Archives

Oot and aboot

Wanna go see whale rock?

What’s that?

A rock that looks like a whale. 

OK. 

While the rain held, we went off in search of whale rock. The online guide listed the usual safety precautions – water, clothing, maps. Even bush on the edges of suburbia can be dangerous. 

We walked into the bush, down a wide, cement roadway, big enough for firefighting trucks. At the bottom of a slope we could see directional signs. None listed the sought-for whale rock. “I wonder which way we need to go?” I asked Mr S. As I spoke, I turned and there was whale rock. 


For size comparison, here is s shot with a disguised Mr S (though I admit there’s not a lot of hiding one can do in a hippy tie-dyed shirt).


Definitely worth the 5 minute walk from the road! Yes, that quick. Why all the safety advice? Ridiculous! WHS gone mad. Anyway that wasn’t enough of a walk, so we ventured in further. Because of all the rain we had (thanks Cyclone Debbie) the creek was over the path. At the first flooded crossing we debated: should we turn back or just walk through? “Ah fuck it. Let’s just walk through it.” So we did. Several times on the way into the bush. And on the way back. 

At least the water was running which meant we wouldn’t get leeches. Unlike our walk the day before!

A couple of weeks earlier we had gone in search of our secret waterfall in another part of the same national park. But we were thwarted by the rain which turned a track into a pond. 

With still water and boggy ground all around, we were in leech territory. In that brief walk I scored two leeches but they mistakenly suckered onto my shoes. Mr S, who’d ventured further and made it to the waterfall, did his bit for wildlife rescue and fed a few leeches. 

A week later, and the day before Whale Rock, we went off to the waterfall again. Stocked with necessary supplies – a stash of salt to battle the leeches – my friend and I lady-stepped over the water-logged paths while Mr S schtomped through. And ended up to his knees in logs and twigs and leaves which had been washed into a pile that Mr S thought was a solid pathway. 

It doesn’t look clearer than the above shot but trust me, the path was now passable.


Mr S made a hasty recovery. We all made it to the waterfall. Our party of three in tact. 

Hard to believe that these are all within 15 minute drive from our home. (This is the designated comfort zone prescribed by my friend and endorsed by Mr S.)

At the outer reach of the 15 minute zone, is Fagan Park, developed on an old orchard site. We visited here one day in the last two months. While most people clustered around the children’s playground and the interesting “gardens of the world”, Mr S and I picnicked at the old homestead which was open for its only Sunday of the month. Maybe Mr S and I are unusual but we love old places. The homestead a host of farm sheds used for fruit packing and equipment all full of objects from the early settlement, many lovingly restored. The water pumps work. The gardens are peaceful. The actual home has been furnished from the period. 

One of the volunteers was a 90 year old whose extended family owned the farm before donating it to the council for a public park. She recalled not being allowed in the main house as a child, being forced to stay in the separate kitchen with her brother. What a connection! To talk with someone who still volunteered and worked in the garden that she played in as a child. 

Picnicking under the she oaks

Mr S impressed with the working water pump

Room of one of the single farm labourers from early last century. Vastly different from the main home.

Tractor shed

Walking into the homestead site


There weren’t many days with skies as blue as this, so we were doubly lucky to chance upon the monthly open day of the homestead. 

Still, there’s a beauty in the rain as the drops on this she oak show. This was taken in my usual lap around “the block” that passes through the edge of the national park. 



There’s a peacefulness in walking on a known path. You don’t have to concentrate and your mind can wander. You can’t think about other things. Conversely, there’s a mindfulness in walking in the new and unknown. You have to concentrate on the path, you are continually looking at the new sights, your mind is processing all the new information. This means you cannot be thinking of all the humdrum of life, you can’t be planning and strategising and going over things and conversations. This is especially true when the path is a rough bush track. 

Both types of walks are good for the mind and soul. As well as the body. And fun as well!

An eclectic music week

Do things. Fun things. 

Say yes to new things. 

Don’t just use weekends to catch up on sleep. 

My new mottos meant one week was a really busy week in March. Busy and eclectic. 

Ages ago I bought tickets for my sons, Mr S and me to see Spiderbait. It was the 20th anniversary of one of their albums. Actually not my favourite album but I hoped they’d play some of my favs in the encore as they were going to play the album as the set. Of course, they played around – it wasn’t just a “studio” sound. For a three piece band they bang out a big sound. 

Spiderbait has been a family fav and now my boys are adults, they still love Spiderbait. A top family fav is when the female sings, and they didn’t disappoint with Calypso. Click on the link and enjoy. If you watched the movie, 10 Things I Hate About You, you may recognise the song. Of course if you’re an Aussie and listen to JJJ, you’d know the band well. 

Spiderbait, live at the Enmore Theatre.


Interesting tidbits of the family going out to a concert together: we went to an Indian restaurant before (working parents shout of course). Oldest boy, who now lives in the inner west and not “the burbs”, wouldn’t let me order Butter Chicken. “You can have that in the suburbs. In the city you have to try something different and not just take time to read the menu and pretend to be considering something different.” Uh!!! Trendy, bloody, inner city dwellers. Hipsters!!!

Second lesson was for my boys. A lesson in sexism that women routinely face. We were standing up the back of the venue, near the entrance from the foyer (where people, mostly men, kept going to buy overpriced, imported beer [hipster influence again]). It was a standing only concert. Men kept pushing past me. Oldest son wanted me to move as I was being pushed – not aggressively but continually. He thought it was because I was in a natural pathway. I pointed out that the pathway would be wherever I was as I was surrounded by tall men, my own and other concert-goers. Who would the walkers squeeze/push/make move? The tall men or the relatively slighter and shorter woman? 

Anyway, a review of Spiderbait doesn’t make my week eclectic. So off to something different. 

Earlier in the week I went to my first opera. Tosca by Opera Australia. In the Opera House. I got tickets from a foundation that aims to encourage people to go to the opera. They subsidise tickets for $20, instead of the  full price of $230. 

I was wary. I have never gone before. Wouldn’t risk $230 on something I might not like. $20 is worth the risk. Well, I loved it. I would go again. I will go again. Next year.  So the foundation worked. It’s got a new convert. 

Of course, the experience was entirely different. As was the audience. Older, for starters. Not that the Spiderbait audience were spring chickens. Many being around 40 to 50. Less leather and chains and tats at the Opera. 

Sparking wine on the forecourt, watching cruise ships sail past. 

Cruise season has begun. Not my scene. Too much like a floating RSL club.

Fancy a glass? Why yes, thank you.



Interval, looking at the lights and the raw industrial majesty of the Opera House design. 

Look up!


Despite two late nights in the week, and one being a week night, I wasn’t exhausted. These things energised me. Doing fun, and new, and novel things build you up, give you a purpose beyond work. A purpose for work. How else will you pay for tickets?

Christmastide

I love Christmas. I love the decorations, the lights, the gifts, the food, thectime off work.  

Some people seem to feel Christmas ends the day after Christmas. They can’t wait to put away their decorations as soon as possible, seemingly taking pride in boasting that all is packed away by New Year. 

I operate in reverse. We don’t put up decorations until well in December but I keep them up for the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

Of course I love the actual day too. 

First we enjoy giving and unwrapping presents in the morning. Not so early now my boys are grown up. In fact I am the one hassling everyone to get up even though we don’t go overboard and give a small number of gifts to each other. 

We always have a long and large lunch with extended family. Each family contributes to the spread. We start with lots of different nibbles. Smoked salmon and cream cheese on bread rounds. Skewers with cherry toms, basil and bocconcini. Dips, cheese and crackers. Chips. 

Main course is hot, except for the ham. Roast turkey. Roast leg of lamb. Roast beef. Baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. Peas. Condiments: gravy, mint jelly, mint sauce, cranberry jelly. 

Dessert: Christmas pud with custard and cream. And always something else. This time a chocolate mousse cake. 

There are copious quantities of alcohol consumed. (Not by me this year as I was doing 30 days alcohol free.)

Then comes the truely magical time. 

Christmastide. 

Those days between Christmas and New Year are particularly sweet. I lose track of what day it is, let alone the date. Sydney is quiet. Everyone is resting and recuperating. OK, some mad people rush out for the Boxing Day sales but the roads are quieter and the suburbs blissfully so. Nothing has to be done. Nibbling on chocolates and stollen. Feasting on leftovers, so no need to cook for days. Reading. Lazing. Playing with and admiring new “toys”.

Mr S and I got so lost in what day it was we actually went to sort out some health insurance business on a public holiday. (Luckily the day was not wasted – I bought two pairs of swimmers – a bikini and a tankini.)

Although I spent a lot of time doing little (including reading and binge-watching The West Wing), I also crammed a lot in. Here’s some highlights. 

Not strictly Christmastide, but on Christmas Eve Mr S and I went into the city for a look at the lights, a meal and to catch a band in a pub. Both the band and the food were ordinary but we fun. Here’s a massive milk crate Santa outside the Museum of Contemporary Art. Is anything more Aussie than that?


We caught up with friends with an afternoon of nibbles and drinks in a prime spot on the beach. The water was quite chilly. But that was fine as it was one of the sweltering Sydney days and the breeze off the ocean made it 10° cooler. And then we went out for dinner. (Again pub food which was pretty ordinary.)


We caught up with another group of friends at an amazing Vietnamese restaurant in a part of Sydney that is mainly Vietnamese. The food was divine and the experience was awesome. This photo shows the remains of our food. Not very appetising, sorry. 


I was so impressed that I had to take someone there straight away. So when my sister came to spend a few days with me I took her and a friend on an adventure. They were as thrilled as I was with the experience. Actually this restaurant deserves its own post!


My sister and I used a gift voucher I had for a nail salon. She got her feet done as she doesn’t think her finger nails are worthy of treatment. I got my hands done as I hate my feet. Perfect match!


Then we went to a part of Sydney Harbour  that directly faces the opening between the two heads to the Pacific Ocean. 


As you can imagine, such an ideal position was originally used as a fort for defence. 


The old barracks are now a restaurant and after our exploration we had high tea with a view over the harbour. 


On New Year’s Eve Mr S and I spent the afternoon at a small gathering at friend’s place in a beautiful part on the lower Blue Mountains. Home just as it got dark, Mr S and I went for a walk along a bush track with torches. Everything looks so different in the dark!

One warm evening, we feasted on prawns and beer. Such a summer treat. 


Mr S and I went into the city to visit our favourite museum that often has a display of interest. This time it was on Sydney buildings that have been demolished. We then had dumplings for lunch at one of our favourite food halls. 

I cannot claim to be as frugal or anti-consumerist as I would like. I did visit the shops a number of times for some “bargains”. Not all for myself, though those that were for me, while impulse buys, will be used. Older son has joined the corporate world, finally finishing his double degree. His uni garb of shorts and jeans and sloppy joes and tees really wouldn’t cut it. He needed mum’s help to pick his wardrobe. 
Believe me when I say these last 14 days have been wonderful and relaxing. While we did quite a bit, there is no need at this time of year to justify or defend slothfulness or slow pace. 

With the decorations down, as tradition demands, on the 6th, Christmastide comes to an end. Mr S is always sad that another Christmas has gone but leaving the decorations up won’t hide the fact that Christmastide is over. 

Most of Sydney has returned to work or will in the coming week. 

Luckily for me the holidays will continue. 

The best and worst of a Sydney weekend

Best: On Saturday, I went to the theatre. Saw A Flea in Her Ear. A funny romp put on by the Sydney Theatre Company, at the Drama Theatre in the Opera House. I travelled in by train. Great play. Great location. So easy to get there by public transport – no worries about traffic or parking. 

Worst: The opera bar, beneath the Opera House foreshore is crowded, noisy and overpriced. The food was ordinary.  

The Worst of The Worst: the toilets are disgusting. Aussie won’t pay for public toilets and although the toilets are in the bar area, they are really public toilets. But really when the bar charges $25 for a cocktail and $10 for their cheap house bubbles, they should provide a higher standard of toilet cleaning. You need loos when drinking. Honestly they were the worst toilets I have used in Australia in a long time. Overflowing sanitary bins, vomitous smell of urine. I have decided I will not buy drinks from there again. 

Best: On Sunday I went to the beach. It was beautiful. With the fresh salt air and pounding ocean, you feel alive. 


Much goings on to watch with a surf competition. 


I love the free beach pool. Reminiscent of a more egalitarian time. 


It’s exhilarating to watch the tide coming in and the waves hitting the rocks and the ocean side of the pool. The water rushing in keeps the pool clean. 



So much to see. People fishing. Surfing. Having fun. 


And not crowded at all. As you can see in the view of the beach below. (Curl Curl for those who are interested.)


Worst: Yes, there’s a “worse” thing about the beach. No, it’s not the sand, though I do hate how it gets into bodily crevices that even though they don’t like sand, they hold onto it. 

Its blue bottles. There were lots of them. And warning signs up. 


I didn’t swim. Not because of the blue bottles. The waves were too rough. Also it wasn’t hot enough for me. The water was a tad chilly and I only venture into the water when it is almost too hot for me to go into the sun. Of course, Mr S went for a dip. And no, he wasn’t stung. 

I’ve actually never been stung by blue bottles. Probably an indication of my cautious nature. If I see them on the beach, I’m out of the water. 

Not good: I am sunburnt on the back of my neck. You’d think I’d have learnt my lesson by now! But no. The wide neck dress exposed skin that hasn’t seen the sun for a long while. And I wore a cap, not a wife brimmed hat. And I didn’t put on any sunscreen. Should have worn a top with a collar. Or put on the sun screen!!!

Still, the ledger has come out heavily on the positive side. This has been a good weekend. 

How was yours?

Not working

I’m currently on sick leave. One week in of two weeks. While I am recovering from a minor op, I am taking the chance to get things done around the house. 

I will have a new bathroom next month so I’ve been making some calls and paying invoices and chasing up orders. I’ve done some spring cleaning, sorting and decluttering. finished spring cleaning one son’s bedroom. I have booked a fellow to come on Monday to tidy the front garden. 

I have booked my next Botox appointment. (They are booked up for weeks!!! Apparently coming towards Christmas they get very busy.)

I am going to make pumpkin soup for dinner – before the pumpkins go off!!!

I’ve had some friends come and visit and another one is coming, with cake!!!, tomorrow. 

I have to say, this time off work is making me greedy for more time off work. I know I’m recovering from surgery but there’s so much to be done around the house and yard, and I haven’t even started planning our trip to France next year! I haven’t been walking – I can’t walk too much yet. And I haven’t been out and about, visiting places around my fair city. 


While I’ve been off, I have received exciting news. 

Mr S and I have both been accepted into the Deferred Salary Scheme. That means we get 80% of our pay for the next four years and get the fifth year off. Yay!!!!! More than a whole year of no work. 

So while my work may be part of my identity, I am looking forward to redefining myself. 

Roll on the next four years!!!

Roos in the vines

I skipped a session in the conference so I could go for a walk this afternoon. It is very dark here once the sun sets so there is no opportunity to walk when pre-dinner drinks is on. 

I am so glad I did the walk. There were dozens and dozens of kangaroos. Farmers would feel very differently from me but I love seeing them. Love seeing them bound away. 

I admit to be a bit scared around them by myself. They are so big, so powerful, so fast. I’m a wuss. I know. 

Not very clever though. Why do they hop along the path in the direction I am going to get away from me? They could hop every which way but they go the direction I am walking in!

Here’s some shots (look closely for the Joel) and a video of the roos bounding down the rows of vineyards. 

Long weekend. 

Happy birthday, Queen. Thanks for the day off. 

Mr S has enjoyed watching the pomp and ceremonies in London on his computer. 

I’ve been otherwise engaged. 

On Saturday I continued my STC subscription and saw Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Brilliant production. So glad I got to see Robyn Nevin – she was ill and theperformance  cancelled when I went to see her in Suddenly Last Summer. 


John Howard’s (not our ex-Prime Minister) performance was powerful. 


Great costumes. Not sure about the American accents, though. 

The day was a sparkler. Look at the diamonds glistening on the harbour. 


Yesterday I mooched around, wrote a witty post but lost it, read the paper, watched Poirot. 

Today I am off the the Hunter valley. No it is not holidays yet. I have a conference there. Supplies for tonight are packed. Bubbles and nibbles. Strange I know, to take wine to the Hunter but we won’t have time to shop nor visit wineries.