direct view of back wall. Counter will be built in front of this.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Minding the Grands

Nowaday, we never know which day of the week we will be going into town to do the grocery shopping. The Grands, being 'old school' type of people, like to know what day and what time and with whom - in advance. They like plenty of notice. It's in their make-up. We do our best to understand and accommodate this, and they do their best to understand our (somewhat spontaneous AND flexible) lifestyle, too.

We usually park the car on the top floor of the mall parking lot. It's easy (and quick) access to the food hall. Oh, and the toilets. Entering through the automatic doors I realised that I was walking between my mam and dad. Mam bustling in front and dad ambling behind.

What to do? Chase mam to slow her down, or wait for dad, who was about to evaporate in the sea of faces.

At lunch, dad hauled out his supply of silverside-on-wholemeal buttered rolls and began chomping at them, while the rest of us left him to keep the table as we sought our own lunches from the vast array of food vendors. "You like bringing your own, don't you?" I asked. "Yeah. It's better than choosing chips every time. Besides, I'm not paying those exorbitant prices they're asking for a sandwich".

Mam shook her head and bit into a six inch roast chicken and mayo roll from Subway.

It was agreed that we would meet outside the supermarket with our loaded trolleys three hours later.

"Where's your dad, Helen?"
"He was just behind me at the checkout"
"He's not there now. Are you sure it was him?"
"Yeah, it was him, Ma. I told him I was going to the butchery"
"Well I don't know where he is now. Probably vanished into thin air. I can't understand why I didn't bump into him while I was shopping"
"Maybe he's gone to the toilet"
"I don't know what to think"
"Mam, I'll go and see if he's upstairs in the food hall"
"Ok, I'll look after the trolleys"

Seated at the table right in line with the escalator, sipping on a long-black-with-(cold)-milk-on-the-side was dad. He saw me walking towards him and his soft brown eyes began to smile at me, long before his mouth followed suit.

"I looked all over for you"
"And we've been looking for you, too"
"I came out of Coles and there was nobody to be found. I even went to the car, thinking that you might be waiting there for me".
"No, we were waiting on a bench, just outside of the store entrance - just like we agreed"
"Well I didn't see any bench"
"I'll go and fetch mam. I'm sure she could do with a cup of tea".
"Ok, I'll wait here..."

Mam and I travelled caterpillar-style up the escalator. "I hope you told him off, Helen. I certainly will".

I had no doubt about that....

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Current State of Affairs

Mornings in our village are icy cold, white, steamy and drippy and it takes a while to get in the swing of the day's work. Especially work which involves using hand tools and especially for us women. The other day our Sarah was up on a ladder, grinding flaking paint off a ceiling panel. The Machinist had asked her to wear a mask, but this had proved more troublesome for her "..Mam, when I wear a mask, the bits of paint falling off the ceiling hit the mask, bounce up under the protective glasses and land in my eyes. What's more - I can hardly breath. And so - I choose: Eyes or Dust up the nose? And I choose - Eyes..."

Most rooms at home are growing increasingly full with kitchen and food preparation equipment. The bigger items are stored together and on top of each other in a corner of the Workshop, which looks like a fort scene from Mad Max, the Movie. Tables and chairs are stored in the barn (I still look around caustiously when I enter - just in case, you understand? I don't want any more surprises, as I feel my shock absorbers, in the snake-discovery stakes - are thinly worn).

The other day I took the utility into town and bought a four drawer filing cabiet to house another business-worth of paperwork. Currently, my office at home has papers sprawled all over the floor. The two sofas have cardboard debris; the result of playful, teething puppies. The bench which supports the computer and printer is covered with stationary items in piles, waiting to be packed away. Most filing has been done and the drawers are organised; Paper. Notebooks. Envelopes and stamps. Computer disks. Printing cartridges. Stationary equipment. Pens, pencils, staples, clips, tacks, scissors etc. I am ready to roll.

My dedication to having workable systems at home in readiness for Opening Day doesn't come without it's down side, though. I am concerned about not spending as much time as I would like visiting the Grands. They made a BIG move by leaving Town life for Village life and they are dependent on our transporting them wherever they wish or need to go. It can't be pleasant, but they don't complain. They long to help in some way, and there isn't much they can do at this stage. Once the equipment is in the kitchen, it will need wiping down and disinfecting and I'm sure there will be a thousand and one smaller, forgotten jobs they can help with. Just not now. And so - they wait. And I feel a sense of guilt, as I know that most older folk wait around an awful lot in their senior years and that can't be nice, either.

Another not so nice occurance, when busy and tired and stressed and pushed for time and a deadline are the family arguments. Oftentimes, over the simplest of issues. Help and encouragement for me, however, comes in the form of wisdom, borne from the experience of a dear email friend (who is most keen to visit our country to sample our pies!). I am reminded to '...comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do..."

The puppies join us for movie watching most nights. They bounce up and down like jack-in-the-boxes at the kitchen door (sliding window). As soon as the door is pulled back, they race through to the loungeroom and make a mad scramble for prime positions on the couch. We have several couches in the movie room, but they choose to sit with the Machinist and I and we have to squash up and shift ourselves to fit and we cannot even move for canine mass. "When did it come to this, Babe? When did WE change?", he asks...

Friday 7 August 2009


It's hard to think that in a month and a few weeks we'll be opening a pie shop in a small country village in rural Australia. From my humble beginnings in a street full of semi detached houses in the Midlands of England to what could seem, to many British folk - the middle of nowhere.

Obviously, the wilds of Africa weren't enough adventure for one lifetime...

Sometimes, Grandpa gets into a pensive mood and reflects on whether he did the right thing by uprooting his family from Old Blighty soil. I always like to remind him that had he not, we would have been born, raised and probably die in the same house in the same street... a thought I couldn't even contemplate.

Besides, I would never have met the Machinist and had the wonderful family I have today.

I'm thankful for my father's itchy feet...

Thursday 6 August 2009

Jolly Old England

It all started with a comment from my brother, who lives in South Africa, regarding a war medal that my grandfather earned, during the Battle of Mons, August 1914.

I had started researching our family's history about four years ago - mainly during the Christmas breaks, when we were still at work, but not open for business, if that makes sense. Hot summer days, spent in the cool of the school room, getting lost in another (older) world, far away. England. My homeland, the place where I was born-ded.

The social and domestic history pulls me, entrances me, each time I venture into it's world. The number of birth and death certificates I've ordered from the National Archives, hopeful that they would be gold dust to my thirst for familial knowledge. So many times, they proved to be dead ends. Today, though, when I could have spent time in the unending quest for an orderly business administration centre, I discovered the 1911 Census. And that, mi ducks, was the end of that.
"Hi Ho, hi ho, it's off to the Archives, I go..." tra la la

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Monday 3 August 2009

Tables and Chairs

There was very little in the Shop when we first took it over a year ago. We knew we had to work on the Grand's cottage first, to get them in and settled and cosy. Their comfort and well being took preference over the amount of work we had before us which had to be achieved within a relatively short period of time.

We are now assessing what we can use from what was already there, and have concluded that it isn't much. There were a few chairs which we will re-cover and a few tables which were badly damaged. As I write this, the Machinist is ordering stainless steel sheets to cover the damaged tables. The table framework will be powder-coated in black early next week, so that they will only be awaiting their stainless steel tops. Black and silver. Classic.

I have to say, - the time is drawing near, and while scary - it's also so very exciting.

Stick With Me, Babe. You'll Go Places.

"Stick with me, Babe. You'll go places", the Machinist declared as our food was delivered. "One minute, we're up to our eyeballs in dust and grime, and next minute - we're silver-service dining
at the local winery"

Sunday 2 August 2009

Scars of Work

I haven't been enthused to blog for some time now, seeing as all we have been doing is working on the rebuilding of the Shop, and to many - renovation talk - is - BORING and doesn't make for interesting reading. Having said that, I was there today - alone with the Machinist, glueing and nailing villa board onto hardwood framework which will form the rear part of the cafe counter wall. The Machinist drilled indentations into the board, and I followed behind him, with the screwgun, inserting screws into said indentations. The Machinist was most insistent that the head of the screws had to be flush with the board and shouldn't stick out. I told him that the screws were flush with the board, and just as as I was assuring him of this, I ran my thumb over the head of my current insert and pulled it away like a lightning bolt, whincing as I did so. The heat of the screw left its imprint on my thumb:

Shortly after this incident, I headed home for tea. After all, - tea - for those in the 'wars', can lift the spirits far better than a Band-aid can.


 Table talk amongst our children is and always has been, -  a rabbit warren . We start off in one hole and end up in another -  quick smart....