Bonny Bonnay

School holidays had arrived so we decided to hitch the cart to the horse, throw the sproglets in the back and take off to the Hunter Valley. This is a beautiful wine growing region a mere one and a half hours drive north from Sydney. A mini-break that involved wine tasting? You don’t have to ask me twice.

A quick visit to the local Hornsby Growers Market for supplies, then we hit the open road. We knew we were in wine country the minute we hit the vineyards. (A real bunch of Einsteins are we.)

First stop before arriving at the house was a spot of lunch, we spied a rustic looking joint called the Lovedale Store Cafe. A simple cheese toastie for the eight year old and a ‘slap me silly sideways it was so good Asian style pulled pork on a toasted bun with homemade coleslaw’ for Kid 1 and myself. A big pot of Yorkshire tea for the grown ups and a veggie frittata with a tasty potato salad for The Yak. And a chilled out Highland goatie oatie out the back. (Alive of course.)

Our first wine sipping stop is Peterson’s Wines where they make killer sparkling wine. Friendly, funny and attentively served, this Cheergerm solely sipped on stars and maybe even purchased one or two. A chocolate shop stop to keep the smaller people happy, then off to the house we went.

This soothing green house is timeless, stepping inside we feel instantly becalmed. Steady ticking clocks, the heartbeat of this home, remind us both of childhood. Patchwork quilts and vintage china, a well-stocked kitchen and a claw-footed bathtub. We look out onto pastoral landscape and an old school garden with lavender and citrus trees.

An afternoon walk, warm sunshine on a winters day. Kid 2 slipped his little hand in mine and chattered about the shapes of trees, what we will do next and other topics that are dear to this eight year old boys heart.

Sitting on the white bed, the view of the vibrantly orange mandarin tree from our bedroom window distracted me as I wrote. The only sound was the chirrup of birds and the occasional bovine moo.

Night fell and we rugged up to stargaze in the darkened country night. Kid 1 was initially frightened at the overwhelming vista, never has been before. Perhaps it is merely a symptom of his burgeoning awareness that sadly, the world is not the safe place he thought it once was. Our eyes adjusted to the night sky and Kid 2 marvelled at the Milky Way and multitudes of stars. He spoke of a high powered telescope and perhaps, another stargazer has been made.

A Peterson’s sparkling Shiraz Viognier goes very nicely with a black pepper pie and a gluten free veggie roll purchased from the Hornsby Farmers Market. (It’s my bloody holiday too.) A homemade baby kale (adorable or what and so much nicer than the grown up version) and fennel salad dressed with caramelised balsamic and olive oil, offsets the pastry richness.

As I sat in bed reading, the boys and Yak were fast asleep. I listened to the crackle of the open fire and felt lucky and grateful to be there, tucked cosily under the roof of this country home. (I also felt grateful for the sturdy fire guard that ensured we did not burn to death in the middle of the night.)

My master plan of slap up huge lunches and easy dinners worked a treat. Japanese and Thai food at Oishii in the Tempus Two complex is surprisingly good. On the next day, a solidly decent lunch of fish and chips at The Deck Cafe in Lovedale kept us going amongst the very difficult work of a spot of wine tasting. Vineyard highlights included Cappercaille, Brokenwood, Allandale, Tamburlaine Organic Vineyards and the stunningly beautifully located Audrey Wilkinson. Needless to say, we are well stocked in case of a wine apocaplyse.

Our final night found us by the open fire, scoffing Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese triple cream Brie. A delightful floral, chalky and creamy cheese. The lyrical and come hither strains of bohemian French Cafe jazz, (why does everything sound better in French?), kids revelling in toasting marshmallows on the open fire and a Hunter Valley Chardonnay from Allandale.

The Yak wanted to freeze time as he watched his two lads reading in their voluptuous white cloud-like beds. But the morning of leaving arrived as mornings are bound to do. As my mum always says, you have to leave so you can come back. And that we will.

41 thoughts on “Bonny Bonnay

  1. Geez, Ms. Cheergerm, on the strength of this beautifully written and mouthwatering tale I’d buy a ticket to Oz in a nano-second. What a wonderful mini-break you had and the photos are TO DIE FOR!

    • Thanks RSue, would love to meet you! Buy the ticket! It was a gorgeous family time away. The Hunter Valley is pretty wonderful. Just got back from a chicks weekend away, so am feeling very spoilt. Back to work tomorrow though. C’est la vie I suppose.

  2. What a delightful trip and post. Now when I enjoy a wine from the Hunter Valley, I will have your image of the mandarin tree in mind. And it did not escape me that someone is reading “Catcher in the Rye” πŸ™‚ I can’t even see the title without thinking of Gregory Peck…

    • Thanks LM, it’s a beautiful area with great wines. We picked some of those mandarins as well…not many, just a cheeky handful. The Yak is re-reading Catcher, and enjoying it immensely. Ah, Gregory. I saw him once in a posh hotel in Melbourne in his later years. I think he was filming (re-filming?) Moby
      Dick. He was still a beautiful man. 😊

  3. Spectacular. I nearly felt like I was at your side sipping and noshing my way through that valley. It truly sounds like the most heartwarming and memorable family weekends away. Makes you want to bind those precious memories up and tuck them in a box beneath your bed.
    Lucky mama.
    Fabulous food and family, grand spacious sky, wine to weaken bunched up nerves–yeah, a weekend hard to beat.

    • It was some beautiful family time. Even if the kidlets did complain a bit about the wine tasting! Oh well, it doesn’t hurt them to fit in with adults sometimes. 😁 I love your image of binding our special memories in a box and sliding it under the bed. To take out and revisit on a rainy day. Thanks Mrs P.

  4. Looks like a fun weekend Cheery, equal measure of kid and grown up activities. A few year’s since we last visited the Hunter Valley wineries, much easier to get to the Yarra Valley!

    • Thanks Mrs R. It was a good mix indeed. We visited the Yarra Valley wineries a lot as kids, running around outside whilst the grown ups sampled the wares. We got to drink non alcoholic grape juice and eat cheese! How things come full circle. I love the Yarra Valley wineries too but it’s been about 15 years since I have visited them. Where will you go in Queensland?

    • Heya, we left Thursday morning and got back Sunday avo. Not for long but it was a perfect wee mini-break. (That always reminds me of the Bridget Jones movie. ) 😁

  5. A.PROMPTreply

    That pic in front of the fireplace should be your Christmas card this year….if only you were in it too! Wonderful post full of delicious snaps and memories! Thanks for sharing!

  6. What a magical mini-break indeed! Love the way you combine your family stories and gourmet inspirations. Inspires me to re-blog and remind the world that France is not the center of the wine-growing universe. Bises! xo

    • Oh, such lovely and encouraging words. I would be delighted to accompany you on a Hunter Valley wine tour if you ever make it over here. In the meantime, I raise a glass of Hunter Valley Capercaille Shiraz in your honour Mrs France. Xx 😊

  7. Reblogged this on FranceSays and commented:
    Why does everything sound better in French? And more importantly, why is Australia so bloody far away? This post from The Cheergerm and the Silly Yak, one of my favorite bloggers from downunder, takes us on a trip with family into the vineyards near Sydney. This is on my roadmap for a future trip to Oz. Enjoy!

  8. Kat

    Hi there, what a lovely post you have here πŸ™‚ Your photos are beautiful and as I read your post, you transported me to the vineyard as if I was there too. Thanks for sharing.


    • It was pretty darned nice Nap. I am living off the memory at the moment. I was reading a blog post yesterday and someone was writing about Italy and I was all like…Wah, wah…i want to go too…and eat pasta and drink Italian red wine. Sigh.

      • I just googled Taylor Ham and now understand what a New Jersey delicacy it is. Albeit the photos mayhaps do not do it justice? I believe it is a good year for chlorinated water, I read that the 2015 has a good ‘nose’ and is great when cellared for a few years?

      • Umm, no. That’s really what Taylor Ham looks like, only usually it’s stuck between a slice of American cheese and a fried egg and stuck on an everything bagel.
        Delicious? Yes.
        Heart attack? Yes please.
        Now google “scrapple”. That’s what people in Pennsylvania eat.

      • Well then, let’s just concentrate on the fact this it tastes good. Just googled scrapple, there is something I cannot ‘unsee’. I admire the thrifty using up of all of ‘the bits’ but I may just pass if I am ever offered any….

      • It’s for the best, really. I’ve never tasted the stuff, but all the people I’ve ever known who eat it are, coincidentally, not the people I’d ask to recommend a good restaurant.

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