An Evening to Remember!

Recently I received the type of phone call most of us only dream about. Government House in Hobart called to invite me to dinner. The dinner was being held on Wednesday 22 July and the Governor was hosting the Egyptian Ambassador from Canberra.

When I recovered from my initial shock I diplomatically asked 'why me?'. The caller asked, 'You are the editor of the Children's Book Council's e-newsletter?' to which I replied 'Yes.' Apparently someone in Government House had also seen one of my blogs where I spoke enthusiastically about all things Ancient Egyptian. And so my inclusion at the dinner was decided.

I accepted, with pleasure, the invitation for us both for the following week. Having never attended such a function previously we were understandably nervous. I checked our black tie outfits and booked accommodation for the night. And we drove down to Hobart, looking forward, with trepidation, to an evening we would never forget.

Government House is a magnificent historic building but I really didn't have much opportunity to look around. When we arrived we were shown on a plan where we would be sitting at the dinner table. We were then introduced, couple by couple, to the Governor, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, Mr Richard Warner and His Excellency Dr Hassan El-Laithy, Ambassador of the Republic of Egypt.

Champagne was served, at which time we spoke to the Governor and her Official Secretary, Mr David Owen as well as Mrs Margaret Blow, wife of The Honourable Justice Alan Blow, OAM, Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Justice of Tasmania who held out his hand and said, 'I'm Alan.'

We were shown into the dining room and seated. I was very fortunate to be sitting next to Mr Richard Warner, with whom I enjoyed conversation throughout the evening. The other 'honoured guests', as Dr El-Laithy described us were: Mr Richard Catt, Deputy Official Secretary to the Governor and his wife Mrs Catherine Catt; Mr Scott Bacon, MP, Labor Member for Denison and his partner Ms Chantel Crossman; Mr Clive Tilsley, owner of Fullers Book Shop in Hobart and his wife Mrs Rose Tilsley; and Mr John Hamilton and his wife Mrs Caroline Hamilton, Founder and Director of Unzoo.

Dinner was divine. We began with Borsch Broth with braised beef cheek wontons. Entrée was Perigord Truffle Custard with salmon pearls. Main course was Roasted Coriander Spiced Wallaby Fillet with Ashbolt elderberry Jus, and dessert was Queen's Soufflé with lime tapioca.

Conversation was animated and fairly relaxed, considering the company, and I had an opportunity to speak with the Ambassador about my love of ancient Egypt and the fact I have written several blogs and articles about it, as well as a children's novel. He was attentive and seemed pleased with my interest.

After dinner we retired to a lounge where we were served coffee and chocolate truffles, followed by port or liqueur. Jim and I spoke at length with Scott Bacon about tourism in Tasmania, and before we knew it, it was time to go.

What an evening! One we will never forget. The Governor and her husband are lovely down-to-earth people and we were absolutely thrilled to have been given such an honour.