Monthly Archives: May 2016

A Rainbow In the Sky…Flash Fiction.

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

Vincent Van Gogh

 

A Rainbow In The Sky

Cast into a stormy sea, raging waves tower imperiously overhead. I’m nothing but a speck in the vast, unending ocean. Lightening shoots through the darkness like laser beams. I’m absolutely petrified.

The storm has brutally ripped me away from my very being…my kids, my very flesh and blood…my husband. It shows no mercy. Will gobble me up like a shark, without spitting out the pips.

I do not understand. Please explain!

Yet, the storm rages on without end. This is it.

Suddenly, a rainbow appears…an upside down smile spreading right across the sky, strangely making some kind of sense.

Rowena

…..

May 24, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that changes with a smile. It can be a character, tone, setting or any creative use of smile. You can go deep and consider motive and influence, or you can light up the world with a brilliant flash (of teeth as well as fiction). And smile, because your writing matters and is not hostage to your level, experience or circumstances.

Respond by May 31, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Weekend Coffee Share 29th May, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

As much as I love my morning coffee, this week I’m recommending you join me for High Tea Queensland style at the Teahouse Gallery in Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast Hinterland. You’ll be offered over 20 teas presented in little glass jars and you’re encouraged to take the lids off, smell and take your time making your choice. While you’re waiting for your pot of hot tea to arrive, you can admire each others’ vintage tea cups with their pretty patterns and gold trim. I collect antique tea cups, the way with Shelley and Royal Albert being my favourites. They remind me of cups of tea with my grandmothers who’ve since passed on.

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If things had worked out a bit differently, I could have offered you a slice of Nigella’s Nutella Cake. However, you know how it is when Lady Luck is working against you and every twist and turn doesn’t entirely work out and then all those mishaps seemingly fuse together into a veritable “catastrophe!”

Nigella Nutella Cake

An Earthquake Hit Our Interpretation of Nigella’s Nutella Cake. The lactose-free Cream was to “skinny” for the ganache, leading to “liquification”.

Well, that’s what happened with the cake. The minor mishaps along the way would not have been a major problem. However, we had great difficulty judging cooking times and whether the cake was ready. I needed to pick up my daughter and left my husband in charge. He kept getting mixture on the skewer (a sign that the cake isn’t cooked) but as it was starting to “caramelise”, he thought he’d better take it out. This meant the cake was somewhat burnt, dried out and the hazlenuts tasted bitter. However, a layer of cream, fresh raspberries, icing and freshly roasted hazlenuts almost resurrected the thing and we did enjoy a few slices. That was until our naughty little Lady dog was caught with paws up on the kitchen table, nose through the plastic bag and tail wagging until Geoff sent her packing.

I have been on the lookout for a good chocolate cake recipe to make for birthdays etc and thought this might have been the one. I’m going to give it another chance but suspect the kids would prefer one without the hazlenuts. All recommendations would be grateful received.

Anyway, we arrived home from our road trip to Queensland on Monday night. It was a huge relief to be home after our 2000 km round trip, even though it was hard to leave family and the North behind. However, once you’re in the car, you just want to get there.

If you’re interested in virtual trip to Australia’s tropical Queensland, here’s a series of links to my posts:

Driving To Queensland Via The Long White Line.

Sunset Behind Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise By Night

Bangalow Markets – Near Byron Bay

A Queensland High Tea

I hope you’ve all had a great week. What is the weather doing in your neck of the woods? We have two days left until the official start of Winter. That could mean anything. Yesterday, we had rain and a sudden cold snap. It was absolutely freezing, especially as our homes aren’t built for Winter and our Winter woollies are still in the roof. Indeed, the dogs are lucky to still have their fur coats. I was very tempted to take them but a dog on my lap is almost as good!

By the way, we go into denial around this time each year, thinking we live in a perpetual Summer. Then, we wonder why it’s cold and whinge bitterly.

Anyway, the sun is back out again today and although my toes are frozen numb, things are looking up.

I hope you’ve had a great week. It’s now Sunday afternoon here so we’re starting to get ready for another week.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at  Part-Time Monster . You can click here for the linky to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

A Queensland High Tea.

Leaving behind Bangalow Markets, we were back onto the interminable Pacific Highway heading back over the Queensland border for High Tea at the Old Teahouse Gallery in Mudgeeraba in the lush Gold Coast hinterland. With traffic ever unpredictable, we arrived an hour early, giving us time for explorations and an impromptu photo shoot.

This was stage two of my Sister-In-Law’s 60th Surprise Birthday Party. I must admit it was getting harder to keep the secret quiet, especially when she’d asked us when we were heading home the night before. I’m not a good liar.

Although we’d been on quite a journey, this house is surprisingly well travelled. Nothing like splitting a house in two, sticking it on the back of a truck and moving it around.

In 1911, it was originally built in Scarborough Street, Southport. Salvaged from demolition, it was cut in half and moved into a historic pioneer village, The Settlement. In April 1995, the house was sold, cut in half once again and moved to its current location in Mudgeeraba, nestled among gigantic eucalypts and palms. No wonder it hasn’t moved since. It no doubt wants to put down roots and settle down.

Mama RJL in front of house

If you are not familiar with Queenslander houses, they have their own unique charm and have been designed to suit the hot, wet Queensland climate:

“The Australian tropical house conjures a vision of a large sprawling timber structure on stumps with an extensive, deep, shaded verandah accessed via French doors. The roof is iron and the pitch is steep. A bougainvillaea, a Mango tree, and or a Frangipani adorn the front garden of the house. The primary reason for the development of the Queenslander was the climate. The long hot summer days often ended with a torrential downpour. A house with wide verandahs that provided shelter from these conditions was essential. The importance of the verandahs as an architectural element in a tropical Australian house cannot be underestimated because it is one area which lent itself to an informal semi-outdoor lifestyle suited to the climate. The verandah became an integral part of every house and their use an essential part of the Australian way of life. The cool space framed with white posts, decorative balustrades and brackets became a symbol of the tropical house as an essential link between the indoors and the outdoors.

http://traditionalqueenslanders.com.au/History-of-The-Queenslander.php

Roderick Street

My Grandparents’ Queenslander House.

Stepping into the Old Teahouse Gallery, we weren’t only experiencing its history. Indeed, we were returning to my grandparents’ Queenslander home in Ipswich and retracing the footsteps of my great grandparents and their parents and even their parents before them. My grandmother’s family were Queensland pioneers in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Bowen.

So, as I’m sure you’ll understand, being inside this pretty Queenslander House, brought back so many bitter-sweet memories. My grandparents have passed away. Their Queenslander home has been sold. And, we don’t cross over the border often now either.

Memories, light the corners of my mind
Misty water color memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
smiles we gave to one another
for the way we were.

The Way We Were.

Portrait Mama & Papa

My Grandparents.

Indeed, my memories of my grandparents are so vivid and real, that I can almost reach out and touch them again. Say hello. Give them a hug. Hear their unforgettable voices again. Then, those visions brutally fade and they’re gone. Just like phantom limb pains, my renewed grief is like that macabre, intense itch on a missing foot. Memory’s now hacking through my heartstrings like a blunt knife, severing those precious ties all over again. A desperate beggar, I fall to my knees. Please…just one last cup of tea, one last chat? Then again, I can’t help being greedy and wanting more.

Indeed, I would love my grandmother to meet my kids and for them to know her. I’d love them to go fishing with my grandfather with his handmade line, frugally wrapped around an old lemonade bottle. How I’d love them to hear his stories. He was famous for his stories. They might have been the same old stories and I still remember the annoyance: “We’ve already heard that one”. Little did we know, that he’d outlive his stories, his memories and that laugh would be silenced long before we’d say goodbye.

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Visiting my grandfather with the kids, looking at my son’s Fisher Price laptop. Our visit brought his right out of his shell. It was incredible!

You see, my grandfather developed Alzheimer’s, that cruel disease which snatches away more than just your memories. Like a blasted thief striking during the night, the disease took him away too. At least, the man we knew and who knew us… not that we loved him any less. Perhaps, feeling him slip away, we even loved him more!

Goodbye

My grandfather waving goodbye as my grandmother stands at the top of the stairs.

Yet, while there were all those spangled threads of memories past, with a spider’s architectural genius, we were weaving new threads into a dazzling web. Down the end of the table, the children sparkled, back lit by the sun. Our son sat at the head of their table, surrounded by the girls wearing floral garlands…almost “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes”.

High tea kids

The kids enjoying a magical high tea.

Time for tea.

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The table was beautifully presented and we each had our own, unique vintage tea cup, saucer and plate. Nothing beats tea in a vintage bone china tea cup, except when you have a smorgasbord of specialty teas to choose from.We were presented with what I’ll call a tea tray with over twenty different varieties of tea in little jars. It was very hard to choose only one and inhaling the rich scents of “Creme Brulee”, “Fruits of the Forest”, orange, cinnamon, raspberry… What bliss!

 

I chose Creme Brulee. Please don’t ask me to describe the specifics. I’m not the tea equivalent of one of those wanky wine tasters who can find “plum” in a grape. What I will say, however, is that the tea tasted fresh and very smooth. That’s as good as my description gets.

However, High Tea isn’t just about tea and fancy dresses. It’s also about dainty, edible morsels in miniature.

Considering we hadn’t had lunch and our sitting started at 2.ooPM, our family was ravenous. Naturally, I wondered whether all these small morsels were going to be enough to satisfy our enormous appetites. Was this going to be one of those places where you need to dip down the road for “real food” after paying $50.00 for a lettuce leaf on a huge white plate? I hoped not!

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However, I needn’t have worried. There was plenty and each morsel was scrumptious. There were savouries, macaroons, mille feuille, mini scones with rich dollops of jam and cream. By the way, the scones were soft and moreish and nothing approaching ammunition. Scones are hard to get right and a good test of culinary ability.

By the time the scones appeared and quickly disappeared, I was starting to think about what we’ll call “an elegant sufficiency”.

There can be a fine line between hungry and gluttony.

Thank goodness, I just made it!

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Alas! You can’t lick your plate at High Tea!

It was time to head back over the border ready for the long drive home.

Have you ever been out for high tea? Please do share and link through to any posts.

Xx Rowena

Anybody looking at savour the delights of high tea at the Old Teahouse Gallery can check out their website at http://www.theoldteahousegallery.com

 

Still Water … #Writephoto

I loved this character sketch from Van By the River.
You always hope there’s more going on behind the surface but sometimes what you see is what you get xx Rowena

vanbytheriver

Still Water Sue’s Photo Prompt

Still waters run deep. Or do they ?

He never answered her question. “What are you thinking ?”

Sarah tried. She had been looking lovingly into his eyes for a long time.

He gazed back. Tom was the strong, silent type. Just what she needed.

But she wanted to dig deeper.

He talked about his day, about work, about sporting events, about projects he was going to take on when he had the time.

Family issues, finances, current events, politics, etc. etc. etc.

Still. What was he thinking ?

It took a while, but she found out. It was a bit of a disappointment.

Nothing. There was nothing else in there.

Mostly, Tom was thinking about how to answer the question without losing her interest.

And also, how long he had to stay at this restaurant table before checking his e mail.

It didn’t work out for Sarah and…

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Bangalow Markets- Byron Bay Shire.

Recapping on our road trip to Queensland last weekend, we had driven up to my in-laws place at Nureybar in Byron Bay’s hinterland on Friday. On Saturday, we’d  driven across the border into Queensland for a birthday picnic in a park in Surfers Paradise and went back to our niece’s hotel with breathtaking views across the beach and  nightlife (or was that wildlife?)This takes us through to Sunday morning, when we had a fleeting visit to Bangalow Markets before we headed back over the Queensland border for high tea at the Old Teahouse Gallery in Mudgeeraba.

Bangalow is a quaint historic village, located near Byron Bay in the Byron Shire with a population of 1,902.The town is 765 kilometres (475 mi) north of Sydney and 167 kilometres (104 mi) south of Brisbane, just off the Pacific Highway. The town’s name appears to have been derived from an Aboriginal word, “Bangalla”, said to mean ‘a low hill’ or ‘a kind of palm tree’- Wikipaedia.

Every time we visit my in-laws, I escape to Bangalow and after I’ve meandered through the numerous arty, fashion and food shops, I usually set up camp and write in my journal. I love each and every nook and cranny in Bangalow and if we’re really lucky, our trip coincides with the Bangalow Markets, an ecclectic fusion of Nimbin counter-culture and hippies, produce stalls, music, fashion as well as massage and other so-called “alternative therapies”. Bangalow Markets are held on the 4th Sunday each month at Bangalow Showground.

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Interesting that dogs are banned from the markets in such a such an alternative community but with the heavy crowds, there’s not a lot of space.

Fortunately, our trip coincided with the Bangalow Markets but unfortunately we only had half an hour up our sleeve before we had hit the road driving North. While 30 minutes was better than nothing, such a fleeting sprint-by could only be described as sacrilege. How could I possibly see anything in a measly half-an-hour?

Kombi Family

We spotted this split-screen Kombi at the markets.

Well, I’m a fast mover and I even surprised myself. While the rest of the crowd was chugging along on “Byron Time”, I flew past the stalls posed for photos in front of a Kombi and that was when I was greeted by a very friendly familiar face…our friend Kathy who is a local jewelry artisan. It was so good to see her and share a spontaneous and embracing hug. Wow! it was so good to see her again!! Of course, we bought more jewelry. Kathy has designed and manufactured most of my jewelry and it was really good that I was wearing one of her pieces at the time.

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Catching up with my friend, jewellery artisan Kathy Bass from Peekaboo.

Although our visit was incredibly rushed and fleeting, Bangalow Markets is a place for chilling out, relaxing and immersing yourself in the region’s hippy counter-culture. However, don’t mistake it for a free ride. I go through buckets of money whenever I go to the markets. With so much creativity in one location, it’s hard not to.

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Jewelry by Peekaboo.

Speaking of buckets, there was one trip to the markets when the heavens suddenly opened up and drowned the stalls in metres of water. Indeed, the markets were overtaken by raging torrents and I remember seeing tables and chairs buried by the heavy deluge.

I think this could be why we seemingly visit my in-laws when the markets aren’t on. Of course, we could and have visited the other local markets, especially the Byron Bay Markets, but these are a little further away.

As we leave the markets to return to the open road, I thought you’d enjoy losing yourself in these mesmerising bubbles.

Queensland awaits!

Do you have a favourite market? Please share.

xx Rowena

PS I couldn’t resist adding a photo of a little lemonade  stand being run by a couple of young kids and their dog.

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#WeekendCoffeeShare: 5/21/16

This looks like a great pasta salad recipe. I’m planning to give it a go. That is after I make a variation of Nigella’s Nutella Cake. She was on Masterchef this week and my niece made it for a family birthday last weekend. I have zero self-control xx Rowena

Colder by the Lake

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A Recipe / And spring into summer

If we were having coffee, I would tell you life is just now creeping into full bloom in this area of Georgian Bay, held back by the cool of the lake and chill north winds. It’s the Victoria Day long weekend in Canada (where we inexplicably still celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday, the 24th of May), the official kickoff of summer.

Rainbow Pasta Salad

This is a weekend we always make our go-to fresh pasta salad.  So I would pass along this recipe. Great for pot lucks, always a hit with visitors. Enjoy.

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