So we visited Lisa in her cow milking shed.
She wasn't milking cows, she lives in it. Lisa is converting a cow milking shed into a 'house'.
The property of around fifty acres is nestled in rolling emerald green hills in a region once clothed in towering Mountain Ash forest with an undercanopy of treeferns. In the nineteenth century it was cleared for grazing.
Sure, a cow milking shed is stark and sparse but it's a roof over her head, right? A little render, some ochre-toned wash, some basic plumbing, a few earthy rugs to cover the concrete and hardened earth floors, some more for the walls and you've basically got your Tuscan-style farmhouse. There's electric light and gas cooking. What more could you want?
Most of the family had gathered for an Easter weekend, about a dozen in all; each contributing some food due the limited catering resources.
For Saturday dinner we had a blazing camp fire, over which were barbecued various goodies; steaks, lamb, sausages, sweet potatoes in foil.
To complement these we cooked up huge pots of pasta on the gas cooker and made up large platters of salads. The pasta was an old favourite, the reddest and ripest of the last of summer's tomatoes, simply sliced and folded through the hot pasta with cubes of mozzarella, basil, sweated garlic cloves and a dusting of parmesan. Simple but magnificent eaten outdoors. The salad; big fat olives, fetta cheese, onion and tomato. Drizzled with almost-green olive oil.
Everything was dumped on to a big table, adjacent to the campfire area, along with trays of bread and bottled of red wine. We feasted around the flickering fire in the dying light. Someone conjured an apple cobbler with pouring cream, a chocolate fudge cake and coffee from the 'Tuscan' kitchen along with a bottle of Morris liqueur muscat.
Then Alinta, Kiara and Brian took up their musical instruments and played. Somewhere afar, a cow lowed and a dog barked. Music!
A burst of rain beat on the tent around five in the morning (those not sleeping 'inside' had pitched tents, including myself). It had been a warm night, easy to sleep, and despite the rain, everything was virtually dry by nine o'clock.
An informal breakfast stretched over a couple of hours as sleepyheads emerged. The children shared chocolate eggs around. A morning walk to the rainforest preceded lunch, a combination of various things including baked beans, eggs, fresh sandwiches and 'refreshed' salads and cold meats from last night's barbecue. Yummy.