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.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Canberra's bold and ready (CBR) we've been told to tell everybody - which is a pretty tall order when most of us probably feel more timid and tentative (CTT?) most of the time . This is Canberra's 101st birthday weekend and there is an awful lot on. We're mostly enjoying the long weekend, beautiful 25 - 26oC days, the start of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival (celebrating 25 years), and the joys of "Enlighten", Canberra's Autumn festival of light.

We saw our first French film on Friday night, the gritty "Grand Central", set in one of France's (many) nuclear power stations with a cast of vulnerable characters, so, by the time we joined the crowds around the lake we were in the mood to have our spirits lifted.

The crowds were as happy and as beautifully lit as a Renoir painting (hmm esp. his Moulin-Galette).

To say nothing of our national buildings....... This year animation effects were added to the ever changing visuals.

The entrance to the High Court was a sea of flame, a "Fire Garden", a stunning crowd pleaser.

Questacon and the galleries were open for evening tours and there was a South American Fiesta happening in the grounds of the National Gallery, to celebrate the "Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru" exhibition.

We were intrigued by Fiers a Cheval...the puppetry: three inflatable horses, lit from within, and set in motion by their puppeteers as hind legs - an oddly mesmerising perfromance.

There's a balloon festival, Diner en Blanc, an Arboretum 10th birthday celbration, a comedy festival Elvis Karaoke at the National Portrait Gallery..too much for us to deal with really..especially with a french film we must see almost every day over the next few weeks of the festival. Anyway happy birthday CBR - we love you, bold and ready or not.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Party party

Despite its "rustic" finish my Peppa Pig cake took a while to put together and involved a fair amount of Internet searching and mulling over ......

But whatever time it took and however much effort was involved it was all rewarded by the reaction of the birthday girl......sheer delight and happiness....a favourite, much loved character AND slathered in all that pink sugary icing........

...and Smarties!

There were presents too. The birthday girl adored her new pink fluffy dressing gown and it seemed like she understood every word and symbol on that new Peppa Pig DVD.

Luckily, Abi had attendants to put together her new farmyard Duplo while she did more swooning over her DVD and cake (while wearing her fluffy pink dressing gown).

 Did we mention there were Smarties involved?

We all made a mental note not to eat the outlying sweets on this cake as they were all pretty well handled by now!

 Abi had lots of help to get through the obligatory blowing out of candles.

I was laughing too much to capture the next 10 minutes of hilarity. Abi did everything short of diving onto the cake to get her hands on Peppa (and all that sugar). At one stage she scooped her spoon into Peppa's face and shoved a huge slug of cake and icing into her mouth. The kids thought it was hilarious eating Peppa's arms and nose and removing her head.

Peppa Pig set the scene for a pretty wild afternoon of partying..there was loud music, hilarity, wild dancing and ball games and even a brief period of nudity at one stage - one of the best parties ever at our place we think!!!