The Blue House

A weekend away with girlfriends is something to look forward to. The anticipation of being unfettered and unencumbered by the needs of anyone else is certainly something to be savoured. To be surrounded by friends who know your story, who understand ‘where you are at’, who get your eccentricities, your likes and dislikes, who are aware of your good and bad qualities and yet despite all that; they still want to go away with you. (Either that or they are too polite to disinvite you.)

We met when our (now fifteen year old) babies were merely a few weeks old. From that we formed a Mothers Group. Meeting each week reassured us that we were not alone in this journey called ‘motherhood.’ As time went on, some of our number moved away, changed goals and directions and eventually in the end; four of us remained.

To this day, we still meet for coffee and breakfast once a fortnight. That is not a feat to be sneezed at. The mind boggles at the changes we have experienced throughout these years. The birth of more children, the heartache of no more children, moving away, returning, losing loved ones, sharing the joy and torment that is parenting, grieving the loss of loved ones or of changed relationships, learning more about ourselves, not always seeing eye to eye, laughing our asses off, crying our eyes out, complaining, sharing, oversharing but loving each other regardless.

Whether it be serendipity that we met, a fluke or part of some greater plan; I cannot say. But I am grateful to know each one of these beautiful women. Our annual weekends away are a time of fun, heart to heart discussions, good food, laughs, relaxation and reflection.

This year we booked The Blue House in the beautiful Blue Mountains village of Leura. It is a sweet wee cottage just a mere 15 minute walk from town. The house is set in a delightful old school garden and yes, it is actually painted blue. We found it charming, warm, clean and full of welcoming and thoughtful features. Each and every one of us particularly loved the combustion fireplace and the thoughtfully organised kitchen, full of every utensil or dish you could possibly need. (Not that we really cooked on this visit.)

Two meals were eaten at the consistently good Red Door Cafe in Leura. Their salmon in butter dish and their roast pumpkin and fried egg brunch dish are so delicious that I order one or the other every time we eat there. And the coffee is darned good too.

We visited Josophan’s for their amazing chocolate, ice-creams and bags of cooking cocoa; watched movies snuggled under blankets, devoured piggy platters of assorted cheeses, dips and suchforth, we sipped good wine, took winter walks, experienced great shopping be it clothing, homewares or food; and ate seriously good Thai takeaway. What else could a woman want? Maybe just an extended visit next time? Two nights is just never enough and there’s nothing wrong with being a little bit greedy.

The Red Door Cafe

Josophan’s Fine Chocolates

Logan Wines

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Leura and Holmcroft

Our brother-in-law had arrived from the UK and after a couple of days hanging in our usual surrounds, we thought it a grand idea to go and visit further afield. It didn’t take long to decide upon the charming village of Leura, set admidst the quintessential Australian bush environment of the Blue Mountains. After investigating accommodation options online until my eyeballs bled, I chose a charming wee cottage named Holmcroft. Staying in another home elsewhere is like trying on a pair of fine, expensive shoes. You get the feeling of another way of life in a place that is different to your own. Yet you are not required to commit to it.

The bones of Holmcroft wrapped themselves around us. Pressed metal walls and ceilings, wide knotted Kauri floorboards and panels of stained glass panels hark back to the early 1900’s. I stared at the ornate ceilings, imagining those who passed through and have long gone back to dust and dirt. So many unspoken stories embedded into the mitochondria of this building. The spoken and the unspoken, I like to think that we also left behind a tiny part of our own story.

Holmcroft definitely harkens back to a more gracious time. When clocks ticked their steady rhythm, fine bone china clinked and heavy fabricked skirts rustled. The house is plenty big enough, four bedrooms are dressed with good quality bed linen, there are two bathrooms, two comfortable decent sized living areas and a lovely verandah for cup-of-tea relaxing. Mod-cons such as central heating, a dishwasher and an updated kitchen are the icing on this vintage cake. The boys ran out their bottled-up energy in the rambling garden, when they weren’t exhausted from the daily walking.

I happily did very little cooking, unless you can call arranging a piggy-platter of tasty nibbles and opening a bottle of fizzy wine actual cooking? Leura was a pleasant ten minute stroll away and we delighted in the heavily blossom laden trees and beautifully maintained gardens we passed on the way into town.

We ate at a number of restaurants and cafes but my highlight was lunch at the Red Door Cafe. I ordered the same dish on two different occasions, it comprised of a wild rice sage and mushroom rosti, chilli and chive fried eggs, sweet roast pumpkin and all topped with a radish, almond, peach and pecorino salad. Whilst it sounds like a bit of a mish-mash, it was incredibly well balanced and completely delicious. Something to attempt replicating at home for sure.

Josophan’s Chocolates was another solid fist punch foodie moment. The boys scoffed decadent brownies, of which we got a tiny nibble. I also purchased a bag of their magnificent Belgian cocoa and may (or may not) have bought a small bag of their hand-crafted chocolates. (Shhh, don’t tell the children or The Yak.) We ate hearty pies in buttery pastry and very good sourdough at Wentworth Bakery. This sometimes grown-up also managed to sneak away for some lovely shopping moments in the lush boutiques that dot the main street.

We walked, talked and enjoyed the jaw-dropping mountain scenery. Whilst extreme heights has never been my favourite, I found myself panicking whenever the boys went too close to the vertigous edge. I tried not to pass on this new found anxiety to the lads. Judging from the way they happily trekked down the cliff face to the closest point of the Three Sisters rock formation, I seem to have succeeded. (Despite my small tantrum at not wanting them to go and storming back up the path so as not to witness their descent. Another chapter to add to my ‘Fine Parenting Moments 101.’)

We read by the fire, ate, drank good wine and made new memories. Although the absence of our Joanne weighed heavily at times we hope that it was a small salve to Rob’s soul to be elsewhere for a while, just as it was for us to spend time with him.

Speaking of leaving a part of us behind, we accidentally left one boys favourite soccer cap and two other items of my clothing at the house. So I guess the old adage of ‘be careful what you wish for’ sometimes does come true. If that is the case, I would like to throw another wish out there, that we come back to visit Holmcroft again and not before too long.

Holmcroft

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