Friday, December 30, 2016

Shopping plus

Now that Franz the Corolla is just around the corner, it is easy to pick up the car. Long may it last. We did this morning, and, with Frank, went to Victoria Gardens and Smurf Street for the shopping. We then had a good brunch at Dr Morse and went home where Yula from Energy Matters was waiting to inspect about installing the solar energy. He will put in his report and we'll get a final quote for the cost. So it will be interesting to see. It's a seafood dinner with oysters, seafood patties and prawns (to use up the seafood mayonnaise).

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Report off, dinner on.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I wrote and sent off the report on the biography. I hope that it's okay. Then French onion soup for lunch and Frank came for dinner with roast lamb and vegies (by me) followed by Peter's delicious version of peach Melba. All is more or less right with the world except that it's too darn hot. But I spoke too soon. Today was a quiet day at home but very hot. Peter went to town for lunch with Robin S. We had leftover curry for dinner with special rice. Then a huge downpour leaked into the front room. Fortunately, no great damage seems to have been down but the roof fixers are off until Tuesday and we will need to clear the front room to dry it out. Sigh!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Biography, part two

This morning, I finished reading the biography. However, I still don't quite know what to say about it. I might let it moulder away over night and write the report tomorrow. As well as the reading and notes, I had time to make some French onion soup for lunch. Tonight, the leftover fish with parsley sauce (which was very nice indeed) plus some aglio and olio with lots of garlic and chillis in case there are any vampires about. Liberal helpings of lemon juice, parsley and chives will temper the heat. It turned out to be delicious (even if I do say so myself), but my fingers are still tingly from chopping up the chillis. Now for some baby cheeses to finish off.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Boxing Day, or is it?

Is today the Christmas Day holiday and is tomorrow Boxing Day? I'm not sure. In any case, I got back to work on the biography which I'm reporting on and got about halfway through it. Tonight, Peter is cooking fish with parsley sauce. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

(Pre-) Christmas dinner

Last night, Peter and I walked round to Frank's where we had a very nice curry dinner, followed by lots of chocolates. Frank bought extra Chrissie presents as well including a membership for both of us to the NGV which will be much used over the next year. We're now back home preparing up (no cooking is involved) a storm for lunch at my sister's place. We retraced our steps on Friday on the freeway to Dandenong and had a splendid lunch. We did prawns with cocktail sauce and gaspacho for starters. Ian did turkey, ham and pork belly with the lot (of accompaniments) for mains and Julie rescuscitated Father's plum pudding for dessert. Suitably stuffed, we headed home and had leftover gaspacho and eggs and mayonnaise followed by baby cheeses for dinner. Lots of Queen on the telly so we watched one of my Xmas pressies: Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Utopia Limited' instead. Very satisfying, thanks Frank. It was probably as good a performance as you might see, however I think G & S had played the same cards at least once too often. Two scenes stand out though as brilliant: 'the joint stock companies act of 1862' a most unusual line on which to finish a finale to an act, and the Christie minstrels send-up scene of a company meeting.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Home again

We got home again yesterday after nearly a week away in Gippsland communing with nature (mostly). I'll give a rundown shortly, but meanwhile we have to do our minimal preparations for Christmas. The saga of the GoGet cars continue. At present, we have Franz the Corolla from just around the corner in Trenerry Crescent, our third GoGet car this week. We went with Franz (but not Frank) to do our pre-Christmas shop at Victoria Gardens, past the horrendous new unit developments on the Yarra nearby. They are wrecking their very reason for being there. Anyway, this last week we have been in Gippsland. Last Sunday, we picked up Junior the Yaris, in town on a special over Christmas deal with a discount for a week. We then went via the freeway to Cranbourne's Australian Gardens which are becoming really wonderful and well worth a visit. The lunch is a bit ordinary but I think we needed to get used to that this week. On we went to Mirboo North where we were booked into L'Escargot, which indeed has an impressive number of snail entrees done every way you can imagine. I'm still not sold on snails even though these home-grown ones were probably the best you'd ever get. The accommodation at L'Escargot was very good too. We got a whole flat when we were expecting just a room. The hosts were friendly and welcoming and obviously work their butts off trying to make a living out of a small farm. Next day we went for a local walk, the Lyrebird Walk, which we only did part of. There were no lyrebirds, but lots of other birds, trees and ferns. Onto the Grand Ridge Road we went, which was very scenic, until we lost our way at a turnoff and wound up in Churchill, where we had our lunch (pre-bought in Mirboo North). We then made our way back to the Ridge Road at Balook and had a walk in the Bulga Park to the suspension bridge and back to Junior. We drove through the Tarra NP to Yarram where we stayed at the Club Hotel, a huge place. The food was okay, but the best that could be said was that the accommodation could have been worse. This was compensated for by the next night at Port Albert where we stayed at the Tumaini for Africa Gallery which has an AirBNB attached. It was very comfortable with lots of goodies (real coffee etc.). At Port Albert is the Nooramunga Coastal Park and we did a couple of walks to the Old Port (either end) and McLaughlin's Beach (of Norm Gallagher fame) where there is a very good board walk through the mudflats. We also visited the Maritime Museum which is interesting and had the local 'famous' fish'n'chips for dinner. Next morning, Junior refused to start (we'd had a minor hiccup at L'Escargot). To our surprise, GoGet sent a man (Bat) from Melbourne with a new car, Elsa. The problem with Junior is unknown yet but probably it was out of range for its satellite signal so it wore out the battery trying to find one. Who knows? Because there was no signal for Elsa either, Bat disabled the Gogettery and we proceeded manually. We went via the beautiful Agnes Falls (near Toora) with beautiful windfarms nearby (suck on that Joe Hockey). We arrived at the very plain Foster Promontory Motel and had dinner at the pub. with Marg and Clive who now live in Foster. Next day, we did a quick trip down to the Promontory Park and did the Foley Road Loop Walk around Corner Inlet, part of the Prom Wildlife Walk and walked down for views of Darby River Beach. It was a lovely day, sunny but not too hot. Next day, we headed back to Melbourne via Dumbalk and Dollar with very nice views of the countryside. Dollar is a very small place but on the verge they have a very small Royal Dollar Botanic Gardens. We brunched at Moo in Meeniyan which lived up to its reputation and made it home. I took Elsa back to Junior's pod and swapped her for Franz the Corolla which we are able to lock (Elsa's boot was unlockable). Charging by GoGet for this whole journey will be interesting as it was meant to be on a special deal with a CBD car. However, the car was not meant to conk out in a farflung place.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Quiet times

The last couple of days have been fairly quiet. Peter went to his U3A fillum: The Ratcatcher, set in Glasgow during a garbage strike, full of rat, mice and nits. We had onion and rosemary fritatta for dinner. I also got to check the page proofs for the autobiography quickly. I'm still waiting for the picture section. On Saturday, as well as the usual papers, I went off to the Wheeler Centre to a not very inspired session on the Ring Cycle. It was sort of Wagner 101 rather than what I expected which was an examination of the Ring phenomenon and why one Sydney judge had been to 56 Rings (which surely puts all her other judgements into question). In the evening, Frank came for dinner and we didn't quite polish off the remaining soto ayam, so I froze the rest f'rafter.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Pre 'festive' season

The last couple of days have been spent getting ready for the 'festive' season, but really just a bit of overdue clean-up. On Wednesday, I went up to Smurf Street for a long overdue haircut and beard trim so I no longer look like the wild man of Borneo. Peter made a very nice Spag. Carbonara for dinner. Then today I went to the Health Centre to get my prescriptions renewed and to pick up some new pills. Helen, the nurse, has trumped everyone with her travels this year: two trips, to Iceland and Iran. Beat that! Peter spent the days helping others: the Shaw sisters on some home works, and Margaret N. on her hard rubbish. In the evening today, we went to Mr Ottorino, the replacement for our long-loved Commoner. It has been a suitable period of mourning and it turned out to be just right. The food was excellent as was the service. I had fish ceviche which was splendid, followed by a rice dish which was a wonderful version of risi e bisi. Peter's stuffed zucchini flowers and barbecued chook looked (and tasted good). Just before we left, who came in for dinner but Julia Gillard and her partner. I gushed: 'We want you back.' She said thanks. Too full for dessert, we had coffee and went off to Hares and Hyenas for a Christmas show, XXXmas. It was very enthusiastically performed but was a little too heterosexual for the venue. It could also have been pruned to good effect. However, it was what they call 'a good night out'.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Chez Noel

Yesterday, after a quiet day at home tidying, Peter, Frank and I went to Noel T.'s for dinner. Noel cooked the usual very nice meal, and we had a good catch-up as we hadn't seen each other since the U.S. of A. visit. This morning, I hurried off to the magnificent Genie who said that all my kidney indicators are fine. I don't have to go back until May next year. Home again, home again to make soto ayam for dinner.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Nice dinner

We had a very quiet Sunday as well, punctuated by the Sunday crossword and getting ready for dinner. Joe and Anne came for tea and we had a very pleasant evening. Peter had cooked his famous chicken (ex- Saint Stefanie) and then he made a superb peach melba (using the Saint's poached peaches recipe). We then gutsed the chokkies which Joe and Anne had brought to round off a very good night. After they left we saw some bloodthirsty Wars of the Roses.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Quiet Saturday until...

We had a very quiet Saturday, reading the Saturday Paper and Rupert's Saturday with fish cakes for lunch and beer-battered whiting for dinner (with chips and garlic silverbeet). While I was doing the washing up (did I mention our new First-Dog-on-the-Moon teatowel which says: After you smash the state, you still have to dry the dishes), the light above the sink went out. A blown bulb, I thought, then noticed that the microwave lights were off. We soon discovered that one of the fuses had clicked off and wouldn't click back. After following all the remedial actions, it still wouldn't go on. The problem was that the oven is on the same fuse and Joe and Anne are coming for dinner tomorrow. In the end, we called Service Today, even though it is expensive to get them out over the weekend. The man came within the hour and after a lot of checking, managed to 'fix' the problem. The only problem was that he really didn't know how. Fingers crossed. It could go again, but at least we now have a stop gap remedy. And we can cook again.

Friday, December 09, 2016

A very normal morning

This morning, Peter and I picked up Delila, who's back on duty. We then bought coffee beans in Brunswick Street and picked up Frank and went to Victoria Gardens for a big shop as it has to last till we go to Gippsland. Then we had a very good brunch at the Bluebird Cafe in Johnston Street. Now for a nap then Peter is off to dinner with Robin S. and friends so I'll have a dinner from the freezer on my Pat Malone.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

A good post-Ring concert

Yesterday (Wednesday), we had to leave early in the afternoon to make the performance of 'Gotterdammerung', which started at 4pm. The first act is a bit of a marathon but things speed up after that. The 'minimalist' production worked well and we had good munga at both intervals plus a bit of plonk. We had new people this time at dinner. Both Brunnhilde and Siegried sang well at full pelt as did Hagen and the rest of the cast, though the bogan bridesmaids in the wedding scene jarred a bit. Surely the Gibiches didn't have that much bad taste. In common with the rest of the Ring, it was hard to come down after all that fire, sturm and drang. The whole Ring experience was well worthwhile. The people whom we sat next to at dinner were from Sydney and lamented the gutting of the original opera house which prevents the staging of a Ring in Sydney. The orchestra simply would not fit without removing half of the audience and making the whole deal uneconomic. We weep for you Sydney. This morning I went off early to see the vampires at the Hospital to give blood. Unfortunately, this time I had a student who missed the vein so the usual vampire had to take over. Sigh! They have to learn. On the way home I got some quiches and potato salad for lunch from Parisienne Pate in Lygon St. Peter went off to his art gallery class for U3A and I had a nap, then we remet at the Recital Centre for the Australian Piano Quartet. They did a transcription of the prelude and liebestod from 'Tristan and Isolde', a good way of coming down from the Ring Cycle. Then there was a premiere of part of a piece by Elliott Gyger, 'Shell Chambers', very good. Then Faure's bravura first piano quartet. A very satisfying concert. We had a quick bite at a new Indonesian eatery, Fat Oma, near the Bourke St tram stop in Swanston St. It is amazingly cheap but also packed, mainly by Indonesians, I think. A good sign and good food, very spicy. Home again for a quiet night.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016


Sunday was a quiet day at home with the crossword and leftovers for lunch. Peter made a splendid lamb curry with couscous plus spiced rice for dinner, a lot of trouble, but there is lots leftover. On Monday, I went to the health centre to collect some pills then early in the arvo we headed for the State Theatre where we saw the third in the Rinse Cycle, 'Siegfried'. It was a thrilling experience. The orchestra was in full throat as was Stefan Vinke in the title role. The rest of the cast acquitted themselves admirably. As well, the food and the company during the interval was excellent if a bit quirky like the production (fish with red wine and shredded ham??). It is very hard to come down after the blasts of Wagnerian sound, so with the show finishing after 11pm, it is hard to get to bed before 1am at the earliest. Last round is on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Visit to the past in the present

After an early morning peruse of the papers (The Saturday Paper and the Saturday Rupert, we only buy it for the arts section), Peter and I headed for the University of Melbourne University House for a part of the 21st symposium of Australian gastronomy. We only went for the lunch though when we got there we were fortunate enough to catch a part of Bruce Pascoe's talk about Aboriginal agriculture among other things. Then followed a short talk by Max Allan and descendants of the Barak and the de Pury families: neighbours in the Healesville area in the nineteenth century. To give corporeal form to the idea, as well as the descendants, there was a lunch made entirely from produce from the area: vine leaves made into dolmades, smoked eel pate, spit-roasted Yeringberg lamb plus spuds and salad with Yarra Valley cherries and strawberries and raspberries with cream. All of this was washed down with Yering station wines and beer from the Watts River brewery. It was a splendid and moving occcasion. Home again for a nap and a very simple dinner of oysters plus fish cakes.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Beginning Wagner

On Wednesday, we had our first part of the Rinse Cycle. 'Das Rheingold' (after a quick meal at Yoyogi) was superbly sung and played with a production which was somewhat quirky but absorbing. A bit out of time, but a Trump Tower apartment (bling, bling, bling) might have been more appropriate for the Gods than taxidermy, but never mind. It all worked and we're looking forward to the next instalment tonight. Just a bit of tidying on Thursday, followed by the last old Penguini dinner for the year. Many people were absent on family things (it is that time of year) but a small group enjoyed a good meal and mag at Zen in Hawthorn. Today, we did normal shopping (but with Constantine not Delila as she was unavailable). We then went with Frank to Addict for a very good lunch. In the early afternoon, it was off to the State Theatre for part two of the Rinse Cycle. It was my favourite ('Die Walkure'). The entire cast made a good fist of it, especially Bradley Daley and Amber Wagner as Sigmund and Sieglinde. A woman at dinner said they really looked like twins, which she thought was a bit creepy. Well, it is. Also Lise Lindstrom made a good start as Brunnhilde without the poundage. Fricka and Wotan were a little underpowered but not too much so, and the Valkyries were suitably boisterous. It was also our first night for eating in the venue and we had a very posh dinner (entree and mains at first interval and dessert at the second). One man picked the wrong table so we had to squeeze up a bit, but he'd sorted it out by dessert (what a nong). We look forward to some good munga at the next two operas, but why do the men feel they have to wear suits and ties?