Right now we are in the middle of the Australian garlic season. Australian garlic is seasonal and available for only a few months of the year, from around November through to the end of May.

Outside of those months most shops will only stock imported garlic.

FRESH: Australian garlic is in season now.

Food miles aside, imported garlic is fumigated with the highly toxic chemical methyl bromide on arrival in Australia and is also often bleached. I’d rather go without than resort to buying imported.

I treasure foods more when I only eat them in season. That first sweet orange or crunchy apple is even more delicious after having gone without for a few months.

However, I like to enjoy garlic all year round. Dahl, hummus, lentil loaf – many of my favourite staple frugal meals just wouldn’t work without garlic.

If you store garlic properly it will last until around six months after harvest. After that, it will probably sprout. I store whole bulbs in a bamboo steamer in the pantry. As long as they are in a dry, dark place at room temperature and have good air circulation they will stay fresh for months.

To ensure an all-year-round supply I freeze garlic. To freeze, I separate the cloves and place them in a container in the freezer. I don’t bother peeling the cloves and then use them without thawing when I need.

Other ways of preserving garlic include drying or storing with salt or in vinegar. I like the idea of storing in vinegar.

Chopped garlic is submerged in a bottle of white or red wine vinegar and stored in the refrigerator. The vinegar and garlic is ready to use in salad dressings for up to four months.

The best place to find Australian garlic is at your greengrocer, farmers market, or direct from the farmer. Several Australian garlic growers now sell online, including Hunter Valley grower Patrice Newell (patricenewell苏州美甲美睫培训.au).

So if you don’t want to be tempted to buy imported garlic in a few months’ time, now is the time to buy garlic.

Tricia writes at littleecofootprints苏州美甲美睫培训 about learning to live better with less.

Twitter: @Triciaeco

SECRET: Retirees renovated their home to brighten up the interior take advantage of the wonderful views of the lake. PICTURES: PHIL HEARNE SECRET: Retirees renovated their home to brighten up the interior take advantage of the wonderful views of the lake. PICTURES: PHIL HEARNE

SECRET: Retirees renovated their home to brighten up the interior take advantage of the wonderful views of the lake. PICTURES: PHIL HEARNE

SECRET: Retirees renovated their home to brighten up the interior take advantage of the wonderful views of the lake. PICTURES: PHIL HEARNE

SECRET: Retirees renovated their home to brighten up the interior take advantage of the wonderful views of the lake. PICTURES: PHIL HEARNE

Retiring types have fairly simple criteria – for example a water view and a nice place to walk. . .

Lakeside Belmont offers both in spades, but that’s one fact the owners of this house don’t want readily known – at least not “to those Sydney people!”

Belmont born and bred, well known for their sailing links and utterly relaxed into “their space”, these retirees bought their retirement house “down on the flat” early on – 20 years ago in fact, after living on a steep block at Belmont North.

The reference to the Sydney invasion into one of the Hunter’s best-kept secrets is a common one around these parts, while “on the flat” translates more precisely into a two-storey house on Brooks Parade, with shimmering panoramic water views.

Their connection is to the area as much as it is to their house.

“You can walk to the shops, the highway is just there and we have the most amazing sunsets. I’ve sailed all my life and it’s beautiful to see the yachts coming down with their spinnakers.”

“We talked about where we would go if we have a chance to move and we both said we don’t want to live anywhere else. We like it that it is easy to get to places around town, close to the beaches and it is developing.”

Their love for their home town was reason enough to undertake a full renovation of the upstairs last year in a surprisingly short space of time.

It started with the bathroom in August which was completely renovated in an elegant white colour palate and “like Topsy, it grew!” quipped the owners.

Then came the rest of the upstairs which has been transformed from a timber-dominated theme with polished floors, chandeliers, timber venetians into a light and bright space using cool neutral whites and soft carpet underfoot.

A timber balustrade on the stairs was changed to stainless steel, a new wardrobe was installed into the old wardrobe space in the second bedroom and new windows installed in the lounge and dining rooms overlooking the lake.

The lighter, brighter interior has opened up the house to the water, and the owners say, has added another dimension to their lives, simply because they so much more enjoy the space in which they live.

An abstract of a wave called Washed Beach from Earth Quirks in Nelson Bay fills the neutral space on a wall nicely, while beach-themed colours in table lamps and shells add to the decor.

It also fits beautifully with the new kitchen installed a few years ago and a private deck which wraps around the back of the house on the first floor.

Framed by a mature tree, it offers plenty of privacy from neighbouring properties and being deciduous, doesn’t block sunlight during the winter months.

Downstairs has benefitted from the installation of a new floor covering in a bamboo-look laminate – a nice feature against a handsome timber and cotton replica yacht, that was gleaned from a weekend sojourn to Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne a few years ago. It sits at water level in the downstairs front living room with the lake as its back drop, giving the impression it is floating on the lake rather than atop a table.

The front deck has also benefited from a more modern approach.

Wrought iron ballustrades and colonial pillars have made way for glass, which enhances the views over the water and is the perfect place to idle.

“We watch the goings-on on the lake, there is always something happening – weddings, people having picnics and also because we have lived in Belmont for a long time, lots of people know us and come past for a chat.”

Do you know of a home we could feature? Email [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训.au.

I was wandering around the gardens the other week (as I get paid to do!) when I noticed the most stunning display of angel’s trumpets I have seen these plant produce.

They always look good through the summer months but for some reason this year they were amazing, just dripping with flowers.

BEAUTIFUL: The stunning brugmansia, more commonly known as the angel’s trumpets.

Angel’s trumpets are known botanically as brugmansia and some people still refer to their older name of datura and they hail from the sub-tropics of South America.

They are a very fast grower and once established need very little care, although the more you feed them the better they will do.

In colder areas they will suffer from frost damage and look considerably messy but as the weather warms up they erupt into a most stunning display.

Few plants can claim to be more impressive at this time of the year with the trees dripping with trumpet-shaped flowers over 20 centimetres long and most as sweetly perfumed, particularly in the late afternoon.

It is not uncommon for a mature tree to have more that 500 flowers on it at any one time. Originally they were available in just a few shades of cream, white and soft yellow, but there are now many colours available.

The plants in general can get a few leaf-eating bugs and grubs which can cause the plant to look scrappy, but you won’t even notice it once they are in flower.

They are extremely easy to grow, with no pruning needed and it is best if you don’t as it will ruin their shape.

They are best grown in the garden as they will struggle if put into a pot. When planting make sure you give them a little protection from hot summer winds as they will get a little bit of burning on the flower.

It should be noted that you do need to have a bit of respect for this plant as it is toxic. It should not be ingested or burnt, so if you can live with that then it is a must-have plant.

The only problem you will have is that they are hard to find. They do not present well in pots in the nursery so many places will not stock them so you may need to ask your local nursery to order them in for you.

Sean O’Brien is the horticulture manager of Hunter Valley Gardens.

Readers can email questions to [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训.au.

SUBJECT: Adams is a keen photographer himself.If Canadian singer songwriter Bryan Adams ever needs to be reminded of how far he has come in more than 30 years as a performer, he needs only to look at a framed cheque for one dollar that hangs on his wall.

A&M Records presented the cheque to an 18-year-old Bryan in 1978 as payment for signing him to the label.

TROUBADOUR: Bryan Adams loves to tour,

“They were stingy, obviously didn’t have any faith and in order to make a contract legal you had to have exchanged some money, so they had to – they had to – put a dollar on there,” the strangely familiar, raspy voice tells Weekender on the phone from Raleigh, North Carolinam where he was playing on tour.

“Everybody needs a break and so even though it wasn’t for anything in particular and there was no way I was going to pay my rent on this deal, it was a foot in the door and I was able to prove myself.

“Sometimes that’s all you need in life is someone to give you the chance, so even though they were stingy as hell in the beginning, they coughed up later, don’t worry.”

An astonishing 65 million record sales later, Adams has proven he was worth the gamble.

His career has been a lesson in endurance, earning him 20 Juno awards, two Ivor Novello awards for song composition, nominations for 15 Grammy awards that included winning the 1992 Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television category, five nominations for Golden Globe Awards, and three nominations for Academy Awards for his songwriting for films.

In 2009 his face was on an estimated 1.5 million stamps issued by Canada Post.

For his contributions to popular music and philanthropic work through The Bryan Adams Foundation – which helps to improve education for young people around the world – he has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and made a Member of the Order of British Columbia.

He supplements the foundation through his celebrated photographic work, which has appeared in British Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Interview magazine and included an invitation in 2002 to photograph Queen Elizabeth II during her Golden Jubilee.

On top of this Adams – often lauded the hardest working musician in the industry – still finds time to tour regularly and widely, often clocking up more than 120 shows a year.

He became the first ever international artist to perform in Nepal when he and his band played in Kathmandu in February 2011.

“I don’t know many other people who work as much as I do, but that’s not to say that there aren’t people,” he admits, having just completed his second concert in a week’s worth of acoustic shows.

Now 53, Adams has for the past few years been alternatively touring his intimate Bare Bones acoustic show – which came to Australia in 2011- with his full band arena concert, which he will bring down under in April.

“I know Dylan works a lot, I know Elton works a lot, I know Sting works a lot,” he says casually.

“Making music, I can’t think of a better job, I’d like you to tell me if there is one.

“So I’m pretty grateful and very thankful that I’ve been able to make a tour of shitty clubs into better ones [venues].”

While the world has watched his ascent to arenas and hungrily awaited his steady procession of modern-day classics, which have included Cuts Like A Knife, Summer of ’69, Kids Wanna Rock, Can’t Stop This Thing We’ve Started, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, Heaven and Please Forgive Me, little is known about his personal life.

Rumoured to have been romantically linked with Diana, Princess of Wales, and Elle MacPherson, Adams is notoriously private.

He rarely grants interviews and prefers to keep his brief and often curt answers focused solely on his music.

“I’ve always been like that, it wasn’t even a conscious decision,” he says of his guarded nature.

“My manager always berates me for not doing more press and being more out there and his line to me is, ‘Adams, you’ll never know how big you could have been,’ ” he muses.

“You keep things private but it’s hard these days, the way everyone’s got a phone and it’s got a camera on it, it’s everywhere.

“When I go to gigs, you can see people reach for phones before they even say hello to you.”

Adams does, however, have a Twitter account (“I’m just trying to pick up where everyone else is, but it seems like everytime you turn around there’s another website you’ve got to belong to”) and used it to confirm in November 2012 his girlfriend and co-founder of his foundation Alicia Grimaldi was pregnant with their second child.

The pair had already surprised many fans when they confirmed they were a couple at the same time they made public their pregnancy with Mirabella Bunny Grimaldi-Adams, born April 2011.

“I spend lots of time with her,” he says of his 20-month-old daughter.

Adams himself had a globetrotting childhood, with his diplomat father Conrad taking his family on postings to England, Middle East, Portugal and Austria.

After his parents divorce, a young Bryan returned with his mother to Canada, where they settled in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1973.

A fan of “anything with a lot of guitar and long hair” including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Who and Alice Cooper, Adams learned guitar and started auditioning for bands, gaining greater success when he tried out for a singer rather than as a guitarist.

He soon left school to provide lead vocals and help co-write Sweeney Todd’s 1977 album If Wishes Were Horses.

At the age of 18 he met former Prism principal songwriter Jim Vallance in a music store.

The pair formed a songwriting partnership that has continued to this day, albeit with a long break between 1989 and 2003.

Adams soon released his self-titled debut album in 1980, followed by his second album You Want It You Got It in 1981.

But his first taste of international success came with his breakout third album, the 1983 release Cuts Like a Knife, which featured the lead single Straight From The Heart.

Adams is surprised when told January 18 this year marked 30 years since the record was released.

“I don’t even remember that, that seems like a different person,” he says, nevertheless defining it as a career turning point.

“There were a number of times when I felt that something was moving forward and when you’re young and impetuous and full of beans you just want to go – sometimes you miss the memory because you’re just onto the next thing.

“But there were times when suddenly we weren’t playing in these shitty clubs anymore, we went from being the support act to the headliner and you’re actually hearing your song on the radio.”

Adams’ 1984 Reckless would be his best-selling album to date, including the singles Run to You, Summer of ’69 and Heaven.

Adams admits he is a “big romantic” and has always drawn inspiration for his often lovelorn lyrics from his relationships, friends, film and literature.

“All of that and more, as a songwriter I’ve always had that work ethic of give me a project and a deadline and I’ll come up with something,” he says.

“So even if I wasn’t digging in and it wasn’t coming from a relationship I’ve ever had, who knew, it could have come from somewhere else, just making it up as you go.”

His sixth album, the 1991 release Waking Up the Neighbours, featured (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, which spent 16 consecutive weeks at number 1 on the UK singles chart and earned Adams a Grammy award.

His contract was sold in 1998 to Interscope Records and in 2008, he released his eleventh and latest studio album, aptly titled 11. It was his first album to debut at number one in Canada since 1991.

Adams has started on his twelfth album – “right now it sounds like crap but I’m hoping it will sound better soon”- but is unsure about how it will perform.

“People don’t really buy records anymore, they go to YouTube and listen to songs on YouTube,” he says.

“I don’t think people are even going to bother with subscription music anymore either, why pay for it?

“They don’t need it, you go to YouTube, listen to what you want to, on to the next thing.”

Aside from music, Adams’s photographic career has included shooting advertising campaigns for Guess Jeans, Converse, Montblanc and Escada; twice picking up Lead Awards in Germany for his fashion work; and establishing Berlin-based art fashion Zoo Magazine.

“I’ve always been really interested in photography, I was documenting my own work on tour and also I was interested in doing self portraits for albums covers, just to see if it was possible,” he says.

“It led from that to taking pictures with friends, that’s how it sort of kicked off.”

His book Exposed was published last year, filled with intimate photographs Adams had taken of celebrities over the past decade including Morrissey, Michael Jackson, Lana Del Ray, Mick Jagger and Judi Dench.

His portrait of Amy Winehouse was chosen as the cover art for her posthumous release Lioness: Hidden Treasures.

His next photography book will concentrate on wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bryan Adams plays the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on April 26.

(SIMON WALKER: Bathroom brooding (16/2/13)here)

Haggling and market forces go hand in hand.

But until you find yourself at the cutting edge, standing eye to eye with your commercial adversary making an offer, you often forget how hardcore it can get.

Some people enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Cold-hearted bastards mainly.

Many cultures promote haggling as an artform. Particularly those awash with cashed up western tourists. But once back from our Lonely Planet adventures, we often revert back to getting ripped off without question.

Not sure why, but it could have something to do with understanding what the vendor is calling you.

This all came flooding back to me recently as I attempted to close the deal on buying a second-hand car.

Truth is, I hadn’t been thinking about buying a car at all that morning.

I’d been on the landline when my other half rang on the mobile to breathlessly inform me she’d spotted a bargain.

The timing could have been better, me being predisposed and all.

But timing is everything when it comes to picking up bargains.

It’s also the difference between comedy and tragedy, which is what we’d have, she suggested, if we missed out on this deal.

Since when had my partner become a used car salesman, I wondered. And why did it fall to me to follow up.

Low kilometres, young vehicle, old owner, price negotiable – go fetch, Fido.

Funny, really, because most dogs know more about cars than me. And so it came to pass during my lunch break I found myself “kicking a few tyres”. I think they were tyres.

First and defining impression of the car was that it was . . . yellow.

I would have been happy to leave it there.

Yellow cars, in my experience, are good.

But after a bit of prodding from my adversary, I mean the lovely lady showing me the car, we went for a drive.

During the drive we chatted about this and that.

Anything but the car suited me, because once we moved off colour, I was out of my depth mechanically.

At the end of the drive, the kind and accommodating lady agreed without hesitation to let me take it to my friend, a qualified mechanic, to run his eye over it.

My mate confirmed what I knew to be true – yellow cars are good. Particularly this one, but for a bit of rust.

And so we came to the hard-nosed part, the haggling.

Haggling lore demands you haggle, even if you’d prefer to write out a cheque, exchange addresses and become lifelong buddies.

So I put my offer. Here came the twist.

Turns out my adversary was actually an intermediary who ushered me upstairs to the real dealmaker, her husband, a proud gentleman obviously not in the habit of taking any shit.

Which was what my offer must have sounded like once I repeated it, because he started advancing like he was going to hit me.

The ad had said “price negotiable” but the price of this negotiation was clearly going to be a souring of our brief relationship, unless I met his price.

Which I couldn’t because, I don’t know, I had my pride.

And so market forces determined the only deal going down that morning was me, in an elevator, with my tail between my legs.

That’s market forces for you. No big deal, literally.

I’m sure they sold their car.

QUESTION: Ever driven a hard bargain?