Thursday, March 27, 2008

To Be Continued...

Argh! This ad break is getting longer and longer. Or maybe it isn't an ad break. You might want to start cursing me since I've been behaving a lot like Channel Nine, moving things all around the schedule without any warning or thought for the viewers.

I'm stretching this TV analogy beyond its capacity aren't I?

Still, as in the world of television scheduling, things on this blog have been affected by the Easter Break. It's the non-ratings period and I went on holiday, so I've composed some more lifestyle filler for you. Moving on from infomercials, gardening and cooking, I thought I'd dabble in a bit of lifestyle travel programming.

I went with some friends up to Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast. We rented a house for 4 nights and made plans to visit a fancy restaurant or two, while taking time out to walk on the beach, swim in the townhouse complex's pool, and play some boardgames.

Day One: We left Brisbane on Good Friday expecting all businesses to be closed, so we prepared to be cut off from any opportunity to eat out or go grocery shopping for the first day. We packed enough food, wine and chocolate to get us through to Saturday. It turns out that a surprising number of businesses were open, but it made for a low-key and relaxing start to the holiday to be able to loll around the house only moving occasionally away from the spectacular view of the ocean to refill our glasses or nibble on a piece of chicken.

Before night fell on the first day we did go for a long walk along Peregian Beach, noting the terrible erosion that had recently taken place. There was a strange brown foam on the shore too. We speculated that it was a churned up mixture of dirt, sand and ocean, but really had no idea. It was slightly sticky and made the sand glue to the soles of our feet.

That night we played the David & Margaret At the Movies board game. Spirits were high and there was a hint of delirium in the air.

Day Two: We all piled into one of the cars and headed off to the Eumundi Markets. I enjoyed myself, but my companions were more affected by the crowds than me. It was crowded. I last visited these markets years ago when I'm sure they were only on once a month. Now they're on twice a week and so busy. They offer more than locally made wares too these days, which is not necessarily a good thing, but perhaps a necessary thing for people who make their living from touring markets.

I picked up an ironing board cover of the kind that have long been for sale at the Riverside Markets in Brisbane. Still, I've always wanted a good ironing board cover and I've never been in holiday mode enough before when I've come across them elsewhere. I also picked up an outrageously patterned cloth shower cap and, to satisfy the desire for local fare, some Noosa Chilli Sauce (hot!) and some Wasabi and Dill Mayonnaise.

After the markets, we met up with a friend who lived locally. Alas her water pump had broken so we couldn't visit her place unless we wanted to dig trenches for toilets and hike miles for water, which we did not. Altogether we trundled back to the town house for another walk on the beach, some more chicken and wine, and another round of oohing and aahing at the moon and its reflection on the water.

Day Three: Stoically undeterred by the mystery foam on the beach, one of my friends and I decided to take further advantage of living in a beach front townhouse and went for a morning walk. This time the tide was high and there wasn't much of a beach to walk on. We struggled valiantly for half an hour. The sea rushed at us and flicked foam up to our knees, before we decided to protect life and limb and walk back along the road. By the time we got back to the townhouse, had a shower and gussied ourselves up, it was time to leave for our lunch appointment at Sails Restaurant at the end of the board walk on Noosa Beach.

There were more crowds at Noosa and a good portion of them were semi-clad on the beach in front of Sails. Some people might be put off their food by a constant parade of the pale and droopy flesh of infrequent beach-goers, but I was too focussed on the beautiful weather and the menu choices to pay much heed.

I ate the most wonderful Autumn meal. It was Berkshire black pork with jus, served on a celeriac remoulade with a mixed selection of vegetables, including a variety of mushrooms, fresh peas and Brussel sprouts. For dessert I ordered a creme caramel which had flavours of orange, cardamom and saffron. It was topped with a kataifi pastry wrapped baked fig.

Afterwards we browsed the shops on Hastings Street where you can get everything from an imported French hair clip to the most terribly awful paintings. Yes, terrible, awfully.

Later, we tried to go for a walk in the Noosa National Park, something we've all done before and thoroughly enjoyed, but parking there was impossible. We ended up finding somewhere else to trek. The walk we took was secluded and we only encountered a few people on the track. It soon became apparent why there were fewer of the madding crowd at the beach we arrived at: it was a nudist beach!

There were only two nudists really, they were in the minority. One was modest, strolling along with a strategically place towel, but the other was sprawled, legs akimbo, in a manner that provoked a double take.

In an unrelated incident, it was on this beach that I managed to drown my mobile phone. I thought I'd take a photo--of the ocean, not the nudists!--only to discover my mobile was not reacting well to the water leaking into my bag from my water bottle. It buzzed and flashed and could not be consoled before it stopped working permanently.

Day Four: This was the day we went to the Spirit House at Yandina. On the way to the restaurant we stopped at the Buderim Ginger Factory to have a quick look around. We didn't really have time for the tour, so we had a look at a heritage cottage and learned about the agricultural history of the area through the years of ubiquitous timber felling to the establishment of crops of coffee and ginger. I didn't know that coffee was one of the first cultivated crops in the area so, of course, when it came to the gift shop I had to buy some Buderim coffee. And some crystallised ginger, and a ceramic ginger jar, and some ginger gummy bears.

One of my fellow holiday-makers purchased some ginger and mango cheese. It looked like it would be a kind of fruit cream cheese, but after tasting it we read the label more closely and saw that it was processed cheese. Bleh!

The Spirit House was magical from the beginning. After we were redirected from the cooking school, that is. We went down a path shadowed by rain forest and lined with alcoves containing various statues and shrines to Buddha. The cicadas were loud and the cool humidity of the air established a perfect atmosphere. We opted for the banquet because it was too hard to choose when you wanted to taste everything. The meal was just delicious. It was strange having Thai as haute cuisine when you're used to it being take-away. I fancied having lunch at the Spirit House was probably a little bit closer to the Royal origins of Thai food than serving it from plastic containers. Between four of us we ordered two dessert plates--one chocolate and the other seasonal--and it was spoons at high noon as we attempted to taste a morsel of everything.

I should mention the thing about the Spirit House that perplexed one of my friends a great deal, which was that when the tea she ordered was served it was a Lipton's tea bag. Now, I'm no tea aficionado, but some of my best friends are and they are quite vocal on the subject of the teabag. A teabag is like instant coffee, related to its leafy origins as much as that dry powdery dust is to the oily luscious bean. There's not really an excuse for it is there? So much detail is afforded every other aspect of the Spirit House, the tea bag was a curious and disappointing oversight.

After lunch, some of us went back to the town house to relax, while others went on a tour visiting the Mapleton Pub, Baroona Dam, and a windy drive to take in more spectacular views of the hinterland. I drank a local beer of the ginger and coconut variety, which I can recommend in small doses, hiked to look at the water fall created by the dam's spill-way, and warned the driver to avert her eyes from the view and keep her eyes on the road because getting distracted would probably be fatal.

Day Five: Each day of the holiday I was lucky enough to glimpse the sunrise from the comfort of my bed before going back to sleep for an hour or two. Before the sun got too high in the sky, I would go to the kitchen and make myself a coffee and sit back and watch the sun play another kind of light on the ocean. While the ocean had been golden earlier and would be blue and green later, in this in-between moment it was platinum, dazzling and burnished.

It was this view that we sat and enjoyed in the last moments of our tenancy at the beach-side townhouse.

We took a leisurely drive back, attempting to go to the National Park at Noosa again, but even when the long weekend was officially over it was crowded. We proceeded to the Buderim Forest Park instead, where we hiked along a path down to a waterfall, crossing the curved Serenity Bridge on the way.

I wanted to go to the Super Bee Honey Farm but a sign informed us that the site was closed and had been auctioned off a month earlier.

We stopped to buy some lemons and mandarins from a table on the side of the road, dropping some coins into the letter box as directed by a hand-scrawled sign.

Then we saw another sign that promised pottery from Middle-Earth, but it was better than that, and I came away with a blue-green glazed stem vase.


Payton L. Inkletter said...

You certainly packed a fair bit into your break at Peregian Beach, Kirsty. And how busy all these localities sound, with progress bringing zillions of people to the shores of our fair land to permanently pitch their tents, or just spend their overseas vacations, or even Aussies visiting their own big backyard.

Over here in the West we have a Waroona Dam, you have a Baroona Dam; funny that. I didn’t know coffee was grown in Australia: let us know what your jar of Buderim coffee tastes like - the coffee inside it that is. The ginger goods sound good. Is there anything nicer than dark chocolate coated ginger? And your ‘spoons at high noon’ expression has tickled me.

Keep well Kirsty, and keep treating us to your wonderful way with words, please.

Kirsty said...

Payton, I wonder if the W is for Western Australia and the B is for Brisbane or Buderim? I've just had a cup of the coffee and I didn't realise I was buying a flavoured coffee ie Buderim Ginger, but as someone who isn't especially a fan of flavoured coffees this one was rather nice--it didn't taste like chemicals and smelt lovely, all warm and gingery-like. And last night, thinking of your comments, I combined my ginger pieces with some dark choc I had on hand to create a kind of ginger and dark choc sandwich. Yum.

Payton L. Inkletter said...

Ginger flavoured coffee? Sounds okay actually. I’ve taken to adding a small amount of chilli powder to cocoa drinks that I make now, and it is superb. A warm afterglow in the back of the throat ensues. I make my cocoa the hard way, bamixing up a vast quantity of cocoa powder, with sugar and skim milk powder, but if you are a cocoa addict, it’s a treat never to be forgotten.

Mark Lawrence said...

Hey Kirsty, it sounds like you had a wonderful time. Reading your post brought back warm memories of my family holiday up at the Sunshine coast Easter last year!

But we didn't have lovely 'sunrise over the ocean' views, so I must find out from you where you stayed for our next time...

We liked the Eumundi market too, but I do remember being more 'blown away' by it the first time I went there years before.

It's a pity you missed the Noosa national park walk - it is one of the most exhilarating walks a person who is a little unfit (me) can do. I have to do the walk up the hill each time I'm there. I also love seeing the bush turkeys and goannas. Saw a Koala once.

It's interesting reading your response to Hastings St. My partner loathed it, and reckons its only for tourists - and rich tourists at that. I'm more measured in my response. I like bits of it, and can give certainly gives large swathes of it a miss. Including the awful paintings. I thought I'd hurl if I saw another giant franginpani flower on a bright orange background!

I'm not sure about ginger flavoured coffee, but I can highly recommend ginger flavoured tea – SE Asian version. Totally agree with the dark choc and ginger, though.

It was lovely reading about your meal and visit at Spirit House – that is very high on my 'to do' list the next time we're up at the Sunshine Coast. (my brother-in-law raves about it, and warns that one has to book weeks ahead. did you have trouble getting a table?) I totally agree with you about the Lipton tea bag, by the way.

Will you be able to share any photos of the trip, or is your camera still on the blink? Hope your good holiday vibe stays with you long into the next half of the semester...

Mark Lawrence said...

In my comments about my partner's response to Hastings St, I meant to also say 'despite being tourists ourselves'. So you know.

Kirsty said...

Hi Mark, I forgot my camera and the pictures on the phone that drowned were all I had, so unfortunately I lost any that I took.

We did book for the Spirit House a couple of weeks ahead, and even then we only managed to get in on Easter Monday and not on the Sunday as we'd hoped. But it's worth it to be organised about it.

One of the friends I was with couldn't handle Hastings Street for too long, so we weren't there as long as we could have been. I can appreciate your partner's response--there's more there for the very rich than not, but I do think there are little oases amidst all the clamour where you can pick up something really beautiful at a very reasonable price. For example, I bought a glass tea light holder that had been reduced to something I could afford.

Oh which reminds me, I did take a photo with my new phone of the little objets I accumulated on my travels. I'll add it to the bottom of the post.