It’s been a rollercoaster few days. As per usual.
It started with a picnic in the Royal Botanic Garden on Friday, hosted by The Botanist Gin. A gorgeously arranged picnic spread had been laid out in the herb garden, with cushions scattered around for guests to sit on.
While it looked fabulous, my heart sank slightly because the event was in full, blinding sun and I’d forgotten to apply sunscreen in my mad dash out of the house. I also wasn’t sure how my 53-year-old body would cope with sitting on cushions on the ground for a few hours in the aforementioned blinding sun. Answer: not well. I eventually retired hurt to the sandstone wall next to the picnic table.
As we were waiting for our hosts to finish artfully placing strawberries on cake stands, I started chatting to a lovely bloke and kept insisting that I had met him somewhere before – was it at a Wild Turkey event, perhaps? Er, no. It turns out he was in Season 8 of Masterchef. Mortifying for me, but it must happen to him all the time.
In case you’re not a Masterchef fan, his name is Jimmy Wong and he’s a total sweetheart. We’re now Insta friends for life.
He sent me the above pic yesterday, which he took during the event.
The picnic was filled with actors and influencers who I didn’t recognise from a bar of soap and who were much more flexible and photogenic than me. They gracefully folded themselves onto the ground and looked completely unperturbed by the blinding sun.
Fortunately, I was sitting next to a fellow mature-aged guest who got a nice young man (below, right) who was apparently in a remake of The Lost Boys to drag a big beach umbrella over to shade us.
And I think there might have been some people from Home & Away there too (pictured above with the nice young man), but I can’t be sure.
We sipped gin cocktails with locally foraged ingredients and were entertained by a delightful Italian bloke who’s a foraging expert, Diego Bonetto (below). He talked to us about some of the edible plants grown in the Botanic Gardens, including absinthe! He was fascinating and adorable.
Then DD and I raced off to Berrima for dinner at a fancy joint called Eschalot. I’m not normally in the habit of driving to the Southern Highlands for dinner on a Friday night, but DD and his cycling mates had decided to invite their wives and partners along on their latest weekend adventure. I felt a romantic pre-ride dinner was in order and my sister had raved about Eschalot – Leo Sayer was dining there the night she visited.
I gazed at my spunky boyf and the open fire while we enjoyed the 5-course degustation menu, which included yummy things such as cured kingfish with grape, zucchini pickle and cucumber water; dry aged sweet potato with preserved lemon, chilli, pomegranate and tofu aioli; and pork belly with white rum & miso pineapple and sesame maple granola.
Then we headed to our weekend accommodation – the Bundanoon Guesthouse – which is a quaint, rambling place set in the most gorgeous little village.
Everything was going swimmingly until I woke up the next morning crook as Rookwood. Stomach bug or food intolerance or something, I dunno.
But I felt awful. So DD went off on his 75km cycling expedition (huge!) and I tottered around with the wives until I finally asked if I could lie in someone’s car while they had lunch.
I was so annoyed with the poor timing of my illness that as we were driving back to the guesthouse I asked one of the wives, Michelle, if she wanted to help me drown my sorrows in a bottle of prosecco in the guesthouse lounge. She was totes up for it and I revived briefly under the influence of alcohol.
Because the world is waaaaaaay too small, I was Michelle’s boss about 15 years ago at Woman’s Day. Bizarre. We had a fabulous time catching up while they boys sank beers at the Bundanoon Hotel down the road.
The boys tottered into the guesthouse at around 6pm and started downing Negronis. I was rapidly returning to cactus state by the time dinner kicked off at 7pm – as you might be able to tell from my wan eyes in the photo above. I picked at my entree and main, then made my excuses and crawled into bed.
A fitful night’s sleep followed and I was still feeling pretty blerk the next morning. The owner of the guesthouse gave me some gluten-free toast to try and settle my stomach.
There was a market kicking off in Bundanoon, but DD decided to get me home ASAP.
Dammit, talk about rotten luck. I’d really been looking forward to exploring the Southern Highlands in hale health – I haven’t been there in forever.
Things went a bit further downhill when I arrived home. Charlie the moodle had decided he was a also bit crook in the guts and, while there are endless stretches of floorboards in my house, he’d chosen to have his separate bouts of diarrhea on both of my rugs.
I really didn’t feel like cleaning that up while nursing a stomach bug. Blergh. I was thisclose to just throwing one of the rugs out.
Woe is me.
Must. Get. Better. Soon.
There is too much fun to be had to waste time being poorly.
Song of the day: Willie Nelson covers John Lennon “Watching the wheels”