Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Joshy's birthday

Last year I compiled a "first decade" book for Joshy for his 30th birthday..recollections of the events and milestones of his first 10 years, accompanied by digitally scanned and (sometimes) manipulated photos that I thought captured those amazing years.

For his birthday this year I compiled a photo diary + transcripts of my journal for our trip to Canada and the US from December 1993 - January 1994. In early 1993 Joshy was selected to represent Australia in the Under 15 Ice Hockey team to compete in the Royal Canadian Legion 18th Annual International Ice Hockey Tournament in Red Deer, Alberta, commencing 27th December 1993. We saved hard so all three of us could go on the Ice Hockey Tour, then stay on for three more weeks so we could see a bit of the US (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington).

We had a wonderful week on Vancouver Island and four days in Vancouver while the team prepared for the tournament before heading to Red Deer in Alberta.

Joshy was able to live out his dream of playing non stop hockey in a country as obsessed with the sport as he was at that time.

When he wasn't playing competitive hockey he loved playing "pick up" games with the local kids (and Dads) on the outdoor rinks on every street corner (almost) in Red Deer. These outdoor rinks were just sports ovals. Over winter the local fire brigades kept the ovals sprayed with water, which then froze, creating perfectly smooth and safe surfaces for skating.

We saw a lot of snow in Alberta. I'll never forget New Year's Eve, celebrating with the rest of Red Deer on the frozen Bower Ponds. We drank mulled wine and tried to stay warm near fires built on the frozen ice while the kids skated around us having the time of their lives!

We found it unbearably cold in New York and Washington that January 1994. It was so cold in Washington they shut the city down while we were there: no subway, no shops, no one at work, power cuts (and no Smithsonian!!!!).
I took this photo of Joshy at a viewing window of the Observatory on the 107th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Centre on 17th January 1994. The South Tower was the second tower hit by suicide bombers on September 11th. The day we were there Joshy was very disappointed that "today visibility is 0". However the experience, and this photo, had much greater poignancy for us all after 9/11.

On our first afternoon in Washington we managed to see a few sights before they were closed to the public. I took this photo at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, near the Lincoln Memorial. Much to our disappointment we weren't allowed to get any closer to this iconic monument because of all the ice lying around it.

16 years on and we celebrated Joshy's birthday last Sunday with a family picnic at Telopea Park: a celebratory drink of champagne, a beautiful brunch, and all the littlies happily playing on the play equipment, the mini skate ramp and creating secret play spaces in the shrubbery around the park.

Friday, January 22, 2010


We went to "Toogee" with Jody and Ella for three days this week while Joshie enjoyed his first few l-o-n-g work days owning his own business.

Just like the rest of us Ella always enjoys a lunch stop on the way in to Sydney at Thanh Binh in John Street, Cabramatta for (her own) big bowl of pho and a cup of jasmine tea.

One of our goals this trip was to check out Athol Hall on the foreshore at Bradley's Head, Mosman, in the Sydney Harbour National Park. We're researching possibilities for a remarkable, yet children friendly lunch spot for our Sydney weekend with Davey and Cath in February.

We found that Athol Hall ticks all the boxes. A beautifully restored early 20th century building, it is located a very photogenic ferry ride from Circular Quay, then a short walk through a bush track from the Taronga Zoo entrance. The restaurant is set high on a cleared grassy ridge in the middle of the bush, yet very close to the harbour foreshore. From the verandah there are spectacular views across the water to the Sydney CBD, Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Yet it is very quiet, relaxing and secluded, and our lunch was superb!

Lots of birdlife around and more tame kookaburras than I have ever seen before.

There is a double tennis court size grassy clearing below the restaurant, perfect for running, ball throwing, being Jack (or Jill) and for doing re-enactments (by request) of various Sound of Music song pieces, complete with dance moves (great entertainment provided by Grandma).

We enjoyed travelling by all forms of public transport with Jody and Ella. It is hilarious to watch a bus full of people responding to Ella's very loud and awfully cute renditions of her current favourite songs: a Poonfull of Sugar (makes the medicine go down), Do-Re-Me and the So Long, Farewell song from Sound of Music. With some minor variations in pronunciation she is pretty much word perfect in her renditions, which makes it even more hilarious.

But being at "Toogee" is all about the beach. We timed our visits for late in the day to avoid the worst of the hot summer sun.

During Summer holiday time the pool area at the Southern end of the beach is a great area for kids from all the different backgrounds that comprise Sydney's cultural melting pot these days, to play together and share the fun of the ocean fed pools of water.
This Muslim family (comprising 7 kids) welcomed Ella into their digging a big hole enterprise.

And the sand eating obsession of this gorgeous boy was of concern to both Ella and the boy's gorgeous mother.

....and Grandpa was very useful when it came to doing a bit of surfing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Being Maxie

Ella, Angie and Ollie signed up for a printing workshop at the National Portrait Gallery this week (a workshop for three to five year olds). Ollie made the workshop leaders feel quite inadequate with his in depth knowledge and experience of advanced printmaking techniques. Angie was just quietly determined to get in and have a go. Ella overcame any qualms she had about being the youngest participant by announcing very loudly to everyone that she she was "being Maxie" for the afternoon. This was a bit embarrassing for Ollie who then had to explain to everyone that her name was actually Ella.

The workshop was very carefully structured with talk and discovery time in the Gallery and then some hands on printing in the Gallery's "studio". It must have been an enormous relief for the workshop leaders to have so many adults on hand to help out, 'cos it could have been very hectic otherwise.

Ollie and Ella's special friend Ella R. was there too so it was great for the two Ellas to have a catch up in between art making.

Being Maxie has been very significant for Ella this week. We played "being Maxie" (with me "being Ollie") for about two hours on Friday afternoon. Maxie joins an amazing cast of characters Ella stongly identifies with at the moment..all female, all very strong and nurturing, all great artists, singers and dancers..Mary Poppins, Karen and Justine from Play School, and Maria (from Sound of Music of all things!). She doesn't seem as obsessed with Cinderella as she was a few weeks ago.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hot birthday

The older ones celebrated Rob's birthday yesterday with a movie outing, "It's Complicated", and lunch afterwards at Cath Claringbold's (tell Wayne please) Mecca Bah at Manuka. This combination provided delicious and satisfying enjoyment for everyone and a very happy way to celebrate the first birthday of the new year.

Today we were able to celebrate with the family, all back in Canberra together since O & A & Claire & Jeremy returned from their holiday in Noosa (and the Gold Coast and Sandy Beach) yesterday.

Ollie and Angie looked fit and muscular after three weeks of swimming, running and eating.

We go to great lengths to get a nice photo of the boys together.

But it never looks spontaneous!

Even though we celebrated with a big family breakfast early in the day it was already feeling fiercely hot in the garden by mid morning. While the kids played with the hose and a precious trickle of water we all sat using as little energy as possible while trying to imagine what it must be like for Davey and Cath in snowbound London for the past 20 days.

It is amazing how long some water and two buckets will entertain 3 littlies on a hot summer morning, although some refereering is required from time to time to ensure their individual survival.

Rob was thrilled to receive Ella's birthday present - a book illustrating all the things she likes to do with Grandpa: playing chick a boom on the bed, watering the garden with her pink watering can, using the blue torch in the shed, swinging high at the Telopea Park playground, learning about spiders, painting pictures ....... lucky Grandpa!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A new year

I like this time of the year: all the pandemonium around Christmas is over, Canberra goes very quiet, the politicians are all on holidays, and plenty of time for reading and relaxing because there's nothing to distract us on TV. Highlights of the last week included:

  • receiving a bit over 2 inches of rain over Christmas (my hydrangeas all looked very happy).

  • shopping with my Christmas gift book voucher at the Boxing Day sales. As well as "Lovely Bones" I couldn't resist buying "Cupcakes" produced from the Primrose Bakery & Cafe at Primrose Hill in London (there's another bakery at Covent Garden now too).

    I made my first batch of chocolate cupcakes for New Year's Eve. They were extremely delicious as you would expect with $10.00 worth of Lindt 70% cocoa butter chocolate in them.

  • celebrating New Year's Eve with my friend Irene, her David (and Rhys) and their lovely friends at their beautiful new house being built by David at O'Connor. David was very clever to capture the brilliant new moon (but not the blue one) in this shot of us in the first few minutes of 2010.

  • making more cupcakes (These carrot cupcakes with orange cream cheese icing were even more delicious than the New Year's Eve cupcakes.)

  • welcoming Ella, Josh and Jody back from their week away at Narooma and then Coogee. They all look so relaxed, happy and healthy.

  • sharing the neighbourhood with this mother and son/daughter kangaroo. I think they have taken up residence in the patch of bush over the road from us as I have seen them on quite a few occasions lately. One morning I went outside (still half asleep) to collect the newspaper and got a huge shock when I looked up and saw mother kangaroo staring at me, barely 4 - 5 meters away across the road.
I took this pic this morning from our driveway and both mother and son(?) were quite unconcerned.