Thursday, March 30, 2006

#20 Tourist stuff

Got up at 6:45, crawled into tv room, watched Champions League match, Arsenal v Juventus. Exceptionally exciting game, we won 2-0 (grin).

Tracey took me for a drive round the sights of Auckland. Went to the Viaduct and saw the new development of hotels, cafes and apartments, all built since the America's Cup.

GB Prime Minister, Mr & Mrs Tony Blair, were also visiting Auckland. I gave them a wave as we drove by their yacht where they were enjoying cocktails (I don't think he saw me).

Then to Lunn's famous greengrocer to buy tarragon for tonight's dish. Into Cornwall Park and up to the scenic point on top of 'One Tree Hill', which is, in fact, now 'No Tree Hill' as the solitary tree had been hacked down in some sort of political protest.

Back over the bridge to Milford and Chicken Tarragon for dinner.
(this pic from google images)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

#19 Chef Carbo Load

When we had 220 magazine I occasionally wrote a column under the title of 'Chef Carbo Load' - now I'm in the Brick's kitchen cooking each evening (and thoroughly enjoying it).

So far they have sampled; Friday Hot & Sour Prawns, Saturday Captains chicken (thats with cashew nuts, ginger and sutanans), Sunday Thai fish (with some Keffir lime leaves from a neighbour across the road), Monday Salmon wrapped in Ham with lentils, Tuesday various Vegetable Curry dishes (chick pea, chana dhal, mixed vegetable and bought in from local Indian; onion bahjies and nan bread) and tomorrow should be the JL signature dish, Chicken Tarragon. Thinks . . . . . . maybe I should go into business . . . . ?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

#18 Barnet

Rain, rain and more rain. In fact its the tail end of Cyclone Larry that wooshed down the east coast of Oz chasing Sally & Jenny.

Matt, being an orthopaedic surgeon, was deputed to cut my hair.
(careful with that axe Eugene!)

Friday, March 24, 2006

#17 Kayaking on Friday

Out with Matt in his tandem sea kayak, 40 minute paddle across to Rangitoto island. On with the running shoes and a very slow jog up to the top of volcano, about 30 minutes, Matt very patient and waits for me to keep up. Then back down singletrack to the kayak and paddle back home, bit wet and choppy on the way back. Skinned my knuckles on the spray cover each stroke so obviously didn't have the right technique. Now aching in places I didn't know I had.

#16 The Bricks

We met the Bricks when they came to stay at our house about 12 years ago.

Matt was world duathlon champion and he came to race a duathlon we were organising.
As you see the Matt and Tracey have been busy since we first met them (they had no children then).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

#15 On the Road Again

Arrived Auckland, had a pot of honey confiscated by nice customs man but made it through with jar of curry sauce left over from my Bali do. Took two bus rides and made it to Matt and Tracey Brick's house to stay for the next few days.

Bangcock to Auckland. Eleven hour flight but slept most of the way curled up on two seats with feet over arm rest on the third.

To the airport via a Japanese restaurant for raw stuff.
Thai air to Bangkok. On arrival walked over to Amari Airport Hotel and found that the cheapest room was $280 (down from $380 mind you)so took advice an ended up at Asia Airport Hotel (15 min away by shuttle) at a very reasonable 16,000 bhat - more or less 32 euros. I wasn't the only occupant of my room as at 5 am was awaken by itchy sensation and discovered march of v small ants across bed headboard. Spent rest of night on floor on a pile of cushions. Still they had a nice swimming pool where I spent the next morning doing a few laps.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

#14 Bali Days

Me, Dominique and Curry

Had massage, read book, ate food.
Evening we had ‘Farewell to me and Welcome to Bob and Fiona’ meal at Kitut’s Global restaurant.Toum, Lawar, Urutan, Babi Kecap,Pork Rib Soup, Rice, Sambal.

We all trooped over to Dominique’s hotel and I took over the kitchen and cooked Prawn Hot and Sour Curry, Spinach Dhal and Rice for 11 people.
Easy :-)

This evening went with Robin and Dianna to local village to see new computer room for the children that they have subsidized. We were entertained by the villagers and had more food -phew.

Christened Snowy’s barbi, he bought 10kg of really huge prawns – v delicious.

Off to town for the day, bought loads of stuff to make more hot & sour curry, picked up Snowy’s niece and husband (Fiona and Bob) from airport.

Friday, March 17, 2006

#13 Lazy Days

Lazy day, pic Jamie, Me, Snowy, Wendy.
(by the way; visit to dentist for cleaning and polishing the other day, cost = 30 euros).

WednesdayAnother lazy day.
Went round to Jamie & Wendy’s and cooked up a huge wok full of Hot & Sour sauce ready to make a prawn curry on Sunday. Watched Kill Bill 1. Nada mas.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dental appointment at 2:30 - Post#12

Went to Denpasar and had teeth cleaned. Now have gleeming gnashers!

Trying to track down spices to make Garam Masala curry sauce. Went with Wayan (Snowy’s gardener) on back of motorbike to his village, then into local jungle to track down cardamom. Yes, it was a cardamom tree but sadly seedless. Then back for demonstration of how to make coconut oil. (Bash up coconuts, grate, dilute, squeeze, boil, skim, boil some more, etc etc).

We bowled over to Ubud to catch up with Professor Kung (he of the Michi Inn) and had a convivial lunch together with a couple of American alternative medicine people who were passing through.. Managed to get away without having a scalp massage or having to hug any trees.

Watched footy at midnight, Arsenal won, Liverpool didn’t.

Me looking a bit non plussed at a Duran fruit.
It tastes like . . . . . . fried onions (and thats being polite!)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

#11 Friday – Cooking Day

Spent most of yesterday afternoon, after dropping Sally and Jenny at the airport, shopping for sweet sherry for my Chicken Tarragon recipe. Disaster! No sherry in Bali!

Friday afternoon we went to Jamie and Wendy’s place and they give me their kitchen. I cooked my Chicken Tarragon thanks to some dessert wine I found in Snowy’s wine cellar with just a touch of (secret ingredient :-) Everyone seemed to like it - or maybe it was the 2 litre bottle of red wine we consumed that made everything rosy.

Saturday Cycling
Woke up feeling very fragile (see reference to 2 litres of wine).

Dominique has organized a trip from Gajah Minah hotel where he has a bunch of mountain bikes. We load into his van (me, Snowy, Jamie, Wendy and Dominique) and drive up into the mountains. Then we ride back down a little lane/track to Gajah Minah. Very beautiful scenery, no traffic, few houses, not many people except bright faced children calling out “hello” - but quite a lot of barking, snappy dogs.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

#10 Bali Week One

We are taking Sally & Jenny to the airport so that they can continue their circumnavigation of the globe. I’m staying on a couple more weeks. More news when next near an internet café.

Breakfast; mango, papaya, bananas and very black Bali coffee.
A little later I’m on the Bale (a small open platform with a thatched roof out in the garden). I’m lying on my stomach, squinting through half closed eyes at the bright blue surf falling on to the black sand beach. Cool trance music is seeping out of the hidden speakers.
A local Balinese lady is giving me a massage. . . . . . Aaaaah . . . . . . :-)

Round and about where we are (and because it’s the rainy season) there is an abundance of vegetation, flowers, vegetables, fruits (had a papaya straight off the tree for breakfast) and animals. Some of these animals are not content to roam around in the nature provided for them but like to come indoors for a visit, or even take up permanent residence. We have a biggish gecko that lives behind the toilet cistern and another in our bedroom behind the wardrobe or in the ceiling. It makes an odd frog like croak at various times of the day but apart from that he/she is no bother. Last time I was here I was sitting out on the Bale quietly minding my own business when this effing great snake glided by. Since then I have been very careful where I tread.

More visits to expat neighbours. One very chi chi residence had a 15m pool, so I got in and swam a bit. Then on to another couple (Jamie & Wendy – he flies helicopters and she does law) they are building a house on their bit of beach and we swigged white wine as the sun went down.

Very much later that night, at 03:45 I got up and me and Snowy watched Barcelona v Chelsea. The next day/night/morning? it will be Arsenal v Real Madrid, much as I would like to watch that match, I might just give it a miss.

An American couple who live near Snowy are benefactors of a children’s gamelan orchestra and they arranged for their houseboy to take us over to see them practise. The children, aged from 7 to 10 were really having fun playing their various bamboo and metal percussion instruments; genders, cymbals, gongs. They play with a repetitive, hypnotic beat, 5 to an octave, not like western 8 to an octave. We went away smiling.

Sally & Jenny sit-in with the band

We first met Professor Kung when he visited Regine, a neighbour of ours in Spain. She mentioned she had a Bali man coming to visit, so we invited them to our house for some home cooking. Afterwards he invited us to stay with him whenever we were in Bali (as you do) so here we are!

More wet weather (it is the rainy season) so we skipped a tour of Ubud and went back for lunch at Dominique’s hotel, the Garjah Mina. Dominique was the chap we met in town the first day for G&T’s. He has a furniture business in town and a v nice hotel just down the beach from Snowy.

UbudBali is part of Indonesia but unlike the rest of Moslem Indonesia it is mainly Hindu. This particular day was a special religious day for the blessing of mechanical appliances. Our car had to go away and be blessed and came back with nice palm decorations on the grill.

Then off on a scenic drive up through the rice fields and over to Ubud, a town famous for its artistic heritage (and lots of tourists). We were going to stay at the hotel of a man we met in Spain called Michi Inn – the hotel that is, not the man - his name is Professor Kung. When we arrived we found he wasn’t there. He had had to go off to Japan, or Bangkok, or Singapore to see a dentist, or somewhere else, nobody was quite sure. Anyway we had a convivial stay, I swam in his pool, and we were served a nice dinner. We found out that the hotel was officially closed which explained why we were the only guests.

His real name is Roger and he lives in this shack

Drove into the local village of Basra and bought a pair of nice leather sandals (70,000 rupiah / 7 euros). It’s the custom to go bare-foot indoors in Bali, as you have to constantly slip in and out of footwear, sandals are easier.

I first met Snowy when we were both 11 years old and starting senior school. On the first day we were made to sit at our new desks in alphabetical order, Lillie next to Linbird. We became firm friends for the next 5 years, but then lost contact. 45 years later we chanced on each other when looking at our old school’s web site. We exchanged mails and I ended up visiting Bali and he then came to us in Spain a year or so later. This is my third visit.

Forgot to mention that we had a few beers when we got back to Snowy’s last night.

Snowy lives in a bamboo hut in a coconut grove that slopes down to the beach. We stay in the guesthouse, a block building of two bedrooms and bathroom, also on his land under the coconuts.

We didn’t do much today – walked on the beach. Then it rained a lot and in the evening we ate chili prawns at a local restaurant.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

#9 Flying (v boring)

Tuesday, bus to Heathrow, plane to Bangkok, connection delayed :-( finally arrived Bali, late wednesday afternoon (local time).

Met at the airport by my old school chum 'Snowy' and we went to vist our mate Dominique for several gin and tonics. Then on to a roadside caf for "sate gambin" (spicy goat) before meeting Sally and Jenny back at the airport.

They flew in from Singapore (part of their round the world trip). More cocktails on the way home before pitching up at Snowy's. 2 Melatonin tablets to reset the body clock and then 11 hours sleap.

#8 Monday

Swindon to London by train, got off at Paddington and walked down to Porchester Road Baths and swam 2000 meters.
Then over to stay the night with John Lunt and in the evening Jasmin and Mick came over and we had a Thai take-away (just to get ready for a month's asian food).