Thursday, April 25, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Easter and Hot Crossed Buns

Hot cross buns are a yeasted sweet bun spiced with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, studded with raisins and then marked on top with a cross.
Each part of the bun has a certain meaning with the cross representing the crucifixion and the spices supposedly signifying those used to embalm Jesus at his burial.
The buns go back to the 12th Century and were traditionally only available just before Easter and were served only on Good Friday.
"Back in the day" we had to pre order them at a bakery and pick them up on Good Friday eve.
But things change.
Our supermarket, Coles, has been selling its buns months before Easter for years. This year they really outdid themselves by having them on the shelves on Boxing Day!

In protest of this crass commercialism, I imposed a purchase boycott until a few weeks out from the holiday. That has them quaking in their boots!
But wait! There’s more!
While chocolate chip and fruitless  buns surreptitiously snuck their way into the range a little while ago, this year has introduced variations flavoured with white chocolate and raspberry, sticky date and butterscotch, Belgian chocolate and cherry and banana and caramel.
Coles competitor, Woolworths, has even launched a hot cross bun flavoured ice-cream.
All I can say is BOOOOOOOOOOO!
Just leave some things the way they are!
I know....grumpy old man syndrome.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

The James Craig / An Iron Hulled Barque

I am very fond of old sailing ships or so called ‘Tall Ships'.
There are around thirteen in Australian waters.
But we don't see too many around here as our harbour is more than likely an unsuitable port.
Among them is a replica of the Endeavour, Captain James Cook's 1770 vessel of discovery sailing around the country and then there is the James Craig, the genuine article, built in 1874 in the UK and originally named Clan Macleod.
She carried cargo around the world and rounded Cape Horn 23 times in 26 years. In 1900 she was acquired by Mr J J Craig, renamed James Craig in 1905 and began to operate between New Zealand and Australia until 1911.  
She eventually fell victim to the advance of steamships and in later years was used as a collier and later laid up, then used as a hulk, until being abandoned in Tasmania where in 1932 she was sunk.
Her restoration began in 1972, when volunteers from the Lady Hopetoun and Port Jackson Marine Steam Museum, now the Sydney Heritage Fleet, refloated her and towed her to Hobart for initial repairs. She was then brought back to Sydney under tow in 1981 and her hull placed on a submersible pontoon to allow work on the hull restoration to proceed.

Over twenty-five years, the vessel was restored and repaired by both paid craftspeople and volunteers and relaunched in 1997. In 2001 restoration work was completed and she now goes to sea again.
She is one of only four 19th century barques in the world that still go regularly to sea.
James Craig is currently berthed near the Australian National Maritime Museum and is open to the public.
She takes passengers out sailing on Sydney Harbour and beyond with open ocean voyages to Newcastle, Melbourne and Hobart

She is crewed by a compliment of 16 and maintained by volunteers from the Sydney Heritage Fleet. The cost of maintaining her approaches $1 million a year and the ship relies on generating income from visitors, charters, events, and regular fortnightly daily sailings with up to 80 passengers.
She is always a wonderful sight.