Tuesday, January 31, 2012


After days of sweltering heat and humidity today has turned cold. Really cold. As I write it is 14 degrees Celsius at my nearest weather station, and that seems to be about as warm as it's been all day.

For the first time in over a month I had to open the sock drawer. Then I had to find a pair of socks, put them on and add a pair of shoes before I went out for a walk. Unthinkable!

Only a few days ago I was making plans to buy an extra fan to cool the bedroom. Today I am wondering if we have enough snakes to block the draughts that are insinuating their way through every nook and cranny in the house and enough door stoppers to prevent the doors from banging as the gusts of wind send everything astir.

Melbourne. What a crazy place to live.

Monday, January 9, 2012

On the twelfth day of Christmas ...

... it was back to the Western Highway, this time bound for a family wedding at Daylesford. The twelfth day of Christmas is doing double duty as wedding eve.

Imagine a houseful of cousins, bridesmaids, one godmother, one aunt and one nervous bride. Imagine a fridge full of slowly chilling beer. Gardenias, buddleia, fruit and bay leaves on the table; bowls of assorted snacks scattered on the bench. It's party time!

But as fate would have it, my part in the party was delayed for a couple of hours due to road works between Bacchus Marsh and Ballan. The team car was despatched back to Bacchus Marsh to rescue the stranded cyclist.

While deep in conversation on the return trip, we missed the Daylesford turnoff and had to detour via the Moorabool West road. This was not all bad as we saw many beautiful and surprising scenes including a kangaroo standing imperiously in the middle of the road in the twilight, a dam on the Moorabool River and a beautiful sunset.

It's party time!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On the eleventh day of Christmas ...

... I discovered that not everybody likes turnips. I also discovered how difficult it is to type on the iPad with one finger swathed in band-aids.

I follow the New York Times dining section on Twitter and enjoy the recipes and restaurant reviews. I've only ever been to New York once and that for only a few short days, but like many visitors to that city I feel that I belong. If you happen to be in New York during the next few weeks, I recommend you visit the Greatest Grid exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. And on no account should you miss dropping in to my second favourite bar of all time, Dublin House.

But back to the turnips. One of the perils of following a recipe stream from the northern hemisphere is that the seasons are back to front. So when I saw a recipe for Frittata with turnips and olives I thought that the concept might be a bit wintery for a Melbourne summer. But luckily the weather turned overnight and ushered in a cool and pleasant day.

After a brief painful interlude with the food processor (necessitating swathing one minor finger in band-aids) the turnips were grated and mixed with the eggs, garlic, parsley and olives. Mr 27 then walked through the kitchen and observed that he could smell cabbage. "No," I said. "Turnips." He then disappeared.

The frittata turned out OK and looked and tasted quite nice, despite a random comment from my BFF: "Turnips! Enough said."

On the tenth day of Christmas ...

... it is still hot.

Not perhaps as hot as on the ninth day, but an insistent steady heat that refuses to go away, even at midnight. On this day of heat it is perhaps not surprising that the colour orange has featured.

The morning was spent with a friend who had kindly agreed to take me dress shopping. Showing impressive reserves of tolerance, my friend steered me through the minefields of David Jones women's department (both floors) and a series of boutiques in Litte Collins Street, Collins Street and the GPO. We finally emerged victorious with two dresses and a pair of sandals. But not before I observed that my friend was showing a very unusual penchant for orange dresses, admiring and exclaiming over them at every turn. I have never seen her wear orange, nor seen a single orange object in her home (which is almost totally all white, with a few discreet splashes of blue and yellow).

On arriving home after a pleasant detour to Ponyfish Island, I decided it was time to tidy up the beautiful but fading flowers which had been delivered for my birthday. The lilies, baby cabbages and greenery were consigned to the compost, but the orange orchids are still thriving and the yellow rosebuds make a beautiful display in a Moorcroft dish.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On the ninth day of Christmas ...

... I relived my recent trip to Ballarat.

With the help of the Ballarat heritage walking trails booklet, I discovered more about the beautiful buildings we visited on our meanderings along Lydiard and Sturt Streets. One of the highlights was Craig's Royal Hotel.

"Craig's has been the scene of glittering social events such as the Shenandoah Ball, which saw a group of US Civil War officers from the Confederate warship Shenandoah dance in the richly decorated ballroom in 1865."

On a more contemporary note, the beautiful Ballarat Botanical Gardens has a prime ministers walk, with a bust of every prime minister from federation to Kevin Rudd. There is even a space reserved for Julia.

On the eighth day of Christmas ...

... I turned to visual media.

The eighth day was hot and apart from the occasional foray to the clothes line (now back in operation after recently being assigned to other duties as a stage backdrop) was spent indoors with the iPad and the TV.

First I subjected all those present to the indulgence of my new DVD of Love Actually ("Thank you. That will be nice. Yes is being my answer. Easy question.") to make up for my having had to experience it via Twitter before Christmas (with thanks to @csmramsden and @gemmas1980 for their fantastic coverage while the TV was forcibly tuned to a T20 Big Bash 'cricket' match). Then we discovered that the Max music channel was playing a countdown of the top 100 hits of the 80s and 90s.

Although there is some truly awful music from that period, Max managed to include some good film clips among the dross: notably Mick Jagger and David Bowie Dancing in the Street and the old favourite Flame Trees by Cold Chisel.

In researching Flame Trees I discovered that Sarah Blasko has a cover version which could be worth a listen - Sarah being a bit of a cult figure in this family for all the wrong reasons.

And this time there is a photo to match.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

On the seventh day of Christmas ...

... I thought of the seven swans-a-swimming. My recent visit to Lake Wendouree might have provided a perfect opportunity for a matching photograph, but unfortunately the seven swans (including a bunch of overgrown cygnets) were all on the shore harassing the picnickers, so I had to be content with photographing many coots-a-swimming, with a few stray silver gulls.

Thinking of seven swans leads naturally to thoughts of seven cats: amongst others Terry Callan, Paul Couch, Ben Graham and Harry Taylor, who of all the number sevens is of interest for once wearing the number 85 guernsey.

The seventh day of Christmas marked the last day of the year and the seventh special day in a month scattered with patches of joy.