31 October, 2005

Breakfast with the sparrows

This morning we were up with the sparrows and shared breakfast with them at Salamanca. It was too nice a morning to have breakfast in the hotel, so B and I strolled over to the Salamanca area to peruse the many cafes open for breakfast. We quickly settled on one place at a table outdoors. It was a perfect morning, made even more perfect by the entertainment provided by the little sparrows who were brave enough to pick at the leftovers of the breakfast of the gentleman sitting at the next table.

Speaking of perfect, after seeing B to his conference I met up with Steph whose husband is attending the same conference, and we did the Cadbury Cruise Tour. A chocoholics fantasy come true. As we chugged up the Derwent River in the purple and gold Cadbury Cruise ship, I felt like I was having my own Willy Wonka experience. Once at the factory we were read the rules, basically not to touch anything, keep to the left and keep with group, oh and enjoy as many of the samples provided us – YES. Our tour guide was Catherine, she was great – so many interesting facts. And the factory shop – I came away with over 5kgs of chocolate: Snack, Turkish Delight, Marble, Mint Triple Deck, and Old Gold, not including the small box of Favourites given to us at the end of the tour.

After the tour of the Cadbury factory it was back down the River to where we had departed and a quick dash back to the hotel to dump off the loot, and then back down the conference centre where I met up with B for the trip to Mt Wellington. What a day of experiences, it was amazingly fresh and clear skied on Mt Wellington and we were able to appreciate Tasmania from another perspective.

We capped the day off with Dinner at Sisco’s where we had the most fantastic Paella, so good it will be tempting to have it again tomorrow night, although we have promised ourselves a Seafood Platter.

30 October, 2005

As far as my legs would carry me

I have just got back to the hotel room to refresh before meeting B for lunch. With a few minutes up my sleeve I thought I would share my morning.

This blog was going to be titled ‘raining one day, sunny the next’, as today is in such stark contrast to yesterday. It is so fresh and beautiful that after a quick breakfast (the continental again in the hotel, and yes I did try toasting the croissant, and it cooked perfectly, I set the dial correctly this time and made sure it was REALLY FLATTENED), I saw B to his conference and then set out in the direction of the Salamanca precinct. Nothing opened before 10am if at all, being a Sunday I guess. But not wanting to waste any time (at sometime I have to get some study done) I did some window shopping and then decided on the 5 minute walk to Battery Point. I took longer than 5 minutes – so many lovely gardens to stop and look at and get photos of.

battery point stairs

view from the top of the stairs

garden I

garden II

garden III
Point was cute but again shops, mainly antiques, didn’t open till midday if at all. So I headed back to Salamanca, visited a few of the art galleries, made a purchase of some sweet little embossed porcelain stars (thinking ahead to this years Christmas tree) handmade by a local. I also discovered a handmade chocolate shop which smelled heavenly, and made a mental note to come back later in the week. Although I am thinking a sample for this afternoons study session might be a good idea…….

Tonight we have cocktails at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

29 October, 2005

Come sail away with me honey

What will be, will be…….

I can’t get that tune out of my head since the cruise to Peppermint Bay today. It was absolutely fantastic. I am so relaxed and had a really enjoyable time.

After being woken by the sound of rain (so noticeable coming from Sydney) and realizing I was totally unprepared for such a situation (I had a morning planned to visit Salamanca Markets). I didn’t think it would be such a great day.

The markets were fun, I was there at 8.30am, the only person without an umbrella, raincoat or something to protect me from the rain, but with so many distractions from the products on display, I quickly forgot about being drenched and equally didn’t notice that by mid morning the rain had stopped. I had all but dried off by midday when I was due to for the cruise to Peppermint Bay – I didn’t really have time to change clothes I only just made it back to the hotel to drop off my purchases and race back to Brooke St Pier in time to be one of the last passengers aboard.

Before I sing the praises of the cruise though…some pictures of the markets and some of the stalls I made a purchase at.


Pansy, Fern & April

Iris Stall

Cheese Stall
The cruise to Peppermint Bay was well worth it, the ship was state of the art, I had a window seat and had wonderful views of the amazing coastline.

An eagle (?) was spotted at one point and so was fed a fish, and I think it was another eagles or falcons (?) nest was pointed out to us, its nest is the size of a double bed.

bird taking off with fish

birds nest
We also looked at some other birds although I can’t remember what birds they were, they flew fast. Underwater cameras were used to show us the kelp forest and marine life, this would be an amazing place to go diving, I imagine.

salmon farm enclosures
The underwater cameras were also used to show us inside a salmon farm, and whilst we were watching salmon jumping out of the water from the deck of the boat, an enormous seal graced us with its presence. It was really special. The staff of the boat did a great job of spotting these creatures and commentating.

Peppermint Bay
Peppermint Bay itself was really pretty, and lunch in the café was very good. I went for a walk to the gallery and bought myself a pair of knitting needles made from Tasmanian Oak, it was the hot pink spotty ends and the urge to get creative that got me.

I loved the cruise so much I would do it again tomorrow, this time with B of course.

flaming croissants

I was not expecting to make a burnt offerings confession this week…we are in Tasmania and so have a week of eating out. Having said that I have had dinner in the hotel room tonight (frozen meal which required microwaving – that’s cooking of sorts) whilst B attends a dinner associated with the conference he is in Tas to attend.

My confession is not dinner tonight but breakfast this morning. Opting for the Continental Breakfast (stewed fruits, yoghurt, cereal, breads and croissants) served in the restaurant of the hotel where we are staying, as a walk to the nearest café’s seemed out of the question, due to the fact that it was raining quite a bit and B had the conference to get to. It was going to be a big day (more on that later, I want to get this off my chest). A croissant with jam would get me off to a good start, but I’m sure you’d agree, a croissant needs to be warm. Now the only way this would be possible would be if the croissant could go through the hotels toaster (you know the kind, you put the toast on the toaster conveyor belt and it falls out the other end toasted). I examined the opening, it would be very tight, the croissant could get stuck. So I decided on stewed pears and yoghurt whilst I considered my options for a croissant. B got me a coffee and I asked him for his advice:

B: you could flatten it before putting it in
Me: yeah I had also thought that might work

A survey of the restaurant, only a couple of other diners, I’m going for it.

Now I don’t know why but I grabbed a croissant, squashed it, and also grabbed a slice of fruit loaf, and before placing them on the conveyor belt for toasting I checked the dial indicating the level of toasting was for light. Great, we were in business, so I offered my selections for toasting. All appeared to be going well, the croissant had clearance, however a heap of smoke started at the midpoint, too far for me to reach in, I looked over to B for help but he was reading the paper, I had to act:

Step 1: start waving your arms around, this helps to dissipate the smoke, not
Step 2: turn the dial to lighter, this should work if you don’t turn it too far like I did to darkest
At this point when flames are now about 10cm’s height from the back of the toaster
Step 3: look to your husband for help, realise he’s got no idea of the drama unfolding, wave your arms even though you know from step 1 this is of no use, and decide as the toast and croissant appear, that if you are discovered now by the staff, you will take an indignant position that it was the fault of the toaster. Hide the croissant under the fruit loaf which looks more burnt than the croissant. Why, I ask, because I don’t think the croissant should have been in the toaster, and it must have been the butter in the croissant that caused the flames.
Step 4: go back to your seat and observe from afar patrons entering the restaurant and all those that comment that ‘someone has burnt the toast’.

I ate the croissant but couldn’t eat the toast, it looked like a piece of coal, and I confessed in a way to the waiter guy something like “sorry, I couldn’t eat the toast, it got a bit burnt” which made me feel a bit better, he blamed it on the toaster. I then wondered whether it really was my fault, so thought I’d ask if you could toast the croissants to which he replied “so you really would like to burn the place down” laughing as he walked away.

22 October, 2005

It's only a house

Well let me tell you about the story of a strange little house. Remember, that this happened to be a conversation on a Friday night…

Ring Ring... Ring Ring...
Me (B): Hello!
Michelle (M): Hi B, I was wondering what you are doing tomorrow, as we want your opinion of a house we are looking at?
B: Ummm... nothing much, but the other 'B' has asked me to look through a house too...
M: Oh, he has gotten to you first has he? Well we really like it, and would like to get your opinion...
Yeah that’s fine... where and what time and do you want to meet, here or at the house?
M: Well it’s at ... (address inserted here) ... It has 4 bedrooms, study, L shaped lounge/dining, a rear deck, and kitchen overlooking a deck on the side of the house...
B: Oh umm… does it happen to have an entrance from the side of the house rather than from a 'Front Door'?
M: Yeah..
B: And is this entrance from under a single carport by chance??
M: (Now very suspicious of my questioning...) Yeah why??
B: Can I call you back in a little bit, and upon the ok of this I hung up and called my friend 'A'

B: Hi A, what are you up to?
A: Nothing much, I am at work you know...
B: Yeah I know, but I’ve got a quick question to ask?? What is your old home address in ... (insert suburb here...)?
A: (address inserted here)... why??
B: Oh umm... I will tell you later... Ok?? Of which she said yeah and I hung up...

B: Hi Michelle... How much is this house, and I will tell you who the seller is!!!
M: Oh, ok... it’s $$$$ Why? You know who owns it don’t you???
B: Of course I do... It happens to be 'A's' MUMS!
M: “Oh S*#T” she says... And an ongoing conversation ensues...

About an hour later when 'A' finished work, and had looked it up on the net to confirm the family home she had grown up in was for sale even though she had been told it would not be ready for sale until the end of NOVEMBER!!!

A sounded quite upset about the sale, a feeling I am only too aware of, as I felt the same when after dad died mum sold up. Not for any reason other than it was a bit too big for her to maintain...

After arriving at the house, we parked out the front and waited for M, but after about 5-10 mins, decided to just go on in and get a look at it...
Not bad really for the money, but it was looking a little 'tired' nothing a lick of paint and either replacing the carpets or polishing the floor boards wouldn’t hurt. Whilst we were looking through the house, a familiar looking face was walking up the driveway with a grin from ear to ear, having parked her car out the front, and noticing/recognising the new Prius parked opposite. At the same time, L was smiling at her colleague walking up the driveway. After about 15-20 mins of looking at the house, 'kicking the tyres' sort of thing if you were looking at a car, we all agreed that the house had a value at the lower end of the bracket it was being offered at. One good thing came out of all of this, A has not been lucky enough to see her nephew, and there sitting on the shelving was a photo of him. And what’s more, we were tricky enough to be able to distract the agent, so I got a snap of him with my camera phone (Nokia 3660) and sent her an email, or was it an SMS? Either way, A was grateful of finally getting to see him.

We stayed there for almost the entire open house (45 mins) and after several phone calls to M, they had made a wrong turn and were lost. We waited for the agent to leave, upon which M arrived with family in tow.

So, all in all, forget about 6 degrees of separation… I as a much younger boy, had the odd party or two in this house, looked through it for friends who want to buy the house, and we had friends who were looking through the house as well. AND, whats more, the aunty of the colleague of L, looks as though I went to school with in primary school… All too freaky for me!

the last one to leave the nest

well she actually left the 'nest' a long time ago, in fact she was the first to leave the nest, being the most independent of us 4 siblings. Anyway, congratulations to the Next-Sister-Down who has announced her engagement to partner Paddy - and no he isn't Irish.

21 October, 2005

3 weeks old or thereabouts

thanx to S, R and M for joining us this evening, we hoped you enjoyed B's Sticky Chicky for dinner. And a big thanx for the additional guests you sprung on us.......

Met unnamed, unnamed, smudge and willow.

19 October, 2005


man driving white ford, registration AFG 57G, with a 'baby on board' sign, east bound on the M4 this afternoon. Does your wife/partner know you drive like an absolute lunatic? Travelling at least 20kms over the speedlimit is dangerous and it really ticks me off that you were almost in my boot before rudely overtaking. Maybe you should stick the 'baby on board' sign on the dash to remind yourself to drive more carefully. Why should the rest of us have any care and consideration for you, you arrogant, self-centred road hog, if you don't drive more responsibly.

Also, you probably did not notice, but I was travelling at the speedlimit (ok just over it in some places) and you didn't get that far ahead. Hardly worth putting yourself (and I'm only thinking of the 'baby') and the rest of us at risk.

17 October, 2005

molly dye dinner success

success, success, success. No burnt offering this evening. We had the most delicious dinner care of my erratic culinary skills, and an almost foolproof* recipe care of the Molly Dye section in The Sunday Telegraph from a couple of weeks back, submitted by Lesleigh McLeod, of Camp Hill.

Thank you Lesleigh, for your recipe for Honey Lamb, it was delicious, and since you were kind enough to share it with NSW, I'm sure you won't mind me sharing it on our website. It will also guarantee that I won't lose it, like all the other recipes torn out from the newspaper.

*foolproof if you read past the ingredients and through the instructions and note that the recipe requires 1.5 hours cooking time covered and an additional 20 minutes uncovered. Something I didn't do and resulted in us sitting down to dinner not before 9.30pm.

16 October, 2005

the day the greyhounds have their picnic

although a bit overcast and cold, we wouldn't miss the GAP annual picnic for anything.

Macc and co....
Macc just loves being with other greyhounds, having an Aussie Pooch Mobile bath, and taking second prize in the raffle, which will see him sporting a flash new collar with his name embroidered on it.

Dog Wash AGM 2005
B and I on the other hand just love catching up with other greyhound owners. One of the people there had a great t-shirt from an American online store Fast Jack Sportswear. You just gotta love those designs.

Best Buns Comp 2005
The sausage sizzle wasn't bad either. Our contribution of the Sare Lee chocolate slab cake was a bit of a disaster though - it helps to read the instructions - remove paper and plastic whilst cake is still frozen - as we didn't do this, the chocolate cake lost its icing.