Friday, April 30, 2010

Back to Sydney

I finished marking the 47 assignments (three people didn't submit) on Sunday and was very thankful to have a public holiday on Monday to actually relax. After work on Tuesday I made lunches and dinner for Wednesday and packed my bags because I was heading to Sydney for the second time in as many weeks and this time I would be staying overnight. Bizarrely, Andrew was also going away for work on Wednesday, this time to Broken Hill, so Sonja came to take the kids to school in the morning.

Andrew and I drove to the airport at 6am and I caught the plane with Kelly from work. The plane was almost full of council staff and Kelly and I very cheekily avoided the train by catching a taxi with the mayor and a few others - I'm sure their budget is bigger than ours :)

We met up with Claire and Robert at the State Library for the Futures Forum which was very interesting. We spent the day looking at possible scenarios for the future and what they would mean for libraries. Just before 4 Kelly, Claire and I ducked off to our hotel to get ready for the cocktail party to be held in the library that evening. We were staying at Rydges World Square and we worked up an appetite by walking. If it weren't for our heels, I'm sure we'd have walked back, too. This is my room.

Of course, the country folk dressed up more than the city folk who couldn't go home and get changed. We do like to get out in the city. This is me, Kelly, Claire and Robert - the Wagga contingent.

The State Library is very pretty in the evening.

This half of the library is very modern with lots of glass. The beautiful, old Mitchell Library is next door.

The Mitchell Library is celebrating its centenary this year with a fabulous exhibition of rare and fascinating items and after our "cocktails" (wine or beer) we went up and had a look. Sadly, no photos are to be taken of the exhibition.

When we were in Sydney last week for the Seniors Forum we dropped in to the Apple Centre for Kelly to charge her iPhone. I took the opportunity to research where we might go for dinner when we were up for the Futures Forum. Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella to the rescue! I searched her reviews by location and found a Japanese restaurant that sounded great. We took a taxi to Kushiyaki Azuma on George Street, just around the corner from our hotel. I took this photo to show Lorraine that the chopstick rests have changed for the better (read her post to see what I mean).

There were five of us dining and we were all thrilled with our food so here come lots of photos...
Claire and Kelly had oysters and scallops.

I only just remembered to take a photo of my wagyu beef skewer (tender beyond belief) and miso soup with scampi.

I had assorted tempura which was light and delicious and Kelly had soft shelled crab tempura.

Thanks to the lightness of good Japanese food we were able to fit dessert in, just. Claire had green tea and chestnut cake.

I had a green tea and azuki mousse cake.

Lyn had a black sesame daifuku.

And Kelly had mochi with azuki, fruit and brown sugar syrup. We all wished we had room for that too.

There is a little bit of pressure involved in suggesting a restaurant so I was most pleased that we all loved it. Thanks Lorraine :)

We were back in our rooms by 9pm so I had a long, hot bath and read North and South. We had a very pleasant sleep in (for a work day) and after breakfast went book shopping, for the library of course. We bought lots of great books in other languages for our refugee and migrant communities and I thoroughly enjoyed buying many DVDs at the ABC shop - the community will have to wait until the staff have watched them all ;)

I finished North and South on the plane home and have to say that I adored it. It was like discovering a new Jane Austen! I have reserved the DVD (someone else has it at the moment) and can't wait to watch it. Now I am reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and am, so far, enjoying it very much. I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend...... though I wish I were holding my brand new niece, Samira - congratulations Sare and Ty!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Last week, the final week of the holidays, I did a lot of marking (I'm not finished yet). To keep me going I had to do some baking and eating. I have been looking for matcha (Japanese green tea) in Wagga without success so made sure I remembered to buy some in Sydney. I made white chocolate and matcha cake and matcha shortbread, pictured above. The cake was unspectacular and, I think, less than the sum of its parts. It tasted perfectly nice but I couldn't taste the matcha. The shortbread, on the other hand, was delicious. I also made some matcha and white chocolate friands to take to our church's Big Day Out and they were also scrumptious, with just the right amount of green tea flavour. The green tea custards I made with the five left over egg yolks were not good.

On Saturday we drove out of town towards Narrandera, following a map to Bulgary Station. I had no idea what Bulgary Station was, except the chosen venue for what is kind of like a church camp except that we don't stay overnight. Bulgary turned out to be an amalgamation of farms owned by an American corporation and leased by some friends at church who farm it. The house looked like it was from Out of Africa.

I forgot to take photos inside but it is very grand. Marble bathrooms, extremely high ceilings, doors and windows from floor to ceiling and wide open spaces. There were around fifty of us there and we weren't crowded. John Rowse, a missionary in Tanzania, taught us about God's grace and the kids had their own programme, out in the guest accomodation. After lunch the boys (of all ages) played cricket. Andrew took a brilliant catch but I wasn't watching because we were sensibly sitting in the shade, chatting.

It was such a great day. It is always lovely to have a day to spend time with members of all three congregations - we were all there from tiny babies to the opposite end of the spectrum.

Monday was my first day back at work but turned out to be far more complicated than I could have imagined. I was due to go to another State Library seminar, this time on seniors, but Andrew also had to be in Sydney for work. I ended up spending all afternoon after church on Sunday packing school bags, uniforms, writing lunch orders and packing PJs and toothbrushes (OK, I forgot Toby's toothbrush), before driving the children to three different places to stay the night. Thankfully, in the absence of family, we have lovely friends who took a child overnight and dropped them to school. After school Narelle picked up her four children and our three for a very busy afternoon and evening until we arrived home from Sydney around 8.30.

After that very long day I got up early again this morning, rode my bike into work and was showered and ready to leave for Albury by 7.55am. Tomorrow, for the first time in weeks, I'll actually go to my library.

Several years ago, through Tricia's blog, I came across a lovely blog written in France. Linda is an American, married to a Frenchman, living in Paris and Provence. She takes delightful, whimsical, beautiful photos of magical places and I do so enjoy visiting France via her blog. She has a giveaway at the moment making her blog especially worth a visit. Happy blog anniverday Linda, keep up the good work!

Friday, April 16, 2010

More cousins...tick!

And you thought we'd run out of family! On the last day of our trip to the Mountains/Sydney Andrew's parents very kindly organised a picnic at Bobbin Head to get all four siblings and their offspring together (except that Mal couldn't come because he was in New Zealand). We got there very early so that we could get great tables near the BBQs and playground. Bethany and I went for a walk, discovering ducks, fish and coffee. Thankfully I had put some money in my pocket just in case....

The girls did their own thing in the sand.

The boys did sporty things.

This cousin didn't do anything, which is very annoying because we wanted to meet him/her.

Someone had the brilliant idea of getting a photo of all the children together. It was very difficult to get them just facing in the same direction.

Everyone smiling was too much to ask for.

Bethany suggested they all turn into animals. I have no idea which animal any of them were trying to be....

The girls were very keen to do some more posing.

The boys, not so much.
The tick reference? We pulled many of them out of Toby and Bethany that evening but not as many as were pulled out of Jordy. I think he had 63!

We drove home last Sunday after a wonderful, fun and food filled holiday. Since then I have been marking an awful lot of assignments and making lots of things with matcha in them.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To the Beach

Sometimes I wish Wagga was a bit closer to Sydney. Not for the far greater variety of shops and restaurants, but so that we could see more of our family. Thankfully Mum, Dad, Tim and Shona had a free day so we could see them at Tim and Shona's place on the Central Coast. It's almost the Pumpkin's birthday so we went in with Mum and Dad and gave her a rocking horse - she instinctively knew what to do!
Given that our beach deprived children love the sea, we went to Terrigal to have fish and chips for lunch. Toby recovered from the ill effects of windy roads to polish off an enormous lunch. All three children then got completely soaked, clothes and all.
These pelicans were very tame.
This is Dad taking a photo of Tim taking a photo of Dad.
Hopefully Tim will put some good photos up on his blog.
We were very lucky to avoid sand in the eyes as Bethany and the Pumpkin enjoyed the sand most enthusiastically.
We walked up the Skillion in the hope of the children drying off. Bethany was frightened of falling off at the top while the Pumpkin just wanted to climb the fences and try her luck. It's a very steep hill and I was carrying a heavy bag and the Pumpkin so I would have worked off all the fish and chips I ate, wouldn't I? So, when we got back, we had tea and macarons. I cut them in half (messily) so that we could try more flavours. I couldn't say which was my favourite. I know Tim liked the salted caramel one but I didn't get to try it. Next time....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cake adventure

Andrew, Jossie and Toby headed to the Royal Easter Show but I was not tempted by showbags, I wanted cake, so Bethany and I caught the train into the city in search of La Renaissance. We caught the train to Wynyard and walked down to The Rocks, finding the café just before Bethany felt she had walked far enough. Bethany fancied the cheesecake, not the most adventurous choice, but it was creamy and delicious.

I ordered a coffee…

To go with my Gaugin. Berry delicious.

I bought one of each macaron to take home!

The Guylian café is right next door so we had to buy some chocolates. The lady was very nice and gave Bethany an Easter egg and chatted to her a bit. I asked if I could take a photo and she wasn’t keen on my taking a photo just of the display so she asked a waitress to take a photo of us together.

Bethany wanted to see the 'pool' – can you tell that we live inland?

It was a long walk back up the hill and we sat in Martin Place listening to some music, contemplating walking up to the Lindt Café for some of their macarons in order to have enough to share. I looked up and saw a friend of ours from Wagga! Actually he is at Moore College in Newtown now but it was still a big co-incidence. He told us about another Lindt Café, a bit closer to Wynyard so he walked us down there and we bought delices…

And shared a dark iced chocolate for lunch - we had done a lot of walking and we had vegetables at dinner.

Long food adventures with much walking are not for five year olds so we hopped on a train back to Warrawee at that point and discovered that I had forgotten to get the keys from Andrew so had to walk back to Andrew’s parents’ house. We made it a nature adventure to keep Bethany enthused but we were ready for a quiet afternoon once we returned!

Good-bye to the Mountains

Easter in the mountains was so very good that we can’t wait to do it again next year. Katoomba Convention, friends, family and food made it a brilliant holiday. On Wednesday we packed up and went to the cousins for a farewell lunch. Somehow the adults managed to stay out of the photos but we have a good record of the next generation.
Huw had us all in hysterics when he found Biony’s pink shoes.
Hamish read Bethany a book.
I love this photo of Briony with Bethany, the two Bs.
One photo too many…..
And so, we drove down to Sydney to stay with Andrew’s parents to visit the Easter Show and go on our cake adventure.

Hanging With the Hamiltons

The convention finished on Monday but we stayed an extra day in the mountains. Having discovered that the Hamiltons were doing the same, we decided to spend some time together. When we lived in Sydney we used to be in the same bible study and Shane and I were pregnant with our first babies at the same time. Jossie and Adam were born two days apart. 10 is not an age when they feel any closeness as a result of this!

Dave and Andrew took all the boys on a bush walk from the Three Sisters to Leura Cascades while Shane and I took the girls shopping in Leura – sounds like a good deal, don’t you think? I bought a few things in the kitchen shop, a few more in the stationery shop and, of course, some chocolates. For a shop with no food in it, that stationery shop is fabulous.

We went back to our place for pies from the Leura bakery and took some photos of the kids. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to get a good one of everyone, would you?

Two with eyes closed.

Just about to lose it.

Jossie reminds me so much of myself in that last photo….unfortunately. I’m sure my Mum is pleased that what goes around, comes around. At least Andrew and I can keep our eyes open at the same time.