All Greek to me

Hornsby Greek Festival

The first ever Hornsby Greek Festival went “opa!” last weekend at Greenway Park, Cherrybrook. It was a hot, humid day, but the park was crowded with families enjoying fabulous Greek music and food.

We sat under the trees at the edge of the park, in earshot of the kids squealing on the dodgem cars, and ate our souvlaki and baby octopus while we watched the camels (Greek camels?) lollop around the perimeter of the oval. We took home a box of fresh almond shortbread (Kourabiethes) thinking it might last us a week, but they were so yummy they were all gone by Monday night!

I hope this becomes a hugely successful annual event – I’ll be keeping an eye out for it same time next year.

In praise of farmers’ markets

Thornleigh Farm Market

We were hoping for a sleep in on Sunday morning. No such luck. Our youngest needed to be at Scouts at 8am, so we were up and about at normal-school-day time. A terrible disappointment, until we realised that it was the morning of our local monthly farm market. We stopped by to discover that the joint was already jumping (the “joint” being the McDonalds overflow carpark – there’a a deep irony there). We¬†picked up enormous ripe figs, end-of-season yellow nectarines, fresh turkish bread, two kilos of frozen sirloin steak and a pack of whiting rissoles to take home. Not only that – we also enjoyed a market brekkie of coffee and pain au chocolat, and still made it home before the teenagers had emerged from bed. (We did manage to tempt them out with the hot chocolate and chai we brought back.)

Our local market (Thornleigh Farm Market) is run by the local Rotary club, and has an ever-increasing variety of goods to buy, including flowering gum trees like the one in the photo above. We have a few things that are pantry (and freezer) necessities each month, but part of the joy of the market is the seasonal produce that you don’t usually see in the local supermarket – the zucchini flowers, the yellow and purple carrots, the¬†sweetest little sugarplums… mmm-mmm.

I’ve listed some of our must-visit farm and organic markets below. What are your favourites? And what do you simply have to buy at every visit?

Thornleigh Farm Market
8am – 12pm, 3rd Sunday of the month
Phyllis Ave, Thornleigh

Eveleigh Farmers’ Market
8am – 1pm every Saturday
243 Wilson Street, Darlington

Castle Hill Farmers & Fine Food Market
8am – 12pm, 2nd Saturday of the month
Castle Hill Showground (enter via Carrington Road)

Hornsby Organic Food Market
8am – 4pm every Thursday
Hornsby Mall (by the clock fountain)

For a list of many of the other organic and farmers’ markets in Sydney and regional NSW, see the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association website.

Shakespeare by the Sea

Shakespeare by the Sea - Comedy of Errors

This is the 25th season of Shakespeare by the Sea at the Balmoral Beach Rotunda. For the last quarter of a century, David Finlayson MacSwan and his troupe of actors have put on two Shakespeare plays each Summer.

I went to the first season, and several after that, but haven’t been for many years. And then this year a number of things pointed me to the fact that I was overdue for another visit. Firstly, I read that it was the 25th and final season. Then my teenage daughter’s English teacher told her to go see one of this year’s plays. And then – so sad – I heard that Dr Finlayson McSwan had passed away suddenly as the season was due to start.

The company bravely decided to go ahead as planned, and to dedicate the final season to the memory of their director, producer and friend. And what a fitting tribute it is.

We went down to the beach tonight to see A Comedy of Errors. They had moved the play to 1984, and populated it with a band of big-haired, Wham-loving, sharp-suit-wearing smooth operators. What fun! We laughed out loud all the way through, and even our eleven year old kept up with the twists and turns in the plot.

There are a few weeks left in this farewell season, so do yourself a favour and head to Balmoral to see either Comedy of Errors or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s your last chance to experience this uniquely-Sydney event: Shakespeare with a soundtrack of lapping waves and chattering flying-foxes. Take a picnic, a bottle of bubbles and a bunch of friends.

Shakespeare By The Sea
8pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights until 6th March
The Rotunda, Balmoral Beach
By donation (at least $20 each recommended)

Going batty

Gordon Flying Fox CampThe Gordon Flying-Fox Camp is one of Sydney’s secret treats. Every night between October and March, the bats from this site head out en masse for their evening jaunt. In their ten-thousands. That’s a lot of bats.

Wait on the Rosedale Road bridge, and about 20 minutes after sunset your patience will be rewarded. First you’ll spot a few loners taking flight in the distance, and before you know it, the sky will be full of them.

The night we went recently, there were lots of babies taking their first, unsteady flaps. Very cute. (What is the correct name for a baby bat? A batling? Cub? Pup? Kit?)

A great excursion for a Summer night.

Gordon Flying-Fox Camp
Rosedale Road bridge (between Minns Road and Glenview Street) – 10 minutes walk from Gordon railway station.
Every night, October – March