September 30, 2009

Old friends

I just met up with someone I haven’t seen for at least 20 years. An old friend who I saw on fAcebook, sent me his contact details, I called, he was driving by, so he stopped in for a cup of tea! Amazing really.

It was like we spoke only last week, except maybe for the few additional wrinkles (mine of course!).

filles at 4:27 pm

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September 28, 2009

it’s the wind

Apparently every year around the spring and autumn equinox it becomes windy. I’m not talking a little bit of wind that cools you down in summer, or helps dry your washing, this is wind that almost lifts you up off your feet. It’s been windy like this for days. We went over to Vaucluse on Saturday morning to check out the Vaucluse Cellars who have an amazing selection of wine, we did our shopping, tasted a few good wines, including a Binner Cuvee Beatrice that I’d been drinking in Paris with Philippe before I left (at half the price). We then thought we’d take a chance and if we got parking we’d have a fish and chips lunch at Watsons Bay at Doyles, always a favorite. We got down there, there was heaps of parking, the ferries were cancelled because of the wind, so there was barely anyone. The park was empty, plenty of tables, plenty of parking, we were in and out in about 25 minutes. It was all good.

Next stop Ultimo Cellars for another wine tasting. I went particularly to taste the Grosset, Polish Hill Riesling which is supposed to be a benchmark for Australian rieslings, it was fine, but we also tried a Woodstock, McLaren Vale riesling which was great. And at $14.95 it was a bargain… There were some other bourgognes, a few champagnes but nothing special and at the over $100 price mark, we’re still more interested in finding some good Australian comparisons.

Next stop, pub, for the AFL grand final in Melbourne. We managed half a game, then at halftime we slipped out of the pub and came home for a nap, shame really because the Saints could have done with our support right to the end by the look of it, sadly Geelong came out ahead, although I know quite a few people will be very pleased with that result.

The rest of the weekend went along the same lines. We muddled about at home, we cooked, we cleaned, Michelle started washing windows, then we were invited out for Sunday lunch at some friends in Balmain. A beautiful location, lovely house, great meal and a superb afternoon… we got home after dark and continued the cleaning, cooking routine before plonking ourselves down in front of the telly for some serious documentaries on a Sunday night.

And now it’s Monday morning again….

filles at 7:48 am

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September 23, 2009

Dust Storm

We woke up this morning to an orange world… the wierdest, eeriest feeling over Sydney after a night of gale force winds. Our fish are terrified, there is a 1cm film of dust on top of the pond, and the worms are buried deep in their refuse. It’s going to take some time to clean up after this one, the dust has gotten into everything.


filles at 11:49 am

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September 21, 2009

Not much changes


Sydney is a much more physical lifestyle. We spend more time outdoors, we’ve got a garden to maintain, a pond to resurrect and the weather is usually gorgeous so we tend to spend our afternoons and most evenings outdoors with friends. The entertaining part is hardly new, in fact it resembles our life in Paris quite substantially, except of course the wine is Australian, we eat cheese in the afternoon(!) and we have much more space. Yesterday was a fine example. Mad & Dave and Lillian (our friends from Glasgow and now Newcastle) dropped in on their way home from Bowral to Newcastle for a drink in the afternoon, and so did some other friends who live much more locally, Leanne and Dan who are old friends, and new again who we love to spend an evening with.

It started with a drink outside and some cheese, it turned into many drinks outside and a bbq dinner. Mad, Dave and Lillian agreed to spend the night here, and it was an instant party. A lot of fun… Lillian at 2 years old was not quite sure how come all the adults were behaving like children, but she enjoyed herself all the same.

At 7.30am this morning, she didn’t want to go home!


filles at 3:28 pm

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September 18, 2009


It’s Friday again. It comes around so quickly at the moment we almost don’t have time to look forward to it anymore. I’ve been out and about all day, starting with an aqua class in the Petersham pool which is outside. The water is heated to 26 degrees, it was sunny and 24 outside, warm and 26 in the pool. I then did a serious of chores, picking up pots, dropping off donations, shopping for curtains, meat for the bbq tonight, soliciting advice for our green algae filled pond, and a quick go on the treadmill at the gym to appease Michelle. I’ll be wrecked by Saturday at this rate.

I’m filling my days with all these chores I suspect because I have an assignment due in, and one last mid-term next week. Anything to do other than study. I remember feeling like this when I was a teenager, but I’ve got a lot better at it, the avoiding the work part I mean. See, I’ll even go to the gym instead of study, that’s a worry!

On the other hand, we’ve also come to the conclusion I’m really going to have to go back to work soon, if we want to start saving some money and travelling again. Rents in Sydney are so exorbitant most of our money goes on rent, with not a great deal left over. Certainly not enough to imagine ever being able to afford to buy something here. At this rate, next stop will be Montreal… and as much as I love Montreal, I have no idea how I’ll survive the cold again after this warm winter retreat.

Focus Elissa, focus.

filles at 2:15 pm

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September 16, 2009

A little trip to Sydney

You really don’t know what your missing. You really should take the opportunity to come and visit us while we’re here. It will go extremely quickly three years in Australia. Very very quickly, and by the time most of you wake up and decide to come, or finally get your head around the travelling distance and expense we’ll be packed up and gone… and it really will be a terrible shame.

It’s not because I’m Australian that I think like this. Truly. This really is an amazing country. We seem to have the best of both worlds. A new country, with fresh faced young, happy cheerful people EAGER to make things work and a love of all things old and proven. We are big on sport, and environmental issues, we have an amazing gourmet industry, we’re making our own everything, and we’re proud of it, of all our produce that’s winning prizes around the world and of our innovations in food and wine and design and fashion. There’s just no stopping us.

It makes me very proud. Sure, it’s not Europe, nor is it New York, but it’s a vibrant mix of it all, with our own straightforwardness, friendliness and genuineness that permeates everything we do.

And then, there’s the weather, and the harbour, and the outback, and the beaches, and the bush, and the boats and the multi-culturism. Should I go on?

Our first visitor arrives on Dec 24th, please don’t miss out. I think you might regret it.

filles at 10:09 pm

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September 15, 2009


The moments BEFORE the dinner party…

filles at 7:00 am

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September 14, 2009

First Creek

We had a great weekend in the Hunter. We pulled the top down on the Pluriel, and left the city around 2pm on Friday and headed up the coast. It was a gorgeous day, no traffic, and we arrived around 4.30 at Thalgara Estate where we we were staying – to a receival committee of two winemakers and a dozen or so kangaroos just grazing behind the main reception. It the afternoon light it was just beautiful. Settled in, we opened a bottle of Thalgara Estate chardonnay and watched the kangaroos in the fields below us while we picked a restaurant for dinner. Michelle’s appetite is back, and mine has increased out of sympathy, so we were starving very very early. Most of the restaurants up there are quite posh, hatted and expensive and certainly not open for dinner at 6pm. We went to the pub.


It was terrible, but we were fed and home and in bed by 8.30pm. I must have needed the sleep because the next thing I knew it was 8am and we were up and about getting ready for our day at the winery.

Michelle was an ‘honourary’ student and got to play along with us all weekend. We had the assistant winemaker at First Creek, which is predominantly a contract wine making facility (although they do make their own wine from bought grapes), Damien, leading us around talking us through every step right through to bottling. We spent time in the lab analysing the wine, making additions of copper sulphate, casein, etc etc just to see what each addition did to the wine, and the effect it had on different quantities and combinations, great fun. And very very interesting. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon, going through each of their varieties, the bottled type. Again, very interesting, a lot of spitting going on, I was covered in red wine, not the result of my own spitting technique I must add, I’ve had a lot of practice, but some of my class mates were not so precise and a little bit eager.

We all went out together Saturday night to a restaurant where thankfully the food was excellent, the wine list superb, but the service was terrible. Never mind, we were loud and had a lot of fun together before heading off to the pub…

Sunday was spent judging wines, 10 wines, all 2009 semillon class, amazing how different everyones taste is. I picked the medals, but I missed the double up, no. 2 and 4 were the same wine, but in my case I scored no. 2, 2 points higher than number 4 and noted that it had a longer finish… lucky I’m still a student! Michelle wasn’t even in the same ballpark, but then again, she’s never really drunk a semillon before – being very typically Australian, and a specialty of the Hunter, she was excused.

We judged some reds, we made our own ‘bordeaux’ blend, which was fab. At least mine was, there Michelle had no excuse. And we tasted another dozen or so chardonnays at different levels of ageing and different types of oak straight from the barrique.

It was a fantastic weekend. Learnt a lot, tasted a lot and enjoyed every minute.

Tonight I have my mid-term. Now if I could just remember the theory!

filles at 6:59 am

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September 11, 2009

Working weekend

We’re off to the Hunter valley this weekend for school. Michelle’s going to come along and ‘learn’ with us… with about 85 bottles to taste over 2 days, it is definitely classified as working but we should have a little bit of fun too. Like we do.

The weather is co-operating. 29 degrees tomorrow and 30 on Sunday. Spring is definitely here…

p.s. we received our bed yesterday, finally… no more sleeping on the floor for us!

filles at 6:48 am

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September 10, 2009


Can I tell you the best way to start a day?

To answer the door to the posty thrusting a box shipped from France containing a bottle of wine and a cake mold at 8am on a Thursday morning.

It’s made my week. Imagine when I get the famous recipe that goes with the cake mold and we drink the wine…

merci JD et Mathilde! merci beaucoup.

filles at 9:13 am

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September 8, 2009

Back problems

You may assume life is running normally for us. Sure the weather is great, the city is beautiful, we’re still making plans and life is good, but Michelle is suffering very badly from backpain. It started in July and it’s got so bad that she now can’t work, can’t stand, can’t eat and spends most of her time sleeping. It’s terrible. We’re both at our wits-end not knowing what to do. She has an appointment with a physiotherapist this week, an oesteosurgeon next week, a neurosurgeon the week after, and an acupuncturist mid October. It’s taken forever to get these appointments and in the meantime all we can do is wait. She started pain killers last week, Michelle hates painkillers, but it finally got too bad, and all it did was screw up her digestion. She now can’t eat, nor can she take painkillers.

On the bright side, I picked up a very helpfull book on back pain from my new favorite library and it seems to have picked up her spirits. She took the train to work this morning, she tried some exercises last night, and she learnt a tip on how to put on her socks without agonising pain. Things are looking up.

filles at 7:36 am

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September 6, 2009


Mercredi le 27 mai à 21h00 au DALI à l’Hôtel Meurice, 228 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

This is where our favorite neighbour took us for our last night in Paris.
I was just remembering it fondly….

filles at 5:16 pm

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September 2, 2009

markets and carpets and fish

Today I found myself at Fox Studios farmers markets, it was nice. Closest thing to a Parisien market I’ve seen so far, but as in Paris the produce is more expensive depending on the arrondisement. Same applies here, Eveleigh markets are cheaper than these Paddington markets for the same produce. Amazing.

Next stop, pick up another ‘alternate’ carpet. We bought an Afghan carpet on the weekend for our dining room, but it didn’t seem quite right. More green than blue, it’s a lovely carpet but the blue tones would be better for the room. Or so I thought. The carpet I dragged home (they are really really heavy) is bluer, with green, as opposed to green with blue. To my astonishment, it’s quite obvious that I prefer the green carpet even though it doesn’t go as well with the room. I think. Amazing.

Then, I did a screeching stop outside an aquarium supply store in Rosebery to buy some fish for our pond. We captured 3 fish at my sisters house a few weeks ago and let them free in our pond, since then we’ve seen 2 of them, the third has either been eaten or dead from shock. Today I picked up three more, 2 orange and 1 yellow – hopefully we’ll see them better. I put them in, and wouldn’t you know it. They’re gone, deep in the depths of the pond. Hopefully we’ll see them again, one day. Amazing.

Life in Sydney in the springtime.

filles at 1:14 pm

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