The Death of Backyard Cricket: A Town Planner’s perspective…

Quite a while ago I was going to write a paper on a topic to do with town planning. I am passionate about town planning as I am a town planner by trade. So I thought with this blog entry I might share this discussion with you. This is a condensed version and you could say at this stage this is an opinion piece but I might still find myself writing that paper for a journal yet.

The Death of Backyard Cricket

Many children of my generation and before have grown up in Australia with the tradition of playing backyard cricket. The quarter acre house allotment was not a rare sight and the house was configured in such a way that there was ample room for a pitch. If you were really lucky the groundsman (Dad in most cases) would mow in a pitch to make it look authentic.

Children were encouraged to play outdoors. In fact we loved playing outdoors. Weekends and holidays were a bonus as half the neighbourhood would turn out and convert the quiet suburban backyard into something resembling a Boxing Day test match at the MCG. Some would take it quite seriously as well.

What concerns me as a town planner is the disappearance of these quarter acre blocks and therefore the death of a great Aussie tradition… Backyard Cricket. Today it is becoming the norm for a small 300 square metre block with a 3-4 bedroom house tucked on it and a small courtyard style garden. To put it bluntly a yard not even big enough to swing a cat around, little lone swinging a cricket bat.

I would be the first to understand that the draw of gaming, social media and the Internet in general is enough to lure any teenager away from the great outdoors. I have a young adult son. However one must wonder if there is a relationship between these shrinking backyards and childhood obesity.

We have moved to a society with smaller allotments, parents both working full-time hours with little time to spare to take kids to parks and the fear of letting our precious children out on their own. It’s sad but it’s true. While I understand that these smaller allotments do suit our hectic lifestyles what price are we ultimately going to pay with our children’s health?

It’s easy to say get them involved with a sports club but the cost is not cheap. My son at one stage played cricket, football and indoor cricket. I can tell you from first hand experience it is not cheap.

Another issue that has an impact on the game of backyard cricket is our society tends to live in our little sheltered cocoons.  How many times in the last month have you spoken to your neighbours?  I suspect many haven’t.  It seems gone are the days where children would play freely between houses, especially on a weekend or school holidays.  Are we now too protective of our children to let them out the front door?

So unfortunately it appears the death knell is ringing for the game of backyard cricket. Sad but true.  Will this even have an impact on the future of cricket for this country?  Let’s hope it doesn’t.

Until next time. Take care.

Shaszi xx

A Very Productive Weekend…

What a fantastic weekend!!! So productive, yet so enjoyable and rewarding.

Friday evening kicked off with a visit from my son and his girlfriend.  My son was so excited about my suggestion for dinner.  One of his favourites and so simple to make.  The best thing was being able to use the produce out of my garden.  I bet you’re wondering what this favourite meal is?  Grilled zucchini and eggplant on Turkish bread with tzitziki.  Sometimes when we cook it up together it doesn’t even make it to the plate.  Instead we stand around the BBQ chatting and eating as it cooks.  Perhaps this is why I love it.  The fact it gives me an opportunity to chat with my 19 year old son about everything but the food is good also.

Later I made my first batch of plum jam.  I bought approximately 2kgs of plum from a roadside stall for $4.  Plum jam is my favourite and I just couldn’t resist.  I made a second batch on Sunday and it tasted divine.  I couldn’t help myself and I shared the fruits of my labour with friends as well.

The yummiest jam…Plum Jam

I can tell you it didn’t just stop at plum jam.  I have reclaimed my dehydrator and had a go at making my own chilli flakes from my home grown chilli.  I utilised them in the 4.5kg of pickled onions we made up.  It was a very simple pickling spice made up for the vinegar.

Pickling Spice

For every litre of vinegar…

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

1tsp chilli flakes

1sp coriander seed

1 tsp mustard seeds

These are added to the warm vinegar before adding to the onions.

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Pickled Onions

We did a couple of  jars for a friend who likes his hot stuff.  With that we added a couple of fresh chilli to the jars.  Now its a sit and wait for approximately 3 weeks until tasting.

One of the General Inspectors bought into work some of his home grown garlic and I took a bag.  With the garlic I had a go at making garlic powder as my partner required some for the marinade to make his beef jerky.

Next it was onto the sausages.  Oh yeah we even threw sausage making into the weekend.  First time I had ever made sausages and I have to say it was so much fun.  We made 4.5kgs Greek lamb and 4.5kgs Burgundy beef sausages.  Later in the evening we actually cooked and tried a couple of the smaller sausages.  DELISH!!!

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Sausage Making

With the rest of the mince we made 3kgs of hamburgers.  My partner puts the mince through the sausage maker and into mettwurst skins and freezes.  Once frozen he then cuts it up with a band-saw and there you have the perfect shaped hamburger.

In amongst all the produce making I also made a trip over to Big Bend.  This is a beautiful spot on the Murray and quite popular.

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Big Bend Lookout

I have been engaged to do an arborist report for a shack owner.  I must say I love this kind of work.  I also loved the fact I could take my fur baby Artoo on has first work assignment.  He enjoyed it so much.  He swam in the River pretty much the entire time I was at the shack.  This dog is crazy about water!!!

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Artoo on his first assignment

 

The one big lesson I learnt this weekend is I need to start doing the things I love and feel passionate about.  My work life balance needs to be a priority because at the moment I seriously think I have it all wrong.  This weekend was certainly a wake up call.

Here’s to finding a healthy balance.

Take Care

Shaszi xx

Monday Catch Up…

So I’m starting to get a bit of an idea how I would like to structure this blog.  I’m thinking on a Monday I’ll do a bit of a catch up with you and fill you in with what’s been happening in my world.  Later in the week I would like to share a piece that I have taken the time to do a little research on eg. zero waste, native bees, recycling etc.  Leave a comment below if there is a subject that you are interested in.

Well this weekend was an absolute scorcher! By 9:45am on Saturday it was already 37 degrees Celsius.  By mid afternoon under the verandah it reached 47 degrees.  Let’s just say by 9am we were indoors and watching the cricket (a quick shout to the Aussie boys for winning the Ashes 4-0).  However that did not stop us from doing a little bit of gardening.  Most importantly ensuring everything was well watered.  We even managed to do some harvesting and we were very excited to pick our first apple cucumbers.

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Another fantastic harvest from the garden

 

For dinner I made a salad showcasing our home grown produce.  The cherry tomatoes just burst with flavour.  The best thing though was actually being able to share our produce with friends.  We gave away a bit of everything and kept what we would use within a reasonable time frame.

At the moment I have tomato plants popping up everywhere.  A legacy from “The Great Gender Fluid Chicken Saga of 2017”.  So we dug up 12 and gave to friends who were after tomatoes.  I love sharing produce and plants.  I love it because it is a great way of bringing people together.

I have also set up a Pinterest account for readers and myself to be inspired and motivated.  I do like this social media platform for inspiration.  I liken it sometimes to a pictorial version of Google.  If you would like to check it out for yourself click here.

Well not much else has been happening due to the extreme heat.  Apart from watching cricket,  doing some of my jigsaw and reading.  Then in the evening taking the Artoo down to the River for a swim.

I hope everyone is managing to be keeping cool (or warm on the other side of the world).  Until next time.

Take Care

Shaszi xx

My top 5 ways to help beat food waste…

So if you are anything like me the  Festive Season has now come to a grinding halt and it’s back to the grindstone.

One thing I took notice of this Festive Season is food waste.  While I know I’m guilty of over-catering (I don’t like people going hungry when I’m the host) I am aware that food should not go to waste.  Here is a quick video that will give you a bit of an insight at just how bad food waste is in Australia…

 

The statistics are at the very least shocking.  So what can we do about it?  I have put a little list together of my top 5 ways to help prevent food waste.  Please, if you have any further ideas feel free to share them in the comments below.  The idea of this blog is not only sharing my ideas and thoughts but to hopefully learn from each other.

MENU PLAN

I’ll confess.  I’m not the most organised person.  However I do try to work out a rough plan with what I’ll be cooking throughout the week.

Be flexible with it!  If someone invites you out to tea or you just don’t feel like cooking what you decided on a few days ago, change it up! I always leave one day on the menu plan blank.  A sudden invite out, leftovers from the night before are not an issue.

SHOPPING

Most people are aware of some golden rules of food shopping.  However a refresher never hurt anyone.

Always go shopping with a list.  I know when I don’t I end up with shopping I didn’t really need and the items that I really needed don’t even make the trolley.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach.  It’s amazing how much ends up in that trolley that you don’t actually need because your stomach has taken control.  This can also apply to taking children shopping (as well as loosing your sanity).

Shop seasonally and locally.  Fruit and vegetables taste so much better when they are in season and shopping locally will help reduce food miles as well as helping out the local economy.

BE CREATIVE WITH LEFTOVERS

So you have some leftovers from last night’s dinner.  Don’t let it go to waste.  Roast meat always makes great sandwiches for lunch the next day.  Or you could cut that roast beef into strips and toss it through some salad.  For people with busy schedules last night’s leftovers could become tonight’s gourmet delight.

Do Something!  is a not-for-profit organisation that works to create and promote positive social and environmental change.  This organisation has created a website called FOODWISE.  This website gives you practical tips to reduce food waste and has some of the country’s top chefs contributing recipes to use items that are patiently waiting in the pantry.  Have a look around.  It may just give you some inspiration for a meal or two.

SEND FOOD HOME WITH GUESTS

Decided to make a big pavlova for your guests?  You and your guests didn’t eat as much as you expected or felt too full from the main course?  Let your guests take some home with them.  In fact insist on it as they are leaving.  Be reasonable with what you might eat the next day and send the rest home with your visitors.  I’m sure they will appreciate it at smoko the next day.

COMPOST

So you have planned,  shopped with a list, been creative with your leftovers and sent food home with your guests.  Let me tell you, there will always be that moment when something doesn’t get used for one reason or another.  That’s ok.  It really is.  Just don’t make a habit of it and please DO NOT put it into landfill.

Set up your own compost system.  Your garden will love you for it.  If you don’t have a garden set up a worm farm and take up fishing.  Find a friend that has chooks.  Many Australian  Council’s now have green waste bins available if the first three options aren’t for you.  Really there is no excuse for food to end up in landfill.

Well there you have it.  Some food for thought.

Until next time.  Take care.

Shaszi xx

 

Catch Up Time…

Well it’s that crazy time of the year again.  I’ll admit that I’m struggling to find a good work life balance at the moment.

I’m finding my life is being consumed by my work to the point when I am at home I’m often thinking about work.  Being a Town Planner in a regional area of Australia can be quite demanding.

That’s why I have decided to write.  It is such good therapy and for myself it takes me to a good place.

Let’s begin with an update of the my veggie patch.  Well I must say it is booming!!!  I even have some bonus plants that have come up as a result of composting.  Rockmelons, I think (just waiting for the fruit to become a bit bigger to be able to identify), pumpkins and tomatoes.

I have been harvesting Lebanese zucchinis, cherry tomatoes, beans, basil, capsicum, eggplant and chilli.

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So much colour and taste coming from the garden

We now have the veggie patch fenced off (Artoo took a liking to digging in the soil) and have connected some irrigation to it.  The soil quality has improved so much.  Mulching has also been a very big factor.  Home has already been rocked by a few days over 40 degrees (and not even in the hottest time of the year yet).

With little spare time I have had a go at making my own peppermint sugar scrub.  I love the smell of peppermint and it is just delightful to use on your hands and feet.  I have even put some into jars to give as Christmas presents.

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Homemade Peppermint Scrub

I had never used sugar scrub up until recently and I’m sold.  A great environmentally friendly alternative to some of the exfoliation scrubs out there on the market that use plastic (microbeads) in their products.  Many governments are starting to call for a ban on microbeads being used in personal products as they have a big impact on our lakes, rivers and oceans.

Here is a great little video about microbeads.  It’s amazing what plastic is found in and has made me look for alternatives or make it myself.

If you would like to share your environmentally friendly beauty treatment tip please do so in the comments below.

Well that’s it for today.

Take care for now.

Shaszi xx

Weighing in on sustainability…

This week I have finally reached my half way goal.  To date I have now lost 30kg.  Finally I have lost my baby weight (my baby is now 19) and I haven’t been this size since I was around 16-17 (I’m 43 now).  Here is a before and after shot to give you some idea of the physical transformation I’ve gone through.

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BEFORE

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NOW

So you may be wondering what my weight loss has to do with sustainability?  Well I believe it has a lot to with sustainability, clean living and even enjoying the great outdoors.

I decided just over twelve months ago that I was never going to diet again.  Instead, I thought about all the information I had gained throughout all my years of yo-yo dieting and did some further reading on the Paleo lifestyle, which seems to be the latest trend.

Now I’m not about to go into a full Paleo meltdown and go all hardcore on you but I did like some of the concepts.  I bought myself some Paleo cookbooks, joined some different Facebook groups and checked Pinterest for inspiration.

The concepts of this Paleo lifestyle that rang true to me and I believe have a lot to do with my success include:

  • Get rid of the processed crap;
  • Buy organic where possible;
  • Grow your own; and
  • Buy as locally as possible.

For a person who wants to reduce their ecological footprint these concepts really related to me.  Plus there are some really great recipes out there.

So that was the basis of my journey 12 months ago.  It really made me look at my lifestyle rather than just my diet.  It also helped me get to know what wonderful produce is available in my town/region.  The Riverland is never short of fresh fruit and veg.  With that, it has also helped me form some great friendships, which brings me to mindset.

This healthier way of living has not only helped me lose weight but it has increased my confidence and improved my mindset.  A healthier more positive mindset helps you to become more resilient  and I personally believe it has helped me to lose weight.

Now I’m going to put it out there that I have indulged in both eating and drinking.  However this also has a lot to do with a better mindset.  If I am going to enjoy the local beer, wine and food I’ll do it on a weekend with friends and family.  I’ve learnt to think more positively about food by enjoying and celebrating it in more creative ways and sharing that with the people I love.

If you are looking to shift some stubborn weight ditch the dieting and look at your lifestyle.  A sustainable lifestyle could just be the key to your success.

Until next time.  Take care.

Shaszi xx

North Moolooloo Golf Classic Trek…

Flinders Map

The Trek Map

Over the last week I’ve been on a much needed holiday.  Stressed and burnt out from work I was eagerly looking forward to my first trip to the Northern Flinders Ranges.  It did not disappoint.

We left last Wednesday morning from Morgan at about 9am and headed up the Pine Valley Road toYunta.  Not far up the road we were joined by a family of emus.  Dad and the kids were certainly in no rush the get out of the way.

It wasn’t too long before I was getting into the full swing of identifying native plants and seed collecting.  In fact the whole journey was abundant with native flora and fauna.  We saw everything from emus, kangaroos (unfortunately we hit one with the car), yellow-footed rock wallabies and plenty of lizards.  I was on sensory overload with the plant life.  I think my partner and his mate learnt more about Australian native plants than they ever really wanted to but they amused my need to make regular stops to go and explore.  In fact they ended up becoming quite handy for seed collecting.  It was great stopping for Quandong seed.  The trees were full of yummy fruit

We arrived at Yunta early afternoon and fortunately the pub was open for a cold one.  This was going to be our last bit of civilisation and phone reception possibly until late tomorrow.

The Yunta Hotel was like something out of an Aussie movie complete with the Art Deco styling.  The Publican was a nice fella. After a chat and a cold beer we headed off to top up fuel and head to our camp for the night (wherever that would be).

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Inside the Yunta Hotel

So once again there were plenty of stops for seeds and cuttings.  At one stop we had a campervan race past us.  In fact it was enough for us to make a comment how dangerous the person was driving.  We headed off again and further up the road we came across the campervan.  The campervan was going nowhere fast.

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Scary stuff – Luckily no one was hurt

We got out the ute and to our surprise no one was hurt.  Another vehicle had pulled up.  A Station Manager from a nearby station happened to be driving past as well.  Between us all we got the campervan upright again but it still wasn’t going anywhere fast.  Just really makes you realise that you need to respect outback/dirt roads, especially with no phone reception.  The driver was just lucky that he wasn’t hurt and we happened to be driving past.

We decided to pull over and set up camp under some She-Oak for the night, approximately 130kms from Arkaroola.  I was a little bit excited about sleeping in our new swag for the first time.  Given the weather was so warm we didn’t put the canvas over and had full view of the stars and moon for the night.

We set off about 9am the next morning.  The views of the Gammon Ranges and Flinders Ranges were stunning to say the least.  We arrived at Copely in the mid afternoon.  Straight to the pub before we headed to the North Moolooloo Station.  Once we set up our campsite we headed over to the Shearer’s Quarters.  A nice warm shower beckoned my name.  We had dinner, which was a BBQ put on by the  Station.  Nothing like fresh lamb chops and believe me, they are nothing like the chops bought at supermarkets.

So day 3 I believed the weather was being blown straight off the Antarctic shelf.  A bit of a shock to the system.  It rained overnight (lucky we can confirm our swag is waterproof) and we woke to very cold weather.  I wore three long sleeve tops at once for the day.  The temperature only got to 14.

We decided to go for a bit of drive.  We headed to Lyndhurst, the start of the Strzelecki Track (that’s a trek I have on my bucket list).  I must say there wasn’t much to report from there.  On the way back we stopped at Aroona Dam.  An amazing man-made structure built to supply water to the township of Leigh Creek.

After another stop at the Copley Pub (yes I took out best on ground and required a nana nap. The boys are yet to let that one go) we went back out to the Station.  Lamb chops on the BBQ once again.  I could sure get use to this.

The day had finally arrived.  The North Moolooloo Golf Classic was about to get underway and I stepped up to help the boys form a team as they were a player short and one member hadn’t arrived at the Station when we registered.  This was going to be interesting as I had never hit a golf ball in my life, little lone played a game.  At 9:30 we were rounded up and put into the sheep trailers, which were our rides out to our allocated starting point.  Oh and I should point out the weather was a complete turn around from the day before and was forecasted to be over 30.

I found there is a lot of pride on the line with this tournament as it only happens every two years and let’s just say it’s no St. Andrews.  However a lot of time and manicuring (grading) goes into preparing the course.  There was a lot at stake for Morgan as they had never won the Classic since it had started.  The Morgan Mob started off hopeful and ready to enjoy a fun day of golf.  Our fourth member of the team was dropped off just as we teed off with the beer car not far off for first drinks.  I must say it is  certainly interesting when the ball heads off the fairway into the wattle and salt bush.  One player I spoke to lost 36 balls during the course of the day.  The Keg Shed Stop was welcomed by most.  A keg of beer is put on and you can keep drinking it until the next team comes along.

I completed half the course.  As I was very much a late comer I wasn’t dressed appropriately (too hot for jeans and boots) and the heat was a bit too much. As we were playing Ambrose style golf the boys continued on while I stayed back at the campsite after lunch.

Finally the boys made it back in at about 5 or 6 o’clock.  Enough time to get ready to clean up and head over to the shed for dinner, the auction and of course the big announcement.  Roast for dinner and once again there is nothing like country grub.  After dinner came the big announcement.  Would you believe the Morgan Mob had done it!!! After all this time Morgan was finally on the trophy.  My partner said it was like winning the U.S Open.

I must say this would have to be one of the best fundraising event I have ever been involved with.  This Station with its bi-annual golf event over the last 20 years has raised in excess of $150,000 for the Royal Flying Doctors.  A service that many in the outback are grateful for.

Still on cloud nine the following morning we packed up our campsite.  With our mission completed successfully we headed for home.  Once again seeing some great countryside coming down on the bitumen rather than the dirt road.  We opted to head straight for home rather than camp another night out.

I think my partner just wanted to get his medal hung in the “man cave”.  That’s one medal he is very proud of.  As for me I am considering retiring from golf while on a high or the other option is to start training for the PGA Tour.

Until next time.  Take care.

Shaszi xx