27 January 2011

We love Pambula Beach a lot

I think it's going to be a big year. There's plenty of new beginnings on the horizon - my daughter starts high school next week! We're very seriously considering selling our home of 13 years and buying a new one. I'm just about to begin a new contract at work. And I'm going to England - sans husband and children - later in the year. (There's also that big birthday happening at the end of the year, but I'm pushing thoughts of that into a dusty corner of my mind.)

So it's been good to start 2011 in the same way that we've started every one of the past five or so years - a chilled out week in Pambula Beach in southern New South Wales. And it was perfect again. Lovely weather (not too hot and not too cool). Great food. Relaxed people. Sand in between the toes. Happy times.

This year we brought two extra kids with us - one of my eldest son's best friends and one of my daughter's. It was just lovely; two very funny 15 year old boys, two sweet and excitable 12 year old girls, our delightful (for the most part - once he got over not having his very own friend along) eight year old son, my husband and me. It meant loads of washing and a lot of food to buy and prepare, but not a lot of extra cleaning up for me, as we made the kids pull their weight and do chores. Most importantly, the kids were great company.

I read, went on long walks, bought some pretty summery clothes, and drank plenty of wine. And I took loads of photos using my new Hipstamatic app, my latest obsession.

It really was a perfect summer holiday, right down to staying in a very cute 1950s holiday house. I've already booked next January's stay - for two weeks.

02 January 2011

The best laid plans...

Well - that didn't work. One blog post all year, a year ago today!

It was a good year too. Everyone got through it, hale and hearty. Daughter finished primary school. I fell in love with a gadget (my iPhone). Some things fell into place and I changed jobs. And went on some fabulous holidays including a glorious fortnight in Vietnam!

Let's see what happens this year, which we saw in with mirth and some dancing!

02 January 2010

Jump to it

Righto, let's see if this blogging caper improves now we've bounced into a new year....

31 December 2009

Twenty-one today!

When I was a teenager in Perth, I wished that I lived in Melbourne. It seemed that the cooler wetter weather suited me better, and it was a lot more interesting in terms of shopping, galleries and things to do. Once I was in university and then started work, I often came over to The Eastern States by bus (it was far too expensive to fly), to suck up all of that exotic moody Melbourne lifestyle. Then it dawned on me that I could actually move here.

Today is the 21st anniversary of that move. It's completely lived up to my expectations, and exceeded it in many ways. I've now lived here for longer than I've lived anywhere else. So, in the spirit of end-of-year (and end-of-decade) lists, here's my list of 21 observations about my life in Melbourne.

1. For the most part, I love our trams. But our trains suck.

2. I refer to all street directories as Melways, even the Sydney and Perth ones.

3. Well-made coffee is essential to my wellbeing.

4. Melbourne is made up of lots of smaller communities, which connect in interesting ways, across the suburbs and the years.

5. There's a lot of snobbery about which secondary school your kids go to. It can be hard to swim against this tide, and I'm pleased we did.

6. I really do have a lot of black in my wardrobe. And several coats.

7. The CBD has changed a lot over the past two decades, particularly around the QV area where I now work.

8. While I don't actively follow the footy, I do know a lot about the ladder each year via osmosis. This was especially helped along this year by my seven year old son who is into the AFL in A Big Way.

9. Our city hosts a lot of wonderful festivals, most of which I don't get to, as I'm pretty busy just trying to keep the delamare family show on the road these days.

10. In 1989 I moved to a city in which an umbrella was essential item virtually all year. Nowadays it is pretty easy to get caught out without one. Most Melburnians seem to have lost the habit of carrying a brolly about with them as it so rarely rains.

11. These days, I don't find Leunig as interesting as I once did. (Although the 2010 calendar free in The Age isn't too bad.)

12. We really do have loads of great food on offer here.

13. I've only taken my kids to the Myer Christmas windows twice. We've never been to the carols at the Myer Music Bowl. Hope they won't feel like they've missed out something essential in their childhood!

14. I've been through about five serious lots of Melbourne househunting, but only bought property twice.

15. We've bought one house at a Melbourne auction, and sold a flat the same way. It's nervewracking on both sides.

16. I need to get to the fresh food markets a lot more.

17. I can't live without The Green Guide; I even read the letter section religiously.

18. I really miss the way Acland Street was in the early 1990s before it became too touristy.

19. There are always lots of interesting places to discover, and great tracts of suburbs I've not explored.

20. I am still amazed that we have a holiday for the Melbourne Cup.

21. I really feel like this is my home, even though it's not the city where I grew up.

It's been a great move. But these days Melbourne's weather now feels like Perth weather. Today it's a sticky 38 degrees, and windy (can't have everything I suppose).

Happy New Year.

05 December 2009

Dear me

In this year of big anniversaries, here's another one: it's 30 years since I left school. Yowza - how did that happen so quickly! Virtually half of that period has been spent as a mother too, which has made time go faster I think, as I have three young human beings about me growing up at an alarming rate.

There's not been a reunion to mark the 30th anniversary. I finished my highschool education in Perth, and I would have made the effort to get over there to catch up with the people I did my TAE with (I think it was called the TAE!) if there had been one organised. I have been looking at some Facebook photos of a reunion held by another school I went to in Perth. The organisers of this one have posted a stack of old photos featuring skinny 1970s teenagers smoking, wearing shell chokers, frizzy hair and dodgy footwear. In sharp contrast, there are also lots of pictures of the reunion itself, smiley people well into their 40s, nicely dressed and hugging one another in wine-induced merriment.

I wasn't tempted to go this reunion, as I only went to this school for a year, and I hated it. As well as being 14, my parents had just split up, I had moved from the other side of the country, and I felt like a greasy gawky dork. I made very few friends and had an utterly miserable time. I begged my mother to be allowed to move to another school, which she did. It was a great move, and I spent the rest of my secondary education feeling a whole lot happier.

I must be in the mood of reminiscing about my life as a teenager, because I was recently drawn to a little British book called Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self. This is a collection of very amusing letters that famous people have written to their younger selves. Of course, in this modern age, there's also a blog and a Facebook page to go with it, with the author encouraging people to write their own 'Dear Me' letters. So here's mine...

Dear Mandy

At the moment you're really enjoying school, now you feel you belong somewhere again. You'll keep feeling that for a while as you move into university. It's a feeling that will come and go, no matter what age you are, so enjoy it while you have it.

You're right in the middle of discovering the writing of William Faulkner, ee cummings, Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. You'll still love these writers when you're a lot older; you'll never get into Tolkien though. (Just nod a lot when your husband raves about these books.) This newfound love of literature and words is going to shape what you end up doing career-wise ... but you're not going to be a teacher. You'll never quite shake off that feeling that you'd like to be a writer.

You've made some great friends recently. I'm happy to tell you that you'll still be close to a few of them throughout your adult life, even if you don't live in the same city, and don't get to see each other for years and years. Hold on to the self-belief that you've got a great capacity for friendship and loyalty, because it's going to be sorely tested quite a few times in the future. You'll regain it though, and make lots of great friends on the way.

The not so great news (for you) is that you're not going to have a boyfriend for a long time yet. You're still far too self-conscious to notice that boys do see you, even when you're feeling better about yourself once you get to university. Here's a clue - it's all to do to your father. You'll work it out in the end, but listen to Mum when she suggests that counselling is a good idea. It will hold you in good stead too in embracing a long marriage.

It's still going to take quite a few years for those pimples to clear up, or for you to work out how to deal with that fine hair. I know you won't believe now, but you'll live in jeans when you're older even though you can't find any to suit you now (and won't throughout the 1980s). Stay away from pleats. And keep strong about having pale skin - I'm proud that you're staying firm against all that pressure to coat yourself in babyoil to get a tan. You'll be relieved that you didn't. You're never going to master wearing eyeshadow. You'll look young for your age until you are a sleep deprived mother - it's a slippery slope from then on I'm afraid.

There's a lot of great stuff to come, as well as some rocky times. You're going to get your heart broken. You'll have some regrets. You'll wish that you'd travelled more and taken a few more risks socially. That's life. Just make sure you appreciate it as it unfolds.

Two more things ... you are going to hate being called Mandy before too long. You'll insist that everyone starts calling you by your proper name on the day you leave school. Stay firm. And be kind to yourself and those you love, even with that temper.

Love always, Amanda

PS. Oh, and it would be a great idea if you don't fritter away all your money on clothes, magazines and fripperies in your 20s and scrape together enough money on a deposit on a flat in Subiaco or Shenton Park. Think how much it would be worth now!

30 November 2009

You'd better shape up

One of the pleasures in working in the city and catching public transport is that I get to indulge in people-watching on a daily basis. Having had a lifelong interest in the way people dress, this is a source of endless fascination. Especially when people make really interesting choices in what they wear to work, school and to just plain lurk around the metropolis.

I get many of my best ideas about what I want to wear this way. And, of course, oh so many of what not to wear. And I don't even need Trinny and Susannah around to interpret - most of it is just so bleeding obvious.

While we have thankfully passed the horror-filled era of extremely lowcut jeans and crop tops (which offered far too much information about the state of your midriff thank you very much), there are still plenty of rather startling clothing choices out there. Here's a selection of some of the sights I've been treated to recently.
  • While I am not against a bit of crochet, I'm not sure that an Afghan throw strewn over a short skirt is really the way to go. Especially when worn with bare legs and Crocs.
  • It seems that clunky granny sandals worn with shin-high dark socks is now a legitimate choice to make for 20-something students. It just makes me think of all of those chaps who used to marry walk socks and sandals with their short safari suit back in the 1970s. (And what kind of term is 'walk socks'? Are we only allowed to walk wearing walk socks, with all other socks intended for a more mysterious purpose?)
  • T-shirts from French Connection UK. The acronym may have been a tad clever in the beginning, but now it just seems ho-hum, unclever and nasty.
  • Harem pants suit NO ONE. Certainly not people like me - middle-aged women who've popped out several kids and are no longer svelte. Sorry lady, these gathered duds just work over-emphasize your chunky bits, not disguise them.
  • While I haven't actually spotted one of these on some unsuspecting child, I have been shocked to find black jersey-knit harem-pant-jumpsuits on sale in Target. Horrifying on several levels, but especially in the thought of some poor seven year old being subjected to keeping it together while swinging on the monkey bars in one of these.
I spotted this last one on a recent hunt to find my 11 year old daughter some leggings to wear under her school uniform. Which brings me, yet again, to the greatest crime of all - the mushrooming of the trend in wearing leggings as pants. This is now an epidemic, closely followed by the horror of tights (tights!) worn as pants. Please, put some real pants on, even if they are only shorts.

There is only one person on the entire planet who is allowed to go there - Olivia Newton-John. And then only if she transports herself back to that funfair at Rydell High in the 1950s as seen through the lens of 1978. Even Sandy couldn't get away with it strolling down Bourke Street Mall in 2009.

24 October 2009

Is there anybody out there?

It's been a long, long time between blog posts.

I'm in one of those happy periods where life is chugging along very nicely. Everyone is busy, we're all getting along like a charm for the most part, and there's a general feeling of contentment about the place. Plans are being made, things are being celebrated, and the weeks are rushing by. I've even started reading again (thank you Marian Keyes).

Of course, life is not always like this, so I'm making sure that I appreciate things being the way they are right now. Even if it doesn't lend itself for much blog activity.

I expect that inspiration will return (and not necessarily only if life starts to go a bit pearshaped), but in the meantime, I'll keep the doors of Listen no Longer in Silence open, even if there's only my Twitter updates on offer. (I'm still pretty obsessed with Twitter.)

Incidentally, we've just returned from a fantastic family holiday in New Zealand. Here's a picture from the day we visited the Franz Josef Glacier, which is one of the best days I've ever had, fullstop.