Thursday, May 23, 2019


Ural Motorcycle and sidecar
Above three images of Tamborine Mountain Distillery

Please bear with me while I don my cranky boots and cranky pants. I know I’m going to sound like a bear with a sore head.  So be it.

Has anyone ever heard a bear with a sore head? How would you know the bear had a sore head?  The bear could be just baring its soul.  I’ve heard koalas, but they’re not bears.  I imagine the sounds bears make would be more than one could bear. 

Yogi may have made a boo-boo and lost Huckleberry Hound; perhaps Winnie the Pooh discovered his honey jar was empty.  I’m putting forward a few thoughts on the matter...

How we express feelings can vary.  There are instances, of course - dependent on situations – when human reactions are similar.  Some people express little emotion. We’re all different...and yet, similar.  What a conundrum the human being is!

Here’s my whinge. Bear with me, if you will, while I whine.  Some will disagree with me, but that’s okay...I’m not always agreeable.

I’ve a love-hate relationship with Saturdays and Sundays. 

The “love” is easing into the day leisurely reading the paper; a mug of steaming coffee within arm’s reach, and my two furry roomies snuggled up beside me.  The “hate” is the intrusive, thunder of roaring motor bikes, which are often accompanied by the raucous cacophony of souped-up cars. 

If the racket they create isn’t disturbing the peace, I’ve not a clue what is.  Why do motorcycles have to be so damn noisy? 

To make matters, and the noise, worse is the culprits usually travel in packs.  

I’m unable to fathom the answer given when motorcyclists are asked the question why they enjoy riding bikes.  

Uniformly, the reply is; “It’s the free feeling of wind in our hair; on our faces.”    

How on earth can that be when their uniform is that of Darth Vader?  Obviously, their ideas of freedom and mine are vastly different.  Clad in tight, thick, heavy leathers, the heat must be horrendous – a personal sauna. 

Get a sports car, or convertible – like the awesome, iridescent blue Bristol I admired the other day.  Driving along the winding mountain roads in a sports car with the top down beneath a clear, sunshiny sky – now that’s freedom.  Eat your heart out, Darth invaders!

On the flip-side, a few weeks ago, Gordon, the pleasant gentleman from Tamborine Mountain Distillery and I drooled over a beautifully-maintained burgundy Russian Ural motorcycle with sidecar. We found it difficult to restrain ourselves from jumping on board and going for a quick spin around the IGA supermarket car park before the owners returned and reported us to the authorities!  

Once again, I am repeating myself - I do meet the nicest people at IGA, the car park, the newsagency - and at the local dump!  

Only once have I ridden in a sidecar - along the streets of Sunshine Beach in the early 80s. The bike and sidecar were owned by a friend of my then husband and me.
I’ve ridden pillion, once, in the early 60s, on a motor bike owned by a friend of my brother. I wouldn’t be able to get my leg over now!  

Motor bikes are annoyingly noisy. And their thoughtless, unnecessary interruption to the peace and quiet does make me a bear with a sore head!

Nevertheless, an impeccably-preserved vehicle is to be admired, whether it is a two-wheeler, three-wheeler, or four-wheeler, 18-wheelers etc.  

I’ve friends, including a husband and wife team, who are “bikers” – not “bikies”.  They frequently participate in charity runs raising money, mostly for children in need.  For such selfless deeds, bikers deserve to be commended.

Honey Garlic Chicken: Season 4 chicken thighs. Heat 1tbs each butter and olive oil in pan over med-high heat. Place thighs skin-side down; sear until golden brown. Remove from pan; set aside. Add 1 diced onion and 4 potatoes cut into 3cm cubes to pan; sauté until golden-brown; season; remove from pan. Melt 1tbs butter over med-heat in same pan; add 4 minced garlic cloves; sauté until garlic is fragrant. Add 1/4c honey, 1/4c soy sauce and 1tbs white vinegar; simmer; reduce heat to med-low; simmer until slightly thickened. Nestle thighs and potato mixture into pan; drizzle some sauce over top. Bake at 200C, 25-35mins.  

Honey Garlic Salmon: In  bowl, mix together 1/3c honey, 2 minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper, 1tsp each chopped parsley and fresh basil, 1tbs Dijon mustard, 1tbs soy sauce, and 1/4c white wine vinegar. Whisk well.  Pour about ½c of honey mixture over 4 skin-on salmon fillets. Coat well; marinade 15mins.  In reserved honey mixture, add 1/4ts cornflour; mix well. Set aside. Don’t toss marinade. Spray large pan with olive oil cooking spray. Place salmon skin side up in pan; cook 6mins or until cooked through. Turn salmon over, pour both marinade mixtures over salmon; add slices of 1 lemon; simmer 5mins. As the sauce simmers, use a spoon to continue to coat the salmon and the lemon slices. The sauce should thicken and slightly reduce.

Honey Pears with Greek Yoghurt: Preheat oven 190C. Place 1/3c slivered almonds (or walnuts) on baking tray; toast in oven, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned. Cool on a plate.  Halve 3 ripe but firm Bosc pears lengthwise; scoop out cores. In small Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof saucepan, combine 1/3c honey and 4 fresh bay leaves; simmer over med-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer; stir occasionally, until honey turns a rich amber colour.  Remove from heat. Place 3tbs unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces; space evenly in pot with honey; place a pear half, cut side down, on top of each piece of butter. Cover; roast 10mins. Turn pears over; baste with honey mixture. Drizzle pears with 2tbs amaretto; roast uncovered until golden brown. Remove from oven; cool slightly in the mixture, 30-35mins. Whisk 1-1/2c Greek yoghurt until smooth.  Arrange pears on plate; drizzle honey mixture over top; sprinkle with toasted walnuts or almonds; serve with yoghurt at the table 

Monday, May 13, 2019


The Mansions, George Street, Brisbane...built 1889

Toowong, Brisbane

It was the early 70s.  I was, by that time, divorced from my first husband, fancy-free and single.  My landlord of the unit in which I lived in Toowong, an inner western suburb of Brisbane, met a young lady and they married.  He moved out of his town-house apartment, which was attached to the rest of the units at the rear of the building. He asked if I would manage the block of units on his behalf.  I accepted his offer and relinquished my apartment to move into his unit, at the rear of the apartment block – the townhouse.

Shortly after his marriage, the owner sold the whole complex to an Australian-Chinese who was based in Goroka, Papua New Guinea. I had a meeting with the new owner, who was happy to have me continue as manager of the complex. So the status quo remained, uninterrupted.

The building was tenanted with "twenty-something" occupants, all busy working in their various careers. I befriended one particular tenant, Margaret, who like me, had a great interest in food and the preparation thereof. Between the two of us, we threw many dinner parties, either in my unit, or in hers.   

It became our habit each Friday evening to prepare Spaghetti Marinara. I'm not sure how it all began, but soon we had a small, friendly, high-spirited competition going on to discover who could make the best, perfect Spaghetti Marinara.  Neither of us won...I think it was a dead-heat.  Each effort was as good, as tasty, as the other, and each Friday night the dishes got better.  The feasts were worth it the friendly competition.

Alternate Fridays we would host our "Marinara" soirees, accompanied with red wine, garlic bread, fabulous music, much laughter and interesting, intelligent conversation, with a fair amount of “insanity” thrown in for good fun.  Some nights it would be just the two of us, other times honoured others were invited to our festivities.

At times, when the mood struck and free time was available, Margaret and I met up after work to enjoy a couple of drinks at a cocktail bar, our favourite at the time - the "Hour-Glass Bar" at the then Criterion Hotel in George Street - in Brisbane's city centre. The cosy, old hotel no longer exists.

Every so often either one of us threw a small party of 12-15 people at our respective apartments. It was at one of these parties Margaret met Denis, who later became her husband.

Denis passed the test; the scrutiny, and he soon became a welcome addition to our Friday night "Marinara" restricted social circle.  At the time there was no one "special" in my life, but I was living a life fulfilled, one with had a wide group of friends.

I was employed by The Kolotex Group of Companies at the time.  It was a Jewish company - the head office and factory of which were based in Sydney.  The company involved in the fashion industry...pantyhose, women’s and men’s clothing, and metal mesh handbags.   My employment with the company lasted 14 years....coming to an end when I left Brisbane to live a little north, on the Sunshine Coast.

John, my boss, who was the Queensland manager, Shirley, his wife, and I had became close friends. 

In 1965, not long after I’d moved from Gympie to work and live in Brisbane, I began employment with the company.  As the Queensland offices and warehouse grew in size and its distribution arms extended throughout the state and into New South Wales, along with being John’s secretary, I rose in ranks to bear the mantles of Office Manager, Credit Control Manager and State Sales Coordinator.  All of the this I’ve written about before.

Often on Sundays, I was invited to John and Shirley’s home in Kenmore, another western suburb of Brisbane - a few kilometres further out than Toowong - for "choir practice", to be followed by a special Sunday lunch.

"Choir Practice" commenced around 10.30-11 am out on their patio. The bar opened upon my arrival. Between drinks and conversation, I'd play with their young sons, Gavin and Andrew, who were growing rapidly. 

I’d been part of the scene from their birth. The two boys and I had formed a strong bond from when they were babies. I was part of their life. Always being a big kid myself, I was their "pillow-fight" buddy.

During those happy Sundays I spent at their home, the boys and I ran riot, with John and Shirley in the background telling me I was worse than the kids! 

Many times when John and Shirley had to go away, whether for matters of business, such as conferences etc., or sometimes for an "escape" weekend, I'd move into the home to look after the boys. Those times were great. We had football matches down the hallway of the house, exploding further into the family room. Wild pillow-fights each night before they went to bed were part of the deal.

One day I took the boys "lobbying" to the little creek down the end of the street for freshwater crayfish.  They thoroughly enjoyed the adventure until I began discussing snakes with them. After that they weren't too keen on the pastime. 

The night I introduced the children to Paul Gallico's "The Snow Goose", Gavin had commenced school. Andrew, three years younger, hadn't. Their father and mother were away in Adelaide at a Kolotex conference. I'd moved in lock, stock and barrel with Sasha, my lovely ginger cat.

It was during that particular stay one chilly night with the fireplace, warming the lounge room, I gathered the two boys around me in front of the fire. With Gavin to the left of me and Andrew to my right, I began reading "The Snow Goose".

My brother and I were brought up with the story when we were little kids.  We listened intently to the dulcet tones of Herbert Marshall narration of the story, playing the role of the reclusive crippled artist, Phillip Rhayader.  Joan Loring  -(***a correction  - I originally said Loretta Young) -  played the role of "Frith", the young girl who had brought the wounded snow goose to Rhayader.

I'd read the book many times, too. The story has continued to hold a special part of my heart, and I still have a copy of the book.

Engrossed in reading the story to the children, I paused a moment when I reached a particular moving sad part of the story.  I didn't want to break out in tears in front of the two little boys. The three of us were lying on our stomachs facing the fire. I looked to my left to discover tears were streaming silently down Gavin's face.

To my right, Andrew had his little cherub face cupped in his hands, his arms bent at his elbows, resting on the lush carpet.  He, too, had tears falling down his chubby cheeks. Seeing their tears caused my tears, tears I'd been forcing to dam, to spill freely.

Quickly wiping them away, I closed the book, telling them we had had enough of the story for that night. I told them I would finish reading the story the following night.
I stayed talking with them a while, before challenging them to a pillow fight before bed, which followed our soccer match down the hallway.

The night before their parents were due to arrive back from their trip, I warned the boys that there would be no more football games once Mum and Dad came home. We'd have to behave ourselves when the "grown-ups" were around. 

We always had fun together.

The kitchen floor at the Kenmore home was having its cork tiles re-corked and sealed. I invited the family to dinner on the Saturday evening, to allow the seal to set properly without the traffic of little feet over it. After they had finished their meal, the boys became drowsy and wandered upstairs to the bedrooms.

Come time for John and Shirley to leave at the end of the evening I suggested they leave the boys with me - for John come by to collect them up in the morning. This they did.

After clearing away the dinner debris, I climbed the stairs to go to bed.  Both boys stirred as I entered my bedroom. They'd taken over my then double bed. I ushered a drowsy Gavin into the second bedroom, with Andrew insisting sleepily he wanted to stay in my bed. Thence began a night of musical beds.

At one stage I had the two boys and my cat, Sasha with me in my double bed.

A little while later, when I thought they had scampered away off to Dreamland with Mr. Sandman, silently, I crept out of my bed, and crawled into the single bed in the second bedroom.

Upon waking in the morning, I had Gavin, Andrew and Sasha, my cat as my bed-mates - all of us squeezed together like sardines in the single bed. The double bed in my bedroom was empty...loads of room in there!