A Glass Half Full

20170612_143343Our fallen autumn leaves looking more like confetti…..

Someone pointed out to me this week that not everyone lives my “perfect” life and inferred that I was bragging about all the ‘gorgeousness’ surrounding me and my daily life. As those close to me know, I am indeed a positive person, a most definitely glass half full girl and therefore despite having sad/bad/disappointing things happening in my life I choose not to dwell on them, instead focussing on a bit of gratefulness and seeing the silver lining when things go wrong. I know when I am a bit down occasionally or I want to be transported to another place I love to read about other people’s lives and travels and get ideas, however small, from reading about their happy place. I love to get lost in their words and dream about doing something different. I in turn hope that in my own little way I may help someone else who has dreams of moving to the country or just needs some courage to take the leap from their everyday life to do something they have long dreamed of. I’ve never pretended that everything is 100% fine and dandy all the time but who wants to read about sad/bad/disappointing things when we all have our own to deal with? Writing is about painting a picture and if I was a painter I doubt I would portray something sad/bad/disappointing so what’s different about the written word? If I can transport even one person to a different place I am a happy bunny.

And now on a more enjoyable note we enjoyed having our boys stay with us last weekend for the Queens Birthday Long Weekend. My British friends and family laugh at this as they don’t get a public holiday to celebrate Lizzys birthday but we of the Colonies do!! In our little part of the world the June Long Weekend (as it is more commonly known) is synonymous with the Shoalhaven Wine Festival and it is growing each year to the point that this year things seemed a little out of control. After a week of heavy rain the skies cleared and the people ventured out in their hundreds to savour the wine, food and entertainment that 8 of the local wineries put on for the 3 day weekend. There are buses to take those not wishing to drive but loads of people choose to go solo in their cars. This made for very muddy and slippery parking in the various paddocks with several people getting bogged and having to be helped out. Queues were long for food and drinks but everyone stayed calm and relaxed and enjoyed the ambience and the winter sunshine and a good time was had by all.

The boys went home to prepare for going back to work and for Tom to go into hospital to get his knee repaired after a football injury back in February. All went well but he was pretty swollen and sore so good old Mum went up with some home made food to look after him for a couple of days and to get him out of his bedroom for an hour or two. We had a nice time together even trying out a charcoal face mask just for fun! His Dad is next on the list for a knee op – if only we could have got a discount for 2 !!

Whilst I was up in the Big Smoke I caught up with my old colleagues who I hadn’t seen for a good 2 years which was lovely, they were the best team to work with and I do miss them. I finally got to check out the Tram Sheds at Glebe which was being built when we moved away. It is a really great little set up based around the old Rozelle Tram Shed built in 1904 and you can even have brekky inside the tram for an atmospheric start to the day! The industrial design really compliments the site and it’s history and houses loads of good restaurants and providores all within walking distance of our old house! I love going back to Sydney for a couple of days and manage to pack loads in each time but I left this time with a head cold, an empty wallet and the obligatory parking ticket, obtained whilst playing Florence Nightingale……. grrrrrr……

I got back to The Meadow just in time for part of the Berry Bypass being opened to the public to walk it prior to being opened to traffic in a few weeks time. As the 1st trees were cut down for this project a mere two weeks after we moved here we have seen it develop and grow over the past couple of years and together with all the locals we are excited for our little town to be circumnavigated so we can cross the road easily and enjoy a coffee in the pavement cafes in peace. The amount of huge trucks ploughing through the centre of town is ridiculous and it must also be annoying for the truckies as it is a 50km zone. The new road will keep them whizzing by on their way south and restore peace to the High Street! The engineering has been amazing with new materials ensuring water is drained through the surface rather than sitting on the top splashing all who drive through it and also incorporates recycled rubber ensuring a quieter road for everyone. They also have allowed for the natural habitat of our native animals providing specially created walkways from the trees so they can go UNDER the road rather than becoming a statistic crossing it. The landscaping too has been well thought out, contributing beauty to the area rather than denuding it as in the past. It was great to see so many people turn out to take part in the 3km walk.

20170618_104629 Safe koalas and possums from now on hopefully….

So as Autumn moves into Winter and the days are so much shorter we tend to live outside as much as possible between 9 and 4 where it is actually warmer on a sunny day than indoors! Once we have a log fire going it is toasty but that is usually only when the Man of the House is around as I suck at building fires (must have missed that bit in Brownies.) So gardening and walks with the dog are all on the list of daily chores and despite the season there is still plenty of beauty to see, most especially if you’re a glass half full person…..

 

If you want a bit of insight into the world of a Mother of any age or stage this is THE CLOSEST thing I’ve ever seen to adequately describe it!!!

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It’s the simple things……..

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It’s been a weird few weeks in the world.

In what is becoming a regular occurrence, innocent people have lost their lives at the hands of deluded fanatics. Young people just starting out in their life watching their favourite pop star; people eating out at their local restaurant relaxing after work; people wandering home on a balmy summers evening. The enormity of it is overwhelming, if you really stop and think what it would be like to be caught up in these attacks or you imagine it involving someone from your own family it’s just too big a thought and we try to avoid the depth of feelings that swell up and overtake us. As if to balance out the awfulness of it we turn to the simple things to calm us and remind us that life can still be good despite all the sad news.

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Luckily I live in the perfect place to enjoy the simple things. I’m surrounded by nature and animals, there is always something to see from my veranda – birds making nests and chasing each other through the trees, clouds swirling over the escarpment making shapes in the sky, cows standing like statues with just their jaws moving as they chew the lush green  grass and a certain brown dog at my feet offering unconditional love and companionship. On top of all that I have my chooks and the fresh eggs they give me daily, they always lift my spirits when I see them pecking about contentedly or running a hundred miles an hour towards me if they think I may have some scraps for them. All these things help me stay sane in the face of a world gone mad.

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It’s funny how when people talk about a bucket list it’s always big things like going to Paris or skiing in Canada, diving in the Maldives, cruising down The Danube or whatever, but when you are faced with an illness that is limiting your time on this earth it is not these things that make it to your bucket list. In most instances the person is too ill to travel and enjoy these big ticket items and very quickly they realise that it is simply about spending time with your family and friends or maybe taking a gentle stroll on the promenade alongside the ocean or merely sitting out in your garden with a cup of tea feeling the sun’s warmth on your face or snuggling up on the couch with your loved one watching an old movie. Simple things. In our rush to tick off those big ticket items on our bucket lists we often overlook or ignore the simple everyday things from which life is made up, giving them little heed until it’s too late. So from now on I am going to attempt not to feel guilty if I take an hour out to sit and watch those clouds roll over the hilltop or walk down a country lane for the mere pleasure of being outside because life is made up of lots of small simple things and the occasional BIG thing and not the other way around.

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I suppose part of enjoying our environment is a responsibility to look after it and the recent three part series “War on Waste”was a thought provoking one for many people. I had always prided myself on the fact I recycled and repurposed things but this documentary made me realise the bigger picture. I thought I was an efficient recycler but have now realised I can do loads more and the recycling bin is now twice as full as the rubbish bin and the chooks are the beneficiaries of far more food waste than they had been previously. We are repurposing old worn out clothes into rags for cleaning or keeping them to wear for working in the garden. Our stash of plastic bags (which I’ve had to use because I’d left my ‘green’ bags in the car) is now being phased out completely as I have at least 2 reusable bags with me at all times and with a great new local program called ‘boomerang bags’ we can borrow cloth bags and return them the next time we shop in our local village with all the shopkeepers taking part in the venture in the hope to reduce our use of plastic. July will be completely plastic free.

When walking with the Choccy Drop along the beautiful Shoalhaven River the other day I was disgusted to see these shopping trolleys that had just been tossed into the river at some stage with no regard for local wildlife and the environment. What on earth possesses people I wonder? Surely even if you were bored this is a completely useless form of entertainment? What’s the point of me washing and recycling all my tins and plasticky bits if millions of other people don’t? Well, I can’t control their actions but I can try at least to make a teeny tiny bit of difference and if we all picked up a bit more litter when out and about or walking along the beach we would have less pollution in our oceans and less sea creatures being strangled and choked to death to boot. Rant Over.

 

The newlyweds are off on their honeymoon in a couple of weeks but have been up to their eyebrows in “to do” lists as they are moving from Hong Kong to Vietnam as soon as they return in July! They have to sell their furniture, organise the sending of their belongings to Ho Chi Minh and farewell their many many friends in Honkers before they leave. Life is never boring for these two that’s for sure! Although Vietnam is still part of Asia it is very different offering from HK and is going to give them a fun couple of years exploring a different culture not to mention all that glorious Vietnamese food! The one thing I do not envy them is the traffic and the non existent road rules. You take your life in your hands crossing the roads over there as the motorists use ‘rules’ known only to themselves, so the trick is to pick your line across the road and walk confidently, not deviating from it and somehow, miraculously they go around you. There is surprisingly little blowing of horns and very few accidents. Crazy! They are also brilliant at packing as much as humanly possible onto their scooters, not much occupational health and safety here folks!

 

We are all looking forward to visiting them there once they have settled in (and know all the good local haunts and best places for pho) and are so pleased they will still be only around a 9 hour flight from Sydney. The Vietnamese are lovely friendly people, the food is amazing and cheap and there are lots of beautiful places to discover nearby. Exciting times! Life may be chaotic in Vietnam but touch wood it isn’t a target for terrorists at least. With London being such a rite of passage for so many young Australians it must be with mixed emotions that parents farewell their kids for a trip there at the moment. So sad.

 

On a happier note we got the wedding pics back from the photographer and it has been SUCH fun looking through them all, the wedding day went so fast so this is a great way to re-live it all. What a great job it must be making people so happy with your pictures! Russell Quinn you are a star. Here’s just a snippet from the day…20170606_163932

 

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THE BEST DAY!!

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I’m coming back as a galah

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If we do indeed come back in some form or another I would be pretty happy to be a galah. These birds have the BEST life, swooping and diving and chasing each other all over the countryside, maintaining a constant chatter amongst themselves (a perfect fit for me I hear you saying!) We have a large group of them that live on our property and they are a constant part of my day, always together, never alone, as they graze on the seeds in the grass or clamber above on the tree branches creating mayhem wherever they go. They are like cheeky teenagers who just want to have FUN at every given opportunity and like to fly through the gaps between the house and the garage at high speed and low to the ground creating a wind tunnel as they pass through like B52s. They always make me smile.

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It is a beautiful time of year to be outside. The sun is shining and the sky is blue but there is that cool Autumn air that feels so fresh and is so conducive to a walk through the fields with the dog at my heels or running ahead to explore the clear streams that run through them and to scrunch through the fallen leaves . I can embrace working in the veggie patch at any time of the day without fear of getting sunburn and the heavy overnight dew makes it easy to pull up the weeds. As soon as the sun goes down however we turn our thoughts to cosying up in front of the fire with a meal of slow cooked beef cheeks and a bottle of red wine and lately in a rather senior pensioner type fashion we are eating earlier in the evening and are happy to head to bed earlier too. We still don’t set an alarm unless we have an early appointment, rather we are content to wake up with the sun and ease into the day ahead. The mornings are currently misty and magical before the sun rises to burn it off and I love nothing more than rugging up with a steaming mug of coffee and sitting outside watching the world wake up….

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We are back to enjoying friends visit us after the hiatus of the wedding celebrations and three long time buddies joined us for an overnight stay last weekend. It was meant to be for 2 nights but I had a rather unplanned visit to the dentist with a grumbly tooth and found myself having an implant 36 hours later. (The Gods have obviously decided that I am to have NO money this year) However, on the upside we are still counting our lucky stars that despite not being in The Big Smoke we have wonderful local professionals to look after us. The doctors and dentists are as good as you would find anywhere. Specialists are a little harder to find but are also only needed occasionally so we are very lucky. A few glasses of good wine together with a couple of painkillers and I enjoyed our get together as if nothing had happened!

Despite the gaping hole in my mouth I was able to enjoy a day in Sydney catching up with the boys for a joint celebration of Tom’s birthday, Mothers Day, Sam’s new job and Cams 65th birthday (which went relatively unrecognised as it was the day before the wedding.) We all had a lovely laid back dinner at the ever popular Bar Reggio in Darlinghurst who are in the fantastic situation of running 2 sittings every night and being packed out for both of them. The whole place was rocking by 6.30pm!! I love catching up with my adult kids and enjoying their banter. I also love that we are all happy to go somewhere convivial and take our own wine and not have to always do”BIG” dinners. I look forward to their visit to The Meadow in a couple of weekends time. It is great that they have somewhere to escape to every now and again and after just 24 hours the city feels like it’s a whole world away and they go home well fed, rested and ready for the return to the rat race! If the newly Married One could pop over from Honkers too I’d be a happy bunny….

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We had a relaxing weekend starting with an early morning walk with the Chocolate Drop along the Shoalhaven River while the river was as still as a pond and the reflections were wonderful. Hundreds of black swans were there looking just like statues until a certain brown dog raced into the water to retrieve her ball, she loves nothing more than a good swim!!  The river is a very tranquil destination for fishermen, artists and walkers alike. We enjoyed a quick coffee at a local cafe and went home for brekky contented and happy to ready to attack the garden!

In very exciting news (for us country bumpkins) Telstra is coming today to connect us to the NBN and dragging us into the 21st century with fast broadband (or so they have promised) so I am getting this finished just in case they bugger it all up and I become  internet-less for weeks…  This connection for people outside of the major cities is wonderful and is inadvertently affecting property sales in the area as it is perfectly possible now for people to work efficiently from home for part of the week and then commute to the City for the rest. This is very dependent on their careers of course and it is mostly those in media and online businesses that can take advantage of it. A life/work balance is definitely becoming more achievable for those people that can be flexible. I read recently that in one survey over 50% of workers would be prepared to earn less if they could work 4 days a week or work different hours to accommodate childcare or be able to live in the country for 3 days a week!! I feel extremely lucky to be able to live this way and never take it for granted.

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Berry was teaming with people this weekend, here to see the Celtic Festival and our streets were inundated with men in kilts and dogs sporting all sorts of tartan. Jousting and plenty of bagpipes were all part of the festivities and we are constantly amazed at the variety of things that draw people to our small town. Classic cars, camellias, tractor shows, horse jumping, small farm shows, poultry, gardening, spinning wool, you name it we have a weekend showcasing it! The locals embrace many different “things” and most weekends the Showground is packed, which has a flow on effect to our cafes and shops. The imminent opening of the Berry Bypass will only make it so much more pleasurable to spend time in the village with all those drivers intent on reaching their destinations further south hopefully driving past and making things a lot quieter and more pleasurable in town. We are walking the new Berry Bridge on June 18th ahead of the road being opened to traffic. The bridge makes up a 620 metre section of the closest part of the new Bypass and it will be a memorable day for all of us who are looking forward to Berry returning to it’s quieter former self. Plenty of people will still stop, being the perfect 2 hour distance from Sydney, but we won’t have the huge trucks coming through town and it will make the journey much faster for those travelling south too. A win win situation!

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In the meantime the nights are getting longer and colder and the fire is weaving it’s magic keeping us cosy inside. We are embracing the slow cooker and all the old favourite British puddings as winter announces it’s arrival next week. The veggie patch is full of spinach, broccoli, leeks, brussel sprouts and asian greens and the rhubarb is giving us a good excuse to make a crumble, golden topped and served with homemade custard using our own eggs. Does life get any better????

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Life after The Wedding

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And here we are – back to reality and the routine once more. Three weeks after the big celebration I am finally back to myself after a fairly severe case of post wedding blues. The first week was full of cleaning up and packing up and then I whizzed off to Melbourne for a few days with my Mum which was lovely. I hadn’t been there for yonks and we stayed slap bang in the middle of the city and made great use of the trams and the hop on hop off bus to discover all the nearest tourist destinations. Some gorgeous old buildings like The State Library and Flinders Street Station, the characterful Victoria Markets with the best freshly cooked hot jam donuts (a perfect brekky with some piping hot coffee to go!), St Kilda with its beach promenade and pier, the sparkly big city shops and some lovely alleyways vibrant with people chatting, eating and drinking, graffiti laden walls alongside smart designer shops, book shops bursting to the seams and buskers on every corner. Melbourne has it all and more.

Mum was a real trooper as I walked her up and down the city grid looking for x or y (I am a hopeless map reader as my family will attest to, they are still amazed I managed to travel around the world in the pre google maps era!) and we enjoyed sampling some of Melbourne’s eclectic food scene and watching the world go by. Her 6 weeks with us had flown by and it was great to spend some one on one time with her before she flew back to the UK. Our last couple of days in The Meadow and we were still finding places she hadn’t seen so she will just have to come over again in the not too distant future.

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It’s always horrible saying goodbye to your family when they live on the other side of the world and especially when you don’t have a fixed plan in your mind of the next time you will see each other so I was a sad girl for a few days. After such a long time of looking forward to everything it was all over and I was projectless!! Time for this little black duck to embrace something new I think…..

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Being in the middle of such beautiful countryside helped me return to my normal cheerful self, with long walks with Bailey helping to restore my love of life once more. Autumn is definitely here with all the trees turning orange and crimson and dropping their leaves, the nights are cool now and the wood pile is being stacked in readiness for some open fires over the coming months. It’s darker in the mornings and the snuggliness of bed is sometimes hard to leave but despite myself I LOVE the mornings down here with the mist hanging in the hills and the cows silhouetted against the rising sun and I’ve even signed up for a 7am pilates class so I can witness the countryside awakening as I drive there! Crazy woman that I am!

Our new camellia hedge is off and running with some beautiful flowers unfurling on a regular basis and together with the dahlias are keeping some interest and colour in the garden. We even heard some tiny sounds coming from our hedge and on closer inspection found a nest with a couple of these little guys waiting for their Mum to feed them. Baby top notch pigeons apparently ♥♥

This last weekend saw us back down to Milton for a Long Lunch hosted by Get in the Q at the very special Claydon Park. A beautiful day with Autumn sunshine and blue skies made for a lovely day to enjoy the creative and well thought out food from Damien and his team together with plenty of wine and lively conversation from the eclectic mix of food lovers who gathered in the beautiful clear roofed marquee to enjoy locally sourced and prepared food.
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It is a gorgeous location for everything from a lunch to a party to a wedding and whilst the team were preparing a rather different presentation of the dessert everyone enjoyed walking around the property and meeting some of the pigs and checking out the vast veggie garden which is always brimming with goodies. A beautiful part of the world.

So life carries on, our newlyweds are on a high – booking their honeymoon in Canada and planning their move to Saigon, brimming with the endless possibilities for their future just as they should. My boys are well and happy and I really can throw myself into anything – but what??? The dilemma is whether to take on more work or maybe go out on a limb and try my hand at something more creative. It is a wonderful time that we live in when someone of my age can still ponder their options and even get a bit excited about it all. In days gone by it would have all been over Red Rover and despite the fact that I have entered the “invisible ” age I still feel I have something worthwhile to offer. Life is anything other than boring and I am excited about things to come. How lucky am I??

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A Country Wedding

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What a fabulous few fun filled weeks we’ve had! After all the visualising and planning of the last 12 months our Princess married her beau in a memorable and magical wedding in The Meadow. The excitement started a couple of days before the Big Day when the Marquee went up and the family and friends of the bridal couple arrived from the four corners of the globe to celebrate the Cameron-Cook union. We had a cohort of helpers, especially our friends Baz and Kathy who set up camp in their caravan for a week at The Showground in order to assist with all things Wedding! They had carefully harvested the ivy from their garden and transported it in eskies for us to use on the long tables in the marquee. We had tested all our local ivies and none of them had any lasting power but this one from sunny Forster somehow lives without water for weeks! It was perfect for winding down the length of the tables, it’s flexibility allowing for candles, flowers and platters of food.

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The Groom, an early arriving groomsman and Number 2 son, who came down to help with the heavy lifting, transformed the garden into a bucolic reception venue by dotting garden furniture, hay bales and wine barrels into attractive groupings. Huge sandstone boulders became steps into the marquee and pavers were used to create paths to the bar and the bathrooms. The cool room was filled with champagne and wine and the homemade trestle tables were utilised for drinks stations and a grazing table.

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The Groom took some time out to practise his speech, I watched him as he paced up and down by the gate, the cows his only audience, and I felt a teeny bit sorry for him. At least on the day I could just turn up and enjoy everything, a bit more pressure on him though….

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D Day minus 1 and the Bridal Party arrived, bridesmaids to the charming Camellia Cottage opposite the church at the top of our lane and the groomsmen to a house in Berry and all of a sudden it all became real! In a blink of an eye the Maids had whipped out a bottle of champers and a cheese platter and were making the Bride feel a million dollars and from then on it was just FUN – all the hard work had been done and as I had been told by other MOBs that the day flies by in a blur, I was determined to immerse myself in every minute of it as much as possible. Kathy and I decorated the pews in the church with simple bunches of eucalypt and white ribbon giving this cute little church a simple woodland feel. After a rehearsal we all gathered in the local pub to meet the groom’s family and for the bridal party to get to know each other. Berry was buzzing with our family and friends and I was suddenly so happy that we were hosting this in our new hometown and over a few days rather than just an afternoon at a local wedding venue.

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The Big Day dawned and with it the arrival of the hairdresser, makeup artist, wedding co-ordinator and all the other people that make up the workings of a modern wedding. My hairdresser, the lovely Jade (who I have known for 15 years) came down from Sydney and Thelma, the bride’s friend and makeup artist came from Tassie and they worked their collective magic on the girls whilst we sipped on champagne and the Maids made their own bouquets. I must admit I was worried about this idea before the day but the Maid of Honour had gone to the flower markets at dawn the previous day and bought the most amazing collection of flowers and greenery and they had the most wonderful time creating their bouquets as little Estella (9 month old daughter of one of the Maids) sat with them in the garden playing with the offcuts and squealing at the birds! It gave the day a lovely homemade feel which was perfect and the girls did an awesome job with their flowers.

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Having my Mum there to share in this girliness was very special and we were having so much fun we left it to the last minute to race home and get changed, passing the baton to the Father of the Bride who was on his way up to see his daughter in her dress and give her away, a big moment in any Father’s life. By the time we got back she was in her dress, looking beautiful and happy and full of excitement for what was to come.

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The little church was bursting at the seams and it wasn’t long before the wonderful Father Duane got things started. An unplugged ceremony was requested so that we could all just enjoy being in the moment so I don’t have any photos to share with you just yet but it was gorgeous to see my soon to be son-in-law’s little nephews and nieces toddle down the aisle and give Uncle Berry a big hug before the Maids entered the church ahead of Lozzy and her Dad who was beaming with pride and emotion as he handed her over to her hubby to be. The Groom was in tears as he saw his bride and this started most of us blubbing as well, luckily we had tucked a beautiful lace hanky belonging to a much loved and no longer with us Great Aunty into her hand and I just welled up with love as I saw this couple who had known each other for the best part of 10 years exchange such emotional and heart felt vows for each other. There was a party atmosphere as everyone cheered and clapped for the new Mr & Mrs Cook, causing the priest to say he had never heard had such a happy noisy crowd in the church before!

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All the happiness overflowed to the outdoors and a quick couple of snaps with the flower girls and page boys before they were whisked off with their grandparents. A photo opportunity for the bride and her girlfriends from school and Uni and then we were off  – a guard of honour for the newlyweds with throwing of petals and cheers all round before the BIG HURDLE – crossing the Princes Highway to walk together down our lane to the reception. This bit had us worried and we had even asked the police if they could arrange to stop the traffic for 5 minutes (apparently not) so in the end we just had to be sensible and choose our moment before hurriedly crossing the highway. I LOVED what followed….. as we waited to cross the road with traffic whizzing past at 100kms per hour cars spontaneously started tooting with passengers waving madly, truckies blowing kisses as they sounded their horns – a wonderful musical symphony for our newlyweds!!

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Our lovely neighbours and local farmers Pat and Jeanette had offered to loan us their tractor and trailer, usually used to collect hay bales, to transport the bridal party to the neighbouring paddock for the photos and they all had great fun as they hopped up to enjoy some champagne, beer and a hay ride! A very country scene for sure and one that they absolutely LOVED. Our friend Noel took the afternoon off work to drive them and we followed on foot, stopping off at the beautiful Kathryn’s house where a couple of wheelbarrows had been set up with some cold drinks for the walkers! Thanks Kath for your friendly smiles and “bar” duties!! Love our neighbours in The Lane!

At this stage a certain chocolate dog joined the proceedings sporting her wedding collar and excitedly joining in with the celebrations. As I arrived at the reception this was the 1st thing I saw…..

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It certainly didn’t take her long to work out where the food was! She stayed for an hour before our other neighbour Paul came and collected her to stay overnight at his kennels at the top of our lane. If anyone is ever looking for a good place to leave their dogs or cats whilst holidaying on the South Coast you will be super happy with “Meroo Kennels and Cattery” and the care and attention that Paul gives to the animals.

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The party started with aperol spritz and champagne to accompany the mellow tunes from the wonderful Adam Rennie. He perfectly summed up the vibe of the wedding and The Meadow with his playlist of songs that we all know and love but done in his own special style. A lovely bloke and a talented one. You can check him out from this Sunday 7th May on “The Voice” (Australia) where he is pitching his talents to the judges. We already know how great he is and now it’s Australia’s turn to find out! Here is a snippet that our amazing wedding co-ordinator Kat popped on her instagram page. I love that we have this little memory!

In case any of you are planning a wedding (and I know at least 4 of you are) I can highly recommend the use of an on the day co-ordinator (especially if you are doing it from home). When the then Engaged One told me she had employed one I thought it sounded a bit Hollywood and unnecessary but boy oh boy was I wrong! It was the single best thing she did and it allowed me to enjoy the day. Despite the title they did a lot more than ‘on the day’ co-ordinating. Site visits, countless phone calls, run sheets, coordinating with all the suppliers, caterers, party hire etc etc and then on the day a complete internal setup of the marquee, tables, flowers and decor – all in accordance with our pictorial examples – AMAZING!! Later that night when I came outside to see all the lanterns on, candles lit and a magical glow all around I was delighted – she did everything I would have done and more.                www.weddingandeventcreators.com.au

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One of the big hits of the day was our huge LOVE sign. Kindly lent to us from our gorgeous friends at http://www.theoldchurchmilton.com.au (along with many other weddingy things from them and the wonderful Old Koonabulla Dairy in Kangaroo Valley) these letters were fantastic. They divided the lawn up for games such as boules and bocce and provided a great prop for photos. Wayne and Kathy spent hours attaching fairy lights to them so they lit up at night when we would otherwise be plunged into darkness and really set the tone for the day. Thanks Kaz and Phil and Leigh and John ♥

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Our beautiful boys Sam and Tom embraced their MC duties with relish introducing the bridal party with funny anecdotes and introducing each stage of the evening as it unfolded. I LOVED that everything was such a family affair from both sides and as we tucked into some wonderful food by Simmone Logue and her team we were treated to some wonderful speeches, none better than the one given by my partner in crime and the Father of The Bride. Despite ‘winging it’ he gave a wonderful account of his little girl growing up and what a special place she held in his heart. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house! (He did also sneak a mention of his footy team in too somehow….!!!)

It is a very special thing to merge two families and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with the In Laws, John and Carolyn again and reconnecting after passing like ships in the night as our kids moved from South America to Tassie to Hong Kong. We were all finally in one place and for such a great reason. The Groom once again bowled me over, this time with his speech – a perfect example of a man happy and confident and thankful and funny and most importantly showing his love for my daughter. Welcome to the family Berry! The Best Man and Maid of Honour also had us laughing in our seats as they shared stories of growing up with the new Mr & Mrs Cook. The cake (a beautiful gift from the very talented Sally Cordukes) was duly cut and the dancing began accompanied by the DJ of the night and the fantastic playlist that got EVERYONE up on the dance floor, Mr Andy Benke thank you !

From then on the night just whizzed by in a blur and before I knew it the buses were here to take everyone home. It was all over and no one was sadder than me. As the last of the somewhat sloshed guests drove off down the lane in the last bus I turned off all the lanterns and Cam blew out all the candles in the marquee before sitting on the veranda together with a glass of wine to ponder the day that had been and to congratulate ourselves on pulling together a day that perfectly reflected Loz and Berry’s wishes and turned out better than we could ever have hoped for.

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The nice thing about a country wedding is that it carries on! As everyone had rented cottages for the weekend and had travelled from far and wide to be there Day 2 was a recovery lunch at the Gerroa Fishermans Club overlooking beautiful 7 mile beach and a great little spot to catch up with everyone including the littlies who had been babysat the day before. Some immediate family and friends came back to The Meadow for a bonfire and more drinks, together with leftovers from the wedding and some bbq’d snags and onions in a roll – can’t get more Aussie than that! It was a lovely way to end the weekend and farewell those flying back overseas and as we sat out in the crisp Autumn air and reflected on the whole shebang we were contented little bunnies. The new Mr & Mrs Cook were chuffed to bits and I was quite sad to see them go back to Honkers and reality. They are now excitedly planning their honeymoon hiking through Canada and finishing off in the Big Apple before their next big adventure in Vietnam where they are moving in July. Never a dull moment in this family folks…..!!

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Rain Rain go AWAY!!

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Today the sun is shining and the sky is blue and all is well with my world. My Mum has arrived from the UK and is happily enjoying life in The Meadow as she awaits the wedding, helping me in the garden and enjoying the view from the veranda as she tackles her crosswords! We have been making a point of going somewhere at least every other day and it has been lovely to show her some of our beautiful local scenery and enjoy some nice lunches. A trip to Canberra and Melbourne is planned as well as an overnight stay in Sydney to dine with her Grandsons. She and Bailey have already formed a special bond and I have been dropped like a hot potato in favour of her lying at G’ma’s feet and in turn Mum is obsessed with her velvety ears….

Sadly despite the recent sunshine we are still VERY squelchy underfoot in the garden with large puddles lying on the grass in many places. Even the smallest shower plays havoc with us now as there is absolutely NOWHERE for the water to go, everything is saturated. Dare I say that we need one of those big westerly winds that we hate so much in Winter to come and dry it all out?? As Australia’s North East Coast has been bombarded by Cyclone Debbie, the southern cities have been swept up in the accompanying low pressure system and had decidedly unseasonable weather with the biggest March rainfall in recent history. What a perfect build up to a garden wedding. There is always someone who benefits from the conditions however and the cows were so happy to be finally allowed into our back paddock to tackle grass which is up to their bellies and the sound of them tearing and chewing is audible from our veranda!

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It’s all systems go now wedding wise and the garage and dining room are filling with decor items, platters, signs, lights, glassware and a million little things to make our couple’s day special and unique. I am getting excited and quite emotional about the impending nuptials as I contemplate the moment my beautiful daughter walks down the aisle with her Dad, lots of tissues will be required by a certain Mother of The Bride no doubt!

Last Saturday saw the culmination of months of planning when ‘One Voice Shoalhaven’ presented it’s inaugural show in Nowra. It is the brainchild of my lovely neighbour Sheelagh, who lost her son to melanoma and wanted to do something to both highlight the cause and raise funds for the melanoma foundation. It was a lovely family affair full of good old fashioned entertainment and loads of music of every genre ending in a rousing rendition of John Farnham’s “You’re  the Voice” which everyone joined in with. A sunset picnic and lots of feel good vibes padded out the evening which I’m sure will become an annual fixture. Sheelagh should be very proud of her efforts which were a fitting way to honour her son.

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Despite the outrageous amount of precipitation over the last 6 weeks our amazing painter Andrew has managed to give our house a fresh coat of paint and exchange the original jaunty yellow trim for a soft grey to tone in with the new roof. The old girl has scrubbed up nicely and should now be able to withstand the rigours of the south coast weather for at least another ten years. The wrap around verandas enabled him to work rain hail or shine, they truly are a fabulous architectural addition to any house and we can now choose whichever side of the house has the best option for reading, sipping a vino or just sitting watching the world go by with a certain chocolate dog lying on your feet….

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As the garden needed loads of help number 1 son came down for a couple of nights to help us attack the weeds and was very happy despite the rain to start up the hedge trimmer and get stuck into it. Dressed appropriately in budgie smugglers off he went to wage war with the unruly hedge and provided us with a well needed giggle! Later that night we solved the problems of the world over a bottle or two of red and went to bed listening to the rain pelting down on the tin roof….


We are very excited for the next couple of weeks as our family and friends arrive from overseas and interstate and we anticipate a lot of laughs and happy times together. I look forward to sharing the big day with you all in a few weeks. Fingers crossed the sunshine will return and it will be a blue sky day.

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Busy Busy Busy

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After two weeks of huge downpours and thunderstorms the surrounding countryside is looking lush and green, more like Ireland than Australia. The price we are paying for that is a lake in our front garden and some very squishy ground underfoot. Our neighbours bogged their ride on mower a few days ago so we didn’t even try to get ours down to the low lying areas. The trouble is if the grass stays too long the sun can’t dry it at the roots and it dies off. With just over 5 weeks to our garden wedding this is NOT ideal. The silver lining is of course that all the cows and horses have some very lush feed and milk production is up and everyone’s water tanks are full or overflowing. Our poor gutters and downpipes struggle to cope with the volume of water that seems to fall every few hours but luckily in between deluges the sun comes out and the sea breeze tries it’s best to dry things out a bit. The cows don’t seem to mind the murky drizzly weather though….

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Of course this whole wet weather episode started the day our painter arrived to finish painting the old part of the house to match in with the new section. He has a strong link to this house and was the last person to paint it 17 years ago so you can imagine how desperate it was for some new paint protection. You could just touch the veranda posts and the paint would fall off. Anyway thanks to the wonders of a wrap around veranda he has managed to continue working whilst the heavens open all around him and the garage has come in very handy too.

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Last weekend saw the arrival of some very helpful friends for a working bee, painting the chook shed and some tidying up of the garden. After a week of rain the sun came out for 2 days allowing us to get stuff done which was wonderful. We had little breaks for “smoko” and knocked off at 5pm daily for Happy Hour and some nice food and lots of laughs. Thanks so much to them for their hard yakka on their weekend off from work! They tell me the hardest part of the whole weekend was getting out of Sydney on the Friday night!

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As the wedding looms it seems I have a ‘to do list’ a mile long every day to complete but I am very keen to have everything dotted and crossed by the end of this week as my lovely Mum arrives from the UK next week and I want to be free to show her around. Coming 12000 miles at 80 years of age is no mean feat and I’m glad we can offer her some relaxing corners for her to enjoy the parrots and the country views whilst overcoming any jetlag she may get. Her last trip to Oz we were living in the Inner West of Sydney within spitting distance of the CBD and with a pub or cafe on every corner so this will be decidedly different! It will be lovely to have her here for the wedding and to be part of all the preparations. The house is filling up with wedding paraphernalia and I can’t wait for the Bride to arrive and see it all. Hopefully she will love it as she only gets here one week prior to her Big Day.

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We used to have so many fairy wrens when we moved in as well as finches and other small birds that lived in our hedges. When the builders arrived with their heavy machinery and the garden became a building site they flew away and I haven’t seen them since so I was VERY happy to see this little fellow the other day.Maybe he was sussing out the potential of our garden to raise his next family? Fingers crossed they come back as I used to love hearing their song and see them flitting in and out of the bushes.

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A ray of heavenly light over the chook shed marked the passing of Henrietta last week. She was the only chook we had named as the others looked so alike we couldn’t tell the difference. While all the other chooks had bare red patches where their feather should be Henrietta sported a dark glossy full feathered coat making her the chief suspect in the denuding of the others. In the pecking order she was the Bossy Boots, the Matriarch and I thought she would be the last chook standing. So it was doubly confounding to find her one morning in the nesting box dead as a dodo. She had been segregating herself from the others during the past week and I thought she was just being snooty and standoffish but maybe she knew something was wrong. It’s always sad when you lose an animal no matter how small and you always wonder if there was something you could have done to save them. Funnily enough she died on the day of Lauren’s Hen Party which seems appropriate somehow. I thought the others may have grieved for her in their own chickeny way but they seem as happy as ever, clucking and pecking away, now just 6 of them. Life goes on in the chook yard…..

RIP Henrietta.

So as we steamroll through March and Autumn is now upon us, I find myself quite reflective. A few people very dear to us are sick and it makes me realise how fragile life is and how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day crap and forget to look around you, enjoy the simple things and make the effort to appreciate every day. While we are planning a happy wedding others are going through hell and you never really know what is going on behind closed doors for people. That’s why we should all try and be kind to each other and make every day count in one way or another. Smell the roses, roll in the fresh grass, walk alongside the ocean sunny or not, eat the cake, buy the shoes, save for that big trip, dream BIG and always be grateful for what you have even if it doesn’t always feel perfect. There are always so many people doing it harder.

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Some wise words…..

Country Pursuits

2017-02-26-23-08-59It has been a busy few weeks in the Shoalhaven with the Country Shows in full swing. Each week they pop up starting in Kiama, Berry, Nowra, Kangaroo Valley and this week Milton. They usually have at least one or two interesting things on show in addition to the usual cattle, horsey, sideshow alley type pursuits and last week I ventured up the mountain to  Kangaroo Valley in 38 degree heat to witness the inaugural Cheese and Dairy competition started by my friend Jan and a couple of other women who make up The Kangaroo Valley Cheesemakers. It was very popular with 80 entrants including about 25 students from a local High School. Hand made butter, yoghurt, labne , fresh,soft, washed rind and hard cheeses were all tasted and judged over a 5 hour period and some workshops have been planned for the coming months to teach us mere mortals the wonders of making your own cheese at home. As you get more experienced there are quite a few tools of the trade to collect however – the judging table was a bit like an operating theatre!!

My friend Maryan has been my companion to a couple of fun local things lately. My colleagues tell me that I’m now officially a local after being snapped at the cattle judging and having our photo in the local paper! I even had an akubra  on – not bad for an ex-city girl…       img_6158

We attended a far more ladylike event last week in Berry when a local GP threw open her house and the art collection within to interested parties to help them  raise funds for The Fred Hollows Foundation. It is a gorgeous old house that has been brought to life with Lucie’s extensive art collection of her Grandmother’s sister Eileen Mayo.

She was a meticulously detailed artist born in England in 1906 and emigrating to Australia in 1952 where she was commissioned to do some travel posters for The Australian Tourist Board and later some beautiful postage stamps. She dabbled in nearly every medium and was especially well known as a printmaker. Lucie has the largest collection outside of the Victoria and Albert Museum and it was a delight to tour the house seeing her Great Aunt’s work so beautifully displayed.eileen-mayo

A devonshire cream tea in the garden on lovely vintage crockery topped off our afternoon perfectly.

Our neighbours in The Lane are softies when it comes to animals and they have an ever expanding menagerie. To date they have 5 cows, 2 goats, 2 cats and now 3 dogs! Darren has been known to come back from work with a baby goat under his arm as payment for a job he’s done and Kath has such a good heart she can’t say no. Their latest addition is a Dogue de Bordeaux  or a French mastiff and Gloria is just delicious! The most well known dog of this breed is probably the lovable drooling dog in the movie Turner and Hooch. Gloria is going to be a VERY big girl when she’s fully grown, her Dad weighs 85kgs!!!! But for now she is soft and cuddly and inquisitive, as all new puppies are, and we loved having her visit us. Bailey was beside herself with excitement, wanting to play with her constantly until Gloria fell asleep in a little heap on our veranda, completely wiped out!!

With less than 7 weeks until our on-site wedding things are amping up and with our weather being either 40 degrees or torrential rain the garden has gone nuts!!! At a time that I had planned on spending lots of time mulching, weeding, trimming and pruning and finally being able to take Bailey on lovely long walks because the temperatures have become bearable I have had a rather annoying road bump in the form of a stress fracture in my foot resulting in me having to wear an orthopaedic boot for about 4 weeks (supposedly non weight bearing for at least one of them – grrrr). This has well and truly slowed me down, although it has enabled me to spend time finalising things with all the suppliers etc and catching up on my paperwork!! Funny how The Universe takes over sometimes…..

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I was determined however not to miss an event that hubby’s Company sponsors, which is a big charity Gala Ball to raise money for Camp Quality. An overnight stay in The Shangri La with an amazing view over Sydney’s beautiful harbour more than made up for my 3 hour train trip (currently no long distance driving allowed .)

2017-02-24-14-40-10As it turned out we were sharing our floor with the Indonesian President and his 45 staff who were gathered in the corridor outside his room chatting away excitedly into their lapels. They were in full military regalia and seemed totally unaware of any other guests as they got on with their business (loudly) at 7am. So much for a relaxing start to the day! The Ball was good fun though, showcasing the hardship that families go through when their children have cancer and the ripple effect that it has on the entire family. Camp Quality provides a very real escape for these families and gives them an opportunity to finally make some memories outside of a hospital environment. Number one son and his girlfriend joined us for the evening and as the wine flowed so did the money into the coffers of Camp Quality, a truly great organisation.

So back to The Meadow we went and  just in time to welcome some old friends and neighbours from 10 years ago who haven’t changed a bit! They were so sweet bringing delicious beluga caviar and lobster tails as a contribution to dinner as well as wine and choccies – very generous guests!! He is a horticulturalist and in just a couple of hours he chopped my garden into some form of submission, leaving it a lot tidier than he found it! He even got us to taste some of the remaining persimmons, assuring us they were of the non astringent kind and guess what? They were delicious!! It was lovely to see them and it was as if it was yesterday that we all used to live just down the road from each other and the kids were at Primary school !!

2017-02-26-17-42-05 Very fancy!!

After all the food and wine enjoyed this past week, in addition to the fact I can’t even go for a walk or do any exercise, and with my Mother of The Bride outfit looming, I am attempting to deprive myself of everything except fresh veggies, salads and lean protein.

My day may (or may not) go like this……..

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It’s raining it’s pouring, it’s baking it’s boiling….

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Oh to be young and have a dam on your property to dive into!! This year has so far been very unsettled weather wise. It’s either pouring with rain and causing floods or 41 degrees with scorching sun. According to people in their 90s this isn’t unheard of but in our recent history I don’t remember having so many days over 35 degrees and we are certainly underdone rain wise. The trouble with Australia is it’s a feast or a famine. No gentle English rain for us. 100ml in less than a day or nothing for 6 weeks, goodness knows how my garden is even alive although a water bill 3 times the price of our previous one is indicative of me trying desperately to coerce the plants into living despite the horrible conditions. Especially in view of the upcoming onsite wedding, I can’t afford to take my eye off the ball at all!!! Maybe NOT the best time to plant my new garden bed…..

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Luckily (I guess) we had 120ml rain in 2 days this week, I say luckily as we are about to have another 2 days of 40+degree temperatures preceded and followed by a few 35+ days so this little downpour couldn’t have come at a better time!

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In an attempt to de-stress about things over which I have no control I went along with a girlfriend to try yoga. We have the most gorgeous yoga shala near us on a farm that hosts weddings and other such affairs so it is beautifully situated in verdant countryside and just being there nourishes you before you even start the class! Needless to say I was a bit hopeless on Day 1 but loved every moment of it and slept like a baby that night so I’m going back for more next week…..

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The Engaged Ones have just come back from a lovely 10 day trip to Nepal where they trekked through some of The Himalayas. Their photos were fantastic and have wetted my appetite to do a wee bit more travelling after my wedding obligations are finished. So many places still to see and increasingly little time to see it all! I oscillate madly between wanting wild raw landscapes and beautiful ancient cities and customs, I have no care for 5 star hotels where everything is homogenised and you could be anywhere from Marrakesh to Mauritius, I love the places that sing to you of their origins and traditions and customs. Who wants to eat the same breakfast you have at home? Surely the point of travel is to see and feel differently about the world which in turn makes you see your own world differently when you eventually return home. Vive la difference and all that jazz!

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Don’t these pics just make you want to hop on a plane and get into nature?

The rain stopped just in time for The Nowra Show to burst into action. Despite the high temperatures the horsey, cattley people were out in force showing their beloved animals. I hadn’t realised until now that all these country shows are a platform for local farmers to show their best animals and by winning here they get a ticket to show at the big Sydney Easter Show which has considerably more prestige attached. I loved the little kids leading their calfs, so comfortable with their animals and proud as punch when they got a ribbon. I did giggle though when I saw the cows waiting in their stalls with an electric fan whirring on their backsides to keep them cool…!!

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The woodchop is always fun to watch and we were glad of a spot in the shade while the big boys got stuck in to the task at hand. I’m glad our logs come pre chopped for our fires as it looks like an accident waiting to happen to the uninitiated!!

It was lovely to see our neighbour Jeanette clean up in the cake competition. No less than 6 1st prizes thank you very much! We were the lucky recipients of the cakes that didn’t make it to the show, if they were slightly uneven or had inconsistent icing they came straight next door for us! Winning!!

Her Mother -in-Law is the famous Vonnie Muller. Famous in the baking world that is. She is known far and wide in the country for her phenomenal cakes and scones and she was persuaded last year to pen some of her favourite recipes into a book. It is now on it’s 3rd print run and she can’t keep up with the demand! She had her very own table in the Show Pavilion where she was signing copies for the masses and she is still chuffed at all the interest it has generated. Never too late for that moment in the sun!

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In a year that already seems to have seen so many changes in the world it is increasingly important for us to focus on our own little lives or you could get swept up in the disaster mongering of our politicians and the news channels on the TV. I rarely watch the news anymore as it’s all doom and gloom, accidents, bashings, murders, simmering international tensions with an occasional fluffy panda story thrown in for good measure. It’s easy to lose focus of the important things in life and feel rather pessimistic. It’s easy for young people to feel confused and chase the dollar and success without really loving what they do, always thinking the grass is greener on the other side but if you can find happiness in your work and believe in yourself, success will often follow – just try not to get distracted…..

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Farewell to The Five Mile

2017-01-14-12-10-31A couple of weekends ago we farewelled The Five Mile, the 100+ acre property of our dear friends that Farmer Nifty in particular has loved and nurtured now for over 16 years. In what we affectionately called ‘The Wake’ we remembered all the good times that had happened there in that time including their daughter’s weddings, summer holidays showing their grandkids the delights of rural life and the long cherished dream which came to fruition of Nifty embracing long distance horse rides up through the mountains and the rugged Australian Bush in a ‘man from Snowy River’ type fashion. 100 acres is a lot to look after however and especially when you do not have the luxury of town water or a garbage collection and there are a gazillion fences to constantly check on and paddocks to slash. It’s always hard to know when to pull the pin and leave, especially when you still love it. He is struggling in particular with saying goodbye to his beautiful horses who he has loved and cared for for many many years and my heart crumbles for him for what I know will be the hardest goodbye.

On our last night as we sat in the back paddock in front of a glowing camp fire under a billion stars and reminisced  about days gone by I could see that there would never be an easy time to say goodbye. The good thing is that a wonderful new adventure is about to start for them with a new house and new location to love and cherish. The other love of his life is fishing and they will now be a mere 150 metres from the water on beautiful Jervis Bay, closer to their kids and grandchildren and happily closer to us! It is so good at this age and stage to be able to reinvent your life and enjoy a different part of the world, see new things and meet new people – just as we have here in The Meadow. It isn’t always easy to leap off a cliff into the unknown but it can bring unanticipated joy and happiness!

These two have been great friends, colleagues and partners in crime for more years than I care to remember and I’m so glad we had this last hurrah at The Five Mile and a poignant last walk on Congo beach together before closing the gate for the last time……

We had a quick trip to The Big Smoke last week, a multi faceted trip involving a working bee at our house prior to new tenants moving in and a lovely social visit with our good friends. In 24 hours the painters had freshened the house, fixed and varnished the back deck and we had replanted the courtyard, all things that hopefully will be appreciated by the new people. I am always constantly horrified  at the lack of work done by landlords in Sydney. My son lives in a lovely old terrace in Paddington but it is in dire need of a bit of TLC and a repaint etc. They have an overseas landlord who doesn’t seem to care and knows he will always get young people willing to pay exorbitant rent to live in the Paddo precinct no matter what the conditions. Greedy and selfish I reckon. We arrived perfectly in time to celebrate our friend’s daughter’s engagement and then enjoyed a fabulous meal at Lotus in Barangaroo after drinks in a great place sporting the most amazing whisky bar – glowing amber in the evening light it was quite magnetic!! Thanks for a super evening G and M !!

One of the girls in my Pilates class kindly invited us all to her house for a ‘healthy lunch’ to belatedly celebrate Christmas and the New Year. Nothing fancy she assured us and I had envisaged an interesting salad and a fruit platter or something similar and I was so surprised when I arrived at her gorgeous  home to see a table laid beautifully and a feast awaiting us. The presentation of everything was exquisite. On top of all that everything was from her garden or made by her – from the mandolin thin zucchini stuffed with home made labneh and scattered with dried beetroot dust, violas and thyme served with a pickled chilli cucumber salad to the fluffy cheese roulade filled with roasted veggies and home made pesto, the quinoa salad with roasted hazelnuts and pepitas and a salad of fine slivers of marinated squash and zucchini flowers to the dessert platter of fresh peaches and cherries, home made lime curd tarts and a ‘healthy’ coconut ice using rice syrup and that gorgeous beetroot dust again! So creative and tasty. She is my new mentor, she fits soooo much into every day and makes me feel like a lazy cow in comparison. We finished with some lemon verbena tea plucked straight from the garden and after a few hours of a lovely girly lunch (is there anything better??) I went home vowing to make my days count a little more!! I have now bought a mandolin and some muslin to make my own labneh – I think I’m turning into a groupie!!

I am not the most diligent housewife in the world. I love things neat and orderly and tidy but I am not obsessed with cleaning products, in fact I try and stay away from the chemically laden bottles and opt for some old fashioned vinegar and bicarb of soda to do lots of the dirty work around my house but every now and again I fall in love with a product and today I am going to share with you my current favourite one – the magic eraser. They purport to get rid of those stubborn marks on paintwork and woodwork (which they do) and most recently they have also come in very handy with my new induction cook top. I am still getting used to this new method of cooking and over Christmas I completely forgot the rules when I turned one of the rings on and popped the saucepan on it with a drizzle of oil and then got distracted with something else until I suddenly noticed smoke pouring off the pan. The end result was my beautifully shiny glossy black cook top now had a horrible ugly burned circle on it. I tried to wash it off the usual way to no effect and day after day it stared at me, reproaching me for my stupidity until I had a light bulb moment and tried the magic eraser on it and indeed, just like magic it disappeared and my beautiful new oven has regained it’s status as king of the kitchen, gleaming and perfect! ALWAYS have some of these little babies in your kitchen cupboard just in case of disaster folks, you won’t regret it!

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Australia Day was spent with a small group of interesting and fun people at The Heads Hotel participating in the old fashioned delights of crab racing and thong throwing and a menu of fish and chips, a good old Aussie pie and the obligatory prawns, all set to the sounds of Aussie songs being played and sung by a local musician. The lovely Maryann had invited me along as she knew I was home alone with the Master of The House being in Europe persuading people to make some fabulous new cocoa products for him. In what is fast becoming synonymous with an outing with Maryann I had a “2 degrees of separation” moment when we discovered that one of the couples on our table had been a previous owner of our house in Rozelle! What a crazy coincidence!! Needless to say a big day was had by all but none quite as big as this little girl who just had to crash there and then on the grass! Crab racing is emotionally exhausting you know………

As my children will attest I can see a spelling mistake at 50 paces and my pet hate is incorrectly spelt menus, brochures and signs.How can anything that’s been published and therefore passed through the hands and eyes of at least 3  different people still contain mistakes FFS??? However with the advent of tiny phone keyboards and fat fingers I am a little more magnanimous – this is me to a tee……………..

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(Ps….just a little tip for those of you that receive this in email format….I was informed that the little video of George the baby wombat that I uploaded last week was missing from the post and when I investigated I had the same problem, along with a really strange format with tiny photos etc. So folks, if you too experienced this please just make sure you always click on the green square pattern on the left of the title of the post each time and it will transform into the correct visual format for you with access to all the links etc.)