To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Hong Kong

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Strangers on the Blog !!

Look what happens when work distracts me for a couple of weeks... family and friends whom I have not seen for years pay a surprise visit to the Blog!!


1) my cousin Ruth Adley; I had a bet with myself that she would be the first to discover me: after all she has a proven track record but I am glad to report she accepted my belated apology about the last time... and took the opportunity to point out some mistakes/omissions in the family tree (which I have corrected) Thank god I didn't put the other stuff in!! :)


2) Francis X Cox from Melbourne Australia. Technically I reported to Frank when I worked in Australia (and he facilitated and signed all the immigration sponsorship papers etc for me) He was and is the epitome of the laid back Australian. (BTW he was not responsible for the joke about the yogurt). I well remember the first day at the office in Hawthorn Road (junction of North Road). After introducing me around he led me to the front door and standing on the steps surveying the scene he proceeded with all sincerity to list off the amenities convenient facilities all within a step to cater to every need ; specifically the chemist; post office; bank; chipper; Chinese restaurant and "knocking" shop. I have to say I took liberal advantage of all these facilities with the exception of the latter.

The room where we did client presentations overlooked the street and we would watch the "clientele" visiting the knocking shop whilst we were waiting for our clients to arrive. I wonder if the same was true in reverse. I once bumped into (one of) the girl(s) (figuratively speaking) next door in the Chinese. I was struck by her natural flaming ginger hair and freckles. For those who don't know, the state of Victoria has legal brothels ranging from single operators to institutions such as the Daily Planet which is publicly listed on the stock exchange (and has open days for the public).

The "chipper" if I remember correctly was run by an Italian who introduced me to "flake" (shark) the quintessential Australian chipper fare, and the Ozzie meat pie. Much can be said of flake especially how it compares (or not) to cod or halibut (but then I had the privilege of working in Grimsby when cod was still landed and halibut was king). But the chips were good - rumor has it that somewhere off mid-levels (a district in Hong Kong) there is a fish and chip shop - I have yet to find it and the Harry ramsden which was in Wan Chai has long gone. Coincidentally the local Park&Shop used to have frozen Australian meat pies but they too are no more.

Speaking of food, When Anne and boys came over to Australia we invited Frank and his wife for dinner. To put this in context Frank and his family live in the bush east of the city (Macclesfield?) a long way away. In Australia the expression down the road unlike UK (or Hong Kong) can mean 100K down the road. for example when you leave Melbourne traveling north there used to be a sign for the "next" Macdonald’s which was over 880K.

We didn't know what sort of food Frank and his wife liked so we played save and prepared a variety of dishes. We discovered that they were culinary conservatives but not adverse to experiment!!

We opened with a chilled lime (and cucumber??) soup liberally dosed with tequila. Since Australia is hot it seemed quite reasonable to me to start with a chilled soup. It was however unexpected and as was the tequila. Frank insists we plied them with grog from the moment they arrived at every conceivable opportunity deliberately!.

We followed with Mussels Mariniere (with white wine) . It was Frank's wife's first time to eat mussels !! The mussels were bought locally at O'Keefe's (?) along Beach Road south of junction with Reserve Road. They had a mussel bed just of shore and the the mussels were of the black variety (I assume they were indigenous as opposed to the same variety from the North Sea) They taste better than the NewZealand green lipped variety and were just like thoise in England/Holland/Belgium etc.

I seem to remember we also did Boeuf Bourguignonne (with red wine) and ended with oranges mariated in brandy or port (or something similar)

It was, I am told a great success (so I am totally rapped!!) although in retrospect highly irresponsible considering how long far the drive back was and how low the drink drive limit is in Victoria.

Anne, I and the boys were later treated to an Australian barbie at Franks. (which Aaron suprisingly remembers!!) By this time we had all mastered the obligatory Australian "wave", whereby one automatically flicks a wrist periodically across the face to ward off the flies. Apart from the food which was certainly better than at a European barbie (it was properly cooked for one thing!!) I remember four things about the trip

a) the barbeque equipment: was serious hardware for a serious activity (can actually buy Australian equipment in Hong Kong and, in Singapore, I have seen them set up on balconies in tower blocks (well its outside!! even if the chef hasn't got room to stand on balcony too)

b) discussion with Frank's son about his wine investment: It's a myth to think of Australians simply drinking Forster's or Castlemaine. Most that I met had a passion and deep knowledge about wines not only to drink but as an investment. it was in Australia that I learned the cardinal rule of wine buying ; if in doubt buy the one which won the medals at the state shows.

c) wombats: farmers in UK who complain about rabbit warrens should consider themselves lucky they don't have wombats. Frank took us for a walk around his "estate". He wasn't too worried about snake bites (antivenom supplies were available “down the road") but he was concerned lest we broke a leg/turned an ankle falling into/through a wombat burrow. When they collapse they are like tank traps !!.

d) fire assembly points; It was very sobering as we drove out on the Ferngully Road to see designated assembly points where residents could gather for evacuation in the event of a bush fire. They started in the suburbs and it made you realize how dangerous it was to live in bush and even at edge of town. It was bush fire season and Frank had cleared brush from around his bungalow.

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