Saturday, December 30, 2017


'Tis the 31st December, 2017 as I write...New Year’s Eve.....surely no reminder of this fact is required, though.

My last day of 2017 began at a fraction past midnight, and then I went to sleep.  About five or so hours later I awoke to a brand new day...the last day of 2017. 

Where did the other 364 days disappear to, I wonder?   I dragged out the second last day of the year as long as was possible.  I will probably do similar on this final day of the year.   I want to stretch it out as far as I possibly can!    

Sometimes, I wonder why the need to do so takes hold...but Life is like that, and one must remind one’s self not to take it for granted.

I won’t be out partying; I won’t be in partying, either, but I will see the New Year in....without fail, I always do.  But, who knows?  I don’t even know!   I may get into party mode this evening...and party along with just me and my two furry mates, Remy and Shama.  I’ll go with the flow and the mood, come what may.

At times, I get weary – weary of all the madness that goes on, not only in our country, but throughout the world.   Disgusted and angered by the stupidity of some; the ignorance others. 

Often I fall down the “rabbit hole”.  I’ve found myself wallowing around in the darkness these past few days.  Alice and the rabbit didn’t join me, but my two rascals comforted me.  I felt like disappearing from the world and humanity, so I did, in a way, by flying low beneath the radar wearing my hermit suit.

On the other hand, I also want to savour every precious moment.  Once a moment is gone, it can never be regained.  Time trudges on unforgiving, sometimes cruelly...other times kindly.

Life is a asks many questions of one.  I'm yet to find all the right answers. I never will, but it sure as hell is interesting, intriguing and inspiring trying to discover the solutions to the elusive riddles.

Over the past few days I’d been trying, unsuccessfully it appeared, to make a dent in my Christmas ham.  

Shortly after I bounded out of bed this morning I solved the excess ham on the bone problem.

Presently, a huge pot of pea and ham soup is simmering away on my stove top.   It’s so thick I’m sure I will be able to walk across it once the cooking process has come to an end! 

A storm passed over during the wee small hours of this morning.  Thunder, lightning and some rain disturbed the early peace.  More storms have been predicted for later this afternoon, and/or early evening. 

For now, though, a light, gentle, balmy breeze interrupts the sleep of the leaves upon the trees. They're not protesting too much. The caress of its soft, gossamer breaths of air is a soothing lullaby. The humidity is still as thick and steamy as my pea and ham soup. 

Am I mad making soup in this heat?  Yes, I suppose I am!  There is no point my trying to disguise the fact. I know I can’t fool you lot!  

However, a big pot of steaming pea and ham soup after the Christmas madness has come and gone is a tradition in many households, including my own.   

What else is one supposed to do with all the left over ham?   I sure am sick of ham and salad.  Without complaint (not any of which you will hear, anyway) I will slurp my way through bowls of thick soup...once it’s cooked and and tomorrow.  There is more than enough so, naturally, I will freeze a stack of it, too!  I could start a soup kitchen with the amount I’ve made!

All is not lost, not even my mind!  Christmas cake, fruit mince tarts, chocolates, liquorice allsorts, ice cream and other goodies are still waiting in the wings.  I’ve not yet depleted those supplies, either. 

It will be so long between visits to the supermarket, I’ll have to re-introduce myself when I finally do step through its doors (opened doors, that is.  I’m not one for walking through glass)!

In truth, though, I did do a quick trip to IGA on Friday to replenish my fresh fruit supplies, as well as more milk for me, and fresh meat for my furry mates.  Remy and Shama have freshly-chopped beef each day for their evening meal.  I would have a riot on my hands, if their beefy needs weren't met...daily!

Thank you for following my blog over the past 12 months...and for your welcome comments.  

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year...I hope 2018 treats you and your loved ones with kindness.  I hope 2018 is a great year...worldwide...


Thursday, December 28, 2017


Pictured above...the last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel, who had sadly passedaway....Havala Laula...RIP Dear Man

One particular image from the conflict, shot by war photographer George Silk, is immortalised in history - it is the sight of a Guinean villager kindly leading a blinded Australian soldier to safety, both of them barefoot (pictured)

Following on from my Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea posts of a couple of months ago...this sad story shown here below  has just hit our news bulletins...

May we never forget the special Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels....

Thank you......

The last of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels: Final hero Papua New Guinean tribesman who came to Australian soldiers' aid during WWII dies aged 92

  • Havala Laula, the last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel of Kokoda, died on Christmas Eve aged 92 in his remote village
  • He was one of hundreds of tribesman who ferried wounded Australian soldiers to safety on the Kokoda Track
  • Mr Laula was just 15 when Japanese troops invaded, destroying his village and killing his brother
  • In February he visited Australia for the first time to commemorate the campaign's 75th anniversary
  • There he met a war veteran whose life he likely saved when the young officer became sick in the jungle 
The last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel has died in Papua New Guinea, 75 years after he ferried wounded Australian soldiers to safety in World War II.

Havala Laula died on Christmas Eve aged 92 in the remote village of Kagi on the Kokoda Track, where some of the war's bloodiest battles were fought.

The tribesman was just 15 when Japanese troops landed in Papua New Guinea in 1942 and tried to fight their way south along the track towards the capital Port Morseby to attack Australia.
Havala Laula, 92, the last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel died in his remote village on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, 75 years after he ferried wounded Australian soldiers to safety in WWII

Mr Laula (pictured meeting Governor General Peter Cosgrove while laying at wreath at an Anzac Day dawn service in Port Moresby) was just 15 when Japanese troops invaded PNG and tried to fight their way along the track

Later in life Mr Laula became a tour guide for Australians making the pilgrimage along the track

After his brother Sabana was killed and his village destroyed, he joined hundreds of others helping the Australians repel the rampaging invaders.

Mr Laula carried sick and wounded servicemen on his back or stretchers away from the battlefield, often under fire, to where they could be evacuated home.

He remembered wrapping leaves around their wounds along with other bush remedies, and shading them from the harsh sun with banana leaves.
hey also brought food, water, and ammunition along the track to the front lines.

Mr Laula visited Australia for the first time in February for the campaign's 75th anniversary and met Kokoda veteran Alan 'Kanga' Moore.

In an emotional reunion, Lieutenant Moore said he believed Mr Laula carried him out after he contracted malaria, dengue fever, hookworm, dysentery, and hepatitis. 

'I am old, you are old — we meet for the last time,' Mr Laula told the ABC after the then-21-year-old credited Papua New Guinea natives with his survival.

He also spoke of witnessing one of the last massacres of the war, as Japanese soldiers slaughtered many Papua New Guinea people who helped the enemy

Later in life Mr Laula became a tour guide for Australians making the pilgrimage along the track.

'Friendship between Australians and Papua New Guinea must live on in all generations to come,' he said in a PNG Tourism Board video earlier this year.

'When we die, our children and their children's children must keep that bond forever, until the end of time.'
Mr Laula (R) visited Australia for the first time in February for the campaign's 75th anniversary and met Kokoda veteran Alan 'Kanga' Moore (L) whose life he likely saved when the young officer became sick in the jungle

Tribesmen like Mr Laula transformed into the unexpected heroes of the Pacific War of 1942 after saving hundreds of wounded troops as the rampaging Japanese army fought their way through the jungle

Tributes from Australian veterans and tour operators poured into social media upon news of Mr Laula's death, saying Australia owed him a great debt.

'This inspirational man will be missed by so many in Papua New Guinea and Australia. His legacy will be remembered by all that walked the Kokoda Track,' his former employer No Roads Expeditions said.

The service of Mr Laula and his fellow tribesmen was captured in extraordinary black-and-white photos from the war.
The indigenous saviours nursed and carried soldiers to safety, and in one iconic case a villager was even photographed leading a blinded Australian man away from danger

Their compassion and care of the casualties earned them admiration and respect from the Australian troops, who nicknamed these men their 'Fuzzy Wuzzy' angels.

The native islanders offered soldiers a brief, shining ray of humanity in an otherwise cruel and barbaric war zone.
One Australian soldier described what the sympathetic locals did for his country's troops.

'They carried stretchers over seemingly impassable barriers, with the patient reasonably comfortable.

The care they give to the patient is magnificent,' he said.

'If night finds the stretcher still on the track, they will find a level spot and build a shelter over the patient. They will make him as comfortable as possible fetch him water and feed him if food is available, regardless of their own needs.'

Moving black-and-white pictures show the kind Guineans heaving severely wounded men through rough terrain, using their local knowledge to get the allied soldiers to safety
Their compassion and care of the casualties earned them admiration and respect from the Australian troops, who nicknamed these men their 'Fuzzy Wuzzy' angels
The native islanders offered soldiers a brief, shining ray of humanity in an otherwise cruel and barbaric war zone

One Australian soldier described what the sympathetic locals did for his country's troops. He said: 'They carried stretchers over seemingly impassable barriers, with the patient reasonably comfortable.

The care they give to the patient is magnificent'

'They sleep four each side of the stretcher and if the patient moves or requires any attention during the night, this is given instantly. These were the deeds of the "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels" - for us!'

Raphael Oimbari was a local labourer, not part of the medical team. He found 23-year-old Private George Whittington lying blinded in the terrain during fighting around Buna in December of 1942.

A Japanese sniper had shot Whittington just above his left eye, leaving him temporarily blind.

The native islanders offered kindness and help to the troops who worked to defend Port Moresby from the Japanese army

Oimbari led the soldier back to safety, in a selfless act. Touchingly, the two families stayed in contact, even after Whittington died of disease several months later.

The fighting in Papua New Guinea in the latter half of 1942 was an attempt by the Japanese to capture Port Moresby, the Guinan capital. It was part of a campaign to cut Australia off from its allies in World War.

The Japanese made massive gains on the Pacific Island but ran out of supplies before capturing Port Moresby.

However, the Australians were still unable to defeat the Japanese who were far better equipped for the ensuing fight in them thick jungles of New Guinea.During the war in Papua New Guinea, the local population who were sympathetic to the Australian troops would assist where they could.

Papuans living in the villages along the Kokoda Track prior to the Second World War (1939 - 45) lived a wholly traditional existence. Their only previous contact with the modern world had come with the occasional visits of Australian Government patrol officers. They knew nothing of the war or the nature of modern warfare, until it came crashing into their villages in July 1942. 

Notably they would help in transporting stores and equipment over the rough terrain. A close relationship and bonds of friendship developed between these local men and the Australians, particularly when the sick and wounded required transporting back to field aid stations.

It is a well accepted fact that many men would have died where they fell in Papua New Guinea had it not been for these men who became affectionately known as the 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.'

Whilst recovering from his wounds, George later died as a result of contracting scrub typhus on 12 Feb 1943.

Australia had been presenting commemorative medals to family members of the villagers in recognition of their service to Australian Servicemen during World War Two.
The fighting in Papua New Guinea in the latter half of 1942 was an attempt by the Japanese to capture Port Moresby, the Guinan capital

However, the Australians were still unable to defeat the Japanese who were far better equipped for the ensuing fight in them thick jungles of New Guinea

Major General Vasey of the Australian Army presents medals at a ceremony to thank New Guineans for the invaluable service they provided for Aussie troops, March 1943

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


As I write...we have only four sleeps to go – not taking into account Nana naps, snoozes and cat naps, of course!  

How do I know this mind-boggling fact?

First off  - it’s impossible to ignore the clues at my place e.g. fruit mince pies, shortbread, Liquorice Allsorts (I’ve already succumbed to temptation), chocolate-coated ginger; the ham hogging space in my fridge; the rather large, chicken hiding in my freezer waiting to be defrosted, stuffed and roasted – it’s plucked.  I’ve a couple of bones to pick with those two!  Along with a pile of fresh vegetables and an over-supply of stone fruits, the hints are clearly all there for all to see.   

By the way, it really isn’t an “over-supply” of fruit.  Fresh fruit is always a staple....I always have lots of “staples”.  It’s a must because, daily, I eat a lot of fruit.

I’ve enough food to feed an army!  Considering there are only three soldiers in this army of mine....the two generals, Remy and Shama...and me, the very private private, I’ve enough to last us three until Christmas 2018!   

Every year I say – “This Christmas I won’t go overboard”.   Naturally, I don’t listen.  With a giant splash in I go, boots and all.  No one listens to me, why should I?

Further evidence Christmas is nigh - my two furry mates are scampering about, between cat naps, clad in their Santa suits, tinsel flowing freely – a fib, of course. 
I’m in the grip of the Christmas Spirit; not the spirit from a bottle, as you may have mistakenly assumed.  My Christmas cakes demolished the bottled spirit. 

Nowadays, I enjoy the Festive Season in my own quiet way.  Once upon a time I catered for and to hordes. 

When I was married Christmas Day was always held at our home, beginning with “open house” in the mornings, kicking off around 9 am.  

The morning festivities were followed by a sit-down hot Christmas lunch, consisting of roast turkey, roast chicken, (Yes....chicken, too), roast pork with golden, crisp crackling, glazed ham, and all the obligatory vegetable accompaniments - as well as cold fresh seafood to begin with for up to 14 or more, with extra treats such as bowls of lollies (candy) crystallised ginger, nuts in their shells, and bowls of plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines and cherries on the side for good measure. 

Christmas lunch usually began around 1.30 pm....lasting through until after dusk had descended. 

Naturally, plum pudding with brandy sauce and a huge over-the-top trifle completed the fare.   Sometimes, a pavlova was added to the mix.

And then later, when I was working within the hospitality industry in one form or the other my Christmas Days were spent catering for others who preferred dining out for Christmas lunch rather than in the comfort of their own homes.  Being catered for and waited upon was a more favourable option, apparently.

When I was a kid, like kids still do to this day, a drink of sorts and a slice of Christmas cake were left out for Santa’s consumption. 

It’s not Santa’s fault he’s a bit on the chubby side.  We’re to blame because of our willingness to feed him. With everyone doing similar, how could he not be plump?    

Year after year Santa, in all sincerity, tried to stick to a diet.  In desperation, when everything else failed, he consulted Oprah and Jenny Craig, but nothing worked in his favour. 

Accepting his fate, Santa is now content to be the jolly, portly fellow he is.  On the plus side, he didn’t have to waste any money buying a new outfit.  His suit still fits, and its colour blends with his complexion. 

However, Rudolph has a new LED nose. He and the other reindeers were also treated to a week at a spa.  They’re squeaky clean, relaxed and super fit, keen to begin their annual lengthy trek across the world on Christmas Eve.

Last night I attended my landlords’ annual Christmas party where I caught up with people with whom I’ve not socialised since this time last year.   Everyone was in party mode.  It was a fun time...a very pleasant, enjoyable evening.
And that, by choice, is the limit of my socialising over the Festive Season.   Enough is enough already!   

From this moment forth the partying will be confined to Remy, Shama and me - otherwise known as the “Three Musketeers”!

2017 is rapidly winding down to a close. 

Sadly, many among us lost loved ones during the year.  Many suffered unimaginable pain and hardships.

On the flipside, others – one would hope the majority - experienced and shared joy, patience, respect and love.

The Festive Season should be a happy time of the year, regardless of one’s religion; whether one is religious or not. 

Furthermore, goodwill shouldn’t be confined exclusively to this time of the year.   

Without a doubt, our world would be a far better place if, continuously, we did our utmost to spread encouragement, decency and confidence – tossing nastiness and thoughtlessness away.

My thanks to everyone who, over the past 12 months, shared with me their smiles, laughter, irreverent words of nonsensical nonsense; and for the rare moments of wisdom (again, I’m being facetiously tongue-in-cheek with my latter comment).  

Be considerate to others; to their feelings; to their life’s situation. 

Let us never take our world, and those with whom we share this paradise, for granted.  

Have faith in the goodness of others...and never lose sight of the goodness within your own self.... 

Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!  Be kind to one another at all times.   Make 2018 the best year ever!  

Spinach and Feta Roast Chicken: Combine 200g steamed baby spinach, finely chopped. 1/2c crumbled feta, 2tbs sour cream, 1tsp fresh thyme leaves, juice and zest of 1 lemon; season; mix well.  Generously season all over 1x 1.5 whole chicken; put in roasting pan.  Loosen chicken breast skin, careful not to tear; carefully stuff spinach mixture under the skin and into neck cavity.  Add 1 head of garlic, halved to pan; drizzle chicken with a little olive oil; top with thyme sprigs; tie legs together. Pour 1c dry white wine into pan; roast chicken at 180C, 70-80mins.

Garlic-Bacon Beans: Cook 455g green beans, about 5mins; drain. Heat 1tbs olive oil and 1tbs butter in pan; add 6 crushed garlic cloves; cook about 30secs. Add 6 cooked, chopped, thick, bacon rashers and beans. Sauté 1min on med-heat; season.  Sprinkle with shredded parmesan or crumbled feta, if desired. 

Cranberry-Spinach Salad: Whisk together 1/4c white wine vinegar, 2tbs cider vinegar and 3tbs sugar until the sugar dissolves. Stir in ½c olive oil, 3tbs honey, 1tbs finely minced garlic and 2tbs toasted sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Put 455g baby spinach, 1c toasted almonds and 1c dried cranberries in salad bowl; drizzle dressing over; toss. Serve immediately.

Christmas Cheesecake: Drain 375g maraschino cherries; reserve 2tsp juice. Quarter cherries; Beat 454g cream cheese, 1/2c sugar and reserved juice; add 2 eggs; beat until just combined; fold in ½ semi-sweet chocolate chips and cherries. Pour into crushed Chocolate Ripple biscuit crust (22cm pan); bake at 175C, 30-35mins, until centre is almost set; cool on wire rack. Serve with chocolate-coated cherries.  

Chocolate Cherry Berry Pavlova: Preheat oven to 120°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Mark an 18cm (7¼-inch) circle on paper. Place 100g dark, chopped chocolate (70% cocoa) in a small heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (don't allow bowl to touch water); stir until just melted. Cool slightly. Beat 4 egg whites in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; gradually add 1c caster sugar, beating until dissolved after each addition, and mixture is thick and glossy. Fold 1tbs cornflour (cornstarch) and 1tsp white vinegar into meringue mixture; swirl in chocolate. Dollop meringue inside marked circle on tray.  Bake meringue for 1-1/4 hours or until dry to the touch. Turn oven off, leave meringue to cool in oven with door ajar.

Meanwhile, make cherry-blueberry compote: Place 2c cherries, halved and pitted, 1c blueberries, 1/3c caster sugar and 1/4 water in a med-saucepan over med-heat; bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes or until cherries and blueberries have released juices. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cherries and blueberries to a small bowl.  Stir 1/4c cherry jam into juices in pan; bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Pour syrup over cherry mixture. Cool completely.

Beat 250g softened cream cheese, 2tsp vanilla extract and 1/4c icing sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until smooth; gradually beat in 300ml thickened cream until smooth and combined.

Just before serving, spoon cream cheese mixture on pavlova; top with compote. Decorate with fresh cherries.

Tips:- Make ahead: The pavlova can be made a day ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature. Topping is best made close to serving. To check that you have beaten the meringue sufficiently, rub a little of the mixture between your fingers ­ it should feel silky smooth, without any grainy sugar crystals.

Peach Melba Pavlova: Preheat oven 120C/100C fan-forced.  Line a large baking tray with baking paper.  Mark a 12cmx28cm rectangle on paper.  With electric mixer, beat 6 egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in 1-2/3c caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dissolved.  Add 1tsp vanilla extract, 1tsp white vinegar and 2tsp cornflour.  Beat 1min.   Spoon the mixture onto prepared tray.  Use palette knife or spatula to spread mixture in marked rectangle, making sides slightly higher than the centre. Bake 1hr 20min or until firm.  Turn off oven.  Cool in oven with oven door slightly ajar.  Meanwhile, place 150g thawed frozen raspberries and 1tbs icing sugar in processor; process until smooth.  Place cooled pavlova on a platter.  Whip 600ml thickened cream.  Top pavlova with cream, an 825g can of peach slices, drained and 150g thawed raspberries, and/or strawberries, if desired.  Ready to serve.