Sunday, August 31, 2014

Spring mix

An absolutely gorgeous 18oC day in Canberra today - getting ready for the official start of Spring tomorrow.

Abi's got a spring in her step with her two new spangly tutus (Granny's work) and continuing sartorial loyalty to Peppa Pig despite her girl crush for Ben and Holly and that wonderful role model Nanny Plum.

 That Alannah Hill headband never comes off now......Abi even wears it to bed.

Her imaginary play is full of animal characters (and fairies) - doggies, fish (all shapes and sizes), ladybugs, and as of this weekend, horses (pink ones)!

Ella is still the climber - no tree is safe. I am glad her Mummy didn't see how high she climbed into this lovely gum tree this afternoon.

And I thought I might continue my (very popular) 1975 series with a few more funny shots ........

Rob and I took a five week camping trip through Scandinavia and Russia (Soviet era then) in August that year with Transit Tours. We picked up the tour in London and surprise surprise found ourselves in the company of a pretty wild bunch of young Aussies and Kiwis for the next five weeks.

I can't believe we co-operated with this cheesy exercise in Volendam (very touristy old fishing village in Holland) on the first day of the trip.

I can't believe I got on a boat and sailed out on the Hardanger Fjord (Norway) with three such scary looking young men (Paul, John and Rob).

This is a pic of us setting up tents in the "Leningrad" camping grounds. After Scandinavia, Russia in those days seemed quite oppressive (scarily so) with very few allowances made for visitors. There were some very fierce babushkas operating this camping ground - although they must have turned a blind eye to the vodka parties at night where campers and locals would join in drinking games and plate smashing. Aussies and Kiwis participated in this cultural exchange very enthusiastically.
This proves we've been to Moscow - when St Basil's really did face onto RED Square.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Good friends of ours are off to Europe on Monday with stops in Greece, Crete, Spain and other places. They left behind a new film/slide scanner for Rob to work out its secrets. He solved the puzzle by scanning an ancient collection of our slides from our eight month trip to Europe and Russia way back in 1975.

I thought I would show you a few highlights - but promise you won't laugh too much...

We'll start in Athens.......this is how the Plaka looked back in 1975, looking towards the Acropolis. Guess who that fairly derelict looking guy is in the foreground.........

In those days you could wander all over the ancient temples of the Acropolis.

There's that derelict looking guy again, sitting on the steps to the divine Temple of Athena Nike, with a very smoggy looking Athens in the distance.

And there is me on the streets of Athens, looking very well padded by now from eating all the delights of Europe; unlike Rob who seemed to get more skinny the longer we were on the road.

..... and there's the derelict guy again waiting for the bus from Athens to Patras (to catch the ferry to Corfu).

We spent a couple of idyllic days on Corfu where the conditions were ideal for camping (unlike some of the other places we stayed in 1975).

From Corfu we crossed to Italy where we captured this cheesy shot (below), which Eddie may particularly enjoy if he doesn't find the hairy guy too scary.

There's me wandering the streets of ancient Pompeii, overlooked by a hazy Mt Vesuvius in the background....

The Ponte Vecchio in Florence in 1975...

 and just by way of comparison, 38 years later (yikes!) in 2013......

This is Rob looking very suave on a beach on the French Riviera...

..and looking nice after a haircut in Nice....

 ....and a few days later standing in the Place de la Concorde looking towards L'Arc de Triomphe on a cold wet November day in Paris.

Other random shots:
Rob standing in front of the painter El Greco's villa in Toledo Spain...

....and that is me standing in St Peter's cemetery in Salzburg. PS I really am a natural blonde; I used to dye my hair dark brown in those days (!!)

We loved our time in Croatia, on the Dalmatian Coast. The pic below is of Rob as we were leaving Split old town to catch the ferry over to the beautiful island of Hvar.

..and below is a pic of me drinking Croatian beer in Split old town (just adding more to my 1970s avoirdupois).

.....and ready for another day of backpacking in picture book Interlaken in Switzerland.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Reconnecting, celebrating 100 years and family

We've had an enormous two days of celebrations for BK's 100th birthday. Twenty four family members from as far away as London, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sandy Beach travelled to Canberra to help Mum celebrate this awesome milestone.  Those that weren't able to travel have sent messages of love via Skype (all the way from Korea) and mobile phone (a show stopper from Great-grandson Eddie in London) and via cards, letters and email. A beautiful bunch of flowers was sent from Mum's nephew in Brisbane as was a personal letter from our much admired ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher MLA (as well as around 65 lovely links for Mum's 100th birthday paper chain)

It is fair to say that Mum has LOVED seeing the far flung members of her family all together again even though she would have much preferred it if we didn't go on so much about her being 100 years old like we have!

We hosted "Open House" on Friday so that we could all catch up in a relaxed way that catered for people arriving and leaving at different times. It also meant that the little ones in the family had a chance to catch up on nap times if needed.

It was pretty clear right from the start that Mum was LOVING all this attention from her favourite people!

I had made a "Betty Book" of photos and a narrative about the ten decades of BK's life....a century that has seen two world wars, a Great Depression, a Cold War, a GFC and enormous societal changes. In the midst of all this Mum and Dad raised a family and made a happy home for them. Over the past thirty years, after Dad died, Mum has proudly watched her grandchildren grow and thrive and go on to make wonderful careers and families of their own.

The "Betty Book" created some interest among family members we haven't seen in a while. That's our cousin David, Mum's nephew, from Perth, enjoying a bit of reminiscing with Betty over the Betty Book.

and then there's Davey from London (not too jet lagged) and sister Claire and David's wife Karen enjoying memories captured in the Betty Book....

Even those cousins who see each other more regularly loved the chance to catch up like this (on a Friday afternoon WORK DAY too).

..and Erin and John and their little treasures had made the HUGE drive up from Melbourne so they could help us celebrate (along with Granny Ros from Sandy Beach).

..and it wouldn't be any kind of a party without these two girls.....

..and these two couldn't believe their luck--a whole afternoon of giggling, stacks on, jumping and sliding, being nice to Great Granny K - and an afternoon off SCHOOL too!

The main event on Saturday was lunch (for 24 people) at the Hyatt Hotel. Mum always enjoys family outings at the Hyatt - including the lunchtime seafood buffet - so it was the obvious choice of venue for this occasion. Rob got to sit at the Young Ones table!

And the youngest family member (baby Sam) got to spend a lot of time at the Older Persons table.

We could hear these cousins enjoying a lot of laughs together....

.....but these little cousins hardly talked at all.  They both share the same passion for Peppa Pig.....and that is enough - with no need to talk about it!

There was a lovely Hyatt moment as we were about to leave. We were able to sing Happy Birthday to Mum, accompanied by the very accomplished resident Hyatt pianist. Despite my best intentions I was never able to get all 24 of us together for a family photo - but this was not a bad second best attempt (only 8 people missing!).

Mum was still really enjoying herself at this point despite the acute embarrassment of everyone knowing it was her 100th birthday.

 Then it was back to our house again for an afternoon of more celebrating...

receiving a Skype greeting from Granny K's beloved grandson Joel in South Korea.........

..time to show off an Alanah Hill headband (borrowed from big sister) (looks very fetching with Peppa Pig top and green tulle skirt)...

..and then of course there was birthday CAKE........

It was very special to share this time with family members we've not seen in a while - like cousin Robert from Queensland, and Margaret.... Mum recognised her nephew Robert immediately, despite the years since they had last seen each other.

and so nice to share this very special celebration with those we see a lot more of...

..while remembering that in essence all birthdays are really all about the C-A-K-E! especially when it has cream cheese icing....