Saturday, January 26

Australia Day

Go on....throw a shrimp on the know you want to.

Happy Australia Day

Friday, January 25

A walk in the woods

In our family it is impossible to go for a walk without it turning into a nature ramble (not that there's anything wrong with that). There is no such thing as an idle stroll. Within minutes of setting out we are examining all manner of flora and fauna in minute detail and being regaled with useless information interesting titbits such as its correct botanical name and whether it is native to the area or a weed. This is partly because Tom's job is of a botanical nature dealing with native plants and also because we all have a fascination for things that grow, squeak, squawk, crawl, climb, gallop or slither.

If there is a downside to this it is that I am a constant source of disappointment to Tom with my taste for European flora. In this country European trees, plants and animals have been introduced and many of them have, quite understandably, liked it very much here - to the detriment of the native plants and animals. It's quite a serious problem. Tom is always telling me about this tree or that plant being ecological disasters. I try to be understanding, really I do. I know that the damage they do can be devastating. But I can't help being loyal to the plants and trees of my homeland even if they've wandered a bit too far and made themselves a little too 'at home'.

I have previously mentioned the Willows we have in our garden. They are stunningly beautiful and they are weeds. They destroy the delicate banks and ecology of Australian creeks and rivers. Tom likes the Willows too....but....they are weeds you know. When I saw him examining the creek bank and shaking his head solemnly I had to tell him that he will go before they do. So he'd better watch out.

Anyway, to celebrate my appalling taste here are some weeds I photographed while out walking recently. Enjoy.

First, here are my children skipping merrily into the weed infested hell woods.

And here is a weed.....hideous isn't it?

Here is another eyes!!!!!!!

Heaven help us here is a SCOTTISH WEED!!!! Damn you to hell you highland terror (Gawn yersel wee man)!

Oh look. Here is a lovely native plant called.....snottygobble. It is called this because the stuff that comes out of those seeds looks like....well....snot. Now that's bloody charming isn't it?

This is not a weed it is a bug. Quite a large bug actually. They're all like that here.

Here is another indulgent shot of my adorable children, this time crossing the creek.

Hope you enjoyed this educational post. You're welcome.

Monday, January 21

Tree magic

On Friday morning I was pottering around the house tidying and cleaning. The girls were playing in the garden and Aislin came in and asked me to come down to the Willows and play with them. It was then I heard myself say 'not now, I've got things to do....maybe later'. She just looked at me and turned and walked away - leaving my heart lying bleeding on the floor. I looked at the basket of laundry waiting to be folded and dishwasher waiting to be emptied and the dusting waiting to be done and figured it wasn't going anywhere. So I made myself a cup of tea, grabbed my book and went to join them.

We have a creek at the bottom of our garden and beside that creek we have three massive Willow trees. Under those Willows is the most incredibly magical space. The weeping branches touch the ground all the way around creating a huge, green 'cave'. Once inside you are totally cocooned by the trees. It's like walking into fairyland, and when I'm there I feel completely relaxed, peaceful and safe. I love those trees. There are other magical trees down there including two Hawthorns and a couple of tall Eucalypts. It is a very special place.

When we came to see this house for the first time I walked in and was disappointed. The words 'neglected', 'ugly' and 'unloved' sprang to mind - not to mention 'smelly'. We walked around with the obsequious real estate agent simpering behind us and me saying 'yuck' and 'no way' the whole time. She took us into the garden, I gave a little, it was a big block, it had lovely trees and potential. Then she took us down to the creek. I walked under those Willows and said 'we'll take it'. And we did.

So on Friday I spent the whole day, reclining on my sun lounge hanging out under the Willows....once again the house was neglected.

They can all at once be soft and drapey......

....and gnarly......

....and peaceful.......

If you feel like it there is lots of scope for jumping.....

...and swinging......

Aislin loves the trees and spent a lot of time 'doing their hair' by tying ribbons on some of their long tresses and well as the the ubiquitous tree-hugging (because apparently it was their birthday).

They are perfect for climbing......

....and it is the best place we have for reading....

...and drinking tea......

Yes, we all like it there.....

Wednesday, January 16

What have I been doing?

It's been a few days and I hadn't even realised how many days until I looked at today's date. I've had that weird 'loss of time' thing again. Maybe I'm a drunk or a serial killer, who knows what I'm up to when I lose time like that.

I jest.

However, time has passed very quickly and I am surprised that it's been 5 days since I posted but I have been busy during that time. On the weekend we had a MASSIVE declutter of our shed. The background here is that the shed currently stores a lot of our belongings and furniture. When we moved into this house we decided to leave as much of our stuff as possible in the shed while we renovated and decorated. Then once the place was looking lovely we'd move the furniture in, unpack the books and fill the bookcases, find all of our long lost kitchen stuff and fill our cupboards in preparation for all the entertaining we could now do. That was the plan - two years ago. In that two years our time and attention was taken up with work, study and general busy-ness. Now that work and study have finished for me we can no longer avoid the renovating and decorating that must be done on the house. Except we decided to avoid it just a little bit longer while we sorted out the shed and decided if we really did still want all that stuff.

We started to drag stuff out on Saturday and after about two hours I was ready to shove it all back in, throw in a match after it and shut the door. Tom insisted we couldn't do that. So - long story shortened considerably - we decluttered, chucked out and donated a shit-load of stuff. There is something very liberating about getting rid of stuff. I enjoyed it. The end.

Now we have to start working on the house and I'm quite sure that will be fabulous blog fodder.

The other thing that kept us busy was a two day visit from Tom's parents. They arrived on Monday afternoon and left this morning. I love my in-laws. They are the easiest of guests, they provide meals, look after children, read stories (to the children not me, but I'm sure if I asked them to they'd read to me as well) do shopping and generally take care of themselves and all of us. They are also funny, great story-tellers and just generally interesting people (and no, they don't read this blog so I'm not sucking up). Anyway, we had a couple of days of great company, nice meals, a few drinks and late nights. I'm sorry they've gone.

So there you have it, my last 5 days in 500 words or less. I could say a lot more and I wish I had some photos for you, but I won't and I don't. Sorry.

Oh except this gratuitous photo of the beginnings of our abundant crop of tomatoes. How about that? They grew!

Friday, January 11

Written in the stars

See that little horoscope thingy? There...on your right....? Well today it says 'Conditions will prove to be chaotic around Sagittarian homes during January'. If you're looking at it, and it doesn't say that, it probably isn't Friday 11 January 2008 anymore...or isn't that date where you are, or if it is still that date where you are it probably isn't that date here anymore. But let's not get into a confusing discussion about time zones. Please.

Anyhoo, back to the horoscope thingy. I can vouch for its accuracy. Because things are indeed chaotic around this particular Sagittarian home. Take today for example. I got up and discovered there was no coffee left. Oh there was instant coffee...but no plunger coffee. I've been enjoying, nay relishing, a delicious cup of a particularly good organic fair trade Arabica each and every morning since Christmas - in my new Bodum. I can't describe the pleasure that cup of morning coffee brings me, so you can imagine my despair to discover we'd run out. So I had instant. Which is like having.... I dunno, something really bad instead of something really good. Then my computer crashed. Twice. Fortunately I was only reading my favourite blogs at the time so I didn't lose anything. But it was distressing nonetheless and now I'm wary....very wary.

As the day progressed there were several minor disasters involving children in various scenarios. I'd describe them to you but the thought of reliving them via my blog makes me want to stick a fork in my eye. Just trust me that important items were lost, things were done that shouldn't have been done, messes were made and yelling occurred. Eventually I threw myself onto the sofa and decided it was time for a glass of wine. Then I looked at the clock. 10am. No matter where I put that damn yard arm there was no way I could get the sun over it. So I had tea instead which, as much as I like tea, this morning it was like having something mediocre instead of something really good.

In the middle of all this there were phones ringing, emails arriving, children next door calling, dogs barking (not mine unfortunately - and I mean unfortunately because I still don't have a dog not because I like barking) and general ranting (mine).

Then I put dinner in the slow cooker. After a couple of hours I tasted the sauce, Aislin asked for a taste too. Her eyes grew wide she rubbed her tummy and said 'Yum!!'. I smiled. My moment was shattered when she then announced that the sauce was good but she wouldn't be eating any of the rest of it. Hmm, thanks.

So we went to the shops. I know, I know.....on a day like this why did I tempt fate by going to the shops? Dunno. Except that I may have mentioned earlier that we'd run out of coffee...and there was no way I was having another morning like this tomorrow. Of course things happened, but Kmart have agreed not to sue and that nice policeman said it could have happened to anyone. So it's all fine. Really.

Nah I'm kidding, it wasn't that serious, just the girls running away from me in Coles and Aislin knocking over a display and then squeezing a squeaky toy behind an old ladies back and nearly giving her a heart attack.

So, we're home now and I'm counting the minutes to wine o'clock and wondering if it would be wrong of me to put my children in their beds at 5.15pm. Probably not under the circumstances.

Wednesday, January 9

Don't mention the war...

....actually by war I mean website - but it's close enough to being a battle ground to merit being called the war. Because I am working on it again. Hey! Regular reader! I just saw you fall off your chair laughing......cut it out. Anyway, previous experience will tell you here, here oh and here that I find working on the website slightly rather totally effing frustrating. So I am not going to write about it.

So this is the official 'don't mention the war'* post.

It is really difficult to think of something else to blog about when I'm in the death throes of web design (HA! 'web design' turn to fall off the chair laughing) because it is so all-consuming that I become obsessive, but I'll try.

I can talk about the 'picnic' the girls and I had yesterday. We went to a local park and Hannah 'accidentally' dropped her sandwich on the ground, Aislin ate a quarter of hers and wanted shortbread instead. At one stage we were joined by two other families, they had three little boys each so the girls made friends with them. At one point I saw the crowd of 6 little boys wandering away from the play area to check out some cars. There in the middle of the crowd I spotted Aislin. The shape of things to come I wonder. I took a photo of Hannah on the Flying Fox.... least she was on it when I started to take the I guess this is actually a photo of Hannah falling off the Flying Fox. Not to worry, nothing broken.

While we were there Hannah kept taking off her shoes and just leaving them lying wherever she kicked them off (much like home). I told her repeatedly to pick them up and leave them by our table. But what do I know. We left the park, went and picked up the mail, stopped at the local shop for milk and it was about then that Hannah announced that she'd left her shoes at the park. I ranted all the way back there and all the way home again and most of the way through dinner......just to be sure.

If you like I could talk again about the heat and also mention the fact that neither of the TWO ancient air conditioners we have are working. No? No, quite right too.

I'll just leave it at that then shall I?

*You probably have to have seen this episode of Fawlty Towers to fully appreciate this blog title.

Tuesday, January 8

Well...who knew?

I've had a realisation. After writing this angst-ridden post it has suddenly occurred to me that I was falling into that old trap of seeing an obstacle and rendering myself helpless. And then whining about it. Not only did I recently recognise that old trap (or habit perhaps?) I had a kind of epiphany when I finally understood that I am not under any duress whatsoever to do what I thought I was going to do....does that make sense? I guess what I'm saying is that I am actually free to do whatever I please with my life and my business. There is no-one standing over me telling me what to do, I am my own boss and while of course I must consider my family and how what I do impacts on them (so running an animal shelter out of my lounge room is probably out of the question) for the most part my work and my business can be anything I want them to be.

Last year I left my job because I wanted to get off the hamster wheel and concentrate on my own business and that is what I have been doing on a small scale ever since. However, I think when I left my job I forgot to leave the boss behind. You know that person who (depending on their style) guides, encourages or orders you to do stuff? When you work for someone else you're really enabling someone else's dream, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it does mean that you are limited in how much of your own creative 'genius' you can use. When you work for yourself you are 100% responsible for your own dream and your own success and pretty much free to do whatever you want to achieve those things. Scary. Or maybe not, maybe it's exciting - once you get past being scared that is.

Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that just because I've changed direction slightly my original plans for my business still hold. I can adapt and adjust what I have to suit my new ideas and direction. I can discuss my ideas with Tom, my sisters, friends and other business owners and receive their advice, and most importantly their support, but the final decisions and plans are mine. I am free.

So...onwards and upwards people.

Monday, January 7

Birth of a sunflower

Back in October we did some planting, including sunflower seeds. Now the sunflowers are tall and strong and about to flower. We're on a promise.....

Update - it is opening beautifully....

And attracting some interest.....

Sunday, January 6

Sausage and scones

Sometimes I get homesick. For Scotland. Or for Britain really, all of it. And Ireland. Because really if you're living in Scotland the rest of the UK and Ireland is still your 'hood. And I love it all. It doesn't matter how much I like this country or how long I've been here or that (almost) everyone I love most in the world lives here too (except my sister Moyra - she's in America and that is a whole other painful post) I still find it hard to really think of this country as home. On one level of course I have a home here and I live in it happily with my Australian husband and children. But from the perspective of being in my 'own country' - I never feel as though I am. That is really difficult for some people to understand, but that's just how it is.

So....sometimes I get homesick. And now is one of those times. It's not pleasant, it's overwhelmingly, hopelessly miserable. I mope around for days humming 'Flower of Scotland' and torturing myself reading UK blogs and magazines and watching anything I can from the BBC on TV. Even if it's crap. Which it always most of the time quite often is. I make snow scenes from Ballachulish my wallpaper on the laptop. Then I start to crave foods. Yesterday it was sliced sausage and black pudding (both very vegan delicacies - ahem, a heart attack on a plate). Notice it even has it's own Wikipedia page - of course it has. The day before that I would have given my first born for a Tunnocks Tea cake - or better still a 6 pack of them (apparently they are a 'favourite of popstars Supergrass' - whoever the hell they are). Today it was soda scones. At least that one I could satisfy. Aislin and I got to work this afternoon and made some.

And of course there had to be tea - from Harrods because the right now the Coles stuff isn't cutting it.

They turned out ok.

But I'm still homesick.

Friday, January 4

The long post....

Last night I was thinking about how I came to be where I am in my life today. How just about every decision I've ever made contributed to the path I ended up on and that, in turn, contributed to the next decision I made. It's amazing how intricately woven it all is, one small change to the pattern and the path veers off in a different direction.

I have spent a lot of time and energy getting to the point I'm at now. Incredible to think that a career decision I made so many years ago directly affected where I have ended up career-wise today. The (almost impulse) decision to do a hotel reception course, led to working in hotels and working my way through management until I reached executive level then moving into tertiary education, lecturing in hotel managment subjects, and finally completing my B Ed. I remember being in a class while doing the hotel reception course all those years ago and looking at the lecturer and thinking 'I want to do what you're doing' and years later I was. Several times over the years I attempted to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree. I kept dropping out to go off overseas or take up a new career opportunity. I'm a Sagittarius, we're not known for our ability to stay on task - hey, there's a big world out there waiting to be explored - we're the Labradors of the Zodiac, always bounding enthusiastically after the next frisbee adventure. Which is why it won't surprise you to know that in there somewhere I also studied astrology for two years, learned Shiatsu massage, became an accredited development coach and dabbled in lots of other stuff, just to experience it all. But I digress...back to the point - for me it was a bit of a miracle to stay still long enough to finally complete a degree, even if wasn't the one I originally started.

Over the years I've fallen in and out of love, had relationships, left (and been left in) relationships, met Tom, had babies, got married (yes, in that order) lost both of my parents, lived in England, Scotland and Australia, travelled, became Vegan, started a blog and much more. I don't regret any of it, I've had fun and enjoyed myself a lot of the time and even in the failed relationships I learned about myself and others - often painfully, but usually usefully. So far it's been a full and enjoyable (most of the time) life.

About two years ago I had a plan (unusual for me, I'm more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl). I wanted to complete my degree - done, secure my coaching accreditation - done, leave my job - done - and concentrate on my own business - not really done yet. I have been doing some coaching, running workshops, teaching meditation and doing some writing and I'm fully qualified to do so - well done me. However I don't have much set up for this year yet. But I promised myself that once the degree was finished we'd celebrate the festive season and then I'd seriously get to work on the business.

So you can imagine my dismay to discover that, when I look at what the future holds in terms of career/work, I realise don't want any of it any more. How can that be? How can I work so hard and be so determined to reach a goal, for such a long time, then find it's not what I want? Holy crap.

I suddenly find myself just wanting to withdraw from it all. I told Tom I want to get me some dreads, have my nose (re)pierced, move to Nimbin, or Byron Bay or some hippy community in Tasmania and homeschool and grow our own Marijuana produce.

I'm not sure what happened but somewhere along the line I lost myself. I became the very thing I was hoping I'd never become. I was emailing back and forth with my sisters yesterday on this very topic. Fiona kindly pointed out that we used to be 'pretty cool really, you were hip baby-wearing were Buddhists and did things related to that...'. She then summed it up by informing me that we had become a 'respectable couple with kids, a mortgage and sensible jobs’ and closed by saying 'So there you go, just to make you feel better, I’ve noticed you’re boring now too'. Moyra then pointed out that she agreed with that summation and that we were 'living diffrently from what I would imagine from you'. I love my sisters, they are probably the only people on the planet that can say things like that to me without me being offended or hurt (in fact I thought it was hilarious). And anyway, they were only saying what I'd already been thinking myself.

I'm not sure what the point of this post is, I just wanted to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper the screen. It's not about regret - I really don't have many of those, and I'm not beating myself up, I just realise that at some point my path veered in a direction I'm not quite comfortable with. I'm proud of all my achievements and still feel that everything I've learned is part of my future - I just don't know how yet. I have no idea at this stage how to deal with my current mid-life crisis but for me just waking up to it and acknowledging it is important.

Oh and I have a cold and feel like hell. But then that's what we do isn't it? Sometimes we have to make ourselves sick long enough to stop us in our tracks so that we can examine ourselves a bit.

Rock on.

Thursday, January 3


I madez me a banner!

Nice, no?

Wednesday, January 2


Many people think that living in Australia is one big round of sun, sea and surf. That we wake each day to bright sunshine and proceed to float through our lives warm, contented and with plenty of Vitamin D. The reality is quite different. Certainly we do have a climate that sometimes allows for sunbathing on the beach, BBQs and lots of outdoor activity. However, there are two problems with that picture.

Firstly the heat is intense. We're not talking about a lovely warm day here, we're talking 43 degrees for days on end (as we've just had). That's 110 degrees Fahernheit people. It's the kind of temperature that sends me people mad and most of us can't even stand being outside in that kind of heat. Also, with heat comes drought. In most of Australia drought has been a problem for a few years now. Where we live there has been some rain, but not enough. The gardens are dead or dying, we're on level 3 water restrictions and the rivers and reservoirs are at an all time low. In South Australia we are actually running out of water.

The native wildlife is suffering, they are coming into the more populated areas looking for water. There are terrible, sad, tragic stories of koalas drowning in backyard swimming pools because they are trying to drink the water and fall in. Just the other day I took these pictures of a magpie in our garden, his beak is open because he is panting and thirsty.

We are leaving water out for the birds and other creatures that share our garden but it's a small contribution to a very big problem.

Secondly, this idea of a wonderful outdoor lifestyle, swimming in the sea, lounging by the pool and the kids being able to play outside all day long....yeah right. The trouble is people work and live normal lives, just because you live in a warm climate doesn't mean life is one long holiday. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, all has to be done, no matter what the temperature is. Trust me it is no fun hanging out the washing in 43 degrees. Admittedly the washing at the start of the line is usually dry by the time you reach the end, but seriously, it's hell out there. Here is a (very bad and blurry) picture of my kids playing outside yesterday.....note the dead lawn.

What you can't see here is that it is 7.15pm and they are having a game of cricket with Tom because it's the first time that day that they could actually go outside without frying. They had a quick game before bed and that was it. It is just not possible to spend every day of summer at the beach or in the pool, it would be nice if it was, but it's not. So we still have to go to school, work and live our lives as normally as possible. And there's not much pleasure in working at your desk beetroot-faced and sitting in a pool of your own sweat. Trust me, it's not all beer and skittles...well actually there is a lot of beer but it's way too hot for skittles.

I'm not being ungrateful. There are many, many wonderful things about living here, intense heat just isn't one them. On the milder days we can enjoy an outdoor lifestyle and have dinner under the Willows and open up the house to warm sun and cool breezes. Just not in the height of summer.