Hello there, do hope you're nice and snug wherever you're reading this, cos it's jolly parky outside!
A question… do you have a failsafe recipe for cooking duck?? I only ask as my hallowed hero of a chef Jamie Oliver, whose gastronomic works of greatness litter my kitchen, failed me! My duck had an oily breast, not crispy as promised, and every 20 minutes when I had to turn the bird over, half an orange fell out of her bottom!!
I'd never cooked duck before but because Lucy and Jack were round for lunch, I wanted to do something special – I don't think I'll bother again! Some recipes suggested putting the bird on a rack so that it didn't sit in the oil, but Jamie suggested sitting her on a bed of carrots, celery and onion… and also to cook at 190 degrees which seemed a very low temperature to me.
Still, Jack did eat all his to be fair but Lucy wasn't impressed and it took me rather a while to carve it, so having told them to "start without me", they'd nearly finished by the time I sat down! Never mind eh, it was good to see them :)
The fact that I managed to clog my vacuum cleaner with pine needles is a timely reminder that Christmas is well and truly behind us, but I still find it hard to believe that in two weeks time, Colin and I will be boarding a plane to Australia. We're flying out on Thursday 2nd February – a year to the day since I had my mastectomy and also my Jack's birthday!
We've decided to do the journey in one hit – apart from a two-hour stop over in Abu Dhabi to refuel – and so we'll arrive in Sydney on Friday afternoon I've spoken to my brother several times over the last month, and together we're working out a timetable. Both he and his wife Sarah work, so it's good that we're arriving at a weekend and can catch up properly.
It will be seven years and two months since I was last 'Down Under' and so I thought you might like to see this photograph (left) of us all with his children on the day we flew home. The picture was taken before we said goodbye Look at Jack!! He's almost 19 now and six feet tall… where have the years gone?
Peter has never met Colin although we've had Sarah and both their children to stay with us on numerous occasions when they've been to the UK. I know they'll get on, and it'll be good for them to have some time together. We fly to Tasmania in the second week to visit Colin's brother Phil who owns a vineyard out there – that should be fun!!
Peter looks very much like my late father and now that my hair has grown back so dark, I look more like him too – minus the moustache thank heavens! Mind you Peter wore his hair a lot longer in his teens and was 18 when this picture (left) was taken.
I was 16 then and in my final year at Secondary school, and our sister Jenny was probably 14… I got detention at school for wearing that T-shirt instead of the usual polo shirt – hey ho :)
There are so many places in Australia that I hope to visit this time around, and we plan to hire a car while we're there so we can make our own way. It's so much easier than in Europe because they drive on the same side of the road as us! If you've ever been to the other side of the world, particularly Sydney, please do let me know if there's anywhere you would recommend we visit.
I have done the Aquarium and The Rocks, oh and I think Koala world (?) but I know there's so much more like The Blue Mountains that would be a shame to miss. I look forward to hearing from you with any suggestions, and hope that you have a good week and an even better weekend!
With love, Ali xxx