Tag Archives: Central Coast

Summer isn’t dead yet!

Yesterday, we waved a teary farewell to summer as we reluctantly switched our clocks back an hour to mark the end of daylight savings time.

I know I’m possibly being a tad too melodramatic but the end of daylight savings always feels like a death to me. It really does. Even though I might gain an hour and I can actually sleep in, I really love those long, lingering summer nights especially down at the beach.

Once daylight savings ends, the days just seem to go. I blink and it’s already dark.

If you didn’t already know, you can’t half tell I’m an Australian. We are seriously spoilt with our beautiful weather and feel seriously cheated if we don’t have Summer-like weather for at least six to nine months of the year. We are well into what is officially Autumn and it’s still swimming season here but only just! We’ve had a patch of cold weather and some heavy rain but Summer fought back and we’ve had beautiful, sunny weather again.

Friends at the beach at sunset

Friends at the beach at sunset

Anyway, I took this photo of the sunset yesterday. A friend was visiting us from Western Australia with her son and we took them down to our local park and for a walk along the beach. Western Australia is known for it’s breathtaking sunsets over the ocean. I wasn’t even thinking about sunsets as we watched the kids run along the beach gathering bits of driftwood to make a pretend campfire. It was an unexpected bonus and quite breathtaking…a glimpse of heaven perhaps!

It looks like I’m adding “Go to the Beach More Often” to my to do list now!!

xx Rowena

Watching time go by

Watching time go by

Wedding Anniversary by the Sea.

I was listening. I swear I was listening. I just wasn’t 100% focused. That’s all.

I know that as a loving, attentive wife, I should have been staring deeply into my beloved husband’s eyes at all times and not even remotely distracted, especially considering we were celebrating our wedding anniversary. Yet despite my very best efforts to be the perfect wife, my poor husband had some stiff competition.

No! I wasn’t checking out the scenery. Well, not THAT kind of scenery and especially not on our wedding anniversary. That would have been particularly poor form and I do have some standards. I was trying hard to listen. Be attentive. I know how precious these moments are because it’s not often that the two of us get away without the kids. I get that! I didn’t need to be reminded.

Yet, as much as I was trying to focus and connect with my husband, I still couldn’t take my eyes off the sea which stretched out all around us like a marvellous palette. The waves were frolicking in the warm spring sunshine gently rolling in towards the beach. As I watched the waves, I could feel my heart rate actually starting to slow as I lapsed into some kind of semi-dream state. I have painted the ocean a bit lately in an abstract kind of way and I could almost dip my finger in the foam and smear it across the canvas. It was absolutely gorgeous and only a thin pane of glass away.

How could I not be distracted, even just a little by such serene, almost heavenly beauty?

But we were not there to eat the view. We were there for the food although the view was a huge contributing factor. You see, we wanted to Immerse ourselves in some kind of divine culinary symphony where the food was so good that your eyes almost pop out of your head. We wanted the whole Masterchef type experience with our view of the ocean and the sandy beach right at our feet and we got it.

Who else would photograph a reflection of the view on the furniture?

This is why I was more than just a little distracted. The food was stimulating. The view was stimulating and we had a glass of sparkling wine each and you know what, my husband even told me a story I hadn’t heard before. You know after being married for 11 years how incredible that was! He was talking all about flying in a light aircraft in the Solomon Islands. I was pretty sure I’d heard all his old stories. I know he hasn’t heard all of my old stories but he’s heard all the stories he’s going to hear…at least from me!

Backtracking just a little, Geoff and I went out for lunch at a local restaurant to celebrate our 11th Wedding Anniversary. I’m pretty sure this is the first year that we haven’t gone away but in what looked like some kind of conspiracy, our weekend was even more cluttered than our house.  I don’t know why the world didn’t stop for us. After all, isn’t anything sacred? Apparently not!

With no hope of getting away, we decided to have lunch at a favourite local restaurant. Although this restaurant is only down the road, we haven’t been there for over 5 years. It’s been completely redecorated and changed hands in that time. If we liked it so much, why haven’t we been back? Have we been half-asleep or somehow trapped in Sleeping Beauty waiting for some kind of jolt to wake us up? As I said, it’s only down the road and last year we managed to get all the way to Silks at Leura in the Blue Mountains for our anniversary dinner. That was over 2 hours drive and an overnight stay away.

Why is it that “we” (and here I’m referring to the collective “we” because I know it isn’t just us) overlook so many great local gems and yet somehow manage to explore foreign fields? We miss out on so much! A few weeks ago, I drove all the way to Morpeth and back, which was close to a 4 hour round trip but I haven’t been on the ferry to Palm Beach for probably almost 5 years and that’s only a just short drive away. What is wrong with me? I talk all about carpe diem and all of that but I don’t put it into practice. I don’t live it.

But things are changing. I recently made a decision to explore somewhere local once a week and I’m pretty much pulling it off. The school holidays are coming up and I’m determined to explore our local beaches with the kids instead of just being lured like a moth into the bright lights of Sydney. I am determined to do it and will commit it to paper. Write a plan before my best intentions disappear into the ether again. That somehow happens to me a lot.

Anyway, back to our meal.

Cannoli filled with chocolate mouse. I apologise for the crumbs. It’s not quite the done thing to lick the plate when you’re out fine dining.

This meal also had a special resonance for me. Tomorrow, I am going back to the Brown Hospital (as the kids call it) for a repeat endoscopy. That means I’ll be fasting from 6.00AM. So I am conscious that this meal is very much like the last supper and the taste is therefore almost surreal. As much as I would like to just focus on the two of us, enjoy the meal and soak up the beautiful blue skies and the waves outside, I can’t help painting a few dark clouds on the horizon. No matter how much I try to “think positive”, “carpe diem…seize the day” and all that, life is what it is. It takes sun and rain to make a rainbow…light and dark. I love rainbows and paint them in my waking dreams. I guess that’s what it takes to make a rainbow but I would still love clear blue skies all the same!

But in the end as much as the company, the food and the view were all out of this world, like anyone who is caught up in the daily family cook fest, I was also grateful that the meal was:

a)      Cooked by someone else

b)      Didn’t come with a toy included.

c)      Child free

d)      Didn’t have to clean up afterwards

e)      Wasn’t served in a clear plastic container.

PS: Got through yesterday’s hospital visit much better than last time. Didn’t get quite so freaked out by the white hospital gown and woke up feeling very refreshed after a blissful sleep.

Must confess though that I did indulge in some chocolate cake on the way home. As I said, you always need to balance the light and the dark… beautiful dark chocolate flourless cake with a white chocolate button on top!

But… we did have a gorgeous healthy salad with the dinner tonight. I really am trying to eat healthy to be healthy. I’m about to take this to a whole new level so stay tuned. This is up there with the Tai Chi (I have been once) and takes a bit of educating, planning and commitment. I have to keep reminding myself that chocolate is not my friend but it can sound so convincing: “Don’t lie, Rowena! I know exactly how much you really love me!!!”

Wish me luck and an iron will to resist the temptation. I’m completely surrounded but I just need to practice the two-letter word….NO!

I’m sure I can do it!

xx Rowena

Adventures of A Cheesy

You could be excused for thinking you’re having flashbacks to the 1960s when you see a couple of purple cows grazing beside the road.

Don’t worry. Be happy! You’re not hallucinating. They’re real… albeit plastic… another quirky marketing gimmick. I don’t know why they couldn’t just stick a sign out the front saying Old Wyong Dairy? It’s not rocket science. After all, that is where we are!

Rustic signage at the Old Wyong Dairy

I am a woman on a mission. I’m sure you’ve heard of “foodies”. Well, that must make me a “cheesy” because I’m mad about cheese and that’s why we’re here. I’ve heard about a boutique cheese making operation and I got here as fast as I could.

Must have been a mouse in a past life!

I’m a seasoned cheese tourist. A few years ago, we visited my husband’s homeland, Tasmania. While other tourists were climbing Cradle Mountain, we were driving from coast to coast chasing the mighty cheese. There was the Pyengana Cheese factory in the North-East followed by the Lactos Cheese Factory at Burnie on the North-West Coast and followed by Ashgrove Farm at Elizabeth Town again in the North-West. I was in heaven.

So you could just imagine my excitement when I heard there was a cheese factory locally on the Central Coast. It was still about an hour away but I was busting to get there. I’d also heard they made their own yogurt using jersey milk and that sounded great too.  My husband grew up on jersey milk and raves about the stuff. So on the way home from dropping the kids off at Camp Breakaway, I managed to divert Geoff and we were in heaven.

Now, I always prefer rustic to commercial and the Little Creek Cheese Factory was quaint, intimate, filled with cheese and yogurt and then there was John. I always love somebody who can tell a story and John really draws you in with his down to earth character, his enthusiasm and a good yarn. Just ask him about how he started the business. It’s a great story.

I’m not going to go into a running description of all the cheese and yogurts. Personally, I can’t understand how all those food and wine critics come up with all those weird and wonderful descriptions of things. The cheese looked like cheese. Smelled like cheese. Tasted like cheese. Thank goodness it did. I mean would you really want to buy cheese that smells like a pair of old joggers? Don’t answer that. This cheese fit all the cheese requirements but it also had lots of extra bits and pieces such as garlic, chilli and wasabi. They were all beautiful. I’ll just let you know that we bought a box load of the stuff to take home. That’s a pretty glowing endorsement! I can assure you, we’re not the last of the big spenders. I even bought a couple of wax cheese candles. They had definite character a bit along the lines of the purple cows but I’ve never claimed to be normal!

Cheese Candle

As a bit of a postscript, I should let you know that I fried some of the BBQ Cheese, a cow’s milk Haloumi, tonight and served it on top of lamb shanks, mash and hommous. It really gave my dish a bit of finesse. As we all know, you can’t just dish anything up these days. You have to “plate up”.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with BBQ Cheese, roast tomatoes, mash and hommous

I have also been eating my way through their range of yogurts. First, there was the chocolate yogurt, then the toffee yogurt and I’ve had a day off today to squeeze in a slice of home-made Iced Vovo Cake for dessert.

I’m enjoying a great cappuccino at Cinnamon Beans Cafe

Back to the Old Wyong Dairy… John was happy to mind our cheese stash while we headed next door to Cinnamon Beans for lunch. This was another great “find”. The food was out of this world. Now, I know I shouldn’t be eating chips and it sounds like I am on some kind of high-fat, see-food diet but my husband and I rarely go out on a date so this was pretty special. Anyway, I don’t eat the chips unless they’re good…very good! These were possibly the best chips I’ve ever had and as much as I hate to admit it, I’m already thinking about ways and means of driving up the freeway to get some more. We had a serve of mixed chips with our open steak burger which filled the plate, by the way. The whole thing was excellent value at around $12.00 and just beautiful! This cafe was a real find!

I’ve always liked to share those unexpected experiences… real “finds”. I’d arrived at the cheese tasting with a heavy heart. I’d spent the previous day having tests at Royal North Shore Hospital and we’d just dropped our kids off for respite at Camp Breakaway. Even though I knew they were going to have a fabulous time, I couldn’t help feeling “emotional” leaving them behind.

Our visit to the Old Wyong Dairy really cheered me up and left me feeling completely recharged. It has a really positive energy and comes highly recommended.

Enjoy!

Xx Ro

The Old Wyong Dairy 141-155 Alison Road, Wyong.

Little Creek Cheese Factory  www.littlecreekcheese.com.au