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Ending lockdown

The removal of restrictions is happening quickly.

Our state government said there’d be fewer restrictions once we hit 70% and more at 80%. We’re nearing the 80% mark.

Given I am busy with work, I didn’t rush out to a pub or restaurants last week when we were allowed. My hair appointment isn’t for a few weeks as I only really have time on the weekend. (Well, this year. Have I told you lately I am having an Adult Gap Year next year?) I certainly didn’t line up at the shops to buy tat. (I sometimes despair at people – shopping for recreation.)

I did go back to my personal trainer in the gym. A few days after my PT session, I realised the benefit of continuous exercise. All the walking I did was no replacement for squats and abominable abdominals.

I had some joggers that I’d ordered online to collect. (All the walking I’ve done wore out my joggers!) They were meant to be ready weeks ago but went missing. The collection point was a local discount store that was only open for collection of online orders.

By the time my shoes were found, shops had reopened. I left it a few days, anticipating the shops would be packed. When I went, the car park was almost full. It was almost at Christmas level. Madness!

The biggest “freedom” was Friday evening spent with neighbours. We all brought nibbles and bubbles. Twelve of us. All sharing stories and checking in and shooting the breeze and celebrating birthdays.

Truth be told, the host originally wanted it for Monday – the first day of “freedom” and also one neighbour’s actual birthday. But he was busy. It was mooted that we sneakily meet on Sunday before “Freedom Day”. In our sleepy suburb, surely no one would see. And look at all the illegal gatherings in the beachside suburbs.

Well a visit by the police to my house on Sunday morning put paid to that. Someone had made an allegation that one of my sons held a party on the Saturday night. “No, officer, he most certain did not. I wouldn’t allow it.” Police apologised and left. (Son didn’t host a party but I could hardly say I don’t break the Public Health Orders, and then be found, less than 10 hours later, to be doing that same thing! And we don’t know made the allegation or why they did.)

So Friday night it was. Much better to allow some kicking back with no work the next day.

Next freedom: catching up with friends who live in other parts of Sydney.

On the street where I live

I live in a lovely street with wonderful neighbours.

When the restrictions allowed four people to get together, three of my neighbours and I caught up for a Sunday pre-dinner drink, a check-in. We practised social distancing, of course. We all brought our own drink and nibbles so no needing to move around or touch the same food servers. I brought opera glasses! All the better to see you with!

It was wonderful to have a laugh and a chat; so uplifting and so needed in these times of added stress. We planned to do the same the following Sunday. But the laws changed to only allow one other person besides your family.

One of the lovely ladies, let’s call her Lovely Lady No 1, made dinner for my family and me during the madness of last term. She said it was the only way she felt she could help someone who was working extra hard during COVID. She said I looked exhausted and The Dreamer looked dead on his feet. (The Dreamer worked in a chemist and was doing huge hours during the madness of the binge buying. “Was doing long hours” because the chemist has since stopped all shifts for casuals and won’t apply for government assistance so he is out of work after 5 years with them.)

Lovely Lady No 1 organised a letter drop with contact numbers of people who were willing to help if anyone had difficulties or was quarantined.

Three of us walked down to sing happy birthday on the lawn of another neighbour who turned 50 but due to social restrictions couldn’t have a celebration. We took cake and gifts for her. No guesses who baked the cake and organised us. Lovely Lady No 1.

There’s always people out and about on our street: walking, gardening, bike riding, pottering, checking out what people are up to. It’s surprising how many people you can connect with, without leaving the street.

When I was gardening this week, one neighbour brought over some seedlings and cuttings.

Another neighbour helped out Mr S this week when he was examining the tree planted on the verge last year by our council. Some microscopic bugs are eating new shoots. During the long, hot, dry summer, Mr S watered most of the trees planted by the council on our street. He’s not much of a gardener, but he loves the trees. The neighbour popped over with some white oil and sprayed the trees.

Late afternoon on our front porch is a favourite spot for Mr S and me: our time to watch all the walkers, with or without dogs, and all the goings on. People often stop at our gate for a chat. The white oil sprayer told us about a bush track that we didn’t know about and on which we ventured the very next day. Local knowledge is so handy.

There’s still many people we don’t know in our small street. A townhouse development next to us seems to have people who come and go, which often happens in rentals. Still, we were surprised and heartened by the gift left on our front porch by one of the families in the townhouse right next to our house who we haven’t met.

Several of us have put up teddy bears for kids going on “Bear Hunts” with their parents. I rescued three from the council kerbside cleanup and shared them amongst neighbours. (Understandably, none of us wanted to leave our own or our children’s bears outside.)

I must admit, Mr S and I are very chuffed when we see bears peeking out of windows on our walks. I can’t help but sing, “There’s a bear in there…” (the theme song from the longest running preschool TV program in Australia) rather than the song “We’re going on a bear hunt”. Lots of the bears were decorated for Anzac Day too!

The last Saturday of the break was Anzac Day. For non-Australians and Kiwis, it’s a day of deep significance, almost sacred, as we remember those who served in war. With social distancing in place, there were no ceremonies, no marches, no wreathlaying at the memorials. The Returned Services League asked Australians to “Light up the dawn”; to stand on your front driveway with a candle at dawn in commemoration. We joined the many in our street who did just that. The four houses opposite us decorated their driveway and set up a speaker to play the speeches and service that was broadcast from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Afterwards, one neighbour who is in the navy, served spiced rum to warm us up.

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?

Sunday in the Blue Mountains

Just back from a most gorgeous day. 

A friend picked me up in her convertible and we escaped the haze from the back burning that is taking place across Sydney. 

The air was crisp and sweet and clear. 


We stopped by a couple of antique shops on the way up to a friend’s weekender. 

A house among the trees. And birds. 


On the back verandah for drinks and nibbles, watched by kookaburras who wait any dropped morsels. 


Inside for a fabulous feast of pumpkin soup, mushroom strudel and salad. And then dessert! Oh, dessert. Choices. If only I had room for more than two. I’ll start with Persian orange almond cake. The sticky date with double serve of butterscotch sauce. 


A quick sing through of happy birthday to me, off to watch the hosts feeding the birds, while admiring the bush, especially the mountain devil, flowering at different stages. 


All too soon we had to join the other Sunday drivers on the road back down to Sydney. 


Back to the haze from back burning which you can see, sitting like a brown smudge low on the horizon. 

Blind date like

Waiting to be picked up for my blind date, I was giddy as a teenager; looking out the front door to check if my date had arrived yet, looking at the phone for any messages, checking my makeup so it would be not too much and not too little but just right.

It wasn’t my first blind date. That happened a few months ago when I met up with fellow blogger,  Fiona from Melbourne. 

Still the first time meeting another blogger IN REAL LIFE, I was nervous, excited and all whirly. Would she like me? Would we find anything to talk about? Would the warmth between us online continue IRL?

It was wonderful from the start. And that’s not just my opinion. If I am ever feeling down I just need pop over to Jo’s entry on the date and I will feel instantly better. 

But petite? Really Jo? There comes a point when compliments go too far and are no longer believed. I think petite takes it that step too far. Still, how lovely is “maple leaves in autumn”? And it was easy to talk wih your beautiful offspring, Jo? 

But OMG, she is young and young-looking, and beautiful with shining eyes and mellifluous locks. As you will see in her post I’ve linked above. And so much for her not liking shopping – she had on a lovely dress, sandals and toes nails painted to match her sandals. 

And her house!!!! Gorgeous. Perfect. All the decorations and renovations done to such a high standard and with such obvious care and high workmanship. 

Is there anything more Blueday Jo than this sideboard setting? Lemons from her tree, her own oregano drying, a book and a plant. Simple. Natural. Artistic. Homely yet elegant. 

 

Not only was the house gorgeous but like the sideboard above, everything was clean and tidy and dust-free. Jo will protest. But a pile of Lego and a few birds seeds under the bird cage doesn’t make for mess. 

The view! Perfect for reading and daydreaming.

 

I got to sit under the pear tree, drinking tea, eating homebaked bikkies and homegrown blackberries. I love reading about Jo’s escapes under her pear tree. The only thing that could have made the afternoon better would have been if we could sit in companionable silence, reading our own books. Well, silent except for sharing bits that are so much better for the sharing. 

This is not THE pear tree but another one of her multitude of fruit trees. 

It was all so lovely. Only fear of overstaying my welcome and thoughts of Mr S waiting alone in our holiday accommodation, had me make moves to leave. 
   
   

A very lively August

  
It’s the last month of winter but no need to hibernate. I’ve been out and about the traps and mixing it up with family and friends.

  • Hosted family from the States. 

Mr S’s  cousin and his wife and daughter stayed with us for a week. That meant mad cleaning, tidying and sorting of bedrooms before their visit. 

While I had to work, we still did some tour guide activities. The weekend they were here was all go go go. We drove up the Central Coast to have morning tea with my sister-in-law. Then we headed to Patonga for lunch. I’ve always wanted to go here but Mr S has an ingrained bent against the Central Coast, perhaps it was all those years of visiting his grandparents. But he was impressed with the natural beauty of Patonga. 

The food was meh. Not great, not bad. But the view, the soft sand which we walked on after lunch, the water, the sky. It was a beautiful day. Not warm enough to swim but warm enough to think about it. 

The next day I took the wife and daughter shopping. First to a major shopping centre. The daughter needed clothes for the new school year. I am so glad we have uniforms in Australian schools. Saves many a mother-daughter relationship. Problem with entering a shopping centre is a dress that I really liked by a brand I bought in London, popped out at me and it was heavily reduced. OK, I searched through the racks to find one I liked in a style that suited at a discounted price. 

After that I took them to the supermarket. There’s a joy in trying foods, especially snack foods from other countries. And there’s a joy in sharing childhood favourites with others. Like Wagon Wheels, Golden Gaytimes, Honey Jumbles. 

  • Local theatre play. 

I’ve been to this local, non-professional theatre before. This time I saw Steel Magnolias with some book club ladies. Attended the matinee which we felt started rather late at 4pm. We clubbers are wild, you know! Great acting, especially considering the actors all hold down day jobs. Even though I’ve seen the movie several times, I still teared up. 

  • A night of variety entertainment 

My workplace’s annual showcase night. It was long and some performances raw in the way angsty teenagers can be. But some was cute, some amazing, and one song produced goose bumps. 

  • The ballet

First time ever. Not quite “The Ballet” with capital letters. It was the recently graduated students of the Australian ballet, performing a mixture of pieces; pieces we expected to know. Ballet for the plebs. But we must be more plebeian than we realised as the music for most of the evening was unknown to us. Still, I was impressed and may work up one day to The Ballet. 

  • High tea

Just a lovely thing to do. Sit and eat nibbly little things. Over sparkling wine and tea. 

 

Opps! Took the photo after I had eaten a few!

 

  • Stand-up comedy

I love Dylan Moran. Saw him live a few years ago. Stand-up comedy is one of the things my eldest son and I do together.  It’s our thing. 

  

  • Book club

Reviewed the book already. Go Set A Watchman.  

  • The Theatre

  
Saw one of my favourite Australian actors, Richard Roxbourgh in a Chekov play. Hate Chekov but really wanted to see Rake, I mean Mr Roxbourgh. And The Present was brilliant, entertaining, funny. But long. It wasn’t a tragedy, but turned into a farce. 

  
Roxbough was fantastic.  Cate Blanchett was wickedly sexy. Both of them sustained their energy. They ran on about six or seven times for applause. I laughed! What a cruel trick to play on the actors. Cate did look exhausted with all that running on. 

  

  • Took youngest son to airport

OK, not an outing but his plane to the States left so early, it wiped me out for the day. 

  • School reunion

Caught up with some people from back in the day, the school day. Was a chat fest and too much bubbly. 

  • Lunch at the Rocks

For non-Sydneysiders, The Rocks is the “old town” of Sydney. Was cut out of rock and now has pubs, restaurants, tourist shops. As happens with a booked out diary, I was on The Rocks on the Saturday for the play and had lunch at an Italian place and backed up my visit with a return on Sunday. Mr S and I caught up with a friend for a loooong lunch. Actually mainly a liquid lunch, though I had a steak sandwich. 

The Rocks deserves a post of its own. And damn it, it will get one. 

As a taster: Just below the Rocks is the old wharf area. Also turned into restaurants and theatres – it’s where I saw The Present. There’s a steep cliff down to the wharf road and at the base is this sculpture. Taking the rocks literally. 

   

 

    Five live events in one month!!! Five! I’m exhausted remembering it all. And all those other social events. 

    I need a good lie down.