Our Destrier event

We’ve had months of wet weather, and recently a few weeks of unseasonably freezing weather, and last weekend we actually had some lovely autumn weather.

Saturday was our local medieval group’s annual equestrian event (poster here).  Never mind that we’ve hardly ridden at all since Christmas, between the continuously rotten weather and limited access to our riding instructor Jan.  (Her husband Jim has had major cancer surgery — he’s out of hospital BTW, and doing pretty well — starts chemo again shortly.)

Allison, who used to be terrified of horses, has been regularly exercising them.  But we hadn’t actually ridden them for months.

On the day, all was good.  I rode Paulie, my standardbred, who was really well behaved and trotted really well, not usually his forté.  He was happy to canter, but it was late on a cool day and I didn’t want to heat him up too much.

After the riding, we had a feast in our big tent.  Our friend Jane (Lady Jocelyn de Holyer) was the feast steward, and did a fabulous job.  (See menu at the site given above.)

I have to say that the beer soup was not to my taste, but the other dishes were great.  The Beef y-Stewed was scrumptious, as was the Fysh a Dauce Egre (type of sweet and sour fish).

Her signature dish is the Grete Pye, a monster pie made with six different types of meat.  It was cooked in a huge pudding-shaped bowl and turned over, so it was physically rather compelling.  Delicious.

I made up some game boards for the event.  The favourite was Gluckhaus, where you roll two dice.  If you roll, say, a 5, you put a coin on the “5” square, or pick one up if there is one there already.  If you roll a 7, all players must put a coin in as a wedding gift.  If you roll a 2, this is the Happy Pig and you can take all the coins off the board, except the wedding gifts, as even a pig wouldn’t take those.  If you roll a 12, this is the King, and you take all the coins, *including* the wedding gifts.

As far as I can tell, Gluckhaus is utterly random, so anyone can win.  So it’s an amusing, if ultimately pointless, way to pass the time.

Many thanks to Helen (Lady Ravnhilde of Outer Okewaite) who stayed around on the Sunday and did most of the washing up.  And to my son Owen, who is now 12 years old, who also helped with the packup, in between working together to program a computer game.

Allison headed off to Sydney, to farewell her lovely cousin Gail, who is travelling overseas for half a year.  Gail is a favourite at Cockatrice Farm, and she’s helped us with several major events.  In France, she’s going to catch up with the Marvellous Miss Maud, an ex-wwoofer.  Gail and Maud had lots of fun together at last year’s Rowany Festival.

A bit of excitement

Last night (Tues) was our regular Arts and Sciences night for our medieval club.

Georgia and Andrew arrived and stated with some concern that a horse had come running past them in the night.

Jan was already at our place, and dashed outside to see what had happened.  I headed up to our main gate (usually left open) to head it off.  Allison ran to check the gate into their paddock.

It soon became apparent that there were several horses loose, on a very dark night.  And it seemed that they had left our house paddock and were heading to the highway.

Jan leapt into her 4WD and started across the fields to our bottom gate, hoping to stop them before they got to the highway.

As it happened, our friend Tig was also coming to A&S and was driving carefully up the lane — a kangaroo had jumped out on her last trip.  She says she has poor night vision, but she did see a big black shape and soon worked out that there were several horses.  She did exactly the right thing and slowly hunted them back, and I was able to close the main gate behind them.

It was then a matter of collecting them and bringing them back to the right paddock.  We took some care to make sure nobody was trampled, but it was fairly straightforward.

So what happened?

Jan thinks it was her horse Chad, who loves people, and he has a bit of a reputation for being able to figure out how to open gates.  He’s never done it at our place before, but perhaps with lots of visitors he was motivated to see what was up.  But I think it might have been young Doc, who wouldn’t leave our campfire alone a few weeks back, who I think also has enough processing capacity to work such things out.

I hope they got a bit of a fright and will think twice about getting out again.  But Allison has put a padlock on the gate, to be sure.

Dining in Goulburn

One of the things that struck us when we moved to Goulburn was just how many Chinese restaurants there are.

In the 1970s, Australia had an influx of Vietnamese refugees.  Vietnam had a lot of French influence, so lots of them opened bakeries and patisseries (yummo).

Many opened restaurants.  Vietnamese food was a bit spicy for Australian tastes at the time, so mostly they offered “Chinese”: mostly Lemon Chicken, Beef with Black Bean, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Mongolian Lamb, all with fried rice.  They did go beyond that, but those dishes would have been 80% of the sales.

Goulburn, lost in the 1970s as I’ve said before, has Chinese restaurants everywhere, dating from that time, and over time we have sampled many of them.

The worst was the one in Market Street, next to the Goulburn Club.  Then one day we were forced to eat there again, and the food was spectacular — under new management.  So it’s perhaps our favourite.  Their Salt & Pepper Squid is stunning, and they do great things with aubergines too.

We’ve been introduced to another Chinese restaurant recently, as our friend Jan’s son is now working there as an apprentice chef.  They have very fine food too — a bit spicier, more actual Vietnamese influence.  They do a thriving trade.  For me, several of their dishes are a little too sweet, so on balance I prefer Market Street.  Mostly we’ve gone with friends with Aussie tastes — so I must get back to try something more adventurous.

When we came to Goulburn, there was one (very good) Thai restaurant.  Now there are three, as well as great pub Thai food at the Exchange Hotel (go there just for their Mussaman beef curry) and lately the noodle house at our end of town has reopened and called itself Thai (not convinced, though they do a fine stir-fry).

Otherwise, there is always the Astor Hotel, which used to do fancy international synthesis pub food which was great value for money.  They went off their game for a while, but we went there as a goodbye dinner for our Irish wwoofers, and they were pretty damn good.  The same mob own the Tattersall’s hotel over the road, which does a great $10 cook-it-yourself rump steak on Tuesday nights.

We used to enjoy the Infuze restaurant in the middle of town, for gourmet pizzas and some fancier fare.  They were wildly busy, but have closed — rumour has it that the building owners (the Paragon Cafe, who have the best cakes) weren’t enjoying the competition.  There is now an Indian restaurant there, which we haven’t had an opportunity to check out as yet.

Goulburn seems to have acquired a much more interesting restaurant vibe in the last three years!

Back from Rowany Festival

We’re back from Festival, tired and smelly about 5pm last night (Tuesday).  Will post some photos when I get them.

Our new feasting tent was a marvel.  We had some fabulous times there.

On the Friday night, we had the Baron and Baroness of Rowany (our overlords) as guest of honour.  On the High Table we also had Mistress Tig and Will from Okewaite, who were camping with the merchants, as well as Manfred and Marie (last year’s Festival Stewards).  It was a magical night, one of my favourites over many years.

The menu (as throughout the event) was cooked on the campfire.  We served:

  • legs of lamb and vegetables, with a pevorat (onion and pepper) sauce
  • spitted ducks with a ginger sauce
  • peacock in wine and dates
  •  onion and walnut tarts
  •  mushrooms and leeks
  • frumenty (a savoury cracked-wheat porridge, a bit like couscous)
  • ricotta cheese, made on site, with macaroons and a plum conserve.

Partway through, the Royal Court appeared out of the darkness.  They conferred three awards of arms on people from our campsite, (now) Lady Margaret and Lady Joan from Okewaite, and Lady Ravnhilde from our Rowany Irregulars.  Joan (aka Jan who made the tent) would have run for the hills except that the Baroness of Rowany had strategically stood on her hem.

Saturday night was our traditional “pot luck feast” where we invite nearby small households to join us, and bring whatever they were cooking.  Our contribution was:

  • Chykens in councys (a kind of chicken stew with eggs)
  • Pommes dorryle (meatballs made as apples, with mint sprigs on top)
  • Cabbages in pottage
  • Garlic with spices
  • Frumenty fritters
  • Appelmoy (an applesauce made with almond milk) and pastry crisps

Among our guests was a couple interested in setting up a new group at Cooma, south of Canberra and about two hours away from us.

The next night we were joined by Mistress Yseult who sang a few bawdy ballads.  We ate:

  • Beef stew with root vegetables
  • Connynges in cyrip (rabbit and hare in a ginger syrup)
  • Cherry pottage, made with a sourdough loaf
  • Tarte de Bry, a kind of ancestral cheesecake
  • Honey and saffron quiche, from Yseult
  • more, but I can’t remember what.

The other nights had medieval food too, even the final night.  We also had soups and bread every day with lunch, and a variety of things for breakfast.

The populace were really happy with the food, and they provided plenty of help with the preparation.

We had rain on the Saturday, and we managed OK.  On the Monday, the heavens opened, and we spent the remainder of the event with three inches of water in our tent.

Fortunately, we had our new four-poster camping bed, which put us well above that, and *some* of our gear was in plastic tubs.  It was a very odd sensation wading to bed at night.

Others in our campsite were sleeping on the ground, and so had a rather less amusing time.  Otherwise, we’re happy with our location, and hope we can work it out with next year’s stewards.

If you attended we would love to hear your stories in the comments.  What made festival wonderful for you?