While Nigel was due back at work after Europe, Kaye got to catch up with family for Christmas before making the (6am!!) return train trip to Ivanhoe.
I arrived on the Monday before Christmas to discover that if you go away for any length of time, people forget all about you and, consequently, no one at either the pub or the club had thought to order in my favourite Champagne for the festive season. Now if I had known this, I would seriously have been tempted to ditch the suitcases of clothes at the train station and replace them with a carton or two of Jacob’s Creek!
The problem is that I seem to be the only ‘Bubbly’ drinker in town – remembering that I drank the town dry of Champagne in the week we arrived in 2007! Since then I have definitely made some progress and after quite a bit of hint-dropping , I am now able to sit at the bar, sipping my Champagne out of a flute rather than a red wine goblet. When the barman says “Where’s the Champagne glass?” he’s not being funny.
So Christmas Day was rather ‘dry’ in that respect, yet memorable all the same.
Our plans for a Christmas lunch of ham, roast pork, Christmas cake and pudding ran awry when, at around 5 pm on Christmas Eve, a dust storm blacked out the town. Now Summer dust storms in Ivanhoe are not all that unusual except that this one was followed by rain, so entering the house meant that you walked through the sun room with wet, then very muddy feet – or shoes – or paws as the case may be. Without power for the vacuum cleaner, we could do little other than watch our grey carpet turn red.
Initially, we had hopes that the Christmas cake in the oven could be salvaged and the pudding on the stove would keep bubbling away long enough to stay hot ….. and the pork could be cooked that night, or even the next morning in time for lunch.
However, VKG ‘shed some light’ so to speak and Nigel was informed that while crews were working to restore power on the two substations at Hillston and Mossgiel OH&S safety regulations required that they would soon have to ‘call it quits’ – to avoid working excessive hours without a break. Repairs would resume around midday the following day (Christmas Day).
In the mean time and with nothing much to do, we adjourned to the RSL Club where we met up with the 5 or 6 other locals who were spending Christmas Eve in town – basking in the light, if not air conditioning provided by the generator.
By the way if you’ve ever lived in the desert during a black out, you’ll know that eerie feeling of not being able to see your hand in front of your face – literally! We actually accepted a lift because after leaving the lights of the club, it took so long to find the car that we feared tripping over if we tried to walk the 100 metres back home!
When power was still off the next morning, Christmas lunch consisted of ham sandwiches and half-cooked Christmas cake, which I turned into pudding with custard cooked on a metho burner………. Not quite what we had in mind.
And special thanks to all the friends and family, who replied to my texts by sending photos of plates of prawns and advice about drinking the metho instead of cooking with it! Speaking of which, while the metho burner did prove useful for boiling water, not so for cooking eggs. So for those of you considering buying one, take heed: when frying eggs, the yolks run off to the side of the pan and stay raw while the whites burn in the middle of the pan. Scrambled eggs (Plan B) also burn. And who knows how to extinguish the burner, after use? – whatever you do, DON’T BLOW ON IT!
Without the cricket, we entertained ourselves with puzzles and makeshift cocktails until around 4 pm when the power came back on (all up, 23 hours). We managed to salvage the pudding, which finished boiling about 26 hours after it first went on the stove and we had the roast pork for dinner.Thankfully, the weather was a lot cooler than the previous days and we didn’t miss the air conditioners!
In hindsight, it was definitely a Christmas to remember! And thanks has to go to the electricity crews who, I’m sure, had better places to be spending Christmas.