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.