Damien Visits

It’s Good Friday, thank goodness! It’s been a really lazy day for me, culminating in the two hour nap that I’ve just had. Catching up, I guess, on a very busy week.

Damien arrived last Friday morning at about nine o’clock. I had to go into work for a meeting, so he had a shower and wandered around the city for a while, commenting, “It has the feel of a very large regional city (Wollongong, Geelong), rather than a destination city (Sydney, Melbourne). Pleasant, but not inspiring.”

Later in the morning, we took a one hour cruise along the Swan River to Fremantle. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, it’s a really great opportunity to have a look at the river, taking in sights of particularly large and sometimes tacky houses, owned by the likes of Rose Porteous and Kerry Stokes, amongst other. The driver/commentator for the cruise was pretty funny, commenting that Lang Hancock had built a house for “his Fillipino housmaid” and in a particularly memorable moment declaring, “Oysters were farmed on this site… (pause)…until the outbreak of polio which was linked back to the oysters”. For just $11 one way, I thought it was an excellent introduction for Damien to Perth.

For lunch we visited the Mussels Bar and Restaurant, which was excellent. Damien had the grilled atlantic salmon on sweet potato mash, with broccoli and salmon roe and I had a huge bucket of mussels in a mustardy cream sauce. Wine was Shaw and Smith M3 Vineyard chardonnay, 2000.

After that, we caught train back to Perth and went to Northbridge for an iced coffee via the WA Art Gallery where I showed Damien a couple of favourite works, including the Howard Taylor piece.

We had dinner at the Indiana Tea House which Damien described as “spectacularly located directly above the beach, and recreates in fine fashion the “Raffles” atmosphere of the British Empire, circa 1900. After a little training the service was nice and discreet, and the food and wine superb”. For entree, we shared plate of turkish bread with three spreads: wildberry compote, olive tapenade and creamed sun-dried tomatoes. For the main, Damien had grilled snapper fillets on kumera chips with spinach and I had the lamb cutlets with herb and parmesan crust on salad of sauted vegetables with creamy pesto sauce. Wine: Stefano Lubiana pinot noir, 2000.

It’s Sunday morning and I’m exhausted. Damien is having a little lie down while I update my diary. Actually we’re both a bit tired, as it’s been a busy few days.

As with today, Damien woke early yesterday morning (4.30am, 6.30am and 7.15am) as I warned him about, due to the time difference.

The main event was a full-day cruise up the Swan River to visit some Swan Valley wineries, with lunch and wine included. There are several companies that offer such tours, and we chose well by picking Captain Cook. The tour exceeded our best hopes in every way, and at just $109 for a seven hour cruise with bbq lunch, wines and lots of fun we thought it was outstanding value.

After a brief rest at home, we headed out to The Loose Box in outer suburban Mundaring for dinner. We left the restaurant just after 9pm, about two hours later, not because we wanted to rush but because we had to get back to the city for one more thing: the self-proclaimed godfather of soul, James Brown. In town as headliner for the inaugural Jazz, Blues and Roots Festival, he had just come on stage when we arrived. We were able to get pretty close to the front of the open air venue, and he put on a show without surprises and with lots of funk – very cool, and a perfect way to end a fantastic day. We also ran into Russell from work (and Kylie). Perth is v. small!

We slept in briefly on the Sunday morning though Damien, of course, was awake before I was. We lunched on Sunday at the Blue Water Grill which is Perths newest venue. set on the pristine Applecross foreshore, Bluewater Grill a heritage building has spectacular views of Perth City, The Swan River and The South Of Perth Yacht Club. The meal wasn’t incredible, but it was pretty good. And after that, outside the former mental hospital (there’s an irony there, I’m sure), we said farewell. It was one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

The time since has been taken up with work. I don’t feel much like writing any more. Hopefully, I’ll have some tales to tell later in the weekend.

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