Feasts and celebrations

Dining room set up for the Vietnamese feast

In the quarter century I have lived in my little house in New Town, it has played host to many many feasts, gatherings and celebrations and marked the changing seasons. This final post in my 25 year celebration and backwards-glance at my home highlights just a small sample of these celebrations.

Family gatherings

Some early gatherings happened outdoors in the warmer months, like family drinks on Christmas Eve.

Untitled-17
My nephew Alex aged around 2 years, helping with the gardening again…
Dad and Alex
Dad and Alex, Christmas Eve 1994
Alex with new sandpit at Seymour Street, Christmas Eve 1994
Alex with new sandpit at Seymour Street, Christmas Eve 1994
Claude the Cat, Christmas 1994
Claude the Cat, Christmas Eve 1994
Alex in new sand pit, Christmas 1994
Alex in his new sand pit, Christmas 1994
Pippa, (my grandmother) Alex & Tanya, circa 1994
Pippa, (my grandmother) Alex & Tanya, circa 1994

In the early years, entertaining at home was challenging. Inside, a series of small rooms restricted numbers to less than a handful, so entertaining tended to happen outdoors during the warmer months, weather-permitting.

Tanya and Alex in the lounge room with my grandmother
Tanya and Alex in the lounge room with my grandmother
My grandmother celebrating her 80th birthday
My grandmother celebrating her 80th birthday
My first housemate, Claudius
My first housemate, Claudius
Dad and Claude, circa 1995
Dad and Claude, circa 1995
Alex, mum and Claude
Alex, mum and Claude circa 1995

After a couple of years, outdoor entertaining tended to happen in the courtyard I’d excavated beneath the walnut tree.

A family lunch under the walnut tree
A family lunch under the walnut tree, early 2000s
A birthday lunch for my sister, around 2004
A birthday lunch for my sister, around 2004
Kiri, Harriette, Dad, Alex
Kiri, Harriette, Dad, Alex, early 2000s
Alex trying on my new fins
Alex trying on my new fins
Alexander on the tongs, cooking the snags
Alexander some years later, on the tongs, cooking the snags
Harriette striking a pose in the branches of the walnut tree
Harriette striking a pose in the branches of the walnut tree
Fathers Day lunch circa 2017
Fathers Day lunch circa 2016

P9060054.ORF

Celebrating my 50th with the sisters and the outlaw
Celebrating my 50th with the sisters and the outlaw
Birthday cake, courtesy of Kiri
Birthday cake, courtesy of Kiri

Christmases

My first Christmas in New Town
My first Christmas in New Town. The tree looks as soggy as the wallpaper.
Christmas 1995, in the redecorated lounge room
Christmas 1995, in the redecorated lounge room
Christmas circa 2011, with enough lights for the Blackpool Illuminations
Christmas circa 2011, with enough lights for the Blackpool Illuminations
P1080661
Julie and Irene decorating the tree. I said they could watch the cricket once it was done.

After the renovations, entertaining indoors became easier, and I had the entire extended family around for Christmas dinner in 2011 – see the menu below.

Christmas 2012 at Seymour Street
Christmas 2012 at Seymour Street

Christmas Dinner 2011

A couple of years later, Tanya and Neville had renovated their home and had more room so Christmas dinner tends to be at theirs. So I reverted to hosting Christmas Eve drinks at New Town.

Christmas Eve at Seymour Mansions
Christmas Eve at Seymour Mansions

Christmas decorations at my place comprise a range of family traditions (often baubles created by family members and friends), toys that I’ve had since childhood, bits of kitsch found at discount stores and mementos brought home from my travels. I’ve also started collecting baubles that reflect an Australian summer Christmas. I’ll let you work out which is which in this small sample.

New Year festivities

Hubble, bubble, boil and trouble.... incantations around the barbecue, NYE circa 1997
Hubble, bubble, boil and trouble…. incantations around the barbecue, NYE circa 1997
NYE circa 1997
NYE circa 1997
New year's day circa 2012
New year’s day circa 2012
Tables set in the courtyard for New Years Day lunch
Tables set in the courtyard for New Years Day lunch
Gratineed potatoes
Gratineed potatoes
A Summer Pudding in the making
A Summer Pudding in the making
Herbed lamb
Herbed lamb
New Year's Day lunch in the garden
New Year’s Day lunch in the garden
Lunch in the back yard, January 2018
Lunch in the back yard, January 2018
New Year's Day lunch in the garden
New Year’s Day lunch in the garden

Multicultural celebrations

For many years I have gathered together with a group of friends to explore cuisines from around the world – you can read more about these dinner parties at The Company of Friendly Cooks. Again, prior to the renos, there wasn’t room to host dinner parties so I tended to host less formal planning meetings, where we sat in the garden (weather permitting) and planned the complicated menus we would all cook for the meal the following week, and which often went on as long or longer than the dinner parties themselves.

Once the renos were done, I started hosting some of these dinners, often ones inspired by one or other of us having travelled and bringing home recipes for dishes that aren’t normally available in local restaurants or even in recipe books. A memorable one was inspired by Paul and Dorcas’ trip to Vietnam. We started by visiting the market for fresh produce and then set up an outdoor kitchen to start slicing and dicing for the feast later in the evening.

Aunties hard at work, slicing and dicing for our Vietnamese feast
Aunties hard at work, slicing and dicing for our Vietnamese feast
Deep-frying tofu
Deep-frying tofu
Paul giving my little kitchen a thorough workout
Paul giving my little kitchen a thorough workout
P1080663
Like all good SE Asian kitchens, this one wsa located directly over the drains on folding furniture
Paul rolling salmon and veg 'nem'
Paul rolling salmon and veg ‘nem’
Dining room set up for the Vietnamese feast
Dining room set up for the Vietnamese feast
The feast begins
The feast begins
Salmon and veg 'nem'
Salmon and veg ‘nem’
Vietnamese feast
Vietnamese feast
Middle Eastern Dinner, November 2015
Middle Eastern Dinner, November 2015
A Chinese New Year feast on Australia Day
A Chinese New Year feast on Australia Day
Chinese New Year celebration, early 2012
Chinese New Year celebration, early 2012
A Chinese New Year feast on Australia Day
A Chinese New Year feast on Australia Day
A Chinese New Year feast on Australia Day
A Chinese New Year feast on Australia Day
A Chinese New Year feast on Australia Day
A Chinese New Year feast on Australia Day

Changing seasons and sunsets

Spring bulbs on the dining table, September 2014
Spring bulbs on the dining table, September 2014
Potted azalea in the courtyard
Potted azalea in the courtyard
Schlumberger putting on a great show
Schlumberger putting on a great show
Orchids also put on a good display most Springs
Orchids also put on a good display most Springs
Roses - Oklahoma and Eiffel Tower
Roses – Oklahoma and Eiffel Tower, veteran survivors in my front yard
Sunset over kunanyi - Mount Wellington, 20 March 2014
Sunset over kunanyi – Mount Wellington, 20 March 2014
Sunset in New Town
Sunset in New Town
Sunset with Iceberg roses
Sunset with Iceberg roses

Preserving some of the backyard bounty

Most years I make some attempt to preserve some of the fruit and veg produced in my little garden.

A Festival of the Quince - jelly, vodka (infusing) and jelly
A Festival of the Quince – jelly, vodka (infusing) and jelly
Poaching some of my pears
Poaching some of my pears
Cooking up a batch of quince paste
Cooking up a batch of quince paste
Cooking changes the colour of quince paste from baby-poo brown to a deep ruby
Cooking changes the colour of quince paste from baby-poo brown to a deep ruby
More quince produce, including paste, jelly and cordial
More quince produce, including paste, jelly and cordial
Brewing tomato relish
Brewing tomato relish
Bottled tomato relish
Bottled tomato relish
When you have a walnut tree, finding ways to use them becomes a bit of a lifestyle. Pickled walnuts are a favourite.
When you have a walnut tree, finding ways to use them becomes a bit of a lifestyle. Pickled walnuts are a favourite.
Painting the town red for Dark Mofo
Painting the town red for Dark Mofo

Looking forward to another quarter century

I’ve been amazed at the response from family, friends and even strangers to these domestic recollections. If you have made it to the end of this very long post, thank you – I consider you a friend, whether we have met or not.

I look forward to sharing more stories – domestic and otherwise – over the next twenty five years, at least.

Related posts

25 years in New Town

Early renos at the New Town house

The gardens of New Town

The big renovation

Finishing touches