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Morning on Thursday, and the living was easy. Tea around the table, then I accompanied Mum for a walk around the house out in the sun. She sets a fair pace with two walking sticks twinkling away. Another walk up and down the street with red-head nephew. There's some sort of radio transmitter in a cow paddock, stretching away up skyscraper high, and we decided it was an alien landing beacon with a helicopter landing pad on top.

Nephew is big into Star Wars and Star Trek and has the toy collection to prove it. We walked along the parched street talking about space battles, having a fine time.

Lunch was a birthday treat out at Yeppoon, but first we had to get there via Big Sister's house in Rocky. The car she was driving is all buttons and electronics with a builtin satellite navigation screen and we had to work it out on the fly. I'm still convinced that it was pure chance we ended up at the right place. That's my usual method of navigation in Rockhampton. It's all built on a grid system and you just point yourself in roughly the right direction and knightsmove until you arrive.

We set the GPS for Yeppoon, but it's no chore to follow the highway out, and Middle Sister was leading the way. Brother was batting cleanup in an orange V8 behind us, a rumble on the roads. I got to sit in the back and watch ranga lad fill up an old notebook of mine - from when I was eight years old - with pencil plans of spaceships and aliens and scenes of starcruisers spitting out streams of laser bullets. He's got a talent, that one!

Footlights Theatre Restaurant is an odd sight in sleepy Yeppoon, but it was a good choice for a lazy lunch. The tables line up towards a stage and the walls are covered with posters and old-timey signs. "Gentlemen should Refrain from Cursing" "The Waitresses are Not to be Trifled with" "Larrikins Will be Ejected".

We were eleven at our table for lunch, and a larger group came for afternoon tea. We had our first two courses, then a film short and the show, and then dessert. The other group had the show followed by their tea.

It was quite a long affair, actually, and we chatted and played a silly word game, making sentences out of nouns. My red-headed Middle Sister declared she was feeling a bit off-colour, so I pointed at her, saying, "Ginger ails."

She groaned and pointed at the upright on stage. "Piano stools."

Oh, yuk!

The waitress bustled around serving out the food. Vegetable soup and a roll for starters, and a choice of Chicken Mornay or Roast Pork for the main.

The film was an old Buster Keaton short, funny and foolish and full of sight gags.

Then the show began, our waitress transformed into Ma, from the well-known Snake Gully world of Dad and Dave. For my American readers, think Ma and Pa Kettle, and you won't be too far off. Mabel was a buxom young farmgirl, all double entendres skipping over the head of Ma mixing up the damper. Dave came home, a couple of milk cans in hand, dropping them in surprise at the sight of Mabel chatting up a male audience member.

Don't sit in the front row for a show like this, that's all I'll say!

There were a half-dozen skits, funny songs, and assorted foolishness. Some of the costumes were inventive, such as the diminutive male actor almost completed covered in plaster and bandages. A cast member, to be sure. He was good, nearly toppling off stage as he wobbled on his crutches.

He came out again, white jacket and bow tie, singing a song, and I waited for the comedy to begin, but he sang it serious. Annie's Song, and he was good. I was lost in my thoughts of my lady far away.

And then it was over. Dessert was served. "Apple Crumbles!" I exclaimed to the actress/waitress, but she missed it.

I got a CD of songs and a DVD of the skits for Dad, who had been singled out repeatedly from the stage as a birthday boy. And then away home for a quick tea.

Baby Sister drove me back into Rockhampton for a sibling talk, where we sorted out plans for the future and our next gathering. My suggestion for Paris met with widespread approval, so long as I paid for it.

Dinner was at a Stonegrill restaurant north of the river. This was a new one on me. You order a cut of meat - or fish or some vegetarian concoction - and it comes out served on a sizzling hot holystone sprinkled with salt. You immediately turn the meat over to sear the second side, and then slice off pieces to cook the sides for the half hour or so the stone remains hot. Kind of like a Korean Barbecue, except the stone is on a tray brought out from the kitchen.

And absolutely delicious. I had an eye fillet with was tender and tasty. You order the sauce you want - I had mushroom - and it comes out cold in a little ceramic container which you put on a corner of the stone to heat up for spreading on your meat, or dipping it into. Chips or veges or salad on the side.

Makes for a simple kitchen service, lots of fun, and food cooked exactly as and when you like it.

Then home again to bed.
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Skyring

September 2010

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