What is it about a simple chicken salad sandwich that brings back happy memories? Okay in this case my memory was helped along by a visit from a dear friend from down South in Victoria. Diana was on the Sunshine Coast on holiday with her husband this weekend and visiting friends in the area.
Diana is very attractive and is one of those people who can wear one of those slinky beaded dresses you see in the fancy magazines. I’ve always been envious about that. She and her hubs are beautiful people but they’re beautiful inside too.
Paul’s twice as tall as I am and travels around competing in Iron Man events. They share a special dog child that is the apple of all four of their eyes and as soon as they arrived, our Charlie knew they were “dog people.” Their dog’s name is Toby and I have fond memories of when Diana took this furbaby to her heart ten years ago.
He walks with mum in the morning, goes to work with dad all day and sometimes he gets to ride behind dad when he trains on his bicycle. He likes this a lot. At the moment poor Toby has tonsillitis and he’s staying with Nana back in Victoria where I suspect he’s getting (more) spoilt.
I made Ina Gartens apple crisp and I’d share it with you but frankly, I didn’t like it. It was like eating a mouthful of dust for me. I’ll keep looking for a recipe I like better. I won’t share a recipe that looks good but tastes rather crap.
Anyway, after Diana left I was thinking about how we met her and it’s a lovely memory for us. A week or so before the end of the year 2000 I was at our local bank doing business and the manager came out and said, “Maureen, what are you two doing for New Year’s Eve?”
I told him we were headed for our boat on the Hawkesbury River and John would be driving it down to Sydney to watch what were advertised as being the best fireworks in the world that year. As you can see in the photo, I did the important, heavy work on that journey.
The bank guy said he was headed to Sydney too and would watch the fireworks from his brother’s place. As you do, I laughed and said, “Well, if your brother gets boring, give me a ring on my mobile and join us on the boat.”
Did you instantly think he thought that was a good idea? Yep. He called the next day and said thanks for the invitation and he was bringing a friend with him to Sydney and they’d love to watch the fireworks from the boat and could we pick them up from the Taronga Wharf. (that’s where the Sydney zoo is) John said, “You said what to him??” and then we both laughed.
We were anchored just off the Taronga Zoo which is opposite the Sydney Opera House and looking down toward the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was a perfect location. When you have a boat in a situation like this, there’s no, “Let’s pull up the anchor and motor over to the pier,” because boats were everywhere and if you gave up your spot, someone else would take it. Our boat wasn’t huge but a 40′ boat needs a lot room to swing around in the wind – and it was windy that night.
John left in the little tender to pick them up and the bank manager was wearing a suit and Diana was in heels. (They were expecting a boat more flash than hours, I’m sure.) Because of the wind, the water was very choppy and both of them were quite wet from splash when they got to the boat. Neither was one bit concerned – just happy to be with all the happy people.
Also with us that night was my brother Jim and a friend from California and John’s sister from Melbourne plus his teenaged son and a friend. The kids were sleeping up on the flybridge but we had all cabins full below before these two arrived.
As I was in the galley getting the food ready, Diana asked if she could help. I told her I wasn’t putting on too much of a spread because the boat was rocking a lot and mostly I wanted to be a part of the fun. “I’m just making chicken salad sandwiches and salads and potato chips,” I said. We had plenty to nibble on and lots of beer, wine and cocktails too.
“I’m a vegetarian,” Diana said softly, “I don’t eat anything that has a face.” Of course I asked myself if a chicken has a face and yes, yes it does.
Back in Maine, hot dog rolls are sliced down the sides so they can be buttered and toasted for hot dogs, lobster or crab rolls – and that’s how I like them. We can’t buy them like that anywhere but Maine and a few parts of New England but I slice the sides off the ones I buy and bob’s my uncle.
We found enough food in the fridge to keep Diana fed and the first fireworks began before 9pm. Spectacular in every sense of the word. The fireworks were gorgeous, the people in the other boats were happy and friendly and the whole evening couldn’t have been better. The bridge was lit up, the Sydney Opera House was lit up and by the end of the night most everyone on our boat was lit up. When the midnight fireworks went off, everyone on the water was feeling no pain. One boat next to us ran a blow up doll up the main mast, another boat had hula dancers and our boat? We were just having fun.
After the fireworks ended, John said, “Maureen, I don’t think I can get them back to Taronga pier without nearly drowning them, it’s that rough.” (he also couldn’t drive even a dinghy after drinking) So a bit of moving things around, finding things to sleep in – they spent the night with us.
Diana was working as a travel agent back then and we said we’d try using her to book our trips and she was so good – we hired her and she worked for us for years. I remember once we were traveling to Canada and on the way one of the flights had been cancelled and when we got off the plane Di called and told us the next flight was cancelled. “I’ve rebooked you and you’ll leave in 15 minutes instead of 25, get your running shoes on.” This woman is so organized she could keep the President or the Prime Minister on track.
Do you have any old friends you met in a funny situation that you’d love to catch up with again? I have a few but I can cross one off my list and look forward to seeing her again soon.
- 2 cups cooked chicken
- 1 stalk celery finely chopped
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- ⅓ cup walnuts chopped
- 1 apple peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp cup parsley, chopped
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise (or to taste)
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 package hotdog buns
- Place chicken into the bowl of a mixer with a flat blade and run on slow until the chicken is shredded.
- Chop apple and toss with lemon juice.
- Chop celery and onion, walnuts and 1 tbsp parsley
- Add apple, parsley, celery, walnuts and onion to the chicken
- Mix in mayonnaise.
- Slice sides off buns, butter and toast until golden.
- Fill with chicken salad mixture and sprinkle a bit of chopped parsley on top.