Tuesday, July 14, 2020

THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND...


Two Images of Grasstree Beach...south of the northern Queensland city of Mackay
Two views of the bridge crossing the Maroochy River, at Bli Bli on the Sunshine Coast













If the title of this post sounds familiar...here is the reason...

English lyrics were put to what was originally a Russian song, “Dorogoi dlinnoyu”....difficult enough to pronounce with your teeth in...try saying that without your teeth in place...even once is hard enough, let alone quickly, and  multiple times...  

Later on down the track, in 1968, a new version produced by Paul McCartney, who really needs no introduction I am sure, became a No. 1 hit.  McCartney’s production of “Those Were the Days” was sung by Welsh songstress, Mary Hopkin .  No “s” necessary...but lots of cheers.

Those were the days, my friend...days about which I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing ...probably a little more than I usually do, and that’s saying something! 

A few good friends of long-standing celebrate their birthdays around this time of the year; which means, of course, we’ve been in contact, talking and laughing away the hours as we did when we were much younger than we are now. 

Being old, however, shouldn’t stop one from laughing, even if, these days, there’s not much to laugh about.  We must do our utmost not to allow ourselves to crumble under the world’s burdens.  Laughter lightens the load....

Those were the days...we’d sing and dance forever and a day. All too soon the busy years went rushing by us.  Did we lose our starry notions on the way?  I’m sure we did lose some of them.  It’s a long time since I’ve been to a tavern to raise a glass or two.  No doubt, it will be a long time until I do so again...if, in fact, I ever do.   

The desire to do so doesn’t present itself.  I was never much of a one for drinking in pubs or taverns...although, over the years, I have worked in both.

The week before last dear friends of old and I were in contact.   

The wife I’ve known since my childhood years. The husband and I first met...quickly becoming good mates...when he, a brash, young blade of 17 years, arrived in Gympie, announcing to all who would listen he was the new voice on Radio 4GY.  He boarded with a family who lived in the street up behind where I lived.  My mother and grandmother and Nana took him under their wings from first meeting.  Often he was  guest at our dinner table.  He was a pleasant, likeable young bloke back then...and nothing has altered over the intervening years.  He and I have always been platonic friends...that will never change.

Before joining the 4GY crew, my friend had been a panel operator aka “panel op” at 4BH, a popular Brisbane radio station. There he’d worked under the watchful, tutoring eye of the then well-known radio announcer, Bill Gates (not the BG of Microsoft fame).  Bill Gates discovered the brothers Gibb aka “The Bee Gees”. 

In 1964, shortly after marrying, my friends moved to Mackay. And, as the years passed, they raised their family of three children, all of whom have grown into fine adults.
 
He left 4MK in 1990 to help set up Ch. 10 (television station) in Mackay.  Nine years later he returned to 4MK, taking on the position of Accounts Executive until his retirement in 2010.

From that moment forth, as well as working within a couple of community-minded organisations...Rotary Club Australia being one...fishing was high on his agenda.  
Since retiring, my friends have lived on the beachfront at Grasstree Beach, a small coastal area 37kms south of Mackay.  Grasstree is a 15 minute drive east of Sarina.
 

My friends' front yard is the foreshore looking out to the Coral Sea.

Through the unfolding years our friendship hasn’t diminished.  Nothing changes, except our ages; we’re older, but are we any wiser?

Among other subjects, fishing, of course, was main topic of conversation the other day with my Grasstree friends. 

These days I have no current stories, real or unreal, to compete with the enviable stories my friend related because it’s quite a few years now since I’ve been fishing.  I loved fishing and partook often back when....

I had to depend on my stories of old; and, I do have lots of them.  Fishing stories never grow stale. I’ve enough to reel off and keep you entertained on a lengthy scale. 

Hold your horses! Don’t run off...I won’t!  

However, one that really takes the cake; one which is factual, I have to relate.  I assure you, it’s not embellished in any way.

Shortly after my now late ex-husband, Randall and I relocated from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast we were fishing at the Maroochy River close to the Bli Bli Bridge. 

Casting out, the wind picked up Randall’s line, carrying it, mid-air, far off to the right.    
Randall caught a truck that was travelling along the bridge!   His Alvey reel was spinning at a hundred miles a minute!    

Finally, the fishing line broke, and the truck driver was none the wiser.

True story! 

From memory, I have related this tale previously, but it’s worthy of repetition because I believe there would be few, if any others, who have ever caught a truck! 

Oh, yes...those were the days...that’s what friends are for.....

Fish Cakes: Process 500g raw white fish fillets; add 1 beaten egg, 3tbs cornflour, 1tbs fish sauce, 3tsp red curry paste, 1tsp chopped red chilli and 1/2c fresh coriander; process until combined; transfer to a bowl; add 10 sliced green beans, and 2 chopped spring onions; mix well. Form into large patties. Heat 1tbs oil in pan; fry patties. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

Whiting & Lemon Dill Sauce: Melt 10g butter in pan over med-high heat until foaming. Add 2 lemons, cut into wedges; cook 1-2mins each side, until caramelised. Transfer to plate.  Season 4 white fish fillets (about 600g). Add to pan; cook 2-3mins each side or until flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork. Transfer to plate; keep warm. Reduce heat to medium; melt 40g butter in pan until foaming. Add thinly-sliced green shallot and 2tbs drained, chopped capers; cook, stirring, 1min or until shallot softens; add 2tbs chopped fresh dill and 2tbs lemon juice; stir until heated though.  Trim 1 bunch rocket, and thinly slice 4 radishes; combine in bowl; drizzle over 2tsp x-virgin olive oil and 1/2tbs lemon juice; toss. Divide fish onto plates; top with caper mix, lemon wedges, and rocket salad.

Blueberry Crumble: Preheat oven, 190C. Grate rind of 1 lemon; juice half lemon. Toss 5c fresh/frozen blueberries with 2tbs sugar, rind, 1tbs lemon juice and 3tbs flour; put in suitable baking dish. With fork, combine 1/4c softened butter, 1/2c brown sugar, 1/4c flour, 3/4c oats, 1/2c chopped almonds and 1/4tsp cinnamon; sprinkle over blueberries; bake 45-40mins, until golden and bubbly. 


22 comments:

  1. I remember Mary Hopkin. I have not heard of her in a long time and now I'm going down memory lane! So he caught a truck!? That's wild! No, I don't think many could say that! I enjoyed your memories.

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    1. G'day, Bonnie...Hopkin is now 70 years of age...a bit of reasonably current info below about her...

      "To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of "Those Were the Days", on 30 August 2018 Hopkin released a brand new acoustic version, on an EP also featuring the live version from her 1972 "farewell" concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Also included are the versions of "Those Were the Days" and "Goodbye" released in 1977, produced by her then husband, Tony Visconti."

      It was such a hilarious few minutes when Randall hooked that truck! I kept yelling at him to cut his line!!! lol

      Thanks for coming by...keep taking care. :)

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  2. And of course the truck 'got away'. Great story though.
    And yes old friends are precious. The friends who we rarely see now, but can just pick up from where we left off...

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    1. Yep! The truck was certainly the big one that got away, EC! :)

      Old friends are the good old friends..the ones, as you say, with whom we just pick up no matter the length of time in between.

      Take care...thanks for coming by. :)

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  3. Haven't been to Grasstree Beach.
    You certainly would have plenty of fishing stories to tell. I'm not into fishing and never have been but love my fish to eat of course.
    The old bridge at Bli Bli, interesting.

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    1. Hi Margaret....Grasstree is approx 23kms north of Armstrong Beach...which is also east of Sarina, of course. Armstrong Beach is 10kms east of Sarina. You'll have to add them to your next trip. It's a nice area.

      I gave all my fishing gear, rods/tackle away to a friend to give to her young grandson. I had a 12ft surf rod among it all.

      Thanks for coming by...take good care. :)

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  4. I never liked that song, don't know why. I know lots of people who did though. Did Mary Hopkin ever sing anything else?
    I went fishing once, with my brother down on fisherman's jetty in Port Pirie, I don't remember if he caught anything, I know I didn't and got bored very quickly. Much later, living on an Army Base, every winter they would clean the swimming pool of chlorinated water and fill it with fresh then stock it with trout for about a fortnight so people could bring their families to fish, since swimming was clearly out of the question in cold July. We all went along and didn't catch a single fish, but it was a fun day out.

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    1. Mary Hopkin sang many, many other songs, River....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Hopkin

      I liked fishing...it was good for the head/mind, too...as well as for the dinner plate. Our mother loved fishing...so fishing was part of my life from when I was a small child.

      Thanks for coming by, River...take good care. Cuddles to Lola. :)

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  5. Heeheehee! Excellent story, and quite a large one that i am sure you were glad got away without stealing the rod and reel.

    My best fishing story is how my daughter hooked me by accident, i am certainly the biggest catch she ever made.

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    1. It was an hilarious incident, messymimi. We laughed about it for many years. And it wasn't a tall tale, at all! :)

      Thanks for coming by...take good care. :)

      Delete
  6. "Those were the days" is not only the title of a famous song (translated and sung into many languages) , but also a well-known phrase used by people when reminiscing.
    Your fish cakes look utterly delicious!

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    1. Hi, Duta...yes, it is a term very often used...and one often used by me.

      I hope all is well with you up your way...take care...thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  7. I don't remember Mary Hopkin - but I do recognize that song - but I forgot who sang it! lol
    Well I went and looked it up and she was the singer.
    Oh well I am crazy.

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    1. Hey, Sandie...I clearly remember when the song came out...it hit the airways with a bang, and became a much-loved song for many.

      Nah...you're not crazy...I wouldn't lead you astray! :)

      Thanks for coming by...take good care. :)

      Delete
  8. I must have heard about the Russian connection many years ago. Drinking in a tavern sounded very exotic. I hooked my brother when casting a fishing line once, but that is not as good as catching a passing truck. I expect the reel was red hot after running out at high speed.

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    1. Hi Andrew. You've never had a drink in a tavern? You'd better rectify that. I worked part-time at night in "The Pelican Tavern", in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane back in the late 60s-early 70s. It was owned by a lovely Russian man who was originally from Kiev (Hence the name of the tavern...he named it in memory of the pelicans of Kiev). Kyriol Wypow was a very interesting man, and I loved listening to the real-life stories he used to relate...and to his philosophy of life.

      I've hooked quite a few fish, but never a person (not with a hook attached to a fishing line), and most definitely never a truck! :)

      Take care...thanks for coming by. :)

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  9. I was reading the blog of a young lady from just up the road to me who now lives in the USA. She is a travel writer and journalist.Her plans for this year have been somewhat disrupted. Even at her young age she has travelled far more than most people. I suggested that she had the advantage at her age of memories many people don't make in a lifetime. Those were the days and, of course, I remember the song when it was first in the charts. That's the beauty of old age - we have more memories than the young. Thank you for relating yours.

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    1. G'day, Graham...memories should be nourished. I never cease to be amazed by the number of folk who claim to have little, or no recollection of events, large and small, that occurred in their past.

      I've always had a good memory for both major, and minor occurrences. I think it bred from the days of my childhood when our Nana regularly related stories from her childhood...from her life.

      The song certainly was a big hit in the day. I, too, remember when it first came out. Mary Hopkin was just a kid of 18 when sh had the hit. And I was just a kid of 23 going on 24 years! Those were the days...

      Thanks for coming by...take good care. :)

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  10. Hi Lee, When I was learning (teaching myself) to throw a handline, I once hooked myself in the backside much to the delight of two older gentlemen who came to my rescue. One suggested the hook wasn't very far into my rump and if I dropped my shorts it might come free. Like hell!! In the end I took charge and said I was going to lay down on my tummy at their feet, one could put a foot on my other buttock to hold me still and the other was to pull. We were an hour from the nearest doctor so it had to be done. And done it was. We laughed about it every time I saw them after that, they always wanted to see the scar. Those were the days!!

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    1. Hahahahahahaha! I love this story, Pauline! It's great! lol

      You should have seen me trying to throw a cast net!!!! I gave that up as a bad job pretty quickly!!

      Oh! Dear! Thanks for the laugh...keep taking good care. I hope ll is well with you and yours...thanks for coming by. :)

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  11. I remember that song and Mary Hopkins :)
    Gorgeous recipes you've shared, thank you.

    Stay safe and well.

    All the best Jan

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  12. Old friends are wonderful ! And I remember that song too. As for fish cakes - ah ! now I know what I will make tomorrow. I have some white fish in the freezer that needs using up and you've stepped right up and helped....

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