Sunday, July 27, 2008

The seven hour lunch

This is what Christmas in July at Murrumbateman looks like. "Green drought" is the way the locals describe it. The light winter rain showers have resulted in a dusting of green, but it only goes thin, shale rock deep.

The vineyards in winter are a feather dusting of grey brown twigs across the Nanimo ridges.

The Fischer's sheep are still producing best quality, superfine, merino fleece but only because of their carefully selected gene pool and because they're hand fed. These are tough times for vignerons and wool producers.

Our Christmas in July lunch today is a celebration of continuing friendship and bounty, despite the difficulties of our troubled earth. Freshly shucked oysters, roast turkey and ham, plum pudding and all the trimmings seem to taste so much better on a cold July afternoon at Murrumbateman than Christmas in December.

We enjoy perfect partnerships: Majella with onion jam canapes; figs with Castello cheese and proscuitto, reisling with oysters, Word of Mouth Shiraz (from Orange) and Campbells Shiraz Viognier with turkey and ham and the most devine Seppelts Rutherglen Tokay with our plum pud. It was a marathon 7 hour lunch, including all the Fischer travel tales from their recent trip to Italy, Switzerland and Northern France.

Maddy and Thomas kept the Christmas spirit alive by introducing live music. Maddy is sounding amazing in her first year of clarinet and Thomas gave us some snippets of his jazz repertoire on piano. Sophie was kept busy attending to Maggie the Jack Russel (mix).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Serious business

C& J, big O and little A went off to Coogee this weekend-not to annoy the pilgrims but to take in a show in the city and get some time on the beach. We stayed in cold and wet (yay!) Canberra, inundated with breathless updates on World Youth Day and the latest pronouncements of the pontiff. We tried to imagine an extra 400,000 people in Randwick for the 2 hour long Mass this morning.

We were lucky enough to see little E after her visit to the Fyshwick Fresh Food market. She spent her time there sniffing out the freshest pasta and vegies and pointing out all the people wearing a hat (which she can say now). It was amusing watching her eat (and enjoy) dill pickles (Marco brand, favoured by all the Croatians), black olives and Greek style yoghurt.

She really did enjoy it.

We found time to make some pretend pizzas decorated with pink dill pickles.

"Naughty Mouse" has sent us some of the latest pictures. She looks dreamy (one week old now)and we are sending our best wishes to the beautiful Clare in Sydney.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Girl power

A new baby girl has arrived in the family, so far known as "naughty mouse" (nm), born at 01.18am Saturday morning 12 July, a rather cold one for Sydney. She weighed a trim 3.142kg (6lb 141/2 oz) and looks absolutely beautiful, like her clever mum Clare, despite a tiring labour.

And here is our other special girl, taking a keen interest in everything around her, especially foodie delights. I was amazed watching her at the weekend eating great handfuls of steamed broccoli with such gusto. She loves our fruit bowl, especially the "ananas" which she currently enjoys saying more than she does eating.

Every time I see her she is growing more and more a little person, rather than the baby girl she was only yesterday.

Rob and I took a chance on seeing Mumma Mia last weekend-a choice most unlike our usual preference. We both loved it-a great celebration of magnificent middle age, corny music, and great set piece dance numbers without a trace of cynicism or even cheesiness. Meryl S, Colin F, Pierce B & Julie W don't have great voices, which made it even more endearing. What a bunch of troopers! Benny and Bjorn even had tiny cameo roles which was an absolute hoot. Take a chance and go see if you love it too!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Three days in Sydney

We had an inkling of our post retirement lifestyle by taking a 3 day weekend in Sydney this week. The only qualification was that I spent Saturday on work related matters: a conference at the beautiful old Public Library of NSW - the 2020 School Education Summit. I really enjoyed listening to and thinking about presentations by some of Australia's leading academics and researchers - around future possibilities for public education.

Sunday we were up early to meet with Sydney Clare at Glebe for breakfast at digi.kaf in St John's Road. She is looking really fit and energetic despite her 8 and 3/4 month pregnancy. The weather was beautiful in Sydney this weekend, clear, brilliant light, gentle warmth in the sun. We were amazed to see magnolia blooms so early in the season on our walk down Bridge Road.

We were intrigued by the old Abbey Restaurant in Bridge Road. Why has this beautiful old house been left to get so dilapidated in The Abbey's grounds?

We still felt like exploring so we headed off west to Granville in search of more exotic settings and foodie delights. Once at Granville we felt quite subdued walking across the infamous railway bridge that still evokes strong memories of that shocking accident in 1977. Once we'd crossed the Bold St bridge a wonderful find cheered us up enormously.

Abla's Pastry Shop has a very bland and modern exterior but once inside its size and amazing displays of freshly baked Lebanese cakes, pastries & Arabic style chocolates are awe inspiring. The range is vast and fresh daily and we could not resist ordering a rather large selection. We found them fresh and luscious, drenched in honey, nuts and fruit, and thankfully lighter and less sweet than expected.

We celebrated a wonderful day in Sydney with a meal at our fave Little Istanbul in Perouse Road and a night finishing our weekend DVD watching marathon: The Home Sung Stories, Norma Khouri and Hunting and Gathering (Ensemble C'est Tout -yes another French film starring Audrey Toutou).

Monday we spent walking: 8/85 to Bondi Junction then Bondi Beach back to Coogee. It's all great sightseeing and allows us to walk off all those Abla pastries. We stayed quite late on Monday night so we could attend our first body corporate meeting - making it a very late return to Canberra that night and a bleary eyed start to our working week.