Sunday, 18 September 2011

Unhappy Feet

The day started full of promise. Father and son time was guaranteed and I anticipated great things. 2 special events had been planned, a movie preview for Thomas and I; a Don Walker concert later in the evening. Fun times. Well that was until Thomas and I arrived at the movie preview.

We had received a special invitation to preview a movie (of which we had no idea what we were seeing) which was to be screened at Hoyts in the Entertainment Quarter Moore Park - a fair hike from home, but we thought it would be well worth the travel considering it was:
a. a free movie
b. a movie that had yet to come out
c. a fun adventure
d. special father/son time

The invite was clear that we needed to arrive from 1.45pm and that the movie would start promptly at 2.30pm. Going to a kids movie with kids I figured that standing or sitting around for 45 minutes before a movie was slightly crazy. So instead arrived just after 2 and joined the line. The line snaked its way around the foyer and right up to the front doors and didn't move. I wondered what was going on but thought to myself that all would be OK. Then T started to freak. "When are we going to go in?", "We need to go over there or we will be doomed" pointing to the candy bar, "C'mon Dad, lets go". This was OK to handle for a couple of minutes. But we were standing there for 45 minutes in the same spot (opposite the candy bar!).

It was about the 30 minute mark that T started to crack and was going into full meltdown mode. And yes, people around were noticing. Some of the other kids were asking what was wrong with him - thankfully their parents had sensible responses like "He just doesn't understand why we have to wait" and "Waiting here this long, can you blame him!". Back to the timeline, 45 minutes waiting from 2pm takes us to 15 minutes past when the movie (still unknown) started. It was at this point in time that a person from the movie preview company and somebody from Hoyts came along and explained that we weren't going to be going into the preview. "The American's stuffed up (Read Warner Bros) They didn't think that there would be this sort of response". What the? Aussies + anything free = No brainer. We were invited, we came! They did however offer us tickets to go see another movie later in the day. T wasn't listening to this discussion. I had to break the news to him myself that we weren't going to be able to go in. Well that was it. No more needed to be said. He was beside himself. I sat down beside him on the ground and consoled him that all would be OK and that we would work it out. The movie that was offered in place of the still unknown movie was "The Smurfs" in 3d. Unfortunately, it wasn't scheduled to start until 3.30pm and this meant that it was going to be a really tight squeeze to get home in time to meet up with my Dad. What was I going to do? 

Well, we decided that we would go and see the Smurfs and that we would just hope (and pray) that everything else would just fall into place. So when I went to the counter to get my tickets, the man behind the counter tells me in confidence that the movie preview was for Happy Feet 2, the movie that is supposed to be in direct competition with "The Smurfs". I recalled that T did not enjoy the original "Happy Feet" and the preview for "Happy Feet 2" was shown in the trailers to "The Smurfs". 

T's reaction to the trailer said it all. Absolute boredom. The decision not to see the preview screening of "Happy Feet 2" was not ours, but I think that there was definitely a silver lining to this little grey cloud. 

By the way, "The Smurfs" was a fantastic movie. I would definitely recommend seeing it whether you are an adult or a child. There is something there for everyone.

I did make it home in time to head up for the night with Dad to go see Don Walker live in concert. It was a great concert. Don's music is so varied, but my favourite songs of the evening were a solo version of Khe Sanh, The Good Book, and Eternity. A link to his website is here. and to some of the lyrics -

What a day, what an adventure!

My little Smurf


Don Walker and Band

Don Walker - Khe Sanh

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The great gourmet weekend

Well Andrea and I had a great couple of days away. Mum and Dad were kind enough to look after the boys and we headed south to Bundanoon.

Now, can I first say it was very odd seeing everybody walking the streets with large overcoats, jackets, gloves and beanies on. C'mon people. Anybody would think that it was winter. Oh OK, so it is winter. But the weather over the weekend was absoluteley wonderful (alot warmer than the -5 it was last night down there).

The weekend was initially intended to be a wealth of activity exploring the southern highlands. We had to rethink things a little seeing as Andrea was still recovering from her Pneumonia. (Thank the Lord that she is still getting better each day!) So we thought that a little R & R would do her the world of good.

That was until I got the brilliant idea that going on a gourmet food trail would be just the right thing. As it turned out, it was. Being driven around the Kangaroo Valley (the only true valley in the southern hemisphere) was a relaxing, stress free, fun, foodie day. More on this later.

As part of the package we were able to organise a gourmet cooking class on the Saturday morning. We learned to cook Moroccan! Can I just say that Moroccan food is to die for. Full of flavour but not too spicy and hot (well not what we cooked anyway). There were 5 of us in the cooking class and we were smack bang in the middle of the bush with gorgeous views over the Kangaroo Valley. Our teacher was Toni Moran who was ably assisted by her husband Robert. They run Flavours of the Valley which is a small business based in the Kangaroo Valley. You can find out more about what they do at their website. We each were given a part of the meal to prepare and got to eat it all after cooking it. Here is what we cooked:
  • Baby figs with blue cheese and proscuitto
  • Stuffed baked tomatoes
  • Baba Ghanouj (a dish Andrea and I prepared)
  • Beetroot dip
  • Spicy Moroccan dippers
  • Chicken, olive and preserved lemon tagine (the main dish Andrea and I worked on)
  • Moroccan lamb pizza (cooked in a wood fire - we all made our own)
  • Couscous
  • M'Hanncha
Each of these were yum. But my favourite would have to be the tagine. It took a bit to prepare (especially the chermoula marinade that Andrea worked on) but was the easiest to actually cook once you have it in the tagine.

I would certainly recommend checking out this cooking course. It was fun, we learned so much and ate very well. We will be keeping our eyes open for when the Italian course comes up!

After this we headed into the Kangaroo Valley village for a stroll through the shops and galleries. This was very relaxing and helped aid the digestion of all that wonderful food we made in the morning. We then headed back up to Bundanoon for the night.

The next morning we headed back into the Kangaroo Valley for our gourmet food trail. This was also run by Flavours of the Valley . Driving down the escarpment and seeing the mist down in the bottom of the valley was a wonderful sight. We had high expectations of what the day had in store and we weren't disappointed. Some of the places we went to were an olive grove, a winery, an aquaponics farm, a fudge "factory" and an organic garden. Needless to say, we did not go wanting for food and amongst the delights we tasted green olives (Andrea is now a convert), olive oil, cheeses, wine, anti pasti, more wine, jams, pesto and fudge. There were other foods but these were my favourites.

It was truly a relaxing, tasty, fun filled weekend. One which we won't forget for some time.

View over the Kangaroo Valley
Gourmet organic garden

The olive grove - Banksia Park

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Yes we do tend to...

I know that dads can tend to ramble on and in my blog I intend to not ramble on to much (despite the title of the blog). Hopefully you will find my blog, entertaining, informative, encouraging and can get something from it.

The last couple of weeks in life have been very interesting indeed. I have learnt a great deal of respect for those that care for sick people/family members. Particularly those caring for people with a chronic illness. My wife, Andrea, ended up with Pneumonia which meant that I needed to take time off work and pick up the roles of Mum, Dad, Taxi, support, homework helper, toy playing, back pounder, tea maker etc. whilst in the back of the mind I still had all those normal things that I would do calling out to me.

Our eldest son, Thomas, has high functioning autism and this change in our daily routine has made life even more interesting. Any change can be a challenge so mummy not being able to do what she normally does just threw things right out of kilt.

Eli, being a typical 3 year old boy has had his ups and downs too and is liking that he can challenge authority now (well at least he likes to think he can anyway).

Anyhow, thats enough rambling for one night. I have a relaxing weekend to look forward to. T & E get to go to Mum and Dad's and we will get a chance to recuperate!