Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Hepburn Springs.

To get to Hepburn Springs, you drive down an alarmingly steep hill that descends into what was probably once the crater of a volcano and ends at a gate which bears directions to the car park and the spa centre.

The carpark was empty except for a single day tour bus parked cheekily across several empty angle parks. I parked the car as close as possible to a tree, for shade.

On a day that hot, the lawn next to the spa centre was possibly the shadiest and coolest place for a picnic in the entire State of Victoria. We threw down the picnic rug and the food cooler and the basket of plates and the cutlery and parked the pram with Thomas in it and sat William down on the blanket and unpacked the picnic: Lebanese flat bread, cold cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, tuna, cold boiled eggs, home made apricot fruit cake. And thermos tea. Having a picnic is a complicated business but it is worth it if you're organised. We were organised. All the organisation pays off when you have eaten enough to sink two ships and you lay back on the cool grass and gaze up at the towering branches of the oaks and elms that reach across and touch each other, way up there, like the arched beams of a giant cathedral.

So we did. Thomas slept in his pram and William sat on the blanket and read a book upside down. Something with bunnies in it. Upside down bunnies. Then he got up and tottered around the lawn, picked up a dead leaf, tasted it, threw it down and wandered over to a straggle of elderly Italian ladies from the day tour bus who were sitting on the lawn fanning themselves with sprigs of leaves from the trees. There were cooings and 'bello's' and smiles and 'ciaos' and then he tottered back and sat down bump on the picnic rug.

Unpacking a picnic is fine. The trouble is when you have to pack it up again. Even though you've eaten all the food, you can never get everything back in the basket. Why? It's one of life's mysteries.

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