Turning 50 sure can be fun!

Learning to throw snowballs

Learning to throw snowballs. Never too old to learn something fun

I know you have seen the fun photos from Fran’s blog “theroadtoserendipity” but I thought I might add a few thoughts from my perspective as well.

I usually don’t let a number that denotes age worry me, but I must admit I was feeling a little daunted by 50. I rather liked the 40’s, the 20’s were even better lol. I found myself reminiscing over my life. This led me to wonder if I might spend some time with my high school friend, Fran, as I knew we shared the same month and remembered what good fun we had together back then.  I asked Fran many months ago if she would be happy to share a week with me over our birthdays, and was very excited when she said yes!

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Mmm birthday cake worthy of a number like 50

I made the necessary bookings and then pondered what to sew for Fran. I knew I wanted to do something for her but wasn’t too sure at the time what thing it might be. I also had a box full of old school photos so I thought, rather than a card, I would make a photo book of our time together at school and a little beyond. As the weeks flew by (don’t they seem to go faster..) I worked on the photobook and kept looking for a project that would be a nice fit for her. At last I found a patchwork kit featuring chickens called “Psycho Chickens” and just knew this was the one for Fran. Now whether it is the chooks, Fran or both on Serendipity which are psycho, is for you to decide :).

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One of the psycho chooks

I wanted to share this project with my small little followers, thanks all three of you x, but of course, couldn’t, because Fran would have seen. I have taken lots of pictures of it “in progress”, and will write a post about it too. Nice to have a post in the hand, waiting… I’m sure Fran will have posted a picture of it “in residence” on her blog too.

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These pretty blossoms were everywhere

So I packed my bags and winged my way to Tassie. I had hired a car and set off with my printed google maps instructions and the advice from the lovely lady who sat next to me on the plane over to Launceston. I managed to miss the little turn off after the Batman Bridge, where the wonderful Steve was waiting to show me the rest of the way to their house, bugger! I had put my phone on “airplane” mode instead of turning it off like I usually do. Be warned, it keeps roaming and makes your battery almost flat, this piece of advice came from the lovely lady on the plane also. I can highly recommend her as a plane buddy :). Anyway a quick call to Steve, with my fingers crossed, soon had him driving to where I was.  A car came along side me flashing his lights and I followed. I’m glad it was Steve! Bit embarrassing if I followed an unsuspecting person home.

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I just love this house! Bruce….

Long story short, I was soon safely ensconsed in their lovely home with the wonderful Brunhilder warming my derrier. I was also greeted by two very excited dogs! I had booked a stay over in Hobart as a birthday treat for Fran and I so after a lovely cuppa and a piece or two of the legendary stromboli, very tasty by the way, we said our goodnights and hit the sack. I slept well after my adventurous day and soon enough it was time to get up, have some breakfast (thanks chooks) and head off to Hobart. We had a lovely chat along the way, lots to catch up on, and quickly found ourselves in Hobart. Nothing like a good chin wag to while the time away.

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Earl and …

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Bezial (the shy one), are just beautiful and enthusiastic lol

We were staying right near the Salamanca Markets and the view from our little apartment facing over the port, was delightful. The markets were an eclectic mix of craft, clothes, food, music and various other stalls.  I purchased an ABBA cd to play in the car while we travelled here and there. It had us singing some old favourites and all the songs are now completely stuck in my head 🙂 . I was delighted to see, feel, touch and throw snow the next day on Mt Wellington.

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Our accommodation was right on this port

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Mt Wellington peaking out from her cloud cover

I was surprised by how easily we fell into the old rythm of our friendship from all those years ago. We picked up right where we had left off and I must say I haven’t laughed so much in a long while. It got me thinking about how easy some friendships are. We had plenty to chat about and I don’t think there was much down time over those 7 days. Poor Steve, sorry mate, hope you have recovered 😀  What a lovely man he is too. They make quite a pair.

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Snow lined road up to the peak

I loved Tassie! It has the most amazing houses. I love the old houses and they are everywhere, just wonderful eye candy. Next time I will make it back with my husband, Bruce, in tow. I’m sure he will be just as impressed with it as I was. We managed to stay in touch with the magic of skype. It was nice to share some of the frivolity and fun we were having with him. Besides, Steve needs an ally next time lol.

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Another lovely house

After a week of laughter, eating way too much lovely food, drinking too much lovely wine and talking our heads off it was time to drive back to the airport and wing my way home.  I had plenty of time to think over the past few days, our adventures and the wonderful chats we had. It made me realise that 50, though a rather daunting number, really is just another number in my timeline of life. No matter what age you are, find time to reconnect to the things in your life that give you joy. It is a worthwhile pursuit.

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Pretty view from midway of Mt Wellington

On the move ……..

We moved a lot when I was young. A few moves saw us back in Perth. I can remember one xmas staying in a flat with my aunty Faye. I don’t know why we were all there but it would have been crowded. As I remember it was a 2 bedroom flat and it had to fit Faye, her two kids, Mum and 4 of us kids. I can remember the xmas tree being surrounded by colourful packages. We were all excited about those gifts and would have a look to see which package belonged to us. Melissa and I both recieved little cowgirl outfits. I remember running around with the kids playing cowboys and indians. I loved that outfit lol. But the gift I loved the most was a little sewing machine with its own cover. It was the biggest box and I was so excited to discover it was mine! Paul got up early on xmas morning and woke us kids up. Mum was sleeping on the couch so we had to open our gifts very quietly. But of course she woke up. I don’t know what time it was, probably very early. It felt great to be having xmas with family.

When I was in grade 3 Mum decided she had a gutful of the North and moved back to Perth. Dad was meant to have finished too, but they asked him to stay on for another year. Mum wasn’t going to stay so we rented a house in Woodlands. It was a two bedroom house, with wooden floorboards, a wood stove and a leaky wooden fireplace in the lounge. It was owned by an Italian guy so he had the usual grape vine out the back. Mum didn’t drive back then so we walked everywhere, or caught the bus. My primary school was within walking distance, so Patrick and I would walk to school, Pete would catch the bus. I don’t think Paul was with us then. He was still having treatment at the Clontaff Boys School. I hated that school with a passion and couldn’t understand why we just didn’t bring Paul home. At that time treatment for someone so young with Schizophrenia was nonexistent, so this school was deemed the best place for him to be.

At the back of the house was the toilet, laundry with original copper and a sleepout that Pete had as his room. Sometimes he and mum would argue so he would slam his door and put his records on high volume. Usually it was “Thick as a brick”, I think because mum hated that record. She would yell at him through the door but he had it locked so she couldn’t get in. Unfortunately it had a lock on the outside too, so mum would lock him in. Ah the joys of being a teenager and a parent.  It was such a cold house in winter that we would drag our mattresses into the lounge room with the fire. The fireplace did leak but we managed to fix it somehow. Probably Pete did, as he was the “go to” man while dad was up north.

I made friends with a girl who lived next door. She was Italian and went to my school. She would invite me for lunch sometimes. This is where I discovered Italian grappa. We had a little crystal glass to drink from. I thought I was very grown up, until I tried to get up from the table and found the earth moving! It was homemade and lethal to an 8 yr old who hadn’t grown up with it. The house is still there and I often drive past it.

Once Dad came home we moved to Balcatta. The front of that house had the most beautiful rose bushes, but mum and dad were not in love with them, so out they came.  We lived opposite a family with a little girl called Sally.  They became friends with our family. I wasn’t too keen on Sally, she was a bit bossy for my liking. Probably too much alike lol. 

The thing I loved about going to school in Perth was the free milk at recess. I thought it was the most delicious stuff. It came in little glass bottles and had cream on top. Having lived on powdered milk up north it was heaven. What I didn’t like about going to school in Perth was having to wear shoes. Up north we had bare feet or thongs, period! In Perth you had to wear socks and shoes. My feet were like leather and closed in shoes were so uncomfortable. I would hide them on the way to school, which resulted in several notes home. I remember mum had a pair of black boots which laced up on the side. I use to love wearing those boots and pretending they were mine. So mum bought me a little pair of zip up ankle boots to wear. She had no trouble getting me to wear those to school. My parents must have come to an agreement with the school, because they were not usually allowed.

Near the end of grade 5 dad was posted to Albany, so once again we were on the move. Mum and Dad decided to buy a caravan as we were going to be there for 2 years and they liked the idea of the caravan, instead of GEHA housing. GEHA stands for government employee housing association. They were usually old houses, and years later when Bruce and I moved to the country, they still were. So off to Albany we went. All our worldly goods packed into a 24 foot caravan and a station wagon. By now it was just mum, dad, me and Patrick, plus our dog Shelaighly. Peter had joined the navy and Paul was out and about doing his own thing.

In the beginning….

In the beginning…..

I had an idea about us putting our thoughts down about our early lives. I didn’t feel like I had much of a family when I was growing up so it would be nice to share our memories now that we are more in touch with each other. Any stories we have from our parents would be interesting too.

So here goes….

One of my earliest memories is at Nanna’s house. I was probably about 4 yrs old. I can remember going inside the house to have a drink. My brother Paul is with me. I can see down the hall to the kitchen. My Mum and Nanna are sitting at the kitchen table. My brother is telling me I can’t go down there and I’m getting upset because I want to go to the kitchen but he is holding onto my arm. Nanna looks up and asks what’s wrong. My brother is telling me they are aliens and will make me drink glass. I’m feeling really upset and not really understanding why he is saying these things. Mum and Nanna are coming up the hallway now so my brother lets go of me and runs screaming into the backyard. It is the first time that Paul had one of his “Episodes”. 

My early years were spent living “Up North” in the dusty red earth of Western Australia. We had a pretty carefree life playing in the heat and dust. We spent a lot of time at the pool. My brother Paul was pretty good in the pool. It was about the only thing he was better at than my brother Peter. Peter was always very competitive, about everything, but Paul could beat everyone hands down at swimming. Another early memory is taking Paul to his swimming coach. It was early in the morning and I’m pretty sure we were in Perth because we used to play at the windmill in South Perth. He could have gone to the olympics but once again his schizophrenia prevented him from going.

I have fond memories of living up north. The only thing I hated were the cockroaches! I can still hear the sound of them scuttling into dark corners when you turned the light on. For many years I had a fear of them, and to be honest I still do to some extent. 

In the years before I went to school I spent a lot of time with an aboriginal guy called Robert. He would give me rides around the backyard in the wheel barrow. His job was to get rid of the big rocks that littered our yard. Mum and Dad were never much into the gardening so it surprises me that they even bothered! I guess they wanted somewhere for the kids to play. I remember him telling me stories about the ants and such but can’t remember what they were as I was only little. Mum use to like telling the story about when I first saw an aboriginal, apparently it terrified me and I screamed my head off.

I have some great slides of us living up north and hope to get them put onto a disc. We also have photos of every road between Port Hedland to Wyndham, they seem to be Dad’s favourite shot :). One of Dad’s jobs was the Ord River Dam. He was the Mechanical Supervisor for the PWD, (Public Works Department), which is now defunct. We have some great photos of the dam before and after it was opened. The boys got to swim across it when it was filled with water. I think Dad was quite proud of his involvement and was presented with a piece of Tiger Rock from the bottom of the dam as a memento.

Mum used to work in the local grocery store in Wyndham. Every week the old Aboriginals would come in to get their supplies. They were issued with vouchers which they could use in exchange for food. Mum reckoned they didn’t get enough so she would slip a few more items into their bags. They couldn’t speak any English but I think they developed a good understanding anyway. There was a crocodile farm up there, I think it is still there, and one day a big croc got free. It managed to make it’s way into town. Unfortunately for Mum it went into her shop. All she could do was climb up onto the counter and scream for help! She would laugh about that story years later but I don’t think it was funny at the time.

I have some great photos of us wearing clothes that Mum made, and of Melissa when she was living with us. If I can work out how to put photos in this blog I will put them in.