Out and about with the girls

20 11 2008

Our friends, Bron and Lee, were down last weekend. They arrived late Thursday afternoon, but as it’s daylight saving time now, we were able to sit out on the back verandah in the spring sunshine, enjoying a bottle of white wine and cheese in the quiet of the early evening, watching the blue wrens, and talking and laughing — a lot!

Dinner was at the Bridgetown Hotel on Thursday night, and the rack of lamb I had was cooked to perfection! My husband said his steak was also perfect. The girls had creamy coconut garlic prawns and rice, and said they’d have preferred more garlic but understood that general restaurants can’t cater for particularly strong tastes (which is why I rarely eat a curry anywhere except a Thai, Malay or Indian restaurant).

Friday

Bron, Lee and I headed out late Friday morning — it was going to be a girly day out, so my husband declined the invitation to join us… (I wonder why?!) It took us 4 hours just to get to Balingup, which is typically only a 15-20 minute drive away, so you can see we had lots of stops on the way. First stop was to show them the estate where we have our land. That involved some driving then walking over our acre, then stopping at Lynda’s to meet her alpacas, then at Bobbie’s. Next, we drove the 14% grade road (roller coaster in a car!), and then did the Peninsula Rd drive. When we finally got to Balingup, we wandered through some of the little shops (Tinderbox herb shop, Alpaca wool shop, stone and crystal shop, etc.) , then had a lovely lunch at the Balingup Bronze Gallery (all organic foods). Last stop before leaving Balingup was the Old Cheese Factory, which is a HUGE arts and crafts store with lots of local arts and crafts for sale.

We meandered along the Balingup to Nannup road, one of the most picturesque drives in this huge state of ours, stopping at a cheese factory (real cheese this time!) and just enjoying the gorgeous spring day and each other’s company. A funny highlight was surprising a tractor driver having a leak in the field — he thought we’d gone past, but we’d actually turned around to check out the beautiful grounds where he was. As we drove back, he got the biggest fright! Gales of laughter from us, and no doubt a soaked foot or leg for him!

From Nannup it was back home on the other part of that loop along the Blackwood River, the Brockman Highway. We stopped at Karri Gully and walked the trail to the Bibbulmum Track, then back along the highway to the car park at the forest conservation area.

I made dinner on Friday evening as I knew we’d be eating well and often on Saturday. We taught the girls “Jokers and Marbles”, and between the four of us we knocked off two bottles of wine and a bottle of Knight’s 37% alcohol ‘Regal Knight’ (lemoncello). Bron was not a well girl when they left (I drove them back to the hotel after 1:00am — I’d only had about 3 glasses of wine all evening, promise!).

Saturday

After a good night’s sleep and a big cooked breakfast at the hotel, the girls got here close to noon on Saturday. They were both in good spirits, but Bron wasn’t having any more alcohol for the day! First stop on Saturday was the Wine and Truffle Company at Manjimup. I only tasted one wine (nice); neither Bron nor Lee wanted to taste wines… I was disappointed that there was no way to taste truffles without either eating in their restaurant for lunch or buying some of their (expensive) truffle products. Maybe you can get a taste when truffles are in season (July). As someone who has never tried truffles, I didn’t want to spend money on something I may not like. I would have thought they’d have had some truffle oil to taste with small snippets of crusty bread — tempt me into buying!

By this stage we were hungry, so it was on to Pemberton to have a nice lunch at Jarrah Jack’s boutique brewery. Lee and my husband shared a tasting rack of beers, while Bron and I stuck to water. Lunch for me an Lee was a delicious steak sandwich each; Bron just had the pumpkin soup and hunk of crusty bread; my husband also had the soup as well as a beef and stout pie. After Jarrah Jack’s we went on the Karri Explorer Drive around Big Brook Dam (we missed the turn off to the beach!), and in through the Big Brook Arboretum. We came out on Channybearup Rd near some of the avocado farms, then headed to Knights Winery and Distillery for Bron and Lee to purchase some more Regal Knight lemoncello… including a replacement bottle for us!

We had a leisurely drive back to town, then had dinner at the pub that night. I had the squid and it was the worst meal I’ve ever had there. The squid was rubbery, massed in this huge grey pile, and it tasted pretty awful. The accompaniment was a red cabbage slaw thing with a wasabi mayo. An interesting and pretty horrid combination of flavours to my palate — I won’t have it again. My husband had the steak again (‘When you’re on a good thing, stick to it’, is his motto!), Lee had the rack of lamb, and I can’t recall what Bron had… We shared one bottle of wine, but really, none of us felt like much alcohol at all. After dinner we said our goodbyes as they were heading back to Perth first thing Sunday morning.

Thanks Bronny and Lee for a lovely weekend — we haven’t laughed so loud and so often in a long time! And my voice was hoarse from all that talking. It’s nice to know that ten years on from when we all worked together (yes, it was 1998/1999!) the bonds of friendship are still as strong as ever.


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