Friday, January 4, 2013

The grand opening

Olive has been urging us to have a 'grand opening' of our little strawbale for some time now. We thought for a while it might be October, but couldn't get it together. November was too busy, and December just didn't happen. But New Year's eve, now that was a contender. And so it was decided - our little home would be very grandly opened to our new friends in the Bega Valley (and a few VIPs from Sydney-town and Melbourne who just happened to be down the coast that day) on the final day of 2012, the biggest, craziest and possibly the most fulfilling year of our lives. 

A fairly decent view of some of the things we've made this year: a home, a fruitful garden, a cubby, and an outdoor loungeroom complete with fireplace and brand new gozleme-rolling table. As Pearl says: "No wonder we're tired..."

It was beautiful. Pearl, as always, put on an abundant, delicious, and delightfully local spread, supplemented by contributions from guests (vine leaf rolls made from the grape vines down the road!!) and crowned by an outrageously enormous and delicious pavlova courtesy of the lovely Robyn.
We drank home-brewed ginger beer and chatted and gave people who'd never visited a tour of our place, feeling quite proud and happy all the while. And Pearl, the consummate hostess with the mostess, debuted her new christmas frock and her fireside-gozleme-rolling-table, which was my christmas gift to her. 

I made the table (using a couple of poles brought down by my Nana and Parps, some branches, the obligatory fence palings and a bit of marine ply leftover from the lintels in our house) so that rolling out gozleme doesn't have to be an inside-the-house job, so that when people are visiting and hanging out by the fire she can roll and chat, so she can look at the view while she works her magic, and so we don't have to carry the made-up gozleme all the way from the house down to the fire. I think she liked it.

The kids ran wild in the night, wielding glow-sticks and torches and candles and makeshift jar-lanterns,  and the adults drank and laughed and made new friends. 

And then we all feasted on Robyn's delicious pavlova, which we'd smothered in plums.

Ahhh... plums. We must've eaten hundreds this summer, and I'm happy to say that they have very quickly come to occupy a place in my mind and heart as the motif of our summer eating. And I hope this will be the case for ever more. We eat them at the beach and in the car and at work and after dinner. We eat them stewed on our pikelets and french toast and fresh on our muesli. We eat them straight from the tree by the handful, and give them away by the bagful to anyone who shows even a vague interest in stone fruit.

Delightfully, we've discovered even more trees along our road - some enormous and ancient and some newer and smaller - prompting us to wonder about the provenance of such groves. As far as we can see, there are 4 quite different varieties - the original sunset-coloured ones, from the biggest tree of all, some tiny black ones which are almost like a cherry, a larger purple one, and a beautiful, soft, and incredibly sweet orangey-yellow one that I'm pretty sure is a plumcot. Yay!

The plum quartet

Olive has been so inspired by the abundance that she set up her own little stall at the markets today, selling decorated bags of plums for a dollar per bag. 

Last night, as she carefully and very diligently prepared her signs and bags, picked and packed her produce, and selected the perfect tablecloth and tasting bowl, we saw a side of her we've never seen before. And we loved it! Today, she sat at her stall in the 40 degree heat happily (but somewhat quietly and shyly) chatting to her customers about her plums from the tree down the road, and explaining to people that they really didn't need to ask her the price of the plums because it was written quite clearly on her sign. We were so pleased with our little farmer - her love for the food, her pride in her effort, and her divine signs and table-arranging.

Olive's bowl of tasting plums
And we were happy to be here, in this wilting heat, with our newly (and very grandly) opened home keeping us cool and sheltered from the hot winds that are apparently bringing in 2013. I wonder what's in store for us. One thing we hope is that it's at least slightly less hectic than last year, but hopefully full of just as many pleasant surprises.


  1. What a huge year you lovely ones have had! These photos are gorgeous, Pearl is positively glowing and our sugar plum fairy takes my breath away with her you all so much

  2. this is my favourite post yet! What a beautiful home you've made and surrounded by even more beauty, with all the food you guys are producing. LOVE the photos of Olive selling plums - you can see how excited she is. Love you all lots, Han. xoxoxoxox

  3. Your place is looking absolutely gorgeous! And the sign on Olive's plum stall is sooooo cute. I'm so glad you left her writing exactly as is. So sweet!!! xx

  4. Thanks so much Kim! Oh but of course we love Olive's idiosyncratic phonetic spelling. She was so damn proud of that sign, we would not have dared change it in any way. What was interesting was that plums were plams yet she knew that the they're should be a they're. Oh the little people are so endlessly fascinating...

  5. We had a beautiful night at your little house. It was lovely to be making new friends! Thank you for inviting us into your wonderful world down south.

    Therese, the other Oscar's mum :-)