We've finally got the renovations really happening. This past week a 72 year old man turned up on his own and in one day stripped out every bit of metal from the old sunroom/ bathroom and knocked a few walls down for good measure. I must say I was pretty impressed with his energy.... I do remember demolishing our little place in Melbourne, the subject of my last blog post, and literally crawling home to our apartment at night and collapsing from exhaustion.



The next day, his son turned up with a giant excavator and in around 2 hours had reduced the whole thing to rubble and started clearing the site. While we knew it was practically falling down on its own, it was still impressively fast to see it removed.




Amidst all of this, the dust has flown. We have had an incredibly dry Summer in Adelaide, and you can easily see that from the digging - bone dry dirt. Our veranda is covered in dust, and my new washing machine set up under the side veranda is rather tricky to use due to the dirt factor.

During the week I went out to dinner with a couple of friends to a meal revolving around the Harris Smokehouse range of products. Harris Smokehouse make absolutely delicious smoked salmon, along with smoked Sardines, Cod, Rainbow trout and many other smoked seafood products in the Adelaide Hills - it's available in supermarkets and gourmet food stores in Adelaide... I'm not sure it's yet expanded interstate. I'd heard a little about their produce, and knew it was related to the old Springs Smoked Salmon brand, but it was so interesting to hear the owner, 27 year old Adam Harris talk about his family's business.


He is the 4th Generation of a family smokehouse, which started in the UK (Pinney's of Orford), and after one son left for Australia in the late 80's they set up Spring's Smoked Salmon just outside of Adelaide, in Mt Barker. This was sold to Huon in Tasmania in 2005 - Adam detailed the difficulties they had with supplying the supermarket giants, Coles and Woolworths, and the price squeezing that went on while they struggled to make money in keeping a premium product going. Huon changed much of the production process (along with the brand name of Spring's), and I think you can tell in the taste. For one, they no longer use oak to smoke the salmon.

Adam set up Harris Smokehouse 4 years ago, and decided to expand the range to not rely so heavily on the Salmon, which they struggle to make money from. There were a few questions from the dinner participants about production and also about antibiotic use in farmed Salmon. Apparently our fish in Australia is relatively free of antibiotics compared to the Northern Hemisphere's Salmon as we do not have 21 different diseases that are common there. Our water is cleaner (all farmed in Tasmania), but he expressed his disappointment that there is a smoked salmon on the shelves in the big chains that is $3.99/ 100gm packet, the cheapest available. It comes from Norway and has been fed antibiotics, frozen and defrosted 3 times in the production and shipping process and is still cheaper than any Australian product that can go on the shelf. Certainly this is not because the local manufacturers are driving around in Rolls Royce... it's just the cost of the raw ingredients, plus the premium production process.

One thing I have been thinking about a lot lately is local produce, local producers and local manufacturing. If you buy a $2 t-shirt, someone somewhere has been ripped off in the production process. The shop that sells it is making money, but either the person growing the cotton, picking it, shipping it, spinning and weaving it, dying it, cutting it up and sewing the shirt, then shipping it to our stores in Australia has been ripped off somewhere along the line. I don't think you have to spend a fortune on what you buy to guarantee that this doesn't happen, but I do try to be more mindful of where things are coming from. There was a fascinating (to me) documentary on Foxtel recently, a UK show called "Mary's Bottom Line", did anyone see it? Mary Portas decided to try to revive British manufacturing and decided to design and manufacture women's knickers in Britain, sourcing the raw materials locally, which like Australia has lost most of its manufacturing and industry. The towns that had been the centre of garment manufacturing 30 years ago were horrifying - ghost town like rows of empty shops from failed and closed businesses, empty warehouses in weed filled fields, and 2nd generation unemployment with a palpable feeling of despair and hopelessness.



She found the last manufacturer of stretch lace in Nottingham, formerly the biggest manufacturer of lace in the world, a guy with a few machines in a shed. But she succeeded in employing and training machinists, sourcing local lace and making a point that you could produce a premium product in Britain which while it costs more than the cheap Chinese imported knickers employs local workers and manufacturers, which is good for everyone. The range was called Kinky Knickers and launched in Liberty's in London last year. It's apparently been such a success they're expanding the range to include Men's underpants, and singlets/ vests as well.

So, a few of the slightly random thoughts swirling around my head from this week! From diggers to knickers.... a slightly strange segue!


44 comments:

  1. I love this post Heidi. I think it makes some really good points about consumerism and ethics. (And I am always a sucker for heavy machinery....)

    I agree entirely with not buying super cheap stuff. I find the concept of what is pretty much disposable fashion abhorrent. As you say, somewhere along the line there has been a cost to someone - be it human or financial. Much better to buy the best you can afford even if you buy fewer things.

    Antibiotics in food are scary - research coming out about antibiotic resistance in Australia being caused largely by this. Hopefully our food regulations will get much tighter in regards to this soon although in such a global society it is going to be a real challenge to stop these bugs.

    The digger would have provided hours of entertainment for your kids. Mine were most excited that the tree man had a remote controlled stump grinder. Farmboy now wants one as he feels it would be handy if we are ever invaded by aliens....

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    1. The other thing about the true cost of cheap "stuff" is the environmental cost.... you only have to see the pollution in Beijing to be reminded of the terrible environmental consequences of supplying consumer goods to the West.
      Apparently with the Norweigan fish as well, Woolworths were putting it on the shelves with a use by date of 1 year (if frozen, but they were defrosting it for sale). Adam's Dad wrote to the health department 4 times about this (should have been 3 weeks) before they finally ordered Woolworths to change the use by dates on the packaging. Scary.
      The Digger has been a huuuuge hit. I can only imagine Farmboy's excitement at the stump grinder. It would be useful for potential Aliens too.... wasn't there some UFO sighting in WA back in the 80's? You can never be too prepared! xx

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    2. Definite UFO potential here in WA. Gets pretty wild out here in The West. Never know when you may need a remote control stump grinder or two....

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    3. A definite must for his next birthday then! And you'll have to carry it with you for that next time you're driving down a long, remote country road and lights appear overhead.....

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  2. Impressive destruction of your old back of house!
    It must be so gratifying to see it gone.
    Regarding locally produced/made produce and goods, we struggle with this. We try very hard to buy our meat/ veggies from the local farmers market, but the prices are breathtakingly high sometimes. Meat is easy to deal with - we just buy less, but fruit and veggies are harder. Our budget blows out regularly if we buy local.
    Bread is another big issue. We try to buy from local bakers, but again, the prices! $8.50 for a basic whole meal loaf - not possible I'm afraid. We've just started baking our own to avoid these daft prices. My 8 year old is obsessed with the River Cottage series on TV, so for his birthday we got him the RC book of bread. this Saturday he baked his first batch! It was delicious!
    Clothing manufacturing is harder. It's almost impossible to buy ethically and Australian produced clothes. I have a lot of friends who work in the fashion industry, and 2 girlfriends have had to move their production to China and India respectively this year. Producing locally isn't financially viable, unless they go down the path of employing very badly paid piece-workers.
    I don't think there are many Aus companies that manufacture here....
    Wow that was a long reply. Sorry!

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    1. That's fantastic that your son is baking! Very impressive. I agree with you about the Fruit/ Veg situation. We eat less meat and buy better local/ organic cuts instead to stay within budget, but you can't escape the price of fresh Vegies (except growing your own, which I have mixed success with). And yes, the up market bread is incredibly expensive. I've made my own, and it's great, but you can't do it every day (well, unless you have a bread machine I guess).
      For the clothing, I had heard the Cue was manufacturing in Australia, not sure if that is true though. I've also found smaller boutique brands that do, like Cable Melbourne. The problem is that their stuff is very, very expensive... it's hard isn't it?!

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  3. Hi Heidi,
    Just discovered your blog.
    I lived in Adelaide until 1992 when we moved to Queensland. Your blog reminds of what I miss about old Adelaide. The houses the gardens the seasons the food!
    Was utterly addicted to Springs salmon and was devastated when it was no more.
    I have recently started buying Huon salmon directly from Huon on line an it is far superior to their product available here. It’s worth a look and I have ordered some to be sent to my son in Melbourne for Easter as apposed to chocolate
    I have Mary’s kinky knickers (you can get them from ASOS) and whilst they look good the quality is not that great and they have been a bit of let down, literally!
    Kate Bx

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    1. Hi Kate, thanks for your lovely comment. I think sending salmon instead of chocolate to your son is an excellent idea! I'm sure he'll be very pleased. But how disappointing about Mary's kinky knickers - that's so sad to hear that they're not great quality wise. It was such a great idea, so it's very sad to hear it wasn't so great in practice. xx

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  4. Oh, and that Mary Portas documentary sounds v interesting. Will look out for it as we don't have foxtel. Perhaps it'll be on a torrent somewhere.
    Just googled her kinky knickers and they get great reviews. It's good to know that she's doing something to reinvigorate British Manufacturing.

    It's very depressing. I remember in 1986.87 when I was living in Detroit I had a part-time job tutoring kids with learning difficulties in Flint, a city not too far from Detroit.
    Flint used to be where General Motors had their main manufacturing plant, but Roger Smith had moved them off-shore a couple of years previously and it had totally decimated the entire community.

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    1. Mr AV has travelled a lot in strange places in the US for work, and said the poverty in some of the former manufacturing cities that he's been through is mind boggling. It's so very sad to see people growing up in first world countries without any hope or future at all. Def. keep an eye out for the documentary, it was very interesting... Kate B above though said she didn't think the knickers were great quality, so maybe hold off on a purchase? xx

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  5. Whoa, your house looks like a very respectable construction site with a digger and all!

    Yes the sand looks like it came from a sandbox!

    Well it must feel good with it coming along...

    Gosh, where to start about products.

    I saw Mary's bottom line and it just brought up so many issues and as you say covers so many aspects.

    The sad thing is even if you wanted to go local, there just aren't the choices especially depending where you are.


    I trued to eat local stuff for a while but there was only so much beet root I could eat. I do try and be mindful but it's hard.

    I used to run a cafe thinking people would want good quality food but people ou would think would care about provenance and quality would come in ith their designer clobber but just want the cheapest thing on the menu and be quite honest about it...

    Since then to be honest, I haven't that much faith in the general public...

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    1. I think we really are spoilt with local produce in Australia, it's just very expensive compared to the imported goods. It's definitely harder in the UK, as you do end up with a lot coming from the hothouses of Holland or not a lot of choice as you say.
      I agree about your general public observation. We are definitely having a love affair with disposable fashion in Australia - with the Aussie dollar being so good, we have every cheap chainstore in the world clamouring to open (I see H&M is next), and everyone here buying more and more stuff that is thrown out too quickly.

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  6. I just love your blog because you bring up subjects that are often on my mind. Re the salmon, I eat the smoked salmon weekly and I do buy it from one of the big supermarkets. I have wondered if I really am eating a "healthy" product. This blog has answered a few of my questions and doubts. Thank you for the information you have given.
    Re quality vs quantity regarding everything in Australia now...I think we have lost our way, and quantity has won over quality. I think in part because in the distant past when we quality was around, we were actually over-charged, but prices have come down now in response to the Asian products. But, do we really need so much "Stuff"?
    thank you once again for a wonderful blog.

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    1. I agree with you re quality. Old clothes in Op Shops are so much better made than the clothing of today, and also I've noticed that local pricing is much better than it was to compete with Asia - Country Road suits back in 1996 cost about the same as they do now. I can remember thinking how expensive they were at the time. In real terms, all the consumer "stuff" has become much cheaper, and we all own a lot more of it than we used to. Glad this post resonated with you. xx

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  7. Some great insight to the food industry. Looking forward to the reno progress!

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    1. me too Deanne, but there likely won't be huge progress until after Easter now!! xx

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  8. Heidi, it is so great to see your renovation underway. Reading about the 72 year old motivated me to get off the couch and go for a long walk this afternoon! Hope this phase of your renovations goes well.

    I really enjoyed reading about the Harris Smoked Salmon. I have seen it stocked in a few delicatessens nearby, however am yet to try it. You have inspired me to purchase some this week. After years of reading and researching, especially all things related to farming and food production, I am in a place where I cannot go back to only purchasing food from the supermarket. I still purchase some items from them, however 90% of what we buy and cook with is locally sourced organic food, and it feels so good to do so. Adelaide must have so many amazing food producers and markets (it is definitely a future holiday destination for me - especially visiting Maggie Beer's shop).

    Thanks for sharing the facts you learnt at the talk - I learnt some things too. Have a great week, Fifi xxx

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    1. I'm so happy to hear Harris salmon is stocked in Brisbane Fifi. It really does taste different from other smoked salmon on the market in Australia, much more like the traditional premium smoked salmon in the UK, you'll love it. We are very lucky that in Adelaide we have a chain of Supermarkets called Foodland. To compete with Coles and Woolies they instead focus on local produce and variety- we have the entire Maggie Beer range in there, it's much bigger than you've probably seen, along with all sorts of other yummy cheeses, biodynamic milk/ yoghurt, relishes, jams etc...from the food producing areas of the Adelaide Hills and beyond in South Australia. It makes local produce very accessible if you can't get into the big Central Markets (which I sadly usually can't), and is actually quite a nice supermarket experience. Have missed you blogging! Have a good week xx

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  9. Well done that 72 year old man! I love all smoked food, in fact I'd eat anything smoked, we have a few local smokers and the smell is just so mouth watering.
    I saw those pants, great idea but way too expensive.

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    1. Well, I've always thought the Scots know a thing or two about smoking Tabitha. Yes, the knickers are expensive... I see that they've had to increase the price since the initial launch too. xx

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  10. I LUFFED Mary's Bottom Line and was teary throughout.

    Bood Sweat and Tshirts about sweatshops in India is worthwhile and confronting too. x

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    1. I'll look up that documentary, it sounds very interesting. Our favourite TV presenter, Kevin Mc Cloud did a documentary about the slums in India, it was v. interesting too, and sad, and confronting.
      Mary's great. I always find it inspiring to see someone doing something rather than just complaining about it, especially when they're in a position to get some traction. xx

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  11. Now that's an energetic 72 year old - exciting process that I can't wait to follow. We don't have Harris Smoked salmon in the States to my knowledge, but my family is definitely more conscious of eating farm to table now and more organics. The use of antibiotics in our chicken and beef is especially prevalent. Do you have a way to follow your posts by email? I would love to get them in my inbox, but didn't see a place to sign up. Just let me know and happy Monday!

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    1. I have heard that antibiotic use in the US in the meat industry is particularly high. We don't have that as such a big issue here (not so commonly used), although I know a lot of people that won't touch pork unless it's organic for this reason.

      I added an email subscription button.... I'm still relatively new to blogging and finding my way! Have a great week. xx

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  12. Lots of thought provoking things in this post Heidi! One thing that plays on my mind with the concept of buying more expensive things is that often it is just that the profit margins are higher, the packaging, branding and stores are slicker but the product is still manufactured in the same sweatshop in China or India as the cheaper version. A friend of mine had a uni job at Smythson and their employee discount was 80%... knowing this makes me loathed to buy anything from there. I suspect that the other luxury brands are the same.
    Great to see progress with the house.

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    1. Agree with you re just buying more expensive brands. An Italian friend told me much of the "Made in Italy" stuff is not in fact made in Italy, but in China, it's just had a couple of things done to it to make it classified as Italian made. She was pretty scathing about the whole thing (lives in Florence, so knows all about it). I guess that's why buying local is so much better if you can. Made me quite sad though the other day to see that the teddy bear my youngest loves (and which I though of as very Australian) was designed in Australia, but made in China from Australian lambskin. And they're not that cheap anyway....
      I can't believe that Smythson do 80% off for staff??? I worked in various retail jobs whist at Uni, and we only ever got 30-40% off. That is quite off putting too. xx

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  13. Hi Heidi
    Another great post! It's heartening to know others are also concerned about where our food and clothes come from, as well as the quality issues. It really bothers me in many ways. I look at every packet now to find out where it's made...cannot believe how many things are made overseas. It's disappointing that we are importing so much from overseas-the environmental impact of transporting such things must be shocking. The other day I found my kids school was selling iced tea which is made in the USA...nothing against the product but do we really need to be shipping bottles of sugared water that far around our planet?
    I buy local as much as possible, and yes, Foodland is the best source for supermarket staples I agree.
    Recently I came up against a hard choice...I found that Arnotts Tim Tams contain palm oil. Oh no! Now I know I'm lucky to have these choices, and I do want to buy Australian made biscuits but short of baking my own (ha!) how do I get my fix ?
    Thank you for another good post, and good luck with living through the next months of building at your place.
    Cheers, Renie

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    1. Hi Renie, completely agree with you with the iced tea. It seems absolutely absurd to drink water from Europe that we can get here too. That's really bad about the palm oil in tim tams. A friend on Facebook posted something yesterday about Woolworth's brand of Hot Cross Buns containing palm oil... hopefully social media backlash will get some of the big manufacturers thinking about their ingredients too. I'm sure the reno's will get frustrating at some point, but I'm always happy as long as there is progress on site. It's nothing happening and living in an uncomfortable way that drives me up the wall. xx

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    2. Renie, try Macs butter shortbread. Made in Australia, with only butter - no palm oil. In the supermarkets. And it tastes good too!

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    3. Dear Heidi

      So good to see that you and many others are supporting healthy Aussie made products. We shop for most things at our local supermarket, Woolies, trying to avoid processed foods and products with food additives (healthier - also I have an allergy to msg). W now have some homebrand organic products (and with no additives), eg baked beans, tinned tomatoes and even pasta, sadly while they're mostly tinned/packaged in Oz, the contents sometimes come from OS. They also have a limited amount of fresh local organic fruit and veg and free range meats, including bacon, which are supposed to be low in chemicals/pesticides,antibiotics etc. But this summer almost all our salad ingredients and all fresh herbs have come from our own veggie garden - and we never use pesticides or other nasties. Wonderful picking luscious sweet red tomatoes warmed by the sun and gathering a handful of basil at the same time. Have almost given up ordering mineral water at restaurants or buying bottles in shops since I realised how environmentally unsound it is, even if the bottles are recycled. Despite the slight air of disapproval at some restaurants when I ask for iced (tap) water I'm persevering. Have occasionally come across places that sell fair trade coffee, often it's organic too! Will look for Harris salmon.
      Op Shops are wonderful! I work as one of the volunteers in our local church shop and we receive wonderful things. People walk out the door delighted with their purchases. The other volunteers are lovely and so are the customers. We have great fun. Many of my clothes or accessories come from Op Shops! Other women will admire a shirt or a scarf or a bit of bling I'm wearing and when I tell them it came from an OpShop and cost about $5 they can't believe it! Then they say, "Oh, but you shouldn't tell anyone!" My reply is "Why?". I'm proud to be recycling and benefiting the community, not embarassed. Best wishes, Pamela

      Best wishes, Pamela

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    4. I love showing off a bargain too Pamela, so I'd be just like you telling everyone that I'd got my item from an Op Shop! And you can always find some interesting things there too. Home grown tomatoes taste completely different to anything you can get in a shop - how nice that you grew so many of your own salads this past Summer. The tap water is very borderline drinkable in Adelaide, so I'm afraid when we're out we do drink bottled water in restaurants (at home it's been filtered).... and if you've ever had the heavily chlorinated water that is distinctive to Adelaide, then you'd probably do the same! xx

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  14. yay for plugging local produce - as you know it is a topic close to my own heart too - the adelaide hills produce such amazing wonders of deliciousness - all that beautiful cheese, chocolate and wine, sounds like the smoked fish is a delightful mix. xx

    ps - how exciting to see the demo in action!! yeehah!!

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    1. we are very lucky to live so close to the source of good produce. I remember the first time I saw tomatoes being advertised in the South Melbourne markets as "Adelaide Tomatoes", with a premium price attached. It made me laugh, and I told my mum who couldn't believe that common market garden tomatoes were considered so highly!
      Yay for reno progress at last! xx

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  15. Hi Glamour Drops and Heidi
    Forgive me, I can't operate the reply feature from my computer...but thanks for your tips above on australian biscuits with no palm oil-will try. And... I was at my fruit and veg shop late today and noticed they have the Harris smoked salmon and trout you mentioned! So exciting to see it after just reading about it. I will be giving it as "Easter Treats" to my adult family members too. Cheers again, Renie

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    1. That's great Renie! You'll enjoy Easter xx

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  16. I recenlty saw a doco about young British people going to other parts of the world to learn where their every day necessities come from. I saw the one on coffee grown in an African country Im ashamed to say I cant remember which one, the locals get virtually nothing and it was explained the profits come from selling the roasted beans, which is done many miles from the growing area.

    An Indian cab driver told me the other day we should have manufacturing in Australia, yes we used to, I said. Im always thrilled to ghear of any local industry that can make a go of it

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    1. That documentary sounds interesting - the coffee situation is like the blood diamond one. Who wants a symbol of enforced slavery as their engagement ring? Or a cup of coffee where someone has slaved for the beans.

      There is local industry around, it's just hard to find it, but when you find something good that is local, it is worth supporting I think. xx

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  17. 72 year old man you say?! What a find.
    Shopping locally is a subject I think about a lot....I don't buy anything from the supermarket except nappies (Naty by Nature Babycare which are environmentally friendly until you realise that they come.....from Sweden!) and I try to buy everything else locally grown and sold in local grocers. People complain that organic/local produce is too expensive...not when you consider the cost to the planet/your health. I used to love salmon yet have given it up as fish farming's main problem isn't really antibiotics but the amount of fish harvested to produce the food fed to the salmon and the cost of intensive farming on local waterways. Also think about clothes and accessories which as an industry are riddled with contradictions....apparently Burberry handbags are made in Dharavi, the main Mumbai slum. Who knew? Rx

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    1. You've blogged a bit about organics and local produce, which I've always found interesting, and Tasmania is quite like South Australia in that you have wonderful food and producers on your doorstep. I doubt very much that Burberry would be advertising "straight from the slums of Mumbai, our wonderful clutch for only $3500". There have been a few good books about the so called luxury houses along that vein. I see that RM Williams are being sold, and that apparently LVHM have expressed interest. You'd hope that part of that interest would not mean moving the production off shore and closing the small factory in Adelaide, with its highly trained craftspeople. How sad our world and its inequalities has become. xx

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  18. OMG - I have an identical pic of our old villa at Unley at the same stage, IDENTICAL! MOTH did our demolition during a stinking hot February. I was working all week in BrisVegas & coming home for the w/ends. He saved the bricks for me to clean & I did, all 5,000 of them! StarFingers on Unley Rd blacklisted me as a client due the rubbish state of of my nails. We had an old bathroom/laundry where yours is that MOTH called the Stalag 13 Abulutions Block. Oh the memories......
    Millie xx

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    1. How funny you are Millie! I can't believe you chipped all the mortar off the bricks yourself. The Demolition man asked me what I wanted to keep, and I specifically said not the bricks - ours were the attractive wire cut reddish of red ones from the 60's, yours must have been the lovely old ones original to the house? I did want to save the old crazy paved mintaro slate from the terrace, but unfortunately while other things were poorly built, someone had OD'd on the lime in the mortar and it was hard as a rock and not coming off the slates. xx

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  19. Lovely post Heidi! I have to admit that I am slightly jealous of the excellent progress of your demolition team!! Ours has been more than disappointing! Dust is too awful... it gets in everywhere but hopefully the worst part is behind you. Finding decent underwear is difficult at the best of times and I might have a look for the kinky brand when we visit the UK later this year. Going to keep a look out for Harris smoked Salmon... I always steer clear of the cheap brands as they usually taste awful!. Love all the comments you are getting now... not surprising as you are such a good writer!! xxx

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    1. You'll get there Jenny! I know your frustration though, I just wanted to get a move on with it, especially as we've been planning for this very actively since April last year (and thinking about it for 3 years now since we bought the house). Definitely look for the Harris salmon - one of my friends whom I took to the dinner bought it this week and has raved about the taste, it's completely different from the cheap imported brands in flavour. For some reason the comments have really peaked in the past week, (along with the spam that I delete) but some posts not so many comments, and I can't work out what interests people anyway, so I just write what I feel like.... half the comments are me replying too! xx

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  20. Loving the demolition progress!!! Hope the dust settles soon.

    I love the sound of Harris Smokehouse smoked salmon. I get all our seafood and Huon smoked salmon from Angelakis. From looking at HS's website it looks like Angelakis stock theirs too, so will try it next time. Thanks for the informative post !!!

    B

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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