As you sprinkle pepper over your dinner have you ever thought about where it came from and who grew it?
Chances are your pepper has travelled a long way to your dinner table, with the bulk of commercial pepper grown in India and Vietnam.
But there’s a family in Far North QLD, which has cracked the local market.
Since the mid 1980s the Campagnolo family has carved a reputation as Australia’s only commercial pepper farmers.
Brothers Louis and Levi Campagnolo started farming pepper as a way of diversifying their sugarcane farming business.
Since 2006 Levi’s daughter Donna has run the business, after buying out her dad and her uncle.
Donna admits that Australian-grown pepper will always be a niche product, she simply can’t compete on price with the imports.
However she says when you buy her pepper you are buying fresh, aromatic pepper that’s been harvested this season and cracked to order.
By the time you read this I’ll have gone sailing.
Imagine that gorgeous couple is us – Mr Bean and I – strolling lovingly through the clear waters of the Whitsundays.
I’ll be looking dazzling in my white cossie, he’ll be smiling gracefully as he carries my feather light body through the water.
Actually the reality may be far more scary.
You see we’ve hired a yacht and will be attempting to sail it around the Whitsundays.
We’ve met a lot of people who’ve sailed before us and they fall into two camps – those who say it’s the best holiday they’ve ever had and those who say it’s their worst.
Here’s hoping we’re in the first camp.
The lead-up hasn’t been great. Mr Bean has assumed the role of Captain (he’s the only member of the family with a boat licence) and it seems the title has gone to his head.
When he’s not studying maps of the Whitsundays and muttering to himself, ‘I’ll need a compass. Better get a protractor. Check the torch batteries,’ he’s madly writing lists.
I found one of his lists on our dining table last week. It had me worried. Now either this sailing lark is a whole lot harder than the tour operators let on, or my husband plans to kill me.
You see his list featured many things including a hacksaw, bungee cords, duct tape (good, not the cheap Chinese crap) and zip ties.
Now if one wanted to murder his wife at sea and dispose of her body one would probably need these things.
I asked him about it and he claimed I’d found an outdated list.
“Don’t need those things anymore Al, already on board.” Hmm I feel so reassured by that.
Then a few days later he sat the boys and I down for a ‘serious’ chat.
I’m paraphrasing but the general gist was: ‘I’m captain, the captain’s in charge and you all need to do what you’re told … particularly you Alice.’
Then he went on to highlight all the times I hadn’t done what I was told and how on reflection I really don’t take instruction very well at all.
The boys ignored him and continued to play Minecraft.
I suggested that if my husband wants to see in our 10th wedding anniversary in May he’d best do away with the Captain Bossy routine and take a chill pill.
Holidays are for relaxing, I told him.
So hopefully by the time you read this I will be relaxed and sunning it up on the deck of our lovely yacht, looking gorgeous in my white swimsuit.
My biggest concerns this holiday are keeping our six-year-old on board, having enough food and not killing my husband.
We don’t really do confined spaces. And we don’t really do camping.
A friend kindly reminded me … ‘You do realise sailing is like camping but on the water.’
Yes thank you for that ex friend.
But seriously, if it all goes pear shaped I have Hamilton Island Resort on speed dial.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – the universal day of love.
Truth be told I’m not a huge fan of these commercialised ‘days’ … Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, V Day.
That said I won’t turn down a lovely bunch of flowers or these gorgeous earrings from my favourite jeweller (Note to husband, this is directed at you).
One man who is heavily invested in Valentine’s Day is Kooralbyn rose farmer Peter McKenna.
He produces red roses hydroponically. It’s his ‘retirement’ project.
Each year he turns out about 130,000 roses. You can order them online.
Peter recently told me the story of how he went from electrical engineering to retirement to roses.
Read his story by clicking the link below.
The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Feb 9 2014
I’m not one of those mums who loves painting and play dough with her children. Nor am I one who savours those looooonnngg hours sitting at the park watching them play.
Sorry, I know it’s not very PC of me to admit this but admit it I will. Tell me I’m not alone in this.
There’s heaps of bits of parenting that I adore. Lots of it makes me laugh, but there’s parts of parenting that are a real bore.
What they don’t tell you in the baby manual is that it is exhausting, stressful and sometimes the rewards are not easy to see.
I wrote about this today for the Gold Coast Bulletin, inspired by new research that reveals childless couples are more happily married than those with kids.
Turns out they actually take the time to TALK (please explain?) and work on keeping the spark alive.
It’s true. Click on the story below to find out more.
The Gold Coast Bulletin
Feb 5 2014
When you’re a mum the worries never stop.
One my biggest concerns is ensuring my sons retain their innocence for as long as possible.
In our super-connected world it’s a tough ask, particularly when one wrong click on the computer can lead my digital natives to a world of porn, violence and other creepy stuff.
The eldest is hassling me for a new computer game – Grand Theft Auto 5. Apparently some of his mates have it. It’s rated R18+ but he tells me ‘Don’t worry mum, it will be okay, I’m cool with it.’
Well sorry buddy I’m not ‘cool with it.’
Happy to buy you Reading Eggs and Super Mario but be prepared for disappointment because your mum isn’t ever going to buy you a game featuring strippers, shooting, violence, drug use and swearing. The last thing I want is for you to see this stuff and think it’s normal and acceptable.
If I had my way the boys wouldn’t play computer games at all but life is all about compromise isn’t it?
For years my professional life has been about the news but when it comes to my sons I try to filter the news they hear. I hover my finger over the mute button, ready to pounce. Rape, child pornography, incest, abuse are my trigger words.
Sadly they’re a reality of our world but I believe my kids should be allowed to spend their early years blissfully ignorant of the awful people who walk along side us. Over protective much mummy?
These holidays our eight-year-old spent two weeks at a holiday camp with about 30 other children his age and older.
I was incredibly nervous sending him away.
He returned home exhausted but happy and immediately asked to go to another camp. Which he did. It was another five days of adventure and fun. Bushwalks, abseiling, high ropes courses, bunk rooms, rafting and camping out. He even survived gadget and TV free for a whole FIVE days!
I asked whether he’d missed his family and he replied, honest as his mother, ‘Not really.’ Then he saw the look on my face and added, ‘Well a little bit, but mum I was having such a great time.’
As is the way with boys (and men generally) it took some days to prise out of him what he’d seen and done and who he’d met.
Days later, as we were working together in the kitchen, he said, ‘Mum do you know a lot of the kids at camp don’t live with their parents?’
Who do they live with darling?
“With foster parents.”
He went on to tell me about a boy, just two years older than him, who can’t live with his dad because he’s been to jail and has done bad things, nor with his mum who is still in jail and will be there for life because of drugs.
According to my son this young boy doesn’t really like living with foster parents but he has no choice.
My initial reaction was one of horror. This is just the type of sad reality I had tried to shield him from.
Then I thought about it. Maybe the time has come for my children to realise that not everyone their age has life so easy. That the happy, secure family life they take for granted is not always the norm.
That a life where your biggest issue is that mum won’t buy you GTA5 is not a bad life to have.
So despite my initial shock I stopped what I was doing and talked to my boy about why so many children can’t live with their own parents.
This column first appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin. Read my column, Family Matters, in the paper each Wednesday.