Category Archives: Violin

Inside Outside – Friday Fictioneers.

Dimity was next up, but she just wanted to run.

“Idiot! You absolute idiot! How could you let him talk you into singing THAT song? Raw, red-raw, it was only meant for the shower.”

Delving into the agonizing depths of self-loathing, she’d turned herself so completely inside out, her heart was beating outside her body, and the neurones were spewing out of her head like the guts of a computer.

“It’ll help someone. Save a life,” he said.

Now, she was wondering why she had to sell her soul to save the world? Why couldn’t she just plant a tree?

…..

100 words exactly.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. Photo prompt © CEAyr.

As a closet musician, I related to this photo prompt of the stage. While naturally rather extroverted, I usually have no qualms about getting up on stage and doing that most dreaded of tasks….public speaking.

However, playing my violin has been a mixed bag and early on, I put myself through the intense stress and madness of doing my Preliminary exam. This is the most basic exam you can undertake, and yet it was much harder than I expected, although I was determined to get an A, not a C-. I remember stressing out so badly on the train on the way to the exam, and being rather hard on myself. Then, I realized I was doing this to myself. No one else had made me do. It’s not like I was a kid and I could blame my mother. Moreover, just to give you a bit of a laugh, you can picture me practicing in the bus shelter out in front of the exam venue trying to warm up my ricketty fingers. The stress was through the roof, but I’ll have you know, I did it. I got my A, and I haven’t done an exam since.

Best wishes,

Rowena.

 

 

V- Places I’ve Played My Violin.

Welcome back to Places I’ve Been, my theme for the 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge, which is rapidly drawing to a close. I had considered heading to Victoria, and was going to write about visiting the vineyards of Australia’s Hunter and Barossa valleys. However, as experienced in previous posts, I’ve been having a lot of trouble digging up my old photos and so I decided to bail. So, instead, I’m writing about where I’ve played my violin, although I’ll also throw in my daughter’s grand violin performance, which humbles mine completely. Indeed, I’ve become her humble shadow.

Violin & concert violinist music

My violin journey began as a child when I was learning Suzuki violin from Yvonne Gannoni, who I recently found out had studied at the Royal Academy of Music and had stellar talent. In the 1970’s, she was teaching Suzuki violin from her home in Pymble on Sydney’s North Shore and also at Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains. What I remember most about her, however, is her bright blue eye shadow and colourful kaftans. At least, I think they were kaftans, and they sort of fit in with the era. She was a larger than life, flamboyant figure who held her annual concerts at nothing less than the Sydney Opera House, where groups of students would perform the Suzuki repertoire. It was in hindsight, absolutely fabulous.

It was my brother who was truly learning violin from Miss Gannoni, while I was learning the piano from my beloved Mrs Gaut. However, I had to wait for my brother’s lessons to finish and somewhere along the way, I decided to take up the violin. Unfortunately, my efforts at the violin were very short-lived as I couldn’t get either my head or my fingers around how to hold the bow. I think I stuck at it for a year and that was that. Unfortunately, in that very short time, I never made it to the Opera House.

family playing violin

The family playing violin from Suzuki Book 1 in 2012.

That could well have been the end of my love affair with the violin. However, when I was around 25 and working in the city, I was walking through Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building and heard a busker playing Meditation By Massinet. Ever reflective and tinged with melancholy, this piece of music was absolutely magnificent and seemed to be playing my soul song at the time. I even bought his CD, which was very unusual for me.

violin birthday cake

I was quite surprised when my mum ordered me a violin cake for my birthday in 2012. It was something of a premonition! Good on you Mum!

Fast-forwarding to 2012, our daughter begged us to learn the violin. I wasn’t altogether sold on this, because the general consensus was that the piano would be a better first instrument. Moreover, with my mother being a piano teacher, accompanist and former student of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and my grandmother being a concert pianist, the piano was a natural destination. However, the piano never really spoke to me in the same way it moved my moher and grandmother and my cousin is a cellist. So,  contrary to my upbringing, there were other instruments and you didn’t HAVE to learn the piano. You could diversify.

Amelia Violin

That’s how we found ourselves one afternoon in term one 2012 with my daughter kitted out with her eighth size violin. At least, I’m pretty sure it was an eighth. The teacher offered for me to sit in. I didn’t know this at the time and her teacher wasn’t Suzuki trained, however, part of Suzuki’s approach is for the mother to play and for the child to play alongside the mother and learn music in the same way they almost seem to absorb language. Anyway, when we came home, it soon became clear that my help was required and that year of Suzuki training I’d had under the Great Yvonne Gannoni was being summoned back from the very deepest depths of memory. We pulled Geoff’s grandfather’s violin out of storage and that was to be my instrument until the Ebay violin arrived from China and I later moved onto the Stentor I still play today.

As it turned out, our daughter’s relationship with he violin at age 6 was short-lived. After a very passionate start, we went way and when she came home, her violin was screeching like a dying cockatoo, which not only assaulted her ear drums, but also her pride. The end didn’t come quietly or through neglect, but rather stormy angst and heartfelt tears. I continued on with her lessons until the end of term and kept going.

At the end of the year, the music school held their annual concert at a rather impressive local music venue, Lizottes, which was owned by Australian rock legend Diesel and his brother and all sorts of famous local and international acts had performed there…along with little old me in our violin ensemble. As we hung out together in the “red room” downstairs, we had a taste of the big time and boy it felt good, even better once we hit the stage. It was exhilarating. I even won an award.

Perhaps, it was the thrill of this success, which gave this novice and not very proficient violinist the pluck to pose with her violin outside Byron Bay Lighthouse. Indeed, this was actually more the photographer in me than the “budding” musician. Aside from the Sydney Opera House, what better backdrop could you ask for? I was just hoping against all hope, that nobody asked me to play. Boy, that would’ve had been scuttling off for cover, which of course they did. OMG!!! What was I thinking?

Anyway, I still haven’t made it to the Sydney Opera House. As the years go by, and my hopes rapidly fade of ever pulling off that much needed 10,000 hours of practice before I’m beyond a Zimmer frame, I’m now needing to find a fresh sense of purpose for my violin. Indeed, I need to find a tribe, which is not so easy where we live, especially when I’m not getting a lot of practice in.  My lessons are currently on hold due to the coronavirus, and I’m reconsidering everything. I need to find a way forward, which is seriously heading off along the road less travelled. It would be so much easier if I played the guitar. However, I’m a violinist. It’s a different sound, which comes from a different place, and I don’t want to lose that precious part of me. Somehow, I need to hold on.

Rowena on stage

Performing at an in-house concert last year.

Have you ever learned the violin? Or, perhaps you have a favourite piece of violin music? Or, you play something else? Or, you might even hate the violin and it’s dreadful screechings and squarkings. You don’t need to tell me just how vile a violin can sound, particularly in the early days. I know!!!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a Happy New Year for 2020 from Sydney Australia. I’m still no closer to working out my resolutions for 2020 and my word for the last three or more years has been ACTION, which as usual often turned into PROCRASTINATION or its near relative DISTRACTION. However, to be fair to myself, I did manage to write 97,835 words here at Beyond the Flow so unless my main goal was becoming Susie Homemaker, I did alright. Now, I just need to glue those words together into something called a book. That’s my main goal for 2020 and having acquired perfect vision on the count of midnight, this has to be my year. Bring it on!

Meanwhile, I leave you with a link to the iconic Sydney fireworks, which we only watched today as we were at a party last night. Yippee! It’s the first time we’ve been out on NYE for years what with having young kids, being sick and having anxious dogs who fret and potentially escape due to the fireworks. We left them inside hoping that the younger pups might bolster lady who ends up a hyperventilating, dribbling mess on Geoff’s lap on previous years.

Before I heard off, there is one New Year’s wish, indeed a prayer, we’d appreciate over here in Australia. We’d really like a strong soaking rain to put out the bush fires and help the farmers out of the drought. The ongoing 2019–20 Australian bushfire season is already the most destructive bushfire season since the 2008–09 Australian bushfires[2] and the most widespread in history, having already burned over 5,900,000 hectares of land, destroyed over 2,500 buildings (including over 1300 homes) and killed at least 18 people. That’s a lot of heartbreak. 

Yet, at the same time, there is still joy or perhaps only a glimmer of sunlight even at the heart of tragedy. The are stories of the incredible fire fighters many who are volunteers and too many who have given their lives. Their are stories of loss, but also stories of being spared and despite the destruction and the choking smoke, fire has its beauty.

I’ve leave you with a few favourite photos from 2019…the year that was.

Love and best wishes,

Rowena

Last Weekend Coffee Share 2019

Welcome to the Last Weekend Coffee Share for 2019!

My apologies for taking an unscheduled blogging break over the last couple of months. It hasn’t been intentional, and I haven’t fallen off the perch. Rather, I’ve been deeply immersed in a research project which could well turn into a few books, articles and goodness knows what. I’ve also been having serious breathing difficulties from the bush fire smoke. However, that’s cleared up lately. Well, at least it has for me. So much of NSW on fire and it’s absolutely devastating.

As you may recall, I’ve been working on writing up some historically based family stories and while I’d been trying to work through them chronologically, I ended up taking a serious detour and researching a few family members who served in WWI in the Australian Army. Their service records were rather scant and so I’ve filled the gaps by reading letters sent back from the front by other soldiers and I slowly started getting the picture…along with being seriously distracted. I periodically try to remind myself that I’m a writer first researcher second. That while research for research sake can be edifying, that my mission is words on the page. With so many material being available online these days, I find it very easy to move dart around and not actually document my findings as I go. Of course, that’s way more methodical, and like tying  lead weights to your wings , which really slows down the flow. Yet, somehow when you’re writing history, you need to do both. Multitasking has never been my thing. Anyway, that sort of explains where I’ve been.

Geoff Amelia Jonathon

This brings to up-to-date. Time to wish you all a belated Merry and blessed Christmas. What did you get up to? Christmas is such a varied time for people and it can magnify that sense of grief and loss along with feelings of self-doubt and criticism.

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Caught Santa red handed leaving sticks for the pups.

We had a wonderful Christmas Day. We attended Church on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, we opened presents at home. This year we had our first ever fake Christmas tree, which has taken some getting used to but it was better than nothing and the real real was very expensive this year thanks to drought and bush fires. Our kids are now 15 and 13 and so Christmas has matured with them and we enjoyed something of a sleep-in. We drove down to Sydney to my aunt’s place for Christmas lunch, which the kids invariable spend in the pool. I always pack my swimmers just in case but never get in. I’m too busy listening to family stories and talking. Naturally, food is also a priority and this year I took down my Caramel Nut Tart, which really was a sensation. We also had traditional Plum pudding, hard brandy sauce and custard. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it. This year Mum wasn’t feeling well and didn’t make it to the big family Christmas and Dad left early and had clocked off by the time we reached their place. It’s hard to get everyone coordinated.

Since Christmas Day, I’ve gone into some kind of comatose inert state. All that end of year stress has wiped me out and I feel exhausted and the cogs need to start unwinding and returning to normal. Doing my research or curling up with a book is ideal for this time of year. I’m sure some of you must relate to that!

This brings me to the New Year and that dreadful process of setting goals, making plans and hoping that you’ll wake up January 1 as someone else…an entirely new and improved version of you! It’s never happened before and yet I live in hope. The only trouble is that some of my goals, objectives and fantasies clash with each other. I want the house to organized and clean without spending my entire life doing housework. Indeed, my main goal is to get a book published next year. That one has carried over since forever. Indeed, I might actually get somewhere if I do go with keeping the house clean. It does seem to be more achievable and if you saw our place, you’d be shaking your heads…”Are you really sure about that?!!” I think if I got everyone else to move out, I’d probably succeed on both fronts but I’d be absolutely miserable. As they say on Facebook, life is complicated.

We need to be more organized next year. Our son is going into year 11, which is his second last year of school. So, this place needs to transform from Chaos central into a well oiled machine.  I’ve bought myself a diary and calendar. He’s actually reorganized his room after weeks of refusing to tidy it up. So, that’s looking very promising. We still need to get rid of a lot of stuff.

Anyway, that’s enough talk about being organized. We’ve also been enjoying the festive spirit. Last night, we saw Jumanji with friends and had dinner at a local Chinese restaurant we hadn’t been to before. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the movie and was mainly going to hang out with my friends. However, I really got into it and it was probably good for me to give a movie all my attention instead of half watching it while I’m researching or writing on my laptop. Dinner at the Chinese restaurant felt like a trip down memory lane. It’s been close to 20 years since I last had dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant and by that I mean one with the red covered menus and serves Fried Ice Cream. I was full to exploding and yet I had to share a Fried Ice Cream with Geoff for old time’s sake. It was divine.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve also been going to trivia nights with a friend and we’ve won a couple of meals and drinks. The categories don’t really suit me. I’m great at history (no surprises there!), but am hopeless at sport and music questions and bomb out completely. However, as a team we perform well and have won a few dinner vouchers and Geoff and I went out for dinner there last Saturday night.

Violin & concert violinist music

The other news is that I performed at my end of year violin concert. This year I played Where Is Love from the musical Oliver. We chose this piece because it wasn’t going to over-stretch me and I was really busy at the end of the year and not in good shape to conquer something challenging. The plan was to play it as a duet. However, the day before I received a text from my teacher saying she was in hospital with a kidney stone, but that I “could do it”. Humph! Fortunately, I was playing the melody for all but one line of the piece and so a tweaked that and said my prayers. The violin can be a  very disagreeable instrument prone to terrible squeaks and it doesn’t care that you have an audience. It likes to remind you who’s the boss. With this in mind, I gave my performance a brief intro and said that I usually go for safety in numbers, but that hadn’t worked out this year. I also mentioned that many of us have asked “Where is love?” or “Where is hope?” “Where is good luck?” Some times, you just need to open your eyes, turn a corner or keep your fingers crossed…like I’m doing now.” Phew! At least I had the audience on side. It didn’t really matter how I played now, although it did and I was told I gave my best performance yet. What a relief.

I’m sorry my thoughts are all over the place tonight. It’s been such a long time since I’ve even checked in on my blog and I had a lot of catching up to do.

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes and Happy New Year!

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…18th August, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Regardless of how you take your tea, coffee, or Bonox, around here you’re beverage of choice comes served with a mandatory side serve of stick from our over-zealous sheepdog, Rosie. There are bits of stick all over my chair and the carpet is looking like it’s been in a sawmill. The pups pulverize  these sticks until there’s almost nothing left yet still manage to deposit what amounts to a large splinter on my laptop expecting me to throw it. Some of them don’t make it very far they are that small. Indeed, I’m surprised they don’t disappear into the ether. However, as far as Rosie and her trusty sidekick Zac are concerned, size doesn’t matter. There biggest problem is how to get the humans moving. I’m sure they must be researching how to motivate humans. We’re worse than sheep.

Moon through the clouds

We spotting this ethereal moon rising down the end of our street during the week.

How was your week?I hope it’s been great.If not, there’s always next week, although in my experience it doesn’t work like that. That a good week doesn’t automatically follow a bad one out of some cosmic sense of fairness.

Overall, my week was pretty good, although I’ve been fighting off a bug and have also had sinus troubles. I’ve spent much of the week asleep, but had a few things on and have had to venture out. At this point, I’ve appeared on top of the world and my usual perky self and haven’t given much of an inkling that I’m struggling.

Rowena on stage

Hardly a rock violinist, but I almost look the part. 

Last night, I performed at an in-house soiree at the music school where I’ve been learning the violin for the last six years. I played Chopin’s “How Deep Is The Night”. This is a rather melancholy piece, which is also known as “Tristesse”… French for sadness. I had to pace myself yesterday. Needed to do some heavy practice, but didn’t want towear myself out. In preparation, I listened to Andrei Rieu play it, which was very humbling, but feel it gave my performance a lift. I’d been meaning to listen to it for months but hadn’t got around to it. While exams and performances are stressful, they do challenge you to lift your game put in those extra hours of practice and do what it takes to bring out the best in yourself.

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Here I am with my trusty sidekick Rupert Bear who was playing the broken-hearted romantic during my performance. Clearly, he wasn’t sitting there while I played. I’m not that good. 

Anyway, my performance went well. I did a duet with my teacher. I had to try and be steady. Not allow myself to be distracted by the faster quavers she was playing and hold my own. That was challenging and while I have good pitch, my sense of rhythm is shot. It was a good exercise, which I’d like to continue. I love playing with my teacher and she’s a wonderful encouragement…the wind beneath my wings.

This week, I also started a course about living with a chronic illness through our local health service. Since I’ve been living with my conditions for a long time now, I wondered whether this would be much use. However, I was blown away. The information is very useful and I was delighted to find one of my close friends is also doing the course and so she can be my partner in crime.

Red Door Pearl Beach

This red door in nearby Patonga appeared in Thursday Doors this week. Love a red door.

One of the outcomes of the course this week, was that we had to set ourselves a goal for the following week. It was something we wanted to do and not a chore. I probably should’ve been a good girl and chosen something exercise related. However, I’ve also fallen off my blogging perch over the last couple of months and so opted to write three blog posts this week. That was quite easy to structure around Friday Fictioneers  Wednesday night, Thursday Doors and now the Weekend Coffee Share. So, in addition to pulling off my violin performance, I’m also chuffed that I’m gaining additional information and support to overcome my health issues and making progress with my blogging again.

On that note, my posts this week have been…

Dancing In The Moonlight…Friday Fictioneers

Patonga- Thursday Doors

Moonlight in the Clouds

The Closet Violinist Breaks Out

By the way, if you haven’t visited Friday Fictioneers, this would be a good week to head over for a read and even have a go yourself. The photo prompt goes up every Wednesday and I guess the timing depends on where you live, but it’s night time here for me in Australia. The idea is that you write 100 words to the photo prompt. Some prompts work better than others. However, this week’s prompt seemed to work particularly well not only in terms of producing great writing, but also in termsof social commentary. After all, as writers we’re interpreting the world around us especially human interaction. These are definitely worth a good read. Here’s the LINK

 

Lastly, we’ve been attending meetings for both kids at the school regarding their subject choices for next year. This was fairly straightforward for our daughter. She’s two years younger than our son and it’s not life and death at her age. However, our son goes into Year 11 next year and despite what the school says offering words of reassurance, we parents know the hard truth. If this kid doesn’t work this out, we’re the ones picking up the bill. It might be his life, but it’s our bank account. We’re quite relieved that our daughter has chosen dance and commerce. That way,  when she’s a starving ballerina, she can at least work out how to budget. Our son is looking at advanced maths which is all well and good but we’re not too sure about his overall choices. I am generally pretty laid back as a parent.However, these subject choices have raised a call to action which makes bad cop look lame. Now, I’m left how to make NO, NOT OVER MY DEAD BODY!!! look more palatable and even how to get him to reach this conclusion for himself. Humph! It looks like we’re in for interesting times. Any advice would be most welcome!!

That’s not a good note to wind up on and I’m currently feeling like a lot more than a coffee if you catch my drift. However, I need to head off to pick up our daughter and her friends from dance rehearsal soon. I’m also intending to squeeze in a bit of a walk. This weird activity called exercise. Although I know it wards off colds, it’s the last thing I feel like doing when I’m under the weather.

Anyway, hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catch up with you over the next few days.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

The Closet Violinist Breaks Out.

Tonight, the closet violinist swung from the chandelier onto centre stage, dazzling the audience with a half-decent rendition of Chopin’s: “How Deep Is the Night” (Tristesse). However, if I’m honest, my entry onto the stage was much more reticent. Of course, I didn’t want to trip over which was quite a possibility with all the leads, drum kits etc to fall over. However, my violin teacher helped me out and my grand entry went smoothly. Now, I just needed to play…

In the days leading up to the concert, I second guessed myself something chronic.WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!! “You’re hopeless. It’s not ready. Don’t do it!!!” Of course, I’d done nowhere near enough practice. It was only in the last days before the concert, I actually got moving squeezing in all those critical hours of practice, which make such a difference yet almost came too late. However, despite the anxiety, I actually love performing and would love to get out there more often. It’s another one of those eternal, internal conundrums.

Rowena on stage

I could almost look like a rock violinist under these lights.

It was only a small soiree with fellow students and their families. Hardly playing at the big end of year concert, or heaven forbid, at the Sydney Opera House. However, no one likes making mistakes and there’s always that possibility of humiliating disaster. Yours truly has even broken her foot just before going on stage, but in true violinist fashion, it was on with the show. However, nobody in our household says “break a leg” before any of my performances now.

“How Deep Is the Night” is a particularly melancholy piece of music and the words are grab you by throat kind of dark…

SO DEEP IS THE NIGHT 

So deep is the night,

No moon tonight,

No friendly star to guide me with its light.

Be still my heart,

Silent lest my love could be returning,

From a world far apart.

So deep is the night,

Oh lonely night,

On broken wings my heart has taken flight,

And left a dream.

In my dream our lips are blending;

Will my dream be never ending?

Will your memory haunt me till I die?

Alone am I,

Deep into the night,

Waiting for the light.

Alone am I,

I wonder why,

I wonder why.

In my dream our lips are blending;

Will my dream be never ending?

Will your memory haunt me till I die?

Alone am I,

Deep into the night,

Waiting for the light.

Alone am I,

I wonder why,

I wonder why.

Frederik Chopin (m) 1832 Sonny Miller (l) as recorded by Richard Tauber March 29th 1940

However, who hasn’t experienced that all-consuming heartbreak and that sense of the surrounding darkness penetrating your soul? That’s one thing I don’t miss about my youth!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t share the words with the audience so I gave a brief introduction and parked a teddy bear in front. You can’t see it clearly in the photos. However, he has a red stone on his lap with “I love you” etched into it.

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I’d proud of myself for persevering with the violin, which has been very challenging at times. However, persistence and regular practice pays off. I’m making solid strides forward. It’s fantastic.

Rowena & Danni

Photographed here with my very encouraging and patient teacher, Danielle. We played as a duet. 

Do you play an instrument? Do you perform at all? Do you like it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…21st January, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, it’s just hit Monday afternoon at my place just North of Sydney, Australia and you’re welcome to join me for a cup of tea or coffee and even a chocolate macadamia cookie. Virtual consumption doesn’t put on any weight!

How has your week been?

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The kids BEFORE Jamboree

It’s hard for me to know quite where to start, because I was about to say that my new car was the best thing about my week, but then I remembered that the kids also came home from the Australian Scouting Jamboree last Tuesday and nothing compares to having them back home. We really missed them and I must admit that I was rather pathetic scouring through photos on the Facebook page trying to find them. Often, it was like “Where’s Wally” and our eyesight isn’t what it used to be either. It’s almost comic in hindsight, but on the morning they were due back, arrival times kept getting put back and it was becoming quite difficult to guage when the bus was going to pull up. Of course, there was no way I was going to miss the actual arrival of the bus and that incredible moment when the doors burst open and our scouts (in what ever condition they’d arrived back home in) burst through the doors. We allowed ourselves a 15 minute head start on the last message and I didn’t care about being early and waiting. I HAD to be there. However, we we’re about 5-10 minutes away when a text arrived saying the bus was off the freeway and it was clear that it was going to get there first. Yikes! Of course, this doesn’t sound very sensible, However, as they say, never come between a mother and her baby. Fortunately, Geoff was driving and he was more sedate and level-headed. However, as we entered the road where the bus was pulling up, council had decided to do roadworks. So you have a bus load of Scouts just off the bus and hoards of parents coming in to pick them up and you have this piddly council worker on his steam roller very sedately driving across blocking the road and there’s was also one of those !@#$ lollypop people standing there with the stop sign. Well yours truly with stitches in her foot and doing a hop-along Cassidy routine,  jumps out of the car and hobbles off to her children on foot. Love knows no distance, or it seems, no common sense either. Well, this must’ve jolted these council workers into action because they suddenly allowed the traffic to go round them. So, while I’m hobbling along at a galloping snail’s pace, Geoff drives straight through and pips me to the post. That’s the last time I act like an irrational maniac, I  mean, mother. Well, maybe not. It seems that I was put on this planet to act as a cautionary tale for others.

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Our son AFTER Jamboree

If we reverse up a bit, you might recall that I mentioned a “new car”. You might also recall that I’ve had more than my share of car troubles lately after badly scraping the car one week and writing it off in the hospital car park the next and two week’s later the replacement car was caught in a hail storm and we also expect it to be written off. All up, we were in the market for two replacement vehicles as the Nissan Pulsar we bought just after we were engaged and bought our house, is now something like 18 years old and it’s time for it to move out.

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Feeling like a new woman in my hot new car.

As it turned out, my husband became rather “absorbed” by his car quest cruising round online auction sites like many a crazy desperado hunting around Tinder. However, his dogged persistence paid off and he certainly caught my attention when he pointed out a red Alfa Romeo 159. While the Italians consider it a “family sedan”, it’s still rather sporty, very stylish and in addition to being RED, has a sunroof. I was in love. So was our daughter. We had to have that car. Yet, we also had to keep our heads. It was an auction and as Geoff reminded us, you’re not supposed to become emotionally attached before it’s yours. However, it was too late. I was all but dribbling all over my laptop screen.

Obviously, we won the auction and yesterday we took “Blue” as I think he’ll become known (a bloke with red hair in Australia at least used to be called “Blue” hence Virgin Blue) for a drive to get some good photos. That was a lot of fun. Blue is really good to drive and not just a car to get you from A to B. It’s an experience. Fingers crossed it remains a good experience. We are a little concerned about whether performance and reliability will live up to it’s Italian good looks and style.

pelican

Anyway, we drove Blue down to Patonga. However, there was no parking by the beach or jetty and so we cruised around the backstreets until we found a more secluded location. It was very relaxing and serene and we also happened to spot a pelican cruising along.

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Our next location was in front of the Imagine sign at either Tascott on Brisbane Waters, near Woy Woy. That was a lot of fun too. Hard to believe that I’ve never photographed this sign before when I photograph almost everything in sight. However, I’m also a bit of a perfectionist and am wanting that perfect shot. I would’ve liked more sun and blue sky. However, I really wanted to share my good news and a compromise was in order.

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My daughter and I.

This week, I’ve also been writing up about our trip up North staying with my husband’s sister at Newrybar, near Byron Bay. This region is not only famous for its stunning natural beauty. It’s also bursting with creative energy and there’s music almost on even street corner in Byron Bay, and so many artists at the markets. I always come home feeling so inspired and that despite my devotion to my writing, photography and violin, that I’m only living at half mast and there’s so much more I could do. That I need to stop being afraid and stop aiming for absolute crippling perfection before I even get started and just do it. That there really is something inside which is worth coming out.

 

Here are some links to the posts I’ve written so far:

Saturday Night in Byron Bay

Byron Bay Markets

Main Beach Byron Bay

The Macadamia Nut Castle & Ballina

Walking Through Bangalow’s Past

Bangalow Doors – Thursday Doors

The Red Tree of Bangalow

Well, I think we’re into the last week of school holidays, which means it’s time to refocus on all the nuts and bolts of life and get organized. Find shoes for feet and sort out uniforms. It goes quite against the grain of wanting to make the most out of the last precious days you have left. Meanwhile, my daughter and I are off to see Charlie & the Chocolate Factory…the Musical tomorrow and one of my daughter’s dance teacher plays Veruca Salt so it will be particularly special. We can’t wait!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Byron Bay Markets…Sunday 8th January, 2019.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

JRR Tolkein.

Every time, I go to the markets around Byron Bay whether they are in Byron Bay  itself or perhaps over at Bangalow, I have this all consuming sense of coming home. That this is me.

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I doubt this would come as a surprise to anyone these days. However, I was a 25 year old marketing executive when I first came to Byron Bay 25 years ago and had somehow managed to allow my writer-poet self to become fully corporatized. I also have to confess that I was on an ardent quest to find Mr Right, who also seemed to be corporatized and didn’t exactly draw out my creative side either. So by the time a friend of mine suggested that she could see me being a market stall holder in Byron Bay, it was a revelation. Indeed, by this time, this part of my self was even estranged and lost from me… buried alive and mummified in many dead layers of detrititus. Clearly, this was a shame particularly when I rewind back to my university days where I was performing my poetry at events like the Newtown Street Festival. Indeed, I could’ve gone right down this creative path so easily, but it was one thing to dabble in this world as a student. It was quite another to stay there and that wasn’t going to happen. Even if you took away parental influences, I was still a product of the system and once you get used to living the high life, it can become an end in itself.

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Anyway, when I was 25, I visited Byron Bay for the first time. I was driving very slowly from Sydney to Queensland to visit my grandparents in Ipswich and drove as far North as Maroochydore visiting friends via the breathtaking Glasshouse Mountains. To anyone who knows me now, it would come as quite a surprise that I actually set off all by myself in my beloved first car… the Mitsubishi colt. I loved the freedom of being able to stop off WHEREVER and just being totally free and independent. I made a friend, Jody, at the Youth Hostel in Byron Bay and we drove up to Murwillumbah and stayed at the Youth Hostel there on the river and kept in touch for a bit. There was definitely a sense of being Easy Rider or Thelma & Louise on this trip and when I arrived back home, I experienced a seismic shift. Nothing felt familiar and it was like I’d stepped into someone else’s life and not my own. Yet, this was also the time that the neurological storm in my head was brewing and a year later, I would be diagnosed with hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain and off to the brain surgeon..a rather radical approach for staying in tune with yourself but I’ve always trod my own path.

I don’t think the markets were around back then, although they could well have been. Byron Bay and that entire region of North-East NSW was at the tail end of its hippy heyday and the streets were still packed with hippies and ferals. Kombies with surfboards loaded up top were parked along the beach and not taking their last breaths either. I think it must’ve been a round 1995. Whenever it was, it was definitely long before marriage, mortgage, kids and 24/7 responsibilities (which the dog has reminded me includes her. She’s just deposited the components of her tennis ball on my laptop. If ever I’m in doubt about what I’m focusing on, I just need to see where she’s deposited her bits of stick or ball. She’s onto me.)

Oops! My apologies! I’ve clearly taken you on a massive detour along the long and winding road to Byron Bay Markets, and at this rate we’ll be lucky to get there before they shut shop.

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The Byron Bay Markets are held Butler Street Reserve, which is just over the disused railway line and a short walk from the main street. Just in case you’d like to know when the markets are on, here’s a link. Having been to the artisan markets the night before, the initial impact of arriving at the markets didn’t quite get my heart racing as much as usual. However, I did hear the most exquisite violin my music, and was all ears. Where was it coming from? I started scouring left and right and discovered the virtuoso was a moth-eaten Pirate Cat. Looks like he could use a bit of a makeover, but he could play the violin better than me thanks to a recording.

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Just goes to show that you don’t need the best instrument to make heavenly music. However, perhaps he could’ve polished his boots…

As much as I loved the markets, I soon realized that our demographic has changed significantly since I was here last and both the kids have outgrown all the handmade children’s clothes and toys which used to draw me in. After many years of op shop devotion, paying full price for clothes has lost its appeal these days and things don’t fit me easily and madam is fussy. So, I’d covered a good 50% of the market before I’d spotted anything to buy and I was starting to wonder if a miracle was at hand. Would this be the very first time Rowie went to Byron Bay Markets and came home empty handed? Surely not!! However, don’t fear. I haven’t lost my magic touch. It turned out even markets like suspense, and the best was yet to come.

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Artist Markus May.

Indeed, I spotted a chatty Willy Wonka type character in a purple top hat and loud shirt with his sketches. What initially caught my eye was a sketch of a tree over a sheet of music. It was beautiful. However, I’m constantly watching my pennies and you don’t know what’s around the corner. So, I went for a smaller sketch of a woman in a purple robe and a card with female nude sitting on a bed taken from behind and she’s looking across the room to a picture of a fairy on the wall. It’s like she’s found her wings. There is an answer, a way out, a way up. We were chatting and it came up that I play the violin and he soon returned with a tiny sketch of a woman with red hair holding her violin. Her eyes are closed and it’s like she can hear the music in her soul without needing to actually play. Naturally, I had to have that. I also bought a few cards. I felt rather fired up after stopping off there.

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Above: Artist Marcus May.

Then, I spotted a vintage stall and I should be ashamed to admit to buying more books, but I’m not. Rather, I’m cheering because I found a 1937 edition of the famed Yates Garden Guide and a Wolf Cub Scouting Book from the 60’s from the UK. If you’ve seen our garden, well you might wonder what I’d be doing with a gardening book. Indeed, you’d be thinking I’d be buying something out of Hogwarts for casting nasty spells on gardens, because I’m a serial plant killer. However, both my grandfathers were avid gardeners and this one dates back just a few years before they embarked on married life. Looking at it, it’s hard to believe that it’s from my grandparents’ life time as it looks a lot older. Not quite ancient, but older than old. Well, Dad’s Dad would be turning 109 this year, which I guess was hardly yesterday. It just reaffirms how quickly time flies by.

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Sheltering from the sun any way you can!

By the way, I should’ve mentioned the heat and just how sunny it was at the markets. I’d forgotten my hat and sunscreen and was trying to stay in the shade just to survive. There are days when out hot Australian sun goes into griller mode, and this was one of those. Fortunately, there were some huge shady trees and the stalls themselves provided much needed shelter. Boy, I really needed it.

As it turned out, the heat was also to blame for a low turnout at the markets. Perhaps, people were at the beach or simply hibernating indoors. I’m not sure. However, you have to feel for the stallholders. For many, this is their livelihood. Bread and butter on the table kind of stuff.

Hey, before we leave the markets and head up to the beach, I wanted to share a few photos of a couple of double-decker buses I spotted across the road. You never quite know what you’re going to find around Byron Bay (other than the unexpected!)

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Before we head off to the beach, I thought I’d leave you with a parting shot of the Pirate Cat, who looks like he’s taken a Bex and is enjoying a good lie down.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Saturday Night in Byron Bay…January 5, 2019.

Although blogging is supposed to be an immediate medium, there was something about announcing to the world that we’ve abandoned the house to go to Byron Bay, which didn’t sit well despite leaving the three dogs in charge of home security. So, I’ve decided to write about our week that was a week in arrears so that I can still share my daily adventures with you and you can appreciate more of a local or quasi-local experience of the place.

By the way, we weren’t actually staying in Byron Bay itself. We were staying with family out at Nureybar about 15 minutes out of Byron in the lush green hinterland, which is breathtakingly beautiful and did I mention something about GREEN?!!! Geoff and I first met on NYE exactly 20 years ago and we came up here a few months later so I could meet his Mum and family before he disappeared overseas for a few months to America. I had been to Byron Bay once beforehand when I’d stayed right in Byron Bay at the Youth Hostel, which was quite a different experience. We’ll just leave it at that, although I could mention something about what happens in Byron stays in Byron.

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We really enjoyed our Spanish plate.

Anyway, we’d driven up on the Friday and after sleeping through most of Saturday, decided to head down into the Bay to go to the night markets and pick up some dinner. Food, markets, art, music…I was in heaven. The markets are held every Saturday night in the Railway Park as you drive into town. Unfortunately, the trains no longer make it into Byron Bay and so the Railway Park is something of an anachronism. However, it’s one of our favourite places in Byron Bay after the Lighthouse and the beach, because it has the most amazing climbing tree which has fallen over onto its side and somehow managed to stay alive. This makes it very easy for young kids to climb up into its branches and there’s nothing quite like being able to climb a tree and shelter in its branches. However, this tree also has a special kind of magic all of its own. Every time we go there, we usually find something hanging in its branches…a milk crate hanging by a rope, paper lanterns, sunflowers, ribbons. It just seems to be asking for us humans to leave something special behind for the next person who comes along. I think we might’ve tied a ribbon or scarf around it once. I’m not really sure.

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The kids leaving for Jamboree just over a week ago. Indeed, they’re almost about to leave. 

By the way, I probably should’ve reminded you that we were teen-free on this trip as our kids are away at the Australian Scouting Jamboree in South Australia at the moment. Ideally, we would’ve all gone up to stay with Geoff’s family but we couldn’t fit it in later. As much as we parents are supposed to enjoy being child-free, I must admit that it felt quite weird being there without them and visiting all our favourite haunts right down to going to Pinky’s for ice cream and fighting off the drips all by ourselves. It also felt strange not to have the dogs with us either, although it was rather nice to be able to leave my biscuit unattended on my plate and still find it there on my return.

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Anyway, getting back to the markets, I was dazzled by an amazing range of artworks, but unfortunately my budget and available wall space only extended as far as postcard-sized prints…something to jog my memory later. I bought a print of a mother whale with her calf for our son who wants to be a Marine Biologist. Then I wandered over to Deborah White’s stall and bought a mini wooden chopping board with one of her prints on top and a few cards. She incorporates a cellular perspective into her art which I really love. I love zooming in and macro photography myself and she seemed to see the world through a similar lens.

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I was so dazzled by the art and live music, that food was a secondary concern. Although my Brother-in-law had recommended the mushroom pasta, we actually ordered a Spanish plate, which was fantastic and something out of the ordinary.

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After dinner, we decided to walk down to Pinky’s on the main street order an ice cream and walk up to the beach. The streets were really festive and lined with buskers and the whole place felt so alive. I really wished it could be more like this where we live. We also live right near the beach and there’s a popular caravan park down the road. However, we have nothing like this. Our culture seems to be kept behind closed doors and I am guilty of this myself. After all, I am the Closet Violinist.

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The ice cream was rapidly dripping down my hands, over my dress and even onto and into my sandals. I could even feel its sticky sweetness in between my toes. I guess by now you’re thinking that’s a little too much information. That I’m oversharing. Well, before I move on, let me just let you know that my husband didn’t get any drips on him. I think it might be yet another Rowieism and that only I could manage to cover myself in ice cream at an age where most of us have developed a bit more sophistication and can eat an ice cream without wearing it.

By the time we reached the beach, the sun had set and the light was rapidly disappearing. On our right, the Cape Byron Lighthouse was doing it’s thing. I’ll never get tired of watching that place and going up there for a closer inspection. It feels like an old faithful friend after all these years. We usually go there with the kids and so there’s this progression of photos and the kids get taller and also less rambunctious and hopefully less of a liability. We usually get an ice cream up the top. That’s become a family tradition, along with the photos. One year, I even posed with my violin up there. That was rather funny because I’d only been playing for a year then and couldn’t really play much at all. However, I’d performed at the music school’s annual concert, which just so happened to be at Lizotte’s, a local rock n roll venue owned by Diesel’s brother. So, there I was a novice violinist hanging out in the red room where all these great acts had gone before me. It blew me away.

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By the way, I almost forgot to mention that there’s an informal drumming group which jams everyday on the rocks at sunset. I have taken better photos on previous visits but must’ve been having trouble walking because I didn’t quite have the energy to get up and photograph the drummers upfront. Mind you, I also liked watching these flowing fabrics move to the beat. They also told a story.

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Well, I hope you enjoyed our first night in Byron Bay. Our next stop will be the Byron Bay Markets.

Have you ever been to Byron Bay? I’d love to hear your tales. 

Best wishes,

Rowena

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I couldn’t resist sticking in this photo of the kids eating ice cream at the lighthouse. I think it was taken in 2011 when they were five and seven. 

Weekend Coffee Share…31st December, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s already New Year’s Eve here in Sydney and I’m briefly putting my feet up after leaving the pizza dough to rise and making Chocolate Mouse and Pavlova for dessert. We don’t go out on NYE. It’s not easy to venture into Sydney city for us to view the fireworks in person due to my mobility restrictions, and it’s not the safest time to head into the city either. Moreover, we also have the added complication that at least one of our dogs, Lady, is terrified of fireworks and breaks into a sweat when local fireworks get set off illegally. No doubt, that also happens where you live as well, and you’re also aware of how many pets go missing as a result.

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I’m struggling to remember what happened during the last week and I had to confirm with Geoff that today is actually Monday. That’s a common phenomenon in between Christmas and New Year However, I should’ve remembered that there was a minor event called Christmas. How could I forget? Well, I’ll blame the heatwave for that.

We had a family dinner at home on Christmas Eve and headed out to Church for carols intermingled with the traditional Christmas tree manger reenactment.

We spent Christmas Day at my aunt and uncle’s place where we met up with my parents and the extended family. These Christmases fuse tradition and change. Much to my concern, there’s an increasing Melbourne contingent and missing persons from the celebrations. If you’re not aware of the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, it’s not quite as intense as it used to be but to have family exodus to Melbourne of all places, is a concern. Need to stem the tide. The highlight for me of this Christmas celebration was taking part in a jam session with my cousins with two on guitar, another on cello while I played my violin. It was a very interesting experience because my cousin was playing chords in a blue grass style and I was trying to listen deep into the music and pick out what became something like a song line to play on my violin and my violin actually sounded like a harmonica which surprised me. I usually play classics on my violin of the likes of Bach so playing blue grass ad lib was quite a change and I was very proud of myself for stepping so far out of my comfort zone and doing so well. Our son also joined in with the jam on guitar and also took over my violin plucking the Peter Gunn.Monopoly Go to Jail

We received this local fundraiser Monopoly for Christmas from my parents. Playing Monopoly is a good this time of year. I ended up in jail a few times.

After Christmas, we’ve been catching up with friends and we’ve also braved the post-Christmas sales. Not unsurprisingly, I found my way into yet another book shop.  where I bought Cicero’s: How To Be A Friend which was written in 44BC in Latin. I’m almost halfway through and highly recommend it. I also bought Oliver Sacks’: The River of Consciousness. In case you’re not aware, Dr Oliver Sacks is a neurologist who has written quite a few books including: The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. Have you stuck your nose in any great books lately?

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The weather around here has been fairly intense lately. After having three or four storms the week before Christmas including blackouts and hail, we’ve been caught in a heatwave, which has largely forced us underground. Indeed, we’ve been hibernating at home although I did venture to the beach two days ago for a photographic walk. That was a lot of fun, and despite initially thinking I wasn’t going to find much, the light was particularly good the clouds seemed to dance in the setting sun especially for the camera. I was also quite fascinated by the watermarks in the sand. All those wiggly lines of sand along the beach which resemble secret messages.

Well, it’s now 10.00pm  and after watching the 9.00PM fireworks, we’re listening to the NYE entertainment and Ross Wilson has just finished singing Can’t Get No Satisfaction and has moved onto his own hit Eagle Rock. This music is a good distraction from the choking smoke leaking in from the kitchen. Somehow, the hot plate which I swear I didn’t use tonight, ended up on high and the left over pizza has apparently been incinerated and it’s not safe for me to enter the kitchen. Indeed, even the rest of the family is covering their mouths going in there. Hoping the air is going to clear soon so we could put together our NYE dessert  of pavlova, chocolate mouse, fruit and cream. I was even thinking of chopping up some Tim Tams and sprinkling them over the top for a bit of added chocolate crunch.

Have you set any New Year’s resolutions? I’m still working on mine and as you can see by the dessert we’re having tonight, that my sins are continuing to mount.

I’ll be back in the New Year to share a snapshot of the Sydney Fireworks.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena