Recently I turned my life on its head and left the comfort zone of home town, family and friends in Wellington (NZ), to start a new chapter in Western Australia. As I adjust to my new surroundings, I find myself thinking in the shape of stories and letters home. Feel free to take a seat and read on..
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I had no idea what I wanted.. the best I could come up with was, whatever is next has to be something that's good for me. As it turned out, that meant living and working in a retreat centre in the Coromandel for a year while I 'found myself'.. quite unexpected behaviour for a girl from Karori.
That fascinating and life changing period is now a distant memory, and I could write a whole lot more about it, but that's not the point.
The point is; 17 years later, here I am again doing something unexpected. Not for other people maybe; but for me, yes.
After two more stints in catering; giving it up again (never say never); doing strange and wonderful things to food for strange and wonderful movies; a character building diversion down the 'gourmet food & coffee to go' route; a brief encounter with nearly 3,500 pies; and numerous other food related career-type activities; once again I have embarked on a 'something-that's-good-for-me-whatever-that-means' type adventure.
Having sold, given away, thrown away, let go of one way or another, almost all my worldly goods; I packed my little spotty hanky, and followed the talking engineer to Western Australia to start a whole new chapter in our nearly 9 year life together.
Wise people told me; "it will take at least six months or more before you regain your equilibrium". Wise people.
So here's how it's been lately:
Sunday morning I hang out the washing, smiling as I listen to the all denominations family service being conducted in the tree tops all around me. First; the crows who um and aw in their old man voices; debating far and wide who knows what but somehow they decide who is right and move on. Pause for a quick breath before the black cockatoos come shrieking in all aflutter and agog. Natter, natter, natter and off they go.. not before the galahs have taken up the hymn sheets and away we go again. It feels so normal.. and somehow mine. Like being at a family get together where we all clamour to outdo each other with dreadful puns and one-up stories.
Monday morning I stumble out of bed at the usual time of 5am, having drawn out the savouring of my cup of tea in bed as long as I can before himself says "come on, I have to get up".. and into the kitchen to get him some breakfast and a packed lunch. I like "getting him off to work". Once he's gone, now that it's still so dark in the mornings I may sneak back into bed for a while, but I couldn't possibly say..
Later, I walk down the road to the local cafe to be greeted by a smiling face and: "Hi Harriet, your usual today?".. music to my ears.
Walking around 'Freo', someone asks me for directions, and I can help.
I'm no longer apologetic about my mangled vowels, and merely smile and repeat myself each time I get the puzzled, "sorry?" (have these people listened to themselves lately?)
I don't jump at every scurrying, darting, clattering shadow; millipedes on the toilet door handle are simply to be brushed off, not squawked over. I do wear something on my feet when I go outside at night though.
Today marks 7 months since I arrived here; and it's OK. Or should I say, "noa wurries moight, eet's awl goood".
More soon xx
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Last week I embarked on a little adventure I have been wanting to have for a while now. Three years, in fact.
|Hotel reception at 6.30am|
|Fort Canning Gate|
After another couple of hours of exploring around the city, I climbed up four or five steep stairways into Fort Canning Park, and suddenly the noise and hustle of the city faded right away. In this huge oasis of calm I wandered among beautiful frangipani trees, a sculpture garden, a heavenly scented spice garden, an archaeological dig dating back to the 14th century, and caught glimpses of different angles of the city . Eventually hunger drove me back out onto the streets and a plate of fried pork dumplings and bowl of hot & sour soup later, order was restored.
- Agar agar drink - chin chow & chin chow with soy milk (like drinking worms!)
- Hokkien Mee - prawn noodle with prawns and squid
- Rojak- a malay fruit & vegetable salad with pineapple & nuts and black sweet sauce
- Popiah - spring roll with braised radish
- Satay bee hoon - noodles in peanut sauce with cuttlefish
- Steamed rice cakes
- Chicken rice
- Gingko nuts with beancurd skin in barley soup
- Egg pudding with ginger juice
- Ginger soup with glutinous rice ball
- Chendol : shaved ice coconut milk with red bean, atap seed, green jelly + chin chow
- Mango pudding with sago
|Playing in the lift|
At the end of a very busy first day of class, Kirsty took me and Maria - a stylish and lovely woman from Milan - to Holland Village to look at the kitchen and gourmet food shops. Put three cooks in a situation such as this and you can guarantee we will be late for the next date. However, we found another taxi soon enough and made our way to the Pan Pacific where Maria was staying, and was due to have a drink with Denise who was also staying there. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t invited, but tagged along anyway up to the 22nd floor where the business centre bar was located. For the next hour and a half Kirsty, Maria, Denise, and I had a lovely time drinking wine and swapping stories before Denise graciously bowed out in search of a good night’s sleep. Kirsty and I hopped into the glass lift which is on the outside of the building; and around about then it became obvious why we weren’t staying there. It’s for grown ups. But that 20 minutes we spent riding up and down taking photos of the view and getting incoming lift riders to take pictures of us was fun!
|Seafood Hor Fun|
Eventually we tottered off down the road in search of food - better late than never. Having inspected several of the offerings on Clarke Quay we decided to bypass the tourist-y restaurants in favour of a ‘progressive dinner’ up the road where I had seen locals eating on previous nights. First stop: pig’s intestines and sliced fish soup. Next, seafood hor fun (ordered for the name), aloe vera and lemon drinks, and clay pot chicken rice. Too much talking and finally home to bed.
|Back lit cankles|
It’s great to know we both really know how to have a good time.
Day two of the course and another busy and fun day. Afterwards, several of us (Mary Kei from Dubai, Tanya from Russia, Kirsty & me) made our way to Jumbo Seafood restaurant on the beach front and the lovely Jaz sent us a text of what to order:
- Chilli crab
- Fried bun
- Cereal prawns
- Deep fried baby squid
- Garlic fried baby kai-lan (chinese broccoli)
- Fish paste yu-tiao (seafood doughnut)
After another great evening with a lot of delicious food and good conversation, we walked along the water front for a while - I guess in that kind of heat it’s not all that surprising that people were out barbecuing, playing hockey and jogging at 11.30 at night when it’s ever so slightly cooler; but all I could think was ‘my ankles are going to burst soon, I need to lie down’.
- Grilled Ocean Squid with Tomato & Cucumber Salad
- Baked Scallops with Vegetables & Truffle Butter
- Baby Spinach Salad with Mirin Dressing & Marinated Egg
- Beetroot & Orange Salad with Feta & Pine Nuts
- Crispy Lamb Short Ribs with Chilli & Cumin
- Baked Escargots with Garlic Butter & Croutons
- Smoked Char-grilled Cote de Boeuf with Mashed Potatoes & Truffle Sauce
- Slow Cooked Spiced Veal Cheek with Mini Yorkshire Pudding
- Truffle Floating Island with Frangelico Ice Cream & Hazelnuts
- Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream
- Chocolate Fondant with Peanut Butter & Banana Brulee
|Denise & Jaz - no, really|
it's all going to plan
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Around about the time I would have been pressing "send", the Christchurch earthquake struck, and whatever was going on in my little world seemed completely irrelevant at that point. So I decided to leave it for a while.
In the meantime I have had a trip home and seen quite a few of the people this blog is aimed at; came back with a cold, a broken toe and a buggered arch; spent a little spell dangling my feet in a black hole; clambered out of that (I really ought to look more carefully where I'm going); and so on and so forth..
In other words, life went on.
While back in Wellington, I was talking to my sister about the triviality of a blog about me while all around us the world seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket; and rather than wittering on about me, me, me, I should just be counting my blessings and "getting on with it". She told me about a friend of hers who had expressed similar sentiments and then come to the conclusion (with a little help from her friends) that this blogging lark is all about creating a community. It seems to me that one of the greatest things to come out of all these natural disasters is the wealth of stories that have demonstrated over and over the power of communities pulling together.
So back to me.
I intend to carry on with this blog. I have given up on the idea of "trying to get it up-to-date" as that will just be a very neat excuse to keep putting off re-engaging with it. It is about me and my life in WA land and I hope you enjoy it.