Wednesday, October 29, 2014

20 Year High School Reunion



Blink and suddenly 20 years have whooshed by.

It had been a long time between drinks so I flew back to my hometown for my 20 Year High School Reunion, an opportunity to spend a few days away on my own and catch up with old friends and family and to see just how little sleep I could function on - apparently 3 hours a night for 4 nights in a row is doable but then I need another 3 nights at home to recover. It was all worth it.

I grew up in Wollongong, a big industrial city just south of Sydney which boasts beautiful beaches,a relaxed lifestyle and a sort of gritty edge that I loved. It's a predominantly working class city thanks to the BHP Steel Works hovering in the distance. Your parents were either in some way connected to the Steel Works or were part of the professions that supported this community which made it a close knit city and it was a great place to grow up.

I attended the local co-ed public high school down the road from home. I walked to and from school every day for 6 years, 13 if you include Primary School. I'd pick up my friends along street on the way and wait for them to finish their piano lessons or homework or clean their teeth before heading off. The school was a melting pot in terms of cultural diversity with a multitude of nationalities thrown in together and kids coming from all walks of life. With over 1000 students we all bunked in together in a kind of 'sink or swim' fashion.  Parents had minimal involvement in High School back then and there didn't seem to be the mollycoddling that's around these days. It was free public education at its best and I am so grateful for the experience.

Needless to say I have the fondest memories of High School. Our year group was a 'good' one in that everyone generally got along despite having their own little groups of friends. Since I left home straight after school finished to go off to University I was super keen to see everyone again. I'd lost touch with many friends due to the tyranny of distance and although I had kept in contact with some, there were many I hadn't seen for 5, 10, 20 years. Love it or loathe it, Facebook has been a saving grace in terms of keeping in touch with friends and resulted in the Reunion being a massive success with over 100 of us from our year group attending.

Nothing beats a good face to face contact and the friends you grow up with in your formative years are super special. You know these people really well. They know you. You see them every day, spend huge amounts of time in their homes and know the intricacies of their home life and their family dynamics. You know their issues and they know yours. I particularly have a soft spot for the friends I went through Primary School with, having known them for around 30 years now. We always have a ball when we catch up.



Onto the Reunion itself, it was exactly as I thought it would be. Lots of "OMG you haven't changed a bit!", "remember when?" and "I can't believe you have 5 kids, that's crazy!!!". No one had 5 Kids except me. Everyone was essentially the same, in a good way. There was a lot of openness and honesty. I loved hearing how everyone has been spending their time. After 20 years, everyone was now fairly set on their designated path. There had been marriages, children, divorces and mid-life crises. If you weren't following your passion or didn't know what that was after High School you now did and were on your destined path.  If your relationships weren't working out, you had either divorced or had come to some kind of acceptance. No one had been immune to struggles although there were some truly heartbreaking stories. There really are no guarantees in life when you see the randomness in some of the stories. Some of our class mates were no longer with us through accident, illness and suicide, a sobering reminder to be kind.

The general consensus by the end of the night:

Life is short.
Marriage and Children are hard but great.
No one is doing exactly what they thought they would be doing after High School and that's OK.
Apparently I need to get a Thermomix.
We should have a Reunion every year because it was just so much fun.
Aside from genuine curiosity, no one cares overly much what you do for a living, they are more interested in what sort of person you have become.
Good friends are those where you can pick up where you left off 20 years ago as if no time has passed at all.

There were lots of photos at the Reunion that I had never seen before, reminders of good times I had forgotten about.


and times I never would have thought existed without some form of photographic evidence. I spent weekends at our farm in Braidwood and apparently I used to ride my horse in a bikini.



By the end of the night my cheeks were sore from laughing so much and I had lost my voice. Sometime after 2am we called it a night, the Responsible Lad that was always there 20 years ago to drive the inebriated home safely was there again. After being dropped off I fumbled around for the lone spare key, dropping it a few times in the long grass before tripping down some stairs in my heels to collapse on my sister's sofa fully clothed. Just like old times. 




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Spring growth



There's a whole lot of Spring growth going on around here. The flowers are blooming and the bees are buzzing and look at how big our Whippet pup "Rocket" is getting. If only he was as serene at midnight when he gallops onto our bed and takes up his new sleeping position on our heads.

The recently planted trees that looked like sad little sticks poking out of the ground are now either in blossom or covered in leaves. The Strawberries are looking sensational and have fruited and now just needing to ripen. A good number of them are a lovely new variety not widely available and I can't wait to get them into some recipes. I've been inspired in advance of the glut we'll have of Strawberries before the building is ready and have been baking up lots of Strawberry muffins - I popped a couple of choc chips on the top of this batch and they came out looking like faces which thrilled me no end. The fruit hanging off the branches in the photo are the Currants which are coming along nicely and will bush out over time to become an edible hedge along the front boundary.

The shipping containers are multiplying. Five have now been delivered here and will be used as part of the building, more on that later. In the meantime, it provided a nice backdrop for my latest shawl fresh off the needles and dry after overnight blocking. It's my second Follow Your Arrow Shawl by Ysolda Teague which I started 9 months ago as part of the Mystery Knit Along. It was made using the alternate clues I didn't use for the first shawl except for the final clue which was doing my head in and is the reason I set this one aside for 8 months. It feels good to have finished something around here I'm really happy with how it turned out and have realised I have a very strong preference for wearing asymmetrical shawls as this one can be thrown on and wrapped around like a scarf - no gaffing required.

Speaking of growth, all the Kids have had a massive growth spurt lately. They're all legs and arms and Eleanor is wearing size 6 shoes now! Flynn will be 2 next month and is eating as much as the boys, which is an obscene amount. He has joined the others rolling down the hill by the Bridge in Richmond, a tradition that has been going on for almost a decade.

And just to make me feel really old, we now have a kid with Braces. Just how did that happen? Eleanor has the teeth of a 12 year old instead of a 10 year old and so got them earlier than most which is just as well as back in my day the event was accompanied with a training bra, a new nickname - 'Braceface" anyone? -  and a warning to be careful kissing boys who also had braces on in case you got stuck together - a rather scary thought if you're the daughter of a Dentist. I don't think I'm quite ready for all that stuff just yet - jeepers!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Happy Campers


Well, I know I said taking a family holiday outside of school holidays was a good idea, but returning from a trip with just 5 days of the school term left is not recommended, trust me! In hindsight we should have travelled a week later so we came home during school holidays where we could have leisurely got back to normal. Instead, we had to launch straight back into a busy final week of term with all that that entails and by the end of the week I really started to wonder whether we had gone away at all. "Re-entry Syndrome" was coming on thick and fast. However, our friends then decided they needed to get the 'heck out of dodge' as soon as school was out and that we of course should join them on their impromptu camp trip - a mini holiday to get over the post holiday blues. You can't argue with that logic.

So we packed our little bags again and crammed into the car, with bikes and kayaks attached to any available surface and headed to Fortescue Bay where we camped back in January. We spent the whole time shaking our heads as we couldn't believe the whole place was empty - our own private beach and the entire camp ground completely to ourselves. Even the campsite manager left after the first night. "Did we miss the memo on the Tsunami or something?". No, apparently it only gets busy in Summer. We did the hike around to the Shipwreck again and enjoyed the beautiful colours of the native flowers. There were a few Beer and Bocci sessions, Night Fishing, Bike Riding and Kayaking. It was so nice to spend some quality time with good friends, chatting into the wee hours of the night in front of the campfire.

There's one week left of school holidays and with the in-laws arriving from Alice Springs last night and I'm looking forward to some slow and leisurely days at home with them this week.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Mel x

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fiji



Hello.

We slipped away to Fiji for a much needed family holiday. 

With all the plants in the ground and the promise of a very busy Summer awaiting us here at home we decided now was a good time to recharge the batteries and digest all that has happened over the past year. 

It was amazing - gorgeous weather, white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, snorkelling with Nemo, Dory and all the other Sweetlips,  and being looked after by the friendliest folk on the planet.

We stayed out on Plantation Island, a solid 3-star resort - nothing fancy, a bit "tired" if you want to chime in with the negative nellies on Tripadvisor, but perfect for families with kids in our age bracket. There was so much to do yet you could do absolutely nothing too. The resort is really spread out and we had our own private 3 room Bure which was quite secluded. I think travelling outside of school holidays was a very good idea. 

The ocean water park was a hit with the Kids. We could supervise whilst sipping on our Pina Coladas from the deck chairs. The 4 older Kids enjoyed the freedom of cavorting around the island on their own for small amounts of time too.  Flynn slept for a good 2-3 hours every day so that was when I got to sit in the hammock and truly relax. 

I was totally strung out by the time we arrived in Fiji and I think it took 8 days to really hit that "zen" mode.  I managed to read an entire book during my hammock time - Tim Winton's "Eyrie" which I thoroughly enjoyed but I'm waiting for Daniel to finish it so we can "workshop" the abrupt ending. 

A great time was had by all and not even the 5 hour flight home with Flynn using our thighs as trampolines could completely undo the relaxation brought on by all that "Fiji-time". 

I've had quite a few breaks from technology lately, which has been good but I'd like to spend more time in this space. I've tarted up the blog a little to re-spark my enthusiasm, enlisting the help of Katrina to tweak some of the formatting that has been annoying me for only 3 years. Perhaps I'll get round to the "About Me" page soon as well.

Thank you so much for sticking around and for all your lovely comments of late. I'm looking forward to catching up on all your news!

Have a great week!