Sunday, November 24, 2013


We enjoy the assemblies at Ella's school when Ella's Kindy class presents them. Last week they acted out their favourite Monster book (all wearing colour coded costumes) for our enjoyment.  The cuteness factor is off the scale!

As we're getting close to the end of the school year it was a great thrill to be there when Ella was awarded a Merit Certificate for Excellence in Reading and Writing at the assembly - a nice way to end off her year in Kindy!

And another lovely surprise - a Highly Commended for those cupcakes we made for the Twilight Fair last week  - those judges do have good taste!

Last night we joined the crowd of 5,000 or so people at Voices in the Forest in the amphitheatre of the Arboretum. We spread our lovely mirrored quilt from Rajesthan on the grass, opened a bottle of Majella Rose and sat back and really enjoyed the performances - opera classics - all the "best ofs" (Nessun Dorma etc) nothing too demanding for the laid back audience on this sunny afternoon.

Over the three hours of music and song we ate our way through some lovely food with Jurgen and Fiona and acknowledged our good fortune to be living in a city that supports this kind of event at the brand new Arboretum.

I always think of Aljazeera Joel looking out across this landscape, remembering him as the last cameraman standing as the devestating 2002 fires swept along these gentle hills, razing everything in its path.  There'll be fewer reminders of this as the new forests grow!

Monday, November 18, 2013

A normal week

Our thoughts have been with Aljazeera Joel this week and the survivors of typhoon Haiyan whose hellish plight he's been covering in the Philippines. 

But for us, our past week in Canberra has been reassuringly normal:

Lunch and playtime with (Demolition Derby) Abi on Thursday......

Some progress AT LAST on the paving job  we did the prep for over two months ago! Lucky Brett the paver is worth waiting for!........

Spending up big at Ella's school's very successful Twilight Fair on Friday evening....face painted, nails done, games and rides partaken of......

Ella and I entered the Cake Off/Bake Off with a batch of carrot, pineapple and pecan cupcakes (with orange cream frosting) and an orange cake (which we made together on Thursday after school). Ella and I thought her cupcakes were the best ever, in the style of the retro, restrained aesthetic of London's Primrose Bakery. However the winning cupcakes were very tiny and very impressively decorated - very good to look at but maybe not to eat (?) 

We bought all Ella's beautiful cupcakes back from the cake stall. She thought they tasted heavenly, especially eaten with one hand while swinging on the monkey bars.

On Saturday night we headed out to Murrumbateman for a post India trip get together, having some fun in the process getting dressed for the occasion!  On the night I voted Jennie's best female outfit and Jurgen's, best male (despite strong competition from Wayne's turban).

I took pictures of Sophie like this in India - but on this occasion the food she's eating is a lot more familiar (while still being Indian inspired)!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sixth Sydney reunion

Our sixth sisters and spouses reunion started right on schedule at Coogee Beach last Thursday afternoon (7th November). With everyone safely arrived (from Sandy Beach and Jerrabomberra - Rob and I were already in Sydney for my work) we set off in high spirits, in brilliant sunshine, to Bondi, via the headland walk for our yearly dose of Sculpture by the Sea.
Over the past five years Sculpture by the Sea has looked less and less ambitious each year as funding has been restricted - but that does not diminish the sense of excitement we  feel approaching Tamarama Beach and our first sight of the works on the beach.

As always the walk is crowded, and lots of young kids about. I always love hearing their comments on the works - especially about this reflective snow dome. None of us could work out how the reflections "worked" but it was fun making up theories.

There are always works that look familiar to us from previous years too.

It's after 6.00pm by the time we finish the walk to Bondi and we're really looking forward to our Israeli beers at Sabbaba in Hall Street and later their wonderful, filled pita breads and mezze plates. Afterwards we catch the first of many buses this weekend, back to Coogee.

Friday was our traditional sisters' shopping day in the CBD. Rod chose to join the girls for the morning up until lunch which we enjoyed together at the wonderful (and scenic) Cloudy Bay Fish Co. in Westfield. He bailed after that while we wandered somwhat aimlessly for a few more hours. Our shopping lacked the focus of last year when we had a wedding to plan for. Anyway, time was spent, many things were discussed and some were bought. Rob and Pete did the manly thing and caught a train to Vietnam for the day (Cabramatta) enjoying a wonderful lunch at Thanh Binh on John Street and making sure they returned to Coogee afterwards with the requisite number of glutinous rice cakes.

Saturday dawned sunny and warm, perfect for a day in the Eastern suburbs. First stop was the Paddington Markets and a long session with our favorite jeweler Melanie from Ant Haus Designs. With the three of us on a buying frenzy (mild) we seemed to attract a crowd, so Melanie ended up having a good morning I'd say.

It was just a short walk then to Queen Street Woollahra- one of Sydney's ultimate addresses. We enjoyed a stroll through the very genteel and plush Woollahra Village, then on to Ocean Street and New South Head Road to Rushcutters Bay, site  of Sydney's largest marina and only a stone's throw, around another bay, to the Opera House and Circular Quay.

We were unsuccessful finding a pub with a water view where we could enjoy a drink at Rushcutters Bay/Darling Point so we eventually ended up making our way back to Circular Quay where there were plenty of options (we chose the old Paragon Hotel on  Loftus Street). Afterwards we paid our respects to the Sydney Opera House. It's been much in the news lately because of the 40th birthday celebrations. 

Another bus ride then back to The Spot at Randwick in plenty of time for excellent pizzas at Arthur's before another drink at Bar Ritz and then a movie in Cinema 4 at the charming old Randwick Ritz. 

We saw Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks in a familiar (but well acted) role as the "everyman" caught in extraordinary circumstances. We all found the film very riveting which was probably just as well after a day in the sunshine and a few too many drinks between us.

The weather turned pretty wild on Sunday - windy and raining- pity really as we had a boat trip planned. Rob had us all booked into a 4 hour Blues Cruise on Sydney Harbour from 12.00-4.00 pm.  The King Brothers of the Foreday Riders (Sydney Blues royalty) and Shane  Pacey and Al Britten from the Bondi Cigars (the heirs apparent) and Ali Penney (on keyboards) kept things rocking as the boat slowly made its way around the inner harbour and lower reaches of the Paramatta River. We all loved the music (don't tell the kids and grand kids we even had a dance or two) and enjoyed the experience. Rob was incredibly relieved there weren't any grey haired, ponytailed men in stonewash jeans at this event, like I'd been warning him. Even the weather was relatively kind to us.

We ended off a wonderful day (and our previous three days) with a walk through Chinatown (more glutinous rice cakes -yum) and then bus to Surrey Hills where we introduced everyone to the fragrant Stone and Wood beer at the lovely old Trinity Bar and their gourmet pub menu. We loved our final meal together here and vowed to include a visit in next year's itinerary too.

The hardest part was saying goodbye lovely sisters (and our boys)! These reunions every year are very special.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Girls recover

Both of the girls have picked up a variation of my Indian bug - but luckily, nowhere near as debilitating as mine was. They have runny noses and bad coughs, but no fevers and obviously their energy levels are a lot higher than mine were. And, unlike me when I was in the midst of my misery, they both still look the picture of good health.

Abi, Jody and Ella had a lovely long lunch with us on Friday - giving Ella a day away from school to give her sore throat a rest.

Abi is a bit of a Grandpa's girl at the moment. She keeps him very busy - and on quite a tight lead! She helped him liberate an enormous Huntsman spider from our hallway into the bush over the road.........fascinating!

Into the third week back from India, I started part time work again and we went out socializing this weekend (a friend's birthday party), and we even squeezed in a few hours gardening too. The garden's gone Spring time crazy, but starting to suffer too from all the dry winds over the last few weeks.