Tag Archives: #weekendcoffeeshare

Weekend Coffee Share December 11, 2016.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share!

Not quite sure how many sleeps there are before Christmas, but there’s no sign of Christmas at our place yet. There’s only a tub containing my daughter’s dance costumes after Saturday night’s concert and some stray camping gear. The kids are under tent tonight at the scout Christmas camp. Fortunately, we live in Australia or they’d be hooking up some generators and a sneaking in a few heaters.

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Our daughter after the dance concert.

Our Christmas tree will be arriving tomorrow. We have a real tree each year and I simply can’t bring myself to buy a fake one. I blame my Dad for that after hearing him wax lyrically about the wonders of fresh pine scent all my life. Christmas isn’t Christmas without the smell of Christmas tree in the house…along with the debris and mess! That said, I hate seeing Christmas trees standing upside down in people’s wheely bins waiting for the garbage truck. Such an ignoble end for a magnificent tree!

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On what has suddenly become yesterday, we went to our daughter’s dance concert. Of course, it wasn’t her dance concert as such but she was in three items…jazz, modern and ballet. A friend drove her to the dress rehearsal beforehand and she did her own hair, so it was quite different to the past where I was fretting over her hair slapping on lashings of gel and almost asphyxiating in clouds of hair spray. It’s liberating. Yet, the more independent they become, the less involved you are…for better or worse. Today, I was more of a spectator something was missing as well.

It’s been a busy week for my daughter and I. She attends a selective Opportunity Class and will be sitting for the selective high school exam in March next year. On Friday, students of the two local selective primary school classes were invited to an enrichment day at the selective high school. As a parent, this was obviously a great opportunity, but my daughter was refusing to go. Her teacher wasn’t going and she didn’t want to be with strangers, even though she knew most of the kids that were going. Although I’m an extroverted extrovert and love talking to strangers, I do get where she’s coming from but trying to convey that was hellish. Trying to explain that it’s more about anxiety than the trigger. I have been an incredibly anxious driver but the more I drive, the less anxious I’ve become and most of the time, I now jump in the car without a second thought. Life is a constant learning experience.
Anyway, she went along and loved it. They made biscuits and she told me they have a fantastic kitchen and she wants to go to school there.

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Meanwhile, I had my son home from school for the morning on Wednesday while the teachers had a student-free pow wow. He loves playing Risk, a board game using loads of strategy. Anyway, he was particularly thrilled that he completely wiped me out. I didn’t mind. I was playing to spend time together and we had a lot of laughs along the way. (Note to self: Laugh more. Life doesn’t always have to be serious!)

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting stuck into my memoir about my time in Paris in the Summer of 1992. I’ve been typing up diary notes and have deviated into writing a bit of fiction as well. My time in Paris was, as Charles Dickens so aptly put it: “the best of times and the worst of times.” I could easily turn this time into a terrifying horror story yet there were also the best of times and it’s weaving these two paradoxical threads together which is going to give the story quite a lot of punch. At least, that’s the aim! Light doesn’t always triumph over darkness. It depends where you start and finish the story. So, I’ll be looking into all of that.

Anyway, I’ve posted a few poems about this time during the last week:

Welcome to the Yellow House.

Slide Night…Dumped In Paris.

I also participated in Friday Fictioneers again. My contribution this week Dancing For Life. This looks at the choices we have to make between love and success.

How was your week? I hope it’s been great. All the best for your preparations for Christmas, Hanukah, the Holidays. One more coffee share to go!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share 2nd July, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share, a new financial year and GROAN…the Australian Federal Election. I have voted and the polls close in 15 minutes and then the coverage begins. For better or worse, we live in a very marginal seat and so our votes really matter. I’ve long been conscious of that and taken my vote seriously, even though I’m not a party player. This sense of the importance of the power of those individual votes, however, has been reinforced by Brexit, which I’m still watching from the sidelines.

Thanks for popping by! Could I get you a cuppa while we’re catching up? How about a Double-Coated Tim Tam?  We also have an open packet with only four biscuits remaining so you’d better get in quick. Tim Tams are an extremely endangered species but thank goodness they reproduce quickly enough to overcome the high attrition rate.

I’m not going to whinge anymore about the cold and the imminent possibility that my fingers and toes are about to drop off. Or, simply shatter like ice! They’re usually deep purple or very worrisome shades of grey! This isn’t just a product of the cold but Reynard’s Syndrome, another bonus thanks to my auto-immune disease, dermatomyositis. While I LOVE research, it can also get a bit scary, even terrifying: “while infrared therapy play’s it’s part in relieving the painful symptoms, drug therapy or surgical intervention may be necessary.”

I was joking about my fingers and toes falling off, wasn’t I? Looks like I’d better get back on my bike and get the blood pumping. I think it’s almost frozen too.

However, as the saying goes… cold hands, warm heart!

Family-Tree

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was doing some family history research. This has been an obsessive passion of mine since I was a child. Over the years, it’s grown way beyond names, dates and finding our where we come from to becoming more of a sociological project, placing my ancestors back into their geographical and historical contexts. Many of our historical Australian newspapers have been digitised and uploaded, enabling ready searching where you can really scrounge up some dirt on your ancestors. After all, you don’t earn yourself a headline being virtuous and helping little old ladies across the road. Oh no! It’s all about crime, divorce, notoriety and back then petty theft made the papers and the nitty gritty sordid details about divorce made the papers as well. So, if your ancestors were even just a little bad, there’s some good reading!

Unfortunately, what seemed like a relatively simple task of finding out when John Gardner/Gardiner came from has become mission impossible. To that unfathomable mystery, you can add his wife, Mary Sullivan. She could actually be a bigger concern because, two roads which had seemingly been divergent in the geneological woods, could to be merging together. Just because Sullivan is a fairly common name, that doesn’t mean that your ancestors aren’t common…if you catch my drift. Being related to yourself isn’t what this quest is all about! While I’ve bagged my husband out about Tasmanians being inbred, it seems the Irish Catholic community in Sydney’s Surry Hills could be worse! Thank goodness, my mother has German/Scottish heritage and comes from inter-state and we’ve diluted the pot!!

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Convicts in Sydney, 1830s.

By the way, you might also be interested to know, that it looks like I’m related to three sheep-stealing, Irish butchers from County Cork who were caught, sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 1838 and dispatched to the colonies at His Majesty’s pleasure. While I don’t condone theft, you could argue that they were enterprising businessmen with a keen eye on the bottom line, reducing costs and maximizing profits!

Aside from playing Sherlock Holmes with my geneological research, I’ve had a fairly quiet week. Tuesday night, we watched our daughter dance with her school at Showcase, a regional dance festival and the kids are involved in final rehearsals for the Scout Gang Show which is now only 2 weeks away. I am continuing my ongoing Roald Dahl reading/research project and am getting through Charlie & The Great Glass Elevator.

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A View of Heaven…Sunset Down the Road.

Probably the highlight of the last week, has been Thursday night’s breathtaking sunset where the entire sky metamorphosed into a mesmerising sunburnt orange. It was electric and needless to say, I catapulted straight out of my lounge chair and down the street my camera despite a bung foot, cold, and encroaching darkness.

It was definitely worth it! It’s amazing how that bung foot got moving without any kind of complaints, when I was only seeing through my eyes with that same absolute tunnel vision as the children of Hamelyn being lured away by the Pied Piper. Such intense and captivating beauty, was a much needed pick-me-up when I’ve been feeling flat, achy and blah! Moreover, having those photos to remind me of the moment, carries that wonder forward. Keats and so many poets, artists and philosopher’s didn’t get it wrong when they advised turning the the beauty of nature as an instant pick-me-up!

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Yum personified…Koi Dessert Bar, Sydney.

The kids will now be on school holidays for the next two weeks. We have no plans to go away but a trip down to the Koi Dessert Bar in Sydney’s Chippendale is must.

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The 1940s-1940s Paisley Eiderdown

By the way, any of you thrift shop/ retro junkies, I picked up two single bed eiderdowns today. Don’t know how many of you remember the 1940s/1950s paisley eiderdowns but my grandmother had one and it migrated to our place. So, even though I no memories of ever jumping in either of my grandmothers’ beds, I can wrap myself up in this and think of Mama Eunice. I might even have a cup of Twining’s English Breakfast tea in one of her tea cups as well. By the way, I also picked up an original 1970s metal milkshake cup and some vintage cake covers/fly screens. This is Australia and I’m also hoping these domes might protect our dinners from marauding dogs! I’m sure Lady’s ancestors had been sent out with the convicts for repeated food thievery and take it from me, I bet they stole more than just a loaf of bread. Indeed, I reckon those so called royal Cavaliers, were operating in cahoots with those wicked sheep stealers. Never trust a pretty canine face!

How has your week been? Good, I hope!

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

Best wishes for the week ahead!

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

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share May 15, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share,

If we were having coffee, I’d actually suggest we trade the coffee in for a couple of bottles of water and head down to the beach with my dogs.  Not that I’m a health freak but it truly is magnificent down there and it’s too easy to take it for granted. Sit inside and write my days away without stepping outside beyond my responsibilities as Driver in Chief of Mum’s Taxi.

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Lady and Bilbo

Shame we didn’t catch up yesterday when it was a gloriously sunny day. It could have been a mild Summer’s day, if someone didn’t turn off the lights around 5.00PM and the sun mysteriously disappeared from the sky. By day, we’re still getting around in T shirts but you’re getting no complaints from me…just the rag trade which is now crying poor. As yet, there’s been no need for sleeves let alone jumpers.

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

Last Monday, I posted my Reflections of the A-Z Challenge. This includes a full list of all my posts. I have pasted of these into a document I’ve labelled “DRAFT” and the final word count reached a staggering 66, 652 words. I started writing and researching the posts two weeks before it kicked off. So, I almost combusted getting through it and I’m thrilled with the results:  Letters to dead Poets: Reflections of the A-Z Challenge 2016

Emotionally speaking, the last week was a bit challenging. I found a lump on my arm recently and deciding it was too weird to explain to my GP, I put it off until last week and I’m having an ultrasound done tomorrow. I’ve had to wait a week for the appointment and that has probably stressed me out more than what the lump might be. I don’t like not knowing and I sort of figure that whatever it is, the sooner I find out the better. So far, my doctors have had so many tricks up their sleeve, that I’m quitely confident but I’m not beyond letting my mind wander. Ten years ago, this would have freaked me out completely but I’m pretty chilled. Well, maybe.

I am a bit concerned and I’ve minimised and catastrophised things in my head and there’s no point going either way until I know.

However, battling against this waiting game, the sense of limbo, could well explain why I’ve spent the last week delving back into my family history research. I’ve been  pursuing my Great Great Grandfather, William Henry Gardiner/Gardner for some time without any sign of working out who his parents were or where they came from. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some convict blood and William tried to cover his tracks. Being a non-indigenous Australian, he had to come from somewhere.

So, instead of getting stroppy with or about the lump in my arm this week, I’ve been taking it out on William, whose only known crime was leaving his parents off his marriage certificate, which was fairly common at the time.

Understandibly, after being a recluse during the A-Z Challenge and reaching a dead end with William Henry, I needed to get out. So, today I went to the local markets with my husband, which gave me an unexpected  boost. We met such an interesting cast of characters all over a painting I found of a mediterranean scene. The RHS was fairly full while the left hand side had a lot of empty sea. As a photographer, I instinctively wanted to crop 10cm off, which seemed a waste of space. The lady who owned the store was busy with another customer so a lady from the store next door stepped in and then my husband joined in and he started talking about “balance”. Then, the lady grabs a guy walking past who turns out to be an artist. She asks him if he thinks it’s balanced. He replies that as an impressionist, he “knows nothing about balance”. I liked that.

Hearing him talk about impressionism in art, made me consider that I am perhaps a bit impressionistic as a writer. Or, perhaps it’s just my perceptions. I see a lot of separate images or scenes, which don’t seem to fit together into a unified whole. When I ask why is it so, the pieces don’t obligingly line up into some kind of organised row like an English queue. Yet, they’re perhaps not all over the place either. I’ve simply had to accept that things aren’t always logical or fit together in an obligingly simple pattern and that is what we need to learn to accept. That is, instead of trying to bend nature to get what we think we want when we’re really swimming against the tide.

I’m sure life was a lot simpler when I didn’t ask so many questions and I just sat still with what I thought I knew.

At least, I thought I knew who William Henry Gardiner was and I even have a photo.

Well, it’s getting late here so I’m going to head off. Another week is about to unfold and I’m seriously not prepared. However, how can you be prepared for the unexpected other than to be prepared to be unprepared.

Indeed, perhaps that’s why we’ve been given a smile.

Anyway, how was your week? I hope it was good.

This has been a contribution to the Weekly Weekend Coffee Share. Please here click to visit the linky and join us all for a coffee.

xx Rowena

 

 

Mothers’ Day Coffee Share.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s Mother’s Day here in Australia. So Happy Mothers’ Day and I hope you’ve all had a great week. To read about our Mother’s Day, here’s Mothers’ Day & The Ghosts of Mothers Past.

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Cards and flowers from my kids.

If we were having coffee tonight, I’d invite you to join me watching Masterchef Australia. The contestants are doing an invention test using meat and three veg with English Master chef Marco Pierre White. No lamb chops with peas and mashed potato and diced carrot here. Two minutes to go and the tension’s intense. Go! Go! Go! The music’s accelerating as the plating up begins. Oops…under cooked…DISASTER!!!!…30 seconds to go! 10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1…Time’s Up!

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This is cruel. Watching Masterchef when we’ve had an express meal. It’s Mother’s Day…not Mummy Masterchef Night. Mummy does nothing night! Nothing at all!

The stars just twinkled at me and said, who are you kidding?

By the way, the new Australian season of Masterchef kicked off last Sunday. To celebrate, I chucked all the limp carrots out and wrote this post.

Sunday night is a precursor to Monday and the start of another week. However, at least I’ve had a pajama  day and been able to take it easy. No breakfast in bed but I did receive hand made cards and flowers from the garden from the kids and a tulip from Geoff and bought flowers. I also had a surprise for Geoff. His mother passed away 16 years ago and on Saturday I found some Willow pattern china at the opportunity shop. Geoff’s Mum also collected elephants and I found a Mothers’ Day card with an elephant on it. I don’t also remember my MIL on Mothers’ Day but I did this year.

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Geoff as a baby.

Tonight, I wrote about how we celebrate an Australian Mothers’ Day, while making a tribute to mothers past. More than a history, buff, I did honours in history at university and I am mindful that women haven’t always had choice. That even an education, is a relatively recent leap forward…not only for women but the general population. Indeed, an education is still beyond the reach of much of the world’s population. So, we need to be thankful. Not take what we have for granted.

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A family photo with Bilbo as a pup Mother’s Day, 2007.

I also want to be thankful for my kids, my family and wallow in that today, without looking over my shoulder, which I must say I’m doing less and less now they’re getting older. To be perfectly honest, I am probably better suited to older kids and I am in much better health now too, which certainly lifts my outlook.

Happy Family Golden Book

The Happy Family

This week, both my kids are doing the NAPLAN tests. How do I begin to explain our Australian NAPLAN tests? Parents stare at each other blankly and I’m not even sure that my kids even know what NAPLAN is and they’re about to sit the !@#@# thing. All I know is that while the teachers downplay it and say it tests them more than the kids, I know NAPLAN will definitely be counting towards my daughter’s high school applications, even though high school is 2 years away. At the moment, she’s focused on applying for our local selective high school. Try explaining that to a ten year old who has changed schools this year and is fighting a rare digestive condition, gastroparesis. She might only be 10 years old but this year has been quite stressful. She’s also learning dancing, violin, Baritone Horn and performing in the Scout Gang Show. I haven’t turned her into a performing seal doing grueling hours of tutoring. Will she regret it? Or, can she pull this entire thing off whatever it is? Sometimes, it feels like we’re collectively passing through into some other dimension and it really is full on. Naturally, we need to aim high and not settle without going for it, which like it or not, brings the whole family into the dynamic. It’s hard for a ten year old to see the bigger, longer term picture and not get caught up in the now.

Meanwhile, I’m still recovering from the A-Z Challenge. I’m now in the process of cutting and pasting my posts back into Word and print off the DRAFT. Can’t believe I wrote so much! Thank you very much for those who have checked out my posts. Tomorrow, we all post our survival posts.

I’m so sorry. I just realised that I’ve reached the end of our coffee share and I realised that I forgot to offer you tea or coffee. My apologies. I was so focused on all that Masterchef food that I wasn’t thinking about drinks. I’m a lousy host but I’ll make it up to you with a few Tim Tams. These ones are dark chocolate so the kids haven’t devoured them all.

Hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up!

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster.  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the “Linkup Linky“.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee! Coffee! Wherefore art thou, Coffee

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This weekend I’d like to invite you around to join me for  William Shakespeare’s 400 Death Day Party. Since I doubt Shakespeare was much of a coffee drinker, we’ll be having tea served in my Shelley tea cups with generous slabs of birthday cake…along with Tim Tams. No doubt Shakespeare would approve!

For those of you not embroiled in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge, we only have six more sleeps til the grand finale next Saturday when our all stops journey through the alphabet finally comes to an end for another year. My theme this year is Writing Letters to Dead Poets. This has become quite a philosophical journey as I ask them about the nature of happiness, the role of suffering, advice for young poets and a love of the natural world. My ignorance has been growing my the day!

Once again, I’ve posted An Alphabet Soup Post listing links through to posts A-T.

Since starting Letters to Dead Poets, I’ve retreated into my cave and switched off from the outside world as much as is possible being married with two kids on school holidays and two dogs desperate for walks at the beach. Indeed, I’ve just returned with two pooped pooches from the beach. Nothing like chasing the ball and running round with other dogs. Heaven help me if I show any sign of going out! I was lucky not to be wiped out in the stampede.

On Friday night Geoff and I went out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant on the local waterfront. The kids were staying with my parents for a few days and it was great to be able to kick back and converse. After not leaving the house for a few days immersed in my writing, I also needed to be pulled away. Do something else. Look beyond the screen and the four walls around me.

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Walking back to the car, we were stopped in our tracks. A huge cloudy galleon hovered   over the beach, silhouetted by the full moon. Mesmerised, we stared in awe and dashed home to get the camera and tripod.  By the time we came back, the clouds had changed and weren’t quite as breathtaking but the photos were still impressive. Geoff took most of them. He is much more technically adept than me and also has a excellent eye. We are both keen amateurs.

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We also spotted this very ambitious spider building its web across our backyard by night. It’s been dubbed “Bob the Builder” and “Luke Skywalker”.

I guess you could say things have been quiet when photographing spiders is one of the highlights of the week. That is aside from writing.

Tomorrow , will be ANZAC Day here in Australia. The 25th April commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli, Turkey, during WWI. Geoff’s Great Uncle served at Gallipoli and his mother’s cousin served at Kokoda. The kids will be marching locally with their Scout Troop.

How has your week been? I hope things have gone well.

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster and I encourage you to pop over for a cuppa via   the “Linkup Linky“.

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share: Christmas Edition

If we were having coffee today, we’d be wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wv-JIpAjks

In case you’re wondering what a fire engine has to do with Christmas, I should remind you that we live in Greater Sydney and Summer is bush fire season around here. In our local area, Santa often appears at local carols etc on a fire engine and my favourite was the old vintage Ettalong fire Engine which has since left the area.

This week, I contributed a guest post over at Solveig Werner’s December Advent Calendar, writing about some aspects of an Australian Christmas: http://solveigwerner.com/2015/12/17/advent-calendar-day-17-a-stinking-hot-australian-christmas-by-rowena-newton/

Jonathon Santa Baby

Mister as a Santa Baby back in 2004.

To be perfectly honest, I wish I could pause time for a week so I might just be ready in time for Christmas. Our fresh Christmas tree has spent the last 3 days in the laundry sink in a bucket while the decorations are still in storage, currently roasting in the attic and we’ve been caught up in end of year school farewells, medical appointments, our daughter’s annual dance concert and melting in the Summer heat as bush fire smoke fills the air outside. In the midst of all this rush and bustle, I escaped into the city and caught a ferry out to Watson’s Bay. After all, even a mature adult has to run away from home some times!

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The Kids’ Last Day at Their Primary School.

Wednesday was our last day at the children’s primary school. Next year, our son will be going to High School locally while our daughter has been accepted into a selective class a considerable distance from home, which pretty much means a fresh start. It’s also a fresh start for me as I’ve been doing the publicity for the school and know a lot of people up there and I’ll be starting over as well. I have no idea where I’m heading but could it be that I finally get on with the Book Project without it being cursed? If I could be so lucky!

Last week, I had check-ups with both my rheumatologist and lung specialist. Why I arranged these for the week before Christmas I’ll never know. Absolute madness. Both are very pleased with my progress and I’m dropping back to six monthly appointments. That is as long as the reductions in prednisone don’t cause a flare. So far, so good. Hard to believe that I’ve managed to see my son finish Primary School and also that I’ve ever been that crook.

After seeing the Lung Specialist, I caught the train into the city and wandered up to Martin Place, going inside the Lindt Cafe for the first time.12 months ago, this was the site of the horrific Sydney Terrorist Siege, which saw the heart of Sydney closed down and evacuated and three people dead, including the gunman. However, rather than finding horror in Martin Place, I found the annual Christmas Tree, the cenotaph, classical guitar music filtered through the air and although seeing those Lindt Cafe aprons brought back terrible flashbacks to the siege, all I could smell was Lindt chocolate. You can read abut it here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/sydneys-lindt-cafe-12-months-on/

I walked down to Circular Quay via Macquarie Place, which houses the actual anchor and canon from The Sirius, a ship from the First Fleet, which brought the first white settlers to New South Wales. Then, I went back to the French Cafe I visited last week before catching a ferry out to Watson’s Bay in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. The trip was incredible stopping off at Garden Island, Double Bay, Rose Bay and onto Watson’s Bay. I loved looking back at the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge and watching them slowly fade from view and disappear behind a collage of lavish houses and eucalyptus foliage.

By the time we reached Watson’s Bay, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was reduced to being a caterpillar of metal arching over the gum trees.

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Miss suffering having her photo taken yet again. I can see her starting a support group for kids with papparazzi mums.

Yesterday, we had our daughter’s annual dance concert, the Scout Christmas camp and family visiting from Brisbane as they head to Melbourne.

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Mister Sea Scout.

As always, our daughter’s annual dance concert was incredible. Not just because she was dancing but I also love watching all the dancers and then experiencing the climax when the Principals (a husband and wife) dance together and the entire room is spellbound. Then, there’s the grand finale, which exudes such unrestrained joie de vivre. You can read more about the concert here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/our-enchanting-little-dancer/

Needless to say, today we’ve flopped on the couch like inverted starfish. Sunburned, Mister is looking rather ragged. I’m still trying to find the energy to make the Christmas Cake. We can’t have Christmas without out it but somehow Christmas has become very over-cluttered and who feels like cooking anything in such heat and humidity?

We were supposed to be part of the Church nativity play on Friday night but I fell asleep and the kids showed no enthusiasm until it was all too late. Next year…

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So, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This is our traditional Australian blessing, which might not encompass all religious perspectives but it certainly isn’t just a Christian thing. More something associated with the old man in the big red suit.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Part Time Monster and please check us out at the linky http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=592197

Love & best wishes,

Rowena and family.

Jonathon & Mummy Santa2008

Mister & I with Santa at the Pearl Beach Playgroup 2008.

 

Weekend Coffee Share: 25th October, 2015

If we were having coffee or indeed decaf something because it’s getting late, I’d be offering you one of my home-made Choc Chip & Macadamia Nut Cookies. They’re not long out of the oven and they’re absolutely scrumptious…much better than the Vegemite toast I offered you last week and was almost universally rejected.

My husband isn’t much of a Vegemite lover either and disapprovingly calls it “axle grease”. However, he’s become a bit of a convert this week as that infamous Aussie Vegemite sandwich makes a great decoy for the dog’s tablets.

In case you haven’t met our dogs, we have two dogs, Bilbo and Lady. Bilbo is a 9 year old Border Collie who is completely and utterly ball obsessed and I must say a little on the anxious side. The crazy mutt with go and stand outside in the rain until he’s completely and utterly soaked but traditionally wouldn’t get his paws wet at the beach let alone go for a swim. With increased exposure and watching more than a couple of his cherished balls float away, he’ll now go about paw deep but that’s it. He certainly wouldn’t make a good Lifesaver.

Lady being quite the "dog hog" taking up both the huge woolen blanket and dog bed, leaving Bilbo shivering on the door mat before I intervened. I'm sure many blokes who've lost the doona mid-winter would say: "typical woman". I do think Lady also tries to live up to her name and sometimes even Bilbo is treated like the "Tramp".

Lady being quite the “dog hog” taking up both the huge woolen blanket and dog bed, leaving Bilbo shivering on the door mat before I intervened. I’m sure many blokes who’ve lost the doona mid-winter would say: “typical woman”. I do think Lady also tries to live up to her name and sometimes even Bilbo is treated like the “Tramp”.

Lady is a 3 year old Border Collie x Cavalier. She’s basically black with patches of white on her chest and paws. We’ve only had her for a year and she comes from a farm up around Tenterfield. Her paperwork says that she’s a “working dog” but to be perfectly honest, that dog hasn’t done a day’s work in her life…unless it involves hunting rabbits. At the time we found Lady, Bilbo was slowing down and really wasn’t looking great. We’d lost our last Border Collie when he was 8 and so we decided to get a cross-over dog. However, it seemed that Bilbo perked up with Lady around and has lost about 15 kilos and while he’s not moving around like a pup, he really has had a new lease of life.

However, the downside of Lady’s arrival was that she introduced the most indestructible fleas on the planet to poor Bilbo, who’s never had a flea allergy before in his life and suddenly his skin went ultra berserk. Thursday night, he seemed to have a temperature and his eyes were a bit bloodshot and he was clearly unwell.

Friday, he was off to the vet and I was really becoming concerned. I was thinking back to when I’d taken our last Border Collie to the vet simply because he wasn’t eating and it turned out that he had a tumour. I asked how long he had left and I was thinking 6 months but then she said a few days and even suggested putting him to sleep. I just couldn’t grasp that he was that sick and took him home. Emotionally, I felt like I’d been shot in the heart but as I said, the news really hadn’t sunk in.

Fortunately, the news for Bilbo was nowhere near as grim and he’s been given cortisone and antibiotics…and the Vegemite sandwiches.

Bilbo appropriating another dog's ball.

Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

I can’t help wondering what he thinks about all of this. Cortizone is a powerful drug and he’s on 40mg per day. I was told that he’d feel hungry and thirsty but I’m also wondering whether he’s getting any of the side-effects I’ve had on prednisone and whether he’s euphoric, angry and even though I didn’t think his ball obsession could get any worse, an addict on steriods is a very scary prospect indeed.

He’s a smart dog and I can just imagine him thinking: “Hey they don’t make those Vegemite sandwiches quite like they used to!

He’s starting to look a bit better but it’s going to take awhile for his crowning glory to get back into shape. He currently looks dreadful.

Aside from looking after the dog this week, I’ve been coughing badly again and it’s been driving me nuts. Seems that I don’t have an infection and it’s viral and so no point with the antibiotics but I’ve gone back on the nebuliser which helped…along with the fruit smoothies. I am feeling a bit better.

Prime Minister John Curtin

Prime Minister John Curtin

In between falling apart, we’ve been working on my son’s assignment on Australian Prime Minister John Curtin. John Curtin was in office 1941-1945 but died roughly six months before the end of the Pacific War after the stress undermined his health. I am a Curtin and all my life people have asked me whether I’m related to that John Curtin. Well, it now turns out that I’m not but we do have a few other John Curtin’s in our family so all wasn’t lost.

I became quite engrossed in his assignment so rather than completely taking over and undermining what he was doing, I wrote a post about how much a parent should be helping their child with their homework and am working on a post going into a brief overview of his time in office.

Here’s the first post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/australia-during-wwii-what-i-learned-from-my-sons-homework/

If we were having coffee, I would ask you if you have been reading any good books lately.

This week I made a decent start of Stephen King’s writing memoir: On Writing (Scribner, 2000). I’ve never read any of his fiction but I am really enjoying his writing style in this book and it has some great tips including:

“If you’re just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television’s electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far.”

Anyway, I have to head off now as I have an early start.

I hope you’ve had a great week and I ;look forward to catching up on your news tomorrow when I drop in for coffee at your place.

Here’s the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=575563

xx Rowena

PS: Have you ever considered the irony that people who love animals want to be vets and yet aside from the posty, who do animals fear most? The Vet is like the canine equivalent of us going to the dentist!

Weekend Coffee Share: Byron Bay – Back to Earth.

If we were having coffee right now, I would never get to sleep.

So, I’m drinking a decaf tea served in a Tim Tam mug by the way. If you haven’t tried Australia’s favourite biscuit which is best eaten as the “Tim Tam Explosion” (one of the more polite terms I’ve heard), you haven’t lived. By the way, this is where you bite off both ends of the Tim Tam and dunk the end in a hot drink and suck through it like a straw. The chocolate melts and if you’re not careful, you’re Tim Tam falls in the drink and drowns. Such a waste!

This is an exceptionally rare packet of Tim Tams. The tray isn't empty!!

This is an exceptionally rare packet of Tim Tams. The tray isn’t empty!!

Returning home from Byron Bay is never good but the fridge/freezer had seemingly died but miraculously returned to life once it had defrosted and the new fridge had been ordered. But the old unit is in the laundry and the new one is BEAUTIFUL. It has the freezer down the bottom so I can reach reach the fruit and veg without torturing myself. It is so clean and right now I’m feeling very protective!

Life is good.

The next day a filling fell out of my tooth while I was at the beach.It actually looked like a bit of shell but I knew.

Life not so good.

My Father & Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard decided to launch it's own book tour and couldn't wait for Geoff to visit Australia!

My Father & Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard decided to launch it’s own book tour and couldn’t wait for Geoff to visit Australia!

Tuesday, the kids returned to school for the start of Term 4. Miracle of miracles, they were on time despite the chaos with the fridge-freezer.

Wednesday, train trip to Sydney reading My Father and Other Liars by blogging mate Geoff Le Pard…almost compensated for the trip to the dentist. (Check it out at http://www.geofflepard.com) If you’ve seen Finding Nemo, my dentist’s surgery is in just about the same location as that Australian dentist and he also has a fish tank. So after business was attended to, the book decided it wanted to see the sights. Make Geoff jealous. We walked down to the edge of Sydney Harbour  and I took some mediocre photos with my phone. The weather wasn’t great so I didn’t bother taking the SLR, which involves taking a backpack as well as my monster-truck sized handbag.(I told the book it had to pack light but once again it didn’t listen. Insisted I pack the kitchen sink and cart it around without any assistance whatsoever. It seems that being a book makes you some kind of royalty and there’s absolutely no question that everybody will carry you around. You don’t even have to turn a page!)

Next, we walked over the Luna Park and considered catching a ferry but again the weather wasn’t great and what with the cold gusts sweeping across the harbour, I opted for another day. The book wasn’t happy and started nagging so I zipped it back up in my bag where I couldn’t hear it’s complaints. Believe me the whingefest was turning into a negrave (a great term I stole from a show about ice addicts). Fortunately after parenting two kids, I’m adept at ignoring all noise and pretended we’d never met (even though that terrible racquet was coming from my handbag and I wasn’t very popular in the quiet carriage on the train!

I'm not sure whether selfies are supposed to reverse the text in a photo but it does seem a bit odd. Technology and I are not usually on very good terms.

I’m not sure whether selfies are supposed to reverse the text in a photo but it does seem a bit odd. Technology and I are not usually on very good terms.

In between reading Geoff’s book, I’ve madly been trying to type up my notes from the Byron Bay trip and sort out the photos. I’m only halfway so I’ll be posting about Byron Bay for some time to come and just hope nothing happens in the meantime that’s going to set me back. That’s the trouble with contemporary communications. News ages way too quickly.

Byron Bay looking North to Mt Warning.

Main Beach, Byron Bay looking North to Mt Warning.

Anyway, I’ve really like to encourage you, especially if you live overseas and have never been to Australia, to check out my posts about Byron Bay. I know I’ve been raving on about the snakes but it really is paradise on earth and every time I go there, I return a changed person. Something changes just like going to a chiropractor and your spine is suddenly in alignment, you just feel better!

Here are some of the posts I’ve written about Byron Bay:

The Sun Set Byron Bay

The Sun Set Byron Bay

Byron Bay: Australia’s Alternative Paradise: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/byron-bay-australias-alternative-paradise/

Sydney-Newrybar-Byron Bay  Weekend Coffee Share 4th October, 2015 https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/sydney-newrybar-byron-bay-weekend-coffee-share/

Snake Bait:a snake was on the loose outside while my kids were picking mulberries.

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/snake-bait/

Shadow in the Chook Shed

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/motivational-chooks/

Updating our annual family photo at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Updating our annual family photo at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Shadows in Paradise: An Australian Postcard ... some of the not so friendly critters around Byron Bay.

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/poem-shadows-in-paradise-an-australian-postcard/

Poem: Beyond the Veil (a bride and groom posing for photos at Byron Bay Lighthouse)

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/poem-beyond-the-veil/

Byron Bay Lighthouse

Byron Bay Lighthouse

Lazy Birds of Byron Bay…birds which feast of humans and human refuse

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/lazy-birds-of-byron-bay/

Ibis drinking coconut milk

Ibis drinking coconut milk

Well, that pretty much wraps up the last week and looking at that ibis sipping on fresh coconut milk while the rain’s pouring down overhead, is making me feel like getting straight back in the car and going back to Byron Bay.

I’d love to hear how your week went and your various ups and downs.This post is part of #weekendcoffeeshare. You can check out the various posts via the linky:

http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=571509

xx Rowena

Sydney – Newrybar – Byron Bay: Weekend Coffee Share.

If we were having coffee today, I’d be talking so fast, filling your head with so many stories, photos and flashing such an array of treasures at you, that nothing would be making any sense at all.

It would all just be merging into a chaotic, kaleidoscopic blur.

The Kaleidoscope.

Mesmerized by such a kaleidoscope of images. Photographed this at Zakay Glass Creations Gallery, Bangalow.

I can hear you now: “Slow down!Take a deep breath! Calm Down! I can’t understand a word you’re saying…especially with that unintelligible, Australian accent.”

So, bursting with impatience by now, you could well be hitting me over the head with what we Australians call a “lump of 4 x 2” (pronounced fourbetwo”) We’re basically talking about the Australia version of hitting someone over the head with a baseball bat. A fence paling would do the job. Figuratively-speaking, this is how Australians knock sense into a blabbering mess like me.

Anyway, just to put you in the picture, we’ve been on holidays at Newrybar.

“Newrybar? Where the heck is Newrybar?” You ask.

“What do you mean you haven’t heard of Newrybar?? Where have you been hiding????”

Okay. Get your passport. Take the first available flight to Sydney, Australia. You could just catch a connecting flight to nearby Ballina Airport but why miss out on all the fun of a 10-13 hour 800 KM drive? After all, taking the Pacific Highway up the coast is such an Australian experience?!!

Just a friendly reminder to you peoples in the Northern hemisphere that heading North in Australia means it is getting warmer…we fly North for the Winter and definitely try not to fly South!

So, I naturally recommend hiring a car from the airport and driving. By the way, make sure you drive over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, instead of taking the tunnel under the harbour. You definitely do not want to miss The Bridge and the stunning harbour views, which also take in the Sydney Opera House when you crane your neck. Yet, somehow, you’ll need to keep your eyes on the road while taking in these views and if you’re not used to driving on the left hand side of the road, that will even complicate matters further and you could well be having a nasty accident.

There are further sights along the way. You can take the Sommersby exit near Gosford and visit the Australian Reptile Park and don’t miss out on the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour, which is roughly halfway to Newrybar and when you see the Macadamia Castle you are almost at Newrybar.

I don't think this quite puts Newrybar on the map.

I don’t think this quite puts Newrybar on the map.

Located half an hour’s drive in Byron Bay’s lush green Hinterland, Newrybar’s main claim to fame at this time of year, is the snakes. It’s currently mating season and the grass is full of amorous Romeos and Juliets, just waiting to strike at any unsuspecting feet. After spotting a deadly black snake slithering through the grass while eating my Weetbix the other day, you can take it from me that you need to look where you’re going.

However, in addition to the snakes there’s the Harvest Cafe, which is well-regarded, an antique shop and a few B & Bs…and a petrol station and small grocery store. Definitely, no major anythings, which is such a part of it’s natural, unspoiled charm.

This week has simply been too much for me to compress into anything coherent.

I have been feasting with my eyes. Pigging out. Gorging myself. Eating, Eating,Eating. Stuffing myself eyeful, after eyeful after eyeful. Surprising even myself how much I could somehow stuff I could keep stuffing in without somehow triggering the regurgitation switch. Through some absolute incomprehensible miracle, my eyeballs just kept expanding and expanding like an exceptionally generous, elastic waistband and I’m completely mystified about why they haven’t exploded…just like Mr Creosote’s unforgettable effort in Monty Python’s: The Meaning of Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U

My eyes are even fuller than my over-packed, set-to-explode suitcase.

That says it all!!

With eyes the size of thunder thighs, I’m now needing some kind of specially –designed, see-through “eye bra” . Or, perhaps it’s already too late for that. An eye mask ensuring complete darkness, could well be required by now.

The kids near Byron Bay Lighthouse.

The kids near Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Yet, this incredible, sensual smorgasbord hasn’t simply been visual.

Nature’s music is just as breathtakingly awesome. The sun has set and right now, I’m soaking in the chorus of croaking frogs outside. Yet, that’s not all. There’s the budgie’s chitter-chatter and the flutter of their feathered wings. My in-laws also have Guinea fowl, the strangest sounding birds you’ll ever come across. All week, we’re been debating how to best describe their call. Suggestions have ranged from “constipated duck”, “donkey” and a “squeaky gate”. Finally the penny dropped and Geoff and both agreed they sound like a “duck impersonating a donkey”. That’s a very weird noise!

Wategos Beach, Byron Bay.

Wategos Beach, Byron Bay.

However, while we’ve been awestruck by stunning beaches, lush green pastures, birds and butterflies fluttering through the leaves and such incredible artistic inspiration; these “roses” haven’t been without their “thorns”.

The morning after our arrival, I was half-asleep and hadn’t quite adjusted to my new surrounds, when I spotted a deadly, venomous Black Snake, slithering over the grass and over the wire fence into the cow paddock next door.

For some strange reason, even though the kids were outside picking mulberries, for some strange reason, I didn’t raise the alarm. That said, they were out of sight and further afield.

However, as soon as Geoff saw the snake, he was out of there, letting them know. Not that the kids were scared of the snake at all but for some strange reason, they immediately decided that they’d “picked enough mulberries”!

Updating our annual family photo at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Updating our annual family photo at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Getting back to the beauty of Byron Bay, what you might not appreciate is a local phenomenon known as “Byron Time”. This has nothing at all to do with traditional time zones or being on “Holiday Time”. Indeed, when it comes to Byron Time you could say the region has fallen off the grid and gone AWOL. You just throw your watch out the window of your Kombi when you drive into town and succumb to the more intuitive forces at work around here… or, more likely, not at work at all. The other night, when the fish & chips shop was closed, we were told that “it only opens when he feels like it”. Although you might wonder how you can operate a business like that, he’s been in business for years. That said, his fish and chips are incredibly good but it’s not the first time we’ve missed out!

Loved this quote spotted at Poet Bookshop in nearby Bangalow.

Loved this quote spotted at Poet Bookshop in nearby Bangalow.

However, perhaps the greatest tragedy of Byron Time isn’t missing out on fish & chips. It’s having to go home and Byron Time stops just as tragically as that broken antique fob watch, filed at the back of Grandpa’s drawer.

Tragically, we’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning to drive home.

Speaking of clocks, time and tomorrow, at midnight tonight NSW switches to daylight savings time and we gain and hour, lose an hour or just get thoroughly mixed up. Either way, the start of daylight savings means: “It’s Summer”.

Bring it on!

The kids eating the mulberries they'd picked on the farm, while I spotted a snake.

The kids eating the mulberries they’d picked on the farm, while I spotted the snake.

Just before I head off to reload the coffee cup, just a last word of travel advice.

Don’t forget to pack your SLR camera charger. I’d charged my camera up before we left like a very well-prepared Scout but managed to leave it behind. After visiting multiple camera shops in two different cities, we couldn’t find a suitable replacement. That forced me to use my phone. There I was a serious amateur photographer, looking like Maxwell Smart using his shoe phone. Oh! The humiliation of it all! However, worse was yet to come. I put the phone in my pocket to go to the toilet and the next thing I knew, it had done a kamikaze dive straight to the very bottom. Following immediate CPR, it spent the next two days in a “rice spa” to dry out while I fretted about whether all those precious photos had been lost, not to mention my contacts. Fortunately, it recovered but meanwhile I was using the kids’ i pads. While, I’ll begrudgingly admit the photos weren’t that bad, I won’t be hanging up my SLR any time soon.

Meanwhile, the kettle calls. Dinner is boiling over and it’s time to go!

By the way, the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster.  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the “Linky“.  In fact, I encourage you to click on the “linky” to see what’s been going on in the lives of other bloggers and even join us if you haven’t before!

I also came across this great post by Corina at Wasted Days & Wasted Nights where she talks about the Love Rocks she makes and gives to people grieving or going through a hard time.  https://corinajoyc.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/rocks-stubborness-other-tough-things/

Hope you’ve had a great week!

xx Rowena