Saturday, 31 December 2011

Christmas Celebrations

   Here's a quick rundown of what we did for Christmas this year:

   Jan came to visit us for Christmas.  Here she is admiring the view from the back deck.
 (click on photo to enlarge)

   Here Jan is watching the video of Andrew & Sarah's wedding in Las Vegas.

   On the Thursday that Jan arrived we went to Helmy and Perran's for a meal together before they went to Perran's parents at Metung.  Everyone was there except Andrew and Sarah who were to spend Christmas with Alan and Kim in Darwin.
   On Christmas eve we went with Jan to see Neville and Christine at Chelsea.  Their renovations are done and the house looks great.

   Daniel, Monika and Ronja were our hosts for Christmas day at their new house close to Frankston CBD and beach.  Jan and Jac and Pat with their four kids, were there, along with Wendy and her friend from Sweden, Tess.  

   It seems taken for granted now that Jac brings a cake.  The Christmas cake was in the shape of an igloo.

   The penguins were made by Amelia, Nara and Sullivan, with Jac's help.  The bottom half of the cake was christmas cake and the top half chocolate!

   Everyone pitched in to prepare food.  Pat and Wendy were peeling prawns.

   The theme of the dinner was Swedish and since Monika loves to add cream, she was probably adding cream to the potatoes here.

   Daniel was making garlic butter to add to the snails.  Monika also cooked a ham in the traditional Swedish way, and herring in a potato bake.

   Grandpa's job was to keep out of the way and not drink too much, so Sully, Nara and Amelia were a good diversion.

    Mason playing with his hair wrap before the opening of presents.

   Doortje and I enjoyed the day very much.  After dinner we all walked down to the Frankston beach and the kids plus Pat and Daniel enjoyed jumping off the jetty, Milly for the first time! It was a wonderful day!

This is my last post for 2011.  Best wishes to everyone for 2012.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Cavorting at Kilcunda

   One of the great things about being retired is the ability to get out and about during the week when everyone else is at work or school.

   Doortje and I have just come back from three marvellous days, Tuesday to Friday, at Kilcunda on the Bass coast a dozen or so kilometres from Wonthaggi.  We spent the time at the Kilcunda Oceanview Retreat in one of their "villas", a two-bedroom cabin with all mod cons.  (I worked out that a retreat is a resort without the conference facilities - basically it's a caravan park).  Anyway, we were virtually the only ones there, which was great because the villas were cheek by jowl and half the appeal was being able to leave the side blinds up for the 180 degree views without worrying about privacy.

   This shows the row of villas at the rear of the caravan park.  The only downside to having the place to ourselves as far as guests go, is that maintenance is carried out on the quiet days - there were a few tradies about, one banging on our wall at 8am!

   This is the view from the villa looking west towards Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island.

   This is the view east towards Wonthaggi.  We could also see the wind farm near Wonthaggi and the construction cranes for the desalination plant.

   One of the attractions of the area apart from Bass Strait and the beaches, is the rail trail from Wonthaggi to Anderson (near the Phillip Island turnoff), about sixteen kilometres long (there are plans to extend it north from Anderson to Nyora, when we'll have to do it again!).  We rode to Wonthaggi on Wednesday and then to Anderson the next day - the wind changed around completely in 24 hours but the distances were short enough for it not to be a worry.

Here's Doortje on the trail east of Kilcunda.

   We had lunch at the Wonthaggi Club and Archies on the Creek at (you guessed it) Archies Creek, and an evening meal across the road from the retreat at the Kilcunda pub.  Otherwise we were very happy to put our feet up in the villa and enjoy the view, or take exploratory walks along the beach.

   The sunsets improved during the week as it got less cloudy.  Wildlife we saw included two echidnas and two blue-tongued lizards, sooty oystercatchers, Pacific gulls and a white-faced heron.  

   We took plenty of photos.  To get  a good sense of the adventure, you can see a selection in the Kilcunda set at 

Friday, 9 December 2011

2011 Music Top 10

   Everyone does lists in December to sum up the year.  Why should I be any different?  The main purpose here is to keep tab on my musical tastes over time.  Will they change in twelve months?

   Here then, my top 10 albums for 2011, (in the order the cover photos uploaded!) :-

 La Bande di Sandro - Sandro Donati (2011).  

   I made this 8 track "album" myself, by recording off ABC radio and downloading free tracks from the band's myspace site.  Based in Melbourne, they play Italian folk songs with cajun, trad jazz, swing, etc, influences thrown in.  Typical Aussie "world" music.

 Slava and Leonard Grigoryan - Impressions (2007) 

   An ABC album of Debussy, etc, arranged for two guitars by their dad, Eduard.  Virtuoso performances make exciting listening.

  Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker - The Best of Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker (1991)  

   This is a compilation from recordings made in 1952-57 when Chet Baker was a regular with the quartet.  Great collaborations as well as solo performances by the trumpet and sax.

 Martin Simpson - Sad or High Kicking (1985)

   I know I'm a late bloomer, but I'd never heard of Martin Simpson, the British folk singer/songwriter, until listening to the radio this year.  He's a good instrumentalist.  This album has taken my fancy - I particularly like "Shawnee Town".

 Rodrigo y Gabriela - Rodrigo and Gabriela (2006)

   This is a duo of Mexican guitarists, in some ways reminiscent of Los Indios Tabajaras, but much more "spanish acoustic".  The album has versions of Jimmy Page's "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Orion"!

 Gary Sheartson - Australian Broadside (1965)

   I discovered this year that Shearston's collection have all been re-released on CD.  My LP copies of his first four albums were long ago stuffed so I was pleased to be able to order them.  This is probably my favourite - all original Australian songs, including Dorothy Hewitt's "Weevils in the Flour" and Denis Kevans' "The Roar of the Crowd".

 Dutch Swing College Band - Jazz at the Seaport (1956)

   I bought this LP in about 1964 and it's long gone.   After several years of intermittently "googling" it with no success, I found that this year someone had made a CD of it, and I ordered it from Holland.  It's amazing that after so long not hearing it, I remember every note of Jan Morks' clarinet on "Three Little Words" and the piano/soprano sax duet of Joop Schrier and Dim Kesber on "Where's My Heaven?".

 Jeff Buckley - Grace (1994)

    Although I've got one Tim Buckley album and I'd heard Jeff's version of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, I didn't appreciate Jeff Buckley until this year when I saw him on video in a European concert and realised his vocal gymnastics are as amazing as his dad's.

 Lanie Lane - To the Horses (2011)  

   This was brought to my attention through the theme music to "Crownies" on ABC TV.  It's growing on me - I like "What Do I Do?", "Heartbeat" and the title track.  There's a decent dose of surf guitar throughout.  Who's to say how well the album and vocal style will age?  Time will tell.

Nick Hayward Quartet - 1234 (2010) 

   A large proportion of new jazz doesn't appeal to me (done already?) but this is an exception.  Nick Hayward is a bass player based (hah) in Melbourne.  The album was produced by Mal Stanley in the ABC studios.  I heard the track "Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain", which runs for 11 minutes, on PBS radio, and bought the album online on the strength of it.  Guitar, piano, bass and drums fit together well in unrehearsed, one-take recordings.  Good ensemble and solos.

Geoff Achison - Acho Solo (2007)

   We've seen Geoff Achison live twice, once with some of the Souldiggers and once solo.  I prefer him acoustic and solo, so had to have this album which was recorded in a loungeroom on the Mornington Peninsula, I believe.  I bought the album from his American website in American dollars, but it came with a Frankston South postmark!  I like the voice and the great guitar.

   That's it for this year's list.  Astute observers will note there are eleven albums.  As with any lists, you make your own rules!