Puppy Heaven, Wimbledon & France's National Day
Protests at the Bastille monument in 2015
It’s France's National Day, le 14 juillet, the only day that you could say that the French are Revolting and not have your head chopped off. Fête Nationale commemorates the storming of Bastille - a walled medieval fortress and makeshift prison - by a mob of peasantry on July 14, 1789. When the peasants were refused weaponry they decided to take matters into their own hands, breaking in and setting a bunch of prisoners free. This event is widely considered to have sparked the beginning of the French Revolution, which overthrew the monarchy under King Louis XIV. The French Revolution heralded the end of the feudal system of governance in France, which had seen the lower classes suffering enormous poverty, and the beginning of French unification and enlightenment, and for this reason, the French celebrate July 14 as the beginning of better days.
In honour of this celebration I have decided to make this French pissaladiere, using caramelised red onion relish from The Long Track Pantry, Ortiz anchovies, black olives and Careme Puff Pastry.
Earlier in the week I decided to indulge myself in a very late night watching the men’s final on the carefully manicured grass courts at Wimbledon. Billed as the Battle of the Bad Boys, Novak Djokovic, and the petulant, but naturally talented Nick Kyrgios, it promised to be both exciting and highly entertaining. The question on everyone’s lips was whether Kyrgios would be able to keep his cool and let his tennis do the talking, rather than his raging mouth, and win his first major Grand Slam title. Getting off to a good start and cruising through the first set, it looked like a distinct possibility. Things started to unravel in the second set after his serve was broken after being 40-0 up, and subsequently his brain started to implode. It all went downhill from here, the tantrums, the swearing, the yelling at his box and the erratic nature we had come to expect were all on show for the world to see. He had totally lost it. What Kyrgios had failed to realise is that tennis is about enduring patience and repetition rather than the ability to occasionally pull out a great shot from his bag of tricks. Consequently he went on to lose the match after an embarrassing display of poor behaviour, whilst the unflappable Djokovic went on to clock up his 21st grand slam title.
The next day I was thinking about Nick's behaviour and was wondering what career he might’ve chosen if he hadn’t become a sportsman. What type of personality was he? Was his disposition creative or sterile? Thinking back to my University days I remembered a test called the Brick Test, one of the simplest psychology tests to find out how creative you are. Over five minutes a person is asked to imagine as many different ways as possible to use a brick, and write them down. The average person will imagine around 5 to 8 different uses, and an imaginative person will find between 10 to 15. Everything above that is a sign of a really creative spirit. Whilst I’m not saying that a tennis player lacks imagination, quite the opposite in fact, I’m just curious to get a better insight into who Nick Kyrgios the person is, rather than Nick Kyrgios the tennis player. You might also like to try the Brick Test to see how many creative ideas you can come up with.
On Saturday we ventured to the ‘burbs of Sydney to visit a dear friend who had moved into his new apartment after selling his large family home. Having lost his wife of many years to ovarian cancer he was now sharing his home with his beautiful companion Castro, a black and white curly haired Havanese puppy. Castro not only looked like a big cuddly teddy bear, he also had the most gentle and social disposition and we engaged with each other immediately. To say I was smitten is understating the level of affection I felt for this dog which is quite unusual for me having only ever had cats. Over lunch I kept thinking about Castro and the companionship he provided to my friend and for the next few days I couldn’t get him out of my head. I was really starting to feel clucky and had serious pangs of desire to get a puppy just like Castro. The only problem I had was that I was about to move into an apartment. I questioned whether it would be fair to keep a dog holed up inside an apartment. Would it be fair to the dog, and would it be fair to the neighbours? Maybe it was the wrong time in my life to be giving this consideration and what type of dog, if any, would be most suited to apartment living? My friend said the best type of dog for apartment living would in fact be a cat! Your thoughts?
Today I received the sad news that a fellow resident living in the same aged care nursing facility as my mother has passed away after contracting Covid. It beggars belief that on the same day the state government has announced that in a few days time it will no longer be a requirement that visitors to nursing homes in New South Wales will need to be vaccinated. Up until now through thorough and due diligence the nursing home has done a remarkable job at keeping this dreaded disease out of its facility. I have felt confident that the staff have been doing everything they could to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. With Covid numbers now running rampant and expected to get out of hand in the coming weeks I cannot for the life of me understand this change in government policy which will leave my mother and others like her more exposed to and at much greater risk of succumbing to this potentially life threatening disease.
Finally it was back to Tamworth, via an overnight stay in Muswellbrook, for an exhausting weekend packing up my in-laws home. It is amazing to peer into other people's lives through the memorabilia they collect. Of utmost importance to them was the contents of the filing cabinet which contained medical records from every hospital or doctors visit, dockets for mechanical work carried out on cars dating back to the 60’s, bank statements recording transactions conducted over the preceding 50-60 years, and the certificate for the purchase of their first family home for a meagre $13,500. While most of these records ended up being passed through the shredder, the entire contents of the home, in a gesture of goodwill, were donated to the SES to distribute to recent flood victims in the Hunter Valley. In the blink of an eye all the material possessions collected over a lifetime were condensed into four trailer loads of ‘things’ that really didn’t have any value to them anymore. In the end the only thing that mattered was to have each other.
This blazing sunrise in Muswellbrook, NSW
Until next time may your days be both serendipitous and enjoyable.