Tag Archives: baking

Weekend Coffee Share – 11th January, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week I’m going to keep it short and sweet, because I’ve been running around so much today with my teenage kids on school holidays, that I’ve forgotten what day of the week it is.

Well, to be fair, I’m not sure if I ever know what day of the week it is, but it’s much harder during school holidays, especially our extended Summer holidays where we Australians tend to bake in the sun so much, our brain cells get fried. Even if we’re not indoors, the heat can do crazy things to us anyway.

So, I invite you to join me for a rather odd assortment of “snacks”. I’ve been baking all night, because we’re going down to my parents place in Sydney to watch my Great Aunt’s funeral online. She lived in Brisbane and the NSW-Queensland border is currently closed and so we can’t get there. This is a story being repeated right around the world, but it still doesn’t feel right, comfortable or respectful. We’ll all supposed to make the effort and be there in person to pay our respects and also to get together and share stories, photos and ironically usually quite a few laughs. I also find funerals very therapeutic, as you have that shared grief, and it’s really good to come together in that, and I always find I learn so much about the person too.

Anyway, I’ve been busy baking a Macadamia and Caramel Tart, my grandmother’s Bran Cake recipe and also my grandmother’s Honey Biscuits, which I’ve featured a few times on the blog lately. However, they’re only partially cooked at the moment, as I want them to be as close to straight out of the oven as I can manage tomorrow. I loved baked stuff when it’s still hot straight out of the oven. It’s so much better.

In between all of this, I was able to get out on a picnic with some friends. We went out fora paddle in the kayaks and I also played badminton very, very badly with my friend and her son. He’s about nine, and has spent the week at tennis camp. I’m just over 50 with long standing disability and health issues, and to be perfectly honest, I had real trouble even hitting the shuttlecock, and my efforts weren’t helped by the wind. So after failing to discover some lost inner talent, I naturally headed down the comedy route and we had a lot of fun. I joked about hitting it right over the train line, when it took three or four goes to even make contact with the shuttlecock. Indeed, when I reflect back on my efforts, it reminds me of the Swedish chef from The Muppets. I always loved him.

Well, I’m going to head off now.

However, before I do, I just want to mention that the Weekend Coffee Share has changed locations. It’s now being hosted by Natalie the Explorer at https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/2021/01/08/welcome-two-in-one/ We hope you might come along and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 17th November, 2020.

Welcome To Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you and what’s going on in your neck of the woods? While you’re thinking about that, let me offer you something to drink and perhaps a Lime & Coconut Biscuit, because there’s nothing left of the Key Lime Pie I made last week.

After a cool and wet start to our Summer, the sun and heat returned with a vengeance today. It was so hot, and perhaps the best indication of the sudden heat wave was how our dog Rosie suddenly shed her undercoat today. She’s not even a long-haired dog. However, a message went to her brain today, which said something along the lines of “Dump fur now” and it’s been coming out all day by the handful. The house is littered with black clouds.

The big excitement this weekend was heading to the beach after Church for some water baptisms. I’ve never been to a baptism at the beach before and I wondered how it would go on a crowded Sunday with all and sundry around. However, we went down the beach a bit and one of the guys got the guitar out and we sort of blended in. Well, that is if you ignore a few of us who were wading out into the water in our good clothes. We forgot to take hats, sunscreen a change of clothes and got sunburnt. Welcome to Summer.

Well, I’m going to keep this short and I’ll try to get back tomorrow and write a bit more. I need to get to bed. Goodnight!

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share: https://eclecticali.wordpress.com/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 2nd November, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Before you get too comfortable, we’ll need to duck down to the supermarket because I just saw these irresistible Apple & Ricotta Fritters with Cinnamon Sugar on TV. I’ve never made anything like this myself before. However, I’ve been getting quite adventurous lately and really want to give them a whirl. Here’s the link: https://www.farmtofork.com.au/recipe-index/apple-and-ricotta-fritters-with-cinnamon-sugar

Are you tempted as well?

Humph…

Anyway, were you almost shocked like me that it’s now November and another year has almost gone up in smoke? I know this year is 2020, and it’s a year we’d all like to accelerate through, destroy, blow up, delete or all of the above. However, a year is still a year, and good things have happened in 2020. My cousin and his wife had a baby last week and friends got married and we’ve even been to a few parties lately. Of course, we’re rather shielded from the full impact of the virus and also extensive lockdowns here, but I’ve also been researching WWI intensively this year and that puts 2020 into perspective.

Last week was a bit clunky around here. There’s been the ongoing saga of our son’s subject choices for his last year at school and trying to keep him there for another year when he doesn’t need it to go into sound engineering. I’ve been doing my research which is very slow and I must admit I’ve been doing a lot of avoidance. I find it all confusing, and since I went down the university path and that was over 30 years ago, a lot has changed and I’m starting to feel like I’m from the era of the horse and cart (or is that actually his impression of me?) Not much has been said for a few days and he was home sick today. I can’t help wondering if I lie low and don’t say anything, he’ll accidentally get through Year 12 and he’ll at least have that under his belt before he heads off to TAFE to get a trade certificate to get into the sound engineering course he wants to do. However, this is probably too much to hope for and more stress is just around the corner.

Meanwhile, my research is progressing well. I’m still beavering away on my WWI research. I posted yesterday a South Australian farmer I’m researching, Herbert A Stewart who found close to 200 messages in bottles washed up on the beach near his home in Rendelsham , South Australia. He forwarded the letters onto their intended destinations with a cover letter, and there was one day where he found 47 bottles. So, at times he was really under the pump and while this would seem a unconventional way of supporting the war effort, it would’ve made such a difference to the families and friends of these men. I was also surprised to find that some of the messages in bottles thrown overboard in the Great Australian Bight were found in New Zealand. That’s extraordinary. I’ve also found it rather calming and reassuring to think about the ocean currents circulating around the world regardless of everything else that’s going on just like the sunrise and the sunset. There’s that continuity. At least, there was before cllimate change.

This afternoon, I went for a quick walk along the beach. Even though it’s almost Summer here, a cold wind was blowing and so I just did my walk and didn’t hang about. Not unsurprisingly, I almost expecting to find piles of bottles scattered across the beach after doing all my research. However, there wasn’t much to see on our beach today….just a jellyfish.

Meanwhile, it’s getting quite late. So, I’m going to head off.

So, what’s been going on for you? I hope you’re okay and keeping safe.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali: https://eclecticali.wordpress.com/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…7th September,2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend CoffeeShare!

This week,I’m just going to keep it brief because time’s gone up in smoke and it’s really late and I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and wake up with the birds (I mean kids) and get myself back into more regular sleeping hours. You might recall that I’ve mentioned all this before, and the struggle continues. Being in lock down along with Winter colds and lethargy haven’t helped either. However, now that Spring’s arrived, I feel a new lease of life and the need to get the show back on the road.

Yesterday, was Father’s Day. Rather than repeat myself, you can read more about it here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2020/09/07/making-do-fathers-day-2020/

By the way, I apologise for some of my formatting difficulties For those of you who aren’t familiar with WordPress, they’ve changed their editing processes completely and I’m unable to find quite a few features I depend on and I don’t really feel like wasting a lot of time trying to nut out this system I don’t like. I’ve noticed a few of you aren’t happy about these changes either. So, perhaps we should start a revolutions.

Anyway, I might try to get back tomorrow to flesh this out a bit more.

In the meantime, I hope you and yours are keeping well and safe. This is another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I almost forgot to mention that we sent our once beloved family car off to the wreckers this week. She’s been with us for 19 years, and drove us home from our wedding and also brought the kids home from the hospital when they were born along with numerous holidays, commutes to work etc. You can read more about that here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2020/09/06/farewell-to-the-family-car/

Yesterday, was Father’s Day here and rather than repeating myself, you can read more about it here:

The Sponge Cake Queen…Friday Fictioneers.

This year the judging of the Best Sponge Cake at the Royal Sydney Easter Show was breaking with tradition. In addition to the regular judging panel from the Country Women’s Association, Melissa Leong from Masterchef was guest judge. She couldn’t wait to slice into Madge Gerbera’s sponge. She’d won Best in Show for 25 years, and was “the Sponge cake Queen”. However, the knife couldn’t cut through. There was something odd in the middle of the cake. Meanwhile, back home Grandma couldn’t find her teeth. Last seen when she helped herself to the mix. Humph! This was a truly unforgettable sponge.

…..

100 words

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had an acute phobia of false teeth. So, while for some finding a rodent of any description in their cake would give them the horrors, for me, it would be a set of false teeth.

I had actually planned to write about my mother and her sponge cakes. She was the sponge cake Queen of our family and friends and she added a bit of melted butter and warm milk to her sponge cake. She icing them with passionfruit icing, filled them with cream, but also kept a piece plain for my Dad who doesn’t like icing.

The recipe came from a family friend, Val Gerber, who I believe had won at the Brisbane Show and the recipe was printed on the back of the Fielder’s Cornflour as “Val’s Sponge”. I remember meeting Val when I was a little girl out on the farm. We were treated to a very special country afternoon tea where the table almost sank under the weight of all the cakes and treats. Yum!

I hope this story hasn’t made you too hungry!

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Todd Foltz.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share…15th June, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I have a very special treat to share with you…a magical chocolate cupcake. After watching Masterchef, I went the extra mile on these and pulled out the piping bag, giving them a knockout chocolate fettuccine hairstyle. However, you have to fight for them. Before I’d iced them, the dogs stole seven of them. Can you believe it?!! What’s more they didn’t left any evidence. Not even a crumb on the bench. It’s like the simply vanished. That’s why they’re magical cupcakes. Anyway, I took them along to Church for morning tea and they were shown off under the glass just like in a real cafe and they looked a million dollars. So, I hope you enjoy them.

chocolate cupcake

As we meet up for another Weekend Coffee Share, I wonder what’s going on in your neck of the woods and how you’re going.

Our world is so churned up at the moment, it’s hard to know quite where to start and considering I’ve been living in my cave, I’m not even going to try to comment on what’s going on out there. I keep seeing flashes of things on the TV and no longer know what to make of anything. I just can’t understand why people can’t all just be people, see others as people and just show some respect. For me, the Golden Rule offers a simple guideline on how to treat people. It’s not rocket science…treat others as you would like to be treated. You can even take it a step further and apply the inverse Golden Rule, which aims to treat people as they would like to be treated. Of course, this has nothing to do with racist violence.

However, here in Australia, we had a magnificent example of how we can get it right when rescuers developed a personalised rescue plan to find a missing non-verbal youth, Will Callaghan, who is on the Autism Spectrum. The outpouring of love for Will and his family was really phenomenal and truly warmed my heart. So much so, that I had to write about it myself: Finding Hope On Mt Disappointment.

After that, much else fell into flat relief.

However, I had a bit of a turning point for myself.

I went to the shops.

I didn’t immerse myself in the shops. Just popped in to pick up a lay-buy and was twinkle-toeing like a burglar trying to get in and out without coming into contact with anyone, and most importantly maintain social distancing so I didn’t inhale the same air. However, the shop is still closed until further notice, which was rather disappointing after working myself up so much just to be able to walk in, pull out my credit card and pay for my grey tutu skirt.

DSC_9231

Even sitting at a humble picnic table has been mission impossible during the coronacrisis. 

OMG! Living during this coronacrisis has taken the simple, and turned it into the ridiculous. However, I still can’t be too careful. The virus is out there, although in the case of the Australian context, that’s becoming doubtful. However, there’s still the odd isolated, unexplained case and I don’t want those to include me. Moreover, now it’s cold outside, it’s becoming more comfortable at home.

After navigating my way around the shopping centre successfully, I decided to attend our Church life group on Friday night. It was being held at our friend’s place which is perched up on poles in the gum trees. I love his place, as it’s filled with all sort of eclectic vintage and antique treasures and looks like a cosy museum. Everyone was really upbeat to be back together again, but it took me a bit of time to get my bearings, find a seat which social-distanced effectively and I was really grateful that my friends understood and didn’t treat me like a fruitcake, because I’m not naturally a germophobe. This has been thrust on me by my damaged lungs and the virulence and sneaky habits of Covid 19.

On Sunday morning, I went to physical Church for the first time in about 3.5 months. Our Church used to meet at the local community centre. However, the local Anglican Church went on the market and we decided to throw our hat in at the auction. Then, there was an anonymous million dollar donation and a phone call to the bank to find out about those mysterious zeros in the balance. Anyway, Sunday was our first service in the new building and what with us all coming out of lock down like something off the set of Sleeping Beauty, we were all so happy and bouncing all over the place. We had a BBQ afterwards of bacon and egg rolls and I was too embroiled to eat it and after having two friends pass me wipes to remove dripping egg from my personage, I decided to take it home where I could concentrate. I’m one of those people who spills their coffee while their talking on an ordinary day, let alone when I’ve been let out of isolation after 3.5 months, we’re in our new church home and surrounded by dear friends. Indeed, this is the sort of thing which can light all your matches at once and you can combust like in that book/movie by Laura Esquivel: Like Water For Chocolate.

By the way, my weekly walk continued. I went for a walk along Pearl Beach with my friend Roland on Thursday. We’ve walked along Pearl Beach before, although last time we took on the Western headland and walked around the rocks. This week we stuck to the sand and walked along the beach. There was a massive white cloud hovering above the horizon which looked like a massive white cauliflower with dense, tight curls. It was quite mesmerising and it had that feel that it could “beam me up, Scotty”, like a spaceship.

Ferry and big clouds2

The Spectacular Cauliflower Cloud. 

Then, we a pod of dolphins a few metres out. They seemed to be forming a circle around a school of fish. They were so much fun to watch, but unfortunately eluded my efforts to capture them with the camera. I wasn’t surprised as they’re difficult if not impossible to photograph but it would’ve been nice.

I turned back and noticed our footprints stretching back behind us in a perfect trail. There was perhaps one other person on the beach and we were just out of reach of the waves. I quickly took a few photos, as I sensed a poignancy there. Walking with my friend. It’s not something I do very often. It’s usually more of a case of “coffee”, which lately has been more likely to be a cup of tea. Thinking about it, that’s something I’d like to change as I like being in the outdoors and I need to do more walking.

By the way, I’d lost track of how long we’ve been hibernating at home. We checked out the usage on Geoff’s train Opal card, which he uses to get to work. That was last used on the 17th March, and I was probably in isolation a week or two before that. That means I’ve been in iso now for roughly 3.5 months with only going out for exercise until last week. So, i’m feeling a bit like Sleeping Beauty heading back out there again. Or, perhaps I’m just Sleepyhead.

The strange thing I found stepping back out there again, is that some people haven’t been out of action at all and have been out and about. They almost don’t comprehend that people like me have been out of circulation for 3-4 months and for some of us, we were also in a different form of lock down escaping the bush fire smoke last Summer. I’ve been very grateful to have my writing and research and indeed this time being locked away has really made a difference on that front. Doing my writing and research at home is my usual modus operandi but there isn’t that menacing threat out there and I can have a more balanced lifestyle and not be shut away from my friends both the ones I see on a more intentional basis but also the ones I see regularly when I’m out and about, especially at the dance school. I want you all back. Is that too much to ask? That said, I’ve been mighty grateful for all my friends on the blog. You’ve got me through, not only the coronacrisis, but life and I appreciate you so much.

Anyway, I asked you at the start how things are going in your neck of the woods, so that’s where I’ll finish up. how are you?

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali

Best wishes,

Rowena

Masterchef 2020 – My Friends in the TV.

Over the years, I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned that I’m a die-hard Masterchef tragic. Indeed, I might not have let on just how much I long for Masterchef season to come around every year. Indeed, I’m there poised on the very edge of the couch with the same intense enthusiasm as a  Rabbitoh’s footy supporter longing for kick-off.  By the way, in case you’re wondering what a Rabbitoh’s supporter might be, they’re a particular crazed breed of Rugby League fan with actor Russell Crowe as their fearless leader. They’re anything but your average fan. So, that really says a lot about me and Masterchef. Indeed, I’d be wearing the apron if you didn’t have to go on the show to earn it for yourself. To the best of my knowledge, this is something money can not buy.

However, my love of Masterchef doesn’t stop at the couch.

I’ve also mentioned in one of my recent travel posts, that I’d consider moving to Melbourne for Masterchef, trading in my Sydney stripes for good.

That says even more!!!

Juli Rabbit Rowena in kitchen

Julie Goodwin (right) photographed in my kitchen. Rabbit and Julie hosted the breakfast run on  our local radio station.

Also, just to show off just a little bit, Australia’s very first Masterchef,  Julie Goodwin, has even been to our house to cook us a meal. My cousin also works on the show. However,  she has to adhere to a code of silence, and she also moved to Melbourne.

Anyway, every other year, I’ve been in parked on  the couch in front of the box gripped with tense anticipation on opening night. However, somehow what with watching all the coverage of the coronavirus, and all the car restoration shows my husband and son have been watching on some random channel, we not only missing the first night. We missed the first week. I was in shock! I know we’re living in a very strange world atm what with all the changes the coronavirus has wrought. However, the fact I missed the start of the new Masterchef season, shows just how far the earth has shifted from its axis,  taking us into very alien territory.

However, all was not lost. Last night, I wrestled with catch up and went to bed very, very early in the morning after binge watching five episodes of the show.

For those of you who follow Masterchef and many of you who don’t, you’d also be aware that Masterchef 2020 has had major changes of its own. At the end of last season, all three of the original judges (Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan) left, leaving a very big question mark over Masterchef’s future. Could the series survive? What was it that made the show Masterchef, and could that go on? In many ways, it felt like the end of the world with a bunch of survivors escaping through the flames on a life raft.

However, this show clearly has a lot of bedrock underneath it. In Masterchef 2020, they cleverly launched the new judges within very familiar territory. They brought back previous contestants…the people we know, love and have been gunning for in the past. Moreover, just to ensure the new-look season went off with a bang, they launched off with Gordon Ramsay Week. Could the show start off with more fire and brimstone?

I don’t think so.

Since we’re all in isolation, I haven’t been able to talk about the show with my two support workers who are just as passionate about the show. Obviously, I haven’t talked about it on Facebook either yet. However, this post might generate some discussion.

Reynold at Koi

Reynold Poernomo photographed at Koi a few years ago.

Personally, I love Masterchef 2020 just as much as usual, and I must say that I’m personally very glad to see Reynauld back. I’ve been to his Koi dessert bar in Sydney and his desserts taste just as exquisitely scrumptious in real life as they look on TV. I also have loads of other favourites on the show. Poh Ling Yeow, who placed second in the first season, has been a major personality on the show so far, and had been tipped to be one of the new judges. However, all of the contestants have unfinished business and are back to win.

Nomtella inside at Koi

A treat from the Koi…yum!

Binge watching Masterchef last night was also strangely comforting in this very strange world we’re currently living in. You see, it was filmed three months ago pre social distancing and the contestants are all standing in their regular positions at their benches. Indeed, they’re even HUGGING EACH OTHER!!! Wow! It’s absolutely wonderful to be a part of all that love, joy, friendship and community, even if it is on TV. I miss all of that in real life so much, and as we all know, the lines between the people on TV and us at home has always been blurry, and we feel we know these total strangers in quite an intimate and personal way. However, now more than ever, we need our TV friends and some sense of normal when reality is anything but.

So many people I know, especially people living alone, are really longing to hug someone, especially their friends. For huggers, it’s just such a part of who we are, our joie de vivre and even more importantly, our love and connectedness with people. I really miss that too, even though there are four humans and three dogs under our roof.

Although we’re all doing isolation together, not everybody here feels like a hug, and might not feel like a chat at the same time either. We’re not always on the same page. Indeed, my husband and I have ended up in different time zones, where I’m night and he is day. Of course, binge watching Masterchef only compounded this scenario last night. That was the latest (or should I say earliest) I’ve ever been to bed since university!!

C

Jonathon & Amelia Jan 2007

Kids learning how to cook January 2007.

Before I head off, there’s one other thing I love about Masterchef, and that  hasn’t changed this year either. That’s how it inspires my cooking and certainly raises the bar several  notches. While I’m fairly strong on the sweets front, I’m not so versed on the savoury side, and every season, I at least pick up a few extra ingredients. I started baking fennel last year, and I should be inspired to get my herb patch at home up and running. In my typical style, I bought a few punnets from Bunnings and they haven’t made it past the front door and are still in their punnets. I would love to be able to experiment with liquid nitrogen and see how that works for myself. However, that’s well beyond the scope of my home kitchen. So, I’ll just have to keep on dreaming.

ballet shoes

A current view of the whiteboard in our kitchen.

By the way, speaking of my home kitchen, while Masterchef is playing in our lounge room, our kitchen’s been converted into a dance studio. As you might be aware, our daughter is a dedicated, aspiring dancer and ballerina. Thanks to social isolation, all her dance classes are now being transmitted via zoom. She’s currently on school holidays, but rehearsals for a production whose performance date is very much in the air, continue and when you have a look at our whiteboard, you can see that is no small undertaking involving serious commitment from the studio and families alike. For the first time ever, I’ve truly wondered whether it’s all worth it. Of course, anyone with a more practical mindset, would already be questioning the viability of  career in the performing arts. However, I come from a family of professional musicians and so this world isn’t quite so foreign or precarious to me. I also have my own writing dream inside my heart, which was buried in the corporate world for quite awhile, but has found release. Even if I’m not paid to write, that should never detract from who I am. I’m still frantically working towards that one day which I’m believing will come. Thanks to the coronavirus, it’s taken another hit, although perhaps this time at home will finally mean it’s done. I hope so! Yet, my own dreams also mean I understand our daughter’s vision.

Have you been watching Masterchef 2020? What are your thoughts? Are you hooked just as much as ever? Or, perhaps, you’ve called it quits. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I would also like to acknowledge those of us whose dreams are currently in suspended animation with this incredibly powerful song from Les Miserables. Better still, I’ve chosen Susan Boyle’s audition for Britain’s Got Talent: I Dreamed A Dream

I’ve dreamed a dream too. How about you?

 

Weekend Coffee Share… 20th April, 2020

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Since we’re meeting up in a virtual sense, let’s throw social distancing out the window and we can all shake hands, hug and even throw a party together. Don’t you just miss all of that close social contact and being with family and friends beyond your front door?!! It’s particularly hard on people people who are living alone. After all, it’s not a lifestyle choice which everyone chooses, and it’s times like this that those twists and turns of fate can be particularly hard to get through.

By the way, since we’ve been doing a bit of baking here, you can have your pick of chocolate Caramel Slice, or  chop chip cookies and there might’ve been a pavlova in there somewhere or perhaps that was a few weeks ago. Of course, you’re always welcome to Vegemite toast where you pop round here. It’s an Australian staple, especially for me.

How is the coronavirus impacting your part of the world? It’s sure inflicting a lot of grief  in a lot of places, but fortunately Australia and New Zealand are doing okay atm. However, it’s hard to know just how it’s all going to pan out and nobody has a crystal ball.

Still, lock down isn’t bliss and so many people have lost their jobs and are doing it tough. I’m gaoled inside, except for going out for exercise, and then I have to breathe in every time I approach another human being, I almost flinch. Our local footpaths weren’t made for social distancing. They weren’t made for two dogs on leads to pass each other either. None of our three dogs tolerate other dogs either, and even bark and lunge from across the road at times. It’s so embarrassing. I’m clearly not a good dog mum and it’s back to school for me.

However, clearly other parts of the world are doing things much tougher and so many loved ones are losing their lives. I also want to give a big shout out to all those working in our hospitals and essential services. Many, many thanks and I hope you’re getting along okay. You’re all working under very extreme war zone type conditions and we as a global community are thinking of you and sending our love.

Well, how is lock down looking for us?

Well, I’m in lock down with my husband Geoff and our two teenaged kids aged 16 and 14 along with our three dogs. Geoff’s working from home and has also completely dug up our backyard and buried a layer of subterranean “pavers” which are designed to stop dogs from digging holes. Yes, we needed to reclaim our backyard, especially because we’re wanting to put our new isolation camper in the backyard without it falling down a hole. My research on WWI is continuing and I’ve also been beavering through the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, where I’m writing about places I’ve been. I’m currently a day behind because I’m trying to get Paris write. What I want to say is fairly complex, because as the saying goes “not all that glitters is gold”.

ballet shoes

Meanwhile, the kids are on school holidays. Our daughter has three days of dance rehearsals this week which will be running via zoom in our kitchen. I’ve had to put a schedule on the white board out there so the rest of us can schedule in our cups of tea and there’s also a matter of cooking dinner, which seems to clash with the schedule and the rest of us are left huddled together with empty tummies out in the loungeroom. That goes double for Lady, one of our dogs. She’s thinking about dinner as soon as she’s finished breakfast.

Bruce

Bruce the Shark Grass

Our son has been doing Scouts for years and is now a Venturer. They’re also conducting their meetings via zoom and their leader also set them a lock down challenge. They’re growing grass animals and there’s naturally a competition to see whose animal has the longest hair at the end of the holidays.

Zac at the beach

Meanwhile, the dogs have been the overall winners during this lock down scenario. Since we’re only allowed out for exercise, they’ve been going for a lot more walks and they’ve also had all of us home. That means four ball and stick throwers and they’re thrilled to bits. I’ve been enjoying our walks along the beach, although Zac wasn’t allowed off the lead until all the other dogs had gone home. We have some work ahead.

Meanwhile, I’m binge watching Masterchef tonight. Somehow, I missed the start of the series and I had a week to catch up on. I wasn’t sure how it would go with the three new judges. However, they brought back contestants from past seasons and that’s provided the familiarity and I quite like the new judges. This week was Gordon Ramsay Week, and I must say I feel sorry for the contestants launching off a new season with him. Talk about being thrown in the deep end.

Well, I’d better finish this off and get to bed. It is very, very late, but I just ran out of hours today. I run out of hours every day. I wonder where they go…

Take care and stay safe.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 6th April, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week you’re in luck. I can offer you a lusciously fresh, Orange Buttercream Cupcake with raspberries on top. My husband dropped off a box of three to my parents and brother in Sydney on his way to work this morning. In keeping with social distancing regulations, he simply left the box on their doorstep, knocked on the door and was off. Mum had a lovely surprise. My Dad doesn’t like icing so his was plain, which looked like he was missing out alongside the rest. Dad was pleased I remembered, although Mum said she could’ve cut the top off. I warned her all that icing could have made her sick. It’s very rich.

cupcake box Pymble

Mum sent us this photo of the cupcakes we dropped off. As you can see, two of them had evaporated soon after delivery.

I’m pleased we got in touch. I haven’t seen them for a couple of months. We had to cancel a get-together for our kids’ birthdays because we had colds, not knowing what was to come. I should’ve pushed a bit harder and got something organized. However, you know how it is. You always think you have forever. Who could’ve predicted this was just around the corner?

I obviously don’t know how the coronavirus is impacting on you, your family and friends and community. However, I would love to hear from you and come together around this online cafe and share our experiences. I live at Umina Beach, just North of Sydney, Australia. The whole country is close to being at home. Most state borders have closed and in Western Australia, they’ve even set up regional zones for containing movement. This is really good, and it’s making life a lot easier for people who are at high risk of not only catching the virus, but also having a dire outcome. This, unfortunately, includes me but for once, I’m not alone. Most of the country is in the same boat and people are rising to the challenge.

At this point in Australia, the impacts have largely been economic and around 1 million people have lost their jobs. The government has responded by increasing welfare payments, but it’s hit some people very hard and losing your job is always painful. Fortunately, Geoff works in IT for a university and so far, so good. He’s an essential worker. He lost his job back in the GFC, so we went through this back then and know that pain and hope you and yours have managed to avoid it.

While still on the subject of Coronavirus, I also wanted to share something I posted earlier tonight….Every Home Is Now A Stage. As you may be aware, musicians and performers around the world have been posting free performances online with a view of lifting our collective spirits and so I decided to put a selection of these together to share with you. There are contributions from Jimmy Barnes, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the National Gallery and I had to include a clip of feeding a baby koala at Taronga Zoo, which made my heart sing.

KLM

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking part in the annual Blogging From A to Z  April Challenge. My theme this year is “Places I’ve Been”, which has a travel and photographic feel to it with a bit of introspection and philosophy thrown in. The alphabetical aspect to this challenge always makes it interesting, because there are always some letters where you have a plethora of options and it’s really hard to boil it down to one. Then, there are other letters where you really have to struggle to come up with anything and the results can feel quite random. I chose this theme, due to the current travel restrictions and I wanted to spread some joy. It’s also been very therapeutic to revisit these places myself and to realize that despite illness and parenthood, I am still a traveller.

Here’s are my posts for week 1:

Amsterdam

Berlin

Canberra

Devonport, Tasmania.

Have you been to any of these places? Or, perhaps you’ve lived there? I’d love to read any reflections in the comments below.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali.

We hope you and yours stay safe and well.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

More Than A Walk….Newtown to Broadway, Sydney.

Time has a habit of flying around here mysteriously escaping before I manage to grip hold of it. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an entire week has passed since I went to Newtown.

Last Monday, I met up with my friend Stephen at Sydney’s Central Station to catch the train to Newtown and leisurely wander and cafe crawl our way along King Street, past Sydney University and onto the Seymour Centre where we were supposed to be attending a talk by eminent science communicator, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki about stem cell research and the brain. Stem cell research could be something I’ll be relying on down the track with my lung and muscle troubles and my brain isn’t in top notch working order in some ways either. I was born with hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain and have what’s known as a shunt managing the pressures and keeping things in working order. So, this lecture provided a great opportunity to find out more. However, in the meantime, it was a great opportunity to catch up with Stephen.

Love

We spotted this sign at a pub just near Newtown Station.

These days it feels like I’ve known Stephen beyond my own eternity. We were part of a group of friends who used to attend St Barnabus Anglican Church Broadway around 1994 before my hydrocephalus was dramatically diagnosed in my mid-20s and St Barnabas (or “Barneys” as it is known) was equally dramically burned down. Both of us thank goodness have both risen from the ashes and rebuilt. However, I wonder whether there was some kind of bad omen with my friends from Barneys, as I have not been the only one been dealt an atypically difficult hand. I’m not sure whether I believe in this from a Biblical, Christian perspective. It’s just pure observation and associating all our troubles to the physical burning down of a much loved and historic Church provides some kind of external visual for our hidden, personal suffering.

vegan fried chicken

I took this photo for my son who hangs out at KFC after school. I think he’d be disappointed, although I have many vegan friends who’d be thrilled to go there. 

Anyway, getting back to Newtown.

King Street Newtown historic

Newtown is 4 kilometres South-West of the Sydney CBD and was established as a residential and farming area in the early 19th century. The area took its name from a grocery store opened there by John and Margaret Webster in 1832, who placed a sign atop their store that read “New Town Stores”.

I Have A Dream

Street art – King Street, Newtown. 

The main street is King Street which winds its way along the spine of a long ridge which rises up near Sydney University in the North and transforms into the Princess Highway in the South. This elevated position gives King Street a imposing appearance and also explains why it’s tributaries (or side-streets) run down hill. As you walk along King Street, it’s easy to understand why its main shopping strip is the longest and most complete commercial precinct of the late Victorian and Federation period in Australia. The architecture really is quite different and a tad ghostly even compared to other areas populated by ancient terraces houses. After all, in this country with just over 200 years of European history, terrace houses assume a misplaced sense of history.

Although I lived in the inner city many moons ago long before marriage and mortgage took me over the Hawkesbury River Bridge and onto the Central Coast, I’ve never lived in Newtown. I lived in Chippendale and Glebe and my last haunt was a converted warehouse just off Broadway. I always knew that lifestyle couldn’t last. However, I never anticipated my catastrophic health problems and how you could literally be blown up and yet somehow still standing with seemingly no visual sign anything’s happened at all. Marriage and kids also brought blessings, change and challenges which were also unexpected and difficult to grapple with. My time in that converted warehouse in many ways were my last hurrah. Well, at least of the person I was before surgery.

So in many ways, while Stephen and I were walking along King Street we were walking along memory lane. The weather wasn’t great. So, I didn’t take my SLR and was photographing with my phone which is deeply unsatisfying. It just doesn’t have the same clarity and I’m sure it’s only a small step up from the Kodak aim and shoot I had as a kid. You know the ones where you shoved a cartridge in the back and dropped the thing off at your local chemist for processing. Humph. These days that all sounds so archaic, and I don’t feel that old even if there are additional lines I choose to ignore in the mirror.

Biscuit Sandwich

Anyway, given that I was catching up with Stephen, walking down memory lane and didn’t have my SLR, my photos of King Street are hardly representative and I’ll need to go back and explore the place more fully. I guess what I’ve captured is more along the lines of street art, than architecture and there’s also a rather sumptuous photo of something which might be described as a biscuit sandwich although it was called a “birthday cake”. It was exceptionally yum and I’m needing to find a recipe to replicate these at home. Not good for the waistline, but pure indulgence for the soul.

Sourfest

Newtown has changed a lot since I was living in the area from 1988 through to around 1996. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if it’s been for the best. The place has been gentrified and the grungy, crumbling edifices along King Street have been spakfillered and restored. Of course, these buildings look clean and beautiful but when you know what went before, there’s that same sense you get when you see an old face without lines…too much character and personality has been removed. I look at these buildings and wonder where they went, although they’re still standing and I know from a popular aesthetic point of view, they look so much better, even if they have been given cosmetic surgery. Yet, that doesn’t deny something’s missing. History is important. It shouldn’t be whitewashed away.

Gould's

Inside Gould’s back in the day.

Back in the day,  Gould’s Book Arcade wasn’t quite the epicentre of Newtown, but it definitely made a significant contribution to its intellectual, bohemian yet working-class character. Walking and talking,  I wasn’t scrutinizing every shopfront we walked past. Yet, there was this awareness that Gould’s could well be missing. Lost. Gone. Obliterated. Along with it, this dejected sense that a wrecking ball had gone through Newtown’s heart and wiped it out. Fortunately, a quick Google search revealed that Gould’s is not dead. Rather, due to rising rents it was forced out of it’s traditional location to 536 King Street on the Southern side of Newtown Station, which meant we missed it. Meanwhile, an interview with Mairi Petersen, the first wife of bookshop founder, the late Bob Gould is enlightening:

“Books have little place in the lives of people moving into Newtown these days…Once Newtown was students and the working class. No more. Now they are paying millions to buy in and when you look at real estate agent photographs of houses for sale there is not a book to be seen.”

I’d be interested to explore the homes beyond these real estate photos to see if that is true. Mind you, a lack of books, doesn’t mean the locals are not reading. Space is these ancient terraces is at a premium and even a Kindle-reject like myself who’ll one day be found buried under piles of books in our place can understand the possible need to make the switch.

By the way, if you saw our house, you’d say that it has a certain Gould’s feel to it, especially after the roof leaked like a sieve last night and we’ve had to shift close to a hundred books and these were just the stacks and not the contents of the shelves.

Anyway, we kept walking passed Sydney University my former stomping ground. Indeed, I was the third generation of my family to study there and belong to the place. Clearly, there’s a lot of history there, but not for today. We couldn’t be late.

We arrived at the Seymour Centre and the place is empty and the theatre still locked up. We were half an hour early to avoid the stampede. However, my antennae have gone up. Something’s wrong. Very wrong and when they tell me nothing is on that night, panic sets in. As person living with hydrocephalus, it’s not uncommon for me to screw up dates and appointments. Turned out we were a month early.

Above: We walked past the contemporary Barneys (where Stephen and I first met) on our way to Central Station Barney’s as we knew it looked more like the 1872 version. This part of Sydney is known as Broadway and the sign in the footpath is a tribute to the  sign battle between Rector Rob Forsythe and the publican across the road at the Broadway Hotel, Arthur Elliott. 

Above: Street art, Broadway.

While I hate making mistakes and chastised myself for not reading through the email I’d printed out before I left, I knew Stephen and I were meant to catch up. That we both needed to revisit our old stomping grounds. Not just in terms of place, but also the history we share from all those years ago. Given the profound changes in personality which may or may not have come about with the deterioration of the hydrocephalus and subsequent brain surgery, it’s a me who is difficult to resolve, not really knowing if I’ve ever been myself and what that ultimately means. It’s something I need to explore further somewhere beyond that stretch of King Street.

Holy Duck & candle

We travels detoured to the Holy Duck Chinese restaurant just off Broadway. As a fan of Australian cartoonist  Michael Leunig, I loved he positioning of the duck alongside the candle. 

Do you have any memories of King Street Newtown or a similar street which seemingly has a life and character of its own where you live? Or, perhaps you’ve had something life-changing happen to you and grapple with what that means. I’d love to hear from you, although I may not reply promptly as I’m researching and writing a book at present, which is rather time-consuming.

Best wishes,

Rowena

For another take on changing Newtown, you might like to read this from the Sydney Morning Herald: King Street Is Dying

Sources

Last Chapter For Gould’s Book Arcade

Newtown- Wikipaedia

Photo of the current St Barnabas Broadway: By Sardaka (talk) 07:34, 19 March 2014 (UTC) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31688133

Photo of “I Have A Dream” street art: Hpeterswald [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D