Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Victoria Wineries: Vines, Wines and Views

One of the best things about Australia is the wine. And there are plenty of little wineries not too far a drive from the city, where you can fill the boot with great bottles and maybe catch a good bite to eat while you're at it. Many of the wineries have outdoor eating where you can sit back and enjoy a perfect view while you sample their goods.

Domaine Chandon
"Green Point" Maroondah Hwy Coldstream 3775 Victoria
Every day 10.30am to 4.30pm
Guided tours of the winery at 11am, 1pm and 3pm

Yering Station
Yering Station 38 Melba Highway PO Box 390 Yarra Glen, Victoria 3775
Wine tasting, gift shop, lovely café and fine dining in the new wing
Cellar door 10-5 (6 weekends)
Restaurant from 10.00

Mooroduc Estate
501 Derril Road, Mooroduc 5971 8506
Cellar door 11-5
Dinner Friday – Saturday
Lunch Saturday – Sunday

Crittenden at Dromana
Harrison Road, Dromana 5987 3800
Cellar door 11-4
Café 12-3

Roundstone Winery and Bistro
54 Willow Bend Drive, Yarra Glen9730 1181
Cellar door 10-5 Wed – Sun
Bistro 10-5 Wed – Sun

Mitchelton Wines
Mitchellstown Road, Nagambie 5736 2222
ellar door 11-5
Café from 11.00

Candlebark Hill
Fordes Lane, Kyneton, Macedon Ranges 03 98362712
No cellar door but worth calling them for mail order or find them in Victoria Market – it’s one of my favourite wineries!!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

2006 Woman of the Year

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the maireaddoyle.com Woman of the Year - my mother, Margaret Doyle.

Mum has had a long and busy life. Born in Palmerstown (county Dublin as she will always remind us), she lived her early life with her mother and three sisters in a white-washed cottage. Her father died when she was a baby, and my grandmother (Mama) supported her family by working as a seamstress in the Stewarts Hospital nearby.

With a seamstress mother, my mum and the other Donoghue girls were always very well dressed. Mum would boast that she would only need to show Mama a picture of a frock she wanted, and it would be reproduced perfectly.

Mum was also a great dancer, and she went to dances every week with her friends and sisters, often cycling as far away as Leixlip or further to go to the best places. It was at a dance she met my dad (a previous Man of the Year of course!) and they married in 1953. And yes, Mama made the wedding gown.

It was a happy marriage although they both readily admit there were some hard times too. But the annual dinner dance was always something to look forward to, with the men in their best suits and the women dressed in Ginger Rogers-style frocks (my parents are second couple from the right).

Whilst raising four children, she also worked in the local school from when I was about a year old to December 2005 believe it or not - retiring finally, and with a huge party, at age 79. Her sister, my auntie Molly, also worked with her there, and they were very close as a result (this is Mum and Molly at a family wedding in 1973 - great outfits!).Up until her retirement she regularly cycled to the school across the fields at the back of our house, which is why she has better legs than any of her daughters!

My mother has always been a stylish woman, although like myself she doesn't often look well in a hat (or welding helmet as on this occasion).

However this has not stopped her flaunting new creations whenever possible (this is her looking suitably edgy in Camden Market).

But no matter what she wore, my Dad always thought she was gorgeous.

And to confirm their devotion to one another, a huge party was held in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in August 2003.

We all inherited our love of food from my mother - a woman who has quoted "reading menus" as one of her pastimes (seen here checking out local cuisine in Cornwall).

But this is the only documented occurence of her buying a drink in a pub.

It was a difficult year or so for my mum: we lost her sister Molly in September 2004, then her best friend and longtime neighbour Marie Kenny in April 2005, just four weeks before my dad died. But, as somebody remarked around that time, she is one classy lady, and she went through those hard weeks and months with determination and dignity.

She has always been welcoming to her prodigal daughters (me and Mena) when we visit, and no matter how far away she is, she is always on the end of the phone if we want to talk to her.

But she relies very much on Annette, who lives in Dublin, and has spent a lot of time with her since Dad died.

However we daughters know we can never hold a candle to her beloved Son Boy - the only son of an Irish woman is hard to beat!

The family visited me in London before we left, and she showed her adventurous side by visiting (and cleaning her plate in) a Chinatown restaurant with her extended family. And she walked rings around her children and grandchildren too!

We are all really proud to have her as a mother, a grandmother, and a mother-in-law. I won't tell her age as she would be mad, but I think all would agree she looks great still. And don't I look just like her?!!!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Hours of Fun

The internet can be the portal to lots of things apart from cheap flights, free email and news sites. Here are some of my favourite ways to while away half an hour.

Wikipedia is a multilingual Web-based free-content encyclopedia. It is written collaboratively by volunteers, allowing most articles to be changed by anyone with access to a web browser and an Internet connection. The project began on January 15, 2001,. Wikipedia has more than 3,700,000 articles in many languages, including more than 1,000,000 in the English-language version. Editors are required to uphold a policy of "neutral point of view" under which notable perspectives are summarized without an attempt to determine an objective truth.

Wander aimlessly through this virtual art gallery like you would a real one, or search for titles or artists.

Longplayer is a 1,000 year long piece of music which started to play on the 1st January 2000 and will continue to play, without repetition, until the 31st December 2999, when it will come back to the point at which it began - and begin again. In its present and original incarnation, as a computer program, it’s been playing since it began in the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London E14.

It’s also playing in the planetarium at the Bibliotheca Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt, the Powerhouse, Brisbane, Australia and in Rufford Park, near Nottingham, England. Plans are in an advanced stage for other listening posts around the world.

Google’s language tools is a great slow-afternoon-at-work site, where you can have hours of fun translating complex phrases or sentences from English to German, then to French and back to English again to see exactly how much can be lost in translation. Hilarious. For those wishing to improve your language skills, you can use Google in your mother tongue. Choose Lithuanian, Yiddish, Esperanto, Klingon or Elmer Fudd (my personal favourite).

Read previously unpublished poems, short stories and even novels, and rate the writers’ work. Literary fiction, scifi, spirituality, humour and even westerns are included in the genres up for grabs.

Get into the podcast age and surf what’s available to download and listen to later on your MP3 player. If you want to start with something familiar, try the national radio station podcast sites such as www.abc.net.au/services/podcasting/ for Late Night Live or www.bbc.co.uk/radio/downloadtrial/#programmes for The Archers or I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue!