Jennifer and I are about to drive north to a small country town called Stanthorpe, which is close to the border of Queensland. It’s an 800km drive, which we’ll do today.
Stanthorpe is best known for its apples, because it is a cold climate town. And for those of you in the northern hemisphere sweltering through a hot summer, here in Australia it’s winter – and it’s been very very chilly.
Stanthorpe will be freezing!
We’re driving up there because each year, we have a family reunion there.
My family lives in Brisbane, Queensland. Brisbane is about 1200kms from Mudgee – and so each year they drive south, we drive north, and we meet in Stanthorpe.
Because Stanthorpe, apart from growing apples, also grows wine.
I mean grapes.
They have some wineries, which in the foreseeable future will not in any way constitute a threat to the Cote d’Or in Burgundy, or the Medoc, or even the Rhone River Valley.
Or Central Otago.
Or the Russian River Valley.
Or even Mudgee, come to think of it….
The wineries in Stanthorpe are…
Did I mention they grow apples?
The wineries aren’t really the point. The point is Anna’s.
Anna’s is an Italian restaurant in Stanthorpe, and Anna’s claim to fame, over and above its culinary excellence (as excellent in fact as Stanthorpe’s wineries) is that it has an evening buffet.
A buffet is a genteel word for “ALL YOU CAN EAT!!!”
Yes, my family drives 400kms – and I drive 800kms – to a place where we can pig out.
Seeing my family at a buffet is a singularly sobering experience – that is, if you’ve managed to get drunk on Stanthorpe wine, which is like getting drunk on Drano.
Seeing my family at a buffet is not something I would ever share on Facebook. Zuckerburg would ban me. It’s not pretty.
My family believes in trying, each year, to send Anna’s broke.
The plates they give my family simply aren’t big enough. My family one year asked if they could bring wheelbarrows. And shovels.
At the end of the weekend as they drive away they have to use seat-belt extenders. Like they give fat people on planes.
And when they get bored, my family has been known to engage in a food fight or two. The food is there to be used, after all – and given our Health regulations, what’s left over has to be thrown out at the end of the night – so why not throw it around the room beforehand? Put it to good use…
This year, Greg and Donna, and Ken and Angie Mitchell – all of them Queenslanders (God bless their souls) – are driving down to Stanthorpe to meet Jennifer and me tomorrow for a lunch – before my family gets in.
It will be wonderful to see them.
As it will to see my beautiful, and very tolerant, family. My mother will be 108 this year. Or thereabouts. She’s getting old anyway. And still in good health, and spirits.