Peter’s new underwater camera housing

My friend Peter has recently bought an underwater housing for his digital camera. Neither Peter or I have done any underwater photography so, since yesterday was Peter’s 50th birthday he took the day off work (I work at home so I can just about take time off whenever I want) and we went to Clovelly beach to try it out.

Peter

It’s pretty hard to take photos under water as the viewing screen on the digital camera isn’t really bright enough and the scenery is too low in contrast to make out much detail. The mask also made it impossible to use the veiwfinder so it was just point the camera in the general direction,  push the button and hope the photo will be O.K.

Clovelly has quite a lot of marine life and the fish that live there a fairly tame so it’s pretty easy to get close to them.

peter gets close to a Achoerodus viridis

Even though the fish allow you to get close enough to take a photo they take off after a very short time making it difficult to take a photo. I took about ten photos of the fish (I think it’s a young female Eastern Blue Grouper Achoerodus viridis) in the picture below and only one was any good due to the fact that I couldn’t really see anything useful on the digital screen, so I was just pointing and shooting. Most of my shots were of the blurred fish darting away.

Achoerodus viridis

Semi dried tomatoes

We had a good crop of beautiful organic tomatoes this year. We had both cherry tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes and we grew way more than what we could eat so I decided to semi dry and preserve them in olive oil.

Ingredients 

Tomatoes
Light olive oil (enough to cover the tomatoes)
3 cloves of garlic
1 Table spoon of salted capers
1 Teaspoon of dried basil

Method

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and the larger tomatoes into 1cm (about a third of an inch) slices.

Dry the tomatoes in a dehydrator for 12 hours at 60 degrees C (about 140 F).

Place enough jars and their lids in a oven heated to 120 degrees C (about 250 F) for 30 minutes. Leave the jars in the hot oven until you are ready to use them.

Heat up the olive oil with the three cloves of finely sliced garlic, a table spoon of salted capers and a teaspoon of dried basil. Heat the oil until it starts to cook the garlic then it take it off the heat. You don’t want to really cook the garlic, it’s heated just to help infuse the flavours into the oil and help with keeping things sterile.

Pour a little of the hot oil with the garlic, basil and capers into each the hot sterilised jars and then place the semi dried tomatoes in the jars a little at a time, covering them with a little more hot oil as you fill up the jar.

If you try this, I’d suggest that the oil pouring is done in the kitchen sink in case the jar breaks. Needless to say, hot oil can cause very serious burns so take care at all times.

Sri Maha Mariamman Dhevasthanam Hindu temple. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

To western eyes, Hindu temples look very colourful and exotic. So different from the European influenced churches we are used to looking at.

When I was in France I visited the famous Chartres Cathedral and listened to John James (the world renowned expert on Chartres) give a lecture about it. One of the facts that I found very interesting was that the old Gothic churches used to be painted in bright life-like colours just like the Hindu and Buddhist temples are painted nowadays. Apparently researchers have found traces of paint on the old cathedral’s stonework and there are also ancient accounting records still in existence of the of the painting work that was done.

Anyone who has looked at more than a few of my posts will know that I like bright rich colours and I find it a bit sad that the old churches aren’t painted any more (it got too expensive). I’d love to see an old Gothic church painted up like how they did it in the old days. The medieval age was a lot more colourful than I think that many people of today, would imagine.

We’ve had a busy weekend socializing

On Friday evening my wife and I went to Paul’s place to have dinner with him and his wife.  Paul is a very good cook and great fun so it’s always a pleasure to go over to his place. He cooked a couple of snappers in a Thai sauce and they were delicious. The time always passes quickly at Paul’s and before we knew it, it was midnight.

On Saturday night we went to Alison and Justin’s place for a barbeque with Asian salads. Again the food was excellent and again the company was so good that we didn’t leave until midnight.

Today (Sunday) we went to Jade and Claude’s wedding .  This was their second wedding. The first wedding was a Chinese wedding in Malaysia in October last year (which we also went to) and today’s wedding was a European style wedding.  The weather was absolutely perfect and the wedding was held at South Head, over looking Sydney Harbour. It was all very nice and pleasant. A perfect day for a very lovely wedding.

As I reflect on the food I’ve eaten over the last couple of days, it has occured to me that all the food has been what is described as “Mod Oz” which is basically Asian fusion food with an Australian twist.

About a quarter of the people living in Australia were born overseas and that fact is changing what we eat. For instance, at our table were nine people. Five people were born in Australia to Anglo parents, another person was born here but her parents are from Germany and Iran. One guy was from Malaysia, another fellow was from Egypt and there was also a woman from Turkey.

 Gone are the days when over cooked bland English cooking was the normal fare one could fear to expect.

Some things I made 10 years ago.

When I was in design college my class was given an assignment to make a piece of  jewellery in a presentation box that could be given from a representative from one country to another.  We were all asked to pull a country’s name from a hat.  I got Poland.

The assignment required that we all some research about the country we were given.

I knew nothing about Poland before I did my assignment and I was really amazed at how bloody and troubled Poland’s history had been. Being between Germany, Sweden, France and Russia has been a curse for the Polish people and it’s amazing that Poland has lasted over the centuries.

The jewellery is made up of various symbols from Polish history. I made the brooch in a rough manner so it would like something made by the common person. I wanted it to communicate that it was a heartfelt gift from one people to another people and not some meaningless bauble from one dignitary to another. 

The background cross comes from a medieval knight’s belt and is made from titanium representing the strength of the Christian faith in Poland. The silver wings are from 17th century cavalry armour when Poland had the best cavalry in Europe and they represent the Polish fighting spirit. The amber in the middle has been fashioned to look like an electrical resistor and represents the Polish resistance to the Soviet Union.

The box is covered with red shellac to represent all the blood that has been spilt and the names around the opening are the names of battles where the Poles have been triumphant. I tried to give the whole thing a medieval look, as though it is the reliquiae of the Polish spirit that has been kept safe through all that Poland has gone through and suffered.

We also had to produce a background poster to go behind the jewellery when it was displayed at the end of the year.