Sunday, September 25, 2011

The longest birthday

I have a month of celebrations ahead of me. It started with the assembly of the newly delivered swing set on Thursday; very necessary for a girl my age, especially for sharing with my busy grand-daughter.

Friday night we celebrated with my "Red group" friends with drinks at the Hyatt Hotel. Then today it was a wonderful long lunch with J, J & E at the biodynamic Lark Hill Winery Restaurant about 6klm outside Bungendore, south of Lake George on Bungendore Road.

The weather turned wintry this weekend, but the Spring buds on these North facing vines were clearly there (though not too clear in this photo unfortunately!).

We loved our long lunch together: a very seasonal menu, all locally sourced and carefully prepared with Lark Hill wines to match. That's Jody's ocean trout on the right of the picture below. The rest of us tucked into Angus beef tagliate with truffled cauliflower au gratin - delicious.

The dessert menu was small - but it did include chocolate!

Lark Hill Winery is in a gorgeous spot with great views North over the vineyards, with happy, plump chooks wandering around the bush gardens - a very interesting environment for Ella to enjoy between courses.

We took our time over lunch and didn't leave until around 4.00pm.

I felt very blessed to receive this beautiful birthday card (with an amazing drawing of me by Ella) and a special silver and amethyst pendant necklace - especially chosen by Ella and her Mummy - ("the Gingerbread Man" by jeweller, Christine Pyman) - gifts that are SO special and memorable for me and which will remain close to my heart always!!

Spring really makes its presence felt for my birthday month. The bluebells are flowering now in amongst the hellebores, the azaleas are bursting forth and my orchids are looking amazing (I really did grow this one; I didn't just pick it up this week from the florist).

So far I've planted baby spinach, thyme, lettuce, basil, sage, coriander and parsley in my new herb garden. Ella is always my very keen assistant with the watering can.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

No jumper day

Spring has well and truly arrived and we were able to celebrate our first "no jumper day" at the opening weekend of Floriade.

Although Claire and the boys were only just back from their week at Noosa with London D, C & E there was funky dancing to perform at the Carnival Stage (by Claire's Bom Funk preschoolers' class).

Angus and Ella had very little time to show their stuff in their very speedy two minute set.

Ollie and the Boyz Crew managed to set the stage alight in their 2 minute turn.

Commonwealth Park was very crowded, with the flower themed sales outlets and fairground rides dominating the spaces devoted to the usual, improbably colourful, flower beds (I am a pretty cynical about Floriade, sorry!).

Last year Ella liked the little Alice tea cup ride the best, but this year she likes the faster moving attractions. I think a ride on the Ferris Wheel may be on the agenda at our next visit.

It was a perfect opportunity for us to prolong our enjoyment of this perfect Canberra day with a long lunch together at Kingsley's in Civic's North Quarter.

Ollie, Angus and Ella have reached a stage where they will play very happily together for AGES. We were able to take our time catching up with family news and enjoying our delicious lunch and glasses of Japanese beer. Rob had to keep his wits about him safeguarding his small serve of tomato sauce from the attentions of Angus and Ella who both preferred it to their serves of tartare.

We finished off the weekend by planting out my newly made herb garden in the early evening light. I love this time of the year.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eddie Australia

We were reunited at Coogee Beach on Saturday. Davey, Cath and Eddie had travelled thousands of miles from London, with remarkably little damage apparent except for the throaty cough Eddie had picked up on the flight. Ros and Pete had travelled all the way from Sandy Beach (a 7 and 1/2 hour drive that morning) and all the rest of us had driven down from Canberra, for a very special weekend together.

Lunch at Barzoura's on the beach for the 13 of us was joyous and raucous, of course. We were amazed at Eddie's ability and affability in adapting so quickly to the sudden strangeness of this noisy branch of his family so soon after that long flight.

The nearby Coogee children's playground was a welcome spot in the afternoon for the grown ups to catch up on some lost time in the sunshine, to allow Ella some scope to use up her pent up energy.......

and for Eddie to admire her antics on the swing. He found Ella's every move and squeals of delight very interesting and amusing.

The weekend was especially wonderful for Mum. She loves her grandchildren and their offspring, and she had been really looking forward to meeting Eddie. She likes her WONDERFUL sons-in-law too, especially when they sit down and have a yarn to her about lawn bowls!

Rob, Josh and Davey were quickly in deep conversation, and web surfing about, their current shared interest in Maton guitars. I noticed they kept coming back to it over the course of the weekend.

Maxie finally handed Eddie back (almost asleep) to his Mum and Dad so we could get this special pic together. Mother (aged 97 years) and the three "girls" together at Coogee Beach, a reunion for us too.

Davey, Cath and Eddie joined us for drinks at the Crowne Plaza bar in the early evening on Saturday. They all looked refreshed after the opportunity to catch up on some rest. Ella and Eddie were able to continue their rapidly developing love affair, opening presents together.........

........and Ella on permanent duty for nappy changing, tickling games, face pulling, cuddling, whatever Eddie was able to put up with really.........except he seemed to be really enjoying it!

despite the expression on his face in this photo (it was just a fleeting expression).

Eddie slept better Saturday night and the three of them met up with us again at the hotel for breakfast on Sunday morning. They all looked relaxed and happy, and Eddie's cough is improving. I captured this lovely shot of Eddie with his Grandma (that's her nose). He looks very much like her (and his Daddy) as a baby in this one.

We managed to get the best spot for breakfast on this clear, sunny early Spring day, directly opposite the beach park and the Pacific Ocean beyond. It was Father's Day in Australia so the hotel restaurant was crowded with breakfast bookings. There were some amazing specimens of manhood around us (including the men in our family of course) as the Melbourne Storm NRL team and the Wallabies Rugby Union team (and assorted girlfriends, wives, children etc) were all staying at the hotel too.

Eddie was a great hit with his Great Aunties too, when Maxie allowed them some time with him. I think Eddie may share his beautiful brown eyes with this particular Great-Aunty.

But Ella was the one he saved his best cuddles for.

The beach was too hard to resist on this gorgeous morning. Maxie got Eddie off to sleep while the rest of us were able to relax in each other's company, absorb some of the beautiful sunshine and feel some sand between our toes.

While Ella kept Grandpa busy fetching cups full of the ocean (to order) to ensure her sand castle had the required degree of build-ability.

Eddie was properly introduced to the Coogee Beach lifestyle.

and with his usual excellent concentration spent AGES investigating wave action with his Daddy.

He also learnt that in Australia we usually finish off a morning at the beach with a gelati. There was no doubt about his approval of this strange new custom.

Eddie has a another two weeks in Australia, just enough time to win more hearts along the East Coast of NSW and Q'ld and make us all want to see him and his Mummy and Daddy again, with more wonderful weekends together like this.