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Monday, December 26, 2011

December 16 – 25, 2011 – Christmas Parties and Celebrations, Aussie Style!!!

Middle Harbour Yacht Club is becoming a big part of our lives. We have become very attached to its group of members; so much in fact that we joined, thanks to the encouragement of the Tuppenny girls Ruth and Gillie. December 16th we attended the MHYC Christmas party and seafood extravaganza. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with several of the yachties with whom we had spent the previous Easter weekend over at Broken Bay. The evening was festive; the atmosphere charged with the holiday spirit, the attendees were friendly and outgoing. The seafood extravaganza was truly delicious. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with everyone, including Santa, and later on singing carols together. Toward the end of the evening Colin, Scott and the gang asked us if we were going up to Sugarloaf Bay on the 17th for the Christmas parade of lights? They were planning a big raft up and potluck dinner. We eagerly agreed to join them. Sugarloaf is up toward Bantry Bay and Cammeray. The parade was nice, but not as engaging as the group of friends that converged on Shazaam! Scott and Colin always host the most engaging and hilarious social gatherings. People naturally gravitate to Shazaam! whenever she is part of an event. I love these guys and feel a real ache thinking of leaving Australia in a few months.
December 20th Mark and Heather sponsored an IPY owner's dinner at a trendy Asian restaurant in Balmoral where we met another couple of 485 owners, Dimitri and Arti who live in Sydney. They are planning a circumnav the other direction, taking off from Sydney. OOOH! We wish them well. After dinner we all retired to Mark and Heather's splendiferous penthouse overlooking Rozelle Bay for a game of cards. Oh no, we played "Oh Shit!" I am terrible at this game. As usual I was the big loser but we had a fantastic evening nonetheless.
December 24th we joined the Cammeray Yacht Club's Christmas potluck luncheon where we ran into some old acquaintances (Nine of Cups) and met new ones. Consistent with last year's feast, the food was so good we literally stuffed ourselves. I took a Mexican 7-layer Dip, surprising myself at finding enough ingredients to make it work. I found that if I smashed some cannellini beans with some chili powder and taco seasoning then refried them in a skillet I could come up with a reasonable substitute for refritos (and much healthier I'm sure). The dip was a big success. We did not stick around for the afternoon festivities because we had a date with a train at 4 PM. This required sailing back to Middle Harbour, getting fastened onto a mooring and catching the bus into Sydney. If we orchestrated all according to plan we would arrive at Russell and Jan's house in Asquith in time for Christmas Eve dinner. We had been invited to spend an authentic Aussie Christmas with their family.  Everything fell into synch, putting us at the Meggitt home at 6:00 PM.  We settled in to the guest room complete with little filled stockings on our pillows, and then visited and ate a light dinner with Jan, Russell, Kate and Tom, followed by Kate's home made Pavlova, yummmm!
December 25th – Merry Christmas! Ho, Ho, Ho from Then Land Down Under! Santa managed to track us down, bringing some special Aussie gifts to us: a set of Australian floral placemats depicting varieties of the indigenous eucalypt/gum tree flowers, a local cookbook entitled "Slices of Asquith" and a set of children's books depicting Aussie characters for the traditional ones such as Goldilocks and the Three Koalas. Santa is so clever! I took family gifts for them I'd purchased at some of the local Christmas markets. After the gift exchanging Jan, Kate and I headed out for a walk in the neighborhood whilst Frank and Russell sought out the cold beer. Debbie and Crossie, Jan and Russ's close neighbor friends joined us for Christmas dinner. Jan's dining room was decked out beautifully. Kate had set the table that proudly displayed her gingerbread house as the centerpiece. Dinner was wow! A leg of lamb roast, pork roast with crackling, a leg ham (from Debbie and Crossie), roast vegetables, salads, etc. we ate like royalty. The piece de la resistance however was Jan's Christmas pudding. We have never tasted anything so amazing. And we didn't even think we liked pudding. Hers was out of this world. I think she told me she steamed it for nearly 2 days? To top it off she planted a real 6 pence in each of our servings.
After lunch, the boys set off for the backyard to their favorite spot under the big gum tree, while Debbie, Jan, Kate and I sat on the porch for a relaxing chat. Kate's boyfriend Damo (short for Damien I think) stopped by later. They are so cute together! Tom went off to swim. He is a serious contender for a national championship, and swims or works out nearly every waking moment.
We stayed at the Meggitts again Christmas night and planned a very early wakeup call for Monday, Boxing Day which is also the day of the Sydney-Hobart Race.

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