Canadian Bay Club Visit

Good evening,

On December 30 we were invited to the Canadian Bay Club by the Quinn family to join some of their friends for a relaxed BBQ dinner. Robin and I had not been to the club before and I must say I was looking forward to the opportunity.

Now the CBC is a members-only clubhouse-style environment that provides facilities for self-catered type meals whilst providing all the cooking, cutlery and associated needs to support dining requirements. Balcony seating and dining, boat and kayak storage and the spectacular location are the main attractions of the club.

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The summer afternoon view across Canadian Bay - 2013

The view from the deck across Canadian Bay is of the million dollar variety. Absolute waterfront, private and superb. Sadly I had a bout of camera incompetence and didn't get a decent panorama of the view. Bah.

After plenty of tasty snacks (including some superb organic popcorn) we dined on a delightful BBQ of steak and snags with mixed salads. A sensational lemon tart was the major dessert that only lost marks because it was made by a professional chef ( a guest). It was sensational! Coffee and chocolates rounded off the evening.

Although the environment and food were very good, the conversation was the best part of the evening. Corey and Jane knew everyone, but some of the others were strangers but not for long. Especially with one of the guests, Rowan, fairly giving the female guests the 'third degree' and finding out more information in fifteen minutes than others would have taken three months to find out. With all cards on the table, the gloves were off (apologies for the mixed metaphors...) and information was freely shared thereafter! Great fun.

Thanks to Corey and Jane (and family) for inviting us. We had a fantastic evening.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

The 2013 Christmas Day Wrap

Good morning,

Christmas has come and gone for another year. As I sit here lethargically in my lounge chair on Thursday morning waiting for the Boxing Day Test to start, it doesn't feel like it but it was a very enjoyable Christmas Day. The luncheon feast was at our place again this year. That is not a complaint but a bonus. I can eat and drink what I want and if I need a quiet lie down mid afternoon, I can do that as well.

Preparations started a couple of weeks out. Ordering the seafood, deciding which roast meats to prepare (and where). Crayfish, oysters, prawns and salad greens for starters, followed by Roast Beef, Roast Turkey breast and carved ham off the bone, along with six or seven vegetables. Desserts were plum pudding and possibly a grilled stone fruit pavlova. Well, that was the plan anyway.

After some initial preparations on Christmas morning, I went to visit my Dad. I am pleased to say that he was in good spirits and we shared a small bottle of sparkling wine and after a few sips he seemed to improve a bit more! Then his personal doctor John visited with his wife Pam (both long time family friends) with a card and Christmas wishes and that cheered him up even more.

Dad
Dad enjoying a tipple for Christmas at Somercare - 2013

Our guests arrived a little early, putting the pressure on last minute preparations. While organising the drinks, I managed to smash a champagne glass that added further stress. Aaarrghh. But the seafood was duly served and was particularly fine. Phew, one course down!

M & M 2013 Lunch
Family & friends Christmas 2013 - 2013

It was our first year to roast a full (well buffe) turkey. Robin made stuffing, only to find that there was nowhere to 'stuff' it! The roast veggies were in one BBQ and the scotch fillet roast in the other, and with the turkey from the kitchen oven, everything was now done and were served with the many vegetables and suitably 'thick' gravy. Two courses down. Ah, the day will now get easier. Those of you following closely may notice that I didn't mention the ham... That is because it stayed in the fridge. We forgot all about it! Oh well, maybe next year. Margaret's plum pudding and brandy sauce was the traditionalist's choice for dessert, but I had planned to offer a fruit pavlova loosely based on a recipe that Jamie Oliver was flogging for Woolies on the TV. Lani and Jesse (and me) were keen for the pavlova so I grilled the fruit and assembled the toppings (Robin had already made the base) and it was really good! And if you ignore the meringue base, the full vanilla cream and the crushed 'Flake' on top, it was almost healthy...

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The now 'traditional' Christmas BBQ Stone Fruit Pavlova - Photo by Lani Cleland 2013

After lunch we all retired to the lounge room where presents were merrily exchanged and due to some well organised 'negotiations' most people were very happy, if not totally surprised, by their gifts!

The roll call of the day was Margaret Cleland, Libby Cleland and her daughters Lani and Jesse, Denise Banks and for dessert (of course) Monica Clifford. I hope everyone enjoyed the day. After some cleaning up Robin and I had a very light dinner and a quiet drink to celebrate successfully surviving another family Christmas Day.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Vale: Michael Lee Coleman 1954-2013

We received some very sad news today of the passing of my cousin Michael Coleman. Michael was the second oldest son of Dad's youngest sister Joan and husband Ken (deceased).

For no other reason than our lives took different paths, I had been out of touch with Michael for some time and only caught up with him again late last year at Yvonne Humphries funeral. He discussed his (then) recent cancer scare but was recovering well to the point where he was planning a caravan trip around Australia this year. Unfortunately, he only got as far as the Gold Coast before his disease struck him down and he passed away back in Melbourne this week.

My memories of Michael will always be of a happy kid, a hard working, family oriented man who will be missed by all those that came in contact with him.

Our thoughts are with his wife Carolyn and their children Amber, Kara and Garen.

Rest in peace Michael.

Veraison Restaurant at Bluestone Lane Winery

Good evening,

I visited Veraison Restaurant at the Bluestone Lane Winery recently with a my good friend Rod, to sample the fruits of the vineyard and of the kitchen. And we were not let down on either front.

The view from the deck, even on this cool but sunny day, is very engaging. Looking out over the vines to the trees of the border is most restful and the property is maintained to a very high standard.

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Views over the vines - 2013

The mid week menu is a two or three course, fixed price affair offering flexibility of multi-savoury or traditional savoury & dessert combinations. It was Spanish garlic prawns and Beef Brochette wrapped in prosciutto with vegetables for me and Rod was seen tucking into two seafood courses of scallops and whiting and pronounced both excellent. Not surprisingly, the emphasis is on locally sourced produce and it shows in the freshness and taste. Excellent.

This was all washed down with a delightful 2012 Bluestone Lanes Pinot Grigio. This Italian variety is gaining great popularity with winemakers on the Mornington Peninsula in addition to the usual crops of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And special mention of the service which is knowledgeable and engaging.

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Rod in relaxed repose - 2013

This was my second visit to Veraison, and if you are down Balnarring way looking for an excellent dining experience, I recommend it unreservedly.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Xavier's 2013 Grand Final Eve Luncheon

Good afternoon,

Another year, another Xavier's Grand Final Eve Luncheon in the Committee Room of the Melbourne Cricket Club. The room overlooks the famous ground where preparations were just concluding some 24 hours prior to the big game.

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The MCG in it's Grand Final Eve glory - 2013

As usual, the day starts around 11AM with some refreshments at the Percy Beames Bar and conversation with, and re-introductions to, some folks that you can barely remember talking to at last year's excellent event… I believe some 18 hardy souls fronted up again, including many familiar faces. It was my fourth year I believe. I can't recall too much Grand Final football being discussed as they were only one or two Hawthorn supporters there (no Dockers of course), plenty of chat about the Essendon crisis and some hard luck stories from the Geelong fans that fell on deaf ears.

Then around 12.30 it was off to the dining room for a wonderful three course luncheon. The caterers do a superb job on the range, quality and value of both the food and wine on the day. The service is also friendly, attentive and efficient. Outstanding all round!

Peter & Xavier
Xavier (centre left) & Peter (centre right) - 2013

I had the pleasure of sitting next to a Telstra salesman all day. Jeepers, what had I done to offend Xavier last year??? Only joking Dale is great fun and has the distinction of also being an Essendon supporter.

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Scott & Colin - 2013

Around 3.00 we were asked to vacate the Dining Room and it seemed only right and proper that we go back to the Bar for another cleanser (or two) before that also seemed to close and we were officially evicted around 3.45-ish. This is a very clear signal that it is time to go home, for some… The options are to Richmond Station, the train then home; or a short march up the hill to The Hilton Hotel to continue what has been so effectively started. Dear readers, you will delighted to hear that I did take option A, and made my way home fully satisfied by great company, food and wine at Xavier's 2013 Grand Final Eve lunch.

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Happy days - 2013

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Essendon FC - 2013 Report Card

Good afternoon,

Wow, where to start. Fair to say that the entire club, from top to bottom, did not cover itself in glory this year.

The Board, administration, management and coaching staff were clearly too trusting and / or asleep at the wheel when it came to the oversight and control of performance-enhancing substances provided to the playing group. At best it was very, very disappointing, and frankly at worst very irresponsible. And IMHO appropriate penalties have been handed down, either internally or externally, to those concerned. So let's now look forward from a playing perspective rather than dwell on the sports science issues of the past.

The only people who can hold their heads up throughout this entire saga are the players. They almost deserve medals to be struck in their honour for playing the way they did, nearly all year in the face of unbelievable criticism and attention.

So based on purely on-field performance, what were my observations of the year?

The Highs:
Jobe Watson - Class family, quality individual, the perfect captain and did everything possible on and off the field to keep the footy club performing;
Brendon Goddard - The Crichton Medallist, never really dominated but was extremely consistent with his on-field contribution and was an immediate leader upon arriving at the club;
Jake Carlisle - A break out year to be one of the best key defenders in the AFL while being able to swing forward when needed;
Cale Hooker - Looks a little one paced, but showed great judgement, was a leading intercept mark in the comp and made pretty good decisions down back shutting down some big name opposition forwards;
Michael Hibberd - Another break out year player, after a promising 2012. His defensive skills, plus run plus penetrating left foot set up many attacking thrusts through the year;
Tom Bellchambers - Really came of age, with maturity either in the ruck with hit outs to advantage or as a goal kicking resting forward. Delighted that he has signed on for two more years;
Dustin Fletcher - Just because! An inspiration to those on the ground and to the fans in the stands. A real club favourite son, or father or grand dad...

Honourable mentions:
Jackson Merrett (flashes of class mark him as a player to watch), Patrick Ryder, Michael Hurley (still injury prone), Courtenay Dempsey, Jason Winderlich, Mark Baguley (very under-rated), David Zaharakis, Jake Melksham (despite being a bit of a fan whipping boy), Brent Stanton (a previous fan whipping boy), Stewart Crameri (the leading goal kicker despite an injury plagued season)

Disappointing / more expected:
Leroy Jetta, Ben Howlett (after a promising start), Alwyn Davey (also after a promising start), Travis Colyer, Scott Gumbleton (injuries still)

Thanks for the memories:
To two great servants of the EFC, David Hille and Nathan Lovett-Murray. They could not have given any more to the club and they should both be proud.

One final comment - The team / club did a great job to fight nearly all the way to the end of the season under unbelievable pressure. The only on-field coaching failure I saw was a very poor game plan / structure for our forward line. We have excellent performers in that space and our output was well below the players 'quality'. More leadership and direction required up forward in 2014.

It was very disappointing but not unexpected to be dumped from the finals this year. So let's re-focus, hold our collective heads up and prepare for a stunning 2014! Go Bombers!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Cavalia

Good afternoon,

Always keen to latch on to anything equestrian oriented, Robin signed us up for 'Cavalia', a mixture of trick/show riding with circus acts mixed in for additional entertainment.

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Cavalia before curtain up -2013

Located in a number of big top tents with temporary grandstands etc in the Docklands, it was a very grand event, and most entertaining. Two 45 minutes halves with a decent intermission kept seat squirming to a minimum. A live band provided the soundtrack which was of course well matched to the choreography of the show and a spectacular light show which was almost worth the price of admission alone. The horses were fine, the riding excellent by my standards and the acrobats and jugglers most expert.

Overall, maybe 8 or 9 out of ten from me. A great night of entertainment whether you loved horses or not. Excellent!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

2013 Maroochydore Holiday

Good afternoon,

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Full report to come soon!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

BomberBoy in hospital...

Good morning,

It all happened a couple of weeks ago. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, on top of all my other ailments I was struck down with suspected food poisoning. This subsequently left me severely dehydrated necessitating a stay in hospital on a drip until the symptoms passed and I got some more fluids back in my system.

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It has left me tired and flat and I am only starting to get my strength back now after a couple of weeks.

Many thanks to Dr Herrmann and the nursing staff at The Bays Hospital in Mornington for their excellent care.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Essendon FC- Mid Year Report Card

Good evening,

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Here is my assessment of the Bombers season as we sit here at the mid-season break.

Game Style

Positives
It would not be possible to watch the Bombers, or to listen to the comments of the coaching staff in general, and James Hird in particular, without getting a dose of 'we want the boys to play the style of football that we want'. As an observer, it seems pretty clear that from a structure and discipline point of view, there has been huge steps forward in the way we play. Call it what you like, defenders pushing up, rolling off, spread, protecting space, coverage and / or switch, we are much more accountable structurally. It doesn't seem to come easy or naturally to the guys as yet as there is much pointing and hand waving at almost every stoppage to ensure that everyone is in the right place at all times. I have enjoyed watching it as you can feel and see and be part of what the guys are trying to do, rather than live and die by the scoreboard. Being part of the process if you like.

Negatives
As great as our defence and mid-field processes have been, the forward line is a disaster from an efficiency point of view. The ball goes in, and the ball comes out. I am not a fan of the new wave 'shared goals, multiple options, no focal point' style. If John Coleman played now, he would be a high half forward forward and rotate regularly off the ground. The club needs to commit to a player (or two) to isolate / hit up and then allow the rest to separate / make space and be available as alternates. It the ball is turned over, everyone needs to put forward pressure on to keep the ball in.

Players

Barometers / Bellweathers
Thought I would introduce this category. In my opinion, Essendon has two players that dictate our fortunes and whose performances are lead-indicators as to whether we play well or not.

Courtenay Dempsey - This guy is absolutely key to our structure and our fast break from defence. He has come back superbly from his knee reco a couple of years ago and is just getting better and better with his defensive skills, intercept work and rebound run.
Alwyn Davey - Pretty simply put, when Alwyn plays well and kicks goals, we win, when he plays badly and is subbed off, we lose. A broad generalisation, but usually true. To be clear, this is not a criticism of Alwyn Davey. When we are moving the ball quickly forward (in our 'delightfully' unstructured manner), we have big forwards who usually contest aggressively and bring the ball to ground with the attendant benefits for a small forward like Alwyn. When the ball comes in slowly, or worse still when the ball is kicked in long on top of Alwyn's head, against the better teams, it is not going to work out well.

Positives
Jobe Watson - Having another wonderful season, albeit with a slight drop off over the last couple of weeks. His leadership on and off field during the ASADA investigation has been outstanding and should be considered and valued over and above any possessions he gets per game.
Courtenay Dempsey - See above. One of our absolute keys.
Jake Carlisle - Jake hasn't necessarily come from nowhere but he has gone from an emerging player to an All Australian candidate in six months. His size, ability to read the play, sure hands, foot skills and willingness to learn are just some of his attributes.
Michael Hibberd - Also in All Australian form, Michael is reaping the rewards of a fine pre-season and a positive attitude. He also shows great judgment on when to mark and when to punch / defend. His left foot from half back is lethal.
Mark Baguley - After a few games in 2012, I was surprised when Mark was selected early in 2013. Boy, has he stepped up. Can cover his man, play hard, tight and provide backup and coverage while his team mates run off and make the play. Very solid and dependable.
Brendon Goddard - Arriving as the first 'big fish' of the initial Free Agency period and in the aftermath of the supplements scandal, Brendon Goddard has stood up to the pressure superbly, Not always dominant, but ever threatening, he has been creative and consistent while always drawing quality opposition.
Dustin Fletcher - It hasn't been his best year due to missing a couple of games through injury, but the value of Dustin's experience and talent can't be overstated in support of our emerging defenders. And he is an absolute crowd favourite. Go Fletch!

Honorable Mentions
Dyson Heppell, David Zaharakis, David Myers, Heath Hocking, Paddy Ryder and Stewart Crameri have all had good years to date IMO.

Negatives
Tom Bellchambers - A victim of 'team balance' and the emergence of Joe Daniher. Tom looked fitter than ever at the start of the season, played well for a half a dozen games, had a couple of quiet ones and now finds himself in the 'magoos'.
Leroy Jetta - Leroy has been unable to cement a place this year, simply by not showing that he is able to contribute any more than the other small forwards in Alwyn Davey, Jackson Merrett and the emerging Will Hams. Nick Kommer has somewhat stolen Leroy's spot also with a spirited physical and defensive display whilst still hitting the scoreboard.

New Boys
Nick Kommer - Having an excellent debut season. Nick has a strong body, is committed and is able to find space in close and plays with passion and energy.
Jackson Merrett - In the 80s, he may have been called 'a will of the wisp'. Fast with silky skills, Jackson is establishing a role in the team. He gives and receives in equal measure up forward making him a valued team player.
Joe Daniher - Two games into his senior career, the hype seems well justified. At 201 cm, he can run, jump, mark and provide leadership and voice on-field. Seriously, Joe could be ANYTHING! Sorry, the lid is off…
Will Hams - Again, has played just a couple of games but has given plenty in terms of effort and seems to have the coaching team's support as an emerging mid-fielder. One to watch.

Other

You can't analyse Essendon's season without referring to the ongoing ASADA / Supplements inquiry.

Of course I have no information that is not in the public domain, so my comments are purely common sense with a touch of emotion. Most sports fans prefer a level playing field and to maintain the integrity of the game and as such, my team should not be taking an unfair advantage. So I am happy to step back from the investigation, let it run it's course and let the cards fall where they may. If we are guilty of illicit substances, the club and the players must cop the penalty. I would of course feel very sorry for the players who were only following orders, in the spirit of 'team'. Should this 'worst case scenario' occur, team management, medical and coaching staff must also be held accountable and pay the price. If that takes some 'uncomfortable' scalps then that is the price of integrity.

If however there is no case to answer, I would expect all facets of the club to be strengthened by this personally harrowing and professionally challenging period.

Summary

A better than expected first half. I have enjoyed the ride so far and rate our performance 8/10, marked down from a '9' due to our bad loss to Brisbane.

Nine wins, with highlights being the win over Fremantle in Perth, the Anzac Day win over Collingwood, and the 'Dreamtime' win over Richmond, offset by an 'honourable' loss to Geelong, a bit of a hammering by the Swans in dodgy conditions on their home patch and a disappointing loss to the middle of the table Brisbane Lions.

Our team is playing a disciplined brand of football, is relatively injury-free and can look positively forward to a decent second half of the year. My pre-season prediction of 8th now seems a wee bit pessimistic. Top four might be a stretch, so a September slot of 5th to 8th being most likely.

Go Bombers!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

2013 AFL Predictions

Good evening,

It is predictions time for the 2013 AFL season.

I think the Bombers have recruited well (Daniher, Goddard and Kommer) and haven't lost anyone significant. Also we looked pretty fit in the pre-season and have no serious injuries at this point (touch wood). As long as we can put the ASADA investigation to one side and focus on footy then I can see us sneaking into the eight.

So here goes.

2013 AFL Ladder

Hawthorn
West Coast
Sydney Swans
Collingwood
Geelong
Fremantle
Richmond
Essendon

Adelaide
Carlton
North Melbourne
Brisbane
Port Adelaide
St Kilda
Melbourne
Gold Coast
Footscray
GWS


2013 Brownlow Medal

- Trent Cotchin (Richmond)

2013 Coleman Medal

- Jack Riewoldt (Richmond)

2013 First Sacked Coach

- None! A stable year after much turnover in recent years

Wish me luck.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Concert: Colin Hay - 'Finding My Dance'

Good afternoon,

We attended Colin Hay's latest one man show, 'Finding My Dance' at the the Frankston Performing Arts Centre last night.

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It seemed like a good idea when Robin booked it, but fair to say expectations were being kept in check as we didn't really know what to expect, given that we probably know more about Men At Work, led by Colin Hay than we do about Colin Hay, the individual singer / songwriter.

The main auditorium at F-PAC is a very nice large room with seemingly good acoustics and sight lines were fine. Any concerns we may have had about the performance quickly dissipated when Colin Hay arrived on stage. Casually dressed and supported by his three acoustic guitars (one twelve string, two six string) all made by the Melbourne company, Maton, itself the subject of an amusing story part way through the show.

The format consisted of Hay telling snippets of his life story in amusing anecdotes and through song. Three Men at Works songs were mixed in with a number of Colin Hay solo career originals, with the performance ending with an a cappella tribute to his late band mate, Greg Ham. Throughout the performance, the humour was not forced, but delivered with an often self deprecating dry wit, with the a sharp eye and ear of a mimic and Hay's personal family history and global music travels were all grist for the humour mill. Two stories, one featuring ants and another about a passive smoking goat will stay with for quite some time!

Of course when he started to play 'Downunder', the crowd got really excited, so must have Hay as he 'blew' the second verse lyrics and had to chastise himself that he should have learned the lyrics after 35 years!

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I would recommend anyone with the faintest interest in Men At Work or Colin Hay to get along to a performance soon. The quality of the entertainment was first class.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Valentines Day Dinner

Good evening,

A night in was planned for Valentines Day, with a request for my 'famous' Roasted Pork Belly coming from Robin. Matched with baked Carisma potatoes and fresh beans from our garden topped with garlic butter. The wine of choice was a Pieropan Soave 2011 from Italy.

With a few tunes playing on the hi-fi, we had a most enjoyable evening.

Valentines Day

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Happy Birthday Dad!

Hello,

Dad ticked over year 87 successfully today. Not quite as bight as recently and he was surprised that it was actually his birthday. However after a little prompting, he was moved by the attention, wishes and gifts. Also he mentioned that he has lost track of other peoples birthdays too!

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Thanks to Joyce&Rob, PG and Bruce for recognising his birthday as well. Sadly Robin and I left just as a huge birthday sponge cake was to be served…

Bye for now, Greg

New Years Resolutions

Good evening,

My 2013 resolutions are a bit less 'aspirational' and more like 'objectives' of what I want to achieve in 2013.

Guitar:
- Move my guitar playing from an amateur level 2 to an amateur level 5, by monthly lessons (local) and 'super sessions' with Neale

Golf:
- Improve my golf to 20 handicap by 7/2013 by focusing on short game

Photography:
- Develop photographic skills by reading, experimenting and learning and entering at least two FPC competitions in 2013

Hi Fi appreciation:
- By hosting at least two GtGs for my SNA friends

Bye for now, BomberBoy

New Years Eve Celebrations

Good afternoon,

New Years Eve celebrations this year were held at Palazzio Mason in Mt Martha, along with Helen & Linley Baxter.

It soon became obvious that the Masons had gone to some great lengths to plan and organise this event. On arrival, we were presented with a printed menu and extensive wine list for our review. The white and sparkling wines were spread over 5 fridges, and after perusing the wine list for 10 minutes, Chris set off in search of my selection. Some 15 minutes went by until he returned with my 'second' choice. The search provided too difficult and time consuming apparently!

A superb BBQ of roast beef rib and pork with excellent vegetables (I'm told) was laid out and we continued to eat, drink and chat until the midnight hour arrived when we adjourned upstairs to the balcony for a view of the fireworks on the distant city skyline. The night for us wound up with several games via the XBox, at which Chris seems surprisingly competent. Thanks for a great evening!

NYE Card
A great time was had by all - 2012/3

Bye for now, BomberBoy