Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sweet three

Abi is three! She's had three days of happy birthday fun culminating in the sweetest little celebration you could possibly wish for today.

My job was to create a puppy dog cake (Abi's choice)?? With a bit of help from Grandpa this is what I came up with..........

The party started with some new headbands to unwrap (and try on), a good size stash of kinetic sand, some new books......

 ..and this parcel from me......
It was at this point that Abi says VERY CLEARLY to everyone ...this doesn't look very interesting!!  Oh dear.......

..although the shiny orange ribbon belt tie did look like it had some possibilities.

With presents done it was time for Joshy to watch over the meat roasting and for the girls to watch over him.

Abi had a her little Playschool friend over for the celebration....about the right number of guests for a very sweet three year old party I think!

 These kids really love their Daddy's roast dinners (as does the friend).

Can you believe the amount of food on their plates? AND it all gets eaten. Abi likes to finish hers and then sit on Grandpa's lap and eat whatever she can steal from his plate too. Ella reckons Abi eats like "Henry the 8th". (something she's learnt about from "Horrible Histories")

 Plenty of time after for play in the back yard and no need for party games!

We finished off with birthday cake (as you do) - and the puppy dog cupcakes proved to be a big hit too!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Canberra love

Rob's Mum is staying with us for a few weeks so it was perfect timing this weekend for a visit from the Sydney branch of the P family, giving them a chance to see their Gran / G-G and enjoy some play time with the second cousins.

The two A's are not too far apart in age and share the same interest in sand (digging and spreading).

although Sydney A's interest in taking charge of wheeled objects far exceeds that of Abi's.

 Z and Ella were keen to relive the crazy times they shared at M & M's wedding last May - but without the DJ and the party atmosphere it proved hard to reach (quite) the same heights of madness.

It was a great visit. We spent a lot of the afternoon enjoying a very relaxed lunch as gentle rain showered down around us as we sheltered Bali style under Pete's deck.

The Sydney branch stayed over at New Acton which was buzzing with good food and vibes this weekend (as ever) and the city was packed with visitors for the annual Multicultural Festival...a good weekend for Sydney visitors to see our city at its best.

J & J & A & E ate their fill at the festival outlets today but luckily left enough room for another superb Sunday roast dinner tonight and plenty of playtime with the girls at the sunset hour.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sydney East Art

It was a big weekend in Sydney for us. Claire's work had been selected for an emerging artist's exhibition at the Stanley Street Gallery in East Sydney, and the opening was on Saturday afternoon to coincide with the first Sydney East Art Walk for 2015. Great excitement!!

Claire's "Better than I remembered" looked spectacular on the main entrance wall to this perfect little gem of a gallery.

And this pair were exceptionally well suited to the scale and lighting in the main room of the gallery.

The four "emerging artists" each talked about their works at the opening. Claire talked about her recent move to landscape painting and her focus on experimenting with surfaces.

Liza and Merilyn run this gallery like it is their own home base (which in Liza's case it actually is!). We're only a stone's throw here from Hyde Park but the space emanates quiet seclusion and impeccable taste.  I want to live here!

Claire and I were treated to a tour of Liza's living quarters above the gallery on Friday afternoon.  We were invited to see her collection of Elizabeth Cummings paintings but couldn't help being gobsmacked by the views over inner Sydney, the quirky art work and furnishings and the extravagently large living spaces in this most densely packed part of inner inner Sydney.

There was a large gathering of friends, supporters and admirers there for the opening. Claire couldn't have done it any better than this!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The return of Australia

Tomorrow marks the start of the new school year for Canberra kids. The holidays are well and truly over and even our TV and radio are returning to their regular scheduled programming.  

But apart from all that I just get the sense that after a few years of being in the collective wilderness we're just starting to get back to where we should be in Australia. It looks like the Abbot government is really on the nose with the punters, Queensland politics has had a massive about turn and installed a whole bunch of (mainly female) intelligent and well spoken centre left leaning party members in place of the bully boys who ran the LNP, AND Australians have finally discovered soccer, the most multicultural and cosmopolitan of all our football codes YAY!!

AND breaking news on Monday morning Peter Greste is on his way back to Australia too - how good is that!

And just to top it all off..figs are coming back in season! Most Sunday mornings Rob and I walk to our local farmer's market (the Southside Markets at the Woden CIT) and enjoy a freshly made coffee and our choice of the artisan baked goods on offer for breakfast. Then we pick up whatever looks good and make up some platters to share with Josh and Jody and the girls over Sunday night roast dinner. Platters always start with some Primo Sale handmade cheese with fresh crudites and end with the best fruit on offer with a side serve of Lindt chocolates (Joshy cooks the roast and all the trimmings).

Today's pickings were particularly wonderful I thought (yumm purple figs)

There are no mangoes at the Farmer's Market (they're strict about the within 100klm rule) but what an amazing time of the year to be able to eat the last mangoes of the season with the first figs of the season! (and luscious blood plums too).

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Australia day

I'll be honest, I don't like celebrating Australia Day on the 26th January.  It's a pretty shameful thing really to celebrate that day in 1788 that Governor Phillip let his convict cargo loose on the shores of Port Jackson (Sydney), raised the British flag and claimed possession of "terra nullius" (despite the presence of the traditional custodians of the land, watching the new arrivals with some (justifiable) wariness), as the defining moment in our nation's history!!

When will we be grown up enough as a nation to have a sensible conversation about this??

We are among the most fortunate group of people in Australia - able to take advantage of good public education (and free tertiary education in our day!!!), excellent health care, a strong economy and a high standard of living in one of the best environments on the planet. That doesn't stop me thinking though, about how lucky we've been, while others haven't been so lucky, and being very concerned about the level of government debate at the moment about our country's future.

But to keep me focussed in the moment..I just have to look at Ella and Abi, enjoying their wonderful beautiful, well resourced Canberra.

They had a sleepover with us this week. We took them to a special exhibition (and creative activities) at the National Portrait Gallery and then a few hours at the fabulous new Boundless Playground in King's Park near the Carillon. Boundless was built with the donations of Canberra public servants to commemorate Canberra's centenary last year. It is their gift to Canberra  and the Nation's children - an all abilities playground accessible by everyone.

Ella and Abi gave it the thumb's up! - especially the water play area which they LOVED. They got absolutely soaked.

It was a lot of fun having them over for dinner afterwards and then a raucous sleep over - Dinner was all their choice: spaghetti Bolognaise and crepes for dessert. We probably tolerated a lot more fun and games over dinner than their Mummy and Daddy would.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Thredbo Blues

Thredbo/Charlotte Pass has been our favourite mid January destination for a couple of years now - a perfect time of the year and a perfect place for bush walking in this unique alpine environment and enjoying the company of good friends (and family).

This year we decided to sign up for the Thredbo Blues Festival events too.  The fun started with our now customary lunch at Wild Brumby on Friday, settling into Christiana Lodge on Bobuck Lane in Thredbo Village afterwards  then a round trip on the chairlift up to Eagles Nest and back (free chairlift rides ALL weekend with our Blues Festival tickets!) before heading out to the night's entertainment. Sugarcane Collins in the Lounge Bar, Mal Eastick (in the Kosciuszko Room), Kashmere Club and Swamphouse (in the Keller Bar) all proved to be good choices on Friday night, although many of us were concerned about how our hearing might survive the weekend with the volume levels set VERY HIGH!

Sugarcane Collins and Swamphouse were my favourite acts of the night.

Saturday morning we got going reasonably early, determined to do the Dead Horse Gap - Thredbo River walk (just under 10klm) before settling in for more music.

It was extremely windy - so much so that they stopped the chairlift soon after our ride so a lot of people got stranded on top of the mountain for quite a few hours.  Our chairlift ride was pretty rocky - no wonder they stopped it for a few hours until conditions were safer.

It was a battle to take this shot below at the start of our walk. Unless you concentrated all your efforts on staying upright it felt like the wind could blow you right off balance. I'd say it was blowing consistently at 30 - 40 klms per hour but with much stronger gusts when you least expected it!

 But, nevertheless, the mountains looked beautiful today - as they always do...

 These wisps of cloud were just racing across the sky, buffeted by the wind.

Judy was taking some stunning shots with her brand new iPhone 6 (Plus) this weekend. We're all very impressed...

 Just look at this beautiful shot below!........... (thank you Judy L and the iPhone 6 (plus)).

We realised from the growth pattern of the trees that these strong winds from the West are very common around here.

Starting the descent from Dead Horse Gap we saw up close the devastating impact of the 2003 fires on the mountain forests.  The regrowth is very slow under these harsh alpine conditions.

The further down the mountain we walked the wind started to ease and temperatures rose. The walk back to the Village along Thredbo River gave us lots of opportunities to crisscross the riverbed and admire it from lots of different angles.

 ..and admire the alpine wild flowers..

Some of us were in a bit of pain by the end - that's hard on the knees walking rough paths downhill for that distance. We needed to break open the Majella and Rob's birthday cake pretty early that afternoon before we felt we could take on an evening of the Blues.

We came good though, in time to catch the Harry Brus Band (NOT the Bruce Harris Band, Judy P!), Russell Morris, and the Bondi Cigars. The highlight of the evening was the Russell Morris performance: a good hour and a half of great new material and a reprise of some of our favourites from the late sixties and seventies (remember the Real Thing everybody?).

Sunday was a cruisey day for us - a very late start; chairlift ride up to Eagles Nest Cafe (Australia' s highest cafe/restaurant) for a beer/coffee and then back to the Village for lunch...

 at Brown Bear Inn..which surprised us all with the high quality of the food, wine, service, views....

 and great entertainment (the very talented Brody Young). The Fig Pudding dessert special was unbelievably good too.

The afternoon program was: George Washingmachine (as talented a dilettente as he ever was), a repeat performance by Russell Morris - this time poolside, in the warm afternoon sun...........

 ..rounded off by a solo show by young Shaun Kirk, a mind blowingly energetic performance by an extremely talented one man band of a musician - who blew everyones' socks off and ended up exhausting us.  We were finished off by his show - only capable of drinking wine and chilling out back at the Lodge afterwards.

It was a fabulous weekend though - one we hope to do again - and a great one to share with good friends and family. Lucky us!