Archive | January 2019

(Unnecessary) Clothes I bought in January

Currently Mr Sans and I are on 80% of our income, saving for a full year off in 2021. We are also planning a trip to Germany in October this year.

I have wardrobes full of clothes.

I have these two paragraphs as preface to let you know that the word “unnecessary” in the title is unnecessary. All clothes I buy are unnecessary and not really in my budget.

So what and why did I buy?

When we stopped in Noumea, a window display of a clothes shop caught my eye. Clothes for Mr Sans. Really! Not for me.

Except when we went in the shirts we saw weren’t really suitable for him. But hey, look! T-shirts for me. With New Caledonia on them. Not garish tourist T-shirts. What better way to remember our trip?

The other T-shirt has a rose on it. Links to my current obsession – more on must later.

Well, add in two pairs of sandals. So tropical island-y. No matter that they’re made in China. We probably can’t get the same ones back home.

Then my hairdresser alerted me to the bargains on Peter Alexander”s summer pyjamas. I went online. They had THE cutest little shorts at $15 each, down from $49. So I got three. Luckily, they didn’t have the matching tops in my size and those that they did were not as heavily reduced. So I didn’t buy any. I know I don’t really need three, but one pair is suitable for lounging around st home. Not that I like lounging in shorts. I much prefer dresses as they’re cooler. And in winter, I need long pants. Oh but on they are so cute. I have a matching pink top for the ones with the Paris print. Sooo cute. And the upside of a two piece PJ is, unlike a nightie, they don’t twist up at night.

Then, when buying some necessary items (undies as my existing pairs were all wearing out at the same time), I picked up a pair of track pants. I’ve been looking for a pair that have no writing on them, are cotton, not synthetic, and are the right cut for me. And not overpriced. So I had to get them while there was a discount. Ready for winter. If it ever comes. Can’t even remember what I spent here – it was a lot as I bought my son, The Dreamer, socks and track pants too.

Well, then, when I went to Queensland, I had to visit my favourite dress shop. They stock Jacob Ribkoff. How could I refuse a heavily discounted dress and a lovely, likewise discounted, jacket. The jacket was $85 and the dress was, actually, I can’t remember, but it was half price.

But oh dear, I received an email from an online stockist of Jacob Ribkoff that had end of summer dresses reduced to $85 each. So I bought two.

Three Joseph Ribkoff dresses! The one on the left is sky blue. The colour hasn’t co me out in my dreadful photography.

When I went to Aldi, I had to run next door to Rebel to buy a pair of sneakers. (The Dreamer’s girlfriend tells me Sydney stores have been sold out of this style.) These are not actually unnecessary- “At last,” I hear you exhale. My walking sneakers have worn out – no grip, no springiness. I do like these ones. Strange how you don’t realise you have no cushioning until you buy a new pair. Walking in these feels like I am bouncing on a trampoline.

Also while in Queensland I called into the large outlet mall, Harbourside. I had been looking for walking shorts to replace my well-worn ones that are on their last legs. Again, I’d been looking for a while. Most are synthetic, too expensive or have writing on them. Canterbury had exactly what I was looking for. Identical to my current shorts. And st the right price, $25, so I got two pairs. I love the little logo – kiwis in the brand name.

And finally, I went to an op shop and picked up a white cotton-linen look 3/4 pants and white linen-look shorts. They fit perfectly. And we’re only $3 each. I don’t think they’ve ever been worn. The pants look so Gold Coast-y on me, especially with bling-y sandals.

God almighty! I officially ban myself from even looking at emails, catalogues or in stores.

I will go on a wardrobe diet until winter.

Wasteful, wasteful me!!! But I will look good!

Aldi: the perfect holiday souvenir but can I fly with that?

My step-father loves Aldi. Not as much as he loves doing jobs around the house.

Given Aldi’s propensity to stock tools for around the house, his two loves are often combined to form a greater love.

He was overjoyed when, on my recent visit, I said I wanted the newly advertised product – a battery operated pressure cleaner.

So overjoyed that he offered to drive me to his nearest Aldi (a round trip of about an hour) and pay for it. (His language of love is to do jobs for people, but given we live 12 hours drive apart, he can’t do any repairs or renos or tidying up for me. Buying the product is the next best thing.)

After immediately agreeing, I had second thoughts.

“We do have Aldis in Sydney, you know. I can walk to two of them from my house.”

“It will be too late when you go home. They will have sold out.”

Then my next thought, “How will I fit this in my luggage? Will it take me overweight.”

“We will take it out of the box.”

And then, “I wonder if I can take the battery pack on the plane?”

“If not, I will post it to you.” (He really wants me to have the Aldi pressure cleaner.)

So we trooped down the mountain to Aldi. Like true Aldi aficionados, we arrived before opening time.

Opa was so happy that we got the second last one – with the last one being taken minutes after we took ours. So happy, he did a little jig.

I couldn’t help but imagine the conversation with the hand baggage security as I took the battery in my hand luggage.

“You have a rechargeable battery pack?”

“Yes, an Aldi one for a pressure cleaner. That’s in my checked luggage”

“They have Aldis in Sydney, you know?”

“Yes, but this was my holiday souvenir.”

And what did the checked luggage X-ray operator see and say?

“I think we have something here. Looks likes parts of a weapon.”

“No. I recognise that. It was in the latest Aldi catalogue. It’s their pressure cleaner.”

“Who flies between the Gold Coast and Sydney with a pressure cleaner?”

“Oh man, totally get it. If you don’t buy it when you see it, you miss out. Would have been too late when the passenger got back to Sydney.”

Of course, over the next few days of my visit, the pressure cleaner formed the topic of many conversations between Opa and me.

“You tell Mr Sans to … You keep the receipt for Mr Sans…” (Opa is old-fashioned in his division of labour. Outdoors work must be for the man.)

“Opa, Mr Sans won’t be using it. He doesn’t see mess and dirt. This’ll be my toy.”

This is generally followed by a look of incomprehension.

Footnote: we didn’t just get the pressure cleaner. You can’t go to Aldi and buy ONE thing. We also got the rechargeable night light and torch, which was actually something Mr Sans wanted and we’re so impressed with it. It comes on at night when you walk into the bathroom, gives enough light and then goes off after 25 seconds on no movement.

Footnote 2: I broke a new pair of sandals while I was in Qld. Opa repaired them. He’s such a handy man. (By the way, my language of love is to let people do things for me so they feel useful and needed. I’m good like that.)

I live for the holidays

I’m a teacher. You may know me from such favourites as “Yes, the holidays are great. Study and become a teacher so you can have them too” and “Enjoy your holidays. Oh sorry. You haven’t got them. Well, enjoy the time with your kids.”

The Man and I have just had five weeks off. I know you won’t be sympathetic, but the summer break used to be six weeks. Unsurprisingly, I much preferred having the six weeks. Still, we always manage to fit a bit in our five weeks summer break.

This summer break, working up until the 20th didn’t leave much time for Christmas prep. It finally felt like Christmas on Christmas Eve. We had a lovely family day.

Then it was time to pack for our South Pacific cruise. Sixteen years ago The Man and I went on a South Pacific cruise. We swore we’d never do it again. Not our scene. Like a floating RSL club. Bogans who stuff themselves with food. Our cabin was tiny. We had to eat dinner separate from our kids and with people who had limited conversation and one of whom really disliked us. And we had to have dinner with them every night!!!

Well, I’ve changed my tune.

We loved it.

On the top deck, cocktails prior to departure.

Travelling with friends meant we didn’t have to engage in much small talk with strangers which is not our thing. We joined our friends for breakfast and dinner in the restaurant every night and never ran out of conversation. During the day at sea, I slept, read, listened to audio books, drank cocktails, daydreamed. We went to a few evening shows. One was amazing, one pure corn, one hilarious.

As to the cabin size, we booked a balcony cabin. I wasn’t going if I didn’t have my own balcony. But lucky us, we were upgraded to a suite – fancy term for a bigger room with a bigger bathroom and balcony and a small entrance to the bathroom with extra wardrobe space. Luxury!

View of ship from Mystery Island. Look at the clear water.

We did the usual stops. Mystery Island. Port Vila. Lifou. Noumea.

Island opposite from Mystery Island

There was no waiting for the tenders to Mystery Island or Lifou. We were surprised at how quick and efficient the transfers were.

At Mystery Island, there is no mystery. We walked around it in about 40 minutes, and then snorkeled along a rock ledge, with beautiful, colourful fish. We also snorkeled at Lifou. This time with sea turtles. Such big creatures look so mobile and fluid in the water.

Port Vila was visually unattractive. We walked into town and I nearly passed out from the heat and humidity. Clearly my white, white soft skin makes me unsuited to tropical days that involve even the slightest physical activity. It may have been better to visit a resort. The best thing was the cheap duty free alcohol. $11 for a litre of vodka and $24 for 750ml of Chambord. I see some French martinis coming up.

I enjoyed walking around Noumea, eavesdropping on the French conversation and using my poor French when buying some clothes and beer.

I think I want to live on a tropical island for a bit. The s-l-o-w pace appeals to me. Not being able to do a lot, not being able to go far afield.

Leaving on the 28th, early in the break, made the holidays seem longer. Unbelievable that we had a week at home until I flew to Queensland to catch up with family and friends. And then I even had a few days at home before work resumed.

Between the cruise and Queensland, I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody with a friend. I am so glad I saw it on the big screen with big sound. What a toe tapping, joyous movie.

Before the movie, we went to cafe. I’m not a cafe frequenter. I find the food often pompous or overpriced and not much different from what I can do easily at home. My main takeaway from this cafe: is there are shortage of glassware? The water came in finger bowls and the chocolate milkshake in a jar.

Also caught up with another friend for lunch in the city.

Summer isn’t summer without some trips to the beach.

Avoca Beach

The Man’s Kiwi cousin came to stay for a couple of nights. We took her to the beach and then home to laze by the pool and escape the heat with alcohol.

Walking along inlet to North Curl Curl Beach

Surfers waiting for the next set

The holidays will end with a few days lazing by the pool, and dozing inside with a fan, the only way to escape the heat wave.

You know how teachers always say they work during the holidays and you think, “Yeah, right!” Well I did go into to work for a couple of days and did field calls and emails. So it wasn’t all relaxing and fun. But hey, I still had five weeks of awesomeness.

Do you know what teachers fear most about holidays? Running into students. So I was caught doing the congo line in the restaurant on the cruise. Three families from my school were on the cruise! And then another family on my flight to Queensland. Luckily they were all lovely families with great kids.

Already thinking of my next break. And how to escape Sydney’s heat.

Into the real wild: rainforest

Every time I visit my mother on Tambourine Mountain, I have to go for a walk in a rainforest. There’s a wildness, a sense of the strength of nature, in the rainforest that allows no space for humans to sit. There’s no place for suburban niceties and neat growth. This jungle sits besides suburban blocks. You just know it will swallow the neat grass plots in no time.

As you enter the rainforest, it is instantly darker and cooler. The scent is of sweet decay of plant matter.

It is rare to see any animals or birds. You can hear the birds in the canopy or hopping in the undergrowth. In the past I’ve seen leeches swiggling up from the soil, but this time it was too dry for leeches. Amazingly, this time I saw a wallaby, a brush turkey, several small species of birds, bright blue dragonflies, different butterflies and actually saw a cicada flying from tree to tree. While you can often hear the cicadas, you rarely see them.

There’s generally not much colour. Texture and shades of green.

Any colour stands out as almost garishly out of place. Such blatant lures in the drive for reproduction!

It is not quiet in the rainforest. The cicadas are deafening.

As we entered, my stepfather laughingly told me when his sister visited from Germany. She wouldn’t enter the rainforest. Too dark. Too scary. And she saw a snake. Tee hee. Imagine not wanting to walk along the path. Without the path, yes, it’d be hard work. Even with the path, there’s always lots of leaf litter, palm fronds, branches, small fruits that litter the path, and can trip an unwary walker by hiding small rocks, so you have to watch your step.

I nearly trod on this large frond. And then realised it was not, indeed, plant matter. [Look carefully below.]


I squealed. I ran back up the track. My stepfather was all for stepping over the sleeping python and continuing along the track. No, flippin’ way. My heart pumping as double time, I crept forward to take the photo.

Then I made us return the way we came. Enough rainforest walking. Enough excitement for one day. Be still my giddy heart.

I still enjoyed the return walk, all the time looking twice at each fallen frond, each vine that hung across the path, each tree root. What would happen if another snake was on the path? We’d be stuck between the two!

Who was it who mocked the German aunt? Not me!

Into the Wild

I’ve noticed a theme in the books I’ve been reading lately. Escaping the suburban humdrum, living in the wilderness, being self-sufficient with a simpler life.

I know myself well enough to know I would not stand up to hard, physical labour. And then I do love going to the theatre, to restaurants, to pubs, to the cinema. I do enjoy being five minutes walk from several restaurants, a public library, two train stations, several supermarkets, a fantastic fruit and veg shop, a pub, a club. All the things that come from higher density living.

So why all the books that eschew that life?

It may be a reflection of my state of mind. Wanting to lead a different life. Wanting something else.

Luckily, I can imagine myself in a snowed-in cabin in Alaska while reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, yet never have to dig the snow away from the door, or eat the monotonous diet or be turned into one weeping sore from the summer mozzies. Likewise My Antonia by Willa Cather let me fantasise about being snowed in Nebraska.

Escaping from reality!

Escaping from work!

Thank heavens for books. And for holidays – allowing time to read and time to dream of other lives that could be led.

Island dreaming: I went on a South Pacific cruise. Now I think I want to live on an island!