It was Mr S’s 60th birthday earlier this year. We didn’t do much because I was helping my mother move and, with the COVID restrictions we couldn’t plan a big do.
Younger son wanted to do an escape room together. He suggested both boys pay for the four of us Dad’s birthday gift. Last weekend was the day.
Younger son cooked dinner for us at his flat, making a fine chicken tikka masala.
While he was cooking, we enjoyed a few beers on the roof of his flat. After the week of rain, Sydney turned on a sparkling afternoon.
The walk along the harbour to the train station, just as the sun was setting, had the magical twilight feel.
It’s only a short walk to the station from younger son’s flat, but it was dark by the time we got to the platform. Nearly full moon before Easter. (Both my boys were born on Easter Sunday, so the full moon before Easter is theirs!)
The only spot left in the escape room was the last shift in their hardest room. Luckily, older boy has a brain for number puzzles. We solved it with minutes to spare. (With a few hints from the operators.)
This was my first escape room. Mr S enjoyed it but said he wouldn’t do another. I would like doing another, maybe one that was less maths-y and had more physical puzzles. The boys and I agreed we all will do one together again.
It is great to have such fun as a family.
What I’ve been reading: Honeybee by Craig Silvey- a kind of Aussie transgender The Outsiders. And Ikigai: the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. Not really a secret but still an interesting read. Basically, keep busy doing what you enjoy, keep moving, eat well and surround yourself with friends.
What I’ve been watching: more Escape to the Chateau and Fisk and Gogglebox and Space Invaders and Vera.
Exercise: I’ve gone back to the gym. I knew I had to break the hiatus and just go or I’d keep not going. Obviously. I still watch the clock in classes and I was dog tired the first class I went back to after work so I repeatedly yawned which didn’t endear me to the instructor. But hey! At least I was there. And I have been walking everyday. Just a short walk. But still: moving!
Last year, we all learnt that plans have to change and do change quickly. My goals for February quickly were tossed aside when Queensland opened their borders to NSW residents from February 1.
For readers outside Australia, I live in the capital city of NSW. Sydney was hit first with COVID. One of the first things the other states did was shut the borders. So we couldn’t cross into other states!
The first time the borders opened between Qld and NSW, I planned my trip north to visit my mother in the upcoming term break.
Then another wave hit in the southern part of Sydney and Qld closed its borders to people from that part. I thought I was safe – I’m at the very north of Sydney.
Then Qld blocked one more local government area (LGA).
Everyone was asking me if I was going north. I said I’d wait until they did one more LGA.
Ha! They went: one, two, all.
Borders reopened just before Christmas so I had everything booked to go up in January. Perfect timing as my mother was going through a sticky patch and I could help her with decisions and selling and getting rid of stuff in preparation for downsizing.
And then Sydney got another outbreak. I ummed and ahhed whether I should jump on a plane, miss Christmas with my family or or risk waiting a fortnight.
Waited and yep, borders closed.
Unexpectedly, the second day that school resumed, Queensland announced it was allowing people from Sydney in. So, even though school had not been back a full week, I took carer’s leave and hightailed it to Qld. I couldn’t risk the borders slamming shut again.
Anyway, perfect timing, except for missing Mr S’s 60th birthday. Mum’s house had sold in record time – it was on the market for less than a week. The removalists were coming the week the borders reopened.
I spent the first five days packing, helping my mum get rid of more stuff, taking that stuff to the op shop, directing removalists, dealing with electricity and phone/internet suppliers, connecting the internet, buying the needed connection to get the phone working. Exhausting. But what a dutiful daughter! Really, they would have struggled without my help.
Then I set up the mobile my sister had bought our mother. Now my patience started wearing thin. Possibly not quite errant, but not the most dutiful of daughters.
Now to explain the need of internet access for banking! They don’t have an active credit/debit card so couldn’t pay the removalists. I paid it and they needed to repay. Like the removalists, I don’t want cash. “What if we get a debit card? Can you use that to take money?” No, I’m not a business. I don’t have a card reader.
How will they pay the rent of the house they are in while waiting to buy a new, smaller property? “We don’t want this internet banking thing. Can’t we just get the bank to send the owners money?” You can try but I don’t think they will. You need to transfer yourself via online banking.
OK, I did become a bit sharp. Still, internet access established (by me) and once money is in the bank it will be my job to pay the rent regularly. DD, again.
But we are still not finished with dutiful daughter jobs. Signing my parts of enduring power of attorney. A visit to my mother’s doctor with her to get him to sign his section on the enduring power of attorney form and discuss my concerns about my mother’s health.
Add in a visit to my aunt who lives nearby and who had a stroke last year. All round it’s been a fortnight of adult offspring care tasks.
I did get to do several rainforest walks. I wish I could share some photos but the camera on iPhone is dead.
Here’s one from an earlier visit:
If I was closer, and the borders didn’t keep closing, I’d be able to spread these tasks out. But then, possibly if there wasn’t a sense of urgency with the move, my parents wouldn’t have accepted my help?
What I’ve just read: The Blue Zones: lessons for living longer by Dan Beuttner. This has invigorated my health goals. Adding drinking water and working on better sleep (again) to my goals. Worth a read. The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan. Interesting style but too too depressing story about adult offspring who won’t let them mother die and forced on her painful, invasive medical interventions. Strange choice for my week with my elderly parents. Lol!
What I’ve been watching: too much shit on tele. I need to be more selective. Turning the Tv off will help me with my goals of sleep and home routines. I watch too many American home makeover shows. My favourite is the husband and wife couple on The Fixer-Upper. I also watched the first episode of the new series of Wife Swap. The Australian version. And Hughsies, We have a problem. And repeats of Would I lie to you and QI. Think I should go cold turkey and not turn the TV on after dinner.
Steps to my goal
Sleep – I’ve been sleeping well here. No stress of work to keep my mind rolling over.
Water – will start tallying my water consumption again.
Exercise – four days of rainforest walks in a row.
Decluttering – leaving a pair of sandals in Qld. Old and worn. Goal was to wear them out this summer. ✔️
Main thing for the year – I have a major goal I am too embarrassed to share until it is finished. But for now, know I haven’t done anything for it this week as my focus was helping mum move.
FIRE: I’m starting to think about the FIRE movement – Financially independent, retire early. Thinking but not doing much. Actually becoming more aware my purchases are working against it. $55 for lace bunting? Why? Jeans with beading for $250. I don’t really need them. Anyway, thinking and awareness are the first steps.
There’s a lot of American, and some British, TV shows on German TV.
And it is ALL dubbed.
I watched an episode of Miss Marple with Joanna Lumley! Dubbed! Joanna Lumley, dubbed!!!! Both her and Miss Marple’s voices are so distinctive. It loses something without their own voices.
Many lifestyle shows are annoyingly dubbed. They start with a few words of the English speaker, then have the English soft in the background while the German is dubbed over the top and sometimes end with the English again.
What is the point?
Is it to show the show isn’t originally in German? Which is stupid ’cause it is obviously not German.
Why can’t they just use subtitles? What do the Germans have against subtitles?
In Italy, I’ve found a host of shows not dubbed and without subtitles. Law and Order SVU. Bay Watch. Father Brown. (Shows I wouldn’t watch at home – more on that in a minute.)
Strangely, some of the titles and end titles were in Italian, like the disclaimer of Law and Order not being a true story, but then all the dialogue was all in English.
Where do you stand on this? Dubbing or subtitles? Which do you prefer?
While thinking about dubbing, I realised I watched several hours of a crap TV show – RBT and several episodes of Law and Order (the latter not all crap) – over several nights while travelling. I watched for no reason. Just put it on and left it on.
Then again, sometimes I feel like watching something light on TV. Something mindless, but not annoyingly so, on the idiot box so I can switch my thoughts off and relax.
One night in Rome I had one of those moments. I needed to watch something light. (I know. Watching TV while in Rome!!! But we’d walked over 20,000 steps that day and we were not going out after dinner.)
My choice of English speaking programs was extremely limited. There was one program.
So I watched it. The Worst TV forensic crime drama EVER! CSI Miami, I think. The script, costumes, lack of reality, delivery of lines, characterisation, how the people died. It was shit with a capital S. I watched the whole episode just to be sure. Yep. Pretty atrocious.
While I’d never watch this at home, I realised I watch too much shit on TV at home. Out of habit, I put the TV on and sit in front of it after dinner and fall asleep or am just too tired to get up, turn the TV off and go to bed.
Watching TV every night, whether it be crap or something more worthy – is a habit I need to break!
I didn’t need it every night while travelling.
So while travelling I decided to break the mindless watching TV thing when I get home.
Two weeks in, it hasn’t been going too badly. It has been helped by the fact that a son pulled out the cord for the cable TV so I only get free to air. But I just haven’t felt the need to find out how to fix it. So I leave the TV off.
Do you watch TV out of habit? Do you just automatically turn it on?
The participants said we think we know them and how they feel but we don’t. Several said we see a minute snapshot with the producers taking a perspective, or an angle.
Yet we are seeing real people however small the snapshot. To see the arc of their lives, the narrative, is as engaging as reading a memoir.
It’s touching. I teared up at the fellow who moved to Australia. Mr S couldn’t understand it, “But it is happy.”
Yes, but he was so vulnerable. And sliding doors, I don’t think he would have had such a happy life if he’d remained in England. And how Aussie is the grandkid – Shano? An English documentary maker couldn’t have hoped for more stereotypical Aussies.
Some people seem to be hit with bad luck; drama, illness, unemployment, misadventure, all compounded by poor choices. But for me, it is the happier stories that are so touching.
I love seeing the changing fashions. The makeup on the women. The hair on the men. God, the 70s and early 80s were not kind to men with all that hair. And 80s make-up never heard the word subtle.
The increasingly compelling part is that nothing like this can ever be made again. Our view of the media has changed and this would affect the filming from the start. OK, some participants have come on in this or in previous episodes to promote something, a band or a charity for example, but reality TV and social media have changed the way we use and present ourselves. And the simple presentation, gentle editing and pace, would not be the style of a modern documentary maker.
There have been some short-lived versions from other countries. But they appear so derivative.
As the years roll on, my fear is no one will participate. So it becomes more compelling – will this be the last one? As we’ve come to know the people – we want to know what’s happened, like we do with old school friends who we “know” and are FB friends with. We know we don’t know what is really going on in their lives, we don’t know all they hold important, what they value, but we want to know what they’re up to and how they’re travelling.
What about class?
Although all the participants decry the concept of class that they say is the producer’s point, class is clearly a determining factor in their lives.
Class isn’t money. But the effect is evident in the life choices.
Of course, options are vastly different for whatever class you are born into than they were a century ago. Children may go to university, participants be the first to own their own home.
Representatives from different social groups may be tokenism, but it holds largely true.
But the saying, “Give me a child …” isn’t just about class. We see the personalities come through. Worried little 7 year old Paul is still worried at 56. Sparky Tony is still sparking.
Why do they agree to continue?
I am so grateful that they do. It must be interesting to have a kind of record. Yet strangely disturbing to see the years go by so quickly.
The wife of the lawyer said she gets to see the physical changes of her husband and compare them to her sons. But that’s hardly a reason for her husband to continue.
The posh country girl said she feels a responsibility to return but hates it. I am glad she feels that responsibility.
What’s the real lesson?
Family, significant other relationships, purpose. Those three things are most important for happiness, feeling satisfied and content, and getting through the rough patches. Irrespective of class.
The next book in the Ferrante Neopolitan series. I'm a third of the way through. Getting a bit heavy.
Binge watch TV series and movies.
Line of Duty Series 1. I don't know how I missed this series. Some shocking, shout-at-the-tele scenes. I will have to get season 2.
Pioneer Woman. I'm not sure how I feel about this show but it is kind of addictive. It's a cooking show but I doubt I'll cook any of the recipes. Too much butter and cream and fat and cheese. Handfuls and handfuls of cheese. With a layer of more cheese. The outdoor scenes are so different. The flat, apparently tree-less plains made me google if there are trees in Ohio. And there are. But you wouldn't know it. It must be so cold and windy!!! It's strangely addictive in the way of watching shows about cults are. All that smiling, wholesome American, blocking out of any diversity. And oh! The plastic. Everything comes in plastic and styrofoam.
The 100 Foot Journey. Light, schmaltzy, movie. As you'd expected from something produced by Oprah Winfrey. With great acting. As you'd expect from Helen Mirren. And wonderful scenes from France.
The Women on the Sixth Floor. A French movie set in the 60s. A gentle love story and personal awakening.
Play mindless games on my phone.
Twenty. My eldest got me onto this. And I'm hooked. My son got up to 18 and deleted it. I got up to 18 and deleted it too. But then put it back on. And got up to 19. Should I keep trying to get to twenty? Mmm, really it's a waste of time.
Desktop Tower defence. I have no idea why I'm still playing this. Have been for years or decades.
French lessons. The actual lessons are two hours on a Saturday morning. Add in travel and parking and that's a fair block of Saturday gone. But really, all I'd do is sloth around if I didn't go. Then there's homework and other revision.
Blog. I have more time for blogging. I have posts galore for the future. And I've developed an idea for a new blog.
Going to a cafe. I don't do cafes. I don't see the point of sitting in a crowded small place, often on a road side, on wibbly chairs, paying a premium for a sandwich I can make at home or a cake I don't really like with either too much icing or too dry or both, and poorly made tea or my other choice at cafes, iced chocolate, chosen because I don't like their tea, and then feeling sick because of all the cream in the iced chocolate. But as I can't walk far or up and down stairs, an invite from a friend for an outing to a cafe was accepted.
And did I enjoy it?
The view was of the road, and the intersection was noisy but we weren't right on the road. The chairs were stable. The food was yummy and something I'd never cook. A flourless orange cake with gelato and orange sauce and Persian fairy floss. And the tea was fine.
Do you spy the scone at the top of the photo? I ordered scones first but they only had one left so they gave it to me on the house. A bit too much with the cake but I powered through most of it. The scone was the softest scone I have ever had!And not at all crumbly.
So yes, it was a lovely. Thanks to my friend who took her temporarily disabled friend out for a Sunday outing. I'd do it again. As an occasional outing, it was good.
And plan my trip to France. Of course, I've been doing plenty of this. Must be time for another post on my plans.
I really enjoy the English TV series, Agatha Raisin. It’s light-hearted murder mysteries bring Agatha Christie into the now. Kind of a Midsommer Murder meets Miss Marple.
Just the thing for a Friday or Sunday evening viewing, I never bothered trying he books on which the TV series was based. Slightly too light-weight for me. Something I’ll watch but not really read.
Until now. I needed something to distract being stuck indoors on the lounge with my bung knee. And I can borrow the electronic version online from my library while away.
I found the books were perfectly distracting, and entertaining.
But book-Agatha doesn’t have a blonde bob. And she isn’t noted for her lovely figure.
What? I know. The blonde bob is so perfect for the character.
Oh! You mean why would I focus on the blonde bob? As if that makes a character.
Well, yes, I grant you that it could be seen as trivial detail, except the story isn’t deep and Agatha with a blonde bob is like Phyrne Fisher’s black bob. It seems to define the character.
Anyway, I have accepted that the book-Agatha is slightly different from TV-Agatha. And that’s OK. I enjoyed the first novel so much, I borrowed the next instalment. And read it. And reserved book 3 – my library only has book 3 in real book so have to wait until I return home. And I borrowed and read book 4. All from the unit down the snow, 8 hours away from home!!!
Have you ever been disappointed by how a character has been portrayed in transferring a novel to a TV show? Or the other way? Or enjoyed both, even if the portrayal isn’t the same?
I know I will probably tire of the books. Like Alexander McCall-Smith, MC Beaton churns out a new volume in the series every year. And some of the details are more than slightly silly. Fine for TV series. And fine in small doses when house-bound.
I’m so glad the series is being repeated on TV. I will have another look, especially as I missed some of the episodes.
As well as a concert and an opera, in February, March and the start of April I saw a couple of plays and movies. The latter at the cinema, not just on tele. (I know. I lead an exciting life.)
I subscribe to the Sydney Theatre Company and see about six plays a year. I’ve seen two thus far.
Play 1: The Testament of Mary based on the novel by Colm Toibin. I loved the book; one of my keepers which I reviewed earlier. The play was equally moving. It was impressive that the actor sustained the energy for basically what was a monologue. Mary’s voice and her equivocating on the supernatural nature of Jesus is just as strong in the play. Before the play we had lunch at the Dance Cafe. Great venue – in the middle of one of the long wharves. And the food’s quite good too.
Play 2: Another deeply moving play, TheBleeding Tree. With only three actors, it felt like there were more characters on stage, as the actors took on other voices. The mother and her two daughters kill the father as they suffered DV for years. The neighbours turned a blind eye to his death/murder, as many had to the DV. I normally do a matinee but for this play we went to a Saturday night performance. The city lights were awesome. We ate at a busy Italian before the play. I had the yummiest pizza with arancini balls to start. Of course I had to have a glass of prosecco. Or two. Afterwards we walked along the harbour. The city was pumping that night and everywhere was full.
Movie 1: Les Innocents. A French movie that was part of the French movie festival. I went with the young and lovely Sarah. (Such fresh and glowing skin!!!) Of course we ate and talked and had a cocktail and talked. Oo la la. (That was what the cocktail was called, apparently. Or maybe that was just for the festival!) I love unique tales that show me something I knew nothing about. Polish nuns raped by Russian soldiers and tended by French medics at the immediate end of WWII was definitely new for me.
Movie 2: I got free preview tickets to see Their Finest. (Love how I have scored free and discounted tics this year!!!) Bill Nighy was brilliant. Who knew he could sing? Highlight for my friend and me was hearing him sing Will Ye Go Lassie (Wild Mountain Thyme). The movie was a sweet and somewhat melodramatic love story set in WWII. My only caveats was the incidental music, which I found annoying, and something else which I have forgotten and as I only saw it a week ago, it couldn’t have been a big caveat. The country scenery was beautiful. Before this film, (you can guess the trend here) I also ate – at a Lebanese restaurant with the softest falafals I’ve ever had – and talked a lot. No drinking, though. I was driving.
On the small screen, I have watched quite a few films and series:
Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Funny and silly. Good to while away 90 minutes.
Captain Fantastic. Father raises his children in the woods and then has to leave as the mother dies. I loved the challenge to what is normal. Worth watching.
No Offence. Series 2. I love, love, love this series. Fast talking with northern English accents, it can be hard to follow. Crime with black humour, this was written by the fellow who wrote the first series of Shameless. Same take on the world.
Vera. Another English crime series. Vera looks like a bag lady. I didn’t enjoy it so much after her first offsider left.
Gogglebox. I love watching people watch TV. I like all the watchers. Well picked Gogglebox producers. I like how I get an overview of the shit on tele without watching all the shit. It’s like getting a dose of pop culture without suffering. I mean who really wants to watch the stupid cooking shoes (only The Great British Bake Off is worth watching.) And any of the real housewives series is absolute shite. The reaction from the Gogglebox people makes it all funny.
Distant Voices, Still Lives. Apparently this is considered a masterpiece. From England it tells of a working class family from Liverpool ruled by an abusive father. It wasn’t just the bleakness that lost me. It was so disjointed. Shhh, but I used the fast forward button.
The Guard. An Irish black comedy with Brendan Gleeson. I do like black comedies and this one was brilliant. Gleeson was in the black comedy, In Bruges, that I liked too.
I’m not going to tell you which ones of these films you should see, cause it really depends on what you like. But if you want me to pick one for you, tell me what sort of films or series you like, and I’ll tell you which one is for you.
Anyway, you can see I’ve been busy in things beyond work. And I haven’t even written about our “out and about” adventures!!!