After a long bout of self-questioning and decision-making about my tenure managing the resort on
A few months had passed by since that fateful night before, at last, I took the step to move on. I felt a hollowness leaving my beloved island, but I was driven by a desire to begin life anew. New surroundings, a new job, a new adventure, my life was in my own hands. It was something I had to do.
Some days before my departure from
I’d organized, through friends, for a truck to pick up my “bulky” possessions to be then deposited at my town-house. The balance of my personal items came with me on the boat. With the timing of a well-orchestrated game plan, the truck and I arrived at the apartment block within minutes of each other. Actually, it had been “Slip” my mate who lost the “drot” (dozer) in the ocean out in front of the resort who helped me with my relocation. I guess he felt he “owed me one”, as my move ran like a well-oiled machine!
Fortunately, I didn’t have the worry for looking for a job. I had already organized that part of my life. When I was ready, after having settled into my new abode, I was to commence a position as “Functions and Conventions Co-Ordinator”, and unofficial Assistant to the Food and Beverage manager, it eventuated, at Ramada Reef Resort, Palm Cove another northern beach suburb of Cairns. Palm Cove is a further few kilometers north of Yorkeys Knob. The resort, situated on the beachfront with only the esplanade and a row of coconut palms to separate it from the sand and ocean, was still very new at that time, approximately eighteen months' old. It had caused quite a stir when constructed, a positive “stir”. It set a benchmark for design in the north. The developers had to sign an agreement not to destroy the existing stands of Paperbarks (Melaleuca leucadendron), but to incorporate them into the design and lay-out of the resort. The pool was built to curve and meander around the trees. It was, at the time, the largest pool in the southern hemisphere.
His intention was to stay for six months and this he did. And then, at the end of the six months, he flew back to
Before Andrea left to return home, however, Christmas was upon us. I had to work from early Christmas morning until around , but after that my time was my own. Well, Andrea’s and mine alone to do with what we wished. I invited friends for Christmas Dinner. There were eight of us at the Christmas table that year. Not many, but we had much fun. Andrea had met a young couple of Italians who were backpacking around
As soon as I could get away from work, I raced out across the lobby, into the car-park, my car, fired it up and headed homewards.
Quickly, once home, I was into the rhythm of Christmas. Champagne corks popped and glassed overflowed with its bubbly effervescence. I’d spent every spare hour prior to the day, preparing the menu and fare so allow myself freedom while my guests were present. As soon as I’d arrived home into the oven went the turkey and pork. Andrea had followed whatever instructions I’d given to him to the “letter”. Together on Christmas Eve after I’d arrived home from work, we’d set the table.
Because Andrea was a long way from Bagnacavallo during the holiday season, I decided to make him a special treat. He spoke often and lovingly of his Nonna. There were so many similarities in his and my growing up years. He and his sister, like my brother and me, were raised by our grandmothers while our mothers went out to work. His mother and father had divorced when he was younger, too, as mine had done. In the lead-up to Christmas Day, he mentioned his Nonna’s panettone often. Panettone, I’m sure you’re all aware is the traditional Milanese Christmas cake. ..a sweet fruit bread, preferable made in a "flower-pot" mold. It's tall, cylindrical and fruit-filled. Natural yeast is essential in making panettone and there’s a lot of hand mixing to be done in the making until the dough becomes elastic. I decided as a bonus, an added Christmas present to Andrea, I would make him a panetonne as a reminder of his homeland.
There I was after work one evening sitting in my kitchen, stirring, stirring and stirring until my upper arms and my hands ached from the extend efforts. It was worthwhile, I told myself as I ploughed through the preparation, with Andrea excitedly looking on, serving me scotches in the meantime.
Christmas dinner turned out to be a huge, incredibly enjoyable affair. My little ginger kitten, Pushkin that I’d gotten for my birthday in November, joined in with the mood…and the food! He believed, I think, the whole affair was put on for him especially! Amongst my memorabilia I have a photograph of him sprawled out at the end of the Christmas table, which by the time of taking the shot, looked like a cyclone had gone through it. Crumpled party hats, destroyed Bon-Bons, empty wine bottles, together with various other flotsam and jetsam littered the once carefully decorated table. Contentedly, full of Christmas turkey, pork and whatever other goods in which he had partaken, Pushkin had fallen asleep, totally oblivious to the continuing celebrations going on around him.
Later in the evening, it was time to bring out the panettone. Having filled ourselves to capacity with Christmas fare, somehow we managed to find room in our over-loaded stomachs to indulge ourselves in typical Christmas style. It was then Andrea announced to all and sundry that it was the first time he had ever had a home-made panettone! The special treats his Nonna presented at Christmas had always been store-bought! Remembering my aching arms when making the cake, I could have killed him! At least, he had his first ever home-made panettone in
To be continued....