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Posts Tagged ‘Friends-Not-Yet-Met’

Week Seven of Blogging with Friends

Are you free for brunch on Saturday? Weekend brunch is the perfect meal to catch up – it doesn’t take all day, but it can if you want! And, if you’re so inclined, you can have an afternoon nap to recover later. It’s also great if you’ve over-indulged the night before. Skip breakfast, and choose brunch, anytime from 10 am to 1-1.30 pm. We regularly go at 1 pm or just after, giving us time to build up an appetite if we’ve slept in! But if we’re meeting friends, it is often earlier, to give us time to linger and enjoy.

Let’s meet at Taste, our favourite brunch place, in a lovely old house on the corner of the Khandallah shopping village. When we were both earning, we used to go regularly – fortnightly and sometimes weekly – but these days we have to ration our visits. It means that they are appreciated so much more when we do get there.

When we arrive, Gary or David or both will greet us, throwing a bit of shade, making a few quips, making sure they welcome every person in the party, and then show us into the light-filled dining room. We’ll sit in the tables at the end, and half of us will snuggle into the banquet seating, settling in for the long haul. Or perhaps if we’re there on a hot sunny day, we could sit outside on the porch, and not worry about disturbing the other patrons. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any opportunities to do that this windy summer.

This is not a brunch café, with a box of toys for the kids, ordering at the counter, and lots of noise. It is not a child-friendly restaurant, and you see the occasional baby in a carrier, or older children who know how to behave. They’re not unfriendly though. Many children who come see it as the height of sophistication, and choose it for their birthday dinners! Decorated in calm neutrals and white, this is a restaurant inviting you to relax, to enjoy good food and good wine and good company, in a little break from the chaos of the world.

Given the occasion, I think we should start with a pre-meal champagne – or prosecco, given our budget these days – toast. Though they have a few cocktails on the menu, and would love to have the chance to make them. And they’d no doubt be delighted to figure out the recipe of anything that you wanted. Here’s to friendship, companionship at the table, and long-lasting relationships.

Their brunch menu ranges from their delicious pate, a vegetarian soup, or a blue cheese toast on the light side, through to some of the usual breakfast suspects – French toast, eggs any which way, with a salad or roast potatoes, bacon or mushrooms, and a delicious tomato relish – and their own twists. One of my favourites is their seasonal asparagus with poached eggs on Turkish bread, with a cheesy sauce. In winter it turns into a toasted ham and tomato sandwich, with poached eggs on top, with the same cheesy sauce. Some days, when we turn up at 1 pm and I’m starving, that’s all I want! The do a couple of more substantial meals, a chicken and bacon sandwich with a yummy salad and Indian curry-flavoured mayonnaise that is to die for, and a fish dish that always looks good when other diners order it, but which I always overlook for one of the other options always mentioned. And in winter, I adore the creamy sherried mushrooms on Turkish bread, though it doesn’t always appear on the menu. Hint, hint! (Just in case Gary or David see this.) The Husband loves their chunky chips (you might know them as fries), and I’ve been known to eat a few from his bowl too, when he’s looking elsewhere.

When we’re there in a group, the service is unobtrusive, unless we all get chatting to our hosts, or they have a recent anecdote to share. Our hosts are funny, kind, and meticulous, and it always feels rude to ignore them, because they are as much a part of the experience of Taste as the food. When I go here, it’s usually just with my husband, though occasionally we’ll meet up with a group of old friends, or I’ll take guests who are staying with us (when I can’t be bothered cooking breakfast at home). But how wonderful to have you all here with us today!

This is a great opportunity to get to know each other better, meeting in person for perhaps the first time. Any nervousness at this will have been dispelled with that first glass of prosecco, and one of Gary’s jokes, and by the time we turn to the Elephant Hill Chardonnay, Peregrine Pinot Gris, or Bird in the Hand Shiraz (these are our favourites), we’ll be relaxed and old friends. After all, thanks to technology, we’re already old friends.  We’ve witnessed life-altering events, shared happiness and loss, watched kids grow up, and showed each other our inner selves. We’ve just not met yet.

As it’s a special occasion, we might indulge in dessert – profiteroles filled with ice-cream and chocolate sauce, a trifle or white chocolate mousse might take your fancy. We usually share their sweet treats – a tiny triangle of a lemon slice – that goes perfectly with their excellent, strong coffee. But I’m sure they’ll try and tempt us with a dessert wine or port or something stronger! By now, the restaurant is emptying out. They close at 2 pm, but are happy for us to stay longer. It’s a peaceful, happy environment. And we can always regroup down the road at our house, after a post-prandial hike back up the hill to work off the calories. Wine on the deck, anyone?

 

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She doesn’t really belong on this Friends-I-have-not-yet-met list, because, you see, I have met her. She’s Slovenian, and truly puts the LOVE in Slovenia, reaching out to give and receive love. She taught me to love Slovenia too, as I would never have gone there if she hadn’t been, at the time, a Friend-Not-Yet-Met (so, clearly, she does belong on this list after all).

A beloved wife, friend, aunt, and dog’s best friend. A true linguist, for more than three months, she wonderfully commented on my Lemons to Limoncello blog in Italian to help me practice mine.

She loves her summer garden and cooked us lunch using her home-grown produce. She and her husband recommended driving a mountain pass that, she casually mentioned, she had cycled once (or even twice?). As we wound around sharp, steep corners up, up, and further up again, I thought she must be crazy, though, in truth, she enjoys exercise and appreciates being out in nature.

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I discovered Loribeth in 2010 or 2011, finding at the same time a woman my age who seems to speak my language. Along with some of my other favourite Friends-Not-Yet-Met, she hails from Canada, a country that New Zealanders always feel that we know much better than we actually do. So Loribeth teaches me about life in Canada, the freezing winters and the hot, humid summers, the huge distances they travel (she’s taking me – virtually at least – on a road trip right now), the busy cities. She’s a writer and a reader, and as a result of her reviews, many non-fiction memoirs have now been added to my To-Read list, to be tackled one-day-when-I-have-time.

We may be separated by half the world, but I feel that we have much in common. Like everyone I write about in this series, I hope to meet Loribeth one day. I suspect it will be in Canada or the US, and the fact that she lives in the same city as some other Friends-Not-Yet-Met and near still others just across the border greatly increases the possibility of a meeting. Still, I regularly encourage her to escape the harsh Canadian winter and enjoy a gentle New Zealand summer, including a glass of wine on our deck (wind permitting).

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Susan’s life is almost the complete opposite of mine. As a child, I lived on a farm, and she was in an apartment in New York. I have few childhood photographs (and few adult ones either), and she had an adoring, photographer father. She blogs rarely these days, but her Fb feed is full of old photos of her father’s she has found, documenting the physical changes in New York City, and societal changes too, with photos of parties that look as if they were the inspiration for some scenes in Mad Men.

These days, her own photographs are more likely to be stunning scenes of rural life, winter shots, or of deer or other wildlife venturing into her yard, that always intrigue me. We both share a love of photos of beautiful blooms, though I suspect her camera (and eye) are rather better than mine. She has known tragedy though, as a girl and later as a mother, and I love the way she keeps her daughter Jill alive through her memories.

I would love to meet Susan one day, but to be honest, her stories of tics and lyme disease might keep me away.

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Vermont is another place over-represented in my online world, with a prolific and always entertaining FB poster from Montpelier (a woman I last saw at the airport in Bangkok in 1981 as we ended our AFS experience), Indigo Bunting – the master of the one sentence post – and Lali, another of the original x365 bloggers (and friend of IB). Until recently, Lali was what we Kiwis might call a “lifestyler,” with a bucolic life in Vermont with her husband, and their dogs, wildlife, and gardens. Her writing is as rich and abundant as her gardens, as beautifully tended, as exquisite, as inviting, and her writing is as entertaining and lively and lovable as her dogs over the years.

In late summer/autumn (fall), her posts relating her harvesting endeavours exhausted me, as they no doubt exhausted her so much more. My brief visits to her world changed with the seasons – from the languid heat of summer to a frenetic and exhausting harvest season, through to the quiet, cold, white stillness of a Vermont winter. As if this wasn’t enough, she would every so often give us snippets of her life growing up in Spain and South America, peeks into a rich and fascinating life, so artfully presented on her blog. Speaking of art, did I mention she’s an artist, and occasionally we get a special treat when she adds an illustration to complement her posts?

She’s currently taking a blogging break, working on another project, and as much as I look forward to that, I also hopes she hurries back soon.

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Another of the early bloggers group (her first comment on my blog back in 25 June 2008), sadly Lisa no longer blogs, but we connect elsewhere on this great internet invention, and so I get to see her kids grow up, learn about apartment living in a US city, see photos of the sunrise on her morning runs. I can read interesting conversations she has with friends, that remind me of our different cultures, highlighting our different experiences and points of view, but our common hearts and humanity. I love too that through her architect eyes, I get to see and appreciate the buildings of her city, quite different to those in my own city or country.

She’s one of two bloggers from her city, one that is disproportionately represented in our tiny group of early bloggers. I love the fact that these two interesting women occasionally meet up for a coffee, or to shoot arrows. It gives me hope that one day I too will one day join them (for the coffee, not the arrows), or those of our original blogging x365ers, or my more recent blogging friends. I feel that a meeting is certain – I keep running into people from this city, whether it is online, or on a jeep in the bush in Africa. It’s calling to me, and one day I will have to answer.

Microblog_Mondays

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Dona (aka Cedar Waxwing) has been there from the beginning, 43 days into my annual blogging project, way back in 2007. I like to picture her in leafy Bethesda, looking out from her office into the trees, maybe with some squirrels dashing along the branches past her window, as she blogs about family, and food, and road trips, and wonderful old letters and, most recently photographs. She also has the most entertaining dreams of anyone I know, and – along with Indigo Bunting – has changed the way I see birds and people who see birds.  Inspired by a road trip Dona took with her daughter (and a resultant video), I tried to emulate this in Italy. I failed, but felt as if Dona and my other blog readers were there with me in spirit!

Click the image to find out more about #Microblog Mondays

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