Snapshots: Miles


Yesterday when I got on the subway to Manhattan I saw a bunch of empty seats, so went for it. As I sat down, I realised I had made a rookie error and was sitting opposite a homeless guy. But he didn’t smell and was calmly sitting there eating peanuts, so I started reading my book – World War Z, which is outstanding by the way. After a few minutes, the homeless msn said to me “isn’t that the book Brad Pitt has an option on”. As it was, I paused and replied that it was. And thus our conversation began. Miles, as he later introduced himself, was articulate and well read and quite pleasant to chat to. He told me how he is “going to Kakadu” and that he wants to do a study on pre and post Olympic Sydney and how the effort in planning the Olympics could be used in counter acting climate change, which he was extremely concerned about. He told me that he had pioneered sports broadcasting in the UK for Channel 4 and had facilitated bringing AFL to UK television. He had lived on the streets for six years and had been offered an apartment but had declined because he felt that apartment living meant we were losing touch with thd natural world. I liked Miles, and it wsd intriguing to try and wonder what was true and what was fantasy. I guess it us not beyond the bounds of possibility that someone who was the guest of the Australian government in their pavilion at the Barcelona Olympics may now be homeless in New York. He certainly knew what he was talking about and, for someone living on the streets was clean and well dressed. I gave him my card and he told me he would be in touch. I rather hope he is.

Canberra 100: A Very Big Day

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On Canberra Day we headed down to the lake to celebrate Canberra’s 100th birthday. The lake is a great location for such an event, with so much space there could be thousands of people there and not feel crowded. Of course, that did mean it took a bit to get around. The boys quite enjoyed catching the free buses though.

various 32Our first stop was Kings Park – we walked down from the Carillion, bumping into some of my derby comrades on skates giving out fliers. I was impressed at the obstacle avoidance with so many people around. We then came to Habitat where the boys made words that said something about Canberra to them and stuck them up.

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We then caught a bus around to the other side of the lake after a wander through the multicultural enclave and met up with Steve and Michelle and Fritha.

various 45They went off to see some giants Ants in action, while James and I went and met Dave and Caroline to use the Bubbly Bar tickets that James had won.

various 47The Bubbly Bar is a wonderful invention. Nothing like sitting by the lake drinking champagne, eating tasty morsels and watchign the lovely view. In the Taratory has suggested we need a Bubbly Bar every year, and I am inclined to agree, with a few upgrades. The most disappointing aspect was that you could not buy a second drink. With a 45 minute sitting on a hot summer day, the one glass of champagne didn’t go very far. But the food was good and the special Centenary Champagne was pretty good too. Hence why another one would have made it perfect.

The difficulty in buying drinks did persist as we attempted to get a beer to drink as we walked around to the other side of the lake. Sadly the quality beer from the Wig and Pen was running out, so we had to result to Pure Blondes.

We also considered catching the ferry, but the line was enormous and in the end we walked around faster, even with the beer hunt. I think more than one ferry operating would have been a good call.

various 51We headed back to Regatta Point and met up with Steve, Shell, Fritha and the boys and were in time to hear the Falling Joys, who were great. Zac certainly got into it. James headed off with Sebastian to buy some food for the boys – and that was the last we saw of him for nearly an hour. Again, the catering didn’t quite live up to the needs – when he got there, James got the last  hotdogs and it was only half past seven.  Carolyn also fruitlessly searched for an alcohol distribution venue, with no success and some word that there were none North of the lake. If so, this was a bit of a fail on behalf of the organisers.

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various 58As the sun set The Church then played – like Falling Joys a Canberra band originally, and they also were excellent. So natsukashii to hear their songs – takes one right back to school.

It was a lovely night too.

various 62We then heard the Symphony for Canberra which I can’t say is my favourite piece of classical music – a bit too dirgey actually – while the buildings around the late lit up with their words. Words and letters were something of a theme for the day.

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And then it was time for the fireworks. These were actually excellent. Slow start but built to a fantastic “aaaw” inspiring end.

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It was then time for us to take the boys home. It was a good day, but would have been improved with better catering!


The week that was…week 10: shoes, cricket, moving

2013-03-04 19.36.29Sometimes I am something of a neglectful parent – discovered this had happened to Zac’s shoes, and yet he had still worn them to school. Ignoring of course the perfectly intact school shoes he also owns. Sigh.

2013-03-06 20.03.19 One of the staff in my Branch is heading off to climb Mt Kilamanjaro to raise money for Amnesty. Went to a fundraiser on Wednesday night and thought that this was an appropriate sort of wine to drink for the occasion.

2013-03-07 08.59.33It is always nice to walk the boys to school. James had to drop Sebastian off at his two day cricket tournament Thursday morning, so Zac and Jude and I walked together. You can probably just spot Zac skipping off into the distance.

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Jude’s favourite place to practice the violin is the kitchen. He has now been set additional practice targets by his teacher which he has been working hard toward. And Zac is photo bombing of course.

2013-03-07 14.57.28This was moving week at work. Actual work was interspersed with Krystal making me tell her whether we needed to keep something or throw it out. We threw out a lot of stuff. And then got Friday off (well, sort of for me) while the removalists came in and moved everything.

2013-03-08 12.15.20When I wasn’t at the meetings that I still had to go to on Friday, I managed to get to go and watch Sebastian playing in the school district team competition – four games over two days. His wicket keeping was a particular highlight – he took two catches and let through no extras, which was one of the main differences between his team and their opposition ensuring their win. Perhaps his future is behind the stumps!

canberra 100 61I also went and saw the hand physio on Friday. My thumb, which I fell on six weeks or so ago at derby training, still hasn’t really healed, so some immobilisation is called for. Hopefully this will do the trick, but once in a splint, it is possible to see why the small ligament tear isn’t healing given how much I now realise it was still being used.

2013-03-09 13.40.13Most of Saturday was spent in Canberra Day activities which are discussed elsewhere – here is another cool piece of art from the Canberra Museum and Art Gallery.

various 1Inspired by all the recipe talk which preceeded the degustation night on Sunday, Sebastian decided to do some of his own cooking and made Mos Eisley Morsels (essentially banana cake) all by himself. Tasted good too.

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Food and wine blind date

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After our trip to Tetsuya’s and our slight disappointment with the matching wines, I had figured that I could do better with a budget of $97 per head. If you are going to have wines though, you need to have something to match it with, so everyone was tasked with creating one course for the degustation. We also figured this might be a good way of not ending up with masses of uneaten food the next day!

We started the evening with a spin on an old favourite of mine, a late disgorged 2000 Croser which was delicious. Some oysters with lime jelly or tomato shooters prepared by James were the accompaniment.

various 7 various 6 The next course was duck liver pate prepared by Shell. I chose to accompany it with a 2012 Henschke Julius Riesling. This is a very nice wine, but it is a very dry example of the riesling variety, and the pate probably deserved a little more sweetness. I think perhaps my initial thought which had been to use a vintage port might have been better. However, being a lovely wine, no one objected to drinking it.

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Next was the Assiette of Squid prepared by Rachel. This had three different squid types: slow cooked squid stuffed with prawn, cerviche of squid and calamari with herbs and polenta. The slow cooked stuffed squid was amazing, the others very good. It was accompanied by a 2011 Nepenthe Pinot Gris which matched very well. The crispness provided a nice combination.

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Next we had a little in between course taste refresher – asparagus cappuccino which James whipped up. From the front cover of James’ new recipe book Pier, it was delicious but we think that an industrial strength foamer must have been used to get it to look like it does on the cover.

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The next course was from Jasmin and was a bluecheese cake with elaborate accompaniments including poached miniature pears and vodka jelly. I accompanied it with a 2009 Starvedog Lane Sauvignon Blanc. Again the two worked well, although the slight sweetness of the sauvignon blanc was not as needed as it would have been had it not been for the delicious range of sides with the dish.

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various 17The boys got some non vodka jelly which they enjoyed.

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Jasmin also provided an in-between dish which we had at this stage, a gazpacho.

various 22Next up was James’ main dish, also from Pier, lettuce gazpacho with prawns. For good measure he also fried up some tuna to go with it. The wine for this course was Dominque Portet Fointaine Rose 2012. I felt a French style, dry rose would work best – I hadn’t tried this particular variety before, so had a back up Killakanoon in the fridge, but it turned out to be quite suitable and worth a try if you come across it.

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Steve then provided an opportunity to eat a creature I don’t believe I have consumed before – the pheasant. He made a delicious pheasant pot pie, which was accompanied by the very fine 2010 Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir.  Pheasant is worth eating again, and I certainly wouldn’t say no to the wine either. The lighter touch of a pinot noir set off the poultry flavours well.

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Before we moved to the red meat, time to refresh our palates with a lemon sorbet created by Rachel.

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The final savoury course was made by Andrew R, still slightly jetlagged from his return from Europe. Rib eye with a tomato and caper sauce. The rib eye was fabulous. A shiraz was needed and I chose the 2009 Charles Melton Grains of Paradise. Ideally one would want to age this wine for a few more years, however a young shiraz was not bad with the tomato, and it is a beautiful wine. As one would expect.

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Finally we came to dessert which was my dish. I made creme brulee tartlets. The pastry worked really well, but I was not happy with the custard. Nonetheless, they did get consumed, and I had been very indulgent in the choice of dessert wine – a 2004 Inniskillin Ice Wine. This was fabulous – the freezing process not only concentrates the sugars, but the acid as well, so there is still a crispness and it isn’t the least cloying. It set off the dessert better than it deserved.

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Andrew V provided us with petit fours, though by this time I for one didn’t have much tummy space left.

various 30It was a lovely evening and the wines worked well. It ended up costing $60 a head for the six drinkers – and six was an excellent number because we could have essentially a whole glass with each course out of the one bottle. While we didn’t end up with masses of leftovers, we probably need to hone our skills at making small enough serves for a degustation approach! A very pleasant evening of food and wine and friends.

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Canberra 100: Saturday version

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It is the Canberra Day long weekend in the Centenary of Canberra year so there are lots of things on to celebrate. I love living in Canberra. Sure it may not be the most exciting place or be filled with endless people, but it is a lovely city with all you need and (now I sound really old) a great place to have children. Trees and birds and bike tracks and good restaruarants and friends. And while Canberra is less multicultural than some Australian cities, our boys still go to a school with kids from 36 different nationalities and backgrounds. I like Canberra a lot and after 17+ years here have no intention to really call anywhere else “home” any time soon.

So we definitely wanted to be part of the Canberra Day celebrations. On Saturday we headed in to Civic for We Built This City.  We rode in and got there a bit early, so decided to check out the Canberra Museum and Gallery first. 2013-03-09 13.36.07 2013-03-09 13.37.23

It was nice to introduce the boys to some Sidney Nolan. I had not realised the CMAG had such a great collection.

Jude also found an installation which really fascinated him – he loved the texture of the sand and the way it looked like suede.

2013-03-09 13.43.54It was then time for some box building. The builders assessmbled.

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James went in to act as an assistant, while I got to watch the frenetic box building activity. The idea was to build a city with the boxes – a lovely simple idea.

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After that, we popped over to the Handmade Markets in search of the elusive felt slippers James loves. He didn’t have any luck, but I found a cool new handbag big enough for my iPad as well as all my other (very important) stuff.

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We figured we could then have a well deserved refreshment break.


2013-03-09 15.54.45 2013-03-09 15.55.52 That was the afternoon’s activites. After dinner, we went out for some more, starting at Questacon for a liquid nitrogen demonstration show. Sebastian got to help out.

2013-03-09 19.23.17We then saw some more science demonstrations, including an exploding hydrogen balloon – here is is a microsecond before explosion.

2013-03-09 20.19.51It was then outside to see the lights of Enlighten. I had seen lots of photos on Twitter and Facebook so was keen to see the buildings myself. They looked fantastic.

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The boys even got to play Snake on the outside of Questacon.

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As part of the Balloon festival, they also had two balloons lit up, with acrobats dangling from the bottoms.

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And we saw the crazy hairdressers of Sienta la Cabeza in action.

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It was a lovely night to be out and about and celebrating a 100 years of Canberraness.

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The week that was…week 9: new hair, new adventures, old friends

2013-02-28 18.33.01So Zac, Sebastian and I all had got new hair cuts this week.

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I went with a new colour too. This is how I keep myself busy while at the hairdressers – it is an excellent place for getting through work…

2013-02-28 13.11.34Why didn’t Jude get his hair cut, I hear you ask. Well, because he was off to school camp. At night at Birrigai with all the grade twos and threes.


2013-02-25 20.07.59Zac created a magnificent fimo duck.

2013-03-01 18.46.18And I was very pleased to have a chance, albeit brief, to catch up with Tammi, particularly as she hand delivered some fabulous bacon.

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The wonderful Gloria Sass from the PhDemons has been accepted in the Canberra Roller Derby League intake, so as a parting gift she gave all the Demons an engraved bearing – Forever a Demon. And the 1848 is my number. For all those from VDL heading to CRDL, I wish them the best of luck and can’t wait to watch them play. Even if we will miss them at training.


last week 1Here is Judeabout to practise some violin. The kitchen is his favourite rehearsal spot.

last week 2On Saturday James bought a very large amount of seafood at the market, so we invited Steve and Shell over to share the bounty.

last week 3 2013-03-02 18.05.58 2013-03-02 18.15.01Sebastian entertained us all on the guitar, and then Fritha outside with her favourite, the blue car.

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Finally on Sunday, Jude accompanied me to derby training. Doesn’t go anywhere without that iPad if he can help it.

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The week that was…week 8: with and without boys

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Another busy week which was made more complicated by having to get to three information sessions at school – the downside of having the boys in three different year groups. But it was nice to meet their teachers and see some of their initial work for the year and get a sense of what the year has in store for them.

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I also had my first trip on a plane for a month – almost a record! A day in Melbourne and I even got time for a quick catch up with Melanie.

2013-02-19 10.01.43River Song turned up in my bag and is now still living in my office.

2013-02-20 20.19.30With Andrew R in Finland, we eschewed D&D for a bit of Ankh Morpork action. I recommend being Sam Vimes.

2013-02-22 10.19.17Friday was a miraculous day – no meetings! Krystal likes to keep me entertained.

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On Saturday the boys went and stayed at Jackie’s for the afternoon and night for some Ga time. I got to engage in the decandance of watching television during the day, and James and I went and saw Django Unchained before cocktails at Playground and dinner at the Elk and Pea where we saw Gary who ate all the goat enchiladas and blogged about it. Nice to spend a relaxed evening together.

2013-02-24 13.21.24On their return home Jude very helpfully came shopping with me. And did a great job unpacking the trolley.

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