Monday, 6 June 2005

A weekend away

Quality family time is something which has been forgetten as of late. It's good to have the opportunity to get together once in a while to do things together and feel united once again.

As my family had not been on an outing in quite some time, we decided to head up to the Hunter Valley (including our relatively "new" addition, my brother in law). Thankfully, my other siblings had the time to organise it and had given it some thought beforehand.

We drove up on the Friday night (I was late, as I had to work till around 7pm) and my sister, her husband and I made it up there by around 10:30pm.

The cottage which we were staying in was quite cosy yet spacious - it was a one year old cottage with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a fireplace (and my gosh that fireplace was handy in the six-degree nights). I was the lucky one who had the lounge room....the reason being that I slept right near the fireplace and the rooms were all cold!

On the first night, we fell asleep while watching "Two Towers" (yes, they had a TV with a DVD player too).

The next morning, we woke up and looking out the window, there were sheep in a farm opposite our cottage! The front porch lead out to a flat plain and beyond that was farm with some sheep. The establishment provided us with some basic food such as bacon, eggs, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, milk, tea and juice so that served us well on the Saturday morning.

As my second sister had an assignment due and she doesn't drink wine, we decided to head off to our first vineyard - McGuigan. Bright and early, we headed into the McGuigan cellar by around 10:40am and decided to participate in the tour. I felt that it was a worthwhile exercise in that I learnt a few things about wine which I had not known before.

Following that, we took the opportunity to do a bit of wine tasting. Before long, we had tasted an expansive range of wines, and I personally had commited to 7 bottles of wine! But the most surprising thing of the day, was seeing someone I know there tasting wines as well! What a coincidence!

Next, we headed next door to the cheese factory and bought a few cheeses before heading home to grab my sister to go for lunch.

We ended up at Tempus Two where we ate at a Thai/Japanese place. The food was not spectacular, but the silliest moment was when my sister asked the waitress what type of potatoes were in the curry at which point the waitress came back and informed her that it was an ordinary potato! What a silly waitress and chef! Very unprofessional indeed.

We dropped my parents and sister back home and then proceeded to the Hunter Village to buy some more milk. I think it's a bit too commercialised and fake in that it is a bit of a touristy place. However, mission accomplished we headed back to the cottage for a bit of a breather before going out to dinner.

Dinner was at a place called Mojos. I quite liked the place (though it was very warm in there!). I had the lamb shanks (washed down with a Pepper Tree wine) and the creme brulee...both were delicious!

After dinner, it was home time, and in no time we had the log fire going again while finishing "Two Towers". Everyone was pretty beat, so we called it an early night (I fell asleep from all the wine drinking I think!)

The next morning, it was "Da Boyz" turn to make breakfast, so my dad, brother in law and I were in charge. My brother in law did a good job with the sausages, but my omlette of bacon, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms failed miserably. It turned out to be some stuff all together edible, but zero points for presentation.

We packed up our bags and checked out by 10:30am and went to a small gallery of works before attempting to find the Cockfighters Cellar Door. Unfortunately, after driving for about an hour and only managing to find the vineyard, we called it quits and headed to Cypress Lakes to see if there was anything for lunch. Unfortunately, there was nothing on the menu which was that appetising, so we ended up at the Hunter Village again and had lunch there. The lowlight of the trip was here, as the coffee at Oscars was horrendous. The food was ok, but man, the coffee was terrible.

Walking off lunch we headed around the shops and found the Ken Duncan gallery. The panoramic photos were breathtaking. Some of those shots were absolutely unbelievable - I wondered how long it would have taken for him to take that perfect photo where not a ripple was in the water or where there was not a breeze to shake the leaves. The magical serenity of the photos were really soothing. It made me want to find my camera and take photos!

As we headed off, we decided to visit Pepper Tree Wines. The taste testing experience was only average but I still came away with two bottles of wine. We were about to go back to Sydney, but I had an urge to go to Lindemans, just because I wanted to see whether they had a wine I had been looking for.

We reached Lindemans and when I saw what was behind the counter, my heart almost skipped a beat! There was a wine which I had been searching for in Sydney for years! When I asked the price, he gave me a 33% discount! Not only that, I now have the range from 1994 to 1999! We tried Cabernet Sauvignons and could not say no to a few of the nice ones! Not sure whether I was under the influence, but I walked away with 13 bottles of wine that afternoon! What an alco!

Following that, we decided to head back home...It was definitely a welcome breather from work and fun to do something with my family again!