Last Saturday Jessica booked us on a Chocolate Walk around Melbourne CBD. Our group (Elaine, Jessica, Jamie, Seona, Phil and myself) and half a dozen other souls were led on a choc-ucational stroll around some fine chocolate establishments, learning a little about the history of the chocolate making families and, of course, sampling the very fine wares. The guide was a fun person who had been doing this for twenty years, so she really knew her stuff. And one of the highlight places we stopped at was Koko Black, in the Royal Arcade. We sampled to-die-for Belgian truffles and had a look around the place. This establishment is just around the corner from where I work, and I had always thought it was ‘just’ a chocolate shop. But it’s also a chocolate lounge where you can enjoy a range of totally decadent chocolate dishes and drinks (both alcoholic and non). A taste sensation and a special place to go for a leisurely afternoon tea. My favourite place on the tour. Seona and Phil went back to try it on Sunday and voted it a hit.
Went over to Elaine’s yesterday (Australia Day) for a craft day. Just her and me. It was good; nice and relaxing, although I would have liked to accomplish more than we did.
I brought a truck load of supplies and stuff with me as I wasn’t sure what we’d be doing and what she might need (naturally we didn’t need 90% of it). Elaine wanted to make hand made thank you cards for the guests at her 50th birthday lunch (we’ve become tragic crafties. Country music next?). Now we could have done it simply and quickly with a bit of a collage of papers and a plain tag with Thank You stuck on the front but we tried to get clever (always a worry) and decided to design the tags to incorporate the photos we’d taken on the day. So by the time we’d downloaded and installed a trial version of Paintshop X (which I’m not familiar with so a bit of a learning curve needed), then trawled the internet for tag designs that we liked, then fiddled about with the photos and incorporated them into the tags, we’d frittered away half the day. Anyway we finally managed to get our act together and had a major surge of productivity in the late afternoon and finished the cards. Elaine was pleased with the result and, although I didn’t get to do any of my project, it was still a very satisfying day.
After we’d finished and had dinner we went out on the deck. The kangaroos were grazing right up close to the house. I’m still amazed at the sight of these mobs every time I go up there and how fearless they are in coming so close to the houses. A wonderful sight!
Last Sunday (15/1/06) was Elaine’s 50th Birthday.
It started out as a quiet little lunch at Hogans with just Greg and the kids (I was planning to crash it), but by the time Sunday came it had grown to 40 people and we’d pretty much taken over the pub. The food was sensational, there was a funcky little 3 piece combo playing, and everyone had a sensational time, especially Elaine. Greg asked me to ‘say a few words’ at cake cutting time. Here they are:
“It’s hard to believe I’m standing here at Elaine’s 50th Birthday. It seems such a short while ago that she was my little sister, squabbling over who had dibs on the green chair.
When we were growing up Elaine was the dreamer and I was the sensible one. Somehow that meant that I got to be the one who had to look after the boys when they were little and run errands to the shop. Hmm, maybe Elaine was actually the sensible one after all.
It was dreaming that brought about her first brush with the law one September day in London, back in 1967.
We had just returned from three years living in Cyprus and our relos realised that we needed retail rehabilitation so they took us shopping in London’s West End.
We had been shopping for boring adult stuff all day and we were all set to go to Hamley’s (the biggest toy shop in the known world). So as Elaine checked out the window of the department store we had just come out of, 11 of us piled very noisily into a London Cab.
We were very proud of this achievement and did a head count twice on the trip to Regent St. Unfortunately never realising that the number should have been 12 not 11. When we got there and everyone was rounded up, we discovered that we were minus Elaine. We finally worked out that she hadn’t been in the taxi and the guys went back to where we had come from to look for her. Meanwhile the women got down to some serious worrying in front of the toy shop. I must admit, I thought they would have been better off worrying inside the shop but I was in a minority.
Meanwhile Elaine had come back to earth, turned around and discovered she was all alone in the big bad city. This was pretty scary for a kid who had no city experience, had just spent the last three years in a country that was vastly different to London and who was not the sensible one.
Anyway, after an initial panic, Elaine took herself down the street until she found a policeman on point duty. She accosted him and told him that her family was lost and she needed help. She was taken to the local police station, where she spent the next hour and a half bonding with the constabulary and eating lollies.
Dad and the uncles finally found her there and returned her to Hamleys, where not only was she welcomed as the prodigal daughter, but because of her sensible action she became the heroine of the day. And a toy shop is so the right place to be when you’re a heroine.
Well a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.
Whilst still dreaming her dreams, there’s no question that Elaine has her feet firmly on the ground.
She’s the person you think of when you want to talk over your troubles.
She’s the person you turn to when you need moral support.
She’s the person you know is always there for you when you need her.
She’s one of the most caring and giving people I know.
As kids we squabbled all the time.
As adults, Elaine you are my bestest of friends and the best sister anyone could wish for.
Thank you for being the person that you are.
And with everyone here, I’d like to congratulate you on your 50th birthday and wish you many years of fun, joy and happiness.”