Results tagged “Beer” from Kazza the Blank One
So after being awake for several hours on Saturday night, I decided that it would be too stressful to take a broken car to Sydney on Sunday. I thought I'd take it in to get looked at on Monday and maybe go up Monday night.
Got up and went to Pulp Kitchen for breakfast with Daniel and Fi.
Daniel was pretty stoked with his bowl of hot chocolate and breakfast ;)
As I was with my breakfast raclette with a side of Pulp Kitchen bacon ;)
Daniel and Fi then went off to their own thing, while I caught up on things like downloading photos.
By Sunday night my phlegmy throat had turned into a very sore throat and I felt pretty crappy. Decided that it'd be too draining to go to Sydney for just a couple of days, even if they did fix my car, so decided not to go at all this week.
But I was on call, and they don't pay you overnight if you don't turn up for work, so I went in Monday morning with a still sore throat. Dumped the car at the mechanic and said please fix. And gave him a few days since I hadn't booked it in.
Monday afternoon I numbed the pain of the sore throat with a pint of Wig&Pen Two Knuckles Deep and then two half pints of Smokey Olde Spice - which I *loved*. Such a nice beer. Reminiscent of smokey whiskeys to some extent. Daniel and Fi tried a couple of things, then got two "tasting trays" of four different beers each. So they basically tasted most of the Wig & Pen beers on one night! I was impressed :)
We also had dinner there. I had a butter chicken.
Then went home and I had a great night's sleep.
Tuesday at work was ok because I'd had such a good sleep. But then Tuesday night I couldn't get to sleep til 1am :( Damned insomnia :( It's a bit after 9pm now and I thinking about crashing into bed already ..
At least I got my car back today. It was the alternator, as suspected. And even though he said it was out of warranty (you only get three months on second-hand parts, and this had been five months), apparently his supplier hadn't charged him, so he didn't charge me for it. So that was lovely of him.
Tonight we went to the Wig & Pen for drinks with Vesna, then to Asian Cafe for dinner.
We had a very nice Chinese Roast Duck, and Mixed Chow Mein and some vegetables.
I only had two beers at the Wig & Pen but they must have been very strong, as I was a little more tipsy than I'd have expected after two beers.
My Dad turned 70 on Sunday.
So we trundled up to Sydney.
And I figured if I was going to be in Sydney, I'd try and catch up with some of my Sydney friends for part one of my birthday bash.
Stu wanted to fly (to get points so he can get Virgin lounge access). So we spent obscene amounts of money on flights and a hotel.
But let me backtrack a minute.
I'd decided that we should go to the Löwenbräu Keller, as it was central for everyone, it had pork, and it had beer. I thought that we could have a lunch, and people could stop in for a drink afterwards if they weren't able to make it to the lunch. Except when I made the tentative booking they said that they were a restaurant and everyone had to be dining. This they underlined. Well actually they said that everyone who made a reservation had to be dining. And they wanted a $20 deposit for everyone. And we had to order off one of the very restrictive set menus. So that was my drama last week. Anyways. I got my RSVPs and made the final booking and paid the deposit, and fortunately on the day everyone showed up who said they would, and no surprises. But more on lunch later.
So Saturday morning we got up and got ready and headed to the airport. And after complaining a couple of weeks ago about Stu getting to fly in one of Virgin Australia's ATR 72-600s, I got to go in one :)
Took off to the north, with a view of Canberra and the new Majura Parkway, but a lot of fog around still (delays all over the place because of heavy fog in the morning, and was a bit stressed that our plane would be late or cancelled).
Actually to say was a bit stressed was putting it very mildly. I was totally stressed out all morning - about the lunch, who would/wouldn't turn up, the restaurant being bumheads, getting to the airport on time, the plane being on time and on and on. Was feeling quite queasy until we got to the airport and our plane was going to be on time ..
But carrying on ..
Because it's such a little plane, they don't have the full food service where they sell food/drinks. Instead they have complimentary drinks and snackages for everyone! So that was pretty nice of them.
Flew almost right over the top of River Island (it was on the other side of the plane)
Then up over Campbelltown and in from the south-west.
Look Mum I can see your house from here.. and mine (under the clouds). Looking into the sun, so not much more in the way of good shots for the rest of the flight.
Bate Bay looking very blue
So off the plane and onto the Airport Train. I've never actually taken this train before. Reason being: it's a complete rip off! $31 for the two of us to get to the city. Absolutely ridiculous. And of course, there was trackwork, so we had to change trains at Central. At least there *was* a train to Circular Quay - when Stu went a couple of weeks ago, there were no trains at all in the CBD.
Walked up to our hotel, and were able to check in. Fairly basic hotel room, but very nice and a pretty decent view.
Then we wandered down to the Lowenbrau, and even though we were fifteen minutes early, we were only *just* the first ones there heh.
No good photos of Marc/Ryan and none at all of Emma/Charlotte.. doh!
So everyone arrived and they brought out meat. So. Much. Meat. This times four!
We got the "Schmankerlplatter" which was $39.50 and the cheapest of the options we were forced into having by the Lowenbrau. I was really annoyed by this, as it meant people couldn't go for a lighter lunch if they wanted to. One thing's for sure - I'll *never* be booking to go to the Lowenbrau again. If opportunity arose I'd still go there, but I'd never organise an event there again.
*Fortunately* they were happy to package up all the leftovers, and Stuart R and my brother took them home. So at least a quarter of all that food didn't end up going to waste.
And the pork was pretty damned good. And there was other meat too. For those that wanted it ;)
So after lunch, since the Lowenbrau were being buttheads about not wanting people to drop by casually, we headed up to the Argyle for drinks. Fiona, Stu, Chris, Daniel&Fi and me and the sweetie went, and were joined by Fran, Jake, Ric, David and Yvonne. Where we stayed til early evening :)
The Argyle's unisex bathroom. The funky pods at the far end are the urinals!
So all in all it was actually a wonderful afternoon. I hadn't seen Chris in twenty years, and I'd never even met Stuart R (except online, and he had actually thought I was a boy which gave everyone a good laugh ;) ). And all sorts of lengths of friendships in between. The only sad part was not having enough time to catch up with everyone for as long as I'd have liked. Oh well.. will have to make more effort on future trips! And convince people to come visit ;)
Stumbled back to the hotel.
Picked up some snackages on the way back to the hotel, thinking we might get hungry later on. But we never did. Too much meat!
However the hotel had put out a little bit of cake and a macaron for my birthday - how sweet of them :) (when they asked at checkin if I was up for a special occasion I said I was :) )
Enjoyed the view briefly before collapsing into (a very soft) bed.
Tonight I went along for a drink after work for pdif's farewell, but then got a better offer - drinks with the sweetie and some colleagues at the Wig & Pen. Except the Wig&Pen was full, so we went across to PJ O'Reilly's. There was only five others - a guy from Stu's work who was originally from China, and his Japanese girlfriend, a Japanese guy there on a work exchange trip, and a lady and her American partner. So a lot of talk about travel, a couple of beers, and a very pleasant after work outing.
We stopped in at the Dumpling Inn for dinner - shredded beef Peking style and ginger fish.
The day after boxing day we made our exit from Sydney. Since we had to be back on the 30th for my cousin's wedding, the options were to stay in Sydney, go home, or have a couple of nights somewhere else. We decided to go to the Hunter Valley.
We let the GPS guide us out of Sydney, and we managed to avoid the most horrible piece of road in Sydney, which is the five kilometres between Gordon and Hornsby, where it's just stop start the whole way. The GPS took us round the north of all that, and it was much less stressful.
It's amazing the number of L-platers that were out. I reckon they should either be banned from highways altogether or allowed to do the full speed limit. Because forcing them to slow down on the freeways just makes everything slow for everyone else.
We decided not to go up the Sydney-Newcastle freeway, opting to get off at Peat's Ridge and take the back way. We mostly had the road to ourself, and it was a much prettier and less stressful drive.
Coming down the valley along the Great North Road was very pretty
Spaceman in a sculpture park north of Wollombi
Cessnock is very pretty at the moment with all the trees in bloom
As it turned out, we probably should have gone up the freeway, because we decided to go out to Minmi, which is right next to the freeway. So it was a bit of a detour, but we weren't in any hurry so that was ok.
Crazy big house on Richmond Vale Road
Caboose in Minmi
I want a liqour shelf like this! Pretty! Popped in here to get a (non-alcoholic) refreshing beverage
Then out to the cemetery to find graves of Stu's rellies
These guys found their own rellies
Then onto the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. A little pricey, but very nice.
Crowne Plaza reception
We got a hotel style room in the main building. There's a tonne of self-contained units around the place that hold quite a few people. They looked lovely, and people were out with deck chairs sipping wine, which totally looked like the life :) They're a bit further away from the main building, and something like $800/night - ouch!
View from our room - not that exciting
What I did love about the place was the abundance of power points. Something like 14 of them around the room, in nice useful places, like right next to the bed. 10 points right there!
Settled in and got ourselves freshened up, then went for a walk around the place
The huge pool. A bit emptier at this point, but it was full of people a little earlier.
Giant chess set (there was a checkers set in the main building too)
Beach volleyball court
Waiting in the Vista Lounge before dinner
The Red Salt restaurant (also the breakfast buffet)
Our view for dinner
We started with this lovely Adina (a local) Pinot Grigio
The sweetie enjoys the wine and the view
Stu's entree. I think this was "Caramelized Tart, of golden shallot and baked locally sourced goat's cheese, witlof salad"
I had "Warm salad of lobster, kipfler potatoes & frisse endive, poached quail eggs & black truffle dressing"
For mains Stu had "Coq au vin free range chicken, braised in Hunter Valley pinot, golden eschalots & smoked bacon, roast garlic puree, fried bread crumbs". This thing was delicious - and look at that huge chunk of bacon! Yum!
I had "Confit duck leg with cassoulet of white beans, lovedale smokehouse sausage & bacon, poached quail eggs". The duck was nice, but too many beans for my taste.
We also had a side of "Sauteed mixed mushrooms with garlic and sherry vinegar (Swiss Browns, Buttons, King Oysters, Enoki)". Omigosh this was so delicious! One of my favourite parts of the meal!
We also had an amazing Rosehill shiraz - so smooth! Yumm!
For dessert we had some Brokenback vintage cheddar (we were too full to eat any more!)
After dinner I was so full I went for a little walk around the place.
Took this nice HDR shot from the entrance area on my phone
We had breakfast the next morning at the resort. A pretty decent buffet of food. Was quite crowded though, even though we were there near the end of service.
At 1pm we piled into a little minbus with a family of Swedish people and headed out on a winery tour (stopping to pick up some other people on the way).
Our first stop was Peacock Hill Winery. This was quite a small winery, and was much like the tours we did at Yass last year with a very small cellar door and crowds of people. I found it a bit stressful, but the lady was reasonably well organised, so it wasn't too bad.
They have dinosaurs, which kept the two little Swedish boys amused
Peacock Hill selection of wines
Yeah being driven around the Hunter Valley tasting wines is a lovely way to spend an afternoon
The next stop was McGuigan's. Having heard of this winery it wasn't surprising that they had a much bigger cellar door. And they have this whole room setup for tour groups that looked pretty amazing.
Tour group wine tasting room
Us at McGuigan's
This cork stool looked pretty cool (but $249 and not particularly practical)
McGuigan's also make and sell cheeses. We might have bought some, but didn't have a cooler bag or a fridge at the hotel.
Sunflowers at McGuigan's
Next stop was the Pokolbin village for chocolate and cheese tasting. The chocolate tasting was ok (half a dozen nibbles of chocolate), but the cheese tasting wasn't really anything special. First you had to find the store that was doing it, then you had to ask for the cheeses to taste. Yeah, not ideal.
I did buy this cute little chocolate penguin from the chocolate place.
Our last stop was Brokenwood. This had a medium-sized cellar door and we sat around barrels to do the wine tasting. We even got to taste a wine which was normally only opened for people paying to taste the wines. So that was very nice.
On the way back we got up close to some kangaroos, which I think all the tourists liked :)
So a very nice (although somewhat expensive) afternoon, with half a box of wines and fortified wines acquired :)
For dinner we went to the Grapevine bar for beer and pizza
This was the "Truffled Mushroom" pizza, which sounded nice on the menu (swiss brown, button and enoki mushrooms, white sauce, confit garlic parmesan, thyme and truffle oil) but was a little bland
This was the "Italian" pizza - pepperoni, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella, parmesan & chilli, sour cream, thyme and rocket. This was much nicer (I think the sour cream was a winner!)
After dinner the pool was looking nice so I wanted to go for a swim. But a change had come through which made it quite cold. So we didn't stay in long.
So our final day.
First stop (after breakfast at the Scottish Restaurant in Cessnock) was a trip to Morpeth to look for more of Stu's relatives in the cemetery. We didn't find any. Just some harness horses trotting by.
Then to St John's College, only to find the whole place has been turned into a retirement village. So far the historic buildings remain, but who knows for how much longer.
Walking around to the chapel
The organ is still there, but the chapel is now a little community hall
And the garden out the back has a gazebo, and the cross has been removed. A bit different to last time we were here.
And instead of a nice view out to the floodplain, all you can see is houses
So that was all a little sad.
This is the bridge at Hinton
And we found another probable relative of Stu's in the Hinton Cemetery
Next up the sweetie thought it might be nice to head to Port Stevens, and Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay.
As apparently did the rest of New South Wales
It was so crowded it was painful. We didn't stop anywhere along the beachside. Couldn't have anyway - no parking! Just snapped a pic out the window.
We did stop at the lighthouse though (only because a super huge 4WD couldn't fit into a half sized parking spot, so we got it)
Carried on. Shoal Bay was just as crowded.
Eventually ended up at Fingal Bay where we stopped for lunch a few streets back from the beach, where there was actually parking. Fish and chips and potato scallops. Because that's what you do when you go to the beach. Even though we were nowhere near the beach.
So left the craziness behind and headed back to Maitland to meet up with Margie at the Fox Bar. This a nice little wine bar. We had the whole front area to ourselves, but it was only when I went to the loo that I saw the lovely little garden they have out the back.
And finally headed back to Sydney. Would have been uneventful except a horse float overturned on the freeway near Kariong killing two horses and completely closing the road. The GPS saw it coming and we took a detour around it. No idea if it worked out faster (it probably did) but it was certainly less stressful and no stop-start traffic for us.
Finally made it back to my parent's place and crashed into bed
Stu had a pork croquette dish off the specials board.