Scotsman Robin's an old friend of the Kulas since 1971. Today he works for Adobe Systems in San Jose, California.
This old codger pops out of the morning fog. It’s 7AM, while I check the car, a gent insists on chatting about Cessnock’s past. It was only after the coal mines shut down that the Hunter valley took off as a major wine producing area. The mines were too deep and required frequent dewatering to be viable. There is an excellent photographic display in the Services Club showing the days of this town’s coal fuelled economy (1940 – 60)
Being an old codger myself, we take this old codger’s directions and set of the see the Hunter Valley in warm brilliant sunshine. We get further advice from a codgerette at the park entrance. She is the cleaning lady and has not been outside the area ever (has never heard of Geelong) and her local knowledge is deep and detailed. Lovely locals.
At her suggestion, we book in for lunch at “Roberts” then head off for coffee at the Information Centre. The coffee is excellent and the barista is the father of one of the Chefs at Roberts. At his suggestion we will ask for “menu du Chef”.
“Tattler” vineyard is our first call. Ruth stocks up on olive oil, olives, Shiraz, Sauv. Blanc and a “sticky” (sweet desert wine). More candid, friendly advice accompanies the purchase. Next stop: the “Stinky Cheese” where we buy three foul smelling (and delicious) cheeses and prosciutto for tonight’s dinner.
12.30 PM finds us seated in a large, high ceiling dinning room constructed entirely out of recycled timbers. There is only one other couple seated across the room. We ask for “menu du Chef”. The waitress says, “I will consult with Robert” and comes back with a quote for the meal. After arranging for a mortgage on our house we order the lunch. The dishes come in slow order. The presentation on each plate is a delight for the eyes. The taste of each dish sets off a party in the mouth. This is an experience! And stuff the cost! Seven course are served (see Appendix 3) At 4 PM owner/chef Robert emerges from the kitchen and we chat for half an hour or so. He is French from the Alpes Maritimes and bids us farewell with “ allez – y – mollo” (trans: “Take it easy”, lit: go there slowly) The car roof comes off as we drive through picturesque, undulating countryside dotted with vineyards. I drop Ruth off in Cessnock, take a nap and pick her up again. We dine on cheeses, prosciutto and crackers. In bed by 9.30PM. Long day tomorrow.
The old codger pops out of the fog
Our cabriolet and guest house in the Hunter Valley
At Robert's after mortgaging our house
Noel and Marion Armstrong – old surfing mates. We used to surf and camp together. Studied Civil Engineering with Noel. In the 60s, together with John Roszbach, we toured Europe for some months. Played 500s (card game) in the Armstrong van. John and I had one man tents. Reunited in Canada. On return to Oz, Noel and Marion moved to Queensland and joined the “White Shoe brigade”(see Appendix 7). Lost touch. Very happy to be in contact again.
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Last Modified: Thursday August 24, 2006