Daydreaming in our pandemic iso-world is a national pastime. Here is an imagined dinner, hosted by myself and my partner Rob in our new house at Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.

There are four courses (well sort of), and four dinner guests from days gone by.

Let’s begin with seared scallops, accompanied by bacon and a puree of sweet corn. I so enjoyed this at The Victory Cafe in Blackheath. The popped corn was just for fun. By the way, scallops are a nod to my (and Rob’s) Tasmanian roots. Despite what people may tell you, never entomb these succulent darlings in a pie! (just saying)

Scallop and corn puree entree.
Perfect scallops

For main course my choice is retro Beef Wellington. Now I must confess I have never actually made or eaten this, but I love pastry, prosciutto, and roast beef! Put them together and I just know it would be utterly delectable.

Beef Wellington, oh yes!

The beef would be served with green, minted peas and roast vegetables. Lots of parsnips and onion to be included!

Toast vegetables would be a must at my dream dinner.

Dessert would be very simple…….just raspberries and fresh, whipped cream.

The simplest of deserts for my special dinner.

I deliberately haven’t selected wines, because I’m not much of a wine drinker. I’m sure all of my guests would bring along a fabulous bottle of something though. Rob suggests good reds for the main course. And naturally there would be champagne.

OK, something really sweet to finish with. Might only suit me, but never mind…… it’s my party. Dry, crumbly fudge from Penrith in Cumbria. And a bottle or two of Australian De Bortoli’s Botrytis Semmilon. Oh yes, and coffee made from freshly ground beans by Rob.

Coffee art bird


Vita Sackville-West, Oh my word, I do admire her. A traveller, a writer, a gardener, and a woman who dared to flout convention in her private life. Her romantic garden at Sissinghurst is my all-time favourite.

Vita Sackville-West, I'd love to have dinner with her.
Vita Sackville-West at Sissinghurst, in 1960.
Sissinghurst Castle.
The Elizabethan Tower at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent. ©National Trust Images/Jonathan Buckley

Charles Darwin, my great hero. A brilliant scientist, a loving husband and father. Plus, he appears in my first book, The Water Doctor’s Daughters. The child he lost, Annie, played with the water doctor’s children. I once had a magical dream in which he showed me around his library. Darwin visited Blackheath during his voyage on HMS Beagle in 1836. Most scientific stuff is beyond me, but I am fascinated by evolution and at least understand it.

Charles Darwin, the most honoured guest at my dream dinner party.

Ah yes, and Dr Victor Ratten, subject of my much delayed work-in-progress biography. Gregarious, charismatic, very clever, and a complete fraud. He might give away a few secrets if I could ply him with alcohol during dinner. He would definitely be entertaining, and well able to hold his own in any company.

Dr Ratten, hopefully he would over indulge in wine at my dream dinner,

Settling on my fourth guest took some serious thought. A much loved literary figure such as Charles Dickens, Daphne du Maurier or Oscar Wilde? In the end I chose a more recent, US writer.

Helene Hanff. She had the same sense of humour as I do, wrote a quirky account of one of my favourite cities in Apple of My Eye, and shared my love of books. I could introduce her to Sydney next day, just as she showed me around New York during one serendipitous visit. If you are interested, CLICK HERE.

Helene Hanff, so welcome at my dream dinner.

I’m sure it would be a memorable night of good food and stimulating company.

Who would your guests be? And what would be on your menu?

  1. I’d be happy to make up the numbers. Beaut choice of guests.

  2. Ooh, can I come too? I’ve always wanted to try beef wellington (I’ve never made it either). And I’d love to meet Charles Darwin, if he’s well enough to come on the day.

    • Pauline

      Yes, you can come Stella. It never occurred to me that any of my selected guests may not be able to make it, I’m a bit worried now.

  3. Yes please!! Can I come…..I’d be on my best behaviour!

    • Pauline

      Sure Lorraine. I don’t think good behaviour is a requirement though. Haha.

  4. My name on your guest list is noticeable by its ABSENCE. Hrrrrmph!

    • Pauline

      Well my dear friend, you might notice that the four guests are dead, so don’t be too upset that you are not in their company! x

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