Friday, June 22, 2018

Fitting it all in

London is an awfully big, busy place. There are too many things that five people want to do and see, and not enough hours, or energy, to manage it. We are tiring ourselves out in the best way.

After a most restorative night's sleep, we were keen to get back into it and headed out to hop on and off the bus again. If the beautiful buildings weren't worth looking at, just the skill of the driver, weaving in and out of the traffic, would make it exciting.

We, along with thousands of other people, watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, then walked through St James's Park, down to the London Eye.

One of our party is not that keen on heights, so four of us went on the massive Ferris wheel. I don't think my Mum would like it.....

Joss was a bit scared, preferring not to look down, but I thought it serene, and the views were well worth it.

We went to St Paul's Cathedral, where you aren't able to take photos. Joss thinks it the best place she has ever been, and even Toby was impressed. We climbed all the way to the tippy top (and are feeling it in our legs this evening). We caught the Tube home, and were very pleased with ourselves for doing it.

It's strange being somewhere that is at once familiar and foreign. I am not a fan of asking for help, but it is necessary to be like a child when you don't know how things work. There are so very many tourists here, though, that at least we don't feel alone.

We go to bed this evening, having walked so far, seen so much, and loved it all.

The long, first day

    How I laughed when Bethany said she was looking forward to the plane! She was well and truly over it before we even reached Singapore, but everyone had at least some sleep during the second and longest leg. Towards the end, I had the feeling that we had always been on the plane, and always would be, but we enjoyed our movies, and it came to an end.

    We were dropped at our digs, where we were way too early to check in, so we left our bags behind, gave everyone a pep talk to keep them going, and headed off.

    We found cool houses and shops, told off a barista for thinking we were American, and hopped on an open-topped bus to see the sights.

    • Joss was pretty thrilled to see real Van Gogh and Monet paintings at the art gallery. I confess that I don’t enjoy taking poor photographs of beautiful paintings. Somehow, I don’t mind an average photo of the beautiful ceiling.

       I did start crying from happiness and a sense of history and beloved book settings coming to life. I’ll have to drink plenty of water the day we go to Thornfield (Haddon Hall has played Thornfield from Jane Eyre in three adaptations).

      We were upgraded at our accommodation to a three bedroom, two bathroom apartment. It is huge, and gorgeous; we really love it. We are now all showered, just about to find something for dinner, and very much looking forward to bed.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Hello strangers

It has been nearly six months since I posted! I haven't defected to the lesser socials, there have been no great revelations made on Facebook or Instagram. I have just been living my life; working full-time, sharing a car with the almost independent daughter, driving the two more dependent children to many extra-curricular activities, running three card classes a month, with associated preparation, and reading. It isn't that I dislike blogging, or think it unimportant, I just haven't considered it more important that those things, or sleep.

When I left work yesterday, there was hugging. We don't usually hug when we part at the end of the working day, even on Friday afternoons, but this Friday was different. I am not returning for five weeks!

We are going on a trip of a lifetime, and by 'we' I mean all five of us. Joss will be off to uni next year, and perhaps we will never all live together again. So, we are off on a joint adventure, and I am planning to share it here. Facebook and Instagram will get something, too, but it won't be the same, it never is.

We fly out on Tuesday, to places that seem dreamlike; imaginary and magical. I know they are real; I have been there after all (Andrew's and my trip was ten years ago!), but I am a person who reads largely for setting and place, and the settings that really tug at my heart are in the U.K.

I was a very unpatriotic young person. Actually, I think patriotism tends to be ugly, so I am still not patriotic, but I no longer suffer from the grass is always greener mindset that is the enemy of contentment. I have come to terms with Australian summers, and there is so much to love about where we live.

Last week, I drove Bethany's friend back to her farm in Wantabadgery, around forty minutes away. It has become my favourite drive. It was late afternoon, and the sun was setting behind me, lighting the dry grass and trees a vibrant gold which contrasted with the deep blue-grey sky, threatening rain. We then drove into the rain, and on the way home, the sun was behind the hills, giving them a luminous pink glow.

So, while we will be travelling to places that move me deeply, I am happy to call this place home, at least until I am called to my true home, for good.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Back to school

There has been an ad playing, on Instagram, where a woman does a happy dance because school is going back. I still have two at school, but I am far from doing a happy dance. Not only are school supplies, shoes in particular, frighteningly expensive, but our lives get so much busier during term time. There will be two lots of tennis lessons, piano lessons, maths tutoring, Saturday sport, Bible study and youth group. I have to make school lunches, iron white cotton shirts and pester encourage people to do their homework. It all definitely makes you appreciate the holidays! At least I am not having to get up five hours earlier than I am used to, tomorrow!

Andrew's parents came to stay for a week, which was lovely. It was especially relaxing for them as it was so hot; they pretty much couldn't leave the house! They had the house to themselves in the morning, too, as the kids didn't get up until lunchtime.

Facebook told me that a friend from school drove to Tasmania with her family, so we took the opportunity on their way back to have breakfast together as they drove through Wagga. Daphne hasn't changed a bit, despite the fact that our next school reunion will signify 30 years since we left. That feels at once astounding and perfectly reasonable. It was so lovely to see her, and her husband and two daughters. I think we should organise a much smaller reunion, just for old friends....

Pierre belongs to my hairdresser, and he is a tireless ball chaser. Really, tireless. I love it when his ears go inside-out, and I think sausage dog legs are just the funniest.

Our visitors left as the heavens opened. It rained for hours, slow and steady. We opened up the whole back door to enjoy it.

The rain was so heavy, the countryside disappeared.
The clouds lifted.

The colours popped.
This afternoon I rode home from work in the rain. It's so much nicer than the burning sunshine, though I can't wear my glasses!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Growing up, not out

Toby turned sixteen yesterday. He's significantly taller than I am, skinny as ever, and not at all keen on having his photo taken.

His chosen birthday dinner was enchiladas and malteser cake, which we shared with Mum and Dad and the Melbourne cousins. I didn't get any photos of him on his actual birthday; having us all sing to him was trial enough for the poor boy, but I did sneak a couple today.

See what I did here? It's a photo of his drone, he just happens to be in it. It sounds like a huge mosquito, and looks a little scary with those green eyes.

I find this next photo represents him pretty well. If he isn't moving (tennis, soccer, basketball, running), then he'd like to be gaming.

Now, he just has to sit the test for his Learner's permit, and we can start getting the 120 hours of driving required for his licence! Four drivers in the family!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

InCoWriMo 2018

I like to write lists. Even more than writing the lists, I like to tick things off. I regularly write things that I have already done, just so I can tick them off. It's so satisfying. It also means that I get to write with my fountain pens, every day.

There isn't much opportunity for handwriting in my work day, so I like to write letters and cards. As well as getting to use my fountain pens, there's nice stationery, sealing wax and stamps. Such fun!

We all like different things, of course, and this is one of my hobbies that isn't that popular. I don't mind. It doesn't bother me if I write a letter to someone and they either don't reply, or reply on Facebook, via email or text. I enjoy the process, and I would hate my letters to feel like a burden, to the person who receives it. That said, I do so love to receive a letter......

Tim, the source of my fountain pen fascination, told me about InCoWriMo, last year. The name is short for International Correspondence Writing Month, and was inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Every day in February, participants write and send a letter, card or note.

I decided to participate, and made my address available on the InCoWriMo address book so that other keen letter writers could write to me, and they did! I have kept writing to a couple of them, too.

I am going to do it again, and already have one new pen friend, from Mexico. It does mean less time to read, but it's only one month, and the shortest one at that. If you'd like me to write to you, let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Silly indeed

How very boring to be one of those adults who complains about the "silly season". I would have liked to feel the magic, but somehow, this year, it was all rather hectic.

In my last, long ago now, post, I talked about my library conference. It was very busy (I gave a 45 minute presentation and two, one and a half hour workshops at the outreach services symposium on the Tuesday, and did the wrap-up at the end of each day of the conference proper), but brilliant. I love gathering with librarians from across the state, hearing great talks and having fun with colleagues. Our conference dinner was on the final night, so all of my responsibilities were over, and the disco theme was right up my alley.

I kid you not, that Fitbit recorded 189 minutes of exercise, and I danced over 25,000 steps. Librarians know how to party, and my dancing always gets an A plus for enthusiasm.

I parked under a tree at the conference, and the white, council owned car, was no longer white when I returned to it. Not being much of a car person, Joss accompanied me to the coin-operated car wash to try and sort it out. It was surprisingly fun, and I enjoyed the sight of her turquoise hair with the pink foam.

For me, decorating, and relaxing, come to think of it, means candles. I love these little, twiggy, birds.

Toby had work experience at a law firm, as his final Year 10 school week. Of the five days, he only really enjoyed one, when he went to court. Is law the boy for him? I don't know, and maybe it shouldn't be; have you read/seen Bleak House?! Still, he has plenty of time yet.

Christmas 2017 was the first with Mum and Dad living in Wagga. It has been almost inexpressibly wonderful, having them in town. Being able to drop in unannounced, drinking coffee, tea, wine and gin and tonics. Sharing celebratory, as well as no reason at all, dinners. So good.

So, for the first time, all of my side of the family was in Wagga for Christmas. Count them; that's 18 people around my table! Technically, there are two tables there, but it was so great to fit in one space.

Whole family photos on the wooden steps at Tahlee are no longer possible, but we have gained someone to take the photo for us, thanks Ryan! Complete with sunbursts.

It wasn't as hot as it had been, and has been since, but there was still a massive water fight with every child (even the older ones) armed with a super soaker, and a laundry basket full to the brim with water balloons for the adults. Thankfully, we took this photo beforehand, as everyone was bedraggled in the aftermath!

I had two weeks off all together. It wasn't all reading time, though, with Christmas, and then our other regular cousin visit for January, but I did get through this modest pile.

I especially enjoyed The Hate U Give, The Choke, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Essex Serpent. Now, I am back at work.......... at least the air-conditioning in my office is perfect.