Country Pursuits

2017-02-26-23-08-59It has been a busy few weeks in the Shoalhaven with the Country Shows in full swing. Each week they pop up starting in Kiama, Berry, Nowra, Kangaroo Valley and this week Milton. They usually have at least one or two interesting things on show in addition to the usual cattle, horsey, sideshow alley type pursuits and last week I ventured up the mountain to  Kangaroo Valley in 38 degree heat to witness the inaugural Cheese and Dairy competition started by my friend Jan and a couple of other women who make up The Kangaroo Valley Cheesemakers. It was very popular with 80 entrants including about 25 students from a local High School. Hand made butter, yoghurt, labne , fresh,soft, washed rind and hard cheeses were all tasted and judged over a 5 hour period and some workshops have been planned for the coming months to teach us mere mortals the wonders of making your own cheese at home. As you get more experienced there are quite a few tools of the trade to collect however – the judging table was a bit like an operating theatre!!

My friend Maryan has been my companion to a couple of fun local things lately. My colleagues tell me that I’m now officially a local after being snapped at the cattle judging and having our photo in the local paper! I even had an akubra  on – not bad for an ex-city girl…       img_6158

We attended a far more ladylike event last week in Berry when a local GP threw open her house and the art collection within to interested parties to help them  raise funds for The Fred Hollows Foundation. It is a gorgeous old house that has been brought to life with Lucie’s extensive art collection of her Grandmother’s sister Eileen Mayo.

She was a meticulously detailed artist born in England in 1906 and emigrating to Australia in 1952 where she was commissioned to do some travel posters for The Australian Tourist Board and later some beautiful postage stamps. She dabbled in nearly every medium and was especially well known as a printmaker. Lucie has the largest collection outside of the Victoria and Albert Museum and it was a delight to tour the house seeing her Great Aunt’s work so beautifully displayed.eileen-mayo

A devonshire cream tea in the garden on lovely vintage crockery topped off our afternoon perfectly.

Our neighbours in The Lane are softies when it comes to animals and they have an ever expanding menagerie. To date they have 5 cows, 2 goats, 2 cats and now 3 dogs! Darren has been known to come back from work with a baby goat under his arm as payment for a job he’s done and Kath has such a good heart she can’t say no. Their latest addition is a Dogue de Bordeaux  or a French mastiff and Gloria is just delicious! The most well known dog of this breed is probably the lovable drooling dog in the movie Turner and Hooch. Gloria is going to be a VERY big girl when she’s fully grown, her Dad weighs 85kgs!!!! But for now she is soft and cuddly and inquisitive, as all new puppies are, and we loved having her visit us. Bailey was beside herself with excitement, wanting to play with her constantly until Gloria fell asleep in a little heap on our veranda, completely wiped out!!

With less than 7 weeks until our on-site wedding things are amping up and with our weather being either 40 degrees or torrential rain the garden has gone nuts!!! At a time that I had planned on spending lots of time mulching, weeding, trimming and pruning and finally being able to take Bailey on lovely long walks because the temperatures have become bearable I have had a rather annoying road bump in the form of a stress fracture in my foot resulting in me having to wear an orthopaedic boot for about 4 weeks (supposedly non weight bearing for at least one of them – grrrr). This has well and truly slowed me down, although it has enabled me to spend time finalising things with all the suppliers etc and catching up on my paperwork!! Funny how The Universe takes over sometimes…..

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I was determined however not to miss an event that hubby’s Company sponsors, which is a big charity Gala Ball to raise money for Camp Quality. An overnight stay in The Shangri La with an amazing view over Sydney’s beautiful harbour more than made up for my 3 hour train trip (currently no long distance driving allowed .)

2017-02-24-14-40-10As it turned out we were sharing our floor with the Indonesian President and his 45 staff who were gathered in the corridor outside his room chatting away excitedly into their lapels. They were in full military regalia and seemed totally unaware of any other guests as they got on with their business (loudly) at 7am. So much for a relaxing start to the day! The Ball was good fun though, showcasing the hardship that families go through when their children have cancer and the ripple effect that it has on the entire family. Camp Quality provides a very real escape for these families and gives them an opportunity to finally make some memories outside of a hospital environment. Number one son and his girlfriend joined us for the evening and as the wine flowed so did the money into the coffers of Camp Quality, a truly great organisation.

So back to The Meadow we went and  just in time to welcome some old friends and neighbours from 10 years ago who haven’t changed a bit! They were so sweet bringing delicious beluga caviar and lobster tails as a contribution to dinner as well as wine and choccies – very generous guests!! He is a horticulturalist and in just a couple of hours he chopped my garden into some form of submission, leaving it a lot tidier than he found it! He even got us to taste some of the remaining persimmons, assuring us they were of the non astringent kind and guess what? They were delicious!! It was lovely to see them and it was as if it was yesterday that we all used to live just down the road from each other and the kids were at Primary school !!

2017-02-26-17-42-05 Very fancy!!

After all the food and wine enjoyed this past week, in addition to the fact I can’t even go for a walk or do any exercise, and with my Mother of The Bride outfit looming, I am attempting to deprive myself of everything except fresh veggies, salads and lean protein.

My day may (or may not) go like this……..

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