I made it to Houston for work earlier this week, and it has been quite a nice surprise in lots of ways. Here are a few that immediately spring to mind: * It’s actually really green and lush. * There are stacks of non-barbeque restaurants all over the place. * These same restaurants have good food. * The people are extremely friendly and welcoming. Even bus drivers talk to you. * The workplace is all Ikea with blonde wood, loud colours and functional furniture. Most meeting rooms are equipped with touch screens, wall-to-ceiling world maps and 8 world clocks, tea rooms have 4 blends of coffee brewing continously, and icemakers are in every fridge. * You really do need a car in this town, but the bus system is functional and is not frequented by drug addicts and scary folk. * The nearby neighbourhoods are unbelievably affluent. For some reason most houses in these areas sport dual gas flames in lanterns on either side of the front door. Bizarre. * Suburban bars look more like run-down corrugated iron sheds (without windows). * As per usual I wish to state that I could easily live here. Typical houses are less than $200k AUS. Well, that’s it for tonight. More later..
For our 11th anniversary, I took last Friday off and we took to the road in our dirty station wagon heading towards Mt. Dandenong off all places. The weather was more than kind, and it felt just great to be going somewhere other than Bagshot for a change. Kim had heard about the William Rickets Sanctuary, and so we stopped and paid out 6 for a half hour stroll along mossy paths through fern-lined, mountain-oak understory. The guy who created the hundreds of clay-fired, surreal and spiritual sculptures would have been quite a fellow, judging by the 1970’s inspired aboriginal diaramas. Did he die of overwork or overdose? We drove on (mildly inspired) and talked about happiness, leaving a legacy and how the Kenney’s had missed some awesome weather. At Yering Station in Yarra Glen, we dared to be a bit different and walked away with a Marsanne Viognier Roussanne (MVR) blend and the most expensive bottle I’ve ever bought – a cheeky 2002 Shiraz Viognier for 58. I saw a review of it in the newsagent the next day which pretty much said “drink in 2017”, so I’ll have to hide it well. They had a wine journalist in the tasting room, so they’d broken out the good stuff and were being extremely friendly. They were even more friendly when we said we’d buy one. Our destination was the innocuous Healesville Hotel (known to foodies everywhere as a rural holy grail) where we were sat along bench tables of 30, and were plied with courses of good Italian fare (Chicken Broth, Lasagne with Venison, Roasted Quail, Rolled Lamb with figs and green beans). To finish, it was Tira Misu and the smallest expresso on the planet. We picked the longest sounding Italian wine we could (Umani Ronchi Montepulciano D’Abruzzo) just so I could write it in my weblog – it was fine. Kim spewed up later, being unused to all the rich food. Ha. Next morning we cursed our noisy drunken neighbours – tap dancing on the upstairs balcony at 2am (egad!) and slugged our way through toast and coffee across the road before scooting home in glorious sunlight. I’ll say this though – that place had great sheets. The dogs were excited and restless to see us again, so they got a walk – much to the dismay of the Fergus.