Saturday park visit


Another Saturday, another visit to a park.

We rode over to the "blue" park, then I left the boys to go on a bit of a training ride for the big 60km ride at the end of the March.

The boys (including James) didn't mind as much climbing and sliding and chasing occured during my absence.

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Dishwasher assistant

Zachary helps unstack the dishwasher.

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Iron Chef Honey



After something of a break from Iron Chef during the Christmas/New Year season, it was time for the long awaited Iron Chef Honey. Beautiful summer weather made Steve and Shell's backyard the perfect setting for an afternoon of indulgence and, as a bonus, there were even new chickens to meet.

While honey beer and champagne with honey and strawberries kicked us off, Andrew v provided sustenance to the horde of small boys with his vegemite and honey toasts. while most of the adults declined in slight horror, the boys loved it, and Orwell even managed to mix in some dirt with his.

It seemed that we were much enamoured of the main course, so most of the food came in a group, although we did commence with ricotta, pear and honey, which was again popular with small boys, but this time delicious to adults also. The mains then included pork belly marinated in soy and honey, honey and orange roasted carrots and sweet potato, lamb tagine wiht honey and dates, chilli chicken with honey sauce accompanied by vegetable skewers, honey roasted beans and then, as a finale, rack of lamb with a honey marinade. Despite all the honey, the meal was not overpoweringly sweet, and the dishes, certainly as a whole, managed to find an excellent balance between sweet and savoury.

While the adults ate and drank, Sebastian and Jude found Jett from next door and engaged in some DS play to distract themselves, while Zac, having fought off monsters with the yellow fly swat, eventually settled for a bit of Star Wars viewing.

As a (somewhat dubious) palate cleanser, Jasmin had prepared us honey, lime and vodka jelly shots, which were actually remarkably tasty. Dessert then was an indulgence of baklava, donuts in honey and lemon curd slice (with lemon curd made from honey). Yum.

Another day of successful culinary experimentation, and, more importantly, eating achieved.

 We then later adjourned to our house for some zombie film viewing, but that is another story….


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A Saturday at the park


What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than playing at the park with the Hippits – a chance to catch up after the summer apart. And have a few slides.

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Adealaide Odyssey: Days 6 & 7

After a day at the Big Day Out, there is nothing for it but to spend an afternoon sitting around and recovering. Which is what we did. Rachel got a massage in the morning and Shell and Jasmin had medicinal pedicures, and later we spent the afternoon at my folk's house eating and drinking and generally recovering. Except for Andrew. He flew home early. It was also a chance to catch up with a few Adelaide friends and family and was very pleasant all round.

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On Sunday it was time to drive home again. The DVDs and DSs worked to keep small boys occupied, and Zacky even managed a sleep. The drive home took about an hour longer than the drive there, but we did have dinner as well. And we caught up with Rachel at the Gundagai McDonalds.

And while we had had a lovely week, it was very nice to be back in our own beds again!

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Adelaide Odyssey: Day 5 BIG DAY OUT

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Dateline 29 January: So the Big Day had arrived, the reason we were all in Adelaide…the Big Day Out.

For those of you who don't know the story, late in the evening of the Sparkling Red Tasting event, we had made the somewhat alcohol-influenced decision to head to Adelaide to the Big Day Out – Sydney wasn't a convenient date and Adelaide offered the attractions of wineries…so why not? It all made sense to our slightly addled brains. And then, to my slight surprise, no one thought better of it in the days to come. From my point of view it worked perfectly as we could collect Jude and Sebastian who were over staying with their grandparents, so I was not going to object. So there we all were, ready for fun.

After a stop at the East Terrace Continental Cafe (where inevitably we bumped into a friend from Adelaide who now lives in Canberra) for breakfast (and a fine breakfast it was), James and I met up with the rest of the gang. We caught the tram to the edge of the parklands then walked across to the showgrounds.

Some general comments first: clearly after having done this for a number of years, the BDO organisers have got it all figured out. The system with drink tokens meant the lines were never really that long, there were enough food places to not have to wait and over all things seemed pretty well organised and under control. And the showgrounds were a good venue – there were lots of people, but unless you were trying to get close to a band, you didn't feel crushed or overwhelmed by the crowd. OK, the lawns were virtually covered in aluminium cans by the end, but I think that is probably pretty hard to avoid. And the crowds seemed mostly well behaved – the number of stupidly drunk or objectionally misogynistic seemed relatively low. We did get to witness one guy whose friends really just needed to take him to the St Johns people and leave him there, but generally people were pretty good.

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And the crowd was diverse – I didn't feel like the oldest person in the room, and yet there were definitely some total youngsters. The mother-and-teenage-daughter combination was always a bit of a laugh, but there were a few about.

So to the bands that we watched in any real way – saw bits and pieces of other including Kasbian and Dizzee Rascal, but these were the main ones:

Kisschasy: the indoor stage area was packed, but as the first real name group for the day, this wasn't a surprise. Lots of energy and entertaining enough in a grungey way, but didn't feel a massive wrench when we left early to get to see Magic Dirt in time.

Magic Dirt: The crowd was smaller and older but the band did not disappoint. Adalita showed that you don't have to be a 20 year old bloke to truly rock out. A great performance, dedicated to bassist Dean who died of cancer in 2009.

Eskimo Joe: watched Eskimo Joe from the somewhat removed heights of the grandstand, so can't say we got totally into the atmosphere. However, just a little pedestrian, which I guess has always been my reaction to them – not bad background music. Left earlier in order to get over to….

The Decemberists: Recommended to me by one of my team at work, a band that I knew I knew some of their music but couldn't actually put my finger on what it was I know (I know, I'm so old and past it). However, it came back to me as I listened! A funky folk-rock combination they gave an excellent tight performance. I particularly loved the guy who played various string instruments – the ukele and banjo amongst them – wearing his totally unrock-and-roll black and white striped polo shirt tucked in. We are now total Decemberists converts and there has been non-stop playing of their most recent album in our house.

Lily Allen: One of the unmissable acts for the whole gang, we waded into the crowd. I have a vague suspicion Lily may have been living up to her lyrics for Everyone's At It while on stage, but it was a fun poppy performance nonetheless. I thought the three slower more downbeat songs in the middle was possibly slightly too much, and I could have lived without the Muse cover. But it was fun to hear her, to sing along and to watch sexual liberation take a further step forward as 15 year old girls sang over and over that poor sexual  performance is "not OK".

LadyHawke: It was then over to LadyHawke which started late and wasn't bad; there was dancing and all, but with a slightly wavering start, didn't entirely light my fire, as it were. James, Jasmin and I wandered off slightly early in an (unsuccessful) search for donuts. Rachel and Andrew however assure us that the final two songs totally killed it.

Powderfinger: The first thing about watching Powderfinger was that it made me realise how long it has been since I bought a Powderfinger album… The second was how old I must be – everyone else in the crowd knew every word for a whole bunch of songs I couldn't recall having ever even heard; then when they sang The Metre, James and I were the only ones singing…At lesat a few other people knew These Days. But while they do still rock, it was just a teeny bit boring, so James and I wandered off to try something at the very different end of the music experience spectrum…

Peaches: There is nothing to be said but that Peaches was frickin' amazingly insanely awesome. The energy and insanity and performance was brilliant and James and I danced and danced and danced. You have to say something for someone who can both dress as a giant rubber glove and, at another time, wear a pulsating light g-string. Like the Decemberists, we knew a little bit of Peaches and thought it worth a look and ended up total converts. Would go and see her again in a minute.

Muse: OK, so I always find Muse a bit overblown and pretentious, and they didn't fail me in that respect with the concert. However, I will say that because we missed the first half because of the awesomeness of Peaches, we were right at the back and didn't quite so much get into the crowd vibe on which stadium rock so thrives. The show was pretty spectactular with the massive video towers and the lasers (welcome to the 1970s anyone), but I did still find the music and teensy bit repetitive. Until the end. Then they played Back in Black which was very cool, and finished off with Knghts of Cydonia which was also pretty amazing.

After that, we had to go home or our legs might have fallen off. We all walked back in to town – James and I said goodbye to the others and stopped in Rundle Street for pizza and mineral water. It was a brilliant day though; reminded what we all loved about live music and has prompted in us all the desire to see more. So hello Groovin the Moo!

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Adelaide Odyssey: Day 4 – Pandas and beer and Chinese food

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Dateline: 28 January. This morning the small boys and I head to the zoo where we meet Jasmin, Rachel and Michelle on a visit to the pandas. Meantime, the big boys met up at Alfrescos and went off to spend a couple of hours shooting zombies.

We lined up for the pandas which didn't take too long and once were in found there was plenty of room and it was not too crowded. While Funi was having a big sleep, Wang Wang decided to parade around for us. We decided he must have had a bit of a crush on Jasmin, as he did spend a fair bit of time displaying himself right in front of her.

After watching Wang Wang wander, pose, eat and wee (lucky us), we wandered off to visit the other animals of the zoo. Zac was particularly taken by the flamingos who were clsoe enough to touch. And so old – first came to the zoo in the late 1930s. The older flamingo was bashed a couple of years ago and left blind – it is hard to imagine what kind of total idiocy and cruelty would lead someone to do that.

The meer cats also posed for us – again, a lack of moats and so forth meant we could virtually touch them if we wanted. It was rather cool to be able to be that close. We also got lucky and were at the seals in time for feeding. This was a bit a of moment of nostalgia as I remember the seal feeding always being on of the highlights of my childhood zoo trips. Now of course they have been rather overshadowed by the pandas.

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After the zoo we tromped up the (mild) hill of Frome Road to meet james, Andrew and Steve at the Austral for lunch. This was a place I spent almost every Friday night during university, so, as with much of this trip, there was mild cognitive dissonance at being there with my Canberra friends. Tragically, the beer lines weren't working, so beer had to be consumed from bottles. Jasmin and Rachel tried out the ciders however, and I was happy as they had Rockford's Alicante Bouchet by the glass.

We then parted to go our separate ways for the afternoon with shopping high on the priority list for the (female) visitors to Adelaide, while James and I took the boys home for a bit of a rest. The wi fi at my parents' house was finally restored, so our resting involved some internet accessing…

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For the evenings events we all gathered at the McEwen family favourite Chinese restaurant, the CitiZen where we were joined by by family. We had the Splendid banquet, which was indeed splendid, then it was time to head home and rest up for the big day…out.

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Adelaide Odyssey: McLaren Vale

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Dateline 27 January: So we collect the bus from Budget rental who provide it to us for the day for the very reasonable cost of $125 for the day. With a driver, it would have cost us four times that amount, so James bravely volunteered to be our driver.

Our target, the McLaren Vale. This was our first whole group excursion for the trip and we were accompanied by small boys and my father.

Our first stop was meant to be Hugh Hamilton however when we arrived there we discovered to our chagrin that it was 15 minutes until they opened. 15 minutes! Not ones to let an opportunity go to waste, we instead headed just a few more metres down the road to the lovely surrounds and tastes of Wirra Wirra. We hadn't really intended to go to Wirra Wirra as it is possible to get much of their stuff commerically, however opportunity called and it was profitable for all….especially Wirra Wirra. Much wine was tasted; we discovered (and, naturally, purchased) their sparkling red; and we learned of the delights of gin and moscato. The recommendation was two parts gin, one part moscato and a squeeze of lime, which seemed quite dangerously potent to us (and later experimentation showed that it depended how dry vs sweet you wanted it!), but those of us who like a sweet and bubbly white were fascinated by the idea.

Next it was back to Hugh Hamilton where even the small boys got to taste…the shiraz cordial that was. This was the revisting of an old friend for a number of us, and the introduction to a new one for others. And all very delicious.

It was then time for food, so we headed to the wonderful and picturesque surrounds of d'Arenberg, and, in particular, d'Arry's verandah restaurant. Here the food was excellent, the service very good and the wine delicious. A numbe rof us tried wine "flights" with our meals – serves of three different wines. Mmmmmm. After we had eaten we stumbled into the tasting room to try the wines we'd missed at lunch and make enough purchases for them to give us a free bottle of their fortified shiraz to share later.

From there it was off to another picturesque location, Samuel's Gorge. It must be said that the McLaren Vale offers much more spectacular scenery with its wineries than does the Barossa! Here our wine was brought to us as we sat on the verandah and the boys ran around the garden. Zachary took over the camera and took photos through the wall. We were all very pleased to be considered "mates" when told that the excellent cleanskin they had was sold to said for $100 a case. A couple of those cases were purchased.

Our last stop for the tour was Coriole. An old favourite of mine, there we got to taste wine from a grape none of us had experienced before, the fiano – a white on its own, but also blended with shiraz. The additional bonus of Coriole was the cheese, which was both tasted and purchased enthusiastically.

We then wended our way back to Adelaide, dropped off the wine at the hotel and met my mother out for dinner. A fairly tasty but quiet dinner ensued before we were all pretty much ready to retire. Or, perhaps, a few more quiet ones….

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