Christmas week

31 12 2006

We’re back! Actually we got back on Friday after almost a week down south doing very little.

Christmas Eve

Last Saturday morning we drove down to Busselton (where my folks live). Then mid-afternoon we headed over to my sister’s and all her family for Christmas at the farm (they have 50 acres in the Yallingup Shire).

My sister and the nieces and nephews (well, one!) were cooking up a storm. It was a hot day but we had the works for Christmas Eve dinner – a roast ballantine of turkey (the turkey was stuffed with a duck, which was stuffed with a chicken, which was stuffed with… stuffing!), crispy roast potatoes and other roast veges, green beans and broccoli, a superb cheese sauce, perfectly blended gravy, and cranberry sauce. All followed by a yummy sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce courtesy of Michelle. Someone forgot to put the ham on the plates, but it didn’t matter – we had more than enough!

Before dinner, we sang Christmas carols with “Sir Elton” Bill on the keyboards and Shannon on the microphone. Someone had thoughtfully printed out and photocopied the words to all the carols, so we weren’t sitting there ‘la la la’ing for the second and third verses. Will loved “Jingle Bells” and seemed to know all the words.

Of course, having a little boy aged 3-and-a-half around meant that the pressure was on to get some of the presents opened before dinner instead of after! What started out as ‘just a couple of presents’ became the lot. The nieces and nephews all received lots of food-related gifts – either food or cookbooks. And of course little Will got more stuff than he could take in at once.

The highlight of the afternoon was the gifts that Will gave his Dad and older brothers and sisters – they all got Collingwood beanies, caps, and scarves. The transformation from Dockers supporters to Collingwood supporters is almost complete… Paul was home for Christmas – it was good to see him again, and he’s looking really well. He enjoyed the Collingwood bonding session in the US when they went to Arizona for high altitude training a few weeks back. Oh, and Paul gave Will a Collingwood guernsey with his new number on it. Will looked a treat!

West Australian Christmas table

Busselton and Bridgetown

The rest of the week was spent quietly at Mum and Dad’s, except for Wednesday when we went over to Bridgetown to have lunch at the Cidery with a couple who are building in rammed earth, then to take a look at the progress of their building. Their house looks fabulous and the colour and texture of the walls is magic! Rammed earth walls

View from their kitchen window to our property (in red)
They can see our block from their kitchen and family room – we’ve already arranged to have a red flag and a white flag to run up the yet-to-be-installed flagpole when the red or white wine has been poured!

30cm thick walls give rammed earth its wonderful thermal properties Colour and texture

Once we finished with them, we met the Property Manager at the house where we’ll be living temporarily to go through the maintenance things that have to get done between now and when the tenant moves out on Jan 27 and we move in on or around Feb 20. I also measured up the rooms as we don’t know what furniture we can take with us or have to put into storage or give to the Good Sammies. It was a damned hot day in Bridgetown – yes, I know – it’s one of the coldest towns in WA, but hell, it was hot there on Wednesday! We were glad to get back into the air-conditioned car and drive the 75-90 minutes back to Busselton.

On Thursday we went into Busselton to look at and purchase light fittings for the Bridgetown house – those that are there need replacing, and I want some decent lights in the kitchen and the family room where we’ll have the study/office. Currently, there are two open fluoros in those rooms; the bathroom light doesn’t work at all; there’s no cover on the hallway light; the bedroom light shades are cheap and nasty plastic ones; and the light fitting outside the laundry door isn’t weatherproof and is falling apart – a safety hazard if nothing else… $400 later and we had 2 sets of 4-track halogens, 5 oysters, 1 bunker light, and a tropical fluoro for the bathroom (tropical meaning it’s OK in humid, moist areas).

We left the folks on Friday and came back to Perth the long way via Bridgetown, as we had to drop off the light fittings so the electrician can fit them when he gets to do his part of the maintenance program.

Purging and Packing…

Yesterday (Saturday) and today I’ve been sorting, purging, and packing. More to come tomorrow, but for now, I’m buggered! Oh, and yesterday I also did an inventory of all our furniture, and made mock-ups of the rooms and the furniture (using SmartDraw 2007), and placed almost everything – sorry, no spare bedroom for visitors… both extra bedrooms will be store rooms! There are only a few smaller pieces that won’t fit, so it looks like we may not need a storage unit after all! We’ll be giving some furniture away, but not a lot. At least not this round. When we’ve built the new house, we’ll do the big purge of all the old furniture.

So that brings me up to date. Tonight is New Year’s Eve, but I think I’ll only be seeing the backs of my eyelids come midnight! More purging and packing tomorrow…

Almost forgot – while I was hunting out things to pack in nooks and crannies of boxes, I found this storage jar. At some point it got hot! So there’s this whole Salvador Dali thing happening with the rubber seal.

Salvador Dali-esque storage jar



2 responses

31 12 2006

There was something similar in a season of ER which they called Turducken. “Roast ballantine of turkey” sounds much more elegant somehow! 🙂 I’d love to try birds stuffed in other birds sometime. Do the flavours stay separate or kind of meld together?

I’ve never been to Bridgetown and yeah, all I know about it is that it gets very cold there in winter. Will your house have much heating?

1 01 2007


The flavours meld together so you really can’t tell which bird you’re eating. I think the original recipe was from the time of Marie Antoinette (at least, that’s what I was told many years ago when I first had this dish), and the more exotic way is to start with a quail’s egg, then a quail, spatchcock, chicken, duck, turkey and perhaps some other meats etc. in between. Oh, and according to most of the Google references, it’s “ballotine” not “ballantine”. Mondo’s ( sell them at Christmas (and perhaps other times of the year on request).

Building in rammed earth means that we *shouldn’t* have to have any heating at all, but we haven’t made firm decisions on that yet. Underfloor heating in the tiled/hard floor areas sounds good to me!

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