Saturday, June 10, 2023


St. Bernard's Hotel

                                                            St. Bernards at St. Bernard's...

View from the rear dining area of St. Bernard's Hotel, looking over towards the Gold Coast

Rightly, and wrongly through the years I’ve been accused of many things.  Rightly, when guilty, I’ve admitted to my wrong-doing. However, the latest blot upon the sometimes blotted episodes along the winding path of my life really takes the cake!  Feeling spirited, I could waft on at length, and my protestations might not stand a ghost of a chance but, regardless, I fervently deny I am guilty of what I am presently being falsely and unfairly accused.

With hand on heavy heart, I hereby admit the last time I visited St. Bernard’s Hotel was during the daylight hours of Monday, 14th January, 2019.  I was not alone. The two gentlemen who treated me to lunch were my now late ex-husband and his brother. The three of us arrived shortly after noon, and left a couple of hours later, having enjoyed, not only each other’s company, but also the fine fare offered by the hotel’s kitchen staff.  When our pleasant interlude came to an end my luncheon hosts escorted me home before they drove off the mountain back down to the Gold Coast. Not once since those special couple of hours have I haunted St. Bernard’s Hotel, not once. Not in the mornings, not at noon, nor in the afternoons, nor moonless nights, and never in the brightness of moonlight nights have I done so. My being accused of such behavior is shattering my spirit. Instead of pointing the finger at me, has anyone considered the hotel’s nightly visitor could very well be Casper? 

Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky, the only spirit hanging around hereabouts, remains secure in its bottle sitting upon a shelf.  It hasn’t escaped its container since purchase a few years ago.  It’s never been out of the unopened box in which the unopened bottle sits.  Not a skerrick of the spirit has broken free, been let loose, so it’s not to blame, either. If the fallacious floating spirit accusations continue I might be driven to flip my lid, and the lid of the spirit bottle. To borrow Queen Gertrude’s quote from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” – “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”… this is what you’re probably thinking.   Fair crack of the whip! Fair suck of the sauce bottle…or Scotch bottle!   To remove any remaining doubts, I hereby inform positively, and honestly, it is not me who is floating around St. Bernard’s at all hours of the night! These days, and nights, I admit I do look like I haunt houses, but I assure you, I do not. Rarely do I leave these four walls during the daylight hours, let alone at night.  Just ask my furry roomie, Shama.  She, with paw on heart, will verify my words.

By George!  If my word isn’t good enough, and further proof I am telling the truth is required, as I write, and the last time I looked (without cracking the mirror, by the way), I am still alive. No buckets have yet been kicked. To allay any lurking doubts you might have, I’ve a few buckets around here.  So far, for your information, and peace of mind, I have managed not to kick any of them.  Surely, this information will calm, pacify, and finally set to rest, that at night I am securely tucked in, set to rest.  My fellow citizens, you have nothing to worry about…nothing whatsoever. The very least of your worries is me.  A roaming spirit I am not. There’s not a ghost of a chance of me being such…not yet, anyway. 

I give you my word. The only places I haunt once or twice a week, in daylight hours, are the newsagency and IGA,.  I don’t scare anyone. At least, I don’t think I do.  If you stumble across a ghostly apparition in St. Bernard’s Hotel at midnight, it is not me.  However, if you come across a haunting sight shortly after 7 am at the North Tamborine shopping centre, it won’t be a spectre you spot, it most likely will be a very much alive me.  Finally, to lay the matter to rest, in a manner of speaking, I am neither George of the Jungle, nor am I George of St. Bernard’s….


PS....The powers that be at St. Bernard's call the ghost "George".  For those of you who are surname is "George"!  :)



 Creamy Whisky Salmon: Cook 300g linguine per packet instructions; save some pasta water. Melt 2tbs butter in pan; sauté 1 chopped medium red onion until softened.  Add 150g shredded smoked salmon; cook 1-2mins. Pour in 2tbs whisky; cook until it evaporates; stir in 1tsp wholegrain mustard; cook 1min. Add 1c double cream; cook about 1min; add drained pasta. If sauce looks too thick, stir in some pasta water. Sprinkle serves with chopped parsley.

Roast Pork with Scotch Whisky Glaze: Prepare brine; combine 8c hot water, 1/3c salt and 1/3c sugar in large bowl; stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Cool completely. Submerge 3kg bone-in pork loin rip roast, chine bone removed, in brine.  Weigh it down using a plate with a jar of water on it. Keep roast submerged completely. Cover; refrigerate, turning roast occasionally, for 18 -24 hours. To make glaze:  Combine 1c orange juice, 2tbs finely chopped onion,1-1/2tsp grated orange peel, and 1-1/2tsp grated fresh ginger in small saucepan. Boil; reduce heat; simmer, stirring often, until the consistency of a thin syrup, 12-15mins. Stir in 1/4c Scotch Whisky, 2tbs tomato paste and 2tbs dry mustard. Simmer 2mins; cool. Glaze can be prepared and chilled for up to 24hrs. Remove roast from brine; pat dry. Heat 2tbs oil in roasting pan over med-heat. With meaty side down first, brown pork on all sides. With bone side up, spread with half of glaze.  Roast in pre-heated 190C oven, 30mins. Remove pan from oven; turn roast over; spread glaze over meaty side. Continue roasting 2hrs or so. Let stand 15mins before carving roast, between bones.   

Saturday, June 03, 2023




For a couple or so years I called him “Gar” because I couldn’t pronounce his name.  I can’t remember the exact date or day, but I do remember the light-bulb moment I said his name correctly for the first time.  So proud was I that I’d finally conquered a major step forward in life.  Gar’s name was “Graham”.

Two years and eight months older than me, he was my brother.  Graham took his role as older brother seriously, which annoyed me often through the years; particularly during my teen years when he gave hopeful, would-be suitors the evil eye.  Big Brother was not only watching, but he also verbally warned off a few interested lads.  Spring and summer weekends my girlfriends and I spent on the beach and in the surf at Noosa Heads, while surreptitiously eyeing off the tanned, trim lifesavers. Graham, at my insistence, became a Noosa Heads Surf Lifesaver!  How silly of me it was to convince him to become a lifesaver.  I needed my head read!

When I was a kid, I felt a bit miffed to discover there were more baby photos of him than of me.  A few years down the track, I understood the reasons why, and all was forgiven.  Of course, Graham was the “first born”, but it wasn’t the sole reason for his hogging of the camera.  Upheaval hit our family unit when I was a tiny baby.  A way of life, and lives, changed forever, when, without a backward glance, our father flew the coop, leaving only our mother and grandmother to care for us.  Mum and Nana had a lot on their plates in more ways than one. Never losing sight, they set guidelines for Graham and me to follow. Among the many lessons instilled were respect and discipline. Graham and I had a lot on our dinner plates, too, regardless of whatever arose to hinder our path along life’s highway.

From a young age Graham adopted the mantle of “man of the house”. Others didn’t expect, or ask it of him. Only he expected it of his self.  Graham left school at the age of 14 years, gaining work with the railway department. A short time later, on his meagre wage, he bought a record player. He then purchased our first fridge. Off to the dump went the ice chest. Next, along came a new dining table and chairs. He then surprised us with a television set.  Graham’s generosity towards his family, towards Mum and Nana, was endless.

Eventually, he moved to Mackay, where he worked within the cane industry for a number of years, after which, he gained employment in the fire department at Mackay airport.  Circa 1968, Graham relocated Nana and Mum from Gympie to Slade Point, a beach suburb of Mackay, setting them up in a two-bedroom cottage where they comfortably lived out the remainder of their years.

My brother enjoyed a cold beer, and he loved a Bundy...Bundaberg rum for the uninformed...but Graham despised cigarettes.  Never, not even during his experimental teen years did he once lift a cigarette to his lips. Non-stop through the years he lectured me about my smoking habit, a habit I gave up a few years ago.  My doing so would’ve pleased him no end…and, me…no more lectures; no more nagging!

He didn’t suffer fools, not one iota.  A straight-shooter, Graham looked others directly in the eye.  He had an insane sense of the ridiculous; a fun sense of humour.  I believe I was the only person who really knew and understood him. Lacking insight, and demonstrating little compassion, or empathy, most others were insensitive to his ways and needs. Under his oft-times brusque exterior, Graham was a good man.  I knew that, even if at times he annoyed the “whats-its” out of me!   Graham and I had our “moments”…many of them. I was also aware of his many worthy traits; deserving traits he kept disguised from the prying eyes of others.

Graham loved music, particularly country music.  One of the best times we shared was the night we were members of the audience at John Denver’s concert held in the Townsville Entertainment Centre.  To top the night off, we met the artist.  Graham was a huge Denver fan.  After we arrived home to my cosy abode in West End, a Townsville suburb, Graham and I, perched on kitchen stools, talked into the wee small hours.  He drove back to Mackay later that morning. 

When I was living and working in various towns in North Queensland, almost every weekend Graham visited.  No matter the distance, the drive to and fro never bothered him.  I was unsure if his regular visits were to see me, or Missy, his cocky cocker spaniel…and for my meatloaves, which he loved. I always made an extra meatloaf for him to take home.  For five or so years, Missy was my ward after Graham could no longer have a dog at his premises.  Pushkin and Rimsky, my two cats, made her feel welcome –most of the time.   

Gone too soon… 28/02/1942…06/06/1998