Saturday, May 21, 2016

The girl is 9

It's hard to believe that this sparky fun loving and talented girl is nine already!

Eight of Ella's friends helped her celebrate yesterday at the Rock Climbing Centre at Hume. We were all "roped" in too, acting as belayers for the young ones while they scaled the walls (of varying difficulty), having lots of fun and laughter in the process!

 Of course the four year olds wanted to join in too (eventually)!

This is the first year Ella has designed and made her own birthday cake. We made the chocolate devil's food cake (Donna Hay) before school on Friday morning and then did the icing on Friday night. Ella did a superb job of all the piping on top of the cake then it was our challenge to convince her to "let it show" and not crowd it with all the other decorative effects she had in her lively imagination. 

She loved the way the cake ended up looking like a Cadbury's block of chocolate (complete with purple ribbon). Go girl!

Abi loved helping Ella unwrap her presents afterwards, and was very taken with some of them herself.

This was our nine year old girl this morning - about to head out to another birthday party - looking very stylish and grown up. Go girl indeed.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Adelaide and the Barossa Valley

We've been in Adelaide, just briefly, enjoying some contemporary opera and other delights in the city, and an overnight stay in the Barossa Valley.

My work colleague, Don Bemrose, won a lead role in the SA State Opera Company's production of Tim Winton's "Cloudstreet". It's world premiere was on Thursday night. We made it down to Adelaide after an early start on Friday morning to see the second performance. "Cloudstreet" the book was my introduction to the wonderful writing of Tim Winton and it was amazing to see its rough Australian edges (and warm heart and Indigenous spirits) interpreted as a contemporary opera. Don was amazing as "Bob Crab" whose character set the scene for the whole production and remained the link to its spiritual heart. Wonderful stuff!

 We had a celebration drink after the show with Don and his good friend Janelle!
We weren't in the city for long but what we saw was impressive - from our very quiet and classy Hilton Hotel overlooking Victoria Square, to the rich foodie scene at  the nearby Adelaide Central Markets and all those wide avenues and old sandstone buildings in between. We found time to indulge in some beautiful cheeses from the Markets and a bottle of Barossa Shiraz (of course) before the performance (virtually over the road from the Hilton at Her Majesty's).

After all the excitement of the performance and a very late night we didn't get going Saturday morning until after 10.00am, heading North out of the city and then NE along the M20 towards the beautiful Barossa Valley Wine Region, only a bit over an hour's drive out of Adelaide.

We were ready for an early lunch by the time we got to Maggie Beer's famous Farm Shop in Pheasant Farm Road Nuriootpa (try saying that quickly). It was just as well we were hungry as the Farm Shop Cafe serves up generous, flavour packed dishes in hearty servings. We enjoyed our introduction to the Maggie and Colin Beer empire, the site of their original pheasant and quail farm, her first restaurant and the vineyards and orchards that are the source of her Maggie Beer food empire now.

 These are Colin's Shiraz plantings (Beer Brothers Wines).

 ...and their Frantoia olive trees....

Maggie Beer does wonderful things with her quince orchards - but I was a bit alarmed by the specatcular fungus growing on most of the trees near the Farm Shop.

There were pheasants and quails and ducks and chooks of every size and colour at the Beer's farm - but I was most impressed with these ring necked pheasants from China!

Afterwards We dropped off our growing collection of Barossa Valley goodies at our motel in Nuriootpa (perfectly fine accommodation but a bit of a come down after the Hilton) before heading off again, this time down the Barossa Valley Way past the picturesque vineyards and myriad cellar doors that line the road between Nuriootpa and the Southern outskirts of Tanunda. 

We chose to stop at Elderton's and St Hallett's cellar doors, both old Barossa wineries providing generous tastings of their rich local Shirazes and some varietals. As Rob was driving it was my responsibility to taste as much as I could  on his behalf.

I really enjoyed the very special 2012 St Hallett Old Block Shiraz (98 points James Halliday) - grapes from old Barossa Valley and Eden Valley vines - and with Rob's encouragement bought a bottle to open for my BIG birthday later this year.

We ended off a self indulgent, lovely day with a Bee Sting beer (a beer chaser for me after all the wine tastings!) and a little live music at the Barossa Valley Brewing and Brasserie near Heinemann Park on the outskirts of Tanunda.

We had a lazy start this morning. A delicious, unhurried breakfast at the very cute and retro "Nosh" in Tanunda.......
......before heading back to the M20 and Adelaide airport via the old  Gomersal Road, past the endless vineyards of all the big old Barossa wineries (Seppeltsfields and Jacob's Creek being amongst the biggest). We stopped off at one of the newest wineries: Pindarie with all its new(ish) vines, but still a very old farming property on the Western Ridge of the beautiful Barossa Valley, complete with an old stone homestead from the 1890s, a picturesque cellar door and some of the prettiest resident sheep you could ever imagine.. Pindarie has won a lot of tourist awards for its restaurant and cellar door...and we could see why...but it was just a bit too early in the day for us to do any tastings....maybe next time!!

This was such a tiny taster of what this amazing wine region has to offer - next time we're coming back for a week at least!!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Saturday mornings

We have settled into a bit of a Saturday morning routine with the girls. If it's a week when we can have a few hours together we do a major outing; if we don't have as much time then we have to do a Nature walk with Abi and a baking session with Ella to make the morning complete.

We took the girls to the just completed parkland for our C5 apartment in Campbell, on Saturday morning a week ago.......  

It's all very raw and new but Ella and Abi were very excited by the spaces, the endless (and super safe) looping cyclepaths, the water course and bridges - the hi-tech swings and play equipment......

 ..the fitness course and the interesting play spaces. The girls have given our park in Campbell a big tick (phew)!
Last Saturday was a baking morning.  Any form of chocolate (and sugar) is the basis for all our baking efforts. We like Donna Hay's recipe ideas while the Primrose Hill Bakery girls are the inspiration for our icings.

Ella loves her baking and is a keen follower of a number of bloggers with catchy names like Ro and Mo and Brooklyn and Bailey, who specialise in baked goodies. Matilda (Tilly) Ramsey's (daughter of Gordon) cooking blog is another favourite of Ella's.

It means I'm no longer the baking guru and Ella has had to teach me a few new techniques (which sometimes I don't agree with...especially the one about cutting the tops off your cakes so the icing goes on more neatly!!!!!!!!!)

However, some things never change - everyone still loves scraping the icing bowl........

 ..and the beaters.....
.....and having the last word!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Update C5

It's always a relief to see after a few weeks away that there continues to be progress on our "Saint Germain" at C5 (in Campbell)..and to remind ourselves of how time is passing very quickly!

This pic of the site was taken 6 months ago on the 25th October 2015...
 and this was taken two months later just before Christmas Day (21st December 2015)......
This was taken another two months later on the 16th February 2016 (not bad progress considering the usual Christmas - New Year - January - slow down in building.......
..and this was taken one month later on the 27th March 2016....(they're on the first floor car park level now!)
 ..and here we are another month on (24th April 2016) and they are working on the ground floor level of the apartments (only five more floors to go)
The park trees are looking very pretty now too with their Autumn colours.  

This area will be very crowded tomorrow with all the ANZAC Day ceremonies at the War Memorial and down Anzac Parade. Hopefully by ANZAC day next year we will have moved in!