Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas 111, 1V and V

We feel like we're almost done with Christmas already. Rob and I had a celebratory meal on Friday night with  friends - then Saturday afternoon we celebrated our extended family Christmas here at Josh and Jody's new house. It was a very hot day - still around 37o in the late afternoon so we really appreciated the cool, big open spaces of their home's living areas.

It's the first time this house has experienced our family's Christmas rituals - everyone unwrapping their Secret Santa parcels with great excitement, and sometimes great laughter......

 Joshy's new pyjamas got the best laughs this year!
 and Jody's Outlander DVD probably caused the most excitement!

 The girls' new hats certainly covered the cuteness angle.

and Ella was able to add to her rapidly expanding array of craft skills (crocheting) with Maxie's help!
Another family ritual is to eat a lot at our Christmas feasts. This year was no exception with Joshy's 5kg of roast pork legs, a baked ham and mounds of prawns and baked vegetables taking centre stage.
 It went down well with our newly elected School Captain.
Another Christmas ritual is for the kids to play beautifully together at all our gatherings (and the adults are fairly well behaved too) despite their age, gender and other differences.

Then Sunday afternoon it was drinks at New Acton with our friends Fiona and James and then afterwards it was on to Murrumbateman for our yearly pre Christmas celebration hosted by Jennie and Wayne.

This year we had an Iberian theme so we started with Judy's chorizo, jamon and anchovies and manchego cheese and red pepper selections.
Then our 3 dozen fresh oysters and Jennie's luscious paella feast, followed by the main course.....slow roasted lamb shoulder. Maxie's Portuguese tarts were a stunning finale to this beautiful meal which also featured a wonderful wine matched to each course (as well as Anke's chocolate dipped cherries and strawberries afterwards). WOWSA!
And today we hosted a little pre Christmas celebration with Mum at Mirinjani. At 101 years old Mum is a little too frail to go on outings now - so this will be the first year she will miss the Christmas family fun - which we think is very sad but which she is quite stoic about (thankfully).  We took in platters of goodies (including her favourite prawns) today and she gave out small presents to O & A and Ella and Abi. Having the young ones there really brightened up the party. They were all really lovely with Mum and coped well with some of the stranger sights and interractions that are always part of any visit to Mirinjani (old age is not for the faint hearted).

Abi's day was made when she opened her present at Mirinjani - just a fairly bargain priced tea set - but with some incredibly "life like" accessories - that were just to her taste!
We're all hoping for a few quiet days now in the lead up to real Christmas Day on Friday!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas is coming 11

Great excitement here this morning as the young things headed off for the first of their pre-Christmas family celebrations in Braidwood. There has been a burst of creativity around here in preparation: beautiful hampers full of hand baked goodies, fabric dyeing, bunting making, all sorts of decorative textile efforts.

Ella tiedyed her own tops for the occasion and was armed with some amazing hand drawn art works to add to the present list.

Abi has been getting her mojo back after a week or so of being a bit "viral". Jody had made Abi a new top with some of her favourite motifs including a hand dyed love heart and some pink tulle fairy wings.

After a day picknicking and swimming in the sun with the rellies the girls had a very chilled out late afternoon at home.  Abi loves Nellie the Beagle - and the feeling is mutual.  They love their quality time together (and no licks were actually exchanged in the following photos).

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas is coming

It's official; Christmas is coming. The tree is ready, the cake is done, the lights are on and there's even been some presents wrapped. Just so's ya'll know!

 We've even heard a rumour that the London branch is ready too!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sydney Reunion

Our sisters' Sydney reunion weekend was a bit later this year than usual.  Too late for Sculpture by the Sea but not too late in the year for all the other Sydney delights on offer - plus a chance for some quality time together.

We started off with a celebration drink on Thursday evening and some shared plates on the rooftop terrace of the oh so hip and happening Coogee Pavillion.  Although we enjoyed our time there it was almost a relief to find our favourite Korean place afterwards for some comforting Bibimbap and some oh so fresh sashimi for our real meal that night (and to be able to hear each other speak!).
On Friday we took a train journey through the beautiful Ku-Ring Gai Chase National Park, north of Sydney to Woy Woy on the Hawkesbury River. Why why did we go to Woy Woy you might ask?  For the seafood lunch of course at Woy Woy's Fishermans Wharf!  After our time there we decided there is little other reason to go to Woy Woy!
We ended off a lovely day together with a movie at the Randwick Ritz - the new James Bond film - Spectre....amazing special effects and a very watchable Daniel Craig ..what more could you ask of a James Bond film? 

Us girls spent the day together on Saturday, shopping and a long lunch while the boys had a day trip across the harbour to Manly Beach.  They enjoyed their long walk past the main surfing beach, south east to Shelly Beach, and then through to the harbour side cliffs of North Head.

We could only find three nights to spend together this reunion visit - way too short - but Christmas and end of year work commitments have created pressures this year. We were very sad to say goodbye on Sunday!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Coogee legends

Every time we walk back to the apartment from the The Spot or from the 373 bus stop on St Pauls Street we walk through this beautiful (and fragrant) patch of native garden at the top of Carrington Road - that has been created by the legendary geurilla gardener "Bob" and his loyal band of volunteers.

This patch of land belongs to our local Randwick Council. It was originally part of the old Coogee tram line which finally closed in 1960. "Bob" and his team have created this beautiful fragrant oasis of native trees, shrubs, lawn and groundcovers over the past 12-13 years, in their own time and out of their own pockets (mostly Bob's). The locals LOVE it of course, almost as much as the native birds and other wildlife that are a constant presence in this sweetest of Sydney parks. Bob is our favourite Coogee legend! He reckons the Council is itching to get some car parking going in this park - I reckon the Council will have Buckley's doing that if the locals have any say in it!

Nowhere near in Bob's class but Justin Hemmes from the Merival group bought the old Coogee Beach Palace Hotel last year in a complicated sales deal that set him back a cool $35mill. He's spent another $12mill refurbishing it (so far), renamed it The Pavillion, and the place is really rockin' now, with thousands of people from all over the Eastern suburbs crowding into the place like there is no tomorrow.

We tried the rooftop terrace with the million dollar views last Thursday evening (luckily a quieter night than some!).  We're wishing that only Coogee locals were allowed entry to The Pavillion.

It was 41oC in Sydney on Friday - an absolutely putrid day which we spent mostly in the CBD, in air conditioned comfort. I took the two pics below on the Coogee esplanade after 7.00pm that evening. The beach was still really crowded with people trying to cool off.

We discovered another possible dining legend in Coogee at the weekend - more at the "Paris" end of  Arden Street (where we rarely go) in Havelock Avenue. Here we discovered Cafe de France - only been open a year so far - and a proper French style bistro - open all day serving great coffee and bakery goods at breakfast and very authentic French bistro style food for lunch and dinner with a great wine list too.
I loved my duck breast with roasted leeks and a Bordeaux reduction (with a Loire Valley Pinot Noir) while Rob's favourite was his luscious chocolate mousse for dessert.  Vive La France - at Coogee indeed!