Tomorrow my friend G and I are heading off to Rylstone Street Feast. Since discovering this wonderful region, for the last two years we have done the tourist thing and bought tickets for the ‘Long Lunch’, which is a gourmet feast set in the leafy main street of Rylstone. Table are laid out down the length of the street for a communal repast of courses which make the most of local produce.
The street is flanked by local market stalls and the day is a major one for the area, attracting both tourists and locals. This year we are much more like the locals and will be manning a market stall ourselves stocked with our hand knits as well as luxury yarn. The stall had been booked many months before, following our success at Rylstone Artisan Markets, but it is now a fortuitous opportunity to promote the new shop to a wider audience as we will be opening in the same street in a few weeks.
This will be a much bigger market than we have previously been to and will be a long day (and possibly a very hot one!). The excitement is building. I’ll post photos after the event for all to see. Hopefully we also get to see lots of the other stalls and sample some of the great local food on offer.
Plans for the new shop are moving at a cracking pace. Stock has either been delivered or is on its way – particularly for the international products. Some of the new arrivals are so stunning, I’m finding it hard to imagine how I can part with them. Probably not the best retail approach.
So far we have a good stock of Noro, Zauberball, Moseley Park and Kaalund. Books have arrived as have a selection of Knitpro needles. A few other lovelies such as some Golding spindles have also found their way here. This week a trip to Sydney helped with shelving as well as some surprises from the last David Barsby auction.
The shop is coming together well and is perfect for our needs – great location, lots of character, good size with two rooms to add interest, of course Yum Cha next door as well as outdoor seating for knitters in good weather. There’s still lots to do – phone/wireless connection, Merchant connections, signage, stationery … but it’s so exciting.
The needles are clicking madly in preparation for our Rylstone StreetFeast stall on 1 November, then it should be full steam ahead to open the shop sometime in November.
MRTI (Mudgee Tourism) took the great step of inviting a dozen of Australia’s top influential food and travel writers and bloggers to visit the Mudgee region in a bus to showcase the amazing food and wine of the area.
Whilst following Facebook and their Tweets we noticed a familiar name and face pop up with web_goddess. It was such a treat to be visited by a very happy gang of travellers who had indulged in a massive overdose of Mudgee hospitality.
The team had a quick preview of our new business, Convent and Chapel Wool Shop, which we are in the early stages of setting up and plan to open early November, post the Rylstone Street Feast celebrations (where we will have our stall). They they moved on to what we hope was a great Rylstone experience at 29 nine 99. So great to see good promotion of such a magical region.
After my recent successes at the Rylstone Artisan Markets, I have stocked up heavily (which has also meant lots of knitting). My big sellers to date have been the lacy mohair and silk scarves as well as the fingerless mitts, with beanie sales increasing now the weather is chilly.
This is the first “Winter” market and I’m hoping to continue my fortunate streak. This time I’ve added a stack of Noro beanies – spiral and plain, as well as a bumper load of mitts in gorgeous yarns. The markets let me indulge, with my main yarns so far being Rowan Silk Haze, Noro – Kureyon and Silk Garden, and for the linen stitch scarves a bit of a mix with alpaca, merino and mohair blends. Peartree is wonderful to work with and provides a great finished item. This month I’ve experimented with Madelinetosh Sock yarn and I’m also using some of the wonderful vintage Lush hand dyed yarns I bought a few years ago. It’s rewarding to be playing with a stash that I’ve been building up.
Nippy weather usually means cold fingers and ears – making the mitts in particular popular items, with mitts and beanies usually donned on the spot.
I now have a much better sense of how to set up for the markets and what people like and I’m also very pleased with how my stall looks. I’ll let you know how I go this round.
Country Shows are very special for local rural communities. It’s a day when families get together, where local organisations exhibit and farmers get to display and compete with their produce and stock. The whole town turns out and many participate in the various events. There’s a real pastoral feel, even that the first displays you see as you enter are the farm produce, with the rides at the back of the Show. Even though it’s rural, there’s a touch of magic for the kids with the sideshow alley.
This was my second Rylstone Kandos Show, but my first as a resident. As I did last year, I entered the Knitting section – a single entry this time – with the high bar of matching last year’s first and Champion Piece of Knitting. My lace shawl with beads managed to make the grade, although it was just as exciting to see my friend take out second. We have been challenged to branch out into some new categories next year. Unfortunately my entries with cherry tomatoes and mixed edible herbs didn’t make any grades with no placements. The produce entries are inspiring and remind me how far I have to go. Next year I may be tempted to enter some of the flower categories, particularly roses, if I can get them to flower at the right time!
It’s always good to see the animals and see the pride and care farmers take in their stock. I made sure I had a look at the poultry pavilion as I’m still learning about chooks and which breeds I should be getting. At the moment the Silkies are looking good (they are just so cute and fluffy) and the smooth bantams. I really don’t need big chooks – they’re just for eggs and apparently these are good layers, even if the eggs won’t be huge.
We were there pretty much the whole day and into the night which ended with a long firework display. There was so much to see that we didn’t get to take in nearly all the events, but the sheep mustering with the working dogs was great to watch and the Jack Russell races were hilarious. I still don’t understand why Hammer didn’t even get a acknowledged as a candidate for People’s Choice voting after he managed to catch the lure in all three races he was in!
Anyway, a long and enjoyable day with friends and we are already planning for next year!
Yesterday was my second foray into the Rylstone Artisan Markets with my Convent and Chapel knitting stall. I had slightly adjusted stock by removing some of the more Wintry beanies and adding a loose knit cotton blend scarf pattern and a new vibrant set of mitts, plus a few other random knitted items.
As expected, it was a much smaller and quieter market, with fewer stall holders and visitors given the holiday break. I was more than happy just to be there and chat with my fellow stall holders with no expectations of sales. Fortunately, I still did quite well – not as much as last time, but definitely worthwhile and confidence-building.
I sell both finished items and kits – complete with my own patterns as well as the yarn and any other items needed to finish the garment. I’m keen to encourage others to practice the craft. At both markets so far I’ve sold both, although the knitted items sell much faster, meaning that I have lots of knitting to do inbetween markets to restock. The plan is to keep the items fresh with regular new additions that adjust with the seasons.
I’m really pleased with how my stall looks and it attracts lots of comments. We even made it into The Weekly local paper! It’s good even if people just stop for a look and comment on items – it’s quite different to anything else at the markets. The other stall holders are incredibly friendly and encouraging and I’m meeting so many new locals and catching up with familiar faces.
Anyway, I’m already looking forward to February markets – I’m planning a rustic Autumn suitable shawl and topping up the featherweight mohair lace scarves that are so popular.
The country trains runs have been greatly reduced over the years obviously due to cost pressures. I understand this but the trains also mean a great deal to local towns in making them more accessible to the public and providing regular transport to the locals, rather than relying on access to cars.
Train lines track throughout the country and whilst you drive across many level crossings, you may be surprised to find how few of them ever have trains run along them. One of the visible sadder aspects I find are the lovely old railway stations which were once such a centre of industry, social connection and activity now being deserted and forlorn. Whilst many decry the mining industry, for some areas it has meant that the railway lines have at least been maintained for mineral transportation, if not for people. This has kept the train line open to Kandos, even though public trains finish their run at Lithgow.
Very infrequently a heritage train comes through with Kandos being the final stop and resting place for lunch before returning to Sydney. This is quite an event and is usually sold out. The whole town turns out complete with Markets to greet the tourists.
In the meantime, I bring you some photos of the gracious old railway stations in the area. They obviously were once buildings of stature in the community and have a very Australian heritage feel about them.
The Kandos Railway Station has been lovingly restored into a popular cafe, however the other buildings are not so fortunate, and whilst sometimes appearing as attractive heritage landmarks from the distance, stand often abandoned and closer scrutiny tells a different picture. They are often at locations that are less likely to sustain a commercial venture, which seems such a misfortune.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost a year since I first saw the Convent (and discovered where Kandos is). It was the 20th August last year when, along with my good friend Lee, we set off with his trusty GPS named Siobhan, given the lady has an Irish accent, to find Kandos and the Convent. All we knew was that we could go Bells Line of Road and it was before Mudgee.
My friends had already accompanied me on a number of inspections of rural properties, all of which had been seriously disappointing, so L was endeavouring to temper my very excited expectations which by that stage was probably already at making plans for grandchildren, which are not on anyone’s horizon. After all, it was a long trip home after a big day if I was going to be teary.
Anyway, the Convent obviously didn’t disappoint and it seems such a short time ago, even though so much has happened and so much work has progressed. I had the world’s longest settlement which even saw a change of Popes.
It also means that fast approaching is Rylstone Street Feast which will be held on Saturday 2 November and is an extravaganza of 4 courses of sumptuous local food served at a community sit down lunch running down the centre of the main street. It is one of the highlights of the area and not to be missed. It was also the first time that many of my friends came to Kandos to see the Convent.
Anyway, tickets have just gone on sale and we’ve snapped them up again. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to a few months time when I can sit back and relax to enjoy the Convent fully.
My houseguests often get to enjoy the pull-aparts which seem to have as much filling as bread. My favourite is the Spanish Onion and Olive, although the Roast Veg is also amazing. I’m yet to sample the Bacon and Cheese or Fetta and Spinach.
The rich slices (chocolate with mint, caramel or cherry ripe fillings or the baked apple) can each easily provide four serves and are way generous with the fillings. And, whilst I have had limited exposure to the pies, the traditional meat ones have been easily consumed.
Such a treat finding a place like this around the corner. And yes, it is a wood-fired bakery with beautiful sourdough, ciabatta and many other wonderful breads and treats.
One of my favourite places for Yum Cha – and that includes Sydney – is 28 Nine 99 – an unexpected Yum Cha delight in Rylstone.
Nestled in the charmingly restored historic Bridgeview Inn is what initially appears to be a small shop with delightful gifts, including exotic scarves and enticing Chinese teapots and cups. It houses a wonderful Yum Cha house owned by the equally wonderful and delightful Na Lan. Forget laden trolleys lurching around piled high with bamboo steamers. Here you get to select from a broad variety of dumplings. My friends and I usually opt for the selection of 8 mixed with an additional ‘special’ piece which for me is always the Black Sticky Rice with Coconut. There’s also a pot of tea from a wide choice but I never go past the Oolong.
The shop can cater for a surprising number of people with a back courtyard, the gallery and even tables in the Community Garden out the back where you can wander to examine the locally grown veg. I’d encourage you to book before going, particularly for Sunday lunch.