Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Calvados?

If you have already visited The Gardens House, you may have noticed that it's actually called Calvados and perhaps have wondered what that is and why the house is so named. There's an interesting story about both of these questions.

Calvados is a truly wonderful drink from northern France. It's a double distilled apple brandy. Apples (and in a few varieties some pears) are fermented into cider. This is then distilled into eau de vie de cidre. It's then aged for a minimum of two years in oak. The name falls under the French appellation controllee system and the area it comes from is restricted under those regulations. There's a good general article in Wikipedia.

Henrick Mattsson (pictured above) is a Calvados enthusiast and has published a book on the drink and the region, even recipes.

My family's link comes from my great-grandfather Louis Jeanne. He was born and raised in Isigny-sur-Mer in one of the appellation districts in Normandy. It's not exactly the best known town in France, but Walt Disney traces his family back to Jean-Christophe d'Isigny ("of Isigny") who came from there. Louis Jeanne jumped ship in Melbourne in the late 19th century. The name of the house celebrates that link. The nameplate was originally attached to my grandfather's house in Ivanhoe, Victoria and came to The Gardens when my parents retired here about 100 years after Louis Jeanne arrived.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sea and Seafood

I have to admit that one of the things I really enjoy about being at The Gardens House is relaxing and reading while looking at the ever changing seascapes. Seeing the migrating whales and dolphins is incredible. I remember once noticing what looked like a huge wake from a boat, but when I put the binoculars on it, it was a large pod of dolphins moving across the Bay of Fires. One year a large sea lion made the Bay his home and could be seen most days swimming and drifting.

Of course, the other alternative is to actually get out there in the water and look back at the land from the sea. Binalong Bay began life as a fishing village and there's a number of charter operations there and at St Helens. One of these is Professional Charters run by Rocky and Angela Carosi. The fishing is sensational - if you don't believe me, just check their photo gallery.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Watch out for Wombats!

The title of this entry can be taken two ways - look for them, and look after them. There are quite a few wombats in The Gardens area, especially down on the flat near Big Lagoon. They have also been seen around The Gardens House, especially around sundown. They are fairly regular in their habits, so if you see one, note the time, it may well be back at around the same time the following day. Bear in mind that they don't have watches, so if the following day is significantly different in terms of cloud cover, then that may not work.

Wombats are the Mack trucks of the marsupials - it's not that they carry stuff around, but they are solid and determined and their natural response when disturbed is to hunch down for a while, then continue on their course. If you are driving, always give way to them - if for no other reason but self interest. Look at their size, imagine hitting a rock about that size - it won't be quite that bad but you'll know you hit one!

This habit of keeping to their course means they will walk quite close to you, which is a great way for kids to see them, but they're not toys, so look and learn, but let them go as they wish. If you find an abandoned young one, contact the Parks and Wildlife Service, they do need special care.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wonderful Images of The Gardens

I have recently discovered Bay of Fires Images and Publishing which has an excellent photo resource of The Gardens area of the Bay of Fires, as well as other surrounding areas. The aerial photographs in particular give a good impression of the relationships of the various features. In the main image (shown above as a thumbnail) you can clearly see the size of Big Lagoon at the back, with Taylor's Beach coming in from the top left.

The Gardens House is on the bank just before the first headland as you trace Taylor's Beach downwards. Make sure you also have a look at the Taylor's Beach photos, as they are taken from The Gardens House end of the beach, which you step down to from the back gate.

A link to Bay of Fires Images and Publishing has been added to this page, or click here.