Tag Archives: tea

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:

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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

#Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee, I’d have to offer you a huge woolly jumper and possibly even an overcoat.That is, even though it’s now Spring in Sydney and Summer is just around the corner.

After offering you warm Spring sunshine with your coffee a few weeks ago, I apologise for rain, freezing winds and a sudden drop in temperature. Even though it’s Spring and the weather is usually pretty temperate all year round, Winter has struck back with a vengeance refusing to let Summer move in.

Kirribilli Club

Views across Sydney Harbour from the Kirribilli Club

So far, the highlight this week has been going out for lunch with my husband, Geoff, at the Kirribilli Club overlooking Sydney Harbour. We popped down there after a very intense appointment with my lung specialist, where we really did have good news but that still didn’t ease the pain of delving into all that stuff all over again. Seems I’ve kicked off the lung infection and had some improvements so it was good news after all. https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/lungs-lunch-and-violin-just-an-ordinary-day-in-paradise/

My beloved violin.

My beloved violin.

After lunch, we headed up to my parents’ place to pick up the kids, who’ve been staying there for a couple of days. I’d specially taken my violin along and had decided to have a “jam” with my mother who is a pianist. This was all very good in theory but we were sharing the music between us and either one or both of us was sight-reading and my bi-focals were struggling to read the notes at times. All things considered, we didn’t sound too bad and I’ve extended my repertoire to include a few pieces from Les Miserables.

Through the week, I’ve continued my ongoing journey through the Proust Questionnaire on my blog. Having already tackles happiness and feat, this week I looked at the trait I deplore most in myself and the trait I deplore most in others.

In terms of the trait which I deplore most in myself, that was a fear of making mistakes which stops me from even getting started at times. https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/proust-questionnaire-making-mistakes/

Shark-Eaten Sponge Cake

Shark-Eaten Sponge Cake

When it came to the trait I deplore most in others, I chose bullying because it involved an unfair abuse of power. https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/proust-questionnaire-bullying-is-the-trait-i-most-deplore-in-others

Embracing my mistakes was good preparation when it came to road testing my mother’s famous Sponge Cake Recipe and although it was almost perfectly cooked, I must have taken it out of the oven only 1-2 minutes too soon and the top of the cake got stuck to the wire cake rack and ripped away like a gaping wound. Then, the kids starting hacking into the poor cake and it looked like it had been mauled by a school of sharks. https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/09/22/shark-eaten-sponge-cake/

The Dogs and I. They both decided to pile onto my lap at once.

The Dogs and I. They both decided to pile onto my lap at once.

By the way, I’m yet to introduce you to our two dogs: Bilbo and Lady, who both decided to get up on my lap tonight. Bilbo is a 9 year old Border Collie and we’ve had him since he was a pup. He is obsessed with chasing tennis balls and has even trained up other dog walkers at the beach to throw the ball for him. He’s very smart. Lady is a 3 year old Border Collie x Cavalier and we’ve had her for a year. She came from a farm in Tenterfield, a town made famous by Australian performer Peter Allen who wrote an incredible song: The Tenterfield Saddler. When Lady arrived, she brought along a bunch of indestructible fleas which I called “The Tenterfield Travellers”.

We have now finished our first week of school holidays. One down, one to go.

I hope you’ve had a great week!

Have a great week-end! And don’t forget to visit Diana’s blog. She hosts weekend coffee shares. You can even leave your own post in the relevant link.

Due to the school holidays, I’ll be keeping a low profile so it will take me a while to reply this week.

xx Rowena

Traveling Tea Cups

If anything was ever too delicate and precious to travel, it’s porcelain tea cups. More fragile than egg shells and potentially quite valuable, they spend an entire lifetime locked away behind the glass, only brought out for very special occasions. That is, if anyone even dares to use them at all.  It’s a case of  “Hands of! Don’t touch AND no ball throwing or even running  near the precious china cabinet!! These antique old ladies are incredibly precious. Just  look at them and they might break.

Tea cup up in the clouds, Byron Bay Lighthouse, 2012.

Tea cup up in the clouds, Byron Bay Lighthouse, 2012.

Being so fragile, I was actually quite surprised to find out that china tea cups could travel. Indeed, that they’re available on eBay. This opened up quite a smorgasbord of choice and opportunity and I was soon buying tea cups from as far away as Canada and the United Kingdom. They arrived on my doorstep wrapped up in layers of bubble wrap, nesting inside cute cardboard boxes plastered with postage stamps.

Teacup at the Paragon Cafe in Katoomba. which makes it's own chocolates and has incredible art deco decor.

Teacup at the Paragon Cafe in Katoomba. which makes it’s own chocolates and has incredible art deco decor.

My journey with collecting tea cups began many, many years ago when my grandmothers were given tea cups, which they kept in precious china cabinets.

My maternal grandmother had worked in Aunty Rose”s exclusive Brisbane hair and beauty salon prior to marriage. Their clients included the wife of Sir Douglas MacArthur Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area who was based in Brisbane in 1942, the year she married my grandfather. My grandmother had a series of very precious tea cups, which had been gifts from clients for her “glory box” which, by the way, was wrapped securely in hessian and dispatched by train across the Darling Downs to Dalby, where my grandfather worked as a Lutheran Pastor. I never recall seeing my grandmother use any of these precious cups but Mum and her sister always used to have a cup of tea out of a particular Shelley tea cup whenever they went North for a visit. My grandmother had all sorts of gifted  treasures which were carefully put away and never used.

Royal Albert. photographed at The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.

Royal Albert. photographed at The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.

Teacup Paragon

My Dad’s mother also had a cupboard full of china tea cups, although hers were nowhere near as precious and visitors helped themselves to their choice of cup or indeed, their cup for the mandatory cup of tea on arrival. I don’t know if she had any matching pairs because at least by the time I came around, they all seemed quite different.. an eclectic, kaleidoscope of floral patterns, gold rims and delicate handles.

I was in love!!

So in love, indeed, and wanting to hold onto my precious memories of my grandparents and a distant past, I needed a collection of my own. My own china cupboard filled with my own precious china girls. Now, the tea cups have busted out of the cabinet and have formed a row overhead and have also wandered out into the dining room onto the sideboard. I’m starting to down size my tea cups a little to get things into perspective. We only have so much space and as you would have gathered by now, it’s squashed. A thing of beauty can not be a joy forever in a cluttered jungle. It needs a bit of space.

However, for some of my tea cups their travels didn’t stop at the gate. In the same way that people take garden gnomes away on their travels, I started photographing my tea cups and while this started at home, we ventured further afield to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and up North to Byron Bay. Indeed, my tea cups were launched on a life of adventure.

Not my best tea cups, mind you. While I might be willing to give my tea cups a little bit of freedom, I certainly wasn’t about to risk my good Shelley tea cups…my “old ladies”. Like their human contemporaries plagued by osteoporosis, arthritis and the like, they really are fragile and certainly not easily replaced. I’ve had a few casualties some out on the road and others at home and while I do put them in perspective, I’d rather they didn’t happen.

My favourite tea cup: Shelley's sunset in the Tall Trees, designed by Charmian Clift.

My favourite tea cup: Shelley’s sunset in the Tall Trees, designed by Charmian Clift.

Although my favourite tea cups are Shelley’s more art deco designs, I also have quite a few from Royal Albert. Although the design also informs my choice. My Dad’s father once gave me a daffodil for my birthday so I have a few daffodil designs. Even though my Mum’s mum introduced me to Shelley china, I also found a cup “May”, my grandmother’s middle name and also  decorated with Lilly of the Valley, which she had in her wedding bouquet. I must admit I was stoked when I found that set in a local Salvation Army Opportunity Shop. My son’s cup is has scene’s from the Blue Mountains. My favourite tea cup is Shelley’s Sunset in the Tall Trees, an art deco style designed by Clarice Clift.

Katoomba Views

Katoomba Views

“Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”
― T.S. Eliot

Unlike the rest of the household clutter which is forced to justify its existence, china tea cups have never had to be useful and somehow get away with being exquisitely beautiful and purely decorative. That is, at least in our family. Given that I’ve been able to buy these tea cups, someone else had different ideas. Personally, I can’t understand that…particularly my Shelley ones. They’re exquisite.

The tea cup visits Byron Bay Lighthouse 2012.

The tea cup visits Byron Bay Lighthouse 2012.

Any way, hope you enjoy our tea cup tour. Do you have a tea cup collection at all? Memories? Do share.

This have been T for Traveling Tea Cups for the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge.

 

xx Rowena

Dong! Dong! Dong! We’re back to the real world.

Getting the kids off to school for the start of another year, is tricky at the best of times. However, when your life is complicated for whatever reason, trying to get your little peoples to school on time with all their paraphernalia on the first day becomes, or at least appears to be, Mt Everest…particularly if “catastrophise” is your middle name.

Of course, to make matters worse there’s always that parent who has literally licked ever hair on their preciously child’s perfect little head in place just to ensure your child looks completely and utterly neglected like some raggamuffin orphan out of Oliver or Annie.

At times like this it’s easy to feel that no one understands that your children, your family and even your precious dogs have indeed been through the spin cycle and haven’t exactly emerged with all the right bits in all the right places and that you’re just thanking your lucky stars that they even got there at all.

Well, actually, things went a lot better than that but that was my concern. After all, this house is where Murphy’s Law, Mrs Murphy’s Law and Rafferty’s Rules all fight it out to the death.

However, it could be worse.

This time last year, I was undergoing chemotherapy to treat my auto-immune disease, dermatomyositis. I can’t even remember how the kids went to and from school on their first day last year but I do know that they soon found their way into before and after school car, which later cut back to after school care and when funding magically cut out after 3 months because, as we all know, parents only get sick for 3 months and then magically resurrect from near-death. Well, that’s how it is in Australia anyway.

Thank goodness for friends because a friend was giving my kids lifts at least two mornings a week all of last year.

Even though the broken foot is still healing and I’m only just back to driving locally, I’ve decided to tackle the new school year head on like a bull charging at a gate and have decided to take responsibility for getting our kids to and from school even though my mobility is far from ideal. I’m walking with my foot in a boot and my mobility is problematic anyway due to muscle weakness. While I am perfectly justified in getting assistance, I wanted to get involved with school again so we can stay with the program.

The kids all dressed and ready for school. It was raining outside so we didn't get our usual shot at the front door.

The kids all dressed and ready for school. It was raining outside so we didn’t get our usual shot at the front door.

The other problem I have when it comes to getting out the door is that the kids almost always ignore me. LIke so many kids, for some reason they completely ignore Mum and resolutely do their own thing, which makes getting them anywhere on time difficult. While you might say that I need to take control and be the parent, I often have trouble with my voice so it can be a struggle to speak. I struggle to move and so it doesn’t take much for the kids to completely out manoevre me and get away with blue murder. This was where having my friend taking them to school was particularly handy because they didn’t want their friends seeing them in their PJs. The Deputy Principal has also told me that she is quite happy to accept the kids in PJs and they know that. They may think they can run rings around me but they know they don’t stand a chance with her and they quickly shape up.

While it is one thing to make all these decisions, which really do fall under the same heading as New Year’s resolutions. They are doomed to fail without any corresponding plan of action and a fairly detailed one at that. The irony with most of these supposedly difficult changes which we struggle to make is that we already know what we need to do. We probably also know how to do it. We just lack the discipline and commitment to see it through. Stick with it. I understand that it takes 6 weeks to change a habit but day one or at least the start of day 1 has exceeded all my expectations.

I have drawn up a daily check list for the kids which is laminated. Every day, they tick off their jobs as they do them and only once they’ve done everything on the last, will they get access to electronic devices. Devices go off at 8.20 and we are in the car and driving off at 8.30 AM. School starts at 8.55AM and school is only a five minute drive and so they get in plenty of play time with their friends before school.

The funny thing about the check list is that the same kids who were protesting to do the dishwasher, never make their beds and forget to brush their teeth in the mornings did all of these tasks without nagging or complaint. It’s a miracle worker and I’ve known the check list is a miracle worker and yet I keep forgetting to update it. This means it’s been about 2 years since we last used it and believe me, there has been a lot of angst and heartache in between.

Quite simply, I do a list up of everything the kids need to do before school and their afternoon/evening routines and then have a tick column for each day of the week. In the past, I’ve printed a list our for each week and pasted it in a book but laminating the list means they can tick it with a whiteboard marker and you can wipe it clean each week and start over. I have used a bit of colour, highlighting important times like leaving for school and I have also included a row for after school activities so they know what they have on as well. They are about to turn 11 and 9 so should be fairly self-reliant and not be needing constant reminders from Mum and Dad anymore.I am particularly conscious that our son starts high school next year and really needs to get organised now in advance.

Just because Mum's the papparazzi, that's no reason the kids have to pose like supermodels. I was very lucky to squeeze a second shot out of my son and they refused to interact, relax and insisted on this kangaroo stunned by the headlights look.

Just because Mum’s the papparazzi, that’s no reason the kids have to pose like supermodels. I was very lucky to squeeze a second shot out of my son and they refused to interact, relax and insisted on this kangaroo stunned by the headlights look.

I am quite thrilled that everything went almost too smoothly and that we pulled out of the driveway right on 8.30 as planned and I was back here sitting at my desk at by 9.00 AM armed with my special cup of tea and home made Banana Macadamia & Blueberry Muffin.

A relaxing cup of tea and home-made banana muffin after dropping the kids at school early.

A relaxing cup of tea and home-made banana muffin after dropping the kids at school early.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”.

-C.S. Lewis

However, to be perfectly honest, the early morning start has been a bit of a doozy so I think I might just nip back to bed for a little Nanna Nap. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that I’ve somehow ended up on Western Australian time, which is 3 hours behind Sydney and what with the holidays and all, have been staying up way too late and sleeping in and I’m pretty sure Geoff has been hanging out for this morning when the night owl was needing to surface at 6.30AM and get back to the human race.

Dogs sleeping under my desk. While the rest of us have had to get back to the real world, the dogs are on a perpetual holiday.

Dogs sleeping under my desk. While the rest of us have had to get back to the real world, the dogs are on a perpetual holiday.

As we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Please wish us luck and for anybody experiencing the terrible snow storms, we are thinking of you and praying that you are safe and sound.

xx Rowena

 

Morpeth Revisited

If you are trying to resist an over-active sweet tooth, Morpeth is fatal.

Same goes for bread.

If you are trying not to be tempted by fashion, art, vintage books, baby dolls, teddy bears and luscious designs, Morpeth is also fatal.

If you long to return to yesteryear with gorgeous cobbled footpaths, streets wide enough for a bullock train to turn around and stunningly rustic historic buildings…Morpeth is impossible to resist.

To top it all off, I know the brochures all talk about the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting down the main street but all I could smell when I first stepped out of the car was cow. I won’t be specific but there was that gorgeous country cow smell which for me, is almost more fragrant than a rose.

Morpeth is my kind of place. In fact, I even saw a few signs around town which had my name on them…For Sale…For Lease…For Rent…

I’m sure it’s a sign.

I’m sure it was a sign!

I could so easily move to Morpeth even though I do love our stunning beach with breathtaking views across Pittwater to Palm Beach Lighthouse and beyond.

It’s interesting because of all the things I did see, there was one notable thing I didn’t see in Morpeth… technology shops. They might have been there but I didn’t see any computer shops or shops selling fancy TV remotes you need engineering degrees to operate. Yes, Morpeth definitely seems like my kind of place.

I’m not going to pretend to know Morpeth well or have any inside knowledge of the place. I’ve only been there twice but my grandfather’s grandmother, Charlotte Merritt, was born there back in 1864. While in some circles that could almost make me a local, they didn’t stay very long and never became part of the social framework. I believe her father was some kind of itinerant labourer who moved around a lot.

My Great Great Grandmother, Charlotte Merritt, who was born in Morpeth in 1864.

I ended up in Morpeth for the first time almost by accident about a month ago when we were visiting nearby Maitland. I was a bit curious to see where Charlotte Merritt had come from and friends of mine live in Morpeth and told me all about fudge and ginger beer tastings, Miss Liley’s Lolly Shop, a teddy bear shop and all the cafes. It sounded like a veritable of kaleidoscope of tempting possibilities. We were off.

Morpeth is a historic village located in the Hunter Valley North of Newcastle, Australia. It was founded in 1821 and is a historic river port. It’s 168 KM North of Sydney and roughly two hours drive depending on who’s driving and the traffic conditions.

This is my second visit to Morpeth and this time, I am here all by myself and the world, or should I say Morpeth, is my oyster.

Display upstairs at Campbell’s Store.

If I had to use one word to describe Morpeth, it would have to be “enchanting”. It has that real feel of being in a magical childhood setting like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I almost expected the oompa loompas to turn up any minute. Or perhaps, I was Alice in Wonderful and the white rabbit was about to turn up.

As much as I could wax lyrically about all the stunning, gorgeous wonderful things I saw in Morpeth, I was a woman on a mission. Both Mum and Geoff had requested more coconut ice from Campbell’s. My son had requested “souvenirs” and I was there with the explicit purpose of visiting the annual Morpeth Weird & Wonderful Novelty Teapot Exhibition and the Morpeth Tea Cosy Challenge. The local newsletter, The Morpeth Whisper had also featured a Leaning Tower of Pisa Tea Set, which I wanted to check out and I was also keen to have more of a lingering look at the very enticing clothing boutiques in Swan Street.

Something told me I should have robbed a bank before I went to Morpeth. There was just so much temptation on so many, many fronts. I had to take a deep, deep breath and muster all the self-restraint I could find and I still have more than just a few confessions!

Me with the tea cosys

I started out at the Morpeth Tea Cosy Challenge. This display was simply inspirational, magical with over 400 entries were on display. Most of the designs were knitted and there were amazingly intricate, detailed and imaginative worlds made out of wool. We’re talking flowers, birds, dainty little tea parties with teeny cups and saucers and even a red back spider. Personally, when I was at school, I struggled to knit the compulsory 20 cm x 20cm woollen squares we had to make for the annual clothing drive. I couldn’t imagine how anybody could produce these amazing creations without a magic wand or a pair of magic knitting needles!

Aren’t they just amazing!

Most of the tea cosies were either for sale or sold. There were so many exquisitely pretty designs to choose from but I opted for something quirky instead. I bought two tea coseys. One was the Queen of Hearts and the other one was Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. I’d had a rough time with our son last week and as I headed North along the freeway to Morpeth, I really did feel glad to get away and have a break…even if it was only for one day. So the Queen of Hearts sort of resonated with me…as did Tweedledum and Tweedle Dee. I couldn’t quite recall what the Queen of Hearts actually did in Alice in Wonderland at the time but she certainly had a very stern look on her face and she had a stick with a heart on the end in one hand. She really looked like a force to be reckoned with. I could use a bit of assistance. Both of kids can join forces against me and make life quite difficult at times so Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee seemed quite appropriate for them. I’m hoping the Queen of Hearts will sort them out!

The Queen of Hearts with Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

Once I arrived home, I actually remembered what the Queen of Hearts actually said. That was “off with their heads!”

Oh well!

The New Baby.

I wandered out of the Tea Cosy Exhibition and into the baby Doll shop. Cathy Brady meticulously transforms doll parts into incredibly life like works of art or is it real life? This is a highly skilled and painstaking process taking 180 hours of work over a three week period…almost like a long labour. I personally thought these baby dolls were a vast improvement on the real thing. They’re low maintenance. They don’t cry. There are no dirty nappies. You can put them down and they’ll still be there when you come back. These dolls are also so lifelike that they do indeed have personality. But they can’t love you. Hug you. They’re not quite the same as the real thing but a very, very close impersonation. You can visit the dolls at http://www.cathybradyartist.com/realistic-baby-dolls-for-sale

Cathy Brady- the Artist at Work.

Next, I wondered downstairs to the teapot exhibition. Now, I have a funny feeling I missed out on some of these. I did see a lot of teapots but most weren’t handmade. I am wondering how I managed this considering that was the main reason I went to Morpeth but there was just so much to see, perhaps I was a little overwhelmed. I ended up buying Geoff and I the leaning Tower of Pisa for our upcoming 11th Wedding Anniversary. I thought it summed our relationship up pretty well. We’ve had some tough times. We’re leaning a bit to one side but we haven’t toppled over. We’re still standing almost tall.

The teapot Exhibition

I wondered across the road into Miss Lily’s Lolly Shop. Even an adult feels quite childlike going into a candy store. I found some beautiful looking lollies that looked like polished stones. Unfortunately, I’d run out of cash and went on so many deviations along the main street that they had shut by the time I got back so that leaves something to look forward to for next time.

My New Suicide Shoes

Further up Swan Street, I saw the most deadly pair of heels in my size. I don’t know what was going through my head because given my muscle disease, I only ever buy sensible shoes. But I was in holiday mode. I was feeling frivolous and for once, I wanted to buy a pair of sexy shoes. So what if I couldn’t walk in them? I could always use my walking stick although that would look a bit silly. I’m sure it’s not written in the rule books but you can’t wear a pair of staggering high heels and use a walking stick! They’re diametrically opposed opposites. But they were only $30.00 and they have a solid block heel and surprisingly, I could actually walk in them after all. When I told Mum about them, she told me they could be my “under the table shoes”…uncomfortable shoes which you wear to a venue and discreetly take them off under the table. Sounds good to me although I suspect we’ll have to park right next to the table.

Writer At Work.

With so many nooks and crannies to explore, I wasn’t that interested in eating even though, yet again, there was so much temptation. I stopped for lunch at Cups N Crepes and had a banana smoothie, a cappuccino and a sumptuous Mars Bar and Caramel Cheese cake, which was delightfully mousey and melted in the mouth. It took me awhile to get through the smoothie and so I ended up writing for about an hour. I love writing in cafes and just letting my pen run wild. Shame I didn’t have the laptop though. I wouldn’t have to type it all up now.

Orange Trumpet Vine

While I was writing, I was almost mesmerised by a carpet of bright orange flowers (the Orange Trumpet Creeper) trailing down a boutique across the road. Growing on a rusty tin roof and back dropped against the deep blue sky, the composition was perfect. I zoomed in. I zoomed out. Just fabulous!

I also watched to get some shots of the bridge. The white wooden bridge over the Hunter River is a prominent feature in Morpeth. I was actually hoping to walk across but there was no footpath. I had to make do with photos from the bank.

The wind was incredibly strong and the river was so choppy that you could almost go for a surf. Okay, you know I’m exaggerating but you get my drift. I wanted to capture the raw energy of the wind in my photos. There is a very tall gum tree near the riverbank and its leaves and branches were exploding in a cacophony of sound as they thrashed away in the wind. There was such brute force and spirit but photos just didn’t do it justice.

Time was starting to get away from me by now.

Next stop, was Arnott’s Bakehouse, home of the famous Morpeth Sour Dough. I am a bread lover from way back and I was like a kid in a candy store staring at all that beautiful bread. At the time, I didn’t really have much of an idea about sour dough and was a bit wary to be honest. I chose a wholemeal loaf, which looked scrumptious and relatively “safe”. I really do recommend checking out their website at www.morpethsourdough.com.au. There are too many stories for me to encapsulate them here but this story was so funny, I’ll provide a direct link: http://www.morpethsourdough.com.au/media/14444/wish~july%202009%20v1.pdf

I don’t know if this is sacrilege but I brought my sour dough home and covered it in butter and Vegemite. The remaining loaf was converted into French toast for Sunday lunch and it was definitely scrumptious…a far superior product to my previous efforts. I’ve got a feeling I can buy this bread locally and if it wasn’t close to midnight, I’d be in the car and on my way!

I knew I only had a day or actually it was only three-quarters of a day in Morpeth and the Cinderella hour was rapidly approaching. Perhaps, I should have just felt grateful for the time I’d had but it was very hard to leave when I was having so much fun!

I had to be back by 6.30PM at the very latest to pick the kids up from after-school care. You don’t want to be the bad mother who arrives late and keeps everybody waiting even though the staff are well aware that “things happen”. I want to be responsible but at the same time, I feel like being wicked. I definitely have a bit of bad attitude what with buying the Queen of Hearts “off with their head” tea cosy, the suicidal high heel shoes and not caring about how late I arrive home… not to mention how much money I’ve spent. I know I’m over-compensating for something! Do you think I could blame the prednisone again?

Last stop Campbell’s where I stock up on Coconut Ice, Peanut brittle musk sticks and some boiled lollies for the kids. It sounds like I’ve bought a lifetime supply but I’m sure they’ll all be gone by the end of the week!

The clock has now struck four o’clock and contrary to my expectations, the car hasn’t turned into a pumpkin and my clothes haven’t turned into rags. There is no mad panic around me. It is all a matter of self-discipline. I can be strong and go now or I can push the envelope a little and hope the accelerator will do the trick. After all, it’s not every day you get to go to Morpeth and Geoff could possibly pick them up if I’m “stuck”.

Photographing the shadows on the cobbled footpath.

I walk out of Campbell’s and notice the shadows on the cobbled footpath. My camera is in the car. I was going to going to head off but just one last photo, then I’ll hit the road. Make it ten.

I somehow managed to get lost leaving Morpeth and was heading North towards Raymond Terrace. I also got stuck in heavy traffic but I still managed to pull up at after-school care at 6.00pm with half an hour to spare. I walked in to catch the kids in the middle of a fight. Another child had taken my son’s bag by mistake and later on that night my daughter had a bit of a tummy bug. I always expect payback. I can’t expect to have pure unadulterated fun without repercussions.

I’m hoping to get back to Morpeth again soon to do their walking tour. It looks fabulous. Stay tuned.

One final note…this morning when the musk sticks ran out, the kids I should go back to get some more. It was then that my son remembered the huge rainbow lollipops he’d seen at Campbell’s.

“The size of those rainbow lollipops!” he gasped. “I don’t care if I die. I just want one of those rainbow lollipops!!

“Make that two,” gasped my daughter.

“They have rainbow lorikeets in them,” my son exclaimed. “That’s why they’re not healthy. They have feathers in them.”

I don’t know where he got that idea from but it’s definitely “creative”.

I am already planning another trip. I still haven’t done the walking tour and I would mind a long lunch with some friends either.

Do you have any tales about Morpeth?

xx Ro