As I write this, it is only a few days until the winter school holidays. If you are planning a trip away this holidays, consider asking the kids to write a travel journal.
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” – Oscar Wilde
Maybe this process will create a journal full of memories that will make sensational reading in the future. Or maybe not. Still, there are plenty of great reasons why you should keep a travel journal regardless of how sensational it might or might not be.
Even a simple journal works as a reminder of what happened each day. You don’t have to be a writer to write a travel journal. Every day, write the date, the weather, where you were, and what you saw. For kids, we’ve found it best to ask them to write their best thing and their worst thing about each day; as well as draw a picture. There are many journals for sale online for this purpose. We have found that a simple notebook works the best. There is something about the blankness of the pages that gives them room to write (or draw) whatever they feel like.
A travel journal also provides an alternative entertainment for long car rides. It only takes ten minutes to jot down the date and the weather; as well as a few basic details about the previous day. Bullet points work well – a travel journal doesn’t have to be an essay with descriptions of everything. It’s just a memory keeper. A reminder of where you went and what you saw. Maybe, how it made you feel. It can be as descriptive (or not) as you feel comfortable with.
For adults, social media (or blogging) can provide a similar service. By uploading photos as you go, with comments, the photo and comment is date stamped and your comments about the location are kept. Think of a travel journal as an old-school way of doing the same thing.
Some of our adventures, we’ve taken only a small notebook for each kid. Others, we’ve put together more complicated books. When we went to Tasmania for two weeks over summer, I used the Simple Stories Snap Album to create a travel journal that had pages for writing, as well as photo inserts, and pockets for them to keep brochures and other little things they found (like rocks because kids are weird).
Naturally, the children benefit from the habit of writing each day. But the wider benefit is that they have something they have made themselves that reminds them of the adventure.
All this dreaming of adventures makes me want to have one too. Sadly, it’s winter and we are stuck inside. What better way to ease the cold than a pork roast? I’ve made a standard recipe here with No1’s favourite sides – garlic salt roast potatoes, and Parmesan baked vegetables.
Pork Roast with two sides
- Large pork shoulder with skin on
- 2 red onions
- Cup of ginger wine (can substitute cider)
- 1 large garlic bulb
- 2 cup salt
- 2 small chilies
- 1 tablespoon duck fat (can substitute bacon fat, or olive oil)
- Garlic Salt
- 2kg potatoes
- 500g carrots
- 500g greens (I used asparagus and broccoli, but you could also use green beans)
- Handful grated parmesan
- Olive oil
Chop the chilli into small pieces and mix with the salt. Spread the salt mix on the bottom of the roasting dish and lie the pork shoulder on top, skin side on the salt. Cover and rest for half an hour minimum. This will dry the skin. Remove the pork shoulder, and brush the salt off. Retain a tablespoon of salt, and discard the rest. Pre-heat the oven to its hottest temperature.
Add the ginger wine to the roasting dish and allow the salt mix to dissolve. Add some water, then place a roasting rack into the liquid. Rest the pork shoulder, skin side up, onto the rack. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Place in a super hot oven for 15 minutes, then turn down to 150°C and leave for 3 hours.
At this point, boil the potatoes until they are just soft, then add to a second roasting dish with a tablespoon of duck fat, and sprinkle with garlic salt. Add to the oven and leave for another hour. Do the same with the carrots and add them to the same dish as the potatoes. Leave for another hour.
The pork has now had five hours in the oven at a low temperature and will be cooked through and soft. The initial burst of heat should have started the crackling process. There are so many different methods for good crackling on the internet, that it can seem rather confusing. In my experience it comes down to having a dry skin, and the quirks of your oven. Some recipes call for doing the burst of heat at the end. This does create a better crackling, but also dries out the meat too much, so I prefer to do it the other way around. The other option is to cheat. Cut the skin off the roast, then sit it on top during the cooking process as above. Once finished, then removed the skin, and fry the skin in a pan with another pot on top to weight it down.
The final dish is the baked greens. These are easy, simply roll in Parmesan, then place on a baking tray and put in the oven with the rest of the meal for about 15 minutes.
Gravy – you can make a simple gravy by taking some of the juice from the roasting dish and pouring it into a small pot. Add a handful of flour and stir quickly until the fat has been soaked into the flour. Then add water and whisk out all the lumps as the gravy forms. Once it is lump free, you can add a dash of soy sauce and a dash of Worcester sauce for extra flavour.