Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My childhood Christmas

I have fond memories of growing up at Glenbrook on the NSW Blue Mountains between 1960 and 1972. Especially my Christmas memories. When we arrived at Glenbrook at the end of 1960, I had just turned 7 years of age. That first Christmas was memorable because being new in town, not knowing many people and not being flush with funds, the local Anglican church folk took it upon themselves to bring Mum and Dad a Christmas hamper that year. I remember it well as there were 2 ladies that knocked on the door and presented Mum with this large box full of food and good wishes. There was even a gift each for me and my brother. Mum was so happy that after the ladies left, she cried. Times were tough for a few years and Mum always managed to make ends meet while Dad caught the train to Sydney 5 days a week and toiled away in the office of an insurance company.

Christmas at Glenbrook was always hot. Trying to sleep in a stuffy room with no fans or air conditioning was the norm. Waking at 4am to find a santa sack full of goodies at the foot of our beds was marvellous. I was so excited that I couldn't wait until the sun came up to start unwrapping my gifts so I used to try to remove the paper as quietly as I could so as not to wake Mum and Dad. Brian would sneek into my room and we would both start peeling the paper away. Why "Santa" used to wrap things in the noisiest paper "he" could find (cellophane) was a mystery to us. Inevitably, Mum who was a light sleeper, would hear Brian and me trying unsuccessfully not to make a noise with the paper and would yell at us to go back to sleep. Of course that only lasted about 5 or 10 minutes then the excitement would overwhelm us again and we would have another go.

Christmas eve would normally see a group of singers on a flat bed truck appear on the street corner and sing carols. Dad would always buy a real pine Christmas tree a couple of weeks before Christmas and we would decorate it with home made paper chains and other decorations. I can still smell the pine now. Ahh, it was a real Christmas smell.

Christmas dinner in the 1960s was the traditional hot meal made in a sweltering kitchen by my poor mother. Later on when sanity prevailed, we got into cold meat and salad. A much more sensible choice for our climate. Brian and I were allowed to have a small beer as a treat and we loved that. It didn't do us any harm and we thought we were pretty cool.

We always had our neighbour, Mrs Malcom join us for Christmas as she had no family of her own and she was like an extra grandmother to us. That was a long time ago and today Christmas for me is completely different. It doesn't hurt to remember the old times.

Happy Christmas one and all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Countdown to Christmas

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas one and all.
Here we are into the second week of December already. My how the time had flown in the last 12 months. This time last year we were getting ready to settle our sale of the Cowra house and go to Lismore. Now 12 months later we have been living in Ebor for just over 10 months in our own little cottage in one of the most beautiful parts of the New England ranges of NSW. Life is good.
This Christmas my Dad is coming to stay for a week and will arrive on 21st. I just know he will love it here with the lovely fresh air and the animals next door plus the walk out to the falls and a trip into Dorrigo for a Chinese lunch.
Another surprise is that Matt's sister Loretta (with whom we were intending to share her farm space in Lismore last year) is in the process of selling the farm and looking for another place to live. Co-incidentally, today she will arrive to inspect a property in Ebor. It looks great on the web site and if she buys it, she will have a sizeable chunk of cash left over from her sale. Noice. It will be nice to have her close again.
I am planning our Christmas menu and have already started buying supplies. Ham, turkey etc. Salads and yummy desserts. Must also stock up on the plonk as Dad likes a tipple or 3, just like me.
More soon

Monday, November 22, 2010

I went back to school

Yesterday I taught a craft class at the Ebor School. It was a combined small schools day with kids from Chandler, Hernani, Dundurrabin and Ebor primary schools. About 46 kids altogether from kindy to year 6.

It was a great experience for me as it has been decades since I was able to see how the school system works. I have the utmost admiration for all teachers now. The energy level was palpable as was the noise level when the kids were released into the play ground. Amazing.

Anyway, I had 2 groups of budding artists to keep amused and it was great to see what they created. During the preceeding week, I made each child a zip bag with 2 Christmas Cards, 2 Gift Tags, some stickers, patterned papers and ribbon then they all set about creating cards and tags. I have come to realise that almost without exception, they all love to do craft.

The end results varied from spectacular to ordinary but they were all made with love. I am now the volunteer craft teacher at Ebor. How about that?

Hellooooo...... did ya miss me?

As usual I have been slack at updating this blog of mine. I have a good excuse though. I went to stay with Dad for a week at the beginning of the month. I also had the opportunity of catching up with Sonja, Sue and Felicity from school. We had a nice coffee and chat at Emu Plains and it was good to see these ladies that I have known since 2nd class in 1960. I got new tyres on the car at Gordon Leven's Tyres and More at Emu Plains (free plug), another old school mate but unfortunately Gordon was away on the day I turned up so I missed out on saying hello.

I also met up with my online scrapbook friends Dawn, Sharon and Shaz at Penrith Panthers for lunch. So nice to see y'all again girls.

My week with Dad was pretty good. We took the train into Sydney one day and then the ferry over to Watson's Bay and had fish and chips on the wharf. Delicious tempura whiting fillets. Something Dad had been wanting to do for some time so I thought why not make a day of it while I was visiting. We then caught the ferry back and then a bus to Paddington for coffee. I was born there and Dad worked there in the 1940s and 50s. I also lived there between 1979 and 1990. The place has changed a lot. It was a great day and cheered Dad up immensely.
Happy days.........

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Making greeting cards

I have decided to make and sell my own greeting cards and here is a small sample. At present I am selling them through the local post office along with my bookmarks. I also had a craft stall at Fusspots Cafe over the long weekend and made a tidy $46.50. Not bad for my first go. I have been invited to return by the cafe owners any time so I plan to have a few more stalls between now and Christmas. I have started making Christmas cards as well and am hopeful that I can make a few bucks to fund my hobby.

I have also met the principal from the Ebor school who asked me to teach a craft class in November. I have decided to get the kids to make a couple of Christmas cards for their families along with a tree ornament made from an old CD. Here is one I made a couple of years ago. We sent one each to our parents.
So, with Matt's woodwork talents and my scrapbooking efforts, we just might be able to have an outlet for our products next year. I can just see it now.... Appletree Cottage Woodwork and Crafts with a stall out the front of our house. I will have to make a big colourful sign to attract the tourists.

Matthew's woodwork creations

Mornin' all

My very talented husband has taken up woodwork for a hobby since he retired. In fact he has taken up archery as well but at the moment woodwork is his passion. He has made a model stage coach with all working parts. He even made the wheels from scratch and it looks great. Here he has photographed himself, printed it out and put himself into the coach. I love it.

He has a model cabin cruiser under construction and his current project is an acoustic bass guitar. He has also made some cedar coasters and a wagon to hold them plus some pots with lids - I don't know how to describe them except that they look like they would have belonged in the Lord of the Rings as Gandalf's tobacco jars.

He is rather talented in my opinion and I am happy for him to spend most of every day in his shed.
At least it keeps him out of trouble.
Matthew, I love you.
This is the upper Ebor Falls on the Sunday of the long weekend. There was so much water flowing that the river broke its banks and we could hear the thunder of the falls from the house. The bonus is that our water tank is now full again. The downside is that I have had to run the clothes dryer and hang some things by the fire to dry. I am not anticipating a low electricity bill.

I still love living here though.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


This is a photo of the top part of the upper Ebor Falls. There is a paved walking track that starts about 300 metres from our front gate and winds all the way out to the lower falls. Such a lovely walk and the scenery is definitely worth going for.

Spring has delivered some wonderful blossoms and in particular, the wattle is looking magnificent.

Can't wait until the warmer weather which will be a lot more bearable than in previous years as we are now 1300 metres above sea level.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The dreaded Lurgy

For the last 5 nights I have been unable to sleep in my bed due to a bad dose of bronchitis; something that has not struck me down in years. Lying down makes me cough like a 3 pack a day smoker so in order to get what little shut-eye I can, I have spent the last 5 nights in my recliner chair wrapped in a blanket. Surprisingly I have managed to get 4 or 5 hours of snooze time in between bouts of coughing.

I was thinking this morning that compared to an economy class aeroplane seat on a flight to Europe (something I have done 3 times in my life), the lounge chair is not that bad. In fact it is way better as I can lean it back a lot further and there is no-one behind, in front or beside me to take into consideration. Plus when you get to the point where your eyes are hanging out of your head with exhaustion, you could probably sleep on a bed of nails between a major railway line and Freeway and still get some rest.

Most unusually for me I have stayed up till after midnight for the last 5 nights, discovering all sorts of programs on TV that I was unaware of and finally drifting off around the 2am mark.

I had a flu shot 3 weeks ago and the doc told me that it was not possible to catch the flu from the vaccination. She didn't say anything about bronchitis, asthma or any other respiratory problem. My chest is rattling like a closet full of coat hangers. So now I am patiently waiting to get better. In the meantime I have 2 puffers to ease the breathing and the coughing muscles have finally stopped hurting.

Oh bring on the day (or night) when I can finally get back into bed. Ah... bed, with those fresh, crisp, clean sheets; warm cuddly doona and a couple of dogs to keep my feet warm.

My horse friends next door

This is my mate Major.

I haven’t had a lot to do with horses in my life; I have been horseriding in the Megalong Valley twice and I knew one friend at school who owned a horse, but I have always thought they were a little like very large dogs. Since I moved here I have had the pleasure of getting to know the two horses that share the paddock next door, I have become enthralled by their beauty and gentleness.

Their owner is a young lady that I have had the opportunity to chat with. Not knowing much about horses, I saw her one day and asked about my equine neighbours. Why, for instance, does the male horse wear a blanket now that winter is here but the female does not? She told me that the male who was named “Major”, was around 15 years old and had spent most of his life in a warmer climate so he needed a winter blanket whilst the female who was named “Hey You” was about 30 years of age and had spent most of her life here so was used to the colder weather and she also had a much thicker coat than Major. Well there you go, makes sense when you know that sort of thing. I asked her if she would mind if I gave them a carrot or an apple every now and then and she said that was fine with her.

I am pleased to say that since I began my relationship with these two lovely animals, I have gotten a great deal of pleasure from their attentions. Mind you I do realise that they only love me for my food. Major was not shy in coming over to the fence for something to eat but Hey You was a different matter. Apparently she had spent 10 years by herself in a paddock with only a little human interaction. She had not been given a name; the lady told me when she first took ownership of her she had to follow her all over the paddock calling out “Hey You” before she finally was able to catch her so the name "Hey You" stuck. She did not come to the fence to see me but hung around in the back ground so I used to throw her a couple of pieces of carrot.

It has now been about 3 months since my first attempt at making friends with these beautiful creatures and I am excited that they come to the fence and seek me out. Of course it is for the food but, what the heck, I love it. Hey You will now take food from my hand and let me stroke her muzzle and face. Major on the other hand has been letting me do this from the beginning and he lets me wipe the boogies from his eyes with a tissue. He is such a sweetie but is really tall when he stands up straight and towers over me. I was a little nervous at first because of his size but we have gotten to know each other now and I am a bit more brave.

Every now and then their owner moves them to another paddock for a few days. I always miss them when they are not there. When they came back after a week somewhere else and we were all glad to see each other. I fed them both some apple and carrot and Major was trying to shoo Hey You away and keep me all to himself. This used to work in the beginning when Hey You was still getting used to me but she has started to stand her ground.

I am so grateful to be living here with the ability to interact with the various animals that live here. I also believe Rocky and Lou Lou are loving it here though Rocky is very jealous of me paying attention to the horses. Can’t blame him really considering his previous life. He barks at Major but Major couldn’t care less and takes no notice. I have to put Rocky in the house when it is feeding time for my equine friends.

I have observed Major when there is another horse in the vicinity, for example, if a car and horse float pulls up near the paddock, he gallops around, snorting and kicking his back legs. Once when I was in the front yard and Major was carrying on, he kicked a large clod of dried horse poo that sailed through the air and landed quite near me. Rocky, who was with me at the time, jumped straight in and started to eat it.

When their owner takes Major for a ride, Hey You is constantly in motion all over the paddock and trots up and down the fence line waiting for him to return. She certainly gets plenty of exercise then.

Being winter, there is not a lot of feed left in the paddock and my two friends have been elsewhere for the last 2 weeks. I miss them but no doubt when they return I will hear Major whinnying to me as if to say, well I am back now, come and give me a carrot.

Love it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Artistic Endeavours

This is a view of half my back yard and part of the paddock next door with my equine friends Major and Hey You not long after the sun rose to reveal the wonderous winter landscape that we are enjoying on an almost daily basis.

I am only fairly new to digital scrapbooking but am fast becoming enchanted with the whole process. The other picture above I took a couple of weeks ago when we had the minus 9.6 start to the day and everything was frosted with white icicles. Simply beautiful. This is the pub as viewed from my front yard. Not too far to stagger home when you have had a skinfull. Anyway, I have turned it into a picture with some of the elements I have in my digital scrapbooking stash. The advantage of digi scrapping is that you don't have miles of papers, embellishments and tools taking up space on my work desk but I confess that I still enjoy the "hands on" process too.

I am sure there are better places to live but as far as I am concerned, you can keep them. I love where I live and feel more at home here than anywhere else I have lived before.

Watch this space, there is more to come


How long can you live on what food you have at home?

If you had to live on what you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer starting right now, how long do you think you could last without having to go shopping? To clarify, "shopping" means heading off to Woolies, Coles, Aldi or your local IGA, grabbing a trolley and going from aisle to aisle and filling the bugger up to the top. My aim, now that I have stocked my pantry and freezer over the last couple of months is to see how long I can manage to feed two adults and 2 dogs with what I have right now plus $21.00 to take care of the essentials.

I belong to a fabulous group called Simple Savings www.simplesavings.com.au which is where I got the $21 challenge idea from. Go and have a look at it for yourself. You will be surprised.

This is one experiment I am going to start this week. The only concessions I will make to this venture is (1) to buy some bread and eggs from the post office. Yes, I know that sounds odd but in this little village where I live the post office has a tiny general store component to it and the post mistress has her own chooks. Fresh bread comes in on a Friday and is available frozen most of the time if you get caught short and (2) some fresh fruit and veg when I go to town on Wednesday to have my tax return done. Otherwise I have worked out that I can mix and match the contents of the fridge, freezer and pantry to create about 50 meals.

So, if I can avoid going "shopping" for the next 28 days, I will be able to save about $1,000.00. Impossible I hear you say but not so. You would be surprised what is lurking in the pantry and what you can do with it to create something delicious. I have a number of things that are getting close to their "best before" dates so they are on the top of the list to be used first.

Given my penchant for Chinese cuisine, for the first time in my life I am going to make sweet and sour pork at some stage this week. I have all the ingredients to make it from scratch including the sauce. It won't be that bright red colour though but it will taste great. Nothing like a little confidence in your own abilities eh?

The only difficulty I can forsee is possibly that the dogs will need something apart from a tin of meat and some dry food, once the 6 bones that are in the freezer have gone. However I am sure that I can use some of the $21 to overcome this.

So that is my plan. Starting now. In fact, I think it is time for another cup of coffee and to decide what, from the vast array of yummy items I have accumulated, I will make for our main meal today. Hmmmm.... I think it will have to be spinach and ricotta canelloni made with mountain bread. Delish!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The olden days

It would appear that I am turning into my grandmother. You know what it was like when you were a kid. The older members of your family constantly reminiscing about what it was like when they were children and how good it was then. How cheap things were and us kids looking at them in wonder at how old fashioned it all sounded.

Well, I suddenly realised recently that the same thing is happening to me now. For example:

* in primary school my pocket money was 2 shillings which Dad gave me every Saturday morning. Oh boy you could buy a lot with that in those days. A lot of the time I would go to the Saturday matinee at the local theatre where tickets were 1 shilling and 3 pence and I would spend the other 9 pence on a huge bag of mixed lollies from the milk bar across the road. At Mrs Lemmon's general store you could buy 3 pence worth of broken biscuits and get a big bag full. Biscuits came in large tins then and you bought them by weight.

* Being from a family that was not actually flush with funds, my brother and I used to save Dad's daily newspapers until we had enough to roll into a big bundle then we would take them to Pat Roots butcher shop where Mr Roots would buy them from us for 6 pence a pound. He would use them to wrap his meat parcels, the first recycling I can remember. Often we would take the money in the form of sliced devon to eat on the way home.

*The Beatles were all the rage when I was in primary school and a couple of the boys at school had plastic Beatle wigs they would wear to school.

* I started high school they year Australia changed over from pounds, shillings and pence to dollars and cents. I felt ripped off as 6 pence was the same as 5 cents but when you translated that into lollies, you got less. Not fair!

* My first ever brand new "off the showroom floor" car was a red Datsun 120Y. I bought it in 1974 when I was a student nurse and I have no idea how much I paid for it because I was only interested in the monthly payment figure and whether I would get a good trade-in for the crappy old Morris 1100 that I was driving at the time. The payments worked out to be $95 a month and on my student nurse salary, I could manage that.

This was not my first car, oh no, my first car was a 1963 blue Ford Falcon that my Dad bought for $80. It has a hole in the automatic transmission which he skillfully repaired using aluminium foil, araldite and some other secret substance which actually worked because I drove that baby around for 18 months with no problems.

Then I traded the Falcon in on a Morris 1100 which turned out to be a piece of crap. I didn't even complete the first trip I did from the place of purchase (Penrith) back to the hospital. It stalled in Maroubra and when the NRMA bloke arrived, he told me the alternator had failed. Then every time it even looked like it might rain the bloody thing would not start or if it was actually going, it would conk out after 3 drops of rain. The final straw was when I was on my way to visit my grandfather for my 4 day break, who lived on the central coast. I had just crossed the Hawkesbury River on the new F3 freeway and was chugging up the hill when it started to rain and (surprise, surprise - not) the car stopped. No way could I start it again and by now the rain was falling heavily.

We are talking about 1974 here folks and of course, no mobile phones so I had to try to flag someone down to help me. It was starting to get dark by then and it was only after at least 30 minutes of waving frantically at the traffic whilst getting soaked that some kind person finally stopped. They drove to the nearest phone and called the NRMA for me. In those days I discovered that the NRMA had no jurisdiction on the F3 freeway. The Freeway people had their own road service which eventually turned up and I could hardly believe what they told me. They would tow my car off the F3 and onto the pacific Highway which would then enable the NRMA to come to service the car. Why they couldn't look at the car themselves was beyond me.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, after a couple of hours wait, the NRMA managed to start the car again and I finally arrived at my Grandfathers place after 11pm. It was on the return trip 4 days later that I drove into the Datsun dealer in Maroubra and told the salesman "I want the red one in the front window".

Well, back to 2010 and the other day I was sitting patiently at a red light in Armidale when I saw a Datsun 120Y go past the other way and I thought "Boy, I bought one of those new" and that started me thinking. I wonder how much you can get one for today? A couple of hundred bucks probably. Funny how things turn out.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

High School memories

This is me not long after I left high school. All that lovely long hair that now a days I don't have. Far too much hard work to look after.
I loved my 6 years of high school between 1966 and 1971. Now that may sound quite mad to some of you but it is true. School was fun for me and I even enjoyed doing exams. I viewed them as a challenge to see how well I could do with the minimum of study. I am proud to say that I did pretty well in most of my exams even though I hardly studied much. I have a pretty good memory so I think that helped plus if you enjoy doing something you can usually do well. I can recall several school reports that the teachers had written “can do better” or something along those lines. The way I looked at it then was “sure I can do better but I would rather just do enough to get through”.

My maths teacher, Mr Wilson, whom I had for the entire 6 years, said I had an attitude problem. Oh well, from his point of view I probably did but if you look at maths from my perspective, I was trying to cram into my brain all that obscure mathematical information that I was never going to use once I had left school like X equals Y squared, sine, cosine, tangents, algebra, etc. see, I have forgotten it already. As soon as he started talking about these things in the class room my eyes would glaze over and I would start to daydream.

It all came to a head when I did my trial HSC and scored 8.5 out of 120. Mr Wilson reprimanded me for achieving such a low mark but do you know; I didn’t even get the lowest score in the class that time. No siree, there were two more fellow maths delinquents that scored even less than I did. I told Mr Wilson that as far as I could tell, when I left school, all I was ever going to use was adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing and the rest of it would be of no use to me so why waste my time trying to learn it all. Well, in hindsight that was probably not the best thing to say to a person whose whole teaching life was devoted to mathematics but it was the truth and, my friends, I have been proved about 98% correct over the years.

I took up playing the guitar in 1970 and that seriously affected my studies. I can’t remember just how the guitar came into my life but I do remember being so keen to learn to play that I did very little else for 18 months. I bought myself a Fender acoustic with nylon strings at a music shop in Penrith for $60. In 1970 that was a lot of money and of course being a Fender (I had no idea that it was a good brand at the time) it sounded great. I still have it and it is in pretty good condition as I hardly play it these days so it would have to be worth a bit I would think. Anyway, I digress…..

When the time finally arrived for me to do the HSC, it was evident after the whole thing was over that I had spent too much time playing guitar and not enough studying. My two favourite subjects were Industrial Arts and Indonesian and I romped in with a 2nd level pass for each. With maths I was extremely lucky and scraped in at the lowest pass level, along with science and English (3rd level) but when it came to Geography, and I have no idea at all why, but I only just failed it. In fact, I applied for a remark in the new year but still did not manage to scrape a pass. Now this was not good news as at the time my Aunt Jane (Dad’s sister) was a geography teacher so I felt like an idiot.

I must mention Industrial Arts now which was a combination of tech drawing, woodwork and metalwork. I had done tech drawing for the 3 years prior to getting into 5th form and adored it. I even managed to top the class in 2nd form which was no mean feat. There were only 4 girls at my school doing the subject and about 100 boys and to come top of the class and beat all the boys was a real feather in my cap. Once we got into 5th and 6th form tech drawing became Industrial Arts and I was the only girl in school studying that. What I didn’t realise until the class did an excursion to Ultimo Tech during 1971, was that not only was I the only girl in Nepean High, I was the only girl in the State studying Industrial Arts. A gathering of Industrial Arts students from various high schools in NSW turned up for this event at Ultimo and I was the only girl. Far from feeling the odd one out, I felt so proud to be one of a kind. At the time I had ambitions of studying Architecture but that, as they say, is another story.

On the last day of high school it is traditional for the senior class to play pranks and misbehave a little. These days some pupils take it to extremes and the police have to be called in but back in 1971 the most outrageous thing our class took part in was to swap uniforms. The girls uniform was a light blue shift dress and the boys wore grey trousers or shorts and a light blue shirt. About a dozen of us met up before school in one of the parks and swapped clothes. My God it was so funny. I have some B&W photos of a few of the boys in our little shift dresses and witches breeches peeking out from underneath.

Witches breeches, did you have some of these? I had 2 pair that I can recall. One was red with black lace and the other blue with white lace. For those who don’t have any idea what I am talking about, witches breeches were underwear, a type of shorts made from a satin type of fabric and the legs trimmed with several rows of lace. Think bicycle shorts but not as tight. Anyway they were high fashion in the early 70s amongst school girls and were worn over your pantyhose. Cool!

Ah, those memories. I had fun at high school but after my HSC results I had to revise my career choice because, as luck would have it, I didn’t get a big enough pass in Maths to do Architecture and in fact, I didn’t get enough marks to get into Uni. The moral of the story is; Mr Wilson just may have been right after all. Oh well.

Just what I did do after I left school is a whole other story. Until next time, take it easy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Brushes with fame part 2

This is the grand final contestant lineup from the Campbelltown Catholic Club Talent Quest circa 1992. You will notice me at the top right and a very young Human Nature at the bottom second from the right. I can't believe that it was 18 years ago now. My God how the time does fly by. Of all the contestants pictured here the only ones that have gone on to fame and fortune (naturally) are the boys from Human Nature. It was evident back then that they were a very talented bunch and it is great to see them where they are today. At least I can say I shared the stage with them once. Go Guys!! We all love you.

Harry Potter's Whomping Willow's Aussie Cousin

This is it folks, I discovered it on Wednesday morning. The first cousin of the whomping willow from Hogwarts Castle, Harry Potter's school, lives in my front yard. It was a cold and misty morning ...............

Monday, June 28, 2010

Progress renovation pics

Top left is a view of the loungeroom and top right is half the kitchen. Bottom left is the dining area of the kitchen and bottom right is the bedroom. As you can tell, I like strong colours. The house is looking great.
More soon.

Winter photos

Mornin' all

Another crisp morning in the New England area of Ebor. Minus 6.1 today and once again the landscape is a crystal white blanket. I went out to give the horses their morning carrot and they both had frost on their ears and manes. Anyway, above is a little photographic tour of the frosty scenery. Simply beautiful. Fortunately the day progresses into a clear, bright sunny day with today's maximum of 9 deg. So endeth the weather report.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Losing things

Oh bugger! I hate it when I lose something. Not just anything but something that has sentimental value. A couple of weeks ago I lost a garnet from one of my rings. Now this particular ring has no real sentimental value as it was one I bought for myself. It was a 3 stone garnet ring that I was using to hold the other ring on my right ring finger.

Now this other ring was a gold and white gold band which was bought with a gift voucher from Kerry McKenzie Solicitors in Campbelltown where I worked for 6 years. When I left to go on our trip around Australia in 2001, Kerry and the rest of the staff did a whip around and presented me with a Prouds voucher as a farewell gift so off I went and chose this lovely ring. I got it big enough to fit on my right middle finger (the one you usually show to someone to indicate that you are not entirely pleased with what they did or said) however, after a few years of wearing it on that finger, I developed a rash underneath the ring so switched it to my ring finger. Of course it was a little too big for that finger hence the purchase of the garnet one to hold it in place.

Ok, now that I had lost one of the garnets I took the ring off and put it away for safe keeping in my jewellery box. Now somewhere in the back of my mind a little light went on and a message was being sent to my brain to tell me that it was now entirely possible that if I did not do something about securing this gold band to the aforementioned ring finger that it may fall off. Common sense you say? Of course, but did I do anything about it at the time? No.

All that following day I kept an occasional check on my finger to see if the ring was still there and right up until the time I stepped into the shower that night, it WAS there. Now you can see where this story is going can't you? Yes, I showered, shampooed and soaped up enjoying the feeling of hot water spashing on my weary body and whilst I was towelling down I realised that - yikes - MY RING WAS MISSING!!!

In the event that it may have fallen off between the back yard and getting undressed to shower, Matt and I searched high and low; nothing. I would bet money that the darn thing had gone down the plug hole whilst I was shampooing but as we have a septic system, there is no way I am going to go diving into the muck to try and find it. I felt so miserable all the next day and am still kicking myself for not doing something about it sooner. Oh well, lesson learned the hard way.

Matt told me that I should go and buy another ring to replace the garnet one so whilst I was visiting Dad last week, I did. I bought a lovely 4 sapphire and 10 diamond one in the half yearly sales. It looks great. It is also the right size for my ring finger so there is not much chance it will come off without a fair bit of effort.

I remember when...... primary school days

Walking to primary school in the 1960s the 2 or so kilometres from home to the school. Sometimes in 5th and 6th class riding my black Malvern Star bicycle that Dad had purchased second hand and done up. On the way to school we passed through the grounds of McCall's Bakery. Keith McCall was in my class and more often than not we would grab one of the discarded bread rolls from a pile near the door to munch on the way to class. When it was Keith's birthday or another significant celebration, his father used to bake a large loaf of bread shaped like a crocodile for the whole class to enjoy. I always loved that.

And in the 60s no school would be complete without the daily delivery of those 1/3 pint bottles of milk that we were forced to consume at recess. They sat in the playground until around 11am, often in the sun where they rapidly started to go off. I was never a big fan of plain milk to start with but used to hold my nose and drink it all down in one go until one day I got a bottle that was really off and I almost threw up just by smelling it. That was it for me, from that day on I refused to drink the school milk much to the consternation of the teacher and my parents. This milk phobia has stayed with me ever since and even today I will not drink plain milk, however, add a couple of spoons of chocolate flavouring or coffee and - yum yum.

Of course primary school in those days was vastly different to today. We did our maths with pounds shillings and pence and had ink wells with a dip-as-you-go pen to write with once you graduated from the lower grades where all you got was a pencil. Everyone used to get blue fingers from the ink. I remember it was someone's job to go around to all the desks in the mornings to fill the ink wells.

My 4th class teacher was very unusual for that time (1963). He was from Borneo and wore a turban and his name was Mr Gora Singh Mann. Mr Mann for short and he arranged all us pupils in a particular order in the class room and gave us numbers instead of calling us by our names. I suppose that was so that he could get used to who we were if we stayed in the same spot. I was number 13 - lol. A funny thing but I saw him again in the early 1980s when I was at a market at Kirribilli, still wearing the turban and not looking a lot older. I said hello and he remembered his time at Glenbrook Primary School but not me specifically. Oh well.

My 5th and 6th class teacher was a middle aged, jovial fellow called Mr Fitzsimmons. He played piano and as there was a piano in our class room, most mornings he would come in and play a tune and we would all sing along to Heart of my Hearts or something like that. I clearly remember one morning he walked into the darkened classroom and asked all of us to raise our hands. He then switched the light on and said "many hands make light work" - *groan* - but it was funny at the time.

The playground was quite large and had an enormous grassy area at the rear that butted onto the back yards of several homes. There were 2 large persimmon trees there and I used to eat the fruit when it was ripe enough. Someone would climb the tree and pass down the fruit. I have not eaten Persimmons since, funny that.

I always enjoyed the annual school fete and Mum would give me 2 shillings so that I could have some fun. My favourite game of chance was hoop-la and I won a few small prizes over the years. Mum would make toffees and coconut ice to sell at the cake stall. Toffees were 1 penny. There was also a stall that sold Indonesian food. It was run by Mrs Van Gent who I suspect, looking back, must have spent some time in Indonesia. She made this wonderful beef curry with toasted coconut on top. Sucn an exotic dish for the 1960s. It was served in small round containers like you used to buy icecream in. Delicious.

About 6 weeks before the end of term in 1963 I broke my right arm so I got an early school holiday break and went to stay with my grandparents at Narrabeen. Mum had her hands full with my 2 brothers and 1 sister so didn't need me hanging around to make extra trouble. I had a wonderful time at Nana and Pa's being thoroughly spoiled.

We did not get a TV until 1966 so on Sunday evening we used to go across to the neighbours house and ask if it was OK to watch Disneyland and McHale's Navy with their kids. That was a real treat for us. Oh there were so many things that I loved about growing up in the 1960s. Now that I have started I had better continue before the old brain goes mushy and I forget.

Until next time, take care and keep well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My brushes with fame through the years

When I was a student nurse between 1972 and 1975 I worked at Prince of Wales Hospital and I can clearly recall several times when Professor Fred Hollows would come in to see his eye patients. Often he would pop in on a weekend on his way to golf or something like that. Not dressed to the nines like most of the specialists but in quite casual clothes. He was a kind and generous man who always cared about his patients. Every time I see the ads on TV for his fund raising foundation it takes me back to those days when as a relatively young doctor he would visit the ward where I worked. He was also polite and friendly to every member of staff. The world lost a true gentleman and wonderful, caring person when he passed away.

In the early 1980s I joined an extras agency called Studio J and managed to get myself some work as an extra on some TV shows and the occasional movie. It was an exciting time for me. I played a nurse in the background of 6 episodes of “A Country Practice” and was there for Grant Dodwell’s last episode. I managed to get a photo of the whole cast including me which is proudly in my scrapbook album. I also did an ad for the Commonwealth Bank dressed as a nurse. I did one for Medibank Private playing a mum with 2 children and yet another ad for some house cladding. These things all paid very well but took absolutely ages to film. A whole day was not uncommon and the final result was about 2 seconds on TV. But by far the best thing I was in was …..

The Two Ronnies in Australia where Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker filmed a series of skits whilst over here. I got the call to show up at Channel Nine studios one day and along with a few other extras (some I had worked with on other projects) were herded into the wardrobe department and dressed up in evening wear. I wore the most gorgeous long mauve gown with a sequined diamond at the waist with glittery drop earrings. I was a lot slimmer then; weren't we all - lol. My job was to be a tipsy woman at a party standing in the background and holding a drink whilst the two Ronnies did their routine. I was so excited I could barely keep still. After filming was over I ran into Ronnie Barker in the corridor and asked if I could have my photo taken with him and he kindly obliged. I also have that photo proudly in my scrapbook album. Unbeknown to me, some of the other extras had been told not to ask for photo opportunities so obviously I made a faux pas that day and co-incidentally I never got any more work from Studio J. Oh well, at least I can say I did rub shoulders with some famous people and have the pictures to prove it.

My final claim to fame came in 1992 when, for a few years I had been doing the rounds of the various RSL and club talent quests singing mainly Jazz and Blues music with varying results and hoping to break into the big time. One of the most prestigious quests was run by the Campbelltown Catholic Club with first prize in the grand final of $10,000.00. Everyone got appearance money in all the quests which ranged from $10 but Campbelltown paid $25 which was pretty good at that time. I was lucky to win my heat which paid $100 then got a place in the semi final which put me into the grand final. I won the encouragement award of $500. The grand final was to be filmed onto video and all contestants would be given a copy. (I recently had my copy transferred to DVD so I will have it forever).

Well, at that time there was a group of 4 school boys in the grand final called “The Four Trax” and they were a tight and polished boy group very obviously destined for bigger things. They won the $10,000.00 first prize with a rendition of a medley of Michael Jackson songs very well choreographed , then followed it up with John Denver’s “Grandma’s Feather Bed” with all the appropriate barnyard noises. I was in the unfortunate position of having to follow these 4 guys in the order of contestants. They also won the audience award that night. A nicer bunch of fresh faced, talented and polite boys would have been hard to find.

These days you know them as “Human Nature” and of course they DID go on to bigger and much better things. I have the souvenir program and aforementioned video to remind me of that fun time.

As for me, I joined the First Fifteenth Royal NSW Lancer’s Band (Army reserves) based at Parramatta for a couple of years as guest vocalist and in 1993 did a 10 day tour of Fiji with the band. It was a 26 piece swing band and I really enjoyed myself. On that tour I learned to sing the Fijiian farewell song “Isa Lei” in Fijiian and performed it several times over there to great applause from the locals. I was taught the correct pronunciation by a member of the Fijiian army band and can still sing it today. The Lancers band also recorded a 5 track cassette in 1992 of which one of the tracks included me singing “Route 66”. I have that too but no cassette player to play it on. Old technology you see.

I also sang in a number of karaoke competitions around the pubs and won a few prizes and most recently I ran a couple of karaoke nights at the Cowra Bowling Club plus entertained there at a Christmas in July dinner.

Looking back on it all I feel very lucky to have done what I did and am now happy to sing in the shower and kitchen.

La la laaaaa - *coff*


random thoughts for the day

Ok, so I have been a bit slack when it comes to writing my blog. Truth be known I just have not been inspired to write. I thought of a few topics but when it came down to the crunch, I just could not be bothered to put it down in black and white.

Over the last 6 months I have had a lot of other things on my mind and with the two moves I have had a lot to do as well. Moving house twice in 3 months is not something I would recommend to anyone, especially if you are doing it yourself. Fortunately it has all worked out in the end and I am possibly the happiest I have ever been now living in this small country village.

For example, who would not be happy owning a house outright? Yes, that is correct, no mortgage. And we have our very own spring water bore with which to top up the rainwater tank should it ever drop to a level where we would need it. The Council rates are less than $600 a year and that is before the pensioner discount is applied so all we really need to pay is food, petrol, electricity, telephone and insurances.

I have also learned to budget a lot better and plan meals. That way everything in the freezer gets used and very little is thrown away. I am cooking more things from scratch these days too. Certainly a cheaper way to eat and makes you think when you look in the pantry and wonder what sort of meal you can make with what is in there.

Yes, I can honestly say life in Ebor suits me down to the ground. There are 2 gorgeous horses next door who have trained me to give them a carrot or apple when they come to the fence and I get to give them a pat and scratch on the head. Lovely. The fresh, clean country air and being 1300 metres above sea level makes me feel alive.

There are lots worse places to be. So lucky I am here.

Ciao for now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

what happened?

I posted a blog and it disappeared. Can't be bothered re-doing it now. More later.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It is May already

I can't believe how fast the year is going. I know I say this all the time but it is true. Here it is - May. Before you know it it will be Christmas again. Crikey!

Anyway, we are settling in really well in beautiful down town Ebor. The trees are turning the most wonderful shades of red and gold and we have had several frosts. In fact just over a week ago it was minus 2.4 at 6am and the yard had a crispy white coating on everything. I took this photo of the horses next door in the frost. Lovely.

The painting is going well with the bedroom and loungeroom finished and the kitchen is about 95% complete. What a difference a couple of gallons of sugarsoap has made to the yukky tobacco stains on every surface and then some bright coloured paint. It looks like a totally different house.

The fire place is now going 24/7 and we have about 6 tonne of wood stacked in readiness for the winter which we have been told will be C O L D. Well, it must be darn cold as our neighbours Paul and Jan, who have lived here for 4 years, go north every June for 3 months in their caravan. Hmmmm..... I just wonder what we might be in for. Apparently about 2 years ago it dropped as low as minus 15 and the falls half froze. Oh well, better that sweating like a pig in the heat and humidity of Lismore.
I will try to write a little more often. Right now I need to get off my bum and do the dishes then I have some pumpkin soup to cook for lunch.
Ciao folks

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pictures from EBOR

Part of our yard looking across the road to the Ebor Falls Hotel/Motel

This is the Ebor Falls, a noted tourist attraction about one kilometer from our new home. Well worth a visit.

Left: The horse paddock next door. This is the view from the bedroom window.

Right: The Guy Fawkes River.

Lovely ........

How life can change dramatically, for the better.

It is truly amazing how life can change so completely within a matter of 3 months. Mine did. If you had told me 6 months ago that I would be living in the village of Ebor (population about 102) in the New England district of NSW, in a 2 bedroom weatherboard cottage we now own outright, on 1012 sqm grassy block with our own springwater bore in the middle of the yard and a large shed for my darling husband to tinker in, I would have laughed in your face. Oh come now, are you kidding me? Nooo.... way Jose ..... Well, it is true, I have lived in Ebor now for 4 weeks and I couldn't be happier. But 6 months ago ......

It was October 2009, our Cowra house had been on the market since May with not a lot of interest but we were hopeful of attracting a buyer soon so that we could move to Lismore by Christmas. This next part of my life has been covered in a couple of previous posts but suffice it to say that our plans were to live in a caravan on Loretta's land near Nimbin etc ...... you have to read previous posts for yourself unless you already have ..... ahhh, but things did not work out how I had imagined they would so something needed to be done.

We decided that we had to find somewere else to live. What would we do without a computer and the internet these days? Marvellous stuff. Within a period of 48 hours early in January, we had trawled the real estate sites on the net, found this house at Ebor, arranged an inspection, liked what we saw and made an offer which was accepted. It just felt like the right thing to do so we just did it. Probably a world record for the fastest real estate transaction. Just go with the flow if it feels right.

Anyway ..... here I now am in Ebor and I feel wonderful. This is the first house I have lived in that was not bought with the idea of resale value and it really feels like a home. Funny, Matt feels the same way too. I love the arrangement of the rooms and particularly the large kitchen. Sure it needs some work but that's OK. We love it.

I love waking up each morning to see the grassy paddock next door that has a wonderful old weather beaten wooden shed on it and the two horses that roam around lazily grazing on the grass that grows so prolifically in this area. God's country so we have been told because we are up in the clouds most mornings. Just down past the horse paddock is the Guy Fawkes river that flows by. The water is so clean and clear and you can fish for rainbow trout. All the streams and creeks in this area look so clear and clean and flow all the time. Such a change from living in Cowra where the local dam was down to 4% and the Lachlan River had lots of sand islands that all had a healthy growth of foliage on them.

I live in a small village and the only shops here are a petrol station with a small shop that does hamburgers and sandwiches and sells the local delicacy - smoked trout - plus a handful of groceries, milk etc. Then there is a small post office which doubles as a tiny general store. I mean tiny. I am talking about 4 shelves, one household fridge and one chest freezer. The lady who runs it (Lisa) is about 30 (who can tell these days anyway) and a font of local knowledge. We all need to collect our mail as there is no deliveries. I wondered why no-one had a letterbox when we first inspected the house. The mail comes in from Dorrigo once a day. On Fridays Lisa gets fresh bread in from Dorrigo which is handy. If you need a tradesman for a job around the house or you need a load of firewood or anything else, just ask at the post office.

There is also no garbage collection service here so we need to deal with our own rubbish. The tip is 2km north of town and if you go there when the council bloke is not there and use the side gate, you don't have to pay to dump your garbage. If however you have a large load that needs access through the locked double dates, you need to come Monday or Thursday before 2pm and pay the man. I have been using the side gate on off work days since we got here. Another tip from the lovely Lisa.

*sigh* Life is good my friends. Trust your instincts and don't be afraid to try something new if it feels right. By the same token, if something feels a bit iffy, don't do it. Happy days .............

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our new home

I am thrilled to be in our new home in the village of Ebor, population 102 (we are the 2 - lol). This is our little place which actually has a name, it is called "Appletree Cottage". There is a lovely folk art sign attached to the front.

The purchase was settled on Friday at Coffs Harbour after much ranting, raving and tearing out of hair by me at the Bank's agents who had a major breakdown in communications and stuffed up big time. How hard is it to read a bloody letter for Gawd's sake?
Honestly, with less than 2 hours to go till settlement last Thursday, I received a phone call from the Bank's agent enquiring as to the whereabouts of Dorrigo, where I had booked settlement to take place, and whether it was within proximity of Newcastle. Given that I had advised the bank twice in writing and the agent's settlement department four times by telephone that Dorrigo was located one hours drive inland from Coffs Harbour and that the nearest branches of ANZ was Coffs or Armidale, upon hearing the question, I exploded.
Many years of legal secretarial training stood me in good stead for the following 2 hours of phone hockey which I engaged in with the bank, the vendor's solicitor and the real estate agent. There is very little I could do at that late stage to ensure settlement would take place at the time and place that I have previously booked and, mind you, had confirmed four (count them) four times!!! So the whole matter had to be postponed until the following day.

Of course, now there were extra expenses to be incurred by the vendor's solicitor to get the documents to an agent in Coffs by courier which I offered to pay as I foolishly expected the bank to come to Dorrigo. They said they would 4 times and you just have to take them at their word, don't you? *sigh*

The bank admitted that the booking error was theirs and that I could "possibly" be compensated for expenses following an internal investigation. Secretarial training once again came to the fore as I kept written notes of every conversation I had in those 2 hours and, how great is modern technology - the mobile phone log allowed me to transcribe every call, the time and duration and to whom I was speaking.

I have created a tax invoice and a 2 page letter to the bank's agents and I named names! They are not dealing with some silly old woman who knows nothing, no, they are dealing with "Litigation Linda" the toughest, fightingest, rootin-est, tootin-est hombre that ever was!!! I am not going to settle for such unprofessional and sloppy mismanagement of a very serious matter. MY matter that is. I expected a moderate amount of competence. Sheesh!

Anyway, the house is ours at last and we are both very happy. The dogs are loving it as they have a large grassy yard to run and laze in, Matt has his shed, I will have a craft room as soon as we get around to painting it and setting it up and we are once again just the two of us in our own space.

Coffee and tea with scones will be served to one and all who would like to drop in. The Ebor Falls Hotel/Motel is across the road should you feel the urge to stay a night or two to perhaps go trout fishing. This is a beautiful part of NSW and well worth a visit.

Love to all and, don't settle for second best in anything.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And now for the next big move

Well, I am sorry to say that things did not work out as I thought they would living at Lismore for various reasons so we have bought a little cottage in the village of Ebor, population about 100. We have partially moved in even though settlement is still over a week away. The vendor (an elderly widow) let us in after exchange so that we could mow the lawn and get started on the cleaning and painting. The house has not been lived in since June 2009 and the previous occupants were a pair of geriatric smokers with two little stinky dogs.

Cleaning this house will be a full time job for months to come. The tobacco smell is at times overpowering and every single surface will need to be cleaned to remove the smoke residue from ceiling to floor. Being a reformed smoker from the time when a packet of 20 Winfield reds cost 47 cents at Franklins, I should be a bit sympathetic I suppose but I am NOT! The stink! A curse upon anyone who smokes indoors. You'd think with all that we know about the effects of smoking on the body that there would be less and less people taking the filthy habit up but, no. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway, back to the house. Upon closer inspection, there are filthy marks on every doorway, light switch and the window glass is yellow. The stove is in a less than desirable state so I have unearthed the trusty Sumbeam electric frypan and am cooking our meals in that until the sdtove cleaning fairy pays me a call. Fortunately the carpets have been professionally cleaned as the real estate agent said when he first saw the house, the smell was dreadful and there was no way he could market the property until the carpets were done. In retrospect I should have hired a professional cleaning company to do the house top to toe before we moved in but that would have cost a bomb. I know if I was a professional cleaner I would charge like a wounded bull to do this place. Nevertheless, I can see the potential of this house, how wonderful it will look when it has been painted and the arrangement of the rooms is asthetically pleasing.

The dogs now have a large grassy yard to run around in any old time they want to and there are a couple of Kelpies next door they can get to know through the fence plus a bonus - the other side is a large paddock with an old wooden shed and a couple of horses. Lou Lou likes to bark at the horses. I have also seen a few rabbits there. I just love the view out the loungeroom and bedroom windows of the horse paddock. Matt has a large double shed down the back where he can tinker away as long as he likes. The Guy Fawkes river is 200 metres away and is full of trout.

There is no mail delivery or garbage service so we must rock up to the local post office which is a postage stamp size building (pun intended :-) to collect our daily mail and the tip is 2km out of town. *sigh* I am going to love being here full time. Still a little stuff to move from Lismore which we will do over the next couple of weeks.

I will definitely NOT miss the ants in everything, the humidity, trying to sleep on a hot night, the cane toads, mozzies, having to do the doggy shuffle to avoid Lou Lou and Peg fighting, not being able to cook 'cause I got no kitchen, having to go to the main house to shower and use the loo, and having to pee in a bucket at night.

Must finish off now as I need to light another incense stick which helps to override the tobacco smell. Crikey.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

We're Here!

Yes, we are here in lovely Coffee Camp near Nimbin and enjoying the rain and humidity. This photo shows our caravan parked at the rear of the shed and part of the view over the land next door. Lovely really. We are still settling in but I can easily get used to the relaxed lifestyle living on Nimbin time. It is so nice to not HAVE to do anything - just please ourselves. Retirement is great.
More soon.