Results tagged “Beer” from Kazza the Blank One

Early on in the year the sweetie decided he wanted to go to Tasmania for his 50th birthday.  We'd go down for a long weekend and just have a nice quiet weekend in Hobart.

Then Covid-19 happened. 

We couldn't plan anything in advance.  We couldn't even guarantee we'd be allowed across the border into NSW much more than a few weeks in advance.  So we sat on the idea and wondered what we might be able to do or where we might be able to go.

Then in early August Lorraine Elliot of Not Quite Nigella blogged about her trip to Tumut, Tumbarumba, Gundagai and Yass, including a visit to the Tumut River Brewing Company.  I thought a brewery tour and a weekend in Tumut sounded like a great idea and suggested it to the sweetie.  He thought it sounded like a great idea too.  The Sunday before we planned to go down I called up to see if tours would even be running (because, covid), and they were, and got ourselves booked in.  I didn't book accommodation until the day we left, because I didn't want to have to go through the drama of cancelling if one of us got sick in the intervening time.

We took the slow way to Tumut on the Saturday, via Adaminaby, snow and dams.

Sunday morning we visited Blowering Dam and the Tumut lookout before walking up to the pub.

The brewery itself is setup in an old store building, and the pub is setup next door in what used to be a tyre store.  Out the front all the tables are full of people enjoying lunch and a beer in the glorious late winter day.

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) exterior

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) exterior

There's a hand santising station out the front, setup like a beer tap!

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) hand sanitiser

Inside is full of comfy couches, and the day's live performance act, Toby Mobbs, is getting setup.

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) comfy couches and live music

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) comfy couches and bar

We enquire about our tour booking.  It seemed to have gone astray, however there's two other groups for a tour booked, so we pay and go in to sit down.  There's a couple of different options you can get - the tour; tour and tasting; or tour, tasting and meal.  We opt for the latter - tour, tasting and meal.  This includes the talk by Tim Martin, one of the owners, four 7oz tasters, and a burger or mini pizza.  All for $35.  Absolutely excellent value!!

We start with a pint of Full Grunt and enjoy drinking a beer in front of all the equipment.

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) Full Grunt

While we're waiting, we have a look around.  There's the processing tanks, as well a series of fermenting tanks.

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) brewery equipment

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) fermenting tanks

On the other end of the building are the stores of grains and hops, and cans ready for canning.  The canners come and setup in the middle of the floor and can on the spot.

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) canning floor

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) cans

On one side is a keg cleaning? filling? both? station

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) keg cleaning station

12:30pm rolls around and Tim gets started on his story.  Two guys have a dream to make great beer.  They all live happily ever after.

Not quite!

The story has been going on for years, and has been one drama and set back and battle after another, over and over and over again.  Which is such a shame, because they do in fact make great beer, and the brewery is an amazing thing for Tumut to have going for it.  

We have a couple of breaks during the talk (once you break that seal.. ;) ), and we get started on our tasters.  You get four tasters each, so the sweetie and I worked our way through eight different beers.

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) 7oz tasters

Some of the others got the Full Grunt burger and were raving about it, so for lunch we got one of those, and a mini pizza.  I wasn't quite concentrating when I went to order the food - I should have gotten something a bit more adventurous than pepperoni ;)  Sadly the sweetie had eaten half the burger before I got a chance to get a photo!

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) pepperoni pizza

After telling the story of how the brewery came to be, Tim then went into the details of the beer making process, explaning the whole thing from start to finish, and how they use locally sourced ingredients where possible.  Did I mention this brewery is great for the local area? :)

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) Tim inspects the processing tank

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) beer processing tank

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) grain inlet

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) brewery interior

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) Tim Martin at TRBC

And if you want to know about the bubble wrap marks on the side of the vats, you'll have to go and take a tour to hear the story!

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) bubble wrap marks

After the tour is done, we head back out into the lounge.  We grab another pint each and listen to the last couple of songs by Toby Mobbs.

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) pints

His last song of the day is "Three Cities" about "coming from" three cities - Albury-Wodonga and Wagga Wagga.  

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) Toby Mobbs

I also have a bit of a wander round the pub.  

The bottle wall is amazing.  There's all sorts of historic bottles and cans there, and it was cool to try and pick ones I'd had.

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) historical can collection

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) historical can collection

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) historical can collection

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) beer making process

We had a thoroughly lovely afternoon there, and it was a great way to spend Stu's 50th (even tho that was the next day, shh! ;) ).

The next morning on our way out of town we dropped in to pick up a mixed case of beer.  You can buy them individually, or in four packs, six packs or cases.  We opted for six different four packs, as the four packs were already bound and easy to pick up.

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) beer for sale

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) beer for sale

Tim saw us there and brought out a small glass of a sour that's nearly ready for canning.  It was very refreshing - it will be good in summer!

I truly hope Tim gets a "happily ever after" - he's put in sooo much effort!!

Tumut River Brewing Co (TRBC) Tim Martin at TRBC

PS, as I started writing this this afternoon I was chatting to Tony, and he said Tim? or someone from TRBC was at Herbert's just down the road!  Today!!  And I missed it!!!  Gahh!!!!  They also tapped their 50 Shades of Purple last night, I'm going to have to get down there to try it!!

Backdating.. cause I'm a slacker...!

Monday after two late mornings on the weekend I slept in til 7:10am!  Whoops!  So no slide scanning.  Deleted lots of stuff at work which always makes me happy.  Dinner and kitchen cleaning and took all night to label my quota of photos.

Monday night I couldn't get to sleep til after midnight - restless legs/itchy skin.  Then woke up at 3:20 and couldn't get back to sleep for over two hours, then broken sleep til 7:10.  Got up and had breakfast, then attemped to get some more sleep, but failed.  *sigh*.  So another day of no slide scanning.  Had a 2.5 hour marathon session with Ward doing all the Sharefilez.  Taco Tuesday, then took all night to label 145 photos of the Tower of London.

At least I slept well Tuesday night, sleeping in til 6:40.  Put on an Irish stew at lunch, but the recipe Stu gave me could have used a slow cooker twice as big as ours.  I did realise this and cut it down a lot, but it was still very full (and as I write this on 28/7 there's *still* some leftover in the fridge!).  Into season 2 of IT Crowd.  By the time we'd had dinner and watched some tv and done the washing up by the time I sat down it was like 8pm.  *sigh*.  Kinda struggling a bit.. hrmmm..

Irish stew

Irish stew

Thursday.  Slept ok again, even woke up on time.  Finished watching the original One Hundred and One Dalmatians.  And started getting a cold sore.  Hurrah.

We're onto our sixth case of Corona since the lockdown.  I calculated we've drunk about 7.4 beers each week between the two of us.  We're saving the boxes for filling up with books if Lifeline ever start taking donations again...

Cases of Corona

Let Stumpy out for a walk.

Stumpy going for a walk

Wait what?  Am I watching One Hundred and One Dalmatians here?  Or Peter Pan?  I call shenanigans!!

Disney cheating

Friday I took a long lunch to go see Qantas' last 747 fly over Canberra.  If I get Coronavirus it'll be from the guy who came and stood right next to me upwind of me and was sniffling and coughing (only very quietly, but still..).  Epic #grunt.  

Mt Ainslie panorama

Had chicken kiev for dinner and watched My Neighbour Totoro.

Didn't really do much on Saturday.  Nothing noteworthy anyway.  In the evening went over to EffanC's for dinner.

Pretty roses

Pizzas EffanC's

Pizzas EffanC's

Sunday also not much.  I did scan a box of slides - of me as a baby.  Had C over for a music session and dinner.  Did slow cooker beef brisket based on this recipe.  I've never cooked beef brisket before, but it turned out pretty well.  Very fatty though!!  I'll append an after shot once I've gotten it off the phone, although it really wasn't very photogenic!!

Beef brisket

Beef brisket

Beef brisket

Also how funny is this - the bottle on the left was best before 2004.  !!  It was the second bottle Stu owned when I met him, and after finishing the first I moved onto this one.  Except it was so dehydrated it was pretty much a sticky mass that wouldn't pour.  So we got a new one.  Best before 2022.  :)

Dark soy

Backdating this because I'm a slacker .. again..

As of Tuesday last week I'd slept ok the past couple of nights.  Although I realised I probably shouldn't say such things as I'm likely to jinx myself.  I'd been stressing on the weekend about the neverending housework and how many times a day I cleaned the kitchen and I'd had to run the dishwasher *twice* on the weekend and again that Tuesday night, but then the little brother cleared the floor for me and the sweetie did some washing up and I felt better about life again :)  I cooked a bunch of veggies for dinner (a tomato bake - roasted halved tomatoes topped with basil and melty cheese at the end, asparagus caesar (asparagus, butter, lemon juice, parmesand cheese) and carrots).  And I made a Yum! Delicious! cake because David and found me self-raising flour.  


Yum delicious cake

Wednesday I finally finished part picking the six sets I started on the weekend.  Sometimes it really does take all weekend (and then some) which is why I stopped for so long - if we had anything at all on the weekend I didn't commit to starting, because there'd be a good chance I wouldn't finish.  Cooked some pork leftovers up with some broccolini which was quite nice.

Pork leftovers

Thursday turned up to problems with SSO in the morning, and having to fight with router ACLs in the afternoon, so pretty crappy day.  Had some Corona with the sweetie.

Corona beer

We were going to try and get Chong Co delivery but their website wasn't showing up as available, and they didn't answer the phone either.  So had more deep pan pizza (getting a bit thicker) - but the second pizza that week - blerf.

Dominos deep pan pizza

And then watched Prisoner of Azkaban.

Tell me what this reminds you of..


Good Friday I started on Vic's Life on Mars part picking.  I thought there were twelve sets.  Turns out there was 22.  He had many copies of some of the smaller sets - eight of one of them!  Spent time on Saturday and Sunday doing that as well.  Also made some good progress on the big jigsaw we've had going since January.  It took us about three months to do half the jigsaw, and we did the second half pretty much over the Easter long weekend.  Helped by Ravensburger very nicely using the same cutter on either side of the jigsaw, so I flipped the top (mostly sky) round, lay it over the bottom, and smashed it out.  

On Friday we went for a walk around the block.  People were actually really friendly, everyone smiled.  I saw happy tree a bit closer up, but it's in someone's back yard, so can't get close.  Cooked sausages for dinner and watched the 1970 Airport movie.

Happy tree close up

Took ages to get to sleep Friday night - super restless.  House stuff, food shopping, jigsaw and Lego.  I went food shopping fairly early on Saturday, but Coles was depleted of different thing.  Like there was hardly any orange juice, frozen food, or bananas.  Still no toilet paper or liquid soap available, but I did manage to get some paper towel, garlic/echinacea/zinc/C tablets, and some brown rice.  And then felt like I was getting a sore throat all day.  Cooked pork leftovers red curry, and watched Airport 75.

Pork red curry

Pork red curry

Sunday, mostly just Lego and jigsaw.  There may have been pizza scrolls for lunch.  

Pizza scrolls

I took a "before" photo of our dungeon room.  It's not before Stu started pulling out books to give away so that's why there's an empty few shelves.

Dungeon April


Watched Airport 77 in the evening.

Monday was mostly just house stuff and rearranging shelves.  I put out a fun jigsaw for David to do to have a break between one hard one and the next.

David doing cupcake jigsaw

And then made runny poo for dinner!

Actually beef stew, which looks digusting but tastes amazing

Runny poo beef stew

Runny poo beef stew

Finished up the Airport box set with Airport 79 - the Concorde.  The Concorde they used in the movie was the same one that crashed - so sad!!

Tuesday I woke up at Dentist Time and never got back to sleep :(:(  Started on the next section of the Disney behemoth jigsaw.

Wednesday was cranky day due to Skype sucking donkey balls.  I hate being on the phone at the best of times, but it kept dropping out and at one point left me with a big black square in the middle of the screen and I had to restart my vm to clear it.  Not happy Jan.  I asked the sweetie to cook dinner, so he ordered Chong Co, successfully this time.

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 ;)

Daniel at Pulp Kitchen

Daniel at Pulp Kitchen

As I was with my breakfast raclette with a side of Pulp Kitchen bacon ;)

Breakfast raclette with 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 :)

Daniel and beers

We also had dinner there.  I had a butter chicken.

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.

Drinks and Dinner

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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.

Asian Cafe Chinese Roast Duck

Asian Cafe Mixed Chow Mein

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 :)

Virgin Australia ATR 72-600 VH-FVP

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).

Majura Parkway

Majura Parkway

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.

Virgin Australia in flight snacks

Flew almost right over the top of River Island (it was on the other side of the plane)

Wollondilly River

Then up over Campbelltown and in from the south-west.

M7-M5 junction


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
Bate Bay

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.

Carnival Spirit
Carnival Spirit

Walked up to our hotel, and were able to check in.  Fairly basic hotel room, but very nice and a pretty decent view.

Shangri La hotel

Shangri La hotel 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.

James and George

Liz and Luc

Chris and Stu

Fiona, Stu and Me


Sami and Cathy

Fi and Daniel

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!

Lowenbrau meat

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 ;)

The band

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

The Argyle's unisex bathroom.  The funky pods at the far end are the urinals!
The Argyle's unisex bathroom



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.

Argyle Cut

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 :) )

Hotel cake

Enjoyed the view briefly before collapsing into (a very soft) bed.

Hotel view

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.

Dumpling Inn


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Yeah so most of today was me sitting around feeling miserable in the heat, and playing games on Addicting Games (mostly escape games) in front of a fan.

And doing a snapshot backup of my blog.  Which took like all day (it's still going, after the thunderstorm).  #grunt

Only after the change and a beer did I finally start to feel better again.

So the sweetie and I watched some House, and Flash Gordon, which I saw about twenty years ago, but had not seen since then.  Completely ridiculous, but hey, it had a Queen soundtrack :)

Hunter Valley

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Day 1

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.

Learner drivers

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

Minmi Courthouse
Minmi Courthouse

Caboose in Minmi
Caboose in Minmi

I want a liqour shelf like this!  Pretty!  Popped in here to get a (non-alcoholic) refreshing beverage
Liquor shelf

Then out to the cemetery to find graves of Stu's rellies

Minmi Cemetery
Minmi Cemetery

Stu hunting
Minmi Cemetery

Found one!
Minmi Cemetery

These guys found their own rellies
Minmi Cemetery

Then onto the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.  A little pricey, but very nice.

Crowne Plaza reception
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

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!
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

View from our room - not that exciting
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

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!
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

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.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Giant chess set (there was a checkers set in the main building too)
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Beach volleyball court
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Waiting in the Vista Lounge before dinner
Vista Lounge, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

The Red Salt restaurant (also the breakfast buffet)
Red Salt, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Our view for dinner
Dinner view

We started with this lovely Adina (a local) Pinot Grigio
Pinot grigio

The sweetie enjoys the wine and the view
The sweetie

Stu's entree.  I think this was "Caramelized Tart, of golden shallot and baked locally sourced goat's cheese, witlof salad"
Red Salt Dinner

I had "Warm salad of lobster, kipfler potatoes & frisse endive, poached quail eggs & black truffle dressing"
Red Salt Dinner

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!
Red Salt Dinner

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.
Red Salt Dinner

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!
Red Salt Dinner

We also had an amazing Rosehill shiraz - so smooth!  Yumm!
Red Salt shiraz

For dessert we had some Brokenback vintage cheddar (we were too full to eat any more!)
Red Salt Dinner

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
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley


Day 2

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).

Stu in the minibus

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 dinosaurs

Peacock Hill dinosaurs

Peacock Hill selection of wines
Peacock Hill wines

Yeah being driven around the Hunter Valley tasting wines is a lovely way to spend an afternoon
Winery tour

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
McGuigan's wine tasting

Us at McGuigan's
Us at McGuigan's

This cork stool looked pretty cool (but $249 and not particularly practical)
Cork stool

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.
Stu inspecting cheese

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.
Chocolate penguin

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


The sweetie

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
Grapevine pizza

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!)
Grapevine pizza

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.

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley


Day 3

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.

Trotting horse

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.

St John's college

Walking around to the chapel

The organ is still there, but the chapel is now a little community hall
St John's chapel

And the garden out the back has a gazebo, and the cross has been removed.  A bit different to last time we were here.
St John's chapel

And instead of a nice view out to the floodplain, all you can see is houses
St John's college - retirement village

So that was all a little sad.

Kept wandering.

This is the bridge at Hinton
Hinton bridge

And we found another probable relative of Stu's in the Hinton Cemetery
Hinton cemetery

Next up the sweetie thought it might be nice to head to Port Stevens, and Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay.

Nelson Bay sign

As apparently did the rest of New South Wales
Nelson Bay

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.
Nelson Bay

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)

Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Nelson Head

Carried on.  Shoal Bay was just as crowded.
Shoal Bay

Shoal Bay

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.
Fish and chips

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.
Fox Bar, Maitland

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


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The little brother and SIL came to town this weekend to run the booze train out to Tarago.  For Saturday lunch we went to Zierholz.  I have to say the service as MUCH improved since last time we were there.  Probably only twenty minutes wait for food.

Tasting paddle
Depth charge?
I had crumbed risotto balls - cheesy goodness with a lovely sauce on the salad.  These came first, so I may have had some assistance eating them :)
Zierholz food
Stu's kransky
Zierholz food
Dave's pork belly
Zierholz food
Yvonne's fish
Zierholz food
We also ended up with two plates of wedges (instead of one).

All pretty good.

The brewery
I even remembered to pick Tony up a keg for the party on Friday :)

Not a good day

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The little brother arrived in town fairly late last night.  

But then I couldn't get to sleep.  And there was the whole not being able to sleep thing.  And the uncomfortable spine thing.

So today was zombie day.  And guess what I had to do all day?  Yes, fight with my favourite proxies in the whole world.  uuurggghhhhhh.  Nightmare of a day.  These things just aren't logical.  And they're crap and don't work properly.  

Le sigh.

I did however feel slightly better after a couple of free drinks courtesy of exec, and a nice chat to Lyn and the others.

Also got a chance to catch up with the little brother tonight which was nice.


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Watched Deathly Hallows Part 1 with the sweetie tonight - probably actually the first time I'd seen it since seeing it at the movies a couple of years ago.

Prior to that - got off the bus to find the neighbour's dogs roaming the street, and goat poo all over the front steps and a decimated climbing rose bush.  Neighbour thinks someone's come in and left *both* gates open.  A little scary!  She's been broken into before, wonder if someone had tried again.

Prior to that - drinkies at the Pot Belly with Neil and Chris B and Simon.

Prior to that - ok day at work, doing bits and pieces.

Prior to that - recovering from the cold I had.  Nearly better.  This is a good thing.

Video Night!

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Last night a couple of Daves, a Neil, a Steve and a Simon came over for a video night.  We'd planned the night for a date which Neil and I were not on call.  But alas, the person who was meant to do on call had a great fall (we're calling him Humpty now) and I ended up with it :(  

But anyway.  

We watched Johnny Mnemonic first up.  Not a bad movie (based on a story by William Gibson) but the acting was *terrible*!!  It was quite painful to watch heh.

Then we watched This is Spinal Tap, which I'd never seen before.  It was pretty funny.  

We ordered six Encore pizzas which were demolished in short order, and an *awful lot* of beer was drunk.  Considering two people were driving, there must have been a couple of people that drunk *a lot* of beer.. heh

October Video Night
October Video Night

Good times :)

Friday Friday

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In what is becoming almost a weekly tradition of going to drinks on Friday afternoon, we headed to the Ha Ha Bar.

Ha ha Friday
This is posted outside at the moment

Commit No Nuisance
Then I headed into town and met the sweetie at Asian Cafe for dinner.  We had Five Spice and Honey Duck (yumm!) and some Peking King Prawns

Asian Cafe
Asian Cafe
Civic's trees are covered in fairy lights - so pretty :)

Civic pretty lights

Then we went and did our grocery shopping.

Ha ha Friday

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So after having a pretty awesome week mostly just cleaning up a super messy system (it's a work of art now!) today everything came to a screeching halt.  In the form of HTTPS problems on our newly upgraded proxies.  Not. Happy. Jan. 

After a morning of fighting with it, Neil and I went to lunch, deciding we should go somewhere licensed.  

We settled on the Ha ha bar, and had a very nice lunch and several mulled wines.  Not very alcoholic, but super tasty.

Yummy mulled wines
Ha ha Friday
"Beef Tagliata" - rare beef, rocket, parmesan, capers, balsamic reduction and olive oil - yummmm!
Ha ha Friday
Monster clouds
Ha ha Friday
So back to work but I wasn't in the mood for any more crap.  So answered a few queries and phone calls, and went and annoyed people.  I went and annoyed Fred for a bit, and he had this big pile of 5c coins on his desk.  So as I do, I went through them looking for 1972 5c coins.  Not expecting to find any.  Because I've been collecting coins for probably nearly thirty years and I've never seen one.  In fact for years I didn't think they existed because I'd gotten every other minted coin until the eighties, but never a 1972 5c coin.  But a while back I found out they do actually exist, but are pretty rare.  In fact they sell for about $5 each on ebay.  But we were just chatting and I was going through the coins, and holy crap I found one!!!!!  So was super excited by that.  I kept chatting and looking and OMG ANOTHER ONE!!!  I've never seen one of these coins in my life and suddenly there's two in one place?!?!!!  I was spinning out at this point but kept looking AND THERE'S ANOTHER ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!   THREE!!!!  IN ONE PLACE!!!!!    Do you understand how amazingly unlikely this is?!?!!?  The last one had a super big scratch across it, so not worth anything, but the chances of finding three of these coins at once absolutely gobsmacked me.  


Sent out the word early that we'd be at the Ha ha bar from 4pm, and invited the usual crowd.  It was quite peaceful for a while, outside by the lake, quiet, not windy.  Very pleasant.  Then the heaters or refrigeration turned on so it got noisy.  Oh well.

Ha ha Friday
Afterwards Tony and I were going to walk home but it was getting a bit late, so cheated and took the bus that goes half way.  Then I stayed for a very yummy mac&cheese dinner.

So a nice end to what started as a super crappy day.
Today at about 3:37 I had gotten fed up with mess and decided it was time to go home.  Or at least go have a beer.  To which Neil suggested the Haha Bar, leaving at 4pm.  To which I wholeheartedly agreed.  So went down with the usual suspects and had a very pleasant couple of beers and mulled wines by the lake.  Even the sweetie came in for a bit, which was lovely.

So we got home and Nat and Andrew arrived and we looked at Stu's Japan photos and cooked a pasta bake for dinner and played several games of Buzz.  Best I could do on the leaderboard was one win - couldn't get fastest finger or most correct answers or even most taunts (I was robbed I tells ya!!).

Super fun evening :):):):)
Friday after work we headed down to the coast.  We listened to a Harry Potter audiobook.  Other than that, nothing eventful.

So arrived, and marvelled at the STARS!!  

Then set about turning everything on.  Except I couldn't turn on the gas.  Knob was jammed.  I was already hungry at this point, so was getting stressed and grumpy from low blood sugar level.  Then we heard from Dave - he hadn't even left home yet! (people had bailed at work so he had to fill in for them).  So we abandoned thought of using the spa that night, and went into Bateman's Bay to get some dinner.

We went to "Little Restaurant and Bar".  With a super friendly waitress and chef.  Lovely service.

Little Restaurant and Bar

Stu had a pork croquette dish off the specials board.

Little Restaurant and Bar
And I had lamb cutlets

Little Restaurant and Bar
For dessert Stu had banana and pecan nut pudding

Little Restaurant and Bar
And I had a Lindt Swiss chocolate slice

Little Restaurant and Bar
Accompanied by a nice pear cider.

All super delicious, a great find.

So we get back to the house and Dave had just arrived, to tell me I'd been doing it wrong, turns out there's knobs on each gas cylinder as well.  That I couldn't actually see, from my angle, in the dark.  Yeah so I felt completely useless.  So had a breakdown and went to bed.  As you do.

Saturday was just doing a jigsaw, a walk to the shops, crosswords, and that was about it for the day.

Coast view
In the evening we cracked open the Heineken keg and ordered pizza (three smalls which got demolished in short order).

Coast pizza
Warmed up the spa and enjoyed that for quite a while, getting through almost all of the keg between us.  I was quite impressed with our effort heh.

This morning just more jigsaw, although I didn't finish it - sky is taking far too long.

Coast jigsaw
Then we tidied the house and headed home, stopping at the Scottish Restaurant for lunch.

Did some fish tank stuff when I got home, as well as geotagging holiday photos and house tidying.  So a productive afternoon/evening, but that didn't stop the Sunday night depression :(

As is tradition when meeting people at the Dumpling Inn, went to Jamo and had a couple of beers with Neil, and joined this time by Aquila which was nice.  

So Peter met us at the Dumpling Inn, where we'd tried to go last time but it was closed.  Had shredded beef peking style, and the three cup wine chicken, and satay squid and it was all delicious.

And I didn't take any photos to prove any of it..!  Shocking!!
So I had something like 438 mails in my inbox this morning.  Which got cut very quickly down to 148 when I removed all the mailing list and auto notification type mails.  So didn't take me all that long to get through it all which was nice.  Was kept busy most of the day anyway, without me even needing to look at my pre-trip todo list.

After work I met up with Luc at the Wig & Pen (which hasn't moved yet! win!).  Luc was won over by the nice beers they have there, and gave it his stamp of approval :)  I had a "Lunch with the Monks" and a "Big Ass Barley Wine".  Luc also had a Lunch with the Monks and a Dubble Trubble.  Stu arrived and had an Obama IPA.  We pretty much just talked about travel and Japan.  Was a fun night.

After Luc left for his dinner meetup, the sweetie and I went to the Asia Cafe for dinner.  We had soft shelled crab (nice, but something super spicy in the salad mix burnt my tongue - a lot!  Hurt for ages.  And no it wasn't a piece of the red chili - that's easy to avoid - perhaps some seeds that had come loose).  Also had some Honey Mustard Steak which was very yummy.

Asia Cafe Soft Shelled Crab
Asia Cafe Honey Mustard Steak

Asahi, Japan
Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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