Friday, April 30, 2021

April Check In, May Goals

 I'm the first one to say that April got the better of me. The wheels fell off just after Easter when the doctor said I needed to have this issue investigated, see the specialist, have a small operation. That stuff doesn't make for good goal keeping. But then again, I'm looking at my list of things I wanted to achieve, and I did get somewhere. Maybe not where I was hoping, but I did get on with some stuff.

Anyway, here's how I went :

The Forty Hour Novel Challenge

Yeah, didn't happen. But things are starting to move again, thank goodness. 

Participate in the annual Writers Victoria annual Flash Fiction Event on Twitter. 

Yes, I got my last 30 word story for the month in this morning. Not some of my best work, but it was done and I participated and enjoyed myself. That is all that matters. 

Be in the gym at least four days a week.

The health scare really knocked the wind out of my sails this month - but I have managed to get to the gym three times a week, and that is okay. I really do enjoy being really fit. 

Read four books:

I managed six books this month.

  • Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies
  • Emily St John Mandel's The Glass Hotel.
  • The Duke and I (Bridgerton #1) by Julia Quinn
  • The Viscount Who Loved me (Bridgerton #2)
  • An Offer from a Gentleman (Bridgerton #3)
  • Romancing Mr Bridgerton (Bridgeron #4)
Yes, I've resorted to reading crappy romance books. I like them in times of stress for the complete zone out they provide (I also like watching Pride and Prejudice - the Colin Firth version, at times like these. They're comforting. Don't judge. 

Finish the f*cking painting

F*cking painting needs still to be finished. Maybe this weekend. It's fiddly. I hate doing architraves. 

See a film a week

I managed this one too. Over April I've seen:

  • Nomadland
  • Godzilla vs Kong (much better than you think it's going to be)
  • Supernova
And I'm seeing Six Minutes to Midnight tonight. Job done. 

No brushing my hair for a month

This sounds like a strange one, but with a couple of lapses (Surgery was the biggie - I just needed to brush my hair then, I've resisted brushing my hair and the results have shown my hair stays a lot curlier for a lot longer. I like it. Seeing the hairdresser tomorrow to see where to go from here. 

And my May goals:

Read four books:

Maybe I should also say, read four books that aren't crappy romance books...

See a film a week:

I like this one too - there are a few film festivals about. 

Walk 100 kilometres.

This isn't as hard as it sounds - but I need to up the walking. I miss the walking. I just need to get off my bum. Four kilometres a day and you're set. it's all about being consistent. This on top of my other gym work, my fitness, which is already good, should get even better

Just write.

Not putting on a time or a word count on it. I just need to do it. 

Minimise discretionary spending:

I've got a really big bill at the end of the month. My bills are are up to date and paid - I just have to be very careful this next month so I don't go too far into the red. So there's no buying unnecessary crap on the internet. Just stick to the basics and the budget. 

That will do. COVID vaccination day tomorrow. Yay.

Today's Song:

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Novel Thoughts

 I had another busy day. Not a particularly productive day, but a busy one. A day of meetings, and paperwork and more meetings. I saw the doppelganger of an old friend. I had to call him to see why he was in Melbourne. He wasn't. After a few minutes I'd ascertained it wasn't my friend. Not enough hair and his wife would never let him out of the house in Gazman trousers. Had a good chat to the non-doppelganger version at lunchtime. Got home. Fed the cat. Had a pretty heavy session at the gym. And now I'm here. 

But in the midst of this busy, yet unproductive day, I got to ponder the novel. 

And I've been taken back to Varanasi again and again and again. 

All of the news about what COVID is doing to India at the moment. The knowledge of the crematoriums are going gang busters, they're running out of wood, and the West seems up in arms at the horror of it all. 

But I've been taken back to Varanasi, and the Harishchandra Ghat. 

I'm not going to make any statements about the humanitarian crisis. There is enough of that in the news. 

But this has been a week of novel preparations and thoughs. 

One of the hard things about writing a novel which is ostensibly about death, is that you need to think your way out of things, get different perspective on things. 

And as I said, I keep going back to the Harishchandra Ghat, one of the burning Ghats, places of cremation. 

I remember spotting a young woman sitting at the edge of the ghat watching the fires. She sat on the edge near the back wall, because the burning ghats are a place for men, for the untouchables who do the work,and for the families saying goodbye. No cameras are allowed. This is a reverential place, where the pyres have burned for thousands of years. 

There are things you don't expect about a funeral pyre. They burn bright, very bright. There is no apparent smell, other than the smell of burning wood. You don't see anything other than the flames. I know that looking into the flames, I saw some feet, wrapped in a shroud, poking out. They were tapped into the flames by one of the attendants after a short time. 

The ghats don't feel like a sad place, although there are very sad people around. Part of me felt they were like a spiritual bus stop, where people get off and go. Another part of me was overwhelmed by the humanity of the place. It was in many ways, so ordinary. The fires are an everyday occurence. What flummoxed me more was going past early the next morning and seeing the now dead fires being swept into the Ganges, the free roaming cows milling around the ashes. I remember passing a procession as another body was brought down to the river bank to be dispatched. 

And I remember how terribly ordinary this all was. It's just life. It's not sanitised or hidden or tucked away. And part of me wished I could be like that woman, sitting watching the fires, taking it all in. I wish I could have done that. I wish I had the courage. If I ever go back, I will be prepared. 

It was an honour to see this part of life, and death. There is nothing horrific or distasteful or strange about these millenia old traditiions. It's a part of life.

It just is. 

And I'm wondering how I can work this into the novel. 

Today's Song:

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Movie Review: Supernova

The Movie: Supernova

The Cinema: The Rivoli

Stars: 4

I have to preface this review by stating the fact that while watching this film, I was feeling quite wretched. A consequence of the anaesthetic I'd had in the days before. It didn't make for comfortable watching, but I powered through, and I'm really glad I saw this. 

But despite this, this quietly devastating film got under my skin. 

Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) and Bella (their dog) are on a road trip. The long term partners are driving around visiting friends, old places and celebrating their life together in their old camper. But it quickly comes apparent that Tusker's life is being taken from him thanks to early-onset dementia and Sam is left to pick up the pieces. 

This is a quietly devastating film. It's subtle, it's sweet and it packs a huge emotional wallop as the long-term couple negotiate Tusker's failing health and his decisions around this. It's apparent from early on what is going to happen at the end. As they wind their way around the Lake District, you find out more about these men, their predicament and the abject horror of what is a long-running death sentence. 

Stanley Tucci is wonderful as Tusker, who embarks on his demise with humour, pragmatism and charm. Colin Firth is the powerhouse here. His Sam is finely nuanced, strong, yet vulnerable, caring, yet angry. He rides the gamut of emotions as the movie progresses. Firth and Tucci make a very believable, very relatable couple. These guys would be your friends in real life. You'd love having them in your life. You'd laugh with them and you'd mourn for them. 

Also, this isn't a queer film. It's a film about love and family and the ending of life - and like a supernova, Tusker wants to glow brightly until the last. 

It's a thought provoking film. It's an incredibly touching film, and I'm very, very glad I saw it. 

Today's Song:

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Next Round of 30 word stories

Oops. I've spent the night lying on the bed reading. I forgot about my blog. Sign of a good book - not really - but it was a great diversion after a pretty full on day at work. 

Anyway, here are my Writer's Victoria 30 word stories for the last ten days. They're not my best work, but the last ten days have not been easy. But here we go. Because I really want to get back to my book. Which is nearly finished:


Sitting by the Ganges, watching as the pyres burn away to ashes, my eyes betray my inner peace. This is not a spectacle. Not some unsubstantiated horror. This is life.


Nose crinkled, eyes reddened, she tried to hold back the convulsions her chest was making. She hated having her feelings on display, but his rejection took her by surprise.


She savoured the chocolate’s feel, slowly unwrapping the sweet morsel, delighting in the crumpling paper and the titbit’s silky feel, ignoring the bite her daughter had taken from its centre.


She followed the recipe to the letter, swirling, folding, creaming, rolling, but to no avail. Her reputed brown thumbs had turned her  simple choc-chip cookies to blackened puddles of goo.


Atop the garage roof, he unfurled his cape, his arm extended in triumphant salute. “I’m Superman, here to save the planet!” he cried.  David then discovered his plan’s biggest flaw.


Emerging from a Fentanyl haze, she scoped the recovery room for a clock. How long was she  out? She couldn’t feel her nose. She understood the draw of the addict.


It wasn’t her expanding waist, the mood swings or the hot flashes that her caused dismay. The menopause was slowly killin her spirit, love life and most importantly, her lifeforce.


One thousand origami cranes surrounded her daughter’s coffin aloft on a bier, symbols of everyday devotion, hope, healing.  But healing for who? Nothing would ever, could ever diminish her pain.


The cards will reveal what they reveal,’ murmured the fortune-teller, frowning as she turned the cards. ‘Death is not death.” But I didn’t trust the knowing look behind her eyes.


The only way to explore a new city, was at twilight, after a rainstorm. She padded the wet, cobbled Toledo streets, awestruck by the stone and light, awash with deja-vu.


I learned to crochet on my grandmother’s lap. Hands, cellaphane-translucent gently take mine in tow. Hook held firm, wool-looped fingers, voice forever patient, she created muscle memories, forever cherished.

They're not my greatest work, but I do enjoy doing these every day.

I can go back to my book now. 

Today's Song:

Monday, April 26, 2021


 My SCOBY has died. After 16 months of careful cultivation and faithful action, it appears that it's all gone ftmch. It is no more. It didn't do what it was supposed to. I opened by kombucha jar today and there was mould on top of the film. This has never happened before. Sorry, I'm not drinking that crap, not with mould. It wasn't looking it's normal self this brew. 

My SCOBY is dead.

And I'm very sad about this. 

I like brewing my own kombucha. I like drinking my own kombucha, rather than buying it. For the price of six tea bags and 170 grams of sugar, I have enough kombucha for a week. So much better than paying up to $6 for a bottle of the stuff. 

But now, no. My SCOBY is dead. It is deceased, it is no more. It has kicked the bucket. 

It has been a faithful SCOBY. It has had a rich and full life. 

But now it's in the bin. Ready for removal to that last great resting place - land fill (and we don't compost around here). 

Poor SCOBY. 

Now to find a new one. That is the next challenge. 

(A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast  - it's as gross as it sounds, but it makes great kombucha)

Today's song: 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

From League of Extraordinary Penpals

Another weekend, another tray of biscuits made. Having a quiet weekend after a very, very big week. Baking relaxes me. 

Anyway, on with the questions, supplied, as always, by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. What issues are important to you?

There are a lot of these, but  ones that come to mind:

  • The state of the environment and global warming / climate change
  • The state of our Federal Government and how awful it is at present
  • Arts funding
  • Independent journalism (almost non-existent in Australia) 
  • Australian waterways
I care about a lot of stuff. 

2. Which breakfast foods are your favorite?

Easy. Eggs. Love eggs for breakfast - particularly poached, even better if it's Eggs Benedict. 

3. How often do you change your hair style?

Pretty much never. I've had long hair for ever. Sometimes I put it up, most of the time I leave it curly. It gets washed every three or four days. I've got set and forget hair. 

4. Your most peculiar talent or interests?

I'm a Shakespeare boffin. That's strange enough. Love Shakespeare. 

5. Something you’re a natural at

I'm a fairly natural writer. It doesn't take me much to string a few sentences together. I'm lucky like that. I also pick up languages really easily. 

6. Women who inspire you

  • Michelle Obama
  • Angela Merkel
  • Turia Pitt
  • Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins

7. How often do you take a break from everything?

Not often enough. I wish I did it more. I've had a few sanctioned breaks in the past few months, but I'd like to take more. I don't go away enough. 

8. What are your go to dancing songs?

Pretty much anything from the 80's. Songs like Echo Beach and Rock Lobster are just awesome. Then again, songs like Pharell Williams' Happy gets me dancing too. 

9. Favorite carryout and takeaway foods to order

I live around the Vietnamese district here in Melbourne - there's a huge Vietnamese community. My favourite takeaway is at the Vinh Ky restaurant where they do a crispy dry beef in a spicy chilli sauce. It is magnificent. I've put many a friend onto this.

If not this, then it's over to Grill'd burgers for a Bird 'n' Brie with a side of sweet potato fries with some herbed mayo. Their burgers are excellent. Lovely, fresh and not over processed. 

10. People you like to spend time with

My friends. They're a collective. They're great. 

11. Hobbies you started within the last year

I've not really started anything new, but I have been blogging daily since the start of 2020. This is a big thing for me as I never thought I could blog daily. I've been at it for 16 months now. It's a new habit.  

12. What scents, sounds, and sights of Spring do you like?

Well, it's Autumn here now (Fall) and they are very different smells to Spring. I like Autumn best of all. I love the sound of leaves crunching under your feet, the last of the summer roses and the autumn baking that always starts around this time. Soups and roasts start to be made again. It's comforting. 

13. Cultural aspects you cherish and enjoy

I've started to get more into learning about aboriginal culture. After 50 odd years of living on stolen land, the indiginous people of Australia have a rich and rewarding culture. The more I learn, the more I respect it. I'm glad we're getting more and more exposure to this. We can learn a lot from how things were done. 

14. TV shows and films you liked this month

I'm really enjoying the new series of Younger - I know it's on one of our streaming services, but it's great fun. We also have a new series of Lego Masters which has just started. It's great fun for a Sunday night. 

15. What do people usually come to you for help with?

I do a lot of writing for other people - fixing resumes, updating websites, that sort of thing. I'm also the person who picks you up from hospital, helps you move furniture or will drive that second car that needs driving somewhere. I'll drive anything anywhere, so I'm good for this. 

Today's Song:

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Theatre Review: Berlin

The Play:  Berlin by Joanna Murray-Smith

Where: The Southbank Theatre (Melbourne Theatre Company) until 22 May

Stars: 3

I'm a fan of the works of Joanna Murray-Smith. I loved Songs for Nobodies. Her Switzerland was excellent. But I've been left pondering my reaction to Berlin, which is the second play back for the Melbourne Theatre Company. Did I like it? What did I think of it? Was it on point? 

The jury is still out. 

Some of my reticence could be due to next to no sleep the night before, but Jay had some difficulties with this two hander which is playing until the end of May. 

According to the blub from the MTC, "Tom is an Australian abroad. Charlotte, a Berliner through and through. After meeting in a bar, sparks fly between them and she invites him to spend the night at her place. As they navigate the ritual of seduction, their desire gives way to secrets that cannot be ignored and questions neither of them can answer. Does young love stand a chance against the suffocating reach of the past?"

Grace Cummings and Michael Wahr give great performances as the Berliner, Charlotte, and the Australian tourist, Tom. There is a palpable buzz between the two of them, as we find Charlotte the barmaid in her flat with the seemingly stranded Tom. At the obligatory third the way through, we ascertain that something is going on with Tom, and he has more of a reason to be there than just a holiday jaunt. This, of course, has something to do with the illuminated painting, an alleged Constable, illuminated on the back wall. Throw in some Ramones and a bit of Rilke. I should be in heaven. 

But I wasn't. The situation in which the characters find themselves leads to the premise of why Tom is really there and what secrets Charlotte is hiding? 

And here is where my issues lie. 

The play morphs into the ethical dilemma of just where to the actions of the past stop impacting on the generations down the line. Tom, the grandson of Jewish Germans has one view. Charlotte, the granddaughter of a German art dealer associated with the Third Reich has another. 

And this is what felt somewhat heavy handed. The guilt by association theme has been done before and this, near the end, came off as rather stilted. There is no clear cut right and wrong in this situation. Who has true ownership of articles stolen in generations past? The moral imperative is blurred. And I think this is why I walked out of th play feeling with mixed feelings. Jay made the comment that some of her Jewish friends would have found the play offensive (I'm sure some if mine may feel the same way too). 

Iain Sinclair's direction is smart, intimate and sexy, directing these two as they initially flirt and banter until things turn more sinister. 

For me, a part of me was wanting a bit more. I was left a little underwhelmed. I also found the play underlit - that could also be my tiredness talking.

In all, I was slightly underwhelmed by the play. It's certainly not bad - it's more the uncomfortable feeling I was left with at then end - as really, is there an answer to the questions raised of guilt by association and the sins of our forfathers?

Today's song:

Friday, April 23, 2021

Shakespeare's Birthday Resolutions

 It is a most sacred of days. It's Shakespeare's birthday today. 

I'm putting this post down to last night's insomnia. Staying with Jay, I went to bed at 10.30 p.m. after a BIG day, finally dropping off to sleep at 3.30 a.m. 

It gave me a lot of time to think. 

So, Shakespeare died at 52. We don't know how he died, he just did. He's buried in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where he warns people not to piss around with his grave. 

After yesterday's adventures, and while I was trying to get cool, get some air, get comfortable and stop seeing faces (thanks, Fentanyl) my mind set about trying to put my life to rights. After all, what do you do when you have five hours of thinking time and a desire to go nowhere near a screen?

So what I came up with in this post-anaesthetic haze is that I need to make Shakespeare Resolutions. After all, I'm 52. Same age as Shakespeare at his peak.

Time to make a Shakespeare pact with myself. 

In my five hours of insomniac thought, it came to me that I want some big changes in my life. It's time to get serious with myself. And after all, in the words of the Bard, “Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.”(Henry V).

And I came up with the following:


This little bit of surgery yesterday came as a bit of a wakeup call. On the good side of things, my bloods came back perfect in check, thankfully not infected with any nasty STDs, low cholesterol and great iron levels. I need to get the biopsy results, but the initial findings are good. Still, I'm over weight, and it's time to do something about this. So this is my first challenge. Get this in check. I'm strong and fit. It's time to build on this. My birthday is in seventeen weeks. I want to see what can be done. You can do a lot in four months. 


Some validation came yesterday as a very well respected editor came back to me about the 10000 words I flicked over to her a few months ago. Her email read, "I’ve read your extract now and can see you’re a good writer and there’s much potential." I'm not quite what her publishing house goes for, not quite high lit enough, but it was validation on a grand scale. And a major kick up the arse. It's time that It's Time got written. I owe this to myself. I owe this story to the world. 


This is a bit of a hard one to admit to. Five months out of a long term, albeit long distance relationship there's a part of me that actually wants a real relationship. You know, a proper one where you do things together, have fun, laugh, enjoy each other's company. One of those relationship. One that makes you happy. I want one of them. I have no idea how this is done, or where to start, and the thought of internet dating terrifies me more than going under anaethetic, facing a room full of huntsman spiders and open water, but I want this for me. I'm putting it out there. 


My day job is fine, but I want to step up a bit. I've been cruising too long. It's good for the self-esteem. 

Okay, it's a bit of shift in focus, but maybe focussing on what I really want - to be a published author, fit, healthy, happy, is that too much to ask? Is it bad to want to feel more comfortable in my body? Absolutely not. It is bad to actually want to be in a loving relationship? No. (I think this hit home over the last week having to rely on friends to look after me after surgery - I would do this for my friends, but I hate asking - it would be great to have somebody there who does this for you - and you don't have to ask).                                                                                  

Anyway, I'm all fired up. I want this boot up the bum to bear fruit. 

Today's Song:

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Surgical Notes

Quick one as I'm not really feeling like writing. The anaesthetic's pull is still apparent.  

But surgery went well. I'm home, feeling a bit whooshy, introducing Jonella to the joys of Bridgerton

Short notes from today:

  1. If you don't know your name, date of birth and address when you go into hospital, you will have had it drummed into you by the time you hit surgery. It will also be put on a wrist band and ankle band if you forget. 
  2. The day surgery staff at the Epworth are lovely. 
  3. You can talk to most people about the following: Cats, Bridgerton/Lucifer/whatever else is on Netflix, the general incompetence of the current Federal Government. 
  4. Fentanyl is fun. They only gave me a little bit, but it's fun.
  5. Fentanyl is better than morphine as it means I don't throw up. 
  6. The trams will ALWAYS be out when you need to get somewhere early in the morning. I had to walk to the hospital as Victoria Street was closed due to a fire. Thankfully the hospital is only two kilometres away, it wasn't too early and I'd left plenty of time to get there this morning. The walk did me good. 
  7. White Coat high blood pressure is great when you know you have it. I got my blood pressure down 60 points over three readings taken over ten minutes. I warned them. It's becoming a party trick :)
  8. Sure fire way to make me laugh. Insist I take a pregnancy test. Seriously. 
  9. My friends are brilliant. 
  10. Nothing tastes better than a hospital cup of tea after fasting. 
  11. Nothing feels better than getting some fresh air once you've been sprung from hospital.
  12. After not bleeding for a number of years, it is a very strange feeling. Hmm.
Regardless, I'm home, I'm fine. My friends are doing tag team. I'd kill for a Venetian or Lemon Crisp biscuit, but I'm lying on the couch watching Bridgerton with Jonella at the moment. Dee's coming soon, the Jay will pick me up and take me back to hers for the night. 

I'm just glad it's all over. Things are looking good - just have to wait for the histology to come back, but things are fine. 

Right, back to the couch. 

p.s. Dee brought over Lemon Crisp biscuits. Dee is a legend.

Today's Song:

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs

I found these in the supermarket today. They weren't on the shopping list (panadol, bin bags, salsa - that was it. Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs weren't on the list)

As a child, these little beauties were my favourite of favourite treats. We used to get them on special occassions. As we didn't get popcorn at the cinema, as we're a choctop and jaffas sort of people, popcorn was a treat. 

And this is still the best way to do popcorn. 

I didn't think they still made them. 

They used to come in a silver back which was in a cardboard box (just like cheezels used to come - and I love cheezels too)

We had them very, very rarely. 

I remember telling friends in England about Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs, but they could never believe that something would be so badly named. And England is the place where you get either sweet or salty popcorn at the the cinema - or if you ask nicely, you can get half an half. 

Anyway, this was lunch today. Judge away. 

It was bloody marvellous. 

Today's Song:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


Small notes from today. 

1) I'm madly googling vanilla mug cake recipes as I want cake, but don't have any at home and I just want a little bit of cake. My need for cake is there because I'm anxious about this anaesthetic I'm having on Thursday morning. it's Okay. I'll be okay. But I want cake. Cake will fix it. 

2) I need to trim the cat's toenails again. His murder mitts are up around psycho killer lever at the moment. He'll try and tell me he needs his toenails to play soccer on the floorboards, using his stuffed mouse at a ball. I will not be moved. 

3) Book group is always good when you have a book that nobody really likes, but we get to talk about it a lot. The book was Emily St John Mantel's The Glass Hotel. None of us liked it that much, but it wasn't hated. I couldn't get in to any of the characters, but some of the writing was good. 

4) As I've just finished listening to Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies, the second book in the Wolf Hall Trilogy, and I'm not quite ready to go into the last book of the trilogy, all 28 hours of it, I'm now listening to the second book in the Bridgerton series. It's fluffy, it's light and it's fun and it beats hearing about people having their head's chopped off. 

5) Seeing your trainer at 6.30 in the morning makes you very tired by about 3 pm. Yawned throght book group. 

6) The pinky nail on my left hand is finally growing back after two years of fighting fungus. It's been fun. The battle continues. 

7) I still want a bit of cake - so mug cake it is. 

8) I heard the song of the day in the gym at ten to seven this morning.

Today's song:

Monday, April 19, 2021

Not again...

 From the sublime to the ridiculous, our fucking Federal government are at it again. 

This time, they're trying to teach kids about respectful relationships. 

And once again, they are missing the mark. 

Have a look. Seriously, have a look at the video. 

It's got the feel of those 1960s sex education films they used to show way back when. 

But instead of creepy people talking about sex, they have over-exuberant actors mashing food into each other's faces. 

Surely, the Federal Government has an inkling that the children of Australia are a little more sophisticated than this. The offical website has the feel of some strange, charasmatic Christian website

Women's groups and rape prevention are crying foul - and rightly so. 

It feels like something out of Utopia. 

Surely, surely, we can do better than this for all concerned. 

Christ on a bike. 

Today's song:

Sunday, April 18, 2021

From Facebook

I'm sitting here watching Prince Philip's funeral, thinking how sparce and strange it feels, especially when you compare it to the funerals of people such as Princess Diana (which I saw from the street's of London). Ah well, at least they have a good day for it. And the music is lovely. 

My head's in some strange places at the moment so I'm not sure how this is going to go. I'm in for minor surgery later in the week - nothing serious, but I'm taking a bit to get my thinking straight round all this. 

Anyway, on wiht the questions, provided, as always, by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. The best story your parents or grandparents tell about the good ole days.

My maternal grandparents were both born in 1899. They had some great stories about life during WW1. My grandfather used to work for the post office as a telegram boy. He went on to become a post master in many large regional areas of the country. He had some great tales. My grandmother too, being the youngest of six, she sent all around the country to look after her siblings children. It was a very differnt life back then. I can't put my finger on just one.

2. The best things in life are...

filled with laughter, joy, sunshine and cuddles. 

3, Things that drive me batty

Oh, there are many things that drive me batty. Here's a list:

  • People who put near empty cartons of milk back in the fridge
  • Putting the toilet roll on the holder the wrong way round
  • My phone running out of juice and not having a charging cable around
  • Bad grammar and spelling
  • Crowded public transport
  • Just missing a tram
  • Not being able to find my keys
  • Anti-vaxxers / QAnon types
There are lots more - but it's the little things that sent me to drink - I can do the big things well. 

4. A place I'd like to live and why

I could see myself living in Boston, probably around the Cambridge area. I was there about ten years ago and I really resonated with the place. A lot of me would like to be doing something at Harvard. It's just one of those dreams of mine. 

Other places I'd like to live include a picturesque English village, the South Island of New Zealand, Toledo in Spain and Paris - just because. 

5. The best thing I've ever found

Some of my ebay finds have been legendary. I've got my navy blue trench coat, a pair of Harley Davidson motorcycle boots and a pair of $350 hand made, Italian leather shoes - all snapped up for a song. I love a good ebay bargain. 

6. The best thing that happened recently is.

I found out today that I've won two tickets to the movie Six Minutes to Midnight from a local theatre chain. This is a very good thing, even if it is a little thing. Something nice in what has been a difficult week. 

7. I admire people who...

Go against the grain, march to the beat of their own drum, laugh and love a lot and get on with things. People who love with a full heart. People who don't mind being wrong. 

8. What makes me special

I don't really know. I'm old enough to know that I'm not special in any way, but I am kind and I'm sort of intelligent. I don't think that makes me anything other than ordinary. I like to think I'm a good person, and that is better than being special. 

9. I am looking forward to...

travelling once this COVID nonsense is over. I miss travelling - particularly travelling overseas. 

10. Things that scare me

Here's a list:

  • The rise of the religious right/ Right wing extremism
  • Our very, very incompetent Federal Government
  • Huntsman spiders
  • Sharks
  • Crocodiles
  • Open water
  • Enclosed, uncontrolled crowds

11. Complaints I have

Other than our very, very incompetent Federal Government and the rise of the religious right and right wing extremism, I don't really have complaints. I wish my lingering low grade shoulder injury would clear up quicker. I was very miffed that Hector's Deli had run out of Mushroom toasties this morning when I went to get one. I tend to whinge for about five minutes, get it all out then I'm okay again. 

12. I could never live without...

  • Friends
  • Laughter
  • Exercise
  • Ice cream
  • Gin
  • Animals - particularly my cat, Lucifer. 

13. Things that make me laugh 

I like to laugh a lot. Life makes me laugh a lot. 

But I've also got a very British sense of humour, so things like Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones, Blackadder, Black Books,  Drop the Dead Donkey and Not the Nine'o' clock News still make me laugh. (as does MASH, which hasn't dated at all).

14. What is a new skill that you would like to learn?

One day, when I have time, I would love to learn how to sing properly as well as play the piano and guitar and learn French and Spanish and to be fluent at the end of it. 

15. What brightened your day today? 

Winning those two tickets to Six Minutes to Midnight. Winning little competitions like that really makes the day better. I also got about a third of my book group book read, as well as a lot of housework. Winning. 

Today's song

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Drinking Buddies

I'd forgotten what it was like to sit and have a drink and chew the fat with somebody you don't know, and make a connection. 

COVID has killed a lot of old rituals, one of those being Friday night office drinks. 

Over COVID, my team has been very proactive about Friday night drinks. At 4 pm most Friday afternoons, at home, we'd grab a drink of something and have a debrief and a chat about everything and anything for an hour. As writer's we're all into books, movies, television, current affairs, history - you name it, we talk about it. It's bonded the team over the months of lockdown. 

Since we've been back in the office, we've continued with our tradition, though it is a little more clandestine. A traveller bottle of siphoned gin in brought in, along with a bottle of tonic. A tray of ice cubes waits in the little kitchen freezer, and a bottle of wine is normally found somewhere on the floor. We're not secretive about this, but we're not out there either.  

A quiet drink on the shop floor is accepted practice. Well it was before COVID. The beer and wine fridge used to be fully stocked, but we've had a recent change in management and we're still testing the waters. Still, on Friday nights, in a COVID-Normal Melbourne, most people have left the office by 4 pm and one gin and tonic is not going to kill anybody.

Last night, due to my colleague and partner-in-crime being away at a funeral, I was looking for another drinking body. 

I found one. In the form of the Program Manager. 

The gin: Ink Gin

The tonic: Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic

The conversation: Amazing

It's been ages since I've sat down and really talked to somebody that I don't really know. Of course, I've had a bit to do with this man, but he's up in the echelons and I'm a lowly bottom-of-the-food-chain tech writer. 

But we found a lot of common ground. We're both travellers - off the grid, away from the throng sorts of travellers. We revel in travelling alone and the opportunities that provides.We're also both gin snobs - actually more like good alcohol snobs. He's put me on to whisky and ginger beer  - and he's volunteered to become a part of the clandestine gin and tonic club on Friday afternoons. He's lovely, and interesting and has sort of restored a little bit of faith in the male race.

But at 6 pm, a lot later than I thought it was, we left the office. I could have talked into the into the night.

But I'd forgotten what it was to find a new drinking buddy. And it's made me happy.

Today's Song: 

Friday, April 16, 2021

30 word stories

 The thirty word stories continue. 

It's halfway through the April Writer's Victoria Flash Fiction Challenge. With my head in another place for the last week it's been a bit harder than normal to write quality 30 word stories, but nevertheless, I'm persisting. It's still great to put your head in another realm for the few minutes it takes to write these, but I wish I was feeling my writerly muse more. 

Anyway, here are my efforts for the last ten days or so (Word of the day in bold):


A woman’s problem. The glacial toilet queue. I transfer my weight from leg to leg. A stall door opens. My bursting bladder will only just hold those last few paces.


“Count back from one hundred.”

The needle slipped into my vein. My grip on consciousness taken away, no matter how hard I fought it. 

“Nine-nine… ninety-eight... eleventy-one…”

Gone. No control.


He looked cherubic, silently sleeping on his side, one hand cupping his balls. Our scrunched-up clothes the only testament to the debauchery which had occurred in the hours before.


She could manifest a boyfriend, and she knew it! Primped, preened, perfumed, she strode into the bar, head high, chin up, secretly knowing her efforts would result in nothing.


Sitting in the cluttered home office after the funeral, she tried to unravel her aunt’s affairs. Twenty years of paperwork, stored with hoarder’s logic, left her broken, fraught and angry.


We called grandma Madame Malaprop, for her propensity for leaving out her hearing aid and half hearing song lyrics. Our favourite. “Stop, elaborate and glisten. Love that Vanilla Slice guy.”


A deafening pop , then the echoing screech of brakes.

“Went off like a bag of chips.” 

Then the euphemistic tannoy announcement came.

“Person under train…”


“Open your eyes.”


He patted my hand, “Come on, wake up.”


I’m not sure if I’d articulated this. The anaesthetic tried to pull me back into the ether.


The beautician promised the expensive facial would renew her skin, set life aglow and take years off her age. Unfortunately, after the treatment, she ended up red-faced, spotty, and broke.


Once a testimony to utilitarian values, the aging tower block stood lonely on the horizon, looking over a forest.  With a rumble and a flash, the building crumpled into oblivion.


Sit, stooped.

Fingers, licked.

Inkstains blend

with aging callouses. 

Cat’s paw print

Sabotages pages,

As candlelight dims

and eyesight fades.

To illuminate

these tomes of wisdom

is a damnable  vocation.


She knew his hands. Sitting next to him on the tube, she didn’t look at his face. You never do that. The shape of his nails calcified her.


“Don’t call me Blossom, or any other flower name!” I screamed.

How dare he? The indignation was palpable. 

He smirked from behind the desk, elbows extended, knowing he’d won.

Today's Song: 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Top Ten Television

I need a bit of fun today, especially as this bloody surgery has been moved forward to next week and I need to keep myself occupied. 

So this was on Instagram today. What are you top ten television shows. Ever. Do you know how hard this is to pick you ten favourite television programs? 

I think this would change a bit depending on my mood, but there are a few shows here that are just timeless. Like the first one on he list:

1. Six Feet Under 

I remember seeing the first episode of this in the early naughties. It was always on really late at night. But that first episode. I'd turned it on the show and stood routed to the spot, amazed at this amazing show. I stood, mouth agape, for a good twenty minutes. I felt like this after every episode. A show about a funeral home, with a completely disfunctional family. Who knew? If you haven't seen it, hunt it out. You don't get better than this. 

2 .Fleabag

Oh Fleabag, Fleabag, Fleabag. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius. Tightly scripted, feminist, blackly comedic, very English, naughty and cutting right through the fourth wall, it is like fine wine. And we won't mention the Hot Priest. I think the second series is just a little more perfect than the first. I watch it when I tell myself I can be a writer. It's so on point it could be used for working leather. 

3.The West Wing

This show has kept me sane though all sorts of tough times - including the last American Election. It's a little bit of Utopia in a hellish world. The walk and talks, the situations, the common sense and the humanity of the show is wonderful. And then there's Josh Lyman... ah. I've watched it end to end many times over. I love every minute of it. 

4. Quantum Leap

This was around when I was at uni. Scott Bakula played Sam, a scientist who believed in Time Travel. IMDB says " Theorising that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator, and vanished. He awoke and found himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home." Just as he sorted things out in the body he landed in, he'd jump to another body at the end of the episode. I just remember loving it. Innocent days back then. 

5. M.A.S.H

I recently rewatched a couple of episodes of MASH with my step-dad - and it's still hilarious, and fun, and sad, and empathetic. It came out when I was twelve. It's always been a part of my life. You can always find it on terrestrial television playing somewhere. Classic television, great acting. It's amazing it lasted longer than the war it was portraying. It's still quality. 

6. The Hour

Englsih fare once again. Set at the BBC in the early sixties, it looks at the characters behind a news magazine show, The Hour. The cast is stellar - Ben Wishaw, Romola Garai, Dominic West, Anna Chancellor and the incredible Peter Capaldi. It's gripping television, based around intrigues and politics of the upper classes. Being a BBC drama, how they couldn't make a third series is beyond me. I still scream, "Freddie! No!" in my nightmares. Not many have see it. I adore this show. 

7. Mad Men

The clothes, the times, the people. Don Draper, the quintessential Ad Man, with a heart and soul, not that anybody ever saw it. Oh my. Never has a show captured the late fifties and early sixties with such aplomb. There is so much to unpack in every episode. 

8. Parks and Recreation / Schitt's Creek

I can't separate these two shows. In many ways, they are similar. Apparently irredeemable characters who you grow to adore. You should hate Lesley Knope, but you can't. The Rose family should never have made it past the first series, but by the end of the sixth series, you're crying along with the rest of the cast. Some of the best of American comedy, it shows that Americans (and Canadians in the case of Schitt's Creek) can do irony, pathos and subtle humour. I just love the humanity in these shows. 

9. The Young Ones

Thirty five years on I can still quote most episodes. Seminal comedy. Still funny. And my family rue the shows existence because barely a week goes by when I don't qoute it.

Ra ra ra, we're going to smash the oiks!.

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Many people don't get why I love Buffy, but the writing is excellent. To each generation a slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a chosen one. It can be silly. It can be kitsch. It can be infuriation (see Season Four) but it is glorious when you get into it. Joss Whedon has built an incredible world. All of the characters are amazing in their own right (Even Dawn) It's probably dated, but I still love it.  

Also rans that didn't quite make it to the top ten list, but I still love regardless:
  • Suits
  • Lucifer
  • The Good Wife
  • The Nanny (only because I have a HUGE thing for Mr Sheffield)
  • Doctor Doctor
  • Moonlighting
  • Frasier
  • Drop the Dead Donkey (U.K.fare)
  • Hogan's Heroes
  • I Love Lucy
  • Fawlty Towers
  • Gray's Anatomy
  • True Blood (the first threes season anyway)
  • Sex in the City
  • The Librarians
  • Orange is the New Black

Today's Song: 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Don't look for hippopotamuses

CW: Girly gynae stuff.

 A night on the couch sorted the most of this stuff out. 

My head is around it now, but it's taken a few days to come to terms with what's going on, more on a cellular level than anything else.

Every two years I head off to have a pelvic ultrasound to ensure my ovaries haven't turned against me. There's ovarian cancer in the family - it's a precaution.  Just before Easter, a text came from my doctor to call her about the test results (with a big NO CANCER in the message - which is a good thing). We had that chat last week and the scan showed up some irregularities in my uterine lining. She was referring me back to my wonderful gynaecologist to see what she was going to do. 

I saw her yesterday. 

I will say now, I love my gynaecologist. She's an awesome woman, a little older than me, sensible, very funny and straight down the line. Having the same bits, she understands what's going on downstairs. When you have somebody with instruments up your bits, it's nice to think the person handling them is treating you like they'd like to be treated. We also have a tendency to talk about gin, cats and books. A good woman. 

After talking to my doctor, and Jay, herself a GP, we were all of the opinion that I was going to go in for a good clean out (also known as a D&C) at worst. At best, the gynae would come back and say that there was nothing to worry about. 

I was a little late for the appointment. I called ahead, seeing I was having a daft day, didn't check where her rooms were, and in the last three years, she's moved from one street in East Melbourne to another. Regardless, five minutes late I got in there and walked straight in. 

"I wasn't hoping to see you for another 18 months."

"Well, you're a curious case. I'm not sure what's going on. I wanted to call up the imaging people and give them a serve, but they seem to think that your uterine lining is not doing what it's supposed to."

"And you have to show duty of care."


"Have you had any strange things happening."

"Occasional very minor spotting. That's it. I've told the GP about it."


Anyway, push comes to shove, I have to go in, get a D&C, have my Mirena coil replaced and let her have a good look around about what's going down there. It should be nothing. If it isn't, they've caught it early and I'll be staring down the joys of a hysterectomy - but as I have been saying, just because you hear hoof beats, don't expect zebras. Or elephants. Or hippopotamuses. 

Surgery is booked for the Sixth of May. It's day surgery. I'll be out later that afternoon, probably have the next day off due to having your insides poked and prodded and will be fine by Saturday. 

And we're hoping this will be the end of it. 

But yesterday's conversation has left my brain full. Full of all sorts of things I'd prefer not to be thinking about. 

My first thought. The last time I had this done (about three years ago) because I had nobody to stay with me over night and I spent the night in hospital. Which was fine. It's why you have private health insurance and when it's just for stupid observation, you're gone by 9 a.m. and in an Uber by 9.10. Same goes now, but with the addition of what to do with the cat. I'm sure he'll be fine with the neighbours feeding him overnight, but still...Or I get Barney to come over and pick me up (and the cat, maybe) stay there the night. Or find a friend to come stay over. When it comes to doctors orders I tend to comply. 

Next on the list is the what ifs. What if it is more than just some silly imaging anomaly?.On the good side of things, the Mirena is updated for another five years and things go back to normal. But what if its more? The thought of a hysterectomy, though they tend to do them via the keyhole now, doesn't thrill me. But then again, in the scheme of things, for me it's now a redundant organ, it's never going to provide the world with children, so I don't need it. But again, don't look for the hippopotamuses. 

Then there's the blood tests which I need to have done in the next couple of days. No drama here, except for the inclusion of the STD tests just to rule out everything. Again, I'm not worried about this (though if I've been given chlamydia I'll be very, very pissed) and the chances of this are next to zero, but it still plays on your mind. Having the same partner for the last ten years, it's not a call I'd want to make, especially as we're not in contact any more. 

It's times like this that I half wish I wasn't alone. Just having somebody here to pick me up from hospital without feeling like you're imposing on somebody, having somebody here in the house at night (other than the cat) without feeling pathetic that you have to ask somebody to stay with you. The not having the thought of even wondering about a positive STD test (though I really do believe this one is a non-issue, but it's good to know when I find another relationship, that you're totally in the clear). 

Still. I'm over the worst of the overthinking. 

I just have remember to listen for the hoof beats and not expect hippopotamuses. 

And get on with it. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Old people logic

I'm not in a place to write tonight. All is fine, but I'm processing a few things. An early night in bed with the cat is needed. It's nothing bad, just have to get my head straight., 

But today's rather cool thing today was talking to my Mum. 

It was a normal Mum conversation. I had some things to tell her, which I did. 

Then she tells me about her book group - how nobody had read the book - Stephen Fry's "Moab is my Washpot." I had a think about this. I've had that book sitting on my bookshelf for 25 years. It was given to my by a friend. I've never read it. I'm intrigued now. 

But then she said she'd talked to my Aunt. She appeared to be in good spirits. Sounded better than she did a few weeks ago. 

The only thing she was miffed about was Prince Philip. Not that he had died - she didn't begrudge him that, good innings and all. She was more miffed as the fact they cut the show Vera to make way for the news. 

My mother said she felt exactly the same. 

I told this to my workmate, who had a good 18 years on me. He too was annoyed that Vera was cut short. "It was just getting good and then the news came through. They could have waited until it was over."

I just thought this was cute. 

Now I'm going to go back to processing today. It's all fine. Some things need a day. 

Unlike Vera, who needs to be consumed when she's on the ABC. It seems old people get pissed off when she's interrupted. 

Today's song:

Monday, April 12, 2021

Magic Biscuits

Never underestimate the power of home baking. 


There is more power in a batch of biscuits that you can comprehend.

The handwritten recipes, handed down, dug up, shared, 

Are testament to their power. 

For baking makes memories solidify. 

From licking the bowl and beaters at your grandmother's side,

Or your first tentative efforts at making a cake for your dad for his birthday,

Or putting aside a bad relationship with the healing properties of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. 

We have known this for centuries. 

For baking is a simple act of devotion.

From the simple steps of melting, stirring, sifting and kneading. 

Each stroke of the spoon, each added ingredient,

Puts in a little more love. 

There's also the constant evaluating.

A little bit more whipping. Add more sugar. Take away some mixture. 

It's the constant, reevaluating to make things perfectly imperfect,

For there is no perfect in baking. Just good enough, with love. 

This love transfers from person to person, through the anticipation, and the eating. 

It is one of life's simple rituals. 

I made two batches of biscuits over the weekend. 

The first for Barney's Dad, who turned 80 last week. The biscuits were wrapped up in cellaphane and handed over, with a kiss on the cheek and instructions no to share them with the kids. He was under orderss to take a couple home with him to give to Edna - his wife. Edna and I have the occasional bake off. I still think I've improved her lemon slice with the substitution of Nice biscuts for Marie biscuits.

I did a bigger batch so a couple of these bad boys could be dropped into the downstairs neighbours and a couple went to the Soap Guy, because I know he loves them. 

They were appreciated (My downstairs neighbours love when I bake - they often get the spoils.)

The second batch was made on Sunday night for a friend. Something told me they'd be appreciated. 

I ran them over to her at lunchtime. Baking can't fix things, but it can add a bit of sunshine on a rainy day.

Looking at the process, the effort - on my end, it's nothing. A few dollars for some basic ingredients. 20 minutes to make up the batch, the worst of it being the creaming of the butter and sugar - oh, and the rolling the dough balls. Then about 15 minutes in the oven. Another ten minutes for the icing, all the while ensuring you don't put in too much almond essence in the mix. 

And an hour round trip to drop them off. 

In the scheme of things, on my end, it's next to no effort.

But there is a power in the kindness of baking.

It must never be forgotten. 

Today's Song:

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Morning Meme

It's my last day of holiday (vacation) and part of me wants another week but the other part is happy to be going back to work on Monday. I've not got half of what I wanted to done, but it's been a good break. And the Mason's books are done, so this is an acheivement. 

Regardless, on with questions as I need to get baking. 

Questions, as always, come from Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. You have just been hired to clean your own home, what is your first complaint?

I've never had a cleaner, but I can hear them moaning about the dusting and the floors. I hate both jobs with a passion. Now I have floorboards down, I'm a bit better with the floors. Still, I hate dusting. 

2. Are you able to ignore a ringing telephone?

Yes. I ignore the landline around here all the time - however, I do check the number coming through on the mobile and will see if I answer or let it go through to voicemail. I'm getting better at ignoring it as it sets off my fitbit. A quick glance and you can see who it is. 

3. How often do you allow a ringing phone to go to voice mail?

Regularly. See above. 

4. Do you answer your cell phone, out in public, every time it rings? Or do you silence it and get back to it when you’re in a more private area?

My phone is on silent/vibrate all the time. I will occasionally answer if I deem the call necessary, or text the person back saying call you soon. Mum has a habit of calling while I'm at the gym - that goes through to voicemail regularly. If I'm out, unless it's obviously urgent (or work during office hours) I'll leave it, or take it outside. I also try not to talk to people when I'm on public transport. I hate that so those calls remain quick. 

5. How often would you say you’re on your home phone? Your cell phone?

One of this week's jobs is to get rid of my landline. It never gets used. Pointless having it.The only people who call me on it are telemarketers. I'm on the mobile 2-3 time a day for calls. 

6. Do you like talking on the phone or do you view it as a necessary communication tool?

I'm a texter and emailer, but you need the phone. It is a necessary communication toold. There are only a few people I sit and talk on the phone to. Also, I use WhatsApp, Teams, Zoom and Facebook Messenger a lot for communication tools.

7. When did you last go for a bike ride?

Many many years ago when I was in a triathlon. That was like eight or nine years ago. I'm on a stationary bike regularly at the gym, but that doesn't count. 

8. Do you own a bike?


9. Given the most popular New Year’s resolution of losing weight, would you consider putting bicycle riding as one of your exercise options? Why or why not?

Would I ride a bike - no. You need a helmet over here and I don't have one. Also, I'm challenged by balance at the best of times. You can't fall off runners, you can bikes. I'm also scared of the driver around here. I'm not a fan of bike riding, though I can ride a bike. 

10. If you had to name a smell that always makes you nostalgic, what would it be? What sorts of memories does the smell evoke?

Old Spice and Juicy Fruit chewing gum reminds me of my father. 

11. What did you do over the weekend? No detail is too small. This is your journal, so tell us about the mundane tasks in your life.

It's been a big weekend. On Friday night I was out at the Myer Music Bowl seeing an aboriginal group called Spinifex Gum, who were excellent. Yesterday, I was down the Mornington Peninsula at a Gin High Tea. And today, I'm baking biscuits to give to Barney's Dad who's over from Tasmania and he turned 80 last week. It's his birthday party this afternoon at Blarney and Barney's place. I've blogged about Friday night and yesterday. See links. 

12. If it weren’t for my blog, I’d _________.

Probably be further into my novel. And nobody would know what I'm up to. 

13. When was the last time you replied “because I said so”? Do you find yourself saying that a lot? Or do you prefer to tell people WHY you want them to do something for you.

I don't think I've ever said that - probably because I don't have kids. I tend to tell people why I want them to do something - you have more chance of them doing it. It's an old trainer habit. 

14. What is the worst gift you’ve ever received?

Oh, that would be an unwanted sex toy. I've received them a couple of times and really didn't appreciate them. The thing about sex toys, they're a personal thing. A bit too personal to be given as a gift outside of a hens (batchelorette) party or from an intimate partner. 

Oh, and I remember receiving this dreadful bottle green sweater with koalas on it from workmates when I was leaving for England. It was dire. I exchanged it for a plain black t-shirt with Adelaide embroidered on it in black thread. Much more my thing. 'Spose it's the thought that counts. 

15.  Tell us the worst gift you’ve ever given. What was the reaction of the recipient?  

Oh, that would be a garden gnome for my friend Mariah. That was funny. The look on her face was priceless. Her father used to use it as something to aim for as he backed out of the driveway. 

Today's song:

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Gin High Tea

Jonella and I have had this planned for months.  The festival of Norty's 50th birthday continued today. Norty had her birthday in January, but with COVID, we had to postpone this celebration. And then there was finding a suitable date, waiting for a booking. And finally the day came. 

GIN HIGH TEA at the Flinders Hotel down the Mornington Peninsula. Wooohooooo. 

A gin high tea combines two of my favourite things. High Tea - and gin. 

I rocked up at Jonella and Thom's place at 10.30. Norty came soon after. We piled into Thom's car and he drove us down to Flinders, about an hour down the way on the Mornington Peninsula. Thom was our designated driver, as the thought of a high tea, two gin and tonics and a gin cocktail an hour out of town meant somebody had to drive. It fell to Thom. I'm normally the driver, but Thom's good like that. He's also a big man and big men tend to process alcohol better than women. 

We made it down to Flinders with ample time for the midday start. 

Well, what can I say? As birthday presents go, I wish somebody would give me something like this. It's awesome.

We were seated quickly, after doing the cursory COVID check in. The attentive staff gave us the menu, which gave us the choice of gin, the gin cocktails and the menu. 

Photo credit: Jonella 

First up, a gin and tonic to start the day off well. The High Tea offers a good selection of local gins, including the yummy Original Gin Company flavoured gins and offerings from Bass and Flinders, Drops of Jupiter, Rocky Jones, Four Pillars and the Ink Gin Co. 

Me, I started with and Ink Gin with elderflower tonic. I've had a bottle of Ink Gin in the cupboard for a while. It was a lovely, soft start to the day. Ink Gin is blue in the bottle. Add tonic and it comes out pink. And everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is made very good with the inclusion of elderflower tonic. 

Jonella, Thom and Norty made their choices from the Original Gin Company gins - they way I saw it, may a well try those gins I don't drink regularly. This was a good, and bold move. Besides, Ink Gin is known as the Instagram gin...

Then the food came. 

Oh my. 

It was a wonderful spread.

We started with the pork, veal and fennel sausage rolls, with a homemade tomato sauce. Okay, they could have been a bit warmer, but they were very tasty. 

Next, chicken, zucchini and comte tart. A lovely and deceptively light tart - just a mouthful and just enough. 

I went for the finger sandwiches next. There were two sorts.  Prawn and Cucumber, and Chicken and Pistou. I love high tea sandwiches with their crusts removed and their fresh, fresh bread. These were mighty tasty. I was also reminded of how much I miss England and their prawn sandwiches which can be found at any Boots Chemist or supermarket. 

My favourite savoury was the smoked salmon blini with salmon roe and soft herbs. This was delightful, but smoked salmon is one of my most favourite things ever. 

We lingered over lunch. Heading into the sweet things, another drink was ordered. For me, I went for the Sloe Gin Smash, a mix of Original Sloe Gin (YUM), and Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, mixed with Elderflower Jam and Soda. It was delightful. 

Then there were the scones. Scones done right. Bottomless scones, both plain and pumpkin scones. Scones with raspberry and rhubarb jam and whipped cream. I have Cornish blood. Scones done right are the best - they appeal to my English Cream Tea roots. These were fantastic. Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Mum couldn't have made better. 

But I was filling up. It was a struggle to finish the food - but I am up to such challenges as I'm part Labrador as well. 

Dessert was divine. 

I started off with the chocolate mousse with pistachio cream. I'm not a chocolate lover, but this was just enough in its small glass. Any more would have been too much. Thom loved his. You can't take a man away from his chocolate mousse as you can see.

Then there was the passionfruit creme choux, with cream cheese and orange marmalade. I loved this. It wasn't too sweet and the flavours were complex as they were subtle. Then again, I love passionfruit, so what's not to love. 

The best bit of the day was the rose, raspberry and lychee macaron. Oh my... there are not words, other than I was very, very happy to have ended the food on this. 

And then the last gin and tonic for the road. For me, I chose the Rocky Jones pink gin, which was not what I was expecting when it came out. It reminded me of a dryer Poor Tom or Archie Rose, not a raspberry tainted affair I was expecting. It cleansed the palate and did the trick. 

A good walk around Flinders, a stop at a couple of galleries was necessary. The other three stopped at the chocolate shop. I was fooded out, so stood outside - not able to stomach the thought of any more food. The smells made me feel a bit wretched. After this, we piled back into the car for the hour drive back to Jonella's place, after a quick stop at the beach. Being wet and blowing a gale, we didn't stay long. On a nicer day, we'd have walked down to the end of the pier. 

By the time we got back, the worst of the alcohol had been processed and I was good to drive. 

And now I'm home, having a cup of miso soup for dinner and a couple of anti-spasmodics have been taken to stave off a gall bladder attack.

But it's been a most wonderful day. 

Today's song: 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Spinifex Gum

The Act: Spinifex Gum

Where: The Myer Music Bowl

There are all sorts of things going through my head at the moment. I've just been to see LIVE MUSIC! Prince Philip has shaken this mortal coil. I was out on a Friday night. And I've been to see LIVE MUSIC. I'm more excited about the live music, knowing how lucky I am to be living here in Australia where we can do such things. 

Let's unpack this. I received a call from my friend earlier in the week. She had a spare ticket to see this group playing at the Myer Music Bowl. Would I like to come along. I'm known to go to the opening of an envelope, and with the night free, I said why not. My friend is big into aboriginal and indiginous culture and issues, and as a fledgling ally, I though it a good thing to go to. Besides, at $25 for the ticket, the offer was too good to refuse.

We met in front of the Art Gallery and wandered up to the bowl. I think the last band I saw there was Mumford and Sons in January 2019. Things have changed a lot since COVID. The outside venue lends itself well for live music. Instead of the normal free for all on the lawn with eskies and picnic blankets, they now have these pods which have up to six people in these built up pods, in which there are six chairs and a small table which attaches to the railings. You're free to dance, sing and enjoy the concert in your pod. In some ways it's better thanit used to be as you bum doesn't go numb sitting on the ground. 

We got there early. My friend, another friend of my mate, her daughter and two of her grandkids, aged seven and four. The kids provided some entertainment as we waited for the warm up act. 

And then it started. The first act had a traditional welcome to country first up. I've grown to love the welcome to country most acts will have now, especially when they are done by local elders. This one was moving. Seeing the line up was made up of indiginous acts, it made sense to do more than te cursory aknowledgements. 

Then Allara Briggs Patterson came on. A woman, some tech and her double base. Glorious, haunting music. She made the audience sing along too. 

She was joined by Lauren Sheree joined her for a duet, which was also excellent. Then a brother on the didgeridoo joined them. I love the didgeridoo - it cuts me to the quick. It always has. After this, the Djirri Djirri dancers came on and performed a couple of dancers. 

What I loved about this first set was the stories they told. The song lines are amazing, heart felt, honest and brave. 

After a short intermission, the main act came on. 

Spinifex Gum are a choral group from Far North Queenland, consisting of indiginous girls. They met up with some of the founding members of the Cat Empire.

It's easier to provide the blurb from the Arts Centre. 

"A compelling performance celebrating the passion and talent of our Indigenous youth with Spinifex Gum – a show-stopping collaboration of voice, sound, movement and change featuring Marliya Choir, an ensemble of Aboriginal and Torres Strait teenage singers, together with Emma Donovan, The Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl and special guest artists.

Part protest, part celebration, Spinifex Gum is a uniquely modern Australian song cycle. It has the power to disarm, inspire, and speak to us in a way that no individual voice can. This work addresses pervasive issues from the social disparity present in the Pilbara to deaths in custody, disproportionate incarceration, land rights and more. Marliya Choir – who sing in English and Yindjibarndi – bring a vibrant young voice to the Australian issues in Spinifex Gum through their compelling blend of harmony and protest, while trailblazing a new pop-choir genre."

They were awesome. Loud, proud, professional, their harmonies were spot on and their message on point. The song about Lang Hancock was laced with anger. They sang about the waterways. The song about Miss Dhu, a woman who died in police custody was stirring. 

The evening was  thoroughly enjoyable - thought provoking, eye-opening and very, very present. These young women are fantastic. 

What inspires me is that these young women have the courage (and talent) to sing about things when others can't say it. They are a fantastic mouthpiece for indiginous issues. 

But along with the gorgeous music and the on-point messaging, what struck me was how wonderful it was to see live music again. Just to be outside on a cool night at the Music Bowl with other people. It's something I've missed. 

Then, walking back to catch the tram home, it was so good to see that the streets were fairly busy. Okay, it's not back to pre-COVID levels, but there were people out and about - coming and going from Comedy Festival show, meeting friends for drinks. The buskers were back playing down Swanston Street. There were more than a handful of people on the 109 tram home. 

It's nice to feel just a bit normal again. 

Today's song:

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Eating and Drinking Day

There is a small cat next to me demanding treats. It seems I cannot go out for a couple of meals without being told off  and treats must be given after. 

So I left this morning at 7.15, walking down to Three Bags Full in Abbotsford. to meet a mate for breakfast. It was a strange, foggy morning, and I often forget how much the light is different at this time of day. 

Victoria Street, 7.15 am

It's always wonderful catching up with Damo. He lets me live vicariously though his burgeouning PhD, I get to talk about being a cat-owning wannabee novelist. 

Breakfast this morning was the Three Bags Full tasting plate. Orange juice, a poached egg, home cured bacon on sourdough toast with some smashed avocado and feta, with some bircher muesli, Greek yoghurt and grated apple. The perfect blend of savoury and sweet - and not too much (Three Bags Full are generous with their servings). This was washed down with my standard almond decaf latte. 

I waddled home two hours later and got stuck into a day of admin.

This evening, after a chat to my doctor, a leg wax and finding out that getting rid of my landline might just take a trip into town to see Telstra, I went to Brogan's Way to meet Ginny, a friend who had the night off from Mum duties. 

Entering the premises, it looked like my kind of place. 

We settled in and had a pre-dinner coctail. I settled on the Ginprirhina - this passionfruity affair with passionfruit gin liqueur, passionfruit pulp and all sorts of other goodies in it. It was divine. Then again, I adore passionfruit - it's my favourite of all fruits. 

And I think I might have to go back to get some of their passionfruit gin liqueur. I know I'm not supposed to be buying gin until July, but I think I can get this on a technicality - as it's liqueur...

The off to dinner at The National, as The Royston was booked out. 

I had the parma, because I'm boring and thankfully it's not a huge parma - just a nice sized one. 

And to drink - a Hendrick's Midsummer Solstice Gin, with soda and lime. It was just perfect - soft and refeshing - but maybe should have left out the lime and gone with the cucumber (which you always have with the garden variety Hendricks)

We are so very fortunate we can do all of this, even if it is a COVID normal state. It's so good to be able to go out and meet friends for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

In all, it's been a really good day. 

And then it was home to this goober, who greeted me with cuddles. 

Today's song: