JUstDreamInparadise.......JUDI living in Paradise

Monday, 29 May 2017

Port Douglas Carnivale Part 2

Today we had tickets for two things - Audrey Cuttlebuttle's Great Bally Hooley Escape and Port on a Fork.  
Anyone who has visited Port Douglas would know the Bally Hooley Train.  It runs from the Marina to St. Crispins and takes around about an hour for the round trip. Today was a little different as the journey now became a "Live action comedy theatre on a moving train".  This is what the programme said:
"Guests board the Bally Hooley Train for a story narrated by Audrey Cuttlebuttle.  Our journey follows local sweet hearts Priscilla and Thomas on a passage to their wedding from the Marina to St. Crispins Station.  Enter Pirate Blaggard with his vengeance for lost love.  While Audrey slips between fact and storytelling, the audience will witness a hilarious, slap stick duel between Blaggard and our lovers as they foil him again, and again!  This is a fun filled adventure with something for everyone"
We absolutely loved this two hour train journey and must commend the theatre group on a job well done!

Priscilla and Thomas about to board the train

Audrey Cuttlebuttle and Thomas

Pirate Blaggard trying to blow up the railway line

The blushing bride, Priscilla

Pirate Blaggard stops the wedding and takes Priscilla as a hostage

Thomas the groom

Pirate Blaggard feeding Thomas to the local crocodile

The Cast at the end of the Journey

After the train we walked back to Macrossan Street and stopped at Zinc Restaurant for a delicious lunch.  I chose the Lamb, Pumpkin and Beetroot Salad.

At 5.30 pm, and after a little nanny nap we walked to the Courthouse Hotel where we meet with our friends.  After a quick drink we then walked the short distance to Rex Smeal Park for "Port on a Fork".  This is a night of music, food and dancing.  It was fantastic to see the very talented Ben Lee perform some of his famous songs.

Ben Lee
And later we tapped our toes to the Hillbilly Goats.  This trio, originally from Julatten, have really made a name for themselves.  They are not to everybody's taste but I enjoyed them.

The street food that we purchased was delicious.  Around our table there were choices of Paella, Crepes, Pork Rolls and Pizza.  At around about 10 pm we walked back to Macrossan Street and stopped for a few drinks at Paddys Irish Bar - another of our favourite places.  At midnight we decided to take the shuttle back to the Tropic Breeze. I don't know how they do it but it cost a whole $2.50 each to take us to our destination.
We had a fantastic time at the Port Douglas Carnivale and will definitely put it on the calendar for next year.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Port Douglas Carnivale 2017 - Part 1

At the beginning of every year we sit down with the planner and mark off all the events and places we want to attend throughout the year.  It works in principal but not always in theory.  We had marked off the Carnivale weekend without realising that we would have some many other things happening at the same time.  Weed spraying and preparing the road for bitumen just happened to fall in the week leading up to Carnivale and we almost called off the whole thing.  Philip was feeling quite overwhelmed but we sat down and worked out a plan of what we had to complete before we could go away for the weekend.  We were intending to stay for three nights for Carnivale but decided that it would have to be two nights and I was happy with that.
We arrived in Port at 3.30 pm on Friday evening as I had an appointment for a pedicure and manicure that I didn't want to cancel.  Philip dropped me off and then went to the Tropic Breeze (aka Tropic Squeeze!) Van Park to check-in and unpack the camper.  We decided to meet at 4.30 pm and make our way to the Courthouse Hotel to pick a good seat to watch the street parade that would start around about 6.00 pm.  
I have never seen so many people in Port!  The streets were packed and I was very pleased for the organisers.  We didn't have a great view of the passing parade and I could have moved closer for some photos, but I didn't.  Just too much bother!  After the parade we walked over to side show alley for a feed of german sausage hot dogs with sauerkraut and onion and chips on the side. We found a spot under one of the palm trees and sat down and enjoyed the meal.  We didn't have time to waste as we had tickets to "La Soiree" that was due to start at 8 pm.  
The programme described La Soiree as: 
"This late night spectacle will showcase Burlesque, Boylesque, Sideshow Stunts and Stand-up comedy.  Witness acts from titillating to terrifying and everything in between."
Now, I'm not a prude by any means but this show really should have had a XXX rating!  It was very risqué but also very funny and we did enjoy it......mostly.
We were well and truly tucked up in bed by midnight and were already looking forward to tomorrows rather busy day.

The Courthouse Hotel

Inside Wonderland Spiegeltent for the start of La Soiree.  No cameras allowed so shooting from the hip!

Our spot at Tropic Breeze Van Park

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Autumn Garden

According to the calendar, autumn is from the 1st March to the 31st May but here in the tropics it should be from the 1st May to the 31st August with absolutely no winter!  The remainder of the year would be summer.....
Julatten, where we live, is about 500 metres above sea level and about 7 kilometres from the ocean as the crow flies.  Is it any wonder that we have one of the best climates in the world.  We do not have the stifling humidity that people on the coast complain about and each afternoon we have a lovely cooling sea breeze blow our way.  Our summer temperatures range from 20℃ - 30℃ and winter 16℃ - 26℃.  It can go higher or lower, remembering that climate is what you expect and weather is what you get.  We also experience typical monsoon weather, and this year we measured just over a metre of rain.  
The gardens in this area are spectacular and we can grow almost anything.  Frosts are not unheard of but we have not experienced this in the 10.5 years that we have lived here.  Too much rain can be a problem but we plan for this by encouraging good drainage throughout the garden.  As we live in an elevated position we do have the problem of rain run-off.  We had some very heavy rain at the beginning of this year that caused a lot of damage to our road and garden with huge gullies formed in areas that we would not have expected.  We have since rectified this by creating diversion channels.

As I was wandering around the garden taking these photos I once again had that overwhelming appreciation of where I live.  It is indeed Gods own country.  
Here is a snapshot of the garden at the moment.

Monday, 22 May 2017

How to get crispy pork crackle EVERY TIME!

Getting pork to crackle has been the bane of my life.  Sometimes it crisped beautifully and other times it has been a leathery disaster.  I have even tried taking the rind off and crisping it under the grill.  This has also been rather disastrous....particularly if you forget about it and it burns to a cinder!
It was a light bulb moment when I finally realised what I was doing wrong and now I have crunchy crackle every single time.  The trick is making sure that your pork skin is very, very dry.  To do this, as soon as you bring your pork home from the butcher (and I really hope you are using your local butcher 🙂) take the pork out of its wrapping and salt the skin very well.  Pop your pork onto a plate and into the fridge - uncovered - for at least 24 hours and up to 36 hours.  The longer the better really.  When you are ready to cook your pork pre-heat your oven to 230 degrees and place your pork into a shallow  baking dish.  Make sure that you have brushed off the excess salt if you are not a salt lover.  Personally I love a well salted piece of crackle.  Do not oil your pork  but you may oil your baking dish.  I don't bother.  Cook the pork in your preheated oven for 30 minutes or until your rind is browning and starting to crackle. Once this has happened, lower the temperature to 160 degrees and cook until pork juices run clear.  Now turn your oven back up to 230 degrees and cook for another 15 - 20 minutes.  Your pork will be perfect.  Don't forget to let it rest before slicing into that deliciousness.
In the photo below I used a rolled pork shoulder that I unrolled and then stuffed with a mixture of ½ cup almond meal, 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds, ¼ cup cranberries, 2 tablespoons parsley, 25g butter and 2 tablespoons orange juice, s & p.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

May Madness

Following on from April, May seems to have been just as busy but, once again, it is of our own doing.  You see, we just don't want to miss a thing......life is too short for that!
We have made numerous trips to Cairns in the last couple of weeks for appointments and we always try to make it as enjoyable as possible by lunching at different restaurants.  We have quite enjoyed eating at CheZest in Grafton Street and I particularly enjoy their Japanese inspired Tonkatsu  (Crumbed Pork Cutlet).
Early in the month we had a visit from one of our friends who joined us on the road trip to Julia Creek. It was lovely to catch up with her and her news.  I cooked up Jamie Oliver's Chicken and Chorizo that always goes down well.
Speaking of food, I have again been trying out some new recipes.  I've said it before and I'll say it again I love food and everything about it.  I enjoy trying out new recipes and adapting some old favourites.  The past couple of weeks I have cooked up......
  • Bolognese Ragu using a very coarse mince rather than the usually finely minced.  It is so full of flavour and I rather enjoy the chunky taste
  • Involtini, but rather than using the traditional veal, I used some of our own beef steaks that I pounded out thinly and stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, lemon zest and juice, the white from hard boiled eggs, and finely chopped olives that had been stuffed with anchovies.  After browning the involtini they simmered for about an hour in a sage/wine/butter sauce.  

  • Duck Breast served with a Marmalade Sauce with chilli broccoli and asparagus on the side
This week we have had contractors come in to rid our property of the very invasive grass - Navua Sedge.  This grass is native to tropical Africa and was first found in Australia in 1979 growing along footpaths in Cairns.  It is now more broadly distributed in north Queensland and is a huge problem for grazing properties.  Some agents have declared properties with a high amount of sedge as "unsaleable" so we have been forced to eradicate this horrible plant.  It is not cheap - around $100/acre - that will be an ongoing yearly cost. 

Sorry about the iPhone photo quality - you can hardly see the men, but there is three of the contractors wearing white protection suits riding around on quad bikes

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Mothers Day at QT Resort Port Douglas

I hope that all the Mums, the not yet mums, the should be mums and those without mums,  all felt some love on this special day.
For me, Mothers Day was extra special this year with a night spent at QT Port Douglas.  Son and DIL had given me a Spa Q voucher for a christmas present so I used it for a one hour massage and 30 minute facial.  It was Pure Bliss and I fully intend making this a monthly treat.
QT is one of our favourite places to stay in Port Douglas and it never fails to please.  I love the retro feel to the resort.  The staff at QT are attentive and nothing is too much trouble.  They have a locals special rate going at the moment.  For $189 per night they include breakfast and complimentary drink vouchers.  That is such great value.
Being Sunday, their signature restaurant was closed however they had a very good bar menu in Estillio Lounge with plenty to choose from.  Philip ordered the fish and chips and I chose the Proscuitto and Rocket Pizza. This was washed down with some very fine bubbles for me and beer for hubby.  We are so lucky to have all this right on our doorstep and every single time we drive down the range to Port Douglas we feel like we are on a mini vacation. 

The bedroom.  Don't you just love the use of colour!

This would have to be one of the best "mini bars" I have ever seen!

A SpaQ voucher - what a great gift

QT Lobby and check-in counter

Pre dinner drinks