Show Photos

Saturday, 18 November 2017

There was something hilarious about the guinea pig judging that we happened across. Maybe it was how the animals were all lined up and pointed towards the judge, quietly waiting their turn to be poked and prodded.. 



Quite unlike the attitudes of the alpacas who were also being judged as we came past.  

The woodchopping was good, and the 'animals made from vegetables' category is always amusing..


Zali and Jett are old enough to drive their own dodgem car now..


and of course the dog highjump was a highlight. Although it was roastingly hot sitting in the sun.


All up it was a good morning out.  The only sad part is that it's the first show we've gone to without Jon, as he's in SA for a few more days. Still there's always next year :) 



Zali & Jett's cake

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Zali and Jett finishing off their entry into the Novice decorating section of the show..


And this is their reward..


Show Cakes

Friday, 17 November 2017

Because it’s been a while since I’ve entered anything, and because I had time to do it, I’ve also got two Christmas cakes which are headed to the Huon Show tomorrow.   


Let’s call them The Knitted Cake (left) and the Wrapping Paper Cake (right). 

The Wrapping Paper Cake took quite long time to create - what with a double layer fruit cake and all the different greens and time consuming techniques I was using. On the other hand I pretty much threw together the knitted cake on a whim one afternoon last week.

Although to be fair, that cake actually has quite a history.  I originally wanted to do a cake that looked like a christmas pattern on a jumper, like this:

So in December last year I started investigating how to get a knitted effect on icing. Firstly I sent away for an imprint mat from a regular cake shop. The stitches looked authentic but the overall knitted effect was actually so small and fine that it wasn’t suitable for a big cake - it was suited to jumpers for these gingerbread men though.. god rest their delicious gingerbready souls…

On the hunt for a larger imprint thing I scoured the entire internet and found just one option - there was someone in the Netherlands who made their own imprint mat and sold them. In euros. Via international bank transfer only (no PayPal). Sigh. With no other options I went ahead with a 16 euro purchase and we won’t talk about the shipping.  Having said that, I must add that the seller was actually really nice and helpful thoughout the transaction.

Anyway, it arrived a few weeks later, but as I suspected, the result was actually more of a crochet/knotted effect than a simple knitted effect. I really wanted big clear knitted stitches.

There was no other option, I had to make my own. After some time spent with the institute of You-Tube I felt confident I could make the actual silicon mold part, the greater challenge was to find the thing to make the mold OF - Let’s call this the ‘knitted-positive’.  Obviously I couldn’t just press silicon up against a wooly jumper as it would be too soft and impossible to release once the mold was set. I toyed with the idea of spraying layers of varnish over some knitted garment and using that once it was dry but after consideration I decided that it was likely to be very messy, and Jon (the owner of the garment) would probably not be happy with the end result.  So it was back to the internet to find something that was both knitted, and hard - and I found this - an ugly knitted looking plastic basket - perfect!  Another purchase and some more shipping costs later and I had my starting point.

To make my knitted-positive I cut the ugly basket up into rows, trimmed them,  and lined them up on some wood.

The size of the stitches actually changed from the top of the basket to the bottom, so I tried to adjust for that as I stuck them down. Then I used a silicon-cornflour mixture to make the mat, pressed it down as hard as I could, and left it to dry. The first go wasn’t great (below left), but the second attempt went really well (right). Yay! After many purchases and many months I finally had my knitted-imprint mat - yay me!

Then it was time to test the concept of using it with actual icing to make a jumper pattern and I quickly found out that it was very hard to any sort of pattern, in fact it was going to be impossible to do what I had originally planned. dang.  

So I put the whole lot back into the stupid ugly half cut up basket and pushed it to the back of my cake shelves.  

It was only last week (some six months later) that I had the strength to pull it all out again and try to create something. Originally it was in order to justify at least some of the hard work (and expense!) that had gone before it - but in the end it was simply quite fun to create something using my hard-won knitting imprint mat.



The funny thing is that there's absolutely no way anyone will look at that cake tomorrow and guess its complicated past!  


Gingerbread Men

Thursday, 16 November 2017

I had some extra gingerbread dough and lollies after the gingerbread house, so I suggested to the kids that they make some gingerbread men for themselves and their friends. I was expecting nice happy gingerbread men like this..


but they called him Boring-Man, and went on to make:


                       Harry Potter Man                             Gandalf? (I'm not a lord of the rings person)


Angry Paleontologist Man                                   Fat Subway Man


 Ski-Jumper Man                                       Stabbed In The Heart and Eyeballs Man


Two Faced Man                  Contageous Disease Man

and finally..


Sad Business Man.

I have referred them to child phycologists.

Gingerbread Brewery

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

This big pile of stationary is not normally how I'd start a baking project. I do occasionally make a sketch, or maybe even grab a reference photo from the internet, but creating reams of recyling isn't a normal thing - but this project has been a bit different. Let me explain..

While perusing the baked goods display at the 2015 Huon Show I thought to myself that it would be fun to enter the gingerbread house competition with a gingerbread house that looked like something in Hobart.   And having not entered anything at the show that year I promised myself that I'd create this house and enter it in the 2016 show.  Just a few weeks later I came up with the perfect idea - Hobart's Cascade Brewery:


So with the idea in place, and alnost a full year to execute it, I did absolutely nothing further.  I arrived at the 2016 Huon Show empty handed.  

This year I've had a lot of unexpected free-time, so it seemed like 2017 was a good time to revive my plan. Duly armed with some photos from the internet I started by trying to sketch the front of the brewery onto some graph paper so I would have the basis for the model.  This went terribly, and after a few attempts I was ready to shelve the plan for another year.  Luckily for me though, after I had abandoned my sketches on the kitchen bench and left the house to do something else, Zali came along and immediately saw the 'pattern' of the building's architecture - she said it was something about thirds. Anyway she drew up a perfectly scaled version for me.


With this hurdle overcome, and my enthusiasm rekindled, I took Zali's template and turned it into a cardboard proof-of-concept..


This helped me iron out some of the structural problems. The Cascade Brewery is really just a massive sandstone facade, with lots of tin-shed looking bits stuck onto the back and sides.  I had to simplify the details of the real building and make sure it would be strong enough to stand.

With the overall design sorted out, I decided to draw it up on Sketch-Up, so I could print out accurate guides for cutting the gingerbread.  This involved teaching myself how to use the 3d drawing tool - I'd tried it before but given up immediately, but once I got the hang of it it was quite fun..

By the end of that task I had a nice set of printed templates that I stuck onto cardboard and used to cut out the gingerbread. Along the way I also made a new metal cutter to do the windows, and I also like to think that I invented a new technique of doing windows - cutting them out and replacing them with thinner gingerbread - so they are inset.  I added on the thin strips of gingerbread to imitate some of the other features of the building. Here's the front of it before it went into the oven. Oh - I also invested in s $3 piece of plastic for pressing in the brickwork - which saved a lot of time and made it quite neat.


I did have a few attempts at cooking the parts as I experimented with other ways of doing things, but by the third time I was ready to commit to baking all the bits..and they turned out well.


The next step was assembling the building, using the time honoured method of tins to hold the sides up while they dried!  

I didn't end up using most of the roof bits, as the thickness of the gingerbread (as opposed to paper) made it look and fit a bit funny.  It turned out the liquorice straps made much better looking corrugated iron roof anyway. Zali came up with a method for making it look aged.


With the stucture built, it was time to do the funnest stuff - decorate with lollies.  It took me a while to settle on a method for doing the road out the front - in the end I sliced up liquorice bullets and laid it like cobblestone..


Then it was time for the finishing details - I came up with a good way to do trees if I do say so myself. Zali invented the mixed lolly hedges. The rest is pretty standard gingerbread house fodder with a few extra details:


like the drunk man out the back.. 




I hope my efforts are enjoyed by punters on Saturday when Zali and I enter it in the 2017 Huon Show. Regardless of the outcome, it's been a fun if rather frivolous project!



Spring Flowers

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The other day I went for a run on the pipeline track. My favourite spot on the pipeline track is here, where the trail narrows, and this big slab of rock on the right radiates heat and the views suddenly open up all the way to the water:


This particular time it was especially nice as these flowers smelt so strongly it was almost overwhelming. It was lovely. 

Derby River Derby

Monday, 30 October 2017

I have to admit that I was really reluctant to go to Derby for just one night. After all it’s almost a 4 hour drive, and in order to make the first race of the Derby River Derby we would need to leave no later than 5.15am.   The obvious solution would have been to leave the day before, but Jett had a waterpolo game at 8.30pm - making it too late to even head to Launceston after that.

So we got up at 4.45am, and we left at 5.15am. With a short stop in Campbell town we arrived with 25 minutes to spare. Unfortunately this meant we only had that amount of time to construct the ‘home-made’ raft, which in our case was a plan to join two $5 pool air mattresses together with a tarp and wrap the structure with duct tape.  While Jon and the kids did that, I sorted out the paperwork for them and for the rest of the cousins - and by some miracle, they were all lined up and ready to go at 9.30.

It turned out that two small air-mattresses taped together weren’t nearly bouyant or stable enough to carry two people down a river.  Zali and Jett got a good start (by running) but got caught up and left behind once the floating part of the race started! 

Derby River Derby from Cathy McComb on Vimeo.

Nevertheless they had fun and they appeared back at the start line just in time for the next event when they combined forces with the cousins and got a win on the Fleming’s more bouyant double air mattress based watercraft.  yay!

Then Jon, Zali, Jett and I had a go in the Family race - this time we rented an inner tube and had a nice paddle down the river together. It was all good fun but next time I’d like to do the 7k race - it takes a few hours rather than 15 minutes and I think it would be a fun way to see the river.

After all the excitement we pitched our tents by the river and Jon and I went for a fantastic ride on the Derby trails.  I forgot how great it was to ride there. 

The next morning, after a run for Jon and delicious pancakes for all of us,  Jon and I went out for another ride on a completely new set of trails.  



Zali and Jett spent the hour watching the local platypus mosey around in front of them and playing frisbee.  Once we were back we only had time to pack up, have lunch at the cafe, and head home so we could make home with 15 minutes to spare before family dinner.

So it was only one night, but we packed a lot in. Camping by the river in Derby was so lovely that we all felt the short trip was totally worth doing. We’ll plan a longer trip next year though. We'll also try harder to get the kids out on their bikes - they were very happy not riding, but it feels like they are missing out on lots of good fun. Next time.

Search Party

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Last Monday and Tuesday I joined a number of volunteers helping the SES search for former orienteer Bruce Fairfax who had gone missing while on a small bushwalk to Duckhole Lake near Dover on Saturday. 


Both days of the search were physically arduous - after being assigned to a team we were given a search area and a task which was generally to fight through thick scrub looking behind every log, into every hollow and basically anywhere that a person could be.  By the end of it my legs were covered with bruises and scratches and my muscles were sore from all the clambering over obstacles and pushing scrub aside. 


As well as being  physically draining it was also quite emotionally draining.   I didn’t know Bruce that well but I have known him and his family since I was about 14 and it was awful to think about what the rest of the family were going through as each minute, hour and day went by.  And of course there was the constant thought that he was out there *somewhere*, desperately needing to be found,. So by the end of each day I was feeling pretty low.  Luckily the drive back to Kingston, whilst long, was absolutely beautiful and in a way, restorative. I always felt a bit better by the time I arrived home. At the end of my 2nd day of searching the SES said that they were going to take the search in a ‘different direction’ and didn’t require the use of volunteers any more. By then Bruce had been missing for three nights so it wasn't looking good.

I’ve never been involved in a search like this before. Now that I’ve seen one first hand I think that the SES are pretty awesome. On the Monday there were quad bikes checking all the dirt roads nearby, helicopters buzzing overhead and an experienced team of SES people on the ground leading the search teams.  I suspect it’s not possible to ever execute the perfect search, and I certainly don’t think the outcome would have been different in this situation, but I do have some suggestions for improvement should a search party ever need to be organised for me. 

1) All volunteer searchers should be issued hi-viz vests. On both days a lot of time was spent by the leaders and participants  trying to keep all the members of the search teams accounted for as we did line searches in the thick scrub.  It was particularly hard to keep track of the people wearing green or brown tops - those cheap hi viz vests would have made volunteers easily identifiable. (the professionals already had navy and flouro-green shirts).

2) ascertaining each volunteer’s fitness would be good before assigning them to teams and areas.   On the second day I was in charge of a team of 5 searching beside steep forestry roads.  Much of my time was spent making sure one particular volunteer didn’t have an exertion induced heart attack.   At the same time I had to make sure we were still covering the ground we needed to in the limited time we had.  A short pre-search questionnaire would do the trick.

3) They should hire a portaloo for the search base.  I accept that it’s essential for the forest to get trampled all over during a search, but it’s seems crazy to not provide toilet facilities for the 60 or so people who came each day - some environmental damage is necessary but some is completely avoidable. 

4) If the search is actually for me, I would like each search team to contain an orienteer, and for anyone who wants a map to have access to one.  On day one we wasted a lot of time (hours) due to some navigational mistakes by our leader, I think that having a few more people in each team with maps  (rather than just the one) would minimise the chances of that occurring.

Having said that, I was really impressed by the way in which the SES people interacted with the volunteers  - they expressed a lot of appreciation and we all felt valued,  They took time to explain why we were doing what we were doing and some of the statistics behind it.  They were also were really gentle and responsive with the family., 

After 4 days the hunt for Bruce was called off completely with no trace having been found. His family have returned to Launceston and the SES plan to do more extensive diving in the lake at a later date. 

Today Clare and I returned to Duckhole Lake to walk up to Creekton Falls - we did this for a few reasons, firstly  Bruce’s daughter Kirsten had asked Clare to have one more look in that area if she had a chance (although of course it’s been searched many times already so it was a peace of mind thing more than anything), and secondly, I really wanted to go back when it was quiet and peaceful so I could process everything and have a sort of debrief with Clare. Clare wasn’t able to be involved in the search earlier in the week due to minor foot surgery. 

Although we were slightly rushed due to Sunday afternoon commitments, we had a nice walk, and stopped to take a few photos.  I felt altogether better afterwards. I hope the family are able to get some resolution to this mystery in the not too distant future.

There's a a wrap-up of the search here.

Fortescue Loop Take 3

Friday, 20 October 2017

I'm just going to say it. This is Australia's best 20k trail run.  I love it.  

Despite being a bit inconsistent with training lately due to illness before we went to Bathurst, then injury afterwards, I wanted to do this run nowwhile lots of the spring flowers are in bloom.  

So while Jo and Clare took a leisurely stoll to Cape Huay and back (actually that's not really leisurely - it's quite a solid hike), I did my favourite run ever.


The weather was great and the flowers didn't disappoint.. 

My very favourite part of the loop is a section where there are huge amounts of white flowers on the left:

and amazing views on the right:


then the white flowers give way to bright yellow flowers:

then they in turn give way to soft pink and more subtle yellows. And although I was pretty tired by the end, I was so happy to get to do this runt - it's such a lovely area.

Then to cap it all off it's possible to  have a shower at the campground before heading home. Today was even better as I had a shower then had a picnic with Jo and Clare who had just returned.  Yay.

Lime Bay

Friday, 20 October 2017


I can't remember ever having gone to Lime Bay before - so it was nice to have an excuse to go there with Clare and Jo and have a bit of a run around the area yesterday. It turns out it has a lovely camping site,  a big shallow beach, gorgeous views and lots of echidnas!



Once that was done, we checked into our low-brow glamping accommodaiton at the Port Arthur Holiday park. I love the Safari tents there - they are really fun and are positioned right above Stuarts Bay baach. We had a lovely evening watching the Bachelor and strolling along the beach.



Ikea makes everything better

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Jon and Zali's hotel was conveniently located near an Ikea, so after picking them up in the morning we headed over there and met the Marsh Bluetts for breakfast and a long browse.


Because I was still hobbling around I had a great time just relaxing in the lounges at the cafeteria drinking bottomless pepsi max and reading my book. The others were road testing couches..

Roadtesting the couch from Cathy McComb on Vimeo.

After 3 blissful hours and numerous unplanned purchases we headed home to Lane Cove with time for a swim before dinner. It was the first day in over a week that I hadn't had to drive hundreds of kilometres so that was also nice!


Back in Sydney..

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The last day of the carnival was good fun. Jett and I got drafted into relay teams but neither of our teams were in the top 3 - we both had good runs through the tricky terrain which was a nice way to finish up the carnival. Unfortunately I rolled my ankle in a hole with about 1k to go on my course. I finished the course but it's now pretty sore so I'm limping around and can't go for my usual favourite runs around Lane Cove.

Jon had another clean run and Zali also ran well - so they both got their relay teams some more medals. I was particularly happy for Zali's team mates as they had both missed out on being on the schools relay team - so it was awesome to see them up on the podium with great big smiles.


After a long day at the event (not helped by getting up at 6pm on Daylight Saving's morning) Jett and I drove back to Sydney, stopping in Mt Victoria to see the Marshes luxury holiday home, then follow them the rest of the way home to Lane Cove.


Jon and Zali were staying on the school bus then at the airport hotel where we would pick them up the next day. Zali was looking forward to a night in a room with a door!


Australian Champs - Day ? + 2

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Today was the Australian Long Distance Championships back in the surrounds of the Hill End township.  Jett and I were running the enter-on-the-day courses again, and we both had good runs.

Zali and Jon were properly entered in their rightful classes - and I’m happy to report that Jon won his class, and Zali was 4th - which would be her best individual result all week I reckon - just 15 seconds from third!  Clean navigation in the tricky gold mining areas paid off for both of them.


Afterwards Jett, Alexa, Lyra, Kari and I checked out the township a little, then visited one of the old gold mines.  It was a nice afternoon.



Rest Day Schmest Day

Friday, 29 September 2017

Jett and I managed to sleep in until about 8 today when we got up to the news that the house internet allocation had been used up and we were in go-slow mode for all future internet browsing.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I woke up at 2am and wasn’t able to get back to sleep so I watched an episode of Survivor on my computer. oops :) (who doesn’t have unlimited internet in this day and age??).   Happily my blame can be shared somewhat because Andy forgot to stop his computer from doing updates and it did a big one first thing in the morning.  

After struggling through breakfast with no internet we packed lunches and  drove down to Evans Crown to take a look at the giant granite boulders. The short walk and scramble over the rocks was fun, and we ate lunch looking over the eastern hills below us. It was delightful.


On our way back to Bathurst we stopped at a nice stream for some gold panning and contemplating. 



Back in Bathurst Alexa, Jett and I checked out the art at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) while Lyra and Andy replenished their book supplies. Then we visited Zali up in the boarding school.  A bit of food shopping followed then we ended the day with a trip to the night food market. 

All in all it was a top day out. It could only have been improved if Jett hadn't beaten me for the third time running in our nightly chess game, thus bringing the overall score to 5-2.  Sigh. 

Australian Champs - Day ?

Friday, 29 September 2017

I've lost track of actual days we've been here but I know that yesterday was the last event of the schools champs - the relay day.  Due to recent solid performances (hmm... not counting the sprint I guess!), Zali got a run in the Junior Girls relay team as the 2nd leg runner.

Jett and I had a long drive to get out to the event so when we got there we were both informed that Zali had started her leg already, and had gone out in the lead due to a great run by their first leg runner Mikayla.   Zali's job was to keep that lead and ideally stretch it as much as possible in order for our third leg runner to be able to hold on against the ACTs 3rd leg runner who had been running about 5 minutes faster than everyone else in the bush events all week.  Jett and I were very relieved to see that Zali had actually managed to stretch the lead a little by the time she headed towards the murdurious spectator control - a leg that came up a long steep hill in full view of the crowd.    She headed back into the forest for the last few controls then popped out again in the finish chute, handing a solid lead to the 3rd leg runner - phew!  


Then we all had a nervous wait to see if Eleanor could hold off the ACT. Things were looking touch-and-go through the spectator control as she'd already caught up some 3 minutes and we only had a couple spare.  Sure enough, despite a good 2nd half, the ACT runner appeared in the finish chute ahead of Eleanor who still posted the one of the faster times of the day.  That meant Tasmania finished 2nd in the Junior Girls relay which is still a great result. Yay!




Funnily enough a similar thing happened in the Senior Girls relay where Tasmania went into the last loop of the final leg in the lead only to be passed by the older sister of the ACT assassin in the junior girls - so another silver medal to Tasmania! Again a good result though.

Here's Zali's at her boarding school accommodation which we visited briefly today..


After all the excitement of the relay Jett and I went out to do our enter on the day courses which we both won. Yay us! We both had to suffer the same brutal spectator control that the school kids did - I was very glad I wasn't doing it on a relay team so I was able to allow myself to walk a bit of it!

On our way home we stopped at a fun looking park on the edge of Bathurst which we’d passed about 8 times the day before. It was nice to relax on the grass and play some frisbee golf before heading out to our house, arriving at sunset..



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