Confident in my capability... Challenged when proving it

Image of a sunset across a paddock

I blame it on the time. Actually, I blame it on the time of day. And the lack of sleep. And the fact that I felt a little fraught at the time.

I am not generally inept at public transport. I do not usually have difficulty discerning sign boards and timetables. A very long time ago I lived in East Africa, and managed to negotiate the public transport system there. On one notable occasion I shared my seat with a live chicken, while a panic stricken goat was hoisted past my window and onto the roof of the bus upon which I sat. When it comes to transportation, I have runs on the board.

I was, on those occasions, travelling alone.

Last week, the junior recipe testers and I had the opportunity to travel to the most senior recipe testers' (AKA Mum & Dad's) farm. By train. The train left Central Station at 12.19pm, a perfectly decent time to travel. It was when I went to book the tickets I made the horrifying discovery that there were no seats left on the train.

The juniors were dismayed. There were tears. And gnashing of teeth. The only alternative was a train leaving Central at 7.04 AM. This meant that we had to be at the bus stop near home at 5.30. AM. The juniors were not the least deterred. And so the senior recipe tester dropped the four of us, and our four wheelie suitcases, at the nearest bus stop, at a time at which is it both very dark and very cold.

We travelled to Wynyard on the bus with little incident. During that first leg, I felt it incumbent upon me to educate the juniors about commuters. They are travelling to work, I instructed. They are busy, and in a hurry, and won't be pleased if they trip over a Spiderman wheelie bag. And if you cannot swipe your Opal card very quickly at the turnstile... I will have to do it for you.

The juniors dutifully watched out for commuters, stayed close, didn't get lost, and got remarkably adept at swiping efficiently. Even those who aren't tall enough to be able to see the touch pad.

We then struck a small hitch at Wynyard train station. The trouble with being responsible for small children, is that you not only have to convince yourself you are capable of caring for them, you may, on occasion, be called upon to convince random members of the public too. But when your holiday travels start well before dawn, I think you could perhaps be cut a little slack if you occasionally sound like a complete lunatic.

"I'm looking for platform 2, please," I enquired of a uniformed man.

"There isn't a platform 2," came the reply.

"What about the train to Epping, leaving from Platform 2?"

"The train to Epping leaves from platform 4. Do you want to go to Epping?"

"No."

"Where are you going?"

"I need to get to the city."

Given that we were in fact standing in a city train station, I should not have been surprised when the gentleman raised his eyebrows.

"The next city circle train leaves from platform 5."

"Doesn't the train to Epping leave in about 2 minutes?"

"I thought you weren't going to Epping. Where do you want to go?"

"Central. But I thought the Epping train would be quicker."

There was a pause, while he considered me and my three progeny and their significant suitcases for a journey of only two stops. "Where are you actually going?"

"Bungendore."

At this point I believe the gentleman was making mental notes. He noted what the junior recipe testers were wearing. He memorised what I was wearing... all things he would need later to explain to some authority, either law enforcement or child protection, about the missing passenger who, together with her three charges, had not the first clue about where she was going. 

I'm not sure of the final destination of the train we eventually got on. Fortunately for me, it stopped at Central.

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Trying to help

I feel certain that the dog would not have bitten the senior recipe tester. That is, if the dog had not thought the senior had pushed it down the stairs.

The senior, it should be said, is not prone to violent acts, towards cute furry animals nor anyone else for that matter. Yet this poor creature saw need to attack the senior's ankle in rather a vicious, blood-drawing fashion.

Shortly after it fell down its own front stairs.

Surely, if it had not fallen down the stairs it wouldn't have even considered that the senior recipe tester had pushed it.

If the dog had not gone out of his front door it would not have fallen down the stairs.

If the senior had not summoned the dog's owner to his front door, the dog would not have escaped out of said door that morning.

If the senior had not needed to turn off the water to the house of the dog owner, he would have had no need to summon the owner to his front door.

If the dog owner's dripping tap had not gone from dripping to steadily running, the senior would not have had need to turn off the water to someone else's house.

If the tap's washer had been changed sooner, the tap would not have gone from dripping to steadily running.

If a large volume of water had not have been running through the retaining wall between our house and their house, the senior might never have considered that the tap's washer should have been changed sooner.

If a large puddle had not developed on our driveway, the senior might never have realised that there was a steady stream of water continuously running through the retaining wall.

If the senior had not driven the car through a hitherto unnoticed large puddle of water on our driveway...

well then, the senior recipe tester would not have been bitten by a dog.

The maintenance of general personal hygiene

I know I don't have it as tough as my grandmother, or her grandmother. Most certainly not as difficult as her grandmother. Modern appliances make the washing of clothes, and therefore the maintenance of general personal hygiene, much simpler than in years gone by.

Until said appliances decide they cannot possibly go on.

Clothes washing in our house is more or less a daily necessity. Late last week, as many days before it, I put a load on, slammed the laundry door, and hastened to the kitchen for breakfast. Some time after breakfast the senior recipe tester went in to the laundry to see if the load was done. One of the junior recipe testers, predictably, had no clean school shirt.

A strange groaning noise emerged from the laundry. The washing machine lights were blinking wildly. "Um," bellowed the senior. "Do you know what F11 means?"

The digital display indicated the washing machine was having an F11. It also sounded like it was having a hernia. The school uniform that needed to be washed, dried, ironed, on the body and out the door was resolutely trapped within the machine. 

We pondered the situation for a moment. The senior threatened to have an F11 of his own. The junior started wailing about what was he going to wear to school. I seriously considered the dinosaur pyjamas he was wearing at the time.

We averted the uniform crisis with the donning of the sports uniform wrested from the drawer. The noise coming out of the washing machine was quieted by opening a valve on the machine near the floor.

The opening the valve required a large bucket, a significant number of beach towels and the opening of the back door to deal with any left over tsunami that escaped past the beach towels.

We all got out the door with my promise to contact a person to come and pay attention to the machine.

As soon as I got to work I dialled the first number on the repairers list. "I think I have a problem with the pump on my washing machine."

"Right." came the friendly reply. "We can come and see about it next Thursday."

"As in, more than a week away?"

"Yes."

"But I'm going to run out of clean undies by the weekend."

Weirdly, there was no response.

"Are you sure you can't come any sooner than that?" I enquired.

"No."

I rang the next repairer on my list.

"I'm sorry, we no longer service that brand."

I rang another repairer.

"We've never serviced that brand."

I rang yet another repairer.

"I don't know anyone who services that brand in this area. Perhaps if you lived somewhere else..." I may have hung up before she finished.

My patience was wearing a little thin. I rang the appliance shop where we purchased the machine to ask for advice on who to call. They gave me the number of the manufacturer and suggested I ask for a recommended repairer.

This seemed very sensible. I phoned them.

"No problem."

"Thank heavens," I replied.

"Let me look you up in our system. It would have been logged for warranty purposes when you purchased the machine. What was the name?"

We went through the usual suspects, name, phone number, address but nothing appeared on the kindly woman's screen. "The only thing I have here is a dishwasher," she said.

"Yes, we have a dishwasher of the same brand, but it's the washing machine that has had it."

"Could it have been purchased at another address, or under another name?"

We went through the senior recipe tester's name, same address details, and his phone number. "No, it's not coming up at all."

I am often grateful to strangers for teaching me things I did not know before. I was sorry that this woman was not able to tell me what brand of washing machine was actually sitting in my laundry, that I purchased approximately 5 years ago, and have used daily since. I am grateful to know which brand it isn't.

I called the first repairer on my list.

Sourcing local honey for you

It's estimated that one third of all food produced on the globe is dependent on pollination by bees. One third! One colony, containing around 50,000 bees, can pollinate approximately 4000 square metres of fruit trees. That's a lot of fruit.

Bees are extraordinarily important to the production of food for both humans and animals to eat. And that, of course, is apart from the delicious honey they make!

As you know, we launched our first dinner cart at Thomas Holt Drive Macquarie Park a few weeks ago, partnering with AMP Capital, who own the site. AMP Capital have been investing in sustainability initiatives to increase the productive use of the sites they own around Sydney.

At Thomas Holt Drive, they have bee hives, along with trained staff to maintain them, keep the bees happy, and to collect the honey. They were delighted to give us some of their honey to cook your dinner.

And so this week we're excited to bring you two delicious offerings: our much adored Teriyaki Chicken, and Apple and Cinnamon Muffins made with honey sourced from our second site at Thomas Holt Drive. Local honey indeed, from hives just 15km down the road.

And on Wednesday this week (5 Sept) we'll be back at Thomas Holt Drive serving up our sensational Teriyaki Wings with a crunchy salad for lunch. If you happen to be in the Macquarie Park area from 11.30, do stop in for a nourishing, locally grown lunch.

Come and sit amongst the trees in the beautiful gardens at Thomas Holt Drive, hear about the onsite sustainability initiatives, and the importance of bees to the world food economy, and enjoy a delicious lunch, cooked using the onsite produce. We'd love to see you there.

Garbage trouble

Setting up a new kitchen has taught me many things. It takes longer than you think. It is more complicated than it first appears. Brand new stainless steel panelling comes wrapped in a protective plastic film. The plastic film needs to be removed before you can start cooking.

Plastic film is bulky and creates a lot of rubbish.

Too much for the new bins that just got delivered.

I offered to assist in this situation by taking a large bag of rubbish home from the kitchen to deposit in our bin. It wouldn't fit in my bin either, and so it sat forlornly round the side of my house.

The other day it was garbage truck day. I was just about to walk the junior recipe testers to school when the garbage truck rolled through our street. In that moment, what I assumed to be a brilliant idea struck me. I grabbed the rubbish bag, instructed the juniors to wait at the top of the driveway and dashed across the road in front of the garbage truck.

Once our neighbour's bin was emptied I signalled wildly to the truck driver that I had another bag of rubbish and could he possibly take it. Not realising just how noisy a garbage truck is, I employed my best sign language. Through various arm waving I indicated to the driver that I would hold the rubbish bag out for him to extend the clamping arm things and lift it into the truck.

He shook his head.

On hindsight, this was probably wise. I was not wearing particularly loose sleeves, but I imagine it would be quite a thing to explain at the depot if I had gotten tangled up in the clamping arm things and flung aloft into the truck.

He wound down his window. "Throw it in," he instructed.

I looked up at the truck. "Um..." I responded.

"Just throw it in." He was starting to sound impatient.

I looked up at the truck again. I'm not sure I had ever previously considered the size of a garbage truck. I clutched the bag of rubbish and took a back swing.

I have now learned that I might have had more success had I tried to throw the rubbish bag over our house. Launching a bag of rubbish into the opening of a garbage truck is like trying to throw it onto a balcony.

On the third floor.

The bag did not sail into the rubbish receptacle in the top of the garbage truck. It hooked itself on the side. And tore. And opened, sprinkling rubbish into our neigbour's driveway. There was a particularly awkward moment when I had to reach up to try and disentangle my bag of rubbish from the side of the truck and pull it down.

This is when I learned that the bag didn't just have protective plastic coating in it. Turns out there was a pile of other stuff too. Pulling the bag down served to spread yet more rubbish across the general vicinity.

With some panic that the truck might just drive off, I got down on my knees and started scraping it up with my hands.

By this stage the driver was wondering what he had done to deserve this scenario on his morning run. I am, however, exceedingly grateful to him: he did hop out to help. We loaded the rubbish into the neighbour's, now empty, bin. The driver hopped back in to operate the clamping arm things.

Setting up a new kitchen has taught me that the best way to get rubbish into a garbage truck is via a rubbish bin.

We launched... with a few blow outs

We have been desperate to get back into the kitchen and start cooking for you again. And this week we have finally done it! We have cooked in our new premises in Carrington Road, Castle Hill (32/7... do stop in and say hello!)

You all know that our kitchen renovations took much longer than we anticipated. But the result was worth it: what we have to work in is so much more than we anticipated. And we couldn't be more excited.

If I'm being really honest, it has been a week of highs and lows. In any move there are bound to be teething problems. ...Yep.

Our oven cooked itself when it was being plugged in. We hadn't even had the chance to break it yet. The repair required a part. The part was in Melbourne, and no we couldn't have it in the next half hour. In the days waiting for the part we cooked teeny tiny quantities in our second, but teeny tiny, oven. A lot of times. And hoped we'd laugh about it one day.

When the part finally did arrive the oven required the expertise of Dean. It was Dean who conducted open heart surgery to fix it. By the time we had finished all the cooking, the oven was working again. Excellent.

Our dishwasher carked it entirely. The defibrillators were hollered for. They were employed on several occasions. In the end Dean had to call it. We held a memorial service in the expansive wash up area of our new premises. The burial will be held at the Castle Hill metal recyclers, its soul laid to rest without a single wash cycle completed.

The staff were distraught. We are still weeping tears into the large sink in which we have hand washed every pot, pan and stirring implement this week. We're expecting a replacement next week. In the meantime we're spending the weekend purchasing more rubber gloves.

Yesterday afternoon, the front of our bratt pan inexplicably fell off. By itself. Without provocation. One team member was heard to cry out in religious fervour, "Jesus, this place is falling apart!"

Again, we called on the ever patient Dean for assistance. Fortunately, he was still on site from the last disaster. He begged us not to cause any more trouble. We're trying our hardest.

But the place isn't falling apart. It's fantastic. And we're so excited about our new home.

For me, this week has highlighted how much the Dinner on the Table team love to cook for you, how they love to be working together, and how adaptable (and cheery!) they are in the face of big challenges. I am so grateful for them, and I know you are too.

I'm grateful for Theresa and Dylan from Nuance Food, whose kitchen we share. You couldn't ask for a better set of 'flat mates', and to have someone to help shoulder the trials and celebrate the triumphs has been invaluable.

We're just getting started. And next week we'll be a little more familiar. But we can't wait to welcome you to our new home.

I shouldn't be surprised... but I always am

I know I shouldn’t be surprised. But I always am. Despite my significant experience, I never ceased to be amazed.  And then I never cease to be irritated. I sometimes cease from shouting, but never cease from gritting my teeth and speaking. Simultaneously.

Things always take longer than you think.

Always.

It is currently school holidays. And I am someone whose life needs to be arranged around such peculiarities. These holidays the junior recipe testers and I have had some spectacular adventures. One day included a plane watching tour, starting from Mascot train station. On foot.

That took much longer than I thought. Mascot train station is nowhere near the plane watching platform. I can, however, highly recommend taking your juniors to the airport to watch planes. But take the car, for preference.

But I digress.

Once upon a time, in our house, we had a study. Then we had a junior recipe tester. And then a couple more. And then we didn't have a study. We have more juniors than bedrooms, and so some are required to share. Over the past few weeks the juniors have been debating whether there should be a realignment of bedrooms and who shares with whom.

This week they finally decided, and so our task was to rearrange furniture. It is incumbent upon me as a parent, I believe, to ensure that the clothes of the junior residing in a bedroom, also reside in that bedroom. I rallied the troops and revved them up for the task: we move these clothes from here to here, these from here to there and rejig a few books and toys. 

No problem.

The chest of drawers two juniors have shared are extraordinarily large and extraordinarily heavy. I picked up a clothing-laden drawer and headed from here to there. After scraping the skin of my knuckles on both sides of the doorway I wavered under the weight. The drawer slid from my now skinned hands.

There wasn't a very big noise to accompany the fall. Just a great deal of daylight between the sides, the bottom and now the drawer front. Clothes tumbled out through the daylight.

I stood in the hall and contemplated the position. I considered the clothes now tumbled about the place. I weighed up the short trip down the hall from here to there, from one bedroom to another. I realised these few small steps could now only be completed via a trip to Ikea.

I gritted my teeth and started to speak...

The Dinner on the Table kitchen has made a small trip from here to there. Baulkham Hills to Castle Hill isn't very far. But sometimes that small trip can take far longer than you ever imagined possible. But we're making progress: we have a freezer room built and an enormous extractor hood.

The equipment is being rearranged and reinstalled (we haven't dropped any yet). And soon we will be, once again, cooking and delivering your dinners. Our new kitchen is shared with our good friends at Nuance Food. We're excited about our role as flat-mate. We're going to have a busy and vibrant kitchen, and that extends everyone's creativity.

We can't wait. Some of us are considering gritting our teeth; but we're not shouting. There are also some exciting new things we can't wait to share with you, like extended pickup hours, no need to preorder for pickup (and you'll be able to swing past and get a great cup of coffee too - more about that soon!), and a brand new venture bringing dinners to busy working people (yep, we're coming to you!)

When we're finally in you'll hear the shouting at your place. We're so grateful for your patience and we can't wait to cook for you again soon. We'll keep you posted!

Our new kitchen being renovatedNew freezer room in our new kitchen premises