Tag Archives: tea

Last Flight of the Swans – Friday Fictioneers 13th April, 2022

Age didn’t soften the blow. He was old, and she was old. Still, his death was brutal. She’d held onto his ice-cold body until the neighbour called their daughter. “It was time.” No! It would never be time. They would dance together for eternity: the swan and her beloved prince.

Celeste made them tea, right through Winter, and barely noticed he never said a word.

Now, the snow was thawing, and his chair had risen from the dead.

She couldn’t bear it.

The neighbor found Celeste lying on the snow still holding the axe.

The chair was split in two.

…..

100 words. PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know our daughter dances seriously. After a very disjointed couple of years, dance is back with a vengeance and I spent hours at the studio last week for open week and it’s dance competition this week. Part of me quite enjoys living and breathing dance, but am just a bystander and with my health issues, it’s really difficult to keep up with the demands of high pressure dance. At today’s competition, it wasn’t one of the dancers on stage who crashed and had a fall. It was yours truly who managed her feat of brilliance from her chair. I ended up on the floor and the whole competition came to a grinding halt for a good 10-15 minutes. I felt humiliated. What no one tells you about having offspring pursuing a high octane career path, is that they’re taking you with them. You also have to measure up. Sadly, I don’t believe I can. Well, not in a physical sense anyway. However, I’d imagine I’d be hard to beat if imagination had anything to do with it. However, that’s not the domain of a dance mum, and could even be a curse. Much better to stay in your place. Fire up the engine. Sew up those pointe shoes, and pay the bills. (Humph, feeling a bit sorry for myself tonight and very sore. Perhaps, my love affair with dance might return again in the morning.)

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields: https://rochellewisoff.com/

Many thanks and best wishes,

Rowena

What’s On Your Bookshelf?

This is my first contribution to a blogshare which is right up my alley: What’s on Your Bookshelf, hosted by DebSueDonna, and Jo. I could be here for several years and you’d be long gone, if I literally went through every single book on my bookshelf, and the contents of my To-Be-Read Piles around the house could also tie us down for awhile. However, what I’ve actually reading is thankfully a much shorter list. Indeed, I’m currently reading one book.

This rather exclusive solitary read is Jules Sebastian’s Tea & Honesty. It is hard not to introduce Jules Sebastian without mentioning her famous husband musician Guy Sebastian. I don’t like linking women to their famous husbands as though they’re nothing more than an pretty accessory and that they have no world, thoughts or achievements of their own., However, I did buy this book because she was Guy’s wife, and I knew something of their personal journey beyond the music industry. I quick flick through, showed Jules was very much a powerhouse in her own right. Moreover, she shares about being naturally shy, and she is a good listener, an observer, a thinker but in a kind, gentle and encouraging way that’s very refreshing. Moreover, I found out this Jules has a few worlds a knew nothing about. and they lead an interesting and very challenging life at times and she’d have a lot to say. What I didn’t know was that Jules has her own Youtube Channel and a program Tea With Jules: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6Y0dEiUcSIClA5KkqywvJA

I’m about halfway through it now, and I’m deliberately reading it slowly to take it all in. I think it’s very timely as many of us face a restart after the last two years. Jules reflects back on interviews and gives really good advice for people starting out and wanting to start a dream from scratch and how to find a way through the jungle and towards success. That’s such an important part of the road to success we don’t often hear about. BTW I wasn’t so keen on the podcasts. I think they’re geared towards a different demographic.

Meanwhile, although this book is still in transit, I’m going to mention it anyway along with the usual way I stumbled across it. The book in question is Irish author Michael Harding’sThe Cloud Where the Birds Rise, with illustrations by Jacob Stack. I stumbled across it a few days ago when I went on a quick trip to Midleton, Cork via Google Earth and of all the places I should come across, I find a bookshop. Of course, I had to check out the books they had on offer and looked up their website. That’s when I saw the book and it was like love at first sight. However, I resisted temptation and decided to do a bit of research before I bought another book into the house. That’s when I came across a podcast where Alan Keane interviewed Michael Harding on The Artists’ Well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrRYg1hvCh0 Now, I was really hooked, and after enjoying this interview so much, I headed off to absorb Michael Harding’s podcasts (@hardingmichael) and I’ll be lucky to find my way out the front door for the next six months. I’m riveted.

So, naturally, I can’t wait for this book to turn up, and I must confess, I bought another one while I was there (to justify the postage of course!): Staring at Lakes. I’ll report back and let you know how they go.

Well, that’s about it for now.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Dog Under the Tea Table.

For those of you who don’t remember him, this is Bilbo, our beloved Border Collie who passed away four years ago.

Well, it’s part of Bilbo. If you knew how much Bilbo loved his food, and how he got in trouble with the vet for having about six meals a day eating all the kids’ leftovers, you’d know this photo is very apt.

Perhaps, I should be feeling like a traitor, posting photos of Bilbo while Zac is snoozing away on my lap with the keyboard perched on top of him like always as I tap away. Am I betraying Zac, by thinking of his predecessor? Or, am I betraying Bilbo by getting another dog? Actually, we have three dogs. Personally, I think they’d understand.

This was Bilbo’s last trip to the beach before he passed.

I was so heartbroken when Bilbo passed away, and crossed over that blasted Rainbow Bridge. I’ve never had a cat. So, I’m not sure whether cats also cross over the Rainbow Bridge. Or, do cats they have their own heaven? I don’t know, but it makes sense. After all, how could cats and dogs ever be in the same place and call it heaven? Perhaps, there is someone with greater wisdom than I out there who could explain it all.

Monte Carlo with my Crinoline Lady Tea Cup.

Anyway, we had quite a fancy afternoon tea what was now ten years ago when I made Monte Carlos and got out one of my grandmother’s tablecloths and the crinoline lady tea cup. So traditional, and visions of High Tea come to mind. Then, there’s Bilbo under the table, and looking like he’s volunteering to clean the plate.

I miss him, and our other dogs. Each of them has a place with us that’s just their own. Unique. There’s not some dog-shaped cookie cutter we use around here, and every dog is just the same. They’re each unique, and I love them all dearly and they were each wrapped around me like Zac is now, and also wrapped around my heart.

There is a part of me who strives to get “there”. Be organised. Pull out all the bells and whistles, and pull it off. Although that sounds rather cryptic, I’m sure you know what I mean. That when you have a fancy tea party, your dog doesn’t jump up on the table and help themselves to the cake. Or, that you go somewhere special with your kids, they simply sit there as still as statues. Or, if the situation permits, they just or smile and wave just like the Queen without any youthful exuberance whatsoever. Such kids don’t really exist beyond the royal family, do they? I’m sure of it.

Our Philosophical Dog walking along beside the tide. He doesn’t like getting wet paws.

Anyway, for those of you who remember dear Bilbo who was once quite a regular at Beyond the Flow, we might raise a cup of tea and a biscuit and remember all our fur babies who have passed.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Table Talk…Table Done!

“There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri

Don’t know how it is round at your place, but getting anything done around here is a very long and winding road that makes mission impossible look quick and easy. So, any successes need to be celebrated with the full brass band out in force and waving the flags. We did it! Yesterday, we finished restoring our new to us but anything but new outdoor table.

“If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.”
― Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

While restoring the table has been a journey, just getting it here has been a story in itself. My friend Roland found the table “beside the road*”. When I saw it in his lounge room, I was filled with envy. Damn! Why didn’t I find it? Well, to be honest, even if I’d found it, I wouldn’t have been able to shift it unless it was just down the road and the kids actually lifted a finger to help. Geoff, I’m afraid wouldn’t not have aided and abetted bringing any more tables home. We already have enough tables!! However, as it turned out, Roland had second thoughts, and decided it was too big. Before he could offload it to the opportunity shop, I stuck my hand up, and it was all mine. He even stuck a post-it note on it with my name on it. So there could be no challenges to my precious piece of real estate.

There was just one problem.

Well, there was more than one problem.

There usually is around here, which is why getting anything done is such an arduous, circular process.

The Table Arrives in the Dark of Night.

Firstly, the table needed transport, and unfortunately not being related to Enid Blyton’s Magic Wishing Chair, it wasn’t going to sprout wings and magically fly down the mountain to our place. It needed Geoff, and that required more than a confession. Serious negotiation was required. You see, there was already a table and a fish tank out where the intended table was meant to be going. The fish tank has been sitting here waiting to make to next step of it’s future life after it started leaking something like five years ago, and the existing table was falling apart and we’d bought the wood to replace the top. However, nothing had happened and Geoff has been painting the house, replacing the guttering, and anything but idle. I decided that table could go out the back. I didn’t care where the blessed fish tank went as long as it was gone. I didn’t care where the lot went. I wanted my new table out the front so I could have friends over outside once this wretched lockdown eased, and actually start getting social again within the safety of home. After all, we’ve not been in lockdown for 106 days and Monday is Freedom Day. I want to be a part of it.

Sometimes, hints are broad suggestions aren’t enough. Roland was wanting to clear his garage and I desperately wanted to table here, and measuring tape or no measuring tape, Geoff found himself making room for the table, and driving up the hill to pick it up. I don’t play the “Happy Wife, Happy Life” card often, but by now I was in make it happen mode. He had no choice but to capitulate and assist.

“To share a table with someone is to share everything.”
― Paul Krueger, Steel Crow Saga

However, there was just one small complication with the table. It was more of an indoor table than an outdoor table, and aside from needing protection, he top needed sanding. In other words, the table was “a project”. What’s more, the rest of the family was quick to extricate themselves and call it “YOUR project”. Geoff fetched the orbital sander from the garage and with my arms vibrating and my head buzzing, I started rowing backwards and forwards giving my arms quite a workout, which proved quite a shock to the system in itself. Seeing me with a power tool in hand must’ve been like an apparition too. Rowena the Writer is a far cry from Bob the Builder and his mates.

This could be the raised hand of a drowning woman as the sanding continues…

“To gather together around a table – the ultimate symbol of communion – is the only truly authentic way to properly prioritise the ritual of eating.”
― Michelle Ogundehin, Happy Inside: How to harness the power of home for health and happiness

After beavering away for a veritable eternity with the orbital sander, the scratches were definitely winning. Moreover, these scratches giving have that worn-in distressed look that people go out of their way to age their furniture. The table looked like the scene of a cat fight with random scratches all over the place, and the annoying perfectionist in me was starting to picture our guests sitting at the table and counting all the scratches and thinking about how awful we were. I did try saying they’d be much more interested in the dessert and conversation, and wouldn’t care but I knew better. I asked Geoff for stronger sandpaper, and at this point he finally realized I wasn’t wanting to do a superficial sand, but more of a reconstructive face lift. I wanted to strip this baby right back to bare wood, even if it meant losing loads of personality. It could regain character in time.

the lingering mystery square, which looks like a UFO flying across one end of the table.

Now, the belt sander came out, and it was incredibly satisfying to see all those scratches evaporate in clouds of dust.

“The oldest form of theater is the dinner table. It’s got five or six people, new show every night, same players. Good ensemble; the people have worked together a lot.”

Michael J. Fox]

“Here’s yet a spot,” she cries, desperately rubbing. “Here’s the small of blood still.”  This spot isn’t going anywhere either.

I don’t think I’ve actually mentioned that the table top is oak. It has a beautiful grain, and when I finally came to apply the decking oil, the wood just shone. It looked amazing. Although it was “your project”, Geoff ended up sanding and painting the legs. By then, my arms had had it. I’m much more in favour of teamwork than being a lone ranger – especially when I’m the one needing assistance.

I know you can’t be too demanding about a free table that was left out beside the road, but what possessed someone to sandpaper so ferociously against the grain? Thanks to the belt sander and yours truly, all gone!

The table was finally finished yesterday and moved into position. It looks amazing. I cooked up a big lamb roast with all the trimmings to celebrate last night, but it was cold and dark by the time it was really so we still haven’t christened the table yet. Moreover, I’ve been tapping away in here in my pyjamas with the dog on my lap ignoring the outside world, which is so bright and sunny. Geoff has gone sailing.Our daughter is doing her final dance class in the kitchen and for dinner or worse our world here in Greater Sydney is about to open up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Strawberry & Macadamia Nut Muffins

Tonight, I converted a healthy punnet of fresh strawberries into scrumptious Strawberry and Macadamia Muffins with dubious nutritional worth.

Not so long ago, I could well have called these “Healthy” without a second thought. No guilt whatsoever… just like banana cake.

However, thanks to the wowsers, “healthy” has now been redefined. No matter how well you disguise it, anything with refined sugar is now evil! This means, of course, that even though my muffins are overflowing with fresh strawberries and macadamia nuts, they’re now “from the wrong side of the tracks”.

Just like me!

I’m usually not just adding evil sugar to my recipes, but also that evil of evils…chocolate!

Indeed, I was sorely tempted to add white or dark chocolate chips to these muffins but resisted.I wanted the strawberries to be the hero. I didn’t want to sacrifice their flavour to the chocolate and see how the muffins went without it.

We didn’t miss the chocolate. We ate our muffins hot straight out of the oven. With their lush strawberry flavour and macadamia nut crunch, they were scrumptious.

These muffins would make a delicious treat with a refreshing cup of tea, with enough goodness to escape being what I’d call an “indulgence” and you don’t have to feel too guilty after all.

strawberries

 

After all, strawberries are packed full of goodness. They’re an excellent source of antioxidant-promoting vitamin C and manganese. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber, iodine, and folate. Plus, strawberries are a good source of copper, potassium, biotin, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids.

All that goodness tells me, it’s time to go and grab seconds before I miss out!

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Strawberries, Macadamias and Sugar…Yum!

Strawberry & Macadamia Nut Muffins

Ingredients

  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) milk
  • 80 grams butter, melted (1/3 cup or 5 1/3 Tbsp.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 475 grams sifted flour (2 cups)
  • 160 grams caster sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 2 teas baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 punnet fresh strawberries
  • 120 grams chopped macadamia nuts
  • Extra castor sugar & chopped macadamia nuts for topping.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C (400°F)
  2. Grease the bottoms only of 12 standard-size muffin cups, or line with paper wrappers; set aside.
  3. Finely chop all but 3 of the strawberries and put aside.
  4. Finely chop roasted Macadamia nuts.
  5. Melt butter in the microwave on high for around a minute.
  6. In a large bowl, beat together the milk, melted butter, and egg.
  7. Stir in the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt just until combined; do not overmix.
  8. Gently fold in the strawberries and macadamia nuts.
  9. Hull and slice through strawberries and place a slice on top of each muffin.
  10. Roughly chop Macadamia nuts and sprinkle around the slice of strawberry.
  11. Sprinkle the top of each muffin finely with castor sugar.
  12. Spoon batter into the prepared tins; sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  13. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until golden and puffed.
  14. Immediately invert onto wire racks.
  15. Serve warm or cool.

Enjoy with Love!

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 29th May, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

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

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

Nigella Nutella Cake

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

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

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

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

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

Driving To Queensland Via The Long White Line.

Sunset Behind Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise By Night

Bangalow Markets – Near Byron Bay

A Queensland High Tea

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

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

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

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

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

xx Rowena

 

 

A Queensland High Tea.

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

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

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

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

Mama RJL in front of house

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

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

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

Roderick Street

My Grandparents’ Queenslander House.

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

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

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

The Way We Were.

Portrait Mama & Papa

My Grandparents.

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

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

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

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

Goodbye

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

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

High tea kids

The kids enjoying a magical high tea.

Time for tea.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

There can be a fine line between hungry and gluttony.

Thank goodness, I just made it!

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

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

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

Xx Rowena

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

 

Driving to Queensland Via The Long White Line.

This weekend, I finally found out what it’s like to be an Olympic swimmer. Not that I was swimming faster than a turbo-charged Marlin. Rather, I experienced what it would be like swimming up and down the pool hour after hour, fixating on that never-ending black line.

You see, we’ve been cast in an excruciatingly long horror movie driving up and down the Pacific Highway and we’ve been fixating on the broken white line for eternity. Indeed, I can barely remember what it was like to set foot on terra firma and roam free.

Indeed, I’ve been looking at this broken white line and the dull grey bitumen for so long, that they’ve now become permanently imprinted on my retinas. My goodness I’ll be seeing the world through road-coloured lenses for the rest of my life.

Rowena High Tea

Here I am in Queensland.

Well, you might ask why on earth any sane person would be driving two thousand kilometres over an extended weekend. It was my Sister-In-Law’s sixtieth birthday. I know it probably sounds crazy to drive that far for the weekend. However, we didn’t even think twice. It’s what we do. We love her and the smile on her face was more than worth it. Besides, we had a wonderful time gallivanting around between Byron Bay’s lush green hinterland, admiring the Gold Coast’s glitzy bright lights and savouring high tea Queensland style in Mudgereebah. With a name like that, you could only be in Australia.

What with all this driving, it’s only natural to ask why ecstasy is so fleeting, while tedium lasts forever.

I don’t know.

However, before you start accusing me of being a miserable glass-half-empty sod, I’m hoping we could possibly devise some kind of mechanical lever, which could permanently change the tide. Switch over to a perpetual paradise with only very fleeting, intermittent commercial breaks from all those undesirables…boredom, sadness, grief, pain.

It would be such a relief. If only I could access that lever right now and leave all of that far behind.

However, what we’re needing right now, is an oversized variation of Dr Who’s fabulous flying machine, the Tardis. That way, we’d only have to drive in, park and the next thing, we’d  instantly arrive home. I had considered converting the car into a modernised Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. However, after my application to add supersonic power was denied,  I had to change tack. After all, Chitty barely flies faster than Donald Duck and I want to get home NOW!!

However, I can dream on. We still have 3 hours to go and the hours are getting longer and longer, the closer we get to home. My goodness! We’ve all developed an unhealthy interest in road signs, as the agonisingly slow countdown continues. Nowhere near home, we’re either driving through dull green pastures or eucalypt forest and not one of us is asking: “Are we there yet?” We know. The end is nowhere in sight!

Anyway, we can’t complain too much about the drive. The car is decked out like a mobile entertainment centre. The kids have their electronics, books, colouring-in devices and snacks. You could even call it “fun”. I’ve actually managed to read Roald Dahl’s James & The Giant Peach and Danny Champion of the World as we’ve been driving up and back. Obviously, I’d be getting through my book pile a hell of a lot faster, if we did more of these interminable drives…as long as I was a passenger.

Thank goodness I don’t get car sick.

However, then the sun set and the story changed considerably.

Although we’ve had glorious sunny weather, which would be considered Summer in so many other parts of the world, the day length has been cut brutally short and the sun is setting around 5.00PM. This has left us with two hours of travelling in the dark. Even though my daughter and I both tried capturing all available street and moonlight to read, we soon gave up. The kids’ electronics were flat and so we had to do the old fashioned thing and talk to each other. Develop the fine art of conversation.

I took it as an opportunity to get them talking about their holiday, a precursor to writing their grandparents an old-fashioned letter. “What would you tell your grandparents about what you’ve been up to?” I asked.

When they weren’t saying very much, I launched off with my account. Then, my daughter said that I’d said everything and she had nothing more to add. Hence, she was silent.

All these gurus advising you to spend time listening to your children need their heads read. All I can think of is that infamous quote about NOT working with children and animals!

I was tempted to launch a round of I Spy but we’re all a bit over it. All we wanted to spy was our drive way and our puppy dogs.

Aside from catching up with family and having some fabulous conversations with people we met, here’s a brief photographic snap shot from the trip:

Surfers By Night.JPG

Surfers Paradise, Queensland By Night.                    Photo Rowena Newton.

Kombi Family

Kombi Dreaming at the Bangalow Markets, Near Byron Bay.

High tea kids

The Kids at High Tea.

Hope you enjoyed our trip without having to endure the drive!

xx Rowena

Letters to Dead Poets: Lewis Carroll #atozchallenge

“How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, THAT’S the great puzzle!’”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Dear Mr Carroll I mean Hodgson,

Sorry to wake you up. No doubt, you feel like you’re travelling through Wonderland and have drunk all of Alice’s magic potions at once.

Alice drink

However, quite to the contrary, you’ve woken up in the 21st Century. That’s all. So, no doubt you’ll be pleased to hear there’s no Queen of Hearts shouting: “Off with your head!” However, I make no promises about how well your watch will be working after your journey. Should you be experiencing any difficulties, I strongly advise against dunking it in a cup of tea. While tea might be therapeutic for the soul, it’s no good for watches. Causes rust. As much as you might like it here, you don’t want your watch to stop. Time needs to keep moving forward, no matter how much we fight against it.

Would you like a cup of tea? That would wake you up and help you feel more at ease.

In case you are wondering why I’m writing to you, I’m writing to a number of dead poets who have inspired me. While I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for when I first set out on this journey, it would appear that rather than having all the answers and knowing it all, the older I get, the less I know and the more questions I find. Moreover, now that I am a parent myself, my children ask me even more complex questions and always expect me to know the answers. This can be very intimidating, especially as I’m not the sort who just shrugs such questions off or says: “Go ask your father!”

Instead, like an intrepid explorer, I set out with my butterfly net and hunt those answers down. Unfortunately, some of these answers have proved quite elusive and as much I’m enjoying the journey and all the scenery along the way, I’m not above taking short cuts. After all, why reinvent the wheel?

Speaking of wheels, if you step outside, you’d better keep your eyes open and walk with great caution. The motor car has replaced the horse and cart. I almost forgot to mention that. It goes very fast and can do a lot of damage!

By the way, the pace of life has also sped up quite a bit.

There have been a multitude of changes and I’d imagine reading this letter and waking up from the dead, could be very confusing. I promise we will take care of you and show you around but I don’t know how long you can stay. After all, this is all new to me too. When I started writing these letters, I never expected a reply and that you would actually appear.

Anyway, when I was a little girl, my mother used to read me Alice in Wonderland. I used to love the rabbit with his watch and many times when I’ve been late, I hear him talking in my head, saying: “I’m late! I’m late. Late for an important date!” I’ve also developed quite a love of tea parties. Indeed, I collect what I consider “antique” tea cups although these were made long after your tea partying days were over.

Alice Tea Party.jpg

Now, I have two children of my own. Once upon a time, my daughter had a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for her birthday. She dressed up as Alice and now that I’ve seen a photo of the original Alice Liddell who inspired the story, they actually look surprisingly alike.

Alice_Liddell

Alice Liddell Aged 7.5  Photo: Lewis Carroll.

Indeed, I can quite imagine my daughter chasing a white rabbit down a hole and her curiosity overtaking all caution. She could well indulge in all that magic which made Alice shrink and grow and keep changing size until she was totally bamboozled. She’s a Cub Scout and they get up to all sorts of adventures but unlike your Alice, they’re usually prepared. Alice’s adventure was all terribly spontaneous and unplanned.

Ameliabest

Our daughter aged 5.

When I started re-reading Alice in Wonderland, rather than seeing it through the eyes of a child, I was now the mother of the child disappearing into a strange world talking to mad strangers. As far as I was concerned, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland were a parent’s nightmare…hell! We tell our children not to go running off where we can’t see them. Not to talk to strangers. Yet, you can’t get much stranger than the likes of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. Wonderland is the last sort of place I’d like my daughter to wander into.

However, of course, Wonderland is just a dream and Alice wakes up right where she fell asleep.

So, I can’t really ask you about whether children should be going on such dangerous adventures without their parents or any form of adult supervision.

However, I can query you about the dangers of imagination. Do you really think it’s safe for children to conjure up such perilous, dangerous adventures in their heads when there’s always the risk that they will try to carry them out in real life? After all, kids can be very resourceful and when we keep telling them to reach for their dreams, they could well do exactly that! Drink poison! Get snatched! Break bones. Get hurt!

alice cheshire cat

It’s not that I want my kids to do nothing but do they really need adventure? Why can’t they just find it in a book? Watch a bit of TV? (I’ll have to introduce you to one of those. I wonder what you’ll think…) If any modern child was even suspected of wandering into Wonderland, their parents would demand a massive Police search to save that child from themselves let alone all those creatures!

Or, is there something wrong with us peoples living in the 21st century? Has our vision for our children been so strangled by fear, that we barely let them live? I don’t know. I never said  I had the answers…only questions!

That’s why I’m asking you! After, you’ve stuck your nose outside and re-aquainted yourself with the land of the living, you could let me know.

We’d like to invite you over for a little tea party in our garden. No Cheshire Cat but we do have two dogs. I promise they won’t eat you but you might end up throwing the tennis ball quite a bit. I’m afraid we have a rather ball-obsessed Border Collie.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was was born 27th January, 1832. He was an English writer, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon, and photographer.

Carroll first told the story of Alice on July 4, 1862, during a boating picnic trip on the Isis branch of the Thames.

Shortly before his 66th birthday, Lewis Carroll caught a  severe case of influenza, which led to pneumonia. He died January 14, 1898, at Guildford, United Kingdom.

Carroll’s epitaph reads, “Where I am there shall also my servant be.”

 

#Weekend Coffee Share: 17th October, 2015

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share where we can pour our hearts out sipping on whatever beverage while we munch on some Vegemite toast. I’m sorry Vegemite tastes like axle grease but you should have taken me up on the Tim Tams last week.

If we were having coffee, tea or even Bonox, I’d ask you how you’re going and hopefully read your eyes better than I can via a blog and be able to ask you that next question whatever it might be. After all, we know that “coffee”, “tea” or “Bonox” are just euphemisms for bonding, connecting and maybe even joining two souls…or at least building a decent bridge. Or, you can just swot me.

For me those deeper, probing questions would be asking me about my cough and why you haven’t seen me for awhile. The two go together along with a trip to Sydney for a routine medical appointment and an infusion of calcium the following day to build up my bones. I’ve been on prednisone for 9 years and it is starting to take it’s toll.

Clown Doctors. Photo: Humour Foundation.

Clown Doctors. Photo: Humour Foundation.

While I was at the hospital, I ran into a couple of Clown Doctors. Have you heard of them? They visit sick children in hospital and perform a swag of circus tricks to cheer them up. They cheered me up too! See:  http://www.humourfoundation.com.au/

“My Father & Other Liars” by Geoff Le Pared in Sydney sans Geoff.

I’ve had a few train trips to Sydney over the last two weeks, which has given me a great opportunity to read. I recently bought Blogger Geoff Le Pard’s two novels: Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle and My Father & Other Liars. I started reading his second book first and decided to do something a little different. So, I took the book on an unauthorised book tour to check out the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and Luna Park. It’s even enjoyed Vegemite Toast and given up its English Marmalade. It’s since taken over the couch and feels right at home. Calls itself a “couch surfer”.

You can read about it here and enjoy some Aussie scenery: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/an-unauthorised-book-tour-my-father-other-liars-geoff-le-pard/

After playing a spot of beach cricket, the book sunbakes at Umina Beach, North of Sydney.

After playing a spot of beach cricket, the book sun bakes at Umina Beach, North of Sydney.

Well, being a decent host, I finally took it down to the beach where it played a bit of beach cricket but it was a bit disappointment not to check out any other books at the beach. There wasn’t another book in sight. I think it was looking for a bit of romance.

Meanwhile, I had to explain what I was doing lugging a kid’s plastic cricket bat around the beach and taking photos of a book on a sand castle. I must admit that I’m quite used to these glares but I still feel a bit self-conscious.  Once it was understood that it was all about publicity, I was let off the hook. Phew. The “Loonometer” had returned to “normal”. As usual, being creative or doing “publicity”, you can get away with almost anything.

Our kids have gone away on a scout camp this weekend. This means they’re enjoying the great Australian outdoors with no access to electronics whatsoever. Fabulous! It also means that my husband and I are home alone. Well, we still have the dogs.

Looking down the spiral staircase. Quite striking but not quite Chanel.

Looking down the spiral staircase. Quite striking but not quite Chanel.

I have pretty much wrapped up writing about our trip to Byron Bay although you might like to join us in climbing Cape Byron Lighthouse.Although it had a magnificent spiral staircase inside, it wasn’t quite as luxurious as Coco Chanel’s famous Staircase in Paris but I’m sure the view from the top was so much better! https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/climbing-cape-byron-lighthouse/

The lighthouse door opened up to such an incredible view!

Byron Bay: The lighthouse door opened up to such an incredible view!

This week, I’ve also been trying to catch up on some of my long-standing, favourite blogs, which aren’t appearing in my reader and I’ve actually lost touch. I don’t know whether you’ve had this problem as well. I do receive some notifications to my email account but these became rather overwhelming, swamped my email and so I don’t get emails anymore. Any ideas?

Time is rapidly marching towards the end of the year and I really wish I could slow it down. Every year, as the kids get involved in more and more activities, the madness just gets worse…even though I love it all!

Well, I hope you’ve had a good week and have enjoyed the Vegemite toast. Yes, I know it’s an acquired taste but I love it!

How about you go and visit Diana at Part-Time Monster http://parttimemonster.com/ as well as the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=573568

Best wishes,

xx Rowena