Tag Archives: Fun

Don’t laugh! But ….

I had a girls’ night out with my eldest daughter-flea yesterday. Nothing funny about that is there? Oh, yes there is, according to her work colleagues who thought a mother and daughter going to see Rod Stewart at the  Entertainment Centre was hysterically funny. There was much joshing all afternoon about the anticipated zimmer framed audience, much disbelief that she didn’t think her mother would be hoisting her undies onto the stage –  “not even a clean pair in her  handbag?” was the follow-up.

Not to disappoint them, there were quite a few older and usually larger women there in wheel chairs and on electric scooters; a few (larger) men in wheelchairs and a few walking sticks that we saw. A lot of older women, quite a few older men and a remarkable number of younger women and men. But not a single Zimmer frame in sight.

But the only item we saw go up on the stage was a toy kangaroo for Mr Stewart’s little boy. Did I say little? A 70 year old father with a little child? Yes, there he was, a cute little poppet on the stage briefly to receive the kangaroo. Did I mention he had blond hair and was dressed rather in his father’s style?  Black trousers with a voluminous white shirt untucked and appearing as though the collar may have been turned up at one stage; all topped off with a small black vest.  He was a cute little poppet, standing there with one hand on his hip, bopping to the music and trying to get one little foot to tap at the same time as Dad’s.  The two obviously had a very close and loving relationship, but we couldn’t help wondering how often this happened, and what he’d be like when he hit his teens. Time will tell.

Rod Stewart puts on a great evening of entertainment, but he seemed to be very tired and didn’t have the same energy that he’d had when I saw him six or seven years ago. He has a self deprecating sense of humour and sent himself up with great style. At one point a large photo/poster of a younger Rod Stewart was projected to the back of the stage – Overwritten was a statement that he’d made in an interview at that age – words to the effect of “What? You’d think I’d be still singing “Do you think I’m sexy” when I’m 50? I’d be a parody of myself.” He looked at the poster shrugged his shoulders with a grin and launched into it. What fun. My only disappointment was that his voice has changed – that husky quality seems to have gone.

So now you know – I’m a Rod Stewart fan – but not one of those shouting out “I love you, Rod” across the arena.  XD


Nan’s Button Box Bouquets

Prowling around the web today, I came across this site. The joy of playing in my mother’s button jar is clearly not a joy I shared alone :). If you love buttons, this is a site to delight. What a job – playing with your grandmother’s buttons for your work. Have a look through the gallery and in the multi media bouquets you will find a surprise – perfect for a knitter’s wedding. I would love to put a pirated photo here, but it really would be copyright infringement – sigh ….

School Holidays …

What a joy the school holidays are. I haven’t always thought that – but grandchildren are the unexpected reward for living through the many school holidays of your own children! 

I fully expected that the day would come when our grandchildren would not want to spend time with us – the teenage years are busy with friends and homework and sometimes holiday jobs. I thought we had reached that stage with the two older baby fleas – one works at a restaurant in the holidays when she is not out socialising. Her brother changed schools last year, and then again when he started high school this year. Both changes were good for him, and he has found a group of friends that now have more to offer than his grandparents.

Like many things in life, the change seemed to happen overnight. Fortunately I expected it, but was still amazed at how abruptly it happened. I don’t think I have ever fully gotten over the fact that with our own children, we had our last family holiday without knowing it. I would have liked to have marked it in some special way. 

Yet, there are compensations – the unexpected phone call from our grand-daughter a few months ago, wanting to bring some friends with her to Sydney for a girls’ weekend – Grandma and Aunt included! What fun. And they want to do it again. Then these school holidays, the phone call from our nearly teenage grandson, wanting to stay with us while the rest of the family went away – he hates spending long periods in the car – but also knows that he gets a bit spoilt with us. Assuming that his parents knew of his call, he got the “Of course – we’ll look forward to it” answer. Big mistake. I had forgotten that you should never assume that children tell their parents everything! After a lengthy stand off at the Not-OK Corral, it was at last agreed that he could stay with us – wise decision in my books. I well remember our first trip overseas when our 13 year old daughter didn’t want to accompany us – they have many ways of making life hard unbearable for their poor parents! So we are enjoying a lovely week with a beautiful grandson who has suddenly changed from a morose, hard to please boy, into an amiable young man-boy. 

I can’t keep up with my social life ….

By nature, I’m quite a shy, reclusive person – if there’s a party going I can easily get sick with the ‘flu at the thought of having to put in an appearance. I don’t like to go out on consecutive days … the fact that my current interests/commitments require my absence from home on three days in a row each week is a constant source of frustration to me; but clearly my desire to go outweighs my desire to not go …..

So where is this leading, I hear you mutter … well, in a frenzy of self-inflicted sociability, I have just come to the end of an EXTRA three days in a row – and, I’m appalled to hear see these words leave my fingers, but I enjoyed them.

Day 1, Saturday: I had booked into a seminar on Blogging for Family History at Richmond Villa, the headquarters of the Society of Australian Genealogists at The Rocks – a most appropriate place for Australian’s researching their roots. Whilst not covering everything I’d have liked, I learnt a lot of interesting tit bits about making better use of my computer, and family history resources for bloggers.

When the seminar was over, I decided to walk back to the train, at The Quay, through The Rocks – since Grandpa Flea retired nearly 8 years ago, I have had very little “me time” , alone with my thoughts, and especially, very little time to go window shopping and browsing without a body guard intent on making sure that I buy nothing unless it can be eaten – “Can you eat it? Don’t buy it!” – not that it stops me, but it becomes a little wearing over the years …. so I spent a wonderful couple of hours wandering the streets. I had intended to go to Buttons, Buttons, Buttons the antique button shop in Nurses’ Walk, but I was quickly distracted by the street market in The Rocks, and by the Craft NSW gallery. Before I knew it, it was getting dark, so I reluctantly left.

Day 2, Sunday: On Sunday morning, I met a friend at Customs House at The Quay. We had intended to have lunch there, but the outdoor cafe must only be erected for special occasions as it had, very annoyingly, disappeared. After lunch elsewhere, and much talking, we headed up to The Museum of Sydney for a talk, The Fabric of Society, by Dr Annette Gero who has just published a magnificent book, by the same name, on the history of quilts in Australia. Her talk was associated with the current exhibition at the Museum, Skint and concentrated solely on the history of waggas and contained a lot of information accompanied by some very interesting slides.

I should say here, that I very nearly headed today’s post Synchronicity, as I had brought a book, The Gentle Arts, with me to show my friend a photo in it of a wagga rug that my mother-in-law, Lucy, had made. In the lead up the Bicentenary in 1988, community groups received grants to identify and document objects of historical significance in their local areas. Lucy had been approached about her wagga rugs and some letters she had dating from early last century. She happily donated one of her waggas to the Pioneer Women’s Hut at Tumbarumba, and it later was included in a Bicentennial touring exhibition of women’s quilts. When Lucy was alive, she was very disappointed that her wagga was not identified with her name, in either the book (which I had come across by accident in the optometrist’s while waiting for an appointment), or the touring exhibition. Wagga rugs have been part and parcel of my husband’s family for generations, but until I met the family, I had never seen one. Our family claim to historical fame was a fox skin quilt that my father had made – he had shot the foxes, tanned the hides, then cut and sewn them into a double bed quilt which had the fox tails hanging down each side of the bed. Both waggas and the fox skin quilt were products of a need to stay warm with limited money. My friend had never heard of waggas and was most interested in the book and the talk.

After the talk was over we raced upstairs to have a quick look at Skint before the Museum closed. And this is the amazing, slightly scary, sychronicity of it all – there, under glass, was Lucy’s wagga. Beneath it, a little sign with the attribution: Mrs Lucy Gallagher, 1980. I very nearly cried. She would have been so proud to have seen it. So, there will be another, less hurried visit to the exhibition with Grandpa Flea and our eldest daughter who was very close to her grandmother. And I know that a few tears will be blinked away that day.

Day 3, Today: A full day outing to Sans Souci where, along with the members of Grandpa Flea’s Probus club, we boarded a rather rickety looking boat for a “luncheon cruise” along the Georges River.

I don’t often go on these outings – originally because I went to a Knitters’ Guild meeting on a Monday, but these days because I try to catch up with the things that I don’t have time for in the rest of my busy life (ROFL) – but today I went because was hoping the boat would go past the waterfront house I lived in for 6 months when I first arrived in Sydney. In those days a waterfront property like the one we rented was not an object of desire – quite the reverse – we lived there only because we could afford the rent. There was no road access and we had to cross a narrow footbridge across the Georges River in an inlet, then follow a goat track around the waterfront for quite some distance to the house. The house would have been a beautiful old home in its day, but it was then very run-down. It had a long shotgun corridor down the middle, and the doors were all locked on one side of the corridor. We had a very large room at the front of the house which served as the bedroom – my mother put the wardrobes across the room to divide it into two sleeping spaces, one for my parents and the other for my brother and me. To get to the other rooms, we had to go out on the verandah. The end of the verandah had been closed off to make a bathroom and a small kitchen. From the kitchen we walked though the verandah doors into a very dark living room. The people who owned the house lived on the other side of the locked doors. The pan toilet was outside behind the house – heaven only knows how the “dunny man” lugged the clean and dirty pans to all the houses off the track.

And did I see the house? Well … maybe … we certainly went by the inlet where the house had been, but we weren’t close enough for me to be sure which inlet it was. I guess I will just have to drive over there one day and walk around the track again.

All in all, a VERY satisfying three days. And now I’m off to bed – exhausted – don’t bother knocking on the door until tomorrow afternoon!

Tea cosies and talks ….

Last Friday I went to a talk at Hornsby Library by Loani Prior, author of Wild Tea Cosies as part of the marketing of her new book Really Wild Tea Cosies. The room was packed – I was surprised by the interest. Quokka (Ravelry name) was there and Chris from the Cherryhills Group, but no-one else that I could recognise.

Loani is a good speaker – she talked about her experiences of getting a book published – she was interesting and funny with little anecdotes about the process, and a demonstration of some of the things she has knitted . Part of her performance was a competition – the sort where everyone stands up and then sits down as you fail to meet certain criteria. The last person standing is the winner. About half sat down in response to “Sit down if you haven’t knitted since Christmas”, and in response to the second criterion all except three sat. Quokka was still standing and as the first then second of the three was eliminate, she became the winner. The prize? An amazing tea cosy knitted from a pattern in the new book – Quokka was quite rightly very chuffed about it.

The tea cosy competition was rather weak – there only about 5 very ordinary tea cosies entered. The winner was a black cosy with a red waratah on top. I’ll have to add that photo tomorrow – it is lost in all the documents on my desk top :-)2

Heaven on earth continued ….

The dive shop lends visitors a snorkel, face mask and flippers for the duration of their stay. My face mask gave me so much trouble, filling up with water, that I went to the snorkelling lesson in the pool – turns out my technique was fine, but I needed a new mask which was of a much better quality and did not leak. Getting into the water in my flippers was quite another story and I thank my lucky stars that Grandpa Flea didn’t have a camera with him!

The first time I entered the water backwards with my flippers already on – big mistake – they filled up with little bits of coral grit that HURT when I moved. Attempting to wash them out, I fell over in the little swell and was then dragged backwards and forwards like a beached whale!
I was sure I’d be covered in grazes from the dead coral pieces, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover no injuries other than a mighty bruise which no one else could see!

I didn’t have the flipper problem when I snorkelled in Fiji, but I was 20 years younger and slimmer then ….. suffice to say, that after my mortification, I lost all self-consciousness about waddling around in a swimsuit or beaching! Eventually I got into the water and didn’t look back. Because I’m not a strong swimmer I had a noodle tucked under my armpits – magic! Much better than the bubble I wore in Fiji! I came away from my snorkelling adventures intent on buying a waterproof camera for my next visit ….

The fish life in the eastern lagoon was quite varied, but my big thrill came the day we were leaving. We were having one last snorkel before we had to vacate our room. I was about to get out when I spotted an enormous turtle feeding on the algae on the coral – I could have reached out and stroked it – and I could have stayed watching it all day. Next time …..

My memory of the reef lagoon on Castaway Island in Fiji is that there were more fish and they were more colourful. But memory is a funny thing, and with a longer stay and more confidence to snorkel on the western side of the island, I suspect that the comparison would be meaningless. We did snorkel off the glass-bottomed boat on the western side of Lady Elliot where the water is much deeper with large coral crevasses and there were more fish of many different colours and shapes. Next visit (said with a note of optimism), I won’t be as nervous in the deep water and will venture out into the deep water from the beach.

On our second evening, we walked around the island. On the western side of the island, the recent cyclone had blown the coral grit up in tiers on the shore. This photo doesn’t really capture the extent of the tiering, but being all white, it was hard to get a good shot:
Don’t be put off by the coral – there is a sandy beach in front of the lagoon. You are told to wear reef shoes when walking on the beach and in the water because of the coral and the various creatures that are not very friendly when trodden on – stone fish, cone shells etc The reef shoes that are on loan turned out to be a large collection of old sneakers and mangled reef walkers, presumably left there by previous visitors. It was very difficult to find something suitable. Next time I’ll be taking my own.

Lady Elliot is a nature reserve and is inhabited by thousands of birds – white crested terns or “noddys” are the predominant species. They are everywhere, as are the droppings – in fact Lady Elliot was mined for guano in the early 20th century – they removed a metre of guano and soil from the top of the island, and in the process destroyed all the native vegetation except for a small stand of now enormous pisoonia trees.
The island was re-vegetated in the 1960s by the first tourism operator, but along with coastal casuarinas which are effective but not native to the island, there are heaps of exotic weeds from the lighthouse keepers’ gardens – lantana, a poinsettia looking thing, philodendrons, a huge chilli bush, impatiens, mother-in-law’s tongue etc etc. The revegetation policy now is that nothing is to be removed, but as it dies it will be replaced with pisoonia trees. I’m sorry I don’t have photos, but my camera is very old and, don’t laugh, has only a 64mb card with two 16mb cards as back up! I feel that new waterproof camera coming on!

On with the walk … on the western side we saw a fishing boat moored just off the island. The staff had earlier called the police who came out to make sure it hadn’t anchored in the coral (it hadn’t) and that it wasn’t fishing (it wasn’t). Because this is a protected area the staff are very vigilant and shoot first (well, call the cops) and ask questions later when strange vessels come calling. You can see the birds in the sky, returning to the island as the sun is setting. We got a bit distracted here, watching the birds, the boat and the sea, and it was starting to get dark with half the circumference to go. As we approached the corner to the northern side, the moon suddenly came into view – have I said magic before? It was heavenly ….. ( This photo had to be “enhanced” because it was too dark, hence the grainy texture.) Then, as we rounded the corner, there was the moon, reflecting on the water – I’d say magic again, but it might say repetitive 🙂 It is indeed heavenly …

So, two and a half days on lady Elliot felt like a month away from civilisation – I’d still be there if I were able. Unfortunately we had to leave in another small plane: We circled the island one more time, then it was back to Bundaberg and the beautiful beachside at Bargara.

Heaven on earth….

…. oh yes! That’s Lady Elliot island for you. We booked a two night stay, despite knowing that an extended family member thought it was a horrible place. One of my rules for living paid off here – “to each his own”. I love the sea, I love coral, I love tropical fish in their own environment, I love nature and I love snorkelling – what was there to lose? Even bad weather by the sea has its own charms. So off we went.

Bundaberg, where we were staying, is very flat apart from “The Hummock”, the remains of a small volcano which erupted over a million years ago. The flatness is very obvious from the plane.
There is no boat access to lady Elliot as it is a coral cay, surrounded by a reef. Every three months a barge is able to come in at ?high tide where some idiot, in the distant past, in his wisdom blew a hole in the reef. The rest of the time perishables are flown in by light plane. I also love light planes (I love a lot of things, don’t I?) so the flight over was magic. As we approached the island, the sea had a lot of almost concentric circular rings of turquoise blue water surrounding the island – we never got a real explanation of what had caused the colour difference.
The island looked just like it should as the pilot circled it looking for manta rays and sharks to show us (we didn’t see any, although others did).
Lady Elliot is an eco-island – low key, down-market, no television, no mobile phone coverage, no “entertainment”, no “beautiful people”, no day spa or any other kind of spa, no plush room styling, no ‘fiddled with” food (one of my unloves!) and one public phone.

The ensuite rooms are basic motel style but with a large bathroom and very comfortable beds – in ours, anyway; there are also bunk rooms (the ones I saw were 4 bedded in permanent tents) with shared bathrooms: Our room was the closest to the camera and the balcony looked straight out to the lagoon – when we weren’t doing other things we spent our time sitting there in the beautiful sea breeze, drinking tea and reading and knitting.

Dress code is comfortable and very casual except for the dining room where swimmers and bare feet are not allowed; the food is good old style country pub food – lots of it, and always a vegetarian option and soy milk available – and always a serve yourself buffet; the dining room is pleasant with laminated tables but why would you eat in there when the building has a huge undercover and also outdoor eating area on the balcony and terrace outside, looking straight at the sea: This is the view from the verandah of the dining room and bar at low tide – the terrace is just visible on the left. At six o’clock each night there are “island whispers” in the adjoining bar. A pre-dinner snack is served and bookings taken for the next day’s activities. The bar serves light snack type meals between 10 and 3 each day. There is also espresso coffee available in the bar , and even decaf soy for wimps like me. Free tea (bags) and instant coffee are available all day in the dining area.

The activities as opposed to “entertainment” are many and varied. Included in the tariff is a 1 hour glass-bottom boat ride, divided into 30 minutes coral viewing and 30 minutes snorkelling, or you can choose to have a 1 hour snorkelling trip instead. We chose the mixed option. The boat travels along the beach n the other side of the island where there are two areas designated for snorkelling. It’s possible to swim there at high tide by yourself, but for those who are not strong swimmers (like me!) the lagoon outside our room is better, so I welcomed the chance to snorkel in the deeper water with someone to rescue me nearby, if necessary!

Each day there were various other activities – snorkelling and scuba diving lessons; dive boats; guided reef walks and island explorations (a discovery walk, a history walk and a night walk). Because the island is so small there is overlap in all these walks, but each has a different focus and we enjoyed them. The guides are young graduates in marine biology or similar and knowledgeable and personable. There are also “behind the scenes” tours as the island is mainly solar powered and all water is provided by their own desalination plant. Some evenings there are talks by the guides about different aspects of the Great Barrier Reef, and our first evening we played “Island Trivia” which made us realise how much we knew but also how much we still had to learn about the island and the reef!

More next time.