31 July 2009

Slow Cooking & Lunching With New Friends

Okay, so I've been copping alot of flack for not updating the blog.... Sorry about that - working full time again has kinda cramped my style! LOL! I've gone back through my photos and added some of the highlights from the past couple of months. Enjoy!

Before I started working again, I went on a mission with my slow cooker. It's a magical invention and perfect for hot dinners on cold winter nights. It all started when I wanted to make an oxtail stew the way my mom makes it. I tried it in a normal pot the first time and it wasn't bad, but it didn't taste like my mom's. So the next step was to go out and buy a slow cooker.... I've made some delicious meals so far. My favourite has to be the ham hock & lentil soup. It must be the heartiest soup I've ever tasted!

Shopping at the local butcher. Notice the biltong & droewors in the front row!

There are Saffer shops dotted around Brisbane (and the other major cities), but quite a few butchers will stock some Saffer things. This particular one in Kenmore stocks everything from Aramat, Cross & Blackwell Mayo, Ouma Rusks, All Gold Tomato Sauce to Stoney ginger beer & Iron Brew. The only things we still buy are Aramat and mayo. Other than that, we've discovered the local brands and are more than happy. There are, however, quite a few ex-Saffers who will spend a small fortune every month buying imported goods from SA instead of trying out the different brands here. I must say, I stocked up well on toiletries but then couldn't wait for them to finish so I could try out all the "new" stuff.

The butchers here really are quite something! They're really imaginative with their selection of cuts, marinades and garnishes. And this is all just the daily freshly prepared stuff - there's heaps of plain vacuum sealed or frozen meats in the fridges behind where I was standing when I took this shot. And then there are the chicken butchers too.... :-) I'll try and remember to take some pics when next I go shopping.

A lamb shank stew about to be cooked

Scott with the ham hock bone while I was busy preparing a pot of soup. Grrrrrrr!

Though this blog, you've already met my friend Kerry-Lee. Well through Kerry on Facebook, I also met a school friend of her's who had just moved to Sydney. I got chatting to Gus on Facebook. And got completely homesick looking at Sydney though the lens of his camera! Gus moved over with his partner, Ian, from London. Ian was hired by Woolworths for some serious top secret mission! So when Ian had to come to Brissie for business, Gus hopped on the plane so he could explore the coffee shops & catch up with Kerry. We were lucky enough to hook up with them for lunch at a great Chinese restaurant called Wang Dynasty right next to the river at South Bank. We had a wonderful afternoon with a great bunch of people!!!

Kerry & Gus

The "adults" - Ian, Gus, me, Scott & Kerry in front

And with Kerry's kids, Megs & Shawn

After lunch we all went our separate ways. We headed for the Plough Inn for a beer

And live music

Kerry ploughed into us for a few more beers & some scrumptious ribs! And a laugh or three! :-)

05 July 2009

Paniyiri Greek Festival 2009

Remember the Greek dancers we saw at South Bank yesterday? Advertising the Greek Festival? We'd actually planned to go to this in May but it was postponed after all the heavy rains. So with taste buds already slavering for yummy Greek food, we set out (again!) for South Bank. I really think we need to move to the city!

It was held on Musgrave Park just in front of the Greek Club and Greek Orthodox Church. Obviously this is an incredibly popular festival! There were 3 gates and queues at all of them. Roads were closed and manned by coppers and private security (aka huge big islander boys!). If you're from Cape Town, you'll know the Constantia Festival. This is very similar in that it's got loads of rides, food stalls galore and a centre stage where dancers, choirs & other artist perform.

Doesn't look too full. Maybe we're early birds & won't have to wait in too many queues for lunch....

The Slingshot shoots this little cage containing 2 people 70metres into the air where you bounce around & spin for a bit and then they lower you again. Fun! Fun! Fun! But at $30 per person, it was a little pricey so we didn't have a go (that's our excuse & we're sticking to it!).

Colourful rides

The Slingshot shoots into the clouds!

The Octopus

Fun, colour, laughter, excited screams (or was it terror?), bells and the smell of delicious cooking wafting over the whole fair....

Rides for everyone - loved the huge colourful bouncy castle/slide thingy for the little ones.

The cooking fires......

And this is what we found when we left the fairground part.... MASSES of people in queues for all that delicous food. Souvlaki, grilled octopus, moussaka, baklava, honey puffs.... Mmmmmmm.......

So we just joined the closest line and tucked in! Further along, against this hill was the stage. The backs of the queues just blended into the crowds watching the shows on the stage. It really was a MASS of people. We sat on the hill here eating our lunch. After taking in the atmosphere for a while we decided to walk around a bit more but it really was just too crowded. As we were making our way towards a gate, Scott spotted Emma, Moss & Tom. The people we met at the Caxton Street Seafood & Wine Festival. In all those crowds, in the whole of Brisbane! What are the chances???

These are honey puffs. If you've never had them, you're SERIOUSLY missing out!!! Find them, hunt them down. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!

A short walk to South Bank and we discover MORE new stuff there. This place is absolutely amazing - there's always SOMETHING going on. This time it was the Young Designer's Market. The name really is self-explanatory - clothes, jewellry, art.

Some more walking and we discovered that today was International Tartan Day & was being celebrated with plenty of highland dancing, gaelic song & tartan, tartan and more tartan.

With a raffle


Tartan & Scottish clobber

Even the littlies had a go - this little boy was just too cute!

It wouldn't have been complete with out the highland sword dance

Looking back as we were leaving

Oh look! Something else going on! The Queensland Fire & Rescue in training

Damn! That's a long ladder!

And that's all for now!

04 July 2009

Kerry-Lea & Shawn's Visit

I first met Kerry-Lea online in the SA2Oz and SAAustralia forums when we were going through the whole visa application process. Kerry and her kids (daughter Megan & son Shawn) arrived in Sydney on 1 December 2008. Kerry's hubby, Mac, was working on the cruise ship Volendam and they were going to join him for a cruise to NZ and then finish up back in Oz to settle on the Gold Coast. Well, as it turns out, this is a very small world..... Remember our fabulous NYE on the James Craig ship in Sydney Harbour.....?

Well, this photo was taken as we arrived for our cruise on NYE. In the foreground is the James Craig and in the background...... the Volendam - with Kerry & family onboard! Yip, they were also in Sydney harbour for NYE.

Anyway, after Kerry had moved to the Gold Coast & was online, we started communicating again on the forums - marvelling at what a small world it was. And then we moved to Brisbane - staying at Geoff & Pearl's in Robina for the first few weeks - yes, that's on the Gold Coast too. The day before we were due to move up to our new house in Moggill, I found out that Kerry was living about 150 metres away from Geoff & Pearl! And we STILL hadn't met face to face yet! LOL! And I just realised another time where we just missed each other - at the Sharks vs Reds Super 14 game at Suncorp Stadium!

So when we were organising our housewarming bbq, we invited them along. And a great friendship began!

Mac is away on another 3 month stint onboard another cruise ship at the moment and Megs is over in NZ visiting a friend for the school holidays. So Kerry brought Shawn through on Friday afternoon for some dinner & then a day in the city on Saturday.

Shawn made a fabulous fruit salad for dessert & one of the strawberrys ended up being a complete mutant!

Shawn with his mutant strawberry

Dinner was Mexican so we had to have frozen margaritas. Duh! This was Kerry's first into to a frozen moggie..... I think she's hooked!

Shawn got his own version (before the tequila was added of course) - I forgot his straw so he sipped from the glass & copped a mouthful of salt from the rim of the glass. Great expression!

Okay, so we were really bad with the camera during dinner. Way too much talking going on... Once the moggies (only cos I ran out of ice!) were finished, Scott & Kerry hit the Amarula while I went onto the white wine..... once the Amarula was finished too, they also joined me with white wine..... LOL! A FABULOUS evening chatting away about ALL sorts of things..... some interesting.... some bizarre.... some we just won't mention again..... :-)

On Saturday morning we headed off to the city after fruit salad for breakfast (we'd forgotten about it as dessert!). First stop was the Da Vinci Machines exhibition which was in my previous post. After this, we walked all over South Bank as the following pics will show....

Greek dancers on one of the grassy areas

More Greek dancing

Ta-da! They were advertising the Paniyiri Greek Festival which was happening up the road.

Hercules - also from the Greek Festival

Shawn being all camera-shy - he just refused point blank to have his picture taken with Hercules!

Lunch was fish & chips for Kerry, chicken nuggets for Shawn, fish burger for Scott (which was ULTRA delish!) and calamari for me. YUMMY!

Shawn went off to watch the buskers next to the "beach" and we stopped at a cafe for a cuppa..... This is the view from the cafe.

Now this is something that Kerry introduced me too and is THE most incredible alternative to coffee EVER! I really mean E.V.E.R.!!! Chai Latte..... It's black tea spiced with vanilla & cinnamon with steamed frothy milk. It is absolutely TOOOOO DIVINE!!!

It started out as just the instant Lipton Chai Latte from Woolies...... But the cafe had it on their menu so we had some.....

I was too busy smelling, sipping & just generally ADORING my latte that I completely forgot about taking a photo of it. But this should give you an idea. HEAVENLY!!!

A close up of the tight-rope unicyclist

The Twine again

(click anywhere on the underlined parts to go to check out their website & hear some of their studio recordings)

One of the many street performers at South Bank

Shawn pretending to jump in - he was all big mouth about going for a swim until he felt the water.... More about this later...

Next to the beach (which they're doing major renovations to at the moment) is a kiddies water park. I can't think of any other way to describe it. This is a beautiful water feature which randomly drops water.

Shawn dodging water features

A water curtain, fountains and rivers

Love this one!

Kerry & Shawn at South Bank

After wandering around South Bank for a few hours taking in the, exhibition, street theatre, live music, markets, walking along the river, yummy lunch and plenty hustle, bustle & people watching; it was time to head for the hills.....

Mount Coot-tha to be exact. It's on our way home so we thought we'd treat our visitors to a lovely view of the whole of Brissie.

Kerry & I nattering away

Turn around for a photo girls!

Now on the way home, Scott & Shawn had hatched this "deal" whereby Shawn was going to go for a swim in exchange for a foot rub from Scott. There were all sort of conditions attached (which Scott kept adding to!) and when we finally got home, Shawn went off to get his trunks on & then the procrastinating started..... I think I mentioned how he was a big mouth until he felt the water......

First we gotta check the temperature.... a chilly 14 degrees!

Then a pose with the new spray-on tattoo he got at South Bank

Then he had to debate whether to use the snorkel or not (he was supposed to stay underwater for 1 minute to get the foot rub)

Then he decided to dive in from the deep end..... which he decided wouldn't be the best way to get in after all....

Eventually Kerry couldn't take it anymore!!! And in he went!!!

Yikes! That looks cold!


The lips are starting to turn blue & you can almost hear his teeth chattering! There was a bit of a 'moment' when Scott refused to honour the 'deal' on a technicality because he was pushed in. LOL!

So Scott tied him to the dining room table instead....

Not sure why..... but Shawn seemed to enjoy it - so did Scott by the looks of things!

Kerry & Shawn left shortly after this to go back to the Gold Coast. They were both getting up early on Sunday morning to run in the Gold Coast Marathon. Kerry finished the 5km & Shawn did the 4km kid's dash. Congrats to both of you!!! And thank you for coming to visit - we loved having you here!