September 23, 2007

23 September 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

A view over Parramatta

The arrangements for the ball are advancing well; only the tiny sweet cakes and tarts prove difficult to procure, and we will make do with lesser fare. The house at Pyrmont is excellent for entertaining, very open in the dining room and library, a lovely large room at the end of the house and this opens out to the garden that is the greatest asset. September can be cool at night, but it has been warm so far and I hope it will stay so. Soldiers find their service uniform and dress uniform very warm in this climate, and where possible they are encouraged to leave off all of their accroutrements, but for a ball they dress to the nines and make quite a display. How unfortunate for them that there are few eligible ladies to peacock for; even so, I have never known a soldier to lose the chance of showing off, even if to a wall!

The food we serve is just like at home, apart from the very delicate items found at the best places. I have an enormous punch bowl that we will fill near to overflowing, and a seven tiered stand for the large cakes, which we cut and serve on plates. There is very little decent ham here, although we all keep pigs - apart from technique there are certain spices that we just cannnot procure. In place, we dry thinly sliced beef in the air and serve that, to everyone's delight. We also have tremendous quantities of butter and cream, so i will serve Scots scones in honour of Mr. Macarthur, with a lovely jam made from a local fruit. And of course the wonderful oysters that abound in the harbour will be gathered by the sackful and served au natural, which is how they taste best.

Elizabeth is well enough to attend - she was more devated by the thought of missing the evening than she was by her por health!

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