Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kevin and Julia

Everyone in Canberra has an opinion on the events of this week: a new Prime Minister, our first female Prime Minister, the swiftness and surprise of it all, the total annihilation of Rudd's support and leadership!

Ella ended the week in fine spirits even though the rest of us still felt a little shell shocked, especially after watching bits of Kevin's excruciatingly sad farewell speech in the PM's courtyard.

We talked to Ella about Julia on Thursday. She likes Julia's name a lot, certainly a lot better than Kevin's. It was as good a reason as any to celebrate with a chocolate cake, made with her Daddy, complete with green sprinkles and a fresh strawberry. I hope Kevin was able to end the week on such an upbeat note too.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Play Sydney

The children's playground at Coogee beats any of the Canberra versions hands down. It has every desirable playground feature including the best ocean views of any of Sydney's Eastern suburb beaches (although I might be a bit biased).
Rob and Zoe found these "stomping on the decking bells" which played out a chromatic scale if you stomped on them in the right sequence!
Zoe played for around an hour and a half on the swings, slides, sand pit, fort, climbing frames etc. I was impressed with her fairly pushy Sydney style as she staked out her claim to territory from the other two year olds!

She was on top of the playground pecking order most of the time although we saw her gentler side a lot too particularly when a dog came on the scene. I thought she was going to hug and kiss Buzz, the fluffy white lap dog, into oblivion.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Q 2

Just over a year ago Maxie and Claire staged their first joint exhibition at The Q Gallery in Queanbeyan. Last Saturday their second exhibition together, From Little Things Big Things Grow, was officially launched with a buzzy gathering of friends, colleagues, contacts and other interested parties. The event was covered by the Canberra Chronicle (half page spread in this week's paper they say) and the art reviewer from the Canberra Times was there taking copious notes too!

In the background of this shot you can see glimpses of Claire's monoprint portraits-among my favourites of her work in this exhibition (we bought one). Claire produced a richly drawn (but with a print and painting or two) portfolio of still lifes (and a portrait or two), inspired by her domestic environment. They looked amazing.

Maxie's sculptures are much bigger and more ambitious in scope and scale than a year or so ago. Her paired works are beautifully constructed and composed, and obviously popular with gallery goers judging by her success in the Queensland Sculpture Awards last week.

The Q Gallery is a beautiful space and ideally suited to the scale of their exhibitions.

All the family were there. The kids had lots of space in The Q foyer area for dancing, jumping and playing games with Spiderman and Batman. Ella was over the moon to be wearing her Mummy's Scottish "tilt" for the first time. Jody wore her kilt in Scotland when she was 5, but it seems to fit Ella just fine already. I bet Jody looked just as cute as Ella does in it.

I bet this shot ends up in the Canberra Chronicle spread. We are all so proud of and inspired by the artists in our family!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Five years ago in France

Almost exactly five years ago we were in France, enjoying 5 wonderful days in Paris, then a week in a little stone cottage in the Loire Valley, then a week at La Dependance, a little converted stone barn in the hamlet of La Lande in the Dordogne region of SW France. La Dependance was right next door to Chez Hartley where our friends Judy and Jurgen were staying for all of term two to give the kids a wonderful experience of living and schooling in country France.

Our week in the Dordogne was a constant delight of companionship, great food markets, fine dining and wining, lazy games of petanque with a glass of champagne in the Hartley's terrain in the evenings and daily picnics in the gorgeous villages of the region.

Jenny and Wayne, and their two girls, from Murrumbateman joined us for a couple of nights on their way from Paris to the wine regions around Lyon. We had some great foodie times over those few days and loved checking out the noble rot wines around Sassignac and the distinctive Bordeaux wines from St Emilion.
Maxie and Rod weren't there five years ago but have had many French adventures themselves, some of which we shared in our 2008 visit. They were gracious enough to host our 5 year reunion lunch. Most of our meals in France were in bistros and fairly rustic country style cafes. The food was wonderful but we were more likely to be sharing it with well built French tradesmen, farm workers and country folk than with a more elegant crowd. The meals we ate and the wonderful market produce we saw were the inspiration for our reunion lunch.

Judy prepared this wonderful entree of terrine and cherry chutney (to commemorate our first evening at La Lande when Rob and Jurgen both fell out of the cherry tree while they were meant to be there to ensure the safety of the children).

Jenny prepared a gorgeous spatchcock dish for main course with loads of tarragon. I prepared french beans and broccoli with hazelnut and orange, roasted beetroot with chervil and maple syrup dressing and sweet potato and sage gratin. I was trying to capture the brilliant colours of the produce in the country markets and the luscious flavours of our cafe lunches.
Maxie & I discussed her ideas for dessert. I whispered croquembouche, never expecting her to even consider making it. Of course she did; what a triumph!

We had a mixture of French and Australian wines with our lunch and a fabulous French cheese platter to finish off - which no one could fit in unfortunately. In the process of buying my chevre at the Mart Deli (from the Frenchman) I learnt that you have to be very careful the way you pronounce cru in French as it sounds like you are saying asshole if you are not careful.
This was a wonderful way to bring back travel memories we treasure and good times with firends and family.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Before & After 2

With the installation of the mirror earlier this week we can now announce that the bathroom / laundry reno is complete. That was 8 weeks of work by various (mostly excellent) tradesman and quite a few thousands of dollars of expenditure, but something of beautiful simplicity and quality has been created. It was worth it (yes, every dollar, every early morning start, all those visits to Southern Innovations, every vacuum bag of dust)!

It certainly is a step up from our previous eighties era tile job, pasting over the late 60s plumbing and layout.