“Fair winds and fallowing seas”

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Late in August the G.O. and I made history. In the eight year epoch of our relationship within a twenty-plus year friendship, although a few have been planned, we’ve never managed a romantic weekend away to celebrate the anniversary of the day it became apparent our ships had the potential to dock at the same port…

…But, not too early on the Saturday morning, we set off for Port Stephens, a couple of hours drive north of Sydney, our destination The Anchorage at Corlette, located on the opposite side of the bay from Hawks Nest, so beloved by my family.

Enroute we stopped briefly at the Port Stephen’s Winery and Murray’s Brewery. The brewery began its existence at The Pub With No Beer at Taylor’s Arm, so we were interested to see its new incarnation. It’s no better than it was, so we moved on.

Arriving at Nelson Bay, we drove around to Fingal Bay, and strolled at Shoal Bay, before it was time to head to The Anchorage.

Shoal Bay

We’d been warned the hotel was slightly shabby. However, only the bathroom showed slight evidence of its age. Otherwise, The Anchorage accommodation is true to its website word:

“Nestled between rugged bushes and built in the style of a cosy fishing village, Peppers Anchorage is a boutique resort offering luxury seaside accommodation in the beautiful New South Wales region of Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Overlooking the Anchorage Marina, Corlette Beach and the unspoilt waters of Port Stephens, allow the sea to soothe your soul with a seaside weekend escape.”

Even had the room been less than we’d expected, we would have forgiven it anything as the view rendered the lodgings more than satisfactory.

our piece of paradise for the evening

Being the time of day for a late lunch, we reconnoitred with the aim of locating the café/restaurant. Prior, I’d done the online research de rigeur to a weekend away, and we were anticipating :

“Nautical High Tea on the waterfront. The English tradition of High Tea is a wonderful way to enjoy an afternoon with good friends or family, whatever the occasion.
With stunning views of the 90-berth marina, Corlette Beach and the sparkling waters of Port Stephens beyond, enjoy High Tea in the Verandah Tea Room, Main Guest Lounge or in Merretts Restaurant. On warmer days, you are welcome to indulge in the outdoors with a table set on the deck. With a distinctive seaside ambience, unrivalled views and the attentive service of the Peppers team you’ll be assured of a delicious afternoon.
Includes Chefs selection of finely cut finger sandwiches, a range of delicate pastries and petit fours and freshly baked scones with jam and cream, plus a cup of tea or coffee.”

Sadly no. Merretts restaurant was undergoing refurbishment. A set lunch (2 courses for $35) was on offer in the conference room operating as the restaurant, but at 2.35 pm, we’d missed it by 5 minutes, not that we’d have taken it up, as diners were agonizingly confined to the “restaurant” interior with no tables set up on the terrace on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon.

Room service and a BYO bottle of Chardonnay provided the solution.

wine and mezze with a view

The obligatory post lunch stroll entertained us, and fed day dreams of a boating lifestyle.

messing around with boats

The clear waters of the bay offer fish viewing but not angling, as within the marina it is prohibited, other than by local dolphins partaking of a late lunch also.

a distinctive seaside ambience

After quick visit to the local Salamander Bay Shopping Centre, where Woolworths and K-mart impinged on our respite from reality, we settled on our patio with cups of tea, and later glasses of wine, to appreciate the nautical view.

indulge in the outdoors

At 8pm we adjourned for dinner to the makeshift restaurant to find it also meant a makeshift menu, rather than the anticipated:

“Relax and savour the delicate flavours of the ever changing menu at Merretts Restaurant, complimented by an extensive wine list featuring local, Australian and wines from around the world. A typical three course dinner might include citrus cured salmon or Redgate farm quail followed by pot roast belly of pork served with granny smith puree, summer slaw, peanut and chilli dressing and shrimp wontons. And to complete your culinary journey an apple tasting plate of jelly, crumble ice cream, tarte tatin and delice or caramel parfait with flambéed bananas.”

The meal was more than adequate but uninspiring, so no photo’s of our repast but our choice of wine to celebrate our anniversary speaks volumes.

Barking Mad Reisling, Reilly’s Wines, Claire Valley, South Australia

“There’s no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there’s no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you thought you’d never make.” – Spirella

Note for Ship’s Log: I would like it documented for the record, my patience in this instance (not always evident), as I have been desirous of sojourning at this particular establishment for over 25 years.

Ref post title: http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/62/messages/529.html

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9 thoughts on ““Fair winds and fallowing seas”

    roughseasinthemed said:
    September 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Excellent slideshow, some really lovely photos there.

    I clicked on the link before I read the rest of your post and was about to go off at a tangent about high tea, but as you’ve mentioned it, it’s no longer tangential!

    What they describe as high tea is afternoon tea. Delicate sandwiches and cakey things. And who would want that at 11am? High tea is a substantial meal and involves something cooked, ham and eggs comes to mind, and of course it could be sensible to have that at 11am, although you still wouldn’t call it tea. How very odd.

    I thought it was interesting how much they wittered on about the food (and yes, I did notice there was restricted service due to the temporary move) and there wasn’t a single sample menu available. Even if you have a changing menu, it would make sense to have one say, for each season or something.

    Having got all that out of my hair the location is breath-taking, I can see why you wanted to go there. We try and do something together on our Wed Ann, even if it is only staying home, but any working partners are expected to take the say off. (also late August). Can’t remember the date we met, just that it was April, four months previously. The neat thing about having a wed ann, is that at least it gives you a date to focus on.

    How is the G.O.’s back going? Did it ease up in the lovely sea air, with chance to wander around and relax?

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      EllaDee responded:
      September 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      Thank you. Prior to our stay, they did have menu’s on the website, and I had been perusing, thinking mmm, what will I have? At that time there was no mention of the restricted menu. From what we overheard, I’m guessing there were complaints. We only decided to go for “high tea” at the last minute as the cafes etc in Shoal & Nelson Bays were really busy and we weren’t in the mood for busy. “High Tea” in Australia usually indicates the inclusion of the option of sparkling wine, as opposed to afternoon tea, which doesn’t… Anyway, it all worked out ok. The mezze plate (all veg) was delicious, and dinner was nice enough. We got the accom on a deal, so were happy – as you say, it’s a beautiful spot, and we’ll go back again, esp as my sister is considering it for her wedding venue, which would be nice. We originally met in April also, in 1990 (I could probbaly figure out the exact date if I looked at an old calendar) but we consider our anniversary as from 26 Aug 2004. Thanks for asking, the G.O.’s back is what it is, and fluctates depending on what he’s been doing at work, and also the weather 🙂

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        roughseasinthemed said:
        September 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm

        I love looking at menus on websites, even when they are not vegetarian. I have always been a voracious menu eater reader. That’s an interesting – and typically Australian! – take on High Tea. http://coffeetea.about.com/od/historyculture/a/High-Tea-Vs-Afternoon-Tea.htm

        The mezze plate did look gorgeous – and even better if they were all veg.

        Deals are good 🙂 1990 wasn’t long after us (we were 85) and our anniversary is three days before you on 23.

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    The Wanderlust Gene said:
    September 4, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Good for you for staying zen 🙂 And congratulations to you both on your anniversary!

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      EllaDee responded:
      September 5, 2012 at 5:53 am

      Thank you. It is such a wonderful location – that bay is one of my favourite places – it’s hard to do anything else. One more night I’d I’d never have left:)

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    Richard Guest said:
    September 6, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Congratulations on finally celebrating, EllaDee. It looks blissful. Like the look of barking mad wine.

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      EllaDee responded:
      September 6, 2012 at 6:04 am

      Thank you. The weekend, and the wine was lovely. You can always rely on a S.A. Reisling.

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    Miss Alister said:
    May 23, 2014 at 4:44 am

    Eight years! So this year it’ll be coming up on ten years! That’s awesome, ElleDee, you guys rock 😀
    Well I came here from your link in “on point duty” to get more crystal clear water and killer ocean views. Really great pics here, all of them, and I especially dig the “messing around with boats” shot into the sun. Into the sun’s a tough gig and you pulled it off, it’s just gorgeous. A really cool post I missed during my undercover years!

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      EllaDee responded:
      May 23, 2014 at 6:18 am

      Thank you 🙂 Time has flown even since our stay at The Anchorage. It’s still my pick of places to stay at Port Stephens, although the view from Salamander Shores is amazing. I’m not a Photographer but I get some lucky shots! I think I was using my old Samsung smartphone on that trip.

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