Weekend Coffee Share… 26th August, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you and how’s your weekend shaping up, if you still have any of it left? It’s now Sunday night here, and I’m opting to share the weekend that was meant to be instead of the weekend that was.

Conservatorium Sign.jpg

A sign outside the Conservatorium advertising my grandmother’s upcoming concert . 

Yesterday, I was planning to attend Open Day at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music  where my grandmother taught and performed as a concert pianist and my mother attended as a pupil…her pupil. I wanted to try to find my grandmother’s old studio which I can really only remember as a young child being taken for a visit…stairs and long corridoors. Dad tells me her room overlooked the Botanic Gardens. That mystery will have to be unfold on another day.

Conservatium of Music (1)

The Conservatorium of Music, Sydney.

When you look at this grandiose apparition, it’s hard to believe that the Conservatorium  was originally built as the government stables. They must’ve had special horses. Or, Governor Macquarie was trying to transform a rugged convict outpost into a cultivated society.  Nothing like a few grandiose buildings to give a place a bit of  a step up. The Conservatorium was designed by former convict architect, Frances Greenway, and constructed 1817-1820. It is the only example of a Gothic building designed by Greenway still standing. The cost and apparent extravagance was one of the reasons Macquarie was recalled to Britain. I wonder why.

That was yesterday’s plan.

Today, I’d planned to go to the annual Irish Famine Memorial Annual Gathering at the Hyde Park Barracks, which is coincidentally located just down the road from The Con and was also design by Frances Greenway. The gathering primarily commemorates over 2000 Irish Famine Orphan Girls who were sent to Australia under the Earl Grey Scheme. These orphans included my 4th Great Grandmother, Bridget Donovan. I didn’t know anything about that growing up, and only found out about five years ago through a random Google search. I don’t know why this connection means so much to me, but she’s more than just a part of me. Bridget came from Midleton Workhouse, County Cork and I’ve also been researching the other girls she came out with. I was surprised to see they led quite disparate lives and seemingly didn’t huddle together. Getting to the gathering could well have advanced my research, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

Family photo

A Family Portrait.

Well, as much as this was the weekend that wasn’t, thank goodness we made it to my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary on Thursday night. I don’t know where the numbers finished up, but there were something like 80-100 guests. Rather than focusing on them, Dad wanted it to be more of an opportunity to catch up with family and friends who’ve both individually and collectively have meant the world to them. While I’d expected catching up with so many people all at once, was going to be like speed dating barely able to sustain a conversation, I actually managed to have quite a meaningful night and have rekindled a few connections and made some new ones as well. I had a fabulous time.


Our puppy Zac was keen to join us for the party.

My apologies for going backwards through the week, but the build up to the big party was bigger than Ben Hur. While I had very little to do with the actual planning and I wasn’t even required to bake or make a speech, getting myself and the family ready for the big night was a job and a half. I had my hair cut for the first time in two years a few weeks ago. People kept asking me how I felt about getting it all lopped off as though it was a monumental decision, not neglect. I also ordered new contact lenses, not that you’d know that I wear glasses. They always come off for photos. It’s a family tradition. I was quite chuffed and amazed by the time we pulled up. Our son in a suit. The dry cleaner had resurrected my daughter’s dress and we’d paired it up with a white trench and even high heels. Her friend had braided her hair at school…one of the benefits of an education. After 17 years of marriage, my husband still fitted into his wedding suit and almost looked as dashing as ever. As for me, I barely knew myself. I seemed to “scrub up alright”.


Government House, Parramatta.

Lastly, I participated in Thursday Doors for the second time this week. This blogshare is hosted by Norm 2.0 at Thursday Doors and I really recommend you check this out. There were doors featured from all over the world, and I loved revisiting my backpacking trip around Europe in many of the posts. I took it easy this week and posted a recent photo I’d taken at  Government House, Parramatta.

So, how has your week been? Hope you’ve had a good one.

This has been another contribution for the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop over and join us for a “cuppa”.

Best wishes,


27 thoughts on “Weekend Coffee Share… 26th August, 2018.

  1. Kathleen Howell

    Such great family photos!! Glad you got to catch up with family and celebrate your Mom and Dad. ❤ And let us know if you find your grandmother's studio! 🙂

  2. Gary A Wilson

    Hi Rowena, Such an elegant family – you all look dashing. And how wonderful for you all to have such a great family time. Our family has not seen a good reunion for, umm, multiple decades now and many branches hardly know one another..

    Finally for the record, I like the look of careful classical accessories on a woman. You always photograph so nicely, so I think you should grant your fans at least one shot with your glasses. Not wanting to upset any tradition, but am willing to bet that they would only enhance the effect of your smile.

    Hope this finds you and your family well and loving life.
    See you next weekend.

  3. Sagittarius Viking

    I especially love your family photos. Your posts are so warm and personal in an absolutely wonderful way.

  4. Rowena Post author

    You’re more than welcome to have tea or a glass of milk or water. I’ve actually stopped having coffee aside from the odd one at a cafe. Doing anything I can to reduce heartburn problems. It has helped.
    Best wishes,

  5. Rowena Post author

    Shame the fat didn’t shrink along with the height. Hey, that could actually account for the fat. Compression from the top is pushing me out sideways.
    How are things at your end?
    Hope you’re all well!
    Best wishes,

  6. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much. I like people to feel comfortable. A lot of people feel adrift and I hope to provide a welcome place to stop off or even stay, especially through my Coffee Share posts.
    Best wishes,

  7. Rowena Post author

    Gary, I might need to have a grand unveiling. I’ve been doing the blog for over five years and I only realized recently that people didn’t know the every day me.
    BTW Not all the photos turn out quite so well and there is a unnatural selection process involved. At the same time, I often look better in photos than real life.
    I’ll be round shortly.
    Best wishes,

  8. Rowena Post author

    Thanks. The quest for the studio could make for quite a story in itself. From memory, the Con is like a rabbit’s warren of studios. I’ve decided to make contact before I head in.
    Yet, I almost feel like I could find my own way back.
    Best wishes,

  9. Antoinette Truglio Martin

    Congrats on your parents’ big celebration. The Con is an amazing building and am intrigued by the stories it holds.

  10. Rowena Post author

    The one that stays with me from childhood was that they used to wash it with coca cola. I don’t know if that was true as it was said to me in terms of looking out for your teeth and my grandfather was a dentist. There are better stories I’m sure and maybe even a ghost. If there isn’t one, I’ll have to make one up.

  11. Gary A Wilson

    I vote for sharing your favorite shot with your glasses, but if it takes you more that a minute or two to “select”, give the task to your husband. We are implicitly charged via our vows to protecting our wife’s public reputation and are much more objective than you as to what “look” best portrays your personality and essence. It can be a bonding experience for both of you 🙂 . Regardless, if I were ever so fortunate to visit your neighborhood and happened to see that lady in some nice coffee shop with or without glasses – I would be hard pressed to not briefly interrupt her visit with whoever she was with to introduce myself, shake her hand and tell her what an admirable lady she is.


  12. gaiainaction

    Dear Rowena, how lovely to see your family photos, beautiful people! I found it very interesting what you wrote about your musical grandmother and mother. And then also about the work house in Midleton, what a hard time the people here had around that time in history. Here in Skibbereen there has been a huge memorial event all summer to do with the famine. There was a fantastic exhibition in our large Art Centre here, I went to see it, and though not Irish, I felt the overwhelming sadness of that time, and the hugely healing energy that came forth from all this memorial work that was done, the exhibitions, the very many people visiting them, guided tours, etc…. it all added to a tremendous energy release for the people because though long enough ago (but not so very long ago either), there needed to be this cleansing, this healing for the Irish as a people. I was and am very impressed with all this. I am sure that there are many people living in Australia, among other countries, with Irish ancestors.
    I hope you find out more information about your ancestors too.
    Kind regards, Agnes

  13. Junieper

    Rowena, that’s a great family photo! I appreciated your comment about art, but I like to answer more in detail in an email:)

  14. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Judy. It was a great moment to be able to take them to what was a fairly formal occasion and have them represent the family so well. It was really lovely to hear people to say we have a lovely family and know that they meant it. This hasn’t come on a platter for us and it’s something we have striven towards. I am much better with teens than young kids so it’s nice to have my moment of feeling competent.
    Best wishes,

  15. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much for letting me know about the exhibition in Skibbereen. I managed to find some references online and saw a few of the works. I was researching the girls who came out from Midleton Workhouse with my ancestor, Bridget Donovan, and I was surprised to see how many of them lived to old age. I was also amazed anyone survived in some parts of Ireland and those of us descended from Famine survivors must be made of tough stuff. It’s not yet 200 years since the Famine and while it’s not in living memory, it’s not far off. Some of our survivors were dying in the 1920s. There isn’t a huge awareness of it these days in Australia beyond Catholic circles and I’m not sure if children today are learning much about it. They should because it’s had a huge impact on our history here in Australia. So many of us with roots going back, have some Irish ancestors.
    Best wishes,

  16. gaiainaction

    Rowena, if you send your address to my email I can send you the program of the exhibition, so much has been going on all summer about the famine and it will continue until end of September. My email address is agoyvaerts@gmail.com I can well believe that it has had a huge impact on the countries where the refugees of the Irish famine landed. I’ve got some photo’s of the exhibition and I had meant to do a blog on it, so might still do that.

  17. New Journey

    Hello Girlfriend, I bet you thought I dried up and blew away into the prickly desert!! Perhaps my minds is drying up from all the list I have been making and checking off lately. Lets first address the elephant in this post ! OMG the picture of your family is gorgeous. I think it should be blown up and on the wall, or used for your next Xmas cards. You were all glowing. I definitely think you need to go back to the Conservatorium, to be able to walk the same halls she did, how much fun and mind blowing it will be. XXXXXXXXkat

  18. Rowena Post author

    Thanks, Kat. Much get that photo blown up and printed.
    I rang the Conservatorium library last week and it’s been taken over by the University of Sydney and seems to have lost it’s unique culture. It used to be like going and visiting a big, rambling family home albeit, if you were going for an audition it must’ve been quite terrifying. I need to start developing a plan.
    Have been wondering where you got to and all this buying and selling of houses. Hard to keep track of you. Not that I’m having much luck keeping track of much atm. I’ve even got multiple fragments of stick scattered over my keyboard. Thank you, Rosie. Your generosity touches my heart!!!
    xx Ro

  19. drdorioeyecare

    What a lovely weekend you had. It’s always fun to catch up with family and keep us informed of whether or not you find your grandmothers studio. Also, enjoy getting contact lenses, those are always an experience!

  20. Rowena Post author

    I was pleasantly surprised with the contact lenses. I get dry eye and have avoided them but these contacts feel fantastic. I’ve just tried samples so far but I was barely conscious they were in. The onlttrouble I had was trying to take photos with my camera. I could see what I was taking but couldn’t see the image in the back of the camera. Will have to follow that up.
    Best wishes,

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