26 – 28 Feb 2021
The last few days have been a relaxed combination of exploring the local villages and sketching in the garden. Friday was spent driving over to Beechworth, an attractive country town with gold mining heritage. We mooched around the quaint streets, stopping for a coffee and cake. And later explored the Bourke Museum.
Looking at an ornate gunpowder pouch, Dave leaned over and whispered “cheese!” meaning he was ready to push on to the Milawa Cheese Factory in a neighbouring town.
“Okay, let’s go!” I agreed.
The Milawa Cheese Factory has been expanded since we were here 20 odd years ago, there’s a café and bakery under the dappled light of a beautiful vine. We stocked up on cheese, condiments and crackers before heading back home for a feast of local produce.
We’ve really been enjoying the garden and spend as much time as we can outside. Sketching, painting, writing, reading in the shade of the trees, and listening to the different birds.
One afternoon, Dave came out with a plater of cheeses, dried fruits, dips, fresh bread and a couple glasses of wine to quaff while we sketched.
I’m slowly working on a pair of oil sketches – I’m over thinking them of course. But slowly, slowly getting back into oil painting. Working on the ‘canvas paper’ is slower and not as enjoyable as actual canvas, but I was trying to keep our gear to a minimum on the road. I can’t very well cart around large stretched canvases!
Meanwhile David is churning out one watercolour after the next. I love how experimental he is.
“Impatience” he informs me. “Fast and loose” is his mantra.
Occasionally the farmers drive a Ute loaded with hay into the paddock next to our cottage. The cows are hilarious, they come running form every direction and practically mug the Ute.
“Hey Ginger, eat from the plate, not the bowl” joked the young girl pulling bales off the back of the Ute while her mother drove slowly further into the field.
We’ve been intrigued by cow politics too. One day they were head butting each other. Lady cows -not bulls. There were a couple of pairs at it. Foreheads pressed against each other and spinning around, kicking up dust. A young calf looked on, bounding this way and that.
“What’s the commotion?” I asked the cows. “What’s going on?”
“Perhaps it’s ladies wrestle night?” suggested Dave.
“Let’s go for a ‘tootle’ on the bikes.” I suggested one afternoon after painting and quaffing in the garden.
“Okay” agreed Dave.
Later I realised that, when it comes to riding, he really only has one speed – flat out. He took off down the dirt road and a cracking speed.
“A tootle!” I called into the dust. He just laughed. I followed behind and pushed as hard as I could, enjoying the exhilaration that comes with going hard and fast on relatively flat dirt roads. Our amazing bikes plunged through the creek crossing and smoothed out the rocky trails.
Reaching Bright, we slowed down and followed the Oven River. People were out picnicking on the shores, swimming in the river or floating on inner tubes along the shallow gentle rapids. Laughing and shreaking in the glittering sun. Cyclists were standing waist deep in the river, sucking on a cold beer and chatting in small circles. It was a lovely atmosphere.
But for all the frolicking in the river, we thought it had a strange smell. Like a pond – it didn’t smell like a fresh mountain stream. Before reaching Bright, it has passed through farmland so it would be full of organisms and run off from agricultural lands.
By the time we returned home, our afternoon tootle had turned into a fast 18km ride.
It’s certainly been a relaxing few days on the farm. Yes, we could get used to this life.
Tomorrow we’ve a trail running adventure planned – The Razorback Trail to Mount Feathertop.