Monday, January 30, 2012

The beginning

We were ready on time, bags packed and there was a break in the rain, long enough to get some photos in the front garden. I worked my ten hours at the library and, as I ate my dinner, three children competed for my attention to tell me about their day. Jossie was thrilled with all her new classes and sitting with some lovely girls at lunch. Toby impressed everyone with his broken arm (he wore the pretty much unnecessary sling for effect) and Bethany loved it as she always does. Keep it up all year please!

Not a drop of rain fell in Wagga when we were pet feeding and garden watering for friends over ten days. Last night the wind blew and the rain bucketed down. It was still raining and blowing a gale when I woke up, so I reluctantly gave away the idea of riding my bike to work. I'm so glad it did because, after raining off and on all day, the sun came out in the afternoon making it unbearably humid outside. I cannot cope with humidity and would have probably lain down on the road next to my bike.

Can you see the threatening clouds in the distance? They burst all over Andrew when he went for a ride after picking me up!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The end

And with that, the long, hot summer holidays are over. I may not be looking forward to making school lunches or doing homework, but I think we are all ready for school to start. Jossie is excited to wear a new uniform and ride her bike to school and Toby and Bethany are keen to get back to their friends. Toby is starting Middle School so we have three separate schedules! Having largely exhausted our holiday childcare options, Bethany came to work with me twice last week! She sat in our lunchroom reading, drawing, playing her DS and watching movies on my laptop.

I remembered another book that I read while we were away - The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin. I was hoping to take The Help away with me but someone had already borrowed it so I turned to NoveList to find something similar and it suggested The Queen of Palmyra. When I was very much younger, I used to love books set in the american south -  To Kill and Mockingbird, Cold Sassy Tree, The Grass Harp, that sort of thing. These days I prefer the UK or France, India, China, Japan or Africa so it was a departure for me. It is a rather grim story, really, as you might expect for Mississippi in 1963, but I found it quietly moving. There is no sweetness, no endearing relationships but a gritty look at  some big issues.
Something with a little more sweetness and lots of whimsy, wit, adventure and beautiful illustrations is The Windvale Sprites. Kristy brought this to our last book club meeting as she is reviewing it and when I realised who wrote it, I had to read it. Mackenzie Crook, you delightful man! We loved The Office and Gareth was such a fabulous character. You really couldn't dislike him thoroughly because he was so fragile looking and the episode when he cried..... anyway, The Windvale Sprites is a completely lovely children's book and I hope he writes many more.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Happy Australia Day! Happy Birthday Mim! Congratulations to Janice and Dave on the birth of Hannah! We have been rather flat out with house, church, work and school stuff. Jossie and Toby needed new uniforms, Jossie needed everything as she is starting high school at a different school. Toby has worn the same size three shorts he started Kindy in and they still aren't tight around the waist! Thankfully, Bethany is happy to live in a world of hand-me-downs.

We have still been having some holiday fun, even if we have had to squeeze it in around a huge list of jobs. We've been swimming in the Shephards' pool (yes, I have been in too), picnicking in the Botanic Gardens, watching ABC 3 (favourite shows - Good Game SP and Splatalot), having friends over and going to friends' houses. Jossie and Bethany have feathers in their hair and Toby fell off his skateboard and broke his arm. All part of a good summer holiday, surely!

I think I'm looking forward to school going back. Getting the routine going, not having to find someone to look after Bethany (a hazard of living away from family) and, um, I'm sure there are other good things. I'm trying not to think about making lunches and the bane of my existence, homework. I'll also miss having more time to read.

I have read some fabulous books over the holidays, some of which I can't remember at the moment because I have been very slack with my book journal. Here's what I can remember:
Bitter Leaf by Chioma Okereke - whimsical, evocative, African fiction.
Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn (not the actor) - suffragettes, cricket, romance, WWI. Oh, how I loved this book!
The Gashleycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey - I read this on my phone in the car on the way to Bermagui and learnt it off by heart. I had to love a book that starts with "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs."
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins - futuristic, dystopian, romantic, fast-paced youth fiction. I read all three very quickly.
The Nice and the Good by Iris Murdoch - My first Iris Murdoch and I will seek out more.
Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks - I was always going to love this book set in England and France during WWII. I read his earlier novel, Birdsong, a few years ago and loved it too. I wonder if the movie is any good....

Now I am reading Anthony Quinn's earlier book, The Rescue Man, and Rumer Godden's Kingfishers Catch Fire, I do love her books. Jossie is reading Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, Toby, Inkheart and Bethany, Holly the Christmas Fairy. What are you reading?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We're back from our first summer beach holiday. I realise that, as Jossie is twelve and a half, we ought, perhaps, to have gone on one before. I could make excuses based on our distance from the coast and our need to use holidays to visit family, but I suppose that my own dislike of the beach has played a part in keeping us away. It is rather un-Australian of me not to love the beach but I simply don't understand the appeal. My skin is so fair that the summer sun is painful. The ocean is full of slimy, biting, stinging creatures and it pushes and pulls you. Once you have cooled off nicely, you have to walk on the sand to get to your towel - sand which then sticks to your wet skin and swimmers and gets in your hair and ears as well as your shoes, the car and your bed! Still, I do have some good memories of beach holidays from my childhood.

We went to Pearl Beach every January for two weeks. As a teenager I spent my days reading in the house and paying my brothers to go to the shop for me to buy lollies. The house we stayed in was on the headland so the shore was just below us. I may not have walked down the path at the bottom of the garden to the beach, very often, but I did like walking on the rocks and I loved falling asleep to the sound of the waves reaching the shore and retreating. I looked forward to going to Pearl Beach so I am very pleased that we have found a beach for our children to love.

Bermagui is on the south coast so you would think it would be quite quick for us to get to. That pesky Dividing Range makes any coastal destination a long journey! Lots of people from Wagga seem to choose Bermagui and though we chose it almost randomly after searching on the Internet, we think it is a lovely spot and we are all keen to go again. It has some very nice caf├ęs and fabulous fish and chips.... which we may, or may not, have had twice in one week.

It's a bit hard to tell, but Joss, Toby, Andrew and Bethany are all in the water in this photo. They went swimming every day, though it wasn't hot. I bought my first swimmers since before Bethany was born and went in an ocean pool as well as the sea. One time in each. It was cold, but I didn't hate it.

When we weren't at the beach we were sleeping in, reading, playing Rummikub and doing puzzle books or drawing. Bethany loves to draw.

There are lots of beaches around Bermagui. We loved the rocks at Camel Rock and the long, quiet beach with silken sand where we saw the blue bottle.

I'm sure we'll be finding sand everywhere for quite some time. Bethany likes to be buried, Toby and Joss like to dig very deep holes.

We went to Magic Mountain one day, which was a great hit, and went to Tilba as well. It was Toby's birthday on Saturday - he turned 10! If you can't see your friends on your birthday, it is great to be at the beach.

We drove back over the mountains in pouring rain, into the heat of our inland home. It's nice to be back in our own beds but it would have been smarter to have come home on Saturday and had a day to get organised before starting work. My first day at work since before Christmas and it was my ten hour Monday! At least I am sensibly going to bed before 1am. I am absolutely going to stop now and turn off the light. I still have to write about all the books I read. There's always another day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Loving the Eighties

I have loved David Bowie for a very long time. When I was around 17 I bought different coloured contact lenses so I could have David Bowie eyes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Loving the Eighties

I really, really like this song. I'm into a bit of melodrama.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas at our place

Oh goodness, how time has flown. I am still on holidays so should have posted before now! Sadly, having Christmas at our house meant that I didn't take many photos. Andrew has some good ones but I'll just go with what I have for now.

When you say eight adults and eight children, it really doesn't sound like that many. Sixteen people on the other hand, that's a lot to fit in our little house! We were all very thankful to my friend Sara for letting us house and pet mind so that we didn't all have to sleep at our house.

Christmas Day was full of food, family, mess and heat.

After such a cool December, we were a touch warm outside with humidity that we aren't used to here in Wagga. 

Phil and Kristin brought the pinata, an established tradition now. All the kids had a go, even the littlest.

Some were a little afraid of it but they were all thrilled when it spilled its stuffing just as the storm hit.

We had a storm on Boxing Day too, which brought some relief from the heat. Now, of course, we think it must have actually been quite cool as it has been 38 and 39 over the last couple of days. It was lovely to see everyone together, I wonder when that will happen again.

We spent New Year's Eve with friends, celebrating a 45th birthday as well as the new year. The kids have all had friends over and we are trying to get the house ready for sale. Andrew watched all of Downton Abbey series one with me and last night we finally finished and started the second series - so exciting! On Sunday we are off on an adventure to the coast. We have never been to Bermagui before, holidays are such fun!