Hey little sister. ..

Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’ is playing in my head when I wake up on the day of my sister’s wedding. My second thought is “Shit it’s raining!”,  as I hear the rain gush off the roofs and the spouting.  The day is grey and my third thought is “Fizz is not going to like this”.

I stay in bed and check my emails. The day turns even darker when I realize my flight from Fiji to Sydney has been changed and is later. My connection choice to Melbourne has me arriving at midnight, making a late night train trip impossible. You really feel helpless at the mercy of airlines,  and I feel angry and not a little bit weepy.  It’s Fizz’s day though and I’m not going to spend it moping.
I drown my sorrows in French Toast and fruit, catch up with Fiona who has taken her nervous husband to be to the shops for some retail therapy. It reminds me of my wedding day when Mr BG was very nervous- I still remember his clammy hands and dry mouth at the wedding ceremony.
Heading to her hotel room later in the day,  I see she has been transformed,  with glamorous wedding make-up and hair. The last couple of hours are spent quaffing champagne,  getting dressed and then wrangling two little people into their clothes!

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Seeing her walk up the aisle with Dad, glowing with happiness, and then having her little family mill about as the ceremony was conducted was incredibly special.
2014-04-05 16.14.06

Despite the inclement weather, Fiji gave one last present to the happy couple with a spectacular sunset as we headed into the wedding dinner.
2014-04-05 18.14.33I guess you say it was a happy day 🙂

 

Fiji with Fizz

I’m off to Fiji alone.

I never thought I would ever put that in a sentence,  but there you go!

My lovely sister Fiona,  known to the family as Fizz, is getting married.  She and her partner had travelled there a few years ago and loved it,  and decided to share the love with their families and friends.

My two brothers have traveled from London for the occasion,  and I am currently at Sydney airport awaiting my flight to Nadi. 

Owing to another trip next month (!!), we could only afford to send myself. I could look upon this as reconnaissance for a future family holiday- a resort holiday is something that I have never done!

It is also a chance to catch up with my family for a joyous occasion.

I’m missing my family already

Tassie 14- Doing it for the kids

On Tuesday, I went for a run in the cool of the early morning and went to Cataract Gorge. There were a few friendly runners and walkers also taking advantage of the weather before the heat struck, but it was still quiet. I disturbed a wallaby which jumped off into the undergrowth, and said hello to a peacock, but that was it.

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Cataract Gorge #tassie14 #Launceston #morningrun #chairlift

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It was also a great chance to check out the buildings. It is a very pretty town, with lots of lovely old houses and cottages. Quite hilly too, as my poor legs discovered!

First outing with the family was QVMAG (Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery) at Invermesk. Across the river, near Aurora Stadium, it comprises an interactive science museum, a railway museum, planetarium, and a collection of Tasmania historical artefacts. It is owned and operated by the Launceston City Council and was excellent. The planetarium show was informative, despite Miss BGs insistence that she HAD to go to the toilet Right Now. It gave the kids another reason to stay up till 10.30 to look for constellations.

The Phenomena science section had the kids engaged for ages, there was perception tunnel which truly has to be tried out to be believed. It was well lit, which is a change from Scienceworks and other science exhibits we have visited. I think my favourite exhibit from the museum was a caravan built in the 1930s and which had never been renovated. It was tiny and very cute, but even managed to have everything you could want, including a bath hidden under the bench seat!

Given the heat of the day (it got up to 35 degrees, which wasn’t as hot as the 40s that Victoria was experiencing), we decided to take the kids to the Aquatic centre. A slight delay though, as I did a U turn in the street to grab a park near our house, and clipped the side of the gutter. A hissing sound was heard- flat tyre…

Thankfully, the RACV has a reciprocal relationship with the RACT and I was able to get roadside assistance. The mechanic was very helpful and recommended a tyre shop not far from the house, so I was able to nip over and get the tyre sorted out. I had to come back later to get the tyre, so we headed off to the pool.

The Launceston aquatic centre is massive, with both indoor and outdoor play areas, an Olympic sized pool, a hydrotherapy pool and a water slide. It has been at least 30 years since I have been on a slide, and I shamelessly used my kids as an excuse to go down with them. The squeals of the kids, the rushing water, the splashdown at the end- I was 13 all over again. After a couple of slides, the kids were more than happy to head down by themselves. Then Mr BG decided to have a go and finished off the last of the rides. His last ride had him sliding head first :).

A great day, even with the tyre fiasco. I went back to the tyre shop to pick up my new tyre and get the spare replaced. Another car caught my eye. A DeLorean, in what could be described as unrestored condition, was sitting in the lot. I am still kicking myself for not having my phone to snap it…

Small Pleasures

On the weekend we embarked on a road trip to Toora for a family get together. My sister in law Kerry introduced me to a few things- her first crocheted granny square (yay!) and a book by Maeve Haran “Small Pleasures to save your life“.

It is often the small things from which you derive pleasure  in the midst of a crazy day. Of the various ones in the book, ‘good bread'(I love my bread!), ‘matching underwear’ and ‘holding a small child’s hand’ were my favourites.

For me, I was very lucky to have an entire weekend of small pleasures.

Stopping off at Tooradin for lunch at the Pelican Cafe and a quick dive into the discount bookshop much to the kid’s delight.

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Comfort Station #roadtrip #tooradin #pitstop

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Kerry’s garden, full of surprises and a creek!

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Kerry's creek in her garden #toora #roadtrip

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Spring coming in the pear orchard next door.

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Pear blossoms #toora #roadtrip

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Kids getting along (temporarily!) and seeing them with their cousins Brad and Kate and Lou.

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Comparing mud on shoes #sean #Emily #toora #roadtrip

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Drinking port and toasting marshmallows by the fire (it was too dark and my hands were full :))

Drinking a very good bottle of wine, in celebration of Max.

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Drink drank drunk #toora #roadtrip#grange # heaven

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Using the good china for a cup of tea.

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The good china #toora #roadtrip #cuppa

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What small pleasures do you enjoy?

For Max

I have signed up for Dry July. For 31 days, I will forgo the bittersweet taste of a gin and tonic, the refreshing draught of a local Learmonth cider, and an after dinner port. Dry July is aimed at helping improve the lives of adult cancer sufferers and their families. A waiting room where I spent a lot of time last week at the Royal Melbourne Hospital was funded from proceeds from Dry July. The money is directed to the cancer centre of your choice- mine is the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre

support me with dry july

I signed up in memory of my brother in law Max. He was Mr BG’s brother and he died early Saturday morning of complications related to cancer. His two sisters, a niece and Mr BG were all there at his bedside when he died.

There was a 15 year age gap between Max and Mr BG, but they shared many common interests. Max was a huge influence on his younger brother and instilled a love of music, Asian food and travel that has never left him. They travelled together, went to gigs and shared many a meal when Mr BG was in his youth. There are many memories of meals eaten in Max’s flat on the coffee table with the music playing in the background.

In a family of Cats supporters, he was the sole Magpie, but he had a passion for all sports, especially rugby. He enjoyed his Guinness and there were a few lunches I had with him that involved an Irish pub or two.

For someone who was an intensely private person, he had many friends. He had so many visitors, there was a queue to see him in the hospital hallway at times, and his face lit up with each visitor.

Please click on the image above and donate to my Dry July pledge. Donations of $2 and above are tax-deductible and any amount will be gratefully received.

Clockwork

There are times when life goes smoothly and like clockwork. Just like a clock, there are cogs and springs, all of which should work in tandem.  A lot of time and organisation goes into a clockwork life- lunches and school clothes are done the night before, work clothes are left in the bathroom, all school notes are signed and packed. Food is left in the fridge for dinner, and after dinner, dishes are done, and the kitchen is left ready for the next day. Children are constantly reminded to keep their rooms tidy and to pick up after themselves, and I am reminded by Mr BG to do the same :).

There are times though when the clock loses a spring or life simply throws you a spanner. In order to keep life ticking on you have to make a few adjustments.

An illness of a close family member has meant Mr BG has had to leave for Melbourne for a couple of days. That means priorities are shuffled around, lists are made of things to do and people to contact, and arrangements are made to look after little BGs and the cat.

It’s at times such as this that you realise that much of that intricate machinery that is your life is meaningless if you don’t have the big things that matter- family, health and love.

Tripping to Toora

It’s good to have some time on the school holidays to relax. One of the easiest places to do this is Toora, in South Gippsland. It’s only 2 hours from Melbourne, but it’s quiet and peaceful and utterly beautiful.

The shed

The house is located right next to a heritage pear orchard, which we would cut through to walk down the street.

View from the Gate

Mr BG’s big sister Kerry lives there with her husband Terry, in a house with a garden in which you could get lost, with Layla the horse and Jessie the dog. There was also Kestrel, a guest horse, who was staying while her owner was away. This was really exciting for the kids, as Kestrel is a very easy-going horse who the kids love to ride.

Let's ride!

Master BG has really grown to love riding. Before, he would have nothing to do with the horse, preferring to leave his younger sister to be the dare devil. Now, he’s quite enthusiastic, saying it makes him feel content.

The kids love going to Aunty Kerry’s. They spent it outside, playing with Jessie, helping feed Jessie and the horses, brush down Kestrel, plant a tree with Terry, collect eggs from the school chook shed with Kerry. They chilled inside, reading books or playing with a cool farm set. Apart from a visit to Port Welshpool to walk along the beach and playground there were no outings or excursions.

Having a paddle

Port Welshpool was sunny and warm, with the kids paddling and afterwards having chips and dim sims from the General Store. Miss BG started being mindful of her clothes, and ten minutes later, was drenched from top to bottom and ended up being attired in her hoodie and gumboots :).

Beachside promenade

It was wonderful, just hanging out and spending time with family.

7 Things I have been doing other than blogging

I have written most of this post at a cafe while waiting for Miss BG to have her school assessment. It’s been a while since I have posted anything substantial, so I give you 7 reasons for my absence on this blog.

1. Working. My hours have increased with Miss BG starting school, and there has been a lot going on at work. I have moved desks, in fact to another floor and workspace, and it’s taken a while to get used to the new layout. My deskshifts though, allow me to ponder and check out the gold ceiling…

Looking up #2013pad #happy365

There’s also the travelling involved, which adds up to long days.

2. Crocheting. Mr BG’s scarf  is done and I am tackling another item on my unfinished business list.

3. Riding my bike. My Sunday mornings, which would have been taken up with writing and on the computer have been taken up with riding. My first ride went well, with a mature aged gentleman cyclist offering unsolicited advice on my gears, but I’m getting the hang of it :-). Honestly, who’d have thought riding a bike was so tricky?

Changing a tyre #2013pad #happy365
4. Hanging out with the little BGs. What time I have after school with them has mainly involved nagging for school clothes to get changed, rooms to be tidied and lunchboxes to be removed from bags. There have been visits to the swimming pool, driving kids to soccer and playdates and generally playing mum.

Going down the frog slide #happy365
5. Watching DVDs,  Dr. Blake, and Downton Abbey . I’m more of a DVD watcher, so I can do a marathon binge of a series, or watch a movie when I want, and not have to worry about ad breaks.  The highlights of this have been The Dark Knight Rises and American Horror Story (which creeped me out, but in a good way).

It has been odd tuning in to watch telly for a show at a certain time- as a result I sometimes miss the first ten minutes :). While it’s been great seeing these first run shows,  and not have to wait for the DVD, I am kinda over turning on the TV to find the broadcast has been delayed, and the never-ending ad breaks… It has also been a chance to spend some time with Mr BG, rather than sitting in front of the PC at night time.
6. Squeezing in gym time A couple of classes on Thursday, and one on Saturday is what I am managing at the moment. Any more and I’d go crazy!
7. Cleaning- bathrooms, tidying cupboards, and even dusting. Can’t say it’s been fun, more like character building 🙂

It’s hectic, but I am finding that less screen time has made me somewhat calmer, which is good for my year of Being Mindful 🙂

Christmas Cake

For as long as I can remember,  Mum has baked a Christmas cake for Christmas. It is dark, and rich and smells potently of alcohol, and is delicious.

The recipe has come from an out of print recipe book Dad bought Mum in 1982 for Mother’s Day. It has pages taped, the binding is held together with more tape, but you can still read on the front cover Dad’s message to Mum. ‘Happy Monther’s Day- what more could a man ask for other than breakfast in bed xxx’.

There has been the occasional year that it hasn’t been baked (usually because they have been visiting relatives overseas), and it just hasn’t been the same at Christmastime.* Actually one year, mum made a healthier version, and while that cake was quite nice, it just wasn’t the same.

It was also my wedding cake; in fact in the recipe book it’s listed as a wedding cake.

So this year, I decided to make my own. Dad took a photo of the page, sent it to my phone, and I was set!

I bought currants, raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, glace cherries, all of which were soaked in brandy overnight. Then Miss BG and I creamed butter and brown sugar, added eggs and vanilla, fig jam (it should have been marmalade, but I’m not buying a jar of marmalade for two tablespoons when I don’t eat the stuff), and grated orange and lemon peel. We folded it in to the soaked fruit, along with sifted flour and spices. And stirred and stirred and stirred before popping it into a big tin lined with brown paper and placing it in a slow oven.

The proof will be in the eating…

*Another tradition has been the Christmas stocking which my parents threatened to discontinue for us a couple of  years back. All of us, in our thirties, protested vociferously against this :).

I’m on the computer

Looking back at the photos from a Week in the Life, Mr BG was struck by something. ‘I’m always on the computer,’ he stated.

Um, well just in the photos. He can also be found in the lounge in the evening, in the red room playing guitar, or in the kitchen doing the dishes. Sadly I don’t see him out at the clothesline, unless he has followed me out there :). But usually, in a moment of repose, we tend to gravitate to the glow of the PC screen to email, blog, read, listen to music (quite a bit of our music is on the PC) and play games. And by ‘we’ I mean the entire Bookgrrl family.

The computer is set up in the dining area, with the screen easily visible from the kitchen, effectively in the heart of the house. I can see what the kids are doing on the computer, and be on hand for any troubleshooting.

After our holiday I have been trying to reduce my timewasting online, but it’s not easy. I’m trying to justify my time on the computer as a positive reinforcement to my daughter that it is okay for girls to be comfortable with technology, but I think I would rather her being outside riding her bike.

With school holidays approaching, the last thing I want is for the computer to be on all day with the kids or myself, like zombies in front of it. Nor do I want them doing the same thing in front of the TV.

Weather permitting they’ll be outside, or inside doing stuff like reading, drawing, writing, baking, playdoh, or even helping me tidy their rooms. Well, that’s the plan at any rate :).