Sunday, October 15, 2023



Orchid Beach, Hinchinbrook Island

A couple of pencil drawings by me...and a couple of acrylic paintings

Omar Sharif



I’ve been ploughing through papers, files, old photos etc.  My sudden burst of unseasonal, unusual energy shocked even me.  It’s amazing what I’ve discovered. Delving through the pile wakened a host of long-forgotten memories. Memories filed away in the depths, not only of the folders, but also of my mind.  Once the portal of my brain’s library was opened, I stepped through the entrance.  Many surprises were in store.

A couple of graphite drawings and a water-colour painting were unearthed. Why they were hidden away, and not out on display with others I’d created during my “Artistic Period”, beats me. Rather than blankly looking at my blank sketch pads, pencils and paints, perhaps it’s time to dust them off; time for a 21st century Renaissance.  Procrastinate I do. Poetry, lots of poems, creations of my long-past “Creative Period”, also resurfaced.  

Interesting finds amongst the hoard are copies of letters I’d written, and letters I’d received in years past.  Letters written by guests from when I managed the then resorts on Hinchinbrook Island and Newry Island restored many happy memories.  Correspondence received from overseas guests, who penned missives, not only during the continuation of their travels, but also after they’d returned to their home countries stirred up the past.

 Klaus, a fine young German backpacker spent a couple of weeks on Newry. After leaving the island, he wrote often.  He crossed the Pacific Ocean to South America before finally ending up back home in Hamburg.

Further memories were rekindled when I read letters from Andrei, a young man with whom I had the good fortune of spending a couple of weeks in the early 90s when I was chef/manager of the Collinsville Coal’s single men’s mess/canteen and accommodation in the township of Collinsville.  During Andrei’s stay, much to his delight, we visited Airlie Beach and surrounds.

Andrei was originally from Yakutsk, capital city of Sakha, Eastern Siberia, the vast Russian province. After 'Glastnost' - introduced in the late 1980s by the then Russian President, Mikhail Gorbachev - an elite group of young folk was selected from across Russia to visit the Western World to learn about capitalism, business etc.  Australia was one of the designated destinations, and, therefore, the company of my employ.  The company, (head office in Yatala, south-east Queensland) had done work with the UN (another story for another day).

Some of the selected clever few were sent to the USA and others to the UK.  About 100 intelligent, fortunate young people were chosen out of the thousands and thousands who’d been nominated from across the broad expanse of Russia. Andrei was one of the chosen few. For a brief moment in time he’d been placed in my care. Presently my concerns for his welfare are on high alert.  We began corresponding again a few years ago. He was, by then, living in Moscow, and married to a lovely young woman from Ukraine.  I fear for their well-being…enough said…

During my rummaging, I stumbled across photos taken Halloween, circa 1982, and I received the fright of my life. With pounding heart, eventually I realised the horrific witch in the photos was, in fact, me!  Dressed in a flowing black robe, wearing a monstrously wicked witch’s rubber mask and black hat, I would’ve scared The Witches of Eastwick, the Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent et al.  These days I’ve no need to wear a mask.  I’m scarier enough without one. God help my fellow shoppers when I’m out and about.  My apologies….

A newspaper article titled; “Dr. Zhivago star comes up trumps”, dated February, 7th, 1976 resurfaced during my digging. It tells the story of Hollywood star, and champion bridge player, Omar Sharif’s bridge tournament at Brisbane’s Gateway Inn on the evening of March, 10th, 1976.  He was in the world’s top 50 bridge players. Beside Sharif in the photo sits Ethel, my now late ex’s aunt. She was also an excellent bridge player. Ethel, who also has now passed away, often related the story of her time spent with Omar Sharif; of how difficult it was to concentrate on the cards while in his presence.  His lovely, large brown eyes were massive distractions.  Perhaps his entrancing eyes were his secret weapons used against his opponents. 

Memories…they, too, can be distractions….


Witch’s Brew: Process 1 stalk thinly slice lemongrass.1/4 can coconut milk, 1-3 green chillies, 1c packed fresh coriander, 1 chopped shallot, 4-5 garlic cloves, 1x2 inch sliced ginger, 1tbs soy sauce, 2tbs fresh lime juice, 1/2tsp cumin, 1/2tsp coriander, 1/2tsp white pepper,1tsp brown sugar and 1.2tsp salt; blitz to a paste. Place a wok or large frying pan over med-high heat. Add 1-2tbs olive oil; swirl around; add the green curry paste. Stir-fry 1min. Add 1-1/2c cubed firm tofu, or 1 can rinsed, drained chickpeas. Add 1/2-3/4c veg stock, plus  2-3 lime leaves (if using). Stir; reduce heat to med-low. Simmer 5-7mins. Add ¾ can coconut milk, 1-1/2c chopped asparagus or green beans, 1 handful cherry toms, and 1 green capsicum, chopped into bite-size pieces; simmer 10-13mins. Taste for salt and spice. Serve directly out of wok, or a serving bowl. Sprinkle over fresh basil and sliced red chillies.

Spooky Strawberries: Line baking tray. Melt 227g white chocolate. Wash and dry 24 large strawberries. Hold each strawberry by the stem; dip in chocolate until it’s almost entirely covered. Hold it over the bowl, letting excess drip off, Place strawberries on baking tray. Repeat process. Refrigerate until choc is set. Meanwhile, melt 1/4c choc chips. Decorate berries with the chocolate, making eyes and mouths to resemble ghosts. Completely set before serving.