Tag Archives: Sydney Harbour Bridge

Weekend Coffee Share -18th June, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Rather than joining me for coffee at my place, today I thought you might like to join me down at the San Antonio Bakery in Kirribilli. It’s right across the road from the stairs taking you up onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge. By the way, you might want to bring a bit of sun and the Northern Hemisphere Summer with you. It was a cheek-smacking 15°C (59° F) there today. Mind you, I must have Viking blood because yours truly sat outside this afternoon to soak up the Kirribilli charm, although I did wrap myself up in one of their blankets. By the way, the food there is amazing and I’ve indulged in a few of their delights. Today, I had a sort of nut crumble topping on a Nutella tart. The texture of the topping was fairly complex with a combination of seeds and nuts. The pasty was perfect and you can’t go wrong with Nutella.

Harbour Bridge Stairs

A wet day in Kirribilli. You can just make out the steps leading up onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

While I was there, I pulled out my notebook and simply started jotting. Kirribilli is a rather rustic part of Sydney with Victorian terraces heading down to the wharf and Sydney Harbour. If you were had bionic strength, you could throw a stone from Kirribilli Wharf straight through the Opera House windows if you were feeling like getting arrested and being rather unpopular.

As I said, I started jotted. A cold wind was blowing straight off the Harbour and round the corner blowing the Autumn leaves in the trees across the road. I was quite mesmerised by the fluttering leaves, although perhaps that was because the rest of me was snap frozen.

Of course, any sensible soul would’ve sat inside, but I wanted to experience Kirribilli. Be a part of it, and feel its breath blowing against my neck, even though it was freezing and giving me a different kind of goosebump experience.

However, my reasons for being in Sydney today weren’t social. After crossing the lung specialist off the list for the next three months, I was off to the gastroenterologist to see if he could do anything to get rid of The Cough. Well, he was full of ideas and conferred with the lung specialist on the mobile and they managed to cut it down to an endoscopy and colonoscopy. It’s not til August so I don’t need to get too excited about it yet. Some people go on a cruise, I’m cruising on off to the hospital. One thing I do know, is that a friend’s wife with MS died of bowel cancer because the early signs were dismissed. It’s important to keep in mind that things can always get worse and not to be complacent or in some kind of la-la land of uninformed positive thinking.

Anyway, aside from all that medical stuff today, there have been some great highlights during the last week.

Firstly, on Saturday my husband and I drove our daughter and friends up to perform in Starstruck at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre, about 1.5 hours North of here. This showcases school talent in the performing arts, and our daughter appeared in two dance numbers with the Year 7 dance troupe. I have to be honest and say that during their performance, I only had eyes for her. She was like a twinkling star, and as much as their was that immense pride in watching her perform, I was also dumbstruck. She didn’t get any of this from her father or myself. Sometimes, you’ve got to wonder whether God can be a bit random in how he allocates gifts and interests. That, or he has a very good sense of humour!

scouts prepared

 

Also on Saturday, we dropped our son off for an overnight Scout Camp and something like a 17km hike. That meant he was sleeping in a tent in this freezing Winter weather, which as my Dad would say, puts hairs on your chest. They had to carry everything in, and everything out so it was quite a credit to him. The hike ended at the local tip and the backpack went straight into the car and tales of aching feet, back, neck began to unfold. Clearly, he went to great lengths to avoid going to his sister’s dance concert, and we’re proud of his efforts.

Meanwhile, with our daughter at an evening performance and our son away at camp, Geoff and I ventured out for dinner at Mum’s cousin’s restaurant Talulah at The Junction in Newcastle. This place has become a bit of a rock to me when visiting Newcastle and I think I’ve been there about 3 times in the last couple of years. I remember going up to Newcastle for family get togethers. My grandparents initially lived there, and then we went up to see mum’s aunt and her family and there were 21sts, weddings, birthdays, christenings and unfortunately too many funerals of loved ones who died before their time. The family home was sold years ago, so the restaurant gives me some kind of bearings, and there’s an old piano in there which I wrote into a story a few years back. I don’t know if it came from the family. Or, was simply found beside the road, but it’s over 100 years old and it tells a thousand stories, despite staying silent. There’s also a Cenotaph outside the restaurant where a soldier stands to attention. He looks like he’s standing over the place and looking out for us. Goodness knows we’ve needed it at times. Apparently, the pigeons poop all over him, and doesn’t show him an ounce of respect.

I’m not real good as a food writer, especially when I don’t take notes at the time. However, each mouthful had such a burst of flavour and the meal was very refreshing. The ambiance was also fantastic. Quite aside from the fact that we’re family, Talulah feels like a stylish yet casual family home with appealing paintings throughout and fresh, modern decor. It’s a fun place to be and I could feel the stresses of life fall away, although I was also rather conscious of a growing list of “absent friends”. You can read a review Here

Before I move on from Talulah, I just wanted to share about our navigation difficulties, which you could say are something of a feature of our marriage. Geoff drives the car. I navigate. Unfortunately, this division of labour is driven by necessity, not ability and I have no shame in admitting that I could get lost in our own driveway. However, when it comes to navigating our way through Newcastle, I’m back being a kid in the back seat of the Holden and Dad’s driving through the streets without a map saying he only needs to go somewhere once and he can find his way back again. Of course, this boast was filled with bravado and a bit of cheek, but it was true. Moreover, it did sting a bit as I couldn’t direct Geoff to Talulah using Google maps even though I’d been there three times before. Geoff turned down Darby Street and from there, we zigzagged back and forth desperately hoping to see a spark of familiarity but seemingly driving deeper and deeper into the maze. Both of us were getting frustrated and it came very close to simply driving home, but we persevered. Quite frankly, I don’t understand why they don’t have signs set up specially for my visit…”Rowena turn here!” It would’ve made it so much easier.

In terms of blogging, I posted two more family history stories. Firstly, there was Fire in North Sydney…Grandma & the Mosman Bomber. The next one focused on my difficulties to finding my 3rd Great Grandmother, Maria Bridget Flanagan’s, name of birth: Digging Up More Family Bones. I’m hoping that by posting this info in my blog, that I might flush out the answers.

Getting these stories written up, is feeling great. I’m gaining more confidence in my ability to weigh up quite a mass of data, and actually get a story onto the page. As far as I’m aware, the data is well researched and documented, which is just as important in my mind as a good story.

Lastly, I wrote a story revolving around food for this week’s contribution to Friday fictioneers: Madame Cuisinier.

Well, I’m sorry for talking at you for so long. Clearly, there’s been a lot on and all the chatter in my head has spewed onto the screen. Thank you for listening and being there for me tonight. It’s much appreciated and I look forward to popping round to catch up on your week.

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

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

C- Grace Cossington Smith (1892 – 1984): A-Z Challenge.

As you may recall,my theme for the 2018 A-Z April Challenge is writing Letters to Dead Artists. So far, we’ve had:

A: Alexandros of Antioch (sculpted the Venus de Milo)

B: Botticelli

Although Cezanne beckoned for Letter C, I have chosen Australian artist, Grace Cossington Smith, who virtually lived and painted in my own backyard in Sydney’s leafy North Shore. Moreover, while I’d previously dismissed her work as being too domestic, I’ve now gained a deeper appreciation of her ground-breaking use of modernist techniques and the full breadth of the subjects ranging from The Sock Knitter (1915), through to The Bridge in-Curve (1930). By the way, getting back to Cezanne, Cossington Smith was heavily influenced by the French modernist, so you could say he’s peering out through some of her brushstrokes.

Since I grew up right near Grace Cossington Smith, I’ve chosen Kookaburra Sits on the Old Gum Tree as her song.

Grace Cossington Smith lived at Cossington, 43 Ku-Ring-Gai Avenue, Turramurra five minutes drive away from where I grew up and where my parents still live. Yet, despite our geographical proximity, I have felt our views were worlds apart.

You see, as an independent, modern woman, her heavy use of domestic  subjects irked me. In particular, there was The Sock Knitter. While knitting might have made a comeback in recent years, in my youth, knitting was old-fashioned, domestic and something grandmothers or aunties did.

The Sock Knitter

The Sock Knitter 1915.

However, once I started researching Cossington Smith, I found out that The Sock Knitter was actually a ground breaking, modernist work. Moreover, the painting also contains a noble back story. You see, her sister, Madge, was actually knitting socks to assist Australian troops on the notorious Western Front, who were sinking through the mud and developing trench foot. She was performing a community service. Moreover, women weren’t the only ones knitting socks for the troops. Boys at Sydney’s Cranbrook College also knitted socks, which resulted in a saying which is still floating round: “If you can’t get a girl, get a Cranbrook boy.”

In addition to The Sock Knitter, Cossington Smith painted many scenes around the house and was always painting and drawing. This reflected the utmost importance of her family, and I guess also their availability. The apparent contentment of their family life also provides the modern family with a wake-up call…that the home doesn’t have to be a prison. That “home” is what we make it. After all, love, family, community, belonging…what’s so wrong with all of that? Why do we mock and persecute it all so much? We each need a refuge from life’s storms, and ideally that is a place called “home”. Of course, I know this isn’t always the case, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying, or that peace on the home front should be perceived as an unattainable ideal!

On that note, I get the feeling that we as a society have deified work, and for too many of us, work has become home. Worse still, that thanks to the mobile phone and laptop, work has even invaded the home front, which used to be our sacred haven.

However, Cossington Smith also painted a ground-breaking portrayal of the Sydney Harbour Bridge The Bridge in-Curve (1930). This dynamic work shows the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge at that very exciting and critical moment that the two arches were about to connect above the harbour in an incredible feat of engineering. I absolutely love this painting and had it was in my kitchen for many years. It has such energy and force.

Thanks to this painting, I developed more of a connection with Cossington Smith. You see, I absolutely love the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Every time I go over it or even catch a glimpse of it, I get a buzz. Moreover, it’s an amazing sensation when you fly back into Sydney, and see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House waiting for you as though you never left home. On a more personal note, when I used to have infusions of IVIG at Royal North Shore Hospital, I used to look out across the urban jungle and fixate on the pair of flags at the top of The Bridge. Needless to say, when you’re having a canula jabbed into dry veins, watching the Bridge made a huge difference

Speaking of illness, in later life Grace Cossington Smith became an invalid and couldn’t leave her home. However, that didn’t stop her from experimenting and looking for new ways of seeing and images to paint. Indeed, she’d angle the huge mirrors a on her gigantic bedroom wardrobe to catch a glimpse of blue sky[1]” That sounds quite sad, but also shows her resourcefulness and incredible strength of spirit.

So, without further ado, here’s my letter to Grace Cossington Smith.

Grace Cossington Smith Self Portrait 1948Letter to Grace Cossington Smith

Dear Grace,

How are you? I can hardly imagine that a little thing like dying has dampened your fervent love of painting. Indeed, you must have an unlimited range of captive subjects up there.

I thought you’d enjoy afternoon tea under The Bridge here at Kirribilli. So, I’ve set up a little table and chairs and brought my Shelley Sunlit under the Tall Trees tea set, which reminds me of the towering gum trees around Pymble and Turramurra.

By the way, how do you like your tea?

I guess you’d be surprised to hear there’s now a tunnel underneath Sydney Harbour, yet another engineering marvel we didn’t think could happen. I’m not sure that you really want to know about all the other changes that have taken place, although Australia has had its first female Prime Minister and we recently legalized same sex marriage. Sadly, we still haven’t had an Aboriginal Prime Minister. There are other changes too, and I felt quite sad when I saw your painting of Eastern Road, Turramurra. When you drive through the North Shore these days, huge blocks of apartments have risen out of the earth like alien invaders. I still remember when North Ryde was green pastures dotted with cows, and I am not that old.

However, for better or worse, I’ve since left the North Shore and live near the beach, where I can get where I want, and can be myself. The waves are so accepting.

Our next stop is going to be the Grace Cossington Smith Gallery at your former school, Abbotsleigh. They can’t wait to meet you and no doubt you’ll be excited to see so many of your works congregated together.

Time is slipping away, so let’s carpe diem seize the day before it’s gone.

Warm regards,

Rowena

Reply from Grace Cossington Smith

Dear Rowena,

Thank you so much for morning tea beneath The Bridge. Seeing The Bridge again, was like catching up with an old friend, and I’d also forgotten the refreshing salve of a good cup of tea.

However, I can’t tell you what it meant to visit the Grace Cossington Gallery. Naturally, one fears that our work will die with us, and we’ll both be forgotten. So, to finally see my work recognised and honoured in this way, brought such joy.

Of course, Abbotsleigh under Miss Clarke, always encouraged my talent and I was taught by professional artists.

I was also lucky that my parents were so supportive. As you may be aware, my father built a studio for me in the backyard at Cossington. They had such faith in me, and never suggested that just because I was a woman, that I couldn’t become a professional artist. No one forced me to get married either, and have a family. I could pursue my own path. I didn’t realize how lucky I was. There wasn’t a lot of choice for women back then.

Next time, could you please take me back to Cossington. I’d love to visit Cossie again and  float around her walls like a ghost.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Grace Cossington Smith

References

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/news/arts/grace-cossington-smith/2005/11/02/1130823276320.html

Further Research

Grace Cossington Smith – A Retrospective NGA

The Grace Cossington Smith Gallery

Do you have a favourite artist starting with C? Or, if you’re taking part in the A-Z Challenge, please leave a link through to your post.

xx Rowena

Sydney Harbour Ferry…Not A Cloud in the Sky.

Yesterday, we went on an epic adventure to Sydney’s Mosman Bay…a journey taking 2.5 hours, two trains and a ferry across Sydney Harbour.

Of course, I wanted to share our ferry trip with you…especially as many of you have not been Down Under and experienced the magic first hand and like me, make the most of “vicarious experience”.

I love catching the ferry around Sydney Harbour and was also looking forward to catching up with my extended family.

Meanwhile, I should also point out that Geoff was working which left me playing Sargeant-Major getting the troops to the station, changing trains and onto the ferry on time. Move over Gomer Pyle, it was time for me to become Sargent Carter of “Move it! Move it! Move it!” and “You knucklehead” fame.

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Live “Statue” at Circular Quay. How does he do it???

However, when it comes to losing this plot, the kids weren’t the only antagonists in the cast. I also had to factor in the biggest question mark of the lot…the Rowie Factor.

When it comes to the Rowie Factor, there is no explanation. No rhyme or reason. The Rowie factor is like that spooky relative you keep locked up in the closet well away from the public gaze, but always seems to find their way out. Right at the very worst possible moment, they appear giving a huge, enthusiastic wave. OMG!!!! Your spirit sinks like a stone.

WHY????? WHAT THE?????

However, yesterday the Rowie Factor was in a benevolent mood and actually did good…Alleluia!

The Rowie Factor is pretty good at that too. There’s no middle ground. Only extremely good or crushingly bad.

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Sydney Ferry Supply

So, there we are finally onboard our ferry…Supply.  Acquired in 1984, Supply is one of 9 single-ended First Fleet Class catamarans, which mainly operate in the inner harbour.

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After moving out of Circular Quay, our ferry heads due East past Sydney Opera House, leaving the Sydney Harbour Bridge behind. Being the weekend with good winds and a cloudless sunny sky, we spot quite a few good sized yachts and a flotilla of smaller craft as we pass other ferries. The kids lean right up against the bow with their hair blowing in the wind and I thank God this isn’t The Titanic and they can recreate that famous scene without the ferry hitting a very, very lost iceberg and sinking to the very depths of Sydney Harbour.

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A Yacht on Sydney Harbour.

The ferry pulls into Cremorne Point and I must admit I’m feeling a little anxious because I’ve only been on this ferry route once before and my doubts start to inflate, getting larger and larger as I second guess everything turning the details into question marks and I am in full reassurance mode. Besides, if I do get lost in typical Rowie fashion, I have my phone and can ring for assistance. After all, it’s not like we’re the first Europeans visiting this place and there’s no one to call. Mind you, I question whether you can really get lost if you haven’t found where you’re going yet…

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Anyway, as we pull into Cremorne Point I hear someone calling my name and waving out to me. It’s my cousin from interstate. At first, I thought she must’ve been coming to lunch but it was all pure coincidence. She was returning to her old stomping ground and also happened to have the afternoon free so came and joined us for lunch. Call it serendipity, meant to be, whatever. This had to be more than coincidence and I think you’d need a supercomputer to calculate the odds of us meeting up.

Meeting my cousin was such an unexpected surprise. I was stoked! (That said, I had to marvel at how the unexpected synchronised so well when the planned can go so horribly wrong!!)

Anyway, we had a fabulous afternoon meeting up with family and Geoff met us there after work and later drove us home.

These are a few night shots of Mosman Bay, which Geoff took just before leaving.

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Mosman Bay by Night. Photo Geoff Newton. Note Sydney Tower on the left.

Have you ever been to Sydney? Do you have any special memories and I’d love you to add links to your posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Mother & Son…A Replay.

It’s not a wonder that parents of young children are tired. The real wonder is how they keep going at all.

When you take a closer look at this stunning, professional quality photo taken by my nearest and dearest, you will catch a glimpse on a harness on our Little Man. This wasn’t something we used often but with a very active toddler at a waterfront wedding and a very talkative mother, it was mandatory.

He had so much energy!

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Little Man trying to escape.

For better or worse, that was now 11 years ago. A few weeks ago, he started high school.

A lot of water’s passed under the bridge…

xx Rowena

Sydney Harbour…A Rear End Perspective.

If you were painting a portrait of Sydney Harbour, no doubt you’d position the Sydney Harbour Bridge centre stage. Of course, the Sydney Opera House with its iconic white sails would be leaning over on the left and you might even include a smattering of Luna Park over on the right. Of course, it would have to be a postcard perfect sunny day with azure skies and diamonds sparkling over the the deep blue harbour. It would undoubtedly be that iconic portrait of Sydney Harbour.

However, there are all sorts of angles and perspectives on a diamond, which are all quite equally Sydney Harbour and yet comparatively unrecognizable.

So, today we’re trading in the “Front Door View” and I’m letting you enter my magnificent home city through one of it’s many back doors…Darling Harbour. You will be joining Miss and I as we walk from Matilda The Musical back to Town Hall Station via Darling Harbour and the Queen Victoria Building. (You can read about Matilda Here)

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Rowena & Miss at Matilda

Actually, looking further through the photos, I might need to re-define “view”. After all, when you think of a view, you’re looking up and out at something. I can’t help wondering if I was focused on my feet on this walk. Indeed, I’ve even photographed my feet but for me, feet are very much a part of journeys, particularly when you’re walking and exploring. I like to think of all the many different places my feet have walked and how through walking through these different paths, that I am walking where so many others have walked in their own shoes with their own dreams and perspectives of these very same paths and what a beautiful thing that is. “We are one, but we are many”.

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Miss and I on the wharf at Darling Harbour. Yet another shadow portrait. My camera doesn’t know what a selfie is.

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Ship, Darling Harbour.

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The Welcome Wall at the Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour  honours more than 6 million immigrants to Australia.

 

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I loved all these molten reflections in the front window at the Maritime Museum.

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Me and my red shoes about to board a ship.

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Miss and I indulging in luscious Iced Chocolates at the Lindt Cafe, Darling Harbour. They were the best! We had an impromptu afternoon tea with friends there.

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Chinese Lunar New Year Lantern Sculpture in the Queen Victoria Building.

 

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Queen Victoria is not too sure about the Tiger Lantern which has moved in next door for the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney.

The Queen Victoria Building is located just across the road from the Sydney Town Hall where we caught the train home.

After such a wonderful day, I felt like Cinderella returning home from the ball and it was back home to prepare for another week.

xx Rowena

Happy New Year…Sydney!

Sydney wishes you a Happy New Year!

On the count of midnight,  Sydney became an exploding supernova as a firework extravaganza illuminated the night sky and the deep, still waters of Sydney Harbour showering such colour.

To read about our incredibly exciting NYE, check back to my previous post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/sydney-fireworks-a-prelude-to-midnight/

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Midnight was pretty low key here. With 15 minutes to go, we woke up the kids to join us for the countdown. The countdown being as much for the midnight fireworks as the New Year.

As you could imagine, even sitting watching the fireworks at home, I couldn’t resist getting out my camera and photographing the fireworks like a photographer on assignment.

I wasn’t disappointed. Indeed, I was amazed. Not bad!

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The incredible beauty of fireworks… peering right inside the flares.

Just in case you’ve never seen Sydney’s NYE fireworks, the finale usually involves a cascade of “melted cheese” over the edge of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Even though we’ve seen it all before, we hang on for that incredibly intense, stunning moment when the entire Bridge erupts. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and so full of superlatives that words can’t do it justice. You simply need to feast with your eyes and feel yourself come to life.

 

With all the excitement of the fireworks and just being at home with the kids and of course the dogs (Lady still panting heavily with renewed terror as more fireworks went off at midnight), we forgot all about singing Auld Lang Syne…an Australian NYE tradition harking back to the UK.

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So perhaps we could sing it together. It’s also better singing it with the words in front of us. I usually mutter and mumble my way through:

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

Robert Burns

 

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Just as we forgot Auld Lang Syne, New Year’s resolutions also passed us by. I think the list is looking so long that it it could simply be summed up by four simple letters…HELP!

I suspect no fairy Godmother is going to tap me three times on the head while I’m asleep tonight and give me a clean slate. Then again, I must’ve learned something about life so far and do I really want to start again from scratch? I don’t think so.

Maybe, I just need to have a bit of faith!

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The Kids Watching the Fireworks.

So, we wish you a very Happy New Year and if this time of year is difficult, you’re in my prayers and I’ll keep you close. All that exuberant joy, can either give you a lift or more than likely, amplify your grief. Take care!

Meanwhile on a global level, I pray for peace. “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”. Not giving to terrorism or violence but through somehow reaching a global acceptance of our humanity and all that unites us. In the words of Lennon: “You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!”

I also pray for our planet. That humanity will wake up to the warning signs of global warming and general exploitation of our beautiful blue planet. You can’t keep taking and taking before she starts to fall apart.

Anyway, while I’m getting all deep, I’m having a glass of Moscato, a Scotty Dog shortbread biscuit and a Lindt chocolate while sort of watching a real 80s throw back: “You Can’t Stop the Music”, featuring the Village People. It is so retro. I even saw a cassette tape.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure where Lady is hiding. She finally calmed down from the fireworks but after being in my face all night, she’s conspicuously absent and I suspect she’s snuck her way in somewhere. Lady is definitely looking like a liability…

So, wishing you and yours a Happy New Year and I look forward to reading about NYE around the world.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Boarding the Coffee Express.

Perhaps, if I had another coffee, I’d find it easier to rewind through the last week and actually remember what happened instead of feeling like I’ve been run over by by a huge truck with Christmas painted on the side. Actually, to be fair, I can’t really blame Christmas. It’s more the eminent end to yet another year when the end of the school year collides with dance, violin and school concerts and the Scout Christmas camp has been thrown in the mix as well. However, don’t let my rant deceive you. I love it all. I just wish I had more petrol in the tank or perhaps I just need the really good stuff instead of the budget variety. It’s not the time of year to skimp and use cheap fuel.

Rewinding to Wednesday, I caught the train down to Sydney to go to the Dentist at Kirribilli, which is just across the road from the pedestrian walkway over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. After more than 2 hours in the chair where I swear he drilled deep into the foundations of The Bridge deep beneath the earth, I decided to spoil myself and caught a ferry across the Harbour to Circular Quay. It was an absolutely glorious Summer day and every time I take this trip, I love it just as much as the first time. More than simply being an architectural wonder, the Bridge feels like a part of me and has somehow woven its way through my memories and tunneled its way into my heart.

Speaking of The Bridge, on the train to Sydney I was reading a book on the history of The Bridge:

My Australian Story: Sydney Harbour Bridge by Vashti Ferrer
Published February 2012 Scholastic. I am loving all the detailed anecdotes throughout. I’ll be disappointed when it’s finished.

Arriving in Circular Quay with my mouth still paralyzed from the unaesthetic, I sought out soup and coffee and found myself in an authentic French cafe in The Rocks, which is located in the former Police Station. I sat outside but you can actually dine inside the cells. I am definitely heading back with the kids. They’ll love it. What an adventure!

As you’ll probably appreciate, this time of year isn’t just about Christmas or the Summer holidays, especially if it’s Winter at your place. It is also the end of the Australian school year and reports have just come home and speech day has been and gone. Both kids had great reports and received quite a few “highs”.

As we all know, it’s often hard to navigate your way through school report lingo which while intended to inform parents, inevitably requires translation in itself. I liked it back in the good old days when you had varying degrees of A B C D. We all knew what that meant. Our reports are Outstanding which apparently means you’re ahead of stage, High, Sound which is where most students will fit and thankfully I haven’t had to worry about the rest.

Anyway, Mister received a surprise award. Not from the powers that be but from last week’s Year 6 Fete. He won the award for “Being able to Stretch a Jelly Snake the Longest”. In fact, he told me through all his triumphant laughter and excitement that he was indeed the reigning champion because he’d also won last year. While I initially failed to appreciate the significance of his achievement, once he started explaining the science, thought and planning which had gone into his efforts, I was actually rather impressed. Apparently, you have to pull it fast to 25cm and then move slowly and if it starts to tear to go back to 25cm and start over. I actually wonder if there isn’t some complex scientific equation at work here. Sure, it might not be a cure for cancer but it made us both smile and that has to be worth something!

While we’re on the subject of awards, my heart goes out to all the BPs or “Quiet Achievers” out there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo9nWNxtAMo. So many of us conquer all sorts of incredible hurdles just to pull off the mundane pedestrian and yet these achievements go unsung and unrewarded but as far as I’m concerned, are a much bigger achievements than simply winging success through raw talent alone. I remember when I went to my 20 year school reunion after being diagnosed with my auto-immune disease and my big achievement was being able to sit on the floor and get up again. That simple movement had taken months of physio and incredible determination to pull off. No awards there.

I guess that’s why I love Mariah Carey’s hit: Hero: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgXw9YHpk1M

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Coffee at the Wyong Milk Factory, December, 2015.

Yesterday, my daughter and I traveled up to Wyong about 45 minutes drive North to enroll her in her new school and pick up her uniform. Miss has been selected to attend “Opportunity School”. These classes run for the last two years of Primary school and you have to sit an entry test. Miss was initially on a waiting list but quickly got through and we found ourselves saying goodbye to the kids’ primary school, which has been our second home for 7 years and we’re moving on.

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A rather reluctant chocolate tester at Luka Chocolates.

After picking up her uniform and having another look around the school, we headed out to the Wyong Milk Factory, which is home to the Little Creek Cheese Factory and Luka Chocolates. I’ve been to the cheese factory before and you can read about my Adventures of a Cheesy here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/adventures-of-a-cheesy/

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Well, you can just imagine we were happy little mice!

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before our son starts high school next year and his last days of primary school are running out.  I still remember when he first saw “Big School” and he said it was “too big” and absolutely refused to go through the gate, despite the lovely encouragement of the Year 6 student on the gate. He now tells me that Primary School is “too small” and I guess I’m pleased that he feels he’s outgrown it and is ready for the next challenge.  Tuesday, they have the Year 6 Farewell and then Wednesday…It’s all over red rover. The rest of the school forms a tunnel and Year 6 is gone.

Mister doing News at school in kindergarten, aged 5. He was talking about his Great-Grandmother’s funeral.

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For those of you with an interest in education, I thought I’d mention that our son has been selected for the AVID class next year. I do intend to write more about it down the track but it really does sound like an exciting way of learning. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination.  It’s focus is preparing students for university and they have uni students come  and work with them in the classroom. Apparently, it has achieved excellent results.

Meanwhile, while there’s a general preoccupation elsewhere with the number of sleeps before Christmas, we still have next weekend ahead. Saturday is the annual dance concert and today we had a rehearsal and tomorrow is photo  call. So, after dropping Miss off at rehearsal, I was off to stockpile bobby pins, hairnets, makeup and nail polish remover. Thank goodness all these hair dramas only come round once or twice a year and she can go back to looking like the Little Matchgirl afterwards. After the concert, she’s off to join her brother at the annual Christmas Scout Camp at the hall and Mum and Dad might even be sleeping over. That could be fun. It’s on the waterfront and we do have stretcher beds. All the same, I am concerned about how much sleep we may or, more likely, won’t get. Not that I’m one to stay up talking all night myself!

Did I mention the school carol service tomorrow night? Nativity Church service Friday night? We also have a dog walkers’ Christmas party at the beach. Oh yes…2 medical appointments in Sydney this week as well. I don’t know why I’m still out of bed!

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By the way, if you’re wanting to get into the Christmas spirit, you can visit Solveig Werner at http://solveigwerner.com/who has been running an Advent Calender on her blog featuring guest bloggers. I will be coming up on the 17th writing a comic piece about Christmas in the Australian heat. I have also reblogged this post about Virginia’s famous letter to the newspaper asking whether Santa is real. I also posted the words of a modern Australian Christmas Carol, Aussie Jingle Bells, which is incredibly cringe-worthy but I love it regardless.

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Speaking of Christmas, we buy a fresh Christmas tree every year and as yet, I have absolutely no idea how we’re going to fit it in and how I’m going to find the time to make room. Is it still Christmas without your own Christmas tree? The home made Christmas cake seems to be succumbing to a similar fate. Although I have bought the ingredients, I haven’t even boiled the fruit yet and it’s really been too hot. Ice cream anyone?

Golly, my Christmas guilt list is getting longer and longer!

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How has your week been? Hope you’re going well and I’m looking forward to catching up on your news.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Part Time Monster and please check us out at the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=590391

xx Rowena

The featured image was taken in a French cafe in The Rocks, Sydney. That cappuccino was huge…almost a  goldfish bowl. Indeed, aren’t there days you wouldn’t mind being a goldfish swimming round in a bowl of coffee when you need that extra buzz!