Tasmanian adventure – Hobart

We left the airport in a shuttle bus; the driver was accompanied by a friendly bloke called Phil, the first of many friendly Phils we came across. As she drove us speedily towards the city of Hobart, Phil gave us a potted history of the city and the island, a story we would hear many times, but never tired of because each teller was so full of enthusiasm and love for the country, and pride in the people.

We drove upwards between a landscape which would become very familiar, sandy rocks, dark trees with curious coloured trunks and branches, and then we crested the hill, and there was the city, like a jewel, sparkling in the lovely sunshine. We whizzed along, past areas of housing, small single story villas with corrugated iron roofs, which I had seen in pictures so often. It reminded me of one of the Babar the elephant books I’d had when I was young, when Babar built a town, which he called after his wife, Celestville – ‘Come and see Celestville, most beautiful of towns!‘ – these homes we were passing reminded me of that.

We passed a sign for Cambridge, not only named after my home town, but the place where Sullivans Cove Whisky is distilled, named as the world’s best whisky twice! Then we were crossing the Tasman Bridge and we heard for the first time about the disaster… I do vaguely remember it happening, in 1975, on January 5th thirty-two years to the day we were crossing it, a tanker ran into several of the support pylons. It was a bulk carrier, the Lake Illawarra,  and on board was 10,000 tonnes of zinc ore concentrate. The ship was going upstream, up the Derwent River to the Electrolytic Zinc Company at Risdon, about three kilometres away. The captain apparently wasn’t paying full attention and tried to go through a too narrow part of the bridge and crashed. The ship sank within a few minutes, drowning seven of the crew. Meanwhile, up above, a section of the bridge collapsed, and despite the brave efforts of a man to slow and top on-coming traffic, several cars plunged over the edge and five people were drowned.

There are many safety measures in place to carry traffic safely across the rebuilt bridge, and we crossed over and descended into the city. My nose was pressed against the window as I tried to take everything and listen to Phil’s commentary at the same time. beautiful old buildings, the sea, trees and parks, and then we were pulling up outside the Travelodge, our holiday home.

Bushmills revisited

After a very enjoyable, but less than successful quiz night at the Dolphin with our chums, it just might be time for a little whiskey… Here is something I wrote a while ago…

Bushmills whiskey… Bushmills is so called because it is a town which grew up by the river Bush where there were as many as seven mills in the past, including a spade-mill.


Bushmills Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery in the world, founded in 1608,  and it makes a range of wonderful whiskeys. Irish whiskey is spelt with an ‘e’ and Bushmills whiskey is triple distilled…. smoooooooth! The whole process from the malted grain to the bottled spirit is all carried out here at Bushmills… no wonder it is so good!

I hope they enjoyed their visit to the distillery!


Apart from the skill of the distillers, the crucial element is the water, from the beautiful River Bush:

This bridge features at the climax of my book about the Portbradden clan… at night and the river in full spate! In my imaginary world it is the River Hope, not the River Bush!

The river is still, but a moment after I took this photo a fish leapt, a salmon or trout!




Whisky, whisky…

My husband tells the tale… before he met me he was a beer drinker, but if pressed to spirits he would have a gin and tonic as his dad was a naval officer and that was what was drunk.

It was the occasion of him meeting my family for the first time – my lovely big family,lots and lots of cousins… There was a big family party because it was Aunty Audrey’s 70th birthday. Bari and I had been together for just over a month and I was staying at another aunty’s house. Bari rang to chat to me,and my uncle invited him to come and join the party. It was true love so Bari immediately leapt into his car and within a couple of hours he was with us.

He was welcomed into the family, and my uncle asked him what he would like to drink… gin and tonic, Bari replied. No you won’t, you’ll have whisky… And my uncle poured him some Clynelish… that was 1990… Bari, now my husband has loved whisky – and whiskey ever since.

And tonight we are on Jura…

Bushmills… whiskey…

It’s St Patrick’s Day, and what else should we drink to celebrate but Guinness and Irish whiskey? We had Guinness at the pub and now we are home we have a couple of fingers of Bushmills whiskey. Bushmills is the oldest distillery in Ireland, dating back to 1608, and the reason it is such a fine whiskey is the water… water form the River Bush.  The River Bush is 33½ miles long and rises in the Antrim Hills at nearly 1600ft above sea level. it flows into the sea at Portballintrae, just by the golf course, and that is where I took my featured image.


Pimm’s o’clock

There is nothing nicer on a warm summer evening… or afternoon… or lunchtime… or any particular time to have a glass of Pimms. Pimms is a fabulous drink, a secret recipe of an alcohol base with flavourings which are difficult to identify but combine together to be utterly delicious. It is technically a fruit cup, and is mixed with a soft drink such as soda water, lemonade, tonic water… something with a bit of fizz, and then add whatever fruit you have to hand, such as strawberries, apples, slice of lemon or orange, along with cucumber and mint, to make a delightful drink. It is a feature of our family holidays, where before dinner in the evening glasses of Pimm’s are served, as well as gin and tonic for those who don’t care for it.

Pimm’s was the inspired creation of James Pimm, who was born in 1798, the son of a tenant farmer. He moved to London and it was in 1823 that he created a cocktail to serve with the fish on offer in the oyster bar he owned. His first ‘recipe’ was called his Number 1 cup, because that was the size of the little tankard he served it in. later cups were introduced using different liquors from the original gin in the No 1 Cup.

Other ‘Cups’ are:

  • Pimm’s No. 2 Cup which is no longer produced had Scotch whisky as it’s alcohol component
  • Pimm’s No. 3 Cup only remains in  a version known as Pimm’s Winter Cup, and is brandy infused with spices and orange peel
  • Pimm’s No. 4 Cup is no longer on the market and the alcohol in it was  rum
  • Pimm’s No. 5 Cup also no longer available but was based on rye whiskey
  • Pimm’s No. 6 Cup’s  vodka based



Sloe gin update…

The sloe gin has been tried! The flavour is good… but not quite as intense as I’d hoped; I think there needs to be a fraction more sugar… and I noticed that we’d only used 35% gin… oops… I think with an extra few % it would have made a big difference.

On the other hand, the marmalade gin, made with our own ‘barmalade’,  made by my husband Bari, is fab! That definitely is the winner… we tried the cherry gin… hmm, rather strange… either the cherries were not ripe enough, or there was not enough sugar, or it was the wrong sort of gin – we used Geneva for this. Still to go… mixed fruit from 1996, raspberry from 2012, and something with a blurry label… could be almost anything, but fruit of some description!

OK, back to the testing… It’s a hard life…