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Postby Bidadisndat » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:48 pm

Hullo IceFire,
Glad you're finding the story worth keeping up with.
I've just begun my fourth round of treatment and I've had to give up pretending that I'm having no problems with the chemo.
In fact, I admit I'm feeling pretty much like crap. Chi wants me to take another couple of weeks off but I honestly think I'm better off working and keeping my mind occupied. I'm also surrounded at work by people who keep me up-beat. Besides, I found out after my last time off that nobody took care of the unit's Social Club, which I am voluntarily in charge of, and returned to find that we were out of coffee, Coca Cola and chocolates! I'm now wondering how they were able to keep all the aircraft flying while I was away, lol.
BTW, I got the recipe for Apricot Jam from a South African co-worker many (30) years ago and can't remember if the quantities of the three main ingredients were right, though I'm sure she said 1lb apricots, 1lb sugar and 1 pint water. I just bought two kg of apricots and am going to make it up, and if it turns out OK I won't have to re-edit the story!
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Postby Bidadisndat » Fri Nov 18, 2016 8:30 pm

Should've used the range-top right from the beginning: Forgetting how little liquid needs to be used when using them I tried using our two crock-pots to make the jam.
When it turned out to be too runny I transferred the gloop to the boiler and reduced it quite a bit, then ladled into jars and processed it.
I was happy that all the lids 'pinged' as the jars cooled, but the result has been twelve jars of apricot sauce as it didn't set as it should have.
The recipe didn't call for the addition of pectin so maybe I'll have to add some next time....
(After we've finished eating Apricot chicken once a week for the next few months unless someone can suggest a way to fix the problem, lol.)
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Postby IceFire » Fri Nov 18, 2016 9:38 pm

hmmmm...apricot sauce over ice cream?
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Postby Bidadisndat » Fri Nov 18, 2016 10:45 pm

IceFire, I couldn't stop myself from trying it out as soon as I read your post, and found it to be really good.
I've just now taken a fresh two litre container of home-brand ice-cream out of the freezer and am allowing it to soften before swirling in a good amount of the sauce before refreezing it. Chi tried a teaspoon of the jam/sauce this morning and liked it, and as she likes ice-cream I reckon you've put me on a winner.
Thank you very much.

Update: Added two jars of the apricot sauce to the ice-cream. Not surprisingly it wouldn't all go back into the original container, however I fixed that problem. ;)
Even without it being re-frozen yet I already know that with three of us tackling it the whole two litres will be gone by Wednesday at the latest.
I think it'll go well with the sliced pineapple I have in the 'fridge.
Oh, and I also flavoured some yoghurt. That won't last long either!
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Postby IceFire » Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:12 am

Glad I was able to help you out there, mate! Never let home made deliciousness go to waste!
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Postby Cajun68 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:56 pm

Just want to say THANK YOU. Love your work. I check every day to see if have updated it. Merry Christmas
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Postby Bidadisndat » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:21 am

Well, here we go again cobbers: Finally another instalment - albeit a small one.
I'll try to keep my writings a little more consistent than when I began this saga, but I can't make any promises at this point.
Hope y'all understand.

Dave’s parents weren’t surprised by the number of friends that Dave and Bron had made in both the village and the town, but they were by the number who turned up for the get-together at Hook’s Eye on Boxing Day. Bron was also a bit surprised, having until now thought that her favourite fishing spot was known only to perhaps a dozen people, rather than the two dozen plus who were now present. Although the number had been limited to those that knew the location of the almost private fishing spot there was still insufficient parking for all of the vehicles that people arrived in, and several had been left parked at the farm with their drivers and passengers then being shuttled to the site.

Not all had came for the fishing of course, and though quite a few rods and lines were to be seen set up on the far side of the eye, the side closest to where the party was gathered had been ruled off limits for the day so that people could go swimming without fear of being hooked. In fact, it being quite a hot day there were already several people swimming in the warm and crystal clear water, with an optimistic young Brian hoping that their splashing would drive any fish in the hole over to the side where he sat patiently with his line out.

A large and colourful assortment of folding camp chairs, eskies, beach umbrellas, and picnic blankets upon which was arranged enough food to feed an army were spread out on a small grassy area on the southern side of the eye, and it wasn’t too long before those not swimming began helping themselves.

Men who had partners sat with them for the obligatory hour of mundane conversations that didn’t involve manly pursuits, with a few unattached singles feeling that it’d be polite to do the same sitting with them, until finally getting up the courage to break away and form several separate groups, with each having topics of mutual interest to talk about.

They’d never admit as much to their menfolk but mostly the wives were happy to let them go so that they could discuss, not gossip, you understand, but discuss among themselves things that, quite simply put, men couldn’t even begin to comprehend the importance of.

Not surprisingly, the tradies from town sat together with some of the men from the village who used the same fishing hole, including Dave and the excavator owner-operator Darren, and beers in hand began discussing ideas for improving their hidden-away spot.

“Well,” began Bear, “For starters I think we could flatten an area large enough to put in a couple of tables with bench seats. Use the same design as the one we’re planning to submit to council for the beach contract.”

“Yeah, that’d be good,” replied Pipes. “Though I think we should also flatten enough ground to be able to park our utes properly. What do you think.... Space for half a dozen?”

“Going to take quite a bit of spade work to do that much by hand,” said Chips, and for some reason they all looked rather expectantly at Darren.

“Hmm... If I understand correctly what you’re all trying very hard not to ask outright,” he said with a grin, “is that knowing that council’s given me the go-ahead to clear the road to the beach, could I make a bit of a detour and use my machinery to flatten the ground here.”

“Oh, what a good idea! You know Mate, that would probably never have occurred to me if you hadn’t been around,” laughed Bear. “Would it be much of a problem to do that?”

“Nah. In fact given the tightness of the bends on the descent down to the bay I can only float the machines to the top of the road anyway, and that’s not too far from here. Should be able to knock it off with the Bob-cat in an hour, maybe an hour and a half at most.”

“Hmm.... Since you’re going to be working down this way I’ve got another job at the farm for you if you want it,” Dave quietly said to Darren. “And it’ll be a paid job this time. I’ll talk to you about it later.”

“Thanks mate,” Darren replied. “I can always use some extra work.”

“Right,” Bear went on. “Tables and seating should be easy to organise, especially if we get the council contract to install the facilities at the beach: We could build two table and bench seat combos for us at the same time as we do theirs. I don’t intend to rip the council off - well, not too much anyway - because we might be able to get more work from them in the future, but we might be able to pad our quote out a small amount.... Say, enough to cover the cost of one of the table and seat combos.”

“Sounds quite reasonable,” offered Chips. “And if we keep in mind that any facilities we put here would be available for use by the general public, if they happen to find the place, our consciences would be clear....
Well, mostly clear.”

“Anyone think it’d be good to have a barbeque hot-plate here too, same as at the beach?” Pipes asked.

A barbeque was thought to be a good idea by all and after some ideas were bandied about it was decided that they should build one that was fitted with removable cast iron gas burners and had both a hot-plate and a grill, with those wanting to use it bringing along and connecting their own gas bottle. The idea of having a padlocked cover over the hot-plate and grill was voted down as that would prevent people other than those with a key using them, though a lockable compartment to hold the gas burners when not in use could be incorporated. “Outsiders” wanting to use the barbeque would have to bring along a supply of wood or heat beads if they wanted to use it, and although that might deter some people it was considered to be a fair compromise.

Jeff Mullins had been with the group, sitting in a position where he could keep a watchful eye on young Brian, and seeing the lad haul in what was probably his fourth or fifth fish got up and made his way to where he was proudly shown a bucket containing two nice flathead and three bream.

“Dave, I was watching you and Bron while I was fishing,” said a very happy Brian when he returned with Jeff to show off his catch. Both of you didn't even try to do any fishing, which means I’m not breaking any rules!”

“Good for you, Brian. Looks like you’re going to have a pretty good meal tonight,” Bron said, putting an arm across his shoulders, giving him a squeeze and making him glow with pleasure when she added “I think I’m going to have some pretty stiff competition when you’re old enough to join the Cock & Bull Fishing Club.”

“Actually, under eighteens are allowed into the beer garden of any hotel for a meal provided they’re accompanied by a parent,” said Gareth who was standing nearby. “Can’t drink alcohol of course, but I can’t see why Brian couldn’t become a Junior member of the club,” he added with a small wink at Bron.

Brian swung towards his mother in excitement. “Is that true mum? Could I really become a junior member?”

Before she had a chance to answer Jeff chipped in with “Of course you can. And if your mum can’t be with you, I can. Of course, in that case you’ll have to share any fish you catch with me as well as your mum.”

“Gosh, I’d do that anyway, Jeff: You’re always realy good to me and mum, and I know she’s very happy whenever we’re all together.”

“OK Matey,” growled Jeff over a sudden lump in his throat. “We need to take these back down to the water and gut ‘n scale ‘em: Don’t want to make a mess in our kitchen, do we? Are you coming with us... Mum?” he asked Laura as he picked up the bucket of fish and began walking back towards the rocks.

“Out of the mouths of babes,” murmured Gwen when she and others close to Laura and Jeff couldn’t help but notice, when they walked away on either side of Brian, that they’d both coloured somewhat more than what might have been blamed on too much sunshine.

As the day’s happy event began to wind down those that needed to be were ferried back to the farm to pick up their cars and head for home and soon it was only the tradies who were left to make a final check to make sure no litter had been left behind.

“I think we should attach a sign to the barbeque, asking people to make sure they take their rubbish home with them,“ said Pipes. “I know our lot would, but there are many drop-ins that probably wouldn’t.”

“Unfortunately true. It’s a pity there isn’t some way we could restrict access to the place, but it is on public land after all. By the way, Dave’s father gave me ten dollars towards the hire of the portaloo. Said it was the first time he’d ever seen one used at a private function and he was very impressed. Reckoned it was a much better idea than digging a hole in the ground and rigging up a screen around it, especially where ladies are concerned.”

“That was good of him. Both his parents seem to be really nice people don’t they? I wonder if the driver delivering and picking up the loo is impressed with the idea, given the state of the track he has to drive along to get here.”

“I doubt that it’d be much of a problem for him: Access to some of our building sites is often a lot worse than here. Besides, our company's a regular customer and his company’s already been paid for the hire, so no need for us to worry about it. OK, Let's go.”

Shortly after, the last utes drove away, leaving behind two seagulls looking in vain for any scraps of food that may have been left left behind.

Back at the farm the ladies set about preparing dinner while the men went into the garage to begin work on the restoration of several rusted but still good tools that had been left by McKenzie. Among these were two Stanley wood-planes, the working parts of which were disassembled, wire brushed clean and lightly oiled then put aside while the bodies were worked on. Fortunately the soles had only a light covering of surface rust and to remove that Gareth simply tacked two sheets of fine emery cloth to a perfectly straight and flat board and pushed the planes back and forth along it until the soles of both were smooth and shiny for their full lengths.

“Like brand new,” he said after the blades had been sharpened, the knobs and totes sanded and rubbed over with linseed oil and turpentine, and all the parts reassembled. He then took apart and did the same for a block plane and a spoke-shave, both of which Dave had thought were not worth the effort of salvaging and had been proved wrong.

Gareth, keeping company with Dave, and Gwen with Bron, had enjoyed the day immensely, and having met many of their friends, both at the get-together and elsewhere, understood why the young couple had decided to make Brocklesbury their home.

“In fact,” Gwen said over dinner that evening, “if we ever get too old and worn out to run our own farm up north, I think this place would be an ideal place to spend our retirement.”

“I think so too, Dear, though me having only recently turned sixty two, I hope that time’s a long way off yet.”

“You've only just turned sixty two!?” said Bron, trying to sound quite surprised. “Honestly dad, you don’t look a day over seventy two.”

Although everyone laughed the real joke lay in the fact that anyone who met Gareth for the first time would think he was in his early fifties, if that, not just because of his very youthful looks but also because he was more fit than many men half his age. Gwen always felt fortunate that despite her advancing years she too had somehow managed to retain her youthful looks and figure, otherwise she may have had to spend a lot of time chasing young women away from her husband!

* * *

Jeff Mullins was sat at the kitchen table having a cup of tea and Laura was drying the dishes after a meal of freshly caught fish when Brian, who was trying to concentrate on a fishing magazine, looked up with a worried frown on his face.

“Jeff, you remember when Mister Morgan said I could go into the beer garden of the hotel if I was with a parent... If I’m not with mum, how can I go in with you, like you said? I mean, you’re not my father and everybody knows that, so how would that work?”

“Well, Mate, everybody around here knows me pretty well, and they probably also know how much I care about you and your mum, so I don’t think anybody would think or say anything about it.”

“Oh. Be a lot easier if you were my dad though, wouldn’t it?”

Laura paused in drying the dishes and wondering how Jeff was going to handle that question tightly gripped the baking dish she was holding and waited nervously for the answer.

Jeff looked at Brian in the way that only a man who cared about him as much as only a real father could and quietly asked “Would you really want an old man like me as a dad?”

Of course I would! And you’re not an old man either!”

“You think not? Oh well, In that case I guess I’ll have to talk to your mum about it.”

He’d spoken without remembering that Laura was standing well within earshot of the conversation but was made aware of that when the baking tray she was holding suddenly slipped from her fingers and dropped to the floor with a clatter. By the time he’d risen from his chair and got to her she had already turned to stare unseeingly through the kitchen window into the night, and when he placed is hands on her upper arms he could feel her trembling beneath his touch.

Slowly he turned her to face him and the expression on both their faces as they looked at each other seemed to make any speech unnecessary, and when Jeff drew her close Laura buried her head in his shoulder and her unbidden tears soaked unheeded into his shirt. They held each other tightly for several minutes without saying a word, and a watching Brian somehow knew that though his mother was crying something magical had happened, and there was nothing for him to get worried about.

“You know what I’m going to ask, don’t you?” Jeff said as he eased her back so that he could look her in the eyes.

“Are you really sure you want to?” she replied huskily.

“Of course I’m sure, otherwise I wouldn’t have said anything.”

“You don’t have to you know.”

“I suppose not, but I’m a bit old fashioned in that regard I guess.”

“You know what my answer will be, don’t you?”

“Well, I think I know that too, but just the same I reckon it’d be proper if I went through some of the hoops at least: Laura, I know it’s all a bit sudden and maybe I’m jumping the gun, but…. will you marry me?”

“Yes Jeff. Yes, I will.”

As they held each other close again he whispered in her ear, “And if it’s alright by you, I’d like to adopt Brian.”

Laura held him even more tightly and, overcome with emotion could only nod her head in assent before managing a tearful and muffled reply.
“I’m fine with that, and I know Brian will be thrilled.”

There was a slight pause, then....


“Yes Jeff?”

“I just spoke to your mum, and she said I can be your dad.”


“Yes, really. Now, go and get ready for bed.”

“OK... Dad,” yelled a grinning Brian as he happily padded off to put on his pyjamas while his mother set about making him a cup of cocoa, and one for Jeff, whose cup of tea had gone cold.

* * *

Most of the small shops and businesses were closed for the Christmas- New Year break however a telephone call earlier had confirmed that the on the Saturday morning when the Morgans drove into town in Gareth’s Toyota the gardening centre towards which they were heading wasn’t one of them. It would be open from today right through to New Year’s Eve, but Dave had decided to get the six by twelve metre greenhouse he’d seen in the catalogue he’d picked up on his last visit there, and wanted to order it in as soon as possible.

Besides, it was on the way to the Rifle Club where “She-who-was-now-a-licensed-shooter” wanted to use her new toy and hurl a few rounds of 30-30 lead down-range. It would also be an opportunity for Dave’s parents to have a look around the area, and when lunch-time came sample some of the local fare in one of the outlying villages.

The greenhouse they wanted was a bit larger than the typical backyard variety usually sold by the Garden Centre and as they weren’t held in stock one would have to be ordered in. Unfortunately the city-based manufacturers were closed for the holiday period and any order placed now wouldn’t be delivered until at least the middle of January.

“Not a problem,” Dave told the centre’s staff. “I thought that’d be the case, but I’m hoping that by putting the order in now it’ll be one of the first they make up and dispatch when they go back to work. If it’s possible I want to prepare the footings for it but the brochure doesn’t have any details regarding the measurements. Don’t suppose you have plans available for those, do you?”

“As a matter of fact we do, Dave. Our installers put the same sized greenhouse up for another client three or four months ago and once it was up he said we could keep the plans. You can have those now if you want, and we’ll keep the set that comes with the kit when it arrives. Ahh... Wait a minute: If I remember correctly, there are lots of hold-down bolts supplied with the kit and they have to be set into the concrete when the footings are poured.”

“Hmm... OK. Let’s have a look at the plans and see if the bolts used aren’t of a type that we can’t get locally.”

After retrieving the plans from the office and checking them it was quickly determined that the bolts required could be purchased at any good hardware store, so after paying the deposit required for the greenhouse Dave rolled the plans up and took them out to the truck.

With everybody buckled up, and following the same route that Bron had shown him when he first arrived in town, Dave drove towards the rifle range. Passing the farm where Bron had previously bought some mushrooms they saw that it still had its sign out, so a brief stop was made to purchase a large bagful. Dave saw that this time there was an extra sign advertising bulk mushroom compost for sale, and though he was tempted to buy some he wasn’t really dressed for shovelling the mix of manure and straw that it consisted of, even if it had been sterilised. He’d keep it in mind though, as it would be ideal for use on his veggie garden beds.

When they arrived at the range they found that there were only a few other gun-club members present, however all had the same idea in mind: To try out the toys they’d purchased as Christmas gifts for themselves. It turned out during conversation that Bron was not only the one member there to have received a rifle as a present without having to buy it herself, but also the only one to possess a lever action rifle, which by itself was enough to generate just a bit of envy among some of the shooters, three of whom had never had the opportunity to even hold let alone fire one.

Knowing the three men and the way in which they handled their own guns Bron felt quite comfortable about offering to let them put a few rounds through hers, and each of them, promising to replace the ammo they used, leapt at the chance. Of course they had to wait until Bron had emptied the magazine a few times herself first, but when they finally did get to shoot a half dozen rounds each they agreed that the wait hadn’t been all that long, and had been worth it anyway.

Dave also got in few shots with his ’scoped •308 but came in for some good-natured ribbing after it was claimed by some of those watching that his groupings, though quite good, didn’t really seem to be a much tighter than those that Bron had achieved over open sights.

“More like a spread than a grouping,” said one after looking at Dave’s targets, with another agreeing by saying “I thought you might’ve been using a shotgun,” and Gareth didn’t help matters much when he told them that Dave’s shooting would be sure to improve if Bron, after she’d had a bit more practice with her new rifle, would agree to coach him.

“Good God, what’ve I done to deserve this?” Dave murmured almost but not quite to himself as throwing his gaze skywards he put his rifle back in its carry-case and walked to the truck.

Walking beside him Bron grinned but decided not to add any smart comments of her own because apart from knowing that Dave was more than just a fair shot, she knew that everybody had been joking. Even so, and much to her own surprise she confessed to herself, she was proud of having demonstrated that she could handle the 30-30 well, and in fact much better than she’d thought she would given the few times she’d used it. Which was probably just as well: With the going price of 30-30 rounds it’d be a somewhat expensive exercise for her to practice a lot with it, even if Dave did police their fired brass for reloading… when he got around to setting up his equipment.

As for the cases collected so far, Gareth was going to take them back to Tenterfield and reload them there as he had a good supply of powder, primers and bullets for each of the calibres the family used, including but of course never admitted to, those required for Dave’s 1911 •45APC.

That particular handgun had supposedly been “lost or mislaid” several months before he returned in his old ship to Australia and stepped ashore as a landsman; however he was quite confident that he’d be able to find it again… If and when he joined a pistol club and could possess it legally.

Their time spent at the range had them travelling in almost the same time frame as when Bron had shown Dave around the area, and following a light lunch at an outlying village café then following the same route they wound up at the same no-less-packed Thai restaurant where he’d bought dinner for her less than three months before.

They two girls shared a bottle of the currently popular Blue Nun Liebfraumilch over the rather large meal they’d ordered but when Gwen volunteered to drive the Toyota back to the farm when they’d finished, the two men decided to crack a couple of bottles of Thai Singha beer instead.

According to Gareth a couple of bottles, and small ones at that, were barely enough to dampen a man’s tonsils let alone wash down a decent meal and he ordered two more even before their first bottles were empty. Those were followed by two more for each of them and by the time they all left the restaurant it was just as well that Gwen would be driving, not so much because Gareth was incapable of doing so but more because he was beginning to fall asleep in his chair.

Dave didn’t appear to be much affected by the four beers he’d downed though he did find it a bit difficult to follow the conversation the girls were having as they travelled back to the farm, probably due to the topics they were discussing; none of which concerned gardening, guns or anything else of interest to a man like himself. However after he’d made the almost fatal mistake of telling Bron as much, when she’d asked him what he thought about something she and his mother had been talking about, he decided that until they got home it might be a good idea to pay a bit of attention to what they were saying. Not that that’d do much good now as home was less than ten minutes away and the girls, quite deliberately he thought, seemed to have nothing further to say about any topic, though he did note that they exchanged some meaningful grins.
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Postby sorcerer » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:54 pm


It so good to see you back my friend and of course pick up the story. But, even if you didn't write another sentence it is good to hear from you.

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