Tag Archives: family

Holly loves Christmas

A little vintage fellow on my vintage silver aluminum tree. The tree belonged to Luke’s grandparents and is treasured.

With a name like Holly, it would be most disappointing if I was one to spurn Christmas. Luckily I love Christmas! What’s not to love? Food, friends, family, holidays, summer (for us anyway!), songs about oneself decking halls, drinking wine and eating shortbread at 11am …

Gluten-free fruit mince pies – pastry by moi, fruit mince by Mum and Laura.

Luke and I alternate Christmases between my home of Launceston, Tasmania and his home of Lismore, New South Wales. This year was a year to head south and hang with the Brackens. We took some leave from work and headed down to Tassie for 10 days. Bliss!

First off we headed to the north-west coast to visit family, and stock up on Christmas supplies. We did the obligatory pop into Ashgrove Cheese and ate all of the tasting options, twice, but gave the Raspberry Farm and Anvers Chocolates a miss this time. Most restrained of us. Mainly because we already had a house full of raspberries and chocolate treats!

No one made Luke choose the horse’s arse over a strawberry. No one.

We also stopped at the Berry Patch and the Cherry Shed, both of which provided much amusement. And delicious berries of course.

The giant cherries were just asking for a pin up pose!

We spent the days before Christmas, cooking, eating, napping, reading, hanging out. Perfection. Then the day was upon us!

I bought this vintage ‘resort wear’ in Lismore last year with my Christmas money, it was begging to be worn on Christmas Day. It has pockets!  I did change out of it later in the day though in order to fit in more food …

We had a lovely relaxed approach to Christmas lunch. No turkey or overcooked carrots for us! We started with oysters, 12 natural and 12 kilpatrick, then had prawn cocktails, then amazing Tasmanian crayfish in a white wine sauce, then the spread you see below, then pavlova, then plum pudding, then we all exploded.

Cray legs, boiled new potatoes, broccoli salad, roast chicken, broad beans, caprese salad.

Through out which, we consumed copious cocktails. We began with Santa’s Slays (rum, cranberry juice and sparkling wine), then moved onto a variety of warm weather appropriate cocktails, such as the one below.

Last time we were in Tasmania we attempted a Christmas cocktail hour but were thwarted by a lack of mixers. We only had milk, and to her credit, Laura made a good go of it, offering us a variety of milk based cocktails. However, they didn’t go down very well on a full stomach while sitting in the sun. This has now gone down in Bracken family folklore, meaning “Make me another milk based cocktail!” was an oft heard phrase.

Laura’s fabulous invention of gin, raspberries, lime and sparkling wine. And not a drop of milk to be seen.

On Boxing Day, we packed up two cars, six people, the dog, a dozen bottles of wine, left over treats and some board games and headed to Bicheno on Tasmania’s east coast. This is a glorious part of the world, well worth a visit. Mum hired a fantastic beach house and we proceeded to rest up.

The view from the balcony. Bliss.

At night we played cribbage, card games and Monopoly. One epic six person game went on for around 4 hours! Some of us enjoyed Monopoly more than others. It’s always more fun when you win, so Laura must of had the best time of all!


After four days beach-side it was sadly time to head back to Melbourne to commence real life again. Luckily I had one more holiday up my sleeve before work began again, a trip with Luke’s parents down the Great Ocean Road! Which I am sure you shall hear about shortly …

I hope you all had a great Christmas, New Years Eve or just a break if neither of those float your boat. Bring on more family, good food and travels in 2013!

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Rolling on the river

Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan, soy capitan, soy capitan …

After our adventures in Paris, we met up with my Mum and Dad and headed south on the train from Paris to the Loire Valley. There, we hired a canal boat and zipped (well, slowly puttered) north from Nevers to Rogny-les-Sept-Écluses along the Loire canals. I bought the captain’s hat for Dad for his birthday and it became compulsory wearing for all boat driving. Please note that I drove for a maximum of 10 minutes. It freaked me out. Luckily Captain Rodney was happy to be at the helm.

This isn’t exactly the way we went, as this shows the road, but you get the gist. We saw some of the most beautiful little towns on our way, we were usually lucky enough to be able to moor our little boat somewhere lovely, except for the time we accidentally moored right near a sewage treatment plant and a nuclear energy facility … but to be honest it was still beautiful and we didn’t notice until morning.

The flower boxes were in full bloom and made everything look gorgeous. If you look closely in the top right of this photo you can see my Mum and Dad walking together holding hands. Aww.

As well as lovely French towns, we saw lots of ducks on our travels …

… and ate lots of this delicious dessert the French delightfully translated into English as chocolate brown softness. Indeed, Frenchies, indeed.

We all soon found our positions on the boat, with the intention of not driving each other mad given our seven (very close) days together. You’ll be happy to hear that for the most part we succeed. The copious amounts of wine and cheese certainly helped lull us into good moods.

Capitan Rodney took the wheel, First Mate Joanne sat next to him with the map and camera, while Luke looked cool in the bow. He was number one for lock duties, which involved chucking a rope to a lockman or lockwoman, who then guided us in, shut the gate and changed the water level to help get us upstream. If this makes no sense, read this. Luke was then also responsible for pushing us off, without falling in the canal. Champion. Mum was in charge of giving the lockperson a tip, either a euro or a beer (if Luke hadn’t already drunk them all).

Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river …

I busied myself with cracking the first wine of the day (at around 11am), setting out the snacks (stinky cheeses) and reading my book. I was obviously a vital part of the crew.

While Mum took excellent records and could be able to tell you the name of this town, what we ate and what she wore (I’m not kidding), my record keeping is a shambles and I have no idea where this was, but it was one of my favourite places. Mum, perhaps pop where this is in the comments!?

The week was glorious, and travelling France by canal is something I would most definitely do again. So long as someone else drives …

Next week, Berlin!

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