Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday time

We've been having a fairly lazy time over the holiday period but I have done a bit of book tidying out of necessity as Nick and his son David arrive on Thursday and have to have a room to sleep in. This is part of an ongoing tidying up program which will, with luck, result in the front room, the 'study' or 'workroom' being able to have its plaster repaired and become a spare room again. At present, anyone sleeping in here would be in danger of being sconed by falling plaster. Today, Dad came round to discuss my accounts which we resolved, I hope, and had a lunch of cold roast pork, ham and leftover roast vegies. We also had a good mag. Sadly, P. has to go back to work on Thursday.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Much munching

Yesterday, P., Frank and I went to the Mall in Harley the Corolla and caught up with all we needed post-Christmas (which wasn't a lot). Then we brunched at old standby Backstreet Eating, near Harley's pod in Fitzroy. As usual it was good munga and good value. In the evening, we met up with Michael P. at Kenzan for a very good meal. The service was amazing. Michael was wondering aloud how to eat up his sauce-soaked rice with chopsticks when the manager (who must be a mindreader) popped up with a spoon! It was good to catch up with Michael on his university doings. We haven't caught up since a fine dinner in Hobart in March at the Henry Jones Hotel.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bah humbug

I put on my Bah Humbug socks yesterday (thanks Lorraine) and P. and I spent the morning assembling the entree for family Christmas. It was Salad Anjalou (thanks Sue Horton) consisting of prawns, crayfish, melon (two sorts), avocado and celery plus dressing. I also made some Margaret Fulton seafood sauce for the crayfish. Dad came and picked us up and we went off to Dandenong where the salad was joined by ham, turkey and loads of veggies, produced by Ian, my brother-in-law. Then father did a very luscious Christmas pud. We retired more than replete and in the evening went to Frank's place for supper and a catchup with David G. who has just moved from Castlemaine to Clunes. We had cold ham and chicken with potato salad and a watermelon salad, just the kind of thing to round off the day.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Away in the Gariwerds

A week ago, P. and I headed northwest after a quick visit to Eugenie the nephrologist, who assured me all my indicators were 'perfect'. We alighted in Beaufort for a very pleasant night in the one motel in town and an okay dinner at the pub. One thing lacking, with a few notable exceptions, in the northwest is much regard for culinary excellence, which is a shame for such a busy tourist area. We went on to the great wine centre of Great Western where we dropped in for a coffee with Heather A. who has tree-changed to the petrol station there. We toured the cellars of Great Western (Seppelts), miles of underground tunnels, opened (many of them) in the nineteenth century by celebrities and notables. One of our fellow tour party asked about the Melba story (their very bright children asked some good questions). Apparently, Dame Nellie's price for opening a tunnel was a champagne bath. After her bath, the workers asked what to do with the booze. 'Bottle it,' was the answer. Trouble was, they put in 176 bottles and got 177 out. We also visited Bests and their quaint old plant (with modern bottling facilities). Then we were off to Stawell where we dropped in on Bron N. and the Boyle sisters, and had dinner with the Boyles at a local motel. Not bad, but again, not brilliant. All are well. Next day, we made for Budja Budja (Halls Gap) and our motel for the next three days. We had several good walks on hot days by starting early, to some rock art, Silverband Falls and viewing the coat of arms live (emus and kangas grazing). The cicadas were deafening. There is a quite good Punjabi eatery in Budja Budja with quaint lifesize statuary, very colourful, of Punjabi crafts. The best meals we had, before Dunkeld, were lunch platters at Mt Zero and the Brambuk Centre, both made up of local produce which is how it should be. The Kookaburra in Budja Budja served local turkey and ham, and it was delicious. Then, off to Dunkeld, to the famous Royal Mail Hotel. We have eaten there before, but only in the bistro. This time, we had the full tasting menu with matching wines. It was pricey but well worth it. A highlight was the 'Snails in their Habitat', snails in greenery and flowers with burnt brioche instead of dirt. Also, outstanding was the pea and lovage soup with braised scallop (all my favourites in one). As P. pointed out, normally pea soup is fuzzy, but this was clear and intense. Done how? It finished with new strawberries with rose (a kind of chocolate strawberry filled with rose cream). Yummy. The accommodation which we rolled back into was good and spacious. Next day, back to Melbourne and preparing for Christmas.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Serial pest

One of the benefits of being an Old Age Pensioner and part-time worker is that it leaves time to contact politicians about things that annoy me. However, in the last couple of months being a serial pest hasn't been all that successful. My only 'hits' have been with Kate Ellis, federal shadow for education, about attacking Christopher Pyne (some suggestions) and with Ken Ong, Melbourne City Councillor, about the sister-city relationship with St Petersburg. None of the other councillors have deigned to reply including the Green. Other failures have included Scott Morrison (not about refugees) which have only elicited a statement that the electors of Cook get precedence. It seems being a federal minister doesn't require attention to wider voters. My spectacular failure is two queries to Victorian Transport Minister Mulder who must be overwhelmed by protests about the East-West tunnel as his office says they are overloaded and can't deal with my queries about Myki and bus services, yet. Finally, Greens Member for Melbourne is obviously busy too as he hasn't responded to my Qantas query. Some of these queries are a month and a half old. I'll soldier on with my attempts to join the political process but without much optimism.

Another quiet week

This last week was mainly occupied with tidying and cleaning, starting with the cleaners coming on Monday. However, the tidying is very slow as it mainly involves paper, which needs to be vetted for future usefulness (rare). Morris L. came round for a coffee and we caught up on mutual doings. On Friday, Frank and I went to Noel T.'s place for dinner with Thomas W., the pianist who is going to Berlin shortly to further his career. On Saturday, P. and I did the usual mall shopping then had a very pleasant lunch with Alexis and Toly at Bayte. They gave us lots of tips about China, especially Shanghai and Beijing. In the evening, P., Frank and I went to 'Prick: the musical', written by Tracy Harvey. It was a valiant attempt, but didn't quite come off. I sat there wondering what Frank Loesser would have made from the hospital theme. Well performed but with a very hackneyed plot (we knew right from the start who Connie's mother was), it was entertaining, but will never set the world on fire.

Monday, December 09, 2013

On the move on Sunday

Yesterday, after starting the day with the Sunday crossword, we headed in Harley to Noel's place, where P. installed the new television which we bought yesterday (Noel's old one was analog). Then we embarked on the Boyd Foundation tour of courtyard houses, six of them. The ones in Camberwell and Toorak were a bit out of our price range. The four in Seddon and Kensington were more modest, but still would have been pricey renovations. None of them seemed to me to make for really comfy living. Most were too minimal, except for the one which was high camp (the furniture and decor out of kilter with the spare architecture). However, there was much to see and learn in the clever uses of space in the smaller houses. Tip: mirror walls might increase the sense of space (and disorientation), but fingermarks are a big problem. Moving right along, in the evening we went to the Athenaeum for a concert performance of Wagner's 'Rienzi'. It is little performed, as, in its original form, it went for six hours! Wagner then cut it to 4 hours 25 minutes. Mercifully, this version ran just over three hours. For Melbourne Opera, it might have appeared to be more than they could chew, but they did very well. The principals, Jason Wasley, Joanna Cole and Rosamund Illing, developed their characters and sang superbly, while the chorus and orchestra marched personfully through a huge score. The chorines sang their lungs out. While I thought it was a bit of a gamble, it was certainly well worth it. The act three martial scenes with the boxes in the theatre occupied by four trumpets, three trombones and a tuba, were thrilling indeed.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Quiet week

This last week has been very quiet. Work has dried up, as it does at this time of year, at least until the government job revivifies which it might, just in time for Christmas. So I have at last embarked on some tidying, filing and other tedious tasks, like cleaning. The only events this week were a very pleasant dinner at Noel's with P. and Frank on Friday night, then after the shopping and brunch an evening foray to South Melbourne for (our) last ANAM concert of the year. We made it at last to the very friendly nearby Thai for a quick meal first. Then we enjoyed Anthony Marwood on violin directing the students in Kurt Weill's Concerto for violin and wind orchestra, a very energetic piece. Then they did a very fresh performance of Beethoven's Sixth. The crowd went wild.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Busy Sunday

Yesterday, after an easy crossword, P. and I caught the train to Fairfield, thence to the Boathouse for lunch with my sister, her husband and their visiting Dutch tourist. It was very pleasant overlooking the river and the ducks, and, though the food was not outstanding, it was adequate and reasonable, so the whole occasion was very pleasant. Then we trained into the city for Melbourne Now, the show at the NGV. We only had time for part of it, but like anything 'experimental', some of it was good, some awful, some trite and some just mystifying. It's worth seeing though, and we'll be back to see the rest. A welcome break was the cake and ice coffee in the tearoom. Then, no rest for the wicked, to the Recital Centre to join Frank for 'The Ringtone Cycle', written by Graeme Koehne and Peter Goldsworthy and performed by Lisa Harper-Brown and the Seraphim Trio. A deceptively simple piece, both comedy and tragedy, with good music and libretto, it revolved around online dating. Then home for spag. marinari followed by blackberry and blueberry icecream.