It’s been a few weeks! So this promises to be a content rich update…

Christmas was obviously the event that took up a lot of everyone’s time. Over here it came together quite well. This year’s tree was the best ever. I spotted it quickly and it turned out to be the perfect size and shape.

Christmas at home

My (usual) plans for a Xmas light extravaganza were sidelined after most of the strings of lights we own turned out not to be working anymore. There’s not really a huge range of home lights and if you poke around they all look like they come from the one place, from the same schematics. I guess you could say Zhejiang is to Christmas lights what Shandong is to kites. I guess. Anyway it made me think there’s probably room in a niche market for high-quality, durable and less tacky lights. I’ll continue the research…

Xmas eve saw the return of an activity thus the establishment of a custom; Lisa and I hit the road to have a look at Canberra’s efforts in friendly competition that is the house/tree lighting. The most impressive display by far this year was a house that was lit brighter than the sun and had lights that were timed to music. What’s more, the owners were transmitting the music via low power radio to the street. This meant we were able to tune the car radio into their soundtrack as we passed by. Impressed! The later part of the evening involved ghosts, good red wine and chocolate. Grand.

This year I took on the cookery aspect head-on, doing the Xmas lunch. I’ve never cooked a turkey before; here in Australia we don’t eat the bird all that often. Save for the occasional turkey baguette pretty much Christmas is where it features. Well, I ended up with a 9kg bird on my hands along with a goodly amount of quality Christmas ham all sold cheerfully by Wes the Irish butcher. Playing it safe I awoke Christmas morning earlier than I ever have have since being a child. Santa made it this year, I’m happy to report. 6:30 saw the fire lit to preheat the Weber…I went back to bed after that.

Taking some good advice I’d prepared things days in advance. A variation on a Jamie gravy was ready to be unthawed, stuffed potatoes and capsicums ready to be cooked and the stuffing the same. Hours later the turkey along with the above, minted peas, River Cottage style roast potatoes/veg, lunch for 14 was served without a hitch! Bizarre. It took a lot of effort but it was worth it. Who knows about next year!

Following on from this, Newyears came and went at the coast. Solon had once again shown the initiative and booked a nice house, this time at Bulli. Due to time commitments I went up independently of everyone else but made it in time for the celebrations. A good mix of people at an excellent location. I stayed up and took some photos of the transition from night to day that everyone deems so important:

Here comes the sun / Dawn @ BulliDawn @ Bulli

I had to come home early because I’ve ended up with a new full time job. If you’ve been following closely you’ll know I’ve struggled to find long term employment with The Man for some reason. Despite another round of entertaining talks with recruitment agencies, the lead for this position once again came through a friend. There’s a simple conclusion to be drawn here, my experience being more than anecdotal evidence; recruitment agencies suck balls. They’re useless and standing back I can’t really see the point of them. They range in levels of professionalism from appalling to quite good. But never came through with the goods. And given the amount of time I spent with them,no jury would convict me for being unreasonably irritated. So, again: network, network, network! If you’ve got interesting friends they’re likely to be working in interesting places that will likely need additional people at some stage. This is the way forward.

So here I am as a content author / ‘rules engineer’ building the content for BICON, AQIS‘s replacement for ICON. It tells you what you can and can’t bring into the country. And lets just say down here at DAFF’s BSG we’re big on acronyms. The team is good, friendly. Emile sits a few desks over. The situation is promising.┬áDespite working a ‘9 to 5’ the garden and cooking haven’t suffered as much as I’d feared which is a nice surprise.

I have a large crop of tomatoes on the way which should satisfy all our tomato related requirements for the next few months. Coriander has proven easy to grow as long as you put it in the right spot, the strawberry curse has well and truly been broken with my little terrace producing some impressive berries. Apropos my Sylvanberry, a throwaway experiment, has surged with the rain and warmth almost like a Triffid. The runner made it all the way down the wall and into the next garden before I noticed. Importantly it’s started to bear some small fruits. Spinach, lettuce, basil and some self seeded rocket make up 2011’s first crops of leafy greens. A chili formed on a plant in a pot and was of good size but I’m not sure the plant is entirely happy in its current home. To chop all of the above up into an edible format I may well be using a Wustof Trident knife come my birthday.

That could be the sum of it, at least the essentials. I’d better post this before something else happens!

[singlepic id=275 w=300 h=220 float=center]

Welcome to 2011 @