Mcgyvering

A few days after we moved into our new place, the stove mysteriously stops working.

Here’s a question, not quite tongue in cheek. How many Australians does it take to change a light bulb? At least three it seems.

First, it requires a someone to call out the fact that the light bulb is not working. Then the agent gets notified, who then calls an electrician to testify that the power is working. The agent then next calls the light bulb installer to come rectify the situation.

This is what we are currently experiencing with our stove stop, and electronic outdoor awning. Plumber and stove top manufacturers for the first instance, and the electrician and awning company for the second. Sigh.

Made the best of the situation though, and we went with a ceviche for dinner instead. No gas stove required! And at least the plumber helped us get new bayonet fixtures so we could set up the barbie, and no more rain in the forecast for the next few days!

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Another year older

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Turned a year older Friday. But I have to say that I never wished for the day to pass by faster. Hahah, we were moving house, and I couldn’t wait till we were done. Finally, at seven, after nine long hours, the movers unloaded the last of the furniture and we were done for the day. There were still some boxes left at the old apartment. But since we were just moving up the road we had the whole weekend to finish up the bits and bobs.

Too tired to go out for a celebratory meal, we just ordered pizza to go, then did a bit more unpacking before crashing for the night.

Finally done though, and 99% unpacked! Loving the new view.

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Gut

On hindsight, we should have heeded her warning, and our gut.

As we hoisted the kayaks over our shoulder and made to the water’s edge, the lady who had been watching us set up the boats called out, “Be careful out there. The current has been really strong. There has been three drownings in the past two weeks, the most recent just last night. A little Korean boy.”

It was most incongruous, with the scene of little kids splashing and yelling out happily in the water before us. And yet, as soon as we pushed off, I knew she was right.

The waters, while on the surface smooth with very small waves, seemed uneasy, restless. There was a strong current pushing us out towards the mouth of the bay. But even as we strove against it, I could feel my kayak being pulled in multiple other directions. And if I looked down at the waves instead of the horizon, I had the most discomfiting feeling of the waters pressing in on my boat.

Fleetingly, I thought, this isn’t much fun. Maybe we should turn around. But we had just launched. And there were swimmers out, and a couple of stand up paddle boarders. But, as we passed the paddle boarders, I heard one of them remark, “I’ve never seen rips like that before, it’s all over the place.”

We weren’t just swimming, we were paddling, and we had life jackets on. And Jeff gleefully pointed out the Maritime boat patrolling up and down the coast. So we just dug in and paddled up the bay.

I have no idea how strong the current was, but it took us a half hour to probably go up one km. We finally reached the little strip of beach off where locals say is a good snorkeling spot when we eyed with dismay the churning white water in front of us, swirling in all sorts of directions.

“What do you want to do?” Jeff asked, but as I started to answer that we might probably be able to beat our way through that, we heard cries from about twenty metres away. A trio of snorkelers were summoning us to them.

I paddled towards them, one of whom was a little girl, maybe about ten. As soon as my kayak was within reach, she, and her mother, grabbed onto the side of my boat, almost toppling me over. The man with them swam and grabbed onto Jeff’s boat.

It turned out that they had just gone for a leisurely snorkel by Little Beach, down by where we had launched, when they got caught in the rip tide that swept them up the bay. They needed help to get back to land.

And it seemed that we weren’t able to help. After we got them to hold onto the bow and sterns of the kayak instead, Jeff and I tried paddling furiously towards the shore. But as hard as we dug our paddles in, our kayaks seemed rooted to the spot. By now, a small crowd had gathered on shore, and people were yelling unhelpfully at us to go upstream, with the mother screaming behind me, paddle harder, harder.

We were not moving. If anything, it seemed we were getting sucked further into the whirlpool. After five minutes or so of struggling and getting screamed at, I lost my temper. I yelled at everyone to shut the hell up. Then I realized, gosh darn it, we can’t fight this. It’s not working.

So I let the current take us out, out towards the mouth of the bay, further from shore.

And the current finally relented somewhat. Eventually, we managed to go around the rip and everyone safely back to shore.

Which was when the three Maritime boats showed up.

I had more than enough of an adventure for the day, so we turned back around. And what do you know, after an hour struggling up the bay, we got back to our starting point in mere minutes. The woman who had called out the warning before was now splashing in the water, and called out cheerily to us. “Back so soon?”

We should have taken her warnings more seriously. I should have listened to my gut. The entire time I was trying to get the snorkelers back to land, I kept thinking. That could have been us. That could so easily have been us out there snorkeling today.

Social weekend

One of our more social weekends to date. Haha. Well if started with errands – we are moving house in a couple weeks!

Saturday afternoon, the rain clouds more or less held, so some friends came over for tennis. We were more or less playing at the same (low) level, so it made for a fun three hours of much laughter and ball chasing. After, everyone trooped back to our place and we whipped up some vegetarian dishes, aided by the dependable Marley Spoon. Then out came the board games, drinks, and raucous laughter that somehow extended till the wee hours of the night.

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Oof, had probably too much to drink, first time in a long while. I pretty much had to nap the whole day Sunday, outside of the lunch we had with Donny downtown; he had just flown into Sydney to go up to Newcastle for work, and happily managed to catch up with him.

In the evening, we hosted another group of friends for dinner, but took it way easier on the wine this time. Haha the five of us couldn’t even finish the bottle! It didn’t affect the quality of the conversation though, which somehow ranged from whale exploding to squatty potties. You just had to be there I guess.

Wine Tasting in Yarra Valley

Just doing a bit of spring cleaning, and found these wine notes from our recent trip down to Yarra Valley. Missing the notes from Tarrawarra though, but better than nothing. Really good wines overall! We were quite impressed by the breadth and quality. Some really delicious Chardonnays, and Roussannes. Red wise the Pinots were good, as were a couple of Cabernet Sauvignons. :D We didn’t buy too many though, since it was summer and we had to drive back to Sydney, and were stopping along the coast for a few days.

 

Oakridge:

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series

2013 Fumare – Guerin & Oakridge Vineyards $32: Nice acidity with rounded finish. Pretty clean

2014 Arneis – Murrummong Vineyard $26: Fermented on skin. Oilier on palate. Herbaceous on nose. Very bright, should be good with food

2012 Chardonnay – Guerin Vineyard $36: Volcanic soil, 11 months in oak. Stinky; good with some cheese / pasta

2014 Chardonnay – Willowlake Vineyard $36: Not as stinky as the Guerin Chardonnay. So much lighter, easy to drink on own

2013 Pinot Noir – Willowlake Vineyard $36: Color is somewhat brown. Not bad

2014 Pinot Noir – Willowlake Vineyard $36: Sharper nose than the 2013, brighter, more tannins

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Oakridge Vineyard $36: Raisins, no stems in nose but in mouthfeel. Tannins

864 Single Block

2012 Chardonnay – Funder & Diamond Vineyard, Drive Block $75: Stinky nose, acidic body but finish is kinda meh. Just falls off. Tasting room guy said maybe it’s going through a dumb phase

2013 Chardonnay – Funder & Diamond, Drive Block $75: some funk, but stone fruit, bright finish. Smoky, fuller body

2012 Syrah – Oakridge, Winery Block $75: nice finish, more elegant than the 2014 Shiraz

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – Oakridge Vineyard, Winery Block $75: Good backbone

 

Yering Station

Large winery with enormous tasting room. We were served by a guy who didn’t know much, if anything about wines. It was his first day on the job. When we asked him what grapes made up the sparkling he poured us, he nervously said, um watermelons? That said, the lineup was yummy.

NV Creme de Cuvee $30: Yummy, not too acidic. Off dry, round finish. We picked up a bottle to ring in the new year with.

2013 Marsanne $24: Linestome, some nuttiness, beautiful round finish. Full bodied. Picked up a bottle too

2012 Village Chardonnay $24: Butterscotch. Nice wood, rounded. Nice acidity

2010 MVR $28: Stinky, a bit bitter

2011 Estate Chardonnay $38: More acidity in the mouth than in the Village Chardonnay. But nice big finish, more grapefruit.

2012 Village Pinot Noir: Nice. Good nose, body. Smooth tannins, but the finish was just a bit thin.

2014 Estate Pinot Noir $40: Good nose, nice body, spicy finish. Mmm. Jeff deemed it a gentle wine

2013 Nebbiolo $30: Grippy tannins, fruit in the front

2012 Shiraz Viognier Estate $40: Fruit, tannins, aromatic

2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $40: Eucalyptus! Strawberries. Spice. Yum!!

 

St Huberts

2010 Blanc de Noir $39: Yeasty. Small bubbles, bit toasty

2015 St Huberts Roussane $33: Yeasty nose, aromatic, lively, rich, citrusy

2014 St Huberts Chardonnay $27: Buttery, figs, pineapple

2013 St Huberts Pinot Noir $33: Spicy nose, more elegant fish and mouthfeel than the 2015. Some tannins

2012 St Huberts Cabernet Merlot $27: Sweet, jammy. Raisiny. Also tasted the 2014, which was even sweeter!

2013 St Huberts Cabernet Sauvignon $39: Raisiny, rich. Not too hot / tannic

2015 St Huberts Late Pick Viognier – 375ml $30: Hard not to love a late harvest viognier. Yum!

 

Coldstream Hills

2012 Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay $35: Acidic, big bubbles, yeasty

2013 Sauvignon Blanc $33: Apples, bit bitter in the finish

2014 Chardonnay $35: Good aroma. Bit punchy in the mouth, bit bitter

2014 Pinot Noir $35: Strawberries. Bright light color. Good nose. Could be softer in the finish

2011 Deer Farm Vineyard Chardonnay $50: More subtle nose. More acidic. Cooler site

2014 Rising Vineyard Chardonnay $45: Asparagus. Acidic, but not as much as the Deer Farm

2014 Reserve Chardonnay $60: So good. Great nose. Beautiful acidity. Nicely rounded. Definitely an ageable wine

2013 Reserve Shiraz $60: Sweet, tannins, heat.

Home cooking fun

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We have been cooking a lot more since moving to Sydney a year ago, but recently, we took it up a notch by signing up for Hello Fresh and Marley Spoon, companies that choose a variety of weekly meals for you. They send you a box of ingredients for the meals, along with detailed recipes that you can make in 40 minutes.

It’s been really fun so far, learning together some adventurous recipes we might otherwise not have the courage to try ourselves. Some of these ingredients are quite esoteric as well, unpronounceable grains, pomegranate molasses, etc. It’s taken the tedium out of grocery shopping, and of head scratching for what meals from our limited repertoire that we would cook for the evening.

Hehe, this weekend, we will have two separate groups of friends over for dinner. We thought we might just double down on those meals then too; yipee.

Snorkeling in Clovelly

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Second day of 2016: we made it down to snorkel in Clovelly. Finally. We should have gone earlier, waaaay earlier! The visibility was the best yet of all the different spots we’ve been to thus far. Ok, not that many, but: Shelly beach in Manly, La Perouse, Honeymoon Bay in Jervis Bay. Not only was the visibility surprisingly good for the size of the crowd that was there, there was SO much aquatic life to ogle at!

From breams to silver sweeps to the crimson banded wrasse to the three giant resident blue groupers. One free diver whom I bopped up right next to after following the above blue grouper for around filming also pointed us to a sleeping woebbegone shark between some rock ledges in the deeper side of the Clovelly cove.

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Yay, I’ve a rare photo of me on the other side of the camera, courtesy of Jeff filming a video from above.

What fun! So glad we decided to pull on our wetsuits too, even though apart from the small group of free divers, everyone else was in their swimmers. The water WAS BRISK!

 

Heralding in the New Year in Sydney by Kayak and Sailboat

One of the things we most looked forward to when moving to Sydney was welcoming in the New Year by the Sydney Harbor Bridge, for we had long heard of those famed fireworks display.

But squeezing in between a few hundred thousand people to catch a glimpse of the display didn’t seem appealing, even if that set us up for the perfect vantage from which to take pictures.

We had however, the use of a private jetty in our apartment complex, and kayaks! So at the 11th hour, we, along with some kayak netball friends, launched our kayaks into the water and maneuvered our way close enough to the Harbor Bridge to watch the magnificent displays. Nevermind that I couldn’t quite get sharp pictures from a moving vessel. We were on the water and close to the action!

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After catching the 9pm fireworks, Jeff and I were quite ready and happy to call it a night, given that we’d awoken up at 5am to catch the sunrise at Jervis Bay, battled strong waves and wind for a paddle there, then rushed back to Sydney. But our friends invited us to their dad’s yacht which was moored close by, and so after we dropped off one of our group, the rest of us paddled to the boat and camped out on deck to catch the midnight fireworks.

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Happy new year!