Sunday, April 13, 2014

Good times

We've had some good times over the past three days. It started with a beautiful lunch with J&W at Murrumbateman on Friday, an opportunity to celebrate the end of the 2014 grape harvest (not the best of years with half the crop lost in two savage late frosts last October) and a chance to enjoy some great food and wonderful wines (especially the Arras sparkling from Southern Tasmania and the amazing 2004 Castagna Syrah from Beechworth (WOW!)).  

After the 6 inches or so of rain we've had in the last month, the country looked lush and green and the sheep somewhat soggy.

Saturday we spent with Ella: two hours at the Erindale Pool in the morning while she did her lesson and then at least an hour after practising handstands and diving in at the deep end......

 ..then a short break to eat a couple of toasted sandwiches and work on the 350 piece Christmas jigsaw....then off to kite flying at the local oval....

She ran around the oval for at least an hour with varying degrees of success flying that little kite in the gusty winds ..never losing her temper at the inevitable frustrations.  She finished off the afternoon with another half hour or so on the monkey bars and climbing wall of our local school's playground.

We felt we'd had a workout just watching and admiring her joy and energy all day.

Today we were invited for one of Joshy's Sunday roast. Ella had dressed up for the visit, putting the rest of us to shame. We enjoyed canapes and a glass of Shiraz (not for Ella though) while we worked on elastic band jewellery together - the latest craze.

 While Rob and Abi played Jumping Monkeys.

 Abi has lots of nicknames; Percy Pud being the most popular. She's just started to insist that her name is Aa-ee (Aa - bee), and definitely not Percy Pud or any of its derivatives!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Girls week

Around this time of the year it is our practice to take High Tea in the art deco lounge of the Hyatt Hotel to celebrate Sophie's and Maddie's birthdays.

We missed Sophie this year because she was on a Malaysian Airways flight making her way to Paris for a five week school trip, right about the time we were fronting up to our third helping of cucumber sandwiches.

Despite the rain and a very cool 17oC maximum, Maddie looked great in her cute 60s inspired dress. She turned 17 on Friday and celebrated it by gaining her DRIVER'S LICENCE - first go!  This girl is on her way...

Judy came with us this year - after all it is her birthday month too. There are no low calorie options at high tea so we made it do for our lunch and dinner too - give me another 3 cheese swirl tart please.

We're used to the grand piano playing musak in the background to our high teas, but something rather special happened at the end of this particular afternoon. A (church) choir group were having professional photographs taken at the Hyatt and "just happened" to start jamming around the piano on their way out. We ended up having a rousing half hour impromptu concert - very cool too!

We've been lucky to be invited to Sunday roast dinner on a regular basis with the younger P family. Joshy cooks us an amazing meal, we take a bottle of wine and a platter of fruit purchased fresh that morning from the Woden Farmer's Market - and the girls provide all the entertainment.

Ella can do everything: draw, paint, construct, do puzzles, tell jokes, write and read stuff and make the Eiffel Tower...

Abi has had her fringe cut so that makes my job of photographing her somewhat easier. My remaining challenge is catching her in focus (without a flash) - she's never still - but always ready for a laugh!

We watched her tonight eat about half a chicken (chickney). She ate her share and then came and sat on Grandpa's lap and picked up his drumstick in her hand and demolished that too - Fred Flintstone style!

Friday, March 28, 2014


We've just spent two wet and rainy nights (and days) in Sydney. On Thursday we took the opportunity to visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed (not for its architectural significance - but for its association with our convict/colonial  heritage) Old Government House in Parramatta Park - the oldest surviving public building in Australia.  

Governor Lachlan Macquarie and Mrs Macquarie were largely responsible for ensuring the building looked pretty much as it does today, by around 1815.  It was their "country" residence - an escape from the crime ridden and unsanitary conditions in Old Sydney Town.

I talked Rob into making our first visit to Parramatta (barely a half hour train journey from Central) because I was keen to see Miss (Phryne) Fisher's Costume Exhibition, displayed in the unpretentious but historic rooms of Old Government House. We're not regular watchers of the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries series but I for one am a sucker for a beautiful frock - especially if it dates from the twenties!

 ..not only frocks but coats, bags, brooches and lingerie..and beautiful hats too..

The exhibition left me much more aware of the brilliance of the award winning Marion Boyce and her costume team and much more appreciative of the beautiful Essie Davis who animates these costumes with such pizazz as the magnificent Phryne Fisher.

We had a lovely experience afterwards...taking a chance on lunch at the buzzy Criniti's on Church Street Parramatta.

The highlight for me was this dish...fichi e prosciutto: black figs wrapped in prosciutto san daniele with dolce latte gorgonzola cream. I think that is all my favourite food groups on the one plate (sigh)!

Other foodie delights were: Wednesday nights' dinner at Spice I Am on Victoria Street Darlinghurst, followed by proper Sicilian gelati from Messina - also on Victoria Street. I can't believe I have been visiting Sydney all these years without knowing about Messina (voted best gelato Australia - Good Food Guide).  We didn't even have to queue too long at 9.45pm on a Wednesday night!

It certainly won't be our last visit to Messina......

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Form Studio and Gallery

Claire ran an Art vs Science watercolour workshop for children at the weekend at Form Studio and Gallery.

Although as it turned out on this occasion there was no competition between Science and Art. They're just as fascinating and immersing as each other...

 ....each with a strong emphasis on learning through the senses, observation and taking an inquiry approach...

.. which is very absorbing, experimental and FUN!

It's a beautiful space in which to work - with the gallery clear of precious works at the moment....

 except for the watercolours being created on the floor.

I was amazed at how focused these kids remained for the two hour workshop - but not surprising really with the inspired way Claire teaches - she's brilliant!

We had dinner with the P family of Joshy's famous roast dinners....which are just getting better and better with each one I am invited to. The girls had had a HUGE day outside helping Josh and Grandpa do some repairs to the deck. Abi put on a great perfromance at the dinner table eating more "chickney" (chicken) than any one else, and lots of the vegies too. I thought she'd burst.