Month: March 2017

Thongless in Healesville

Last weekend I had the happy occasion to attend a wedding in Victoria, where my dear friend’s daughter was getting married at Stones of the Yarra Valley. Indeed it was a big celebration because there were 3 celebrations – the welcome BBQ, the chapel wedding in the winery and my friend’s 60th birthday!

It had an international flavour, that’s for sure with guests arriving from the UK, California, Tokyo, Perth, Sydney and Tassie. My friends are living and working in Moscow.

How we managed to drive to our airbnb accommodation was a little miracle, especially as my partner and I do not own a GPS ( sat nav) and we spent more than an hour in the Thrifty car hire queue waiting for the keys and paperwork for the Corolla. It also happened to be a long weekend in Melbourne, hence the business of people and traffic.

Nevertheless, we made it to country Healesville stopping at the Choclaterie to enjoy some lunch and coffee. The views were stunning even with the dryness of the landscape.

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After leaving all that tempting chocolate and what a buzzing place of colour and atmosphere, we drove on to the main street in Healesville to wander the shops. Lively, casual and friendly are the words that come to my mind to describe the locals as I changed into my shorts and summer top ( it was steamy hot) and began walking barefoot to find some thongs. I kicked off my walking shoes and had enough of the closed in feel, opting for a relaxed and easy going footwear. I felt strange wandering around the streets with no shoes on, but it took 3 chemists shops and a cheap shop to buy thongs. This is when I discovered the hairdresser in town, the pub, the best place to enjoy a coffee and pie, the newsagency and art gallery, plus the swap meet that was on the Sunday at the Yerra Glen Racing Track. The locals are great at passing on information and guessing where you come from and why you are here.

At the swap meet held once a year we had so much fun browsing, touching, talking and asking questions of the stall holders. Eight dollars on entry, we wandered around checking out the vintage cars, antiques, collections, toys, wares and memorabilia and junk! A diverse group of people with an eye for that bargain!

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We came away with a few toys and a brass skull.

The highlight of our country stay was the beautiful wedding of Rachel and Michael.

With uninterrupted views across vineyards to the mountains beyond, Stones of the Yarra Valley is the region’s premiere destination for relaxed lunches, weddings and special events.

A soft, mint lace and sparkly gown for the bride, a handsome suit with tears running down his face,( the groom) and very proud parents and family. Set in the stone chapel with exquisite flowers, candles and the choral voice of David, the service was light hearted and sentimental with a cracking thunderstorm as Rachel walked down the aisle and a groomsman fainting during the vows. Rose petals flung into the air, the smell of rain and hugs galore – bouquets of hydrangea, roses, mint, lavender and leaves and a dinner to die for – how lucky were we. And probably the most dignified and heart warming speeches I have listened to in a long time. With the clinking of glasses, inspiring messages, and love abiding presence of the families, this joyful wedding was life affirming.

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There’s something radiant about a gorgeous bride; equally Michael’s humble and loving manner impressed everyone. They are such a lovely couple.

A little tourist drive took us to the Tarra Warra Museum of Contemporary Art where the Louise Hearman exhibition was showing. What a brilliant artist, whose atmospheric paintings are thought provoking and strikingly intense.

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Now if that’s not enough for a weekend, the next afternoon saw us at a 60th occasion where about 20 of us gathered to wish my friend a happy birthday. Set in an old Federation country homestead with views of rolling hills, the simple event brought friends together for a meal, sing-along and speeches. Our stomachs full and memories made, we all felt cherished and special. I have known my girlfriend for 50 years. I enjoyed a lemon and freshly cut ginger sliced cup of tea before departing.

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The next day saw us driving to the airport with a frenzied crowd and a long wait before returning to Brisbane.

The Split Life in Mapleton

I’m an avid follower of Vicki Archer who lives in Provence and London, whose blogs touch on fashion, to beauty and family life. Her latest blog inspired me to write about my split lifestyle that is ever present in my thoughts and actions. Like Sydney born Vicki says, ” I have trained myself to feel at home in 2 equally interesting but entirely different destinations.”

While living in Mapleton in the Blackall Ranges in Queensland, I have trained myself to enjoy a simpler, calmer and more tranquil lifestyle. Surrounding me are lovely views and lush tropical growth in the garden. Birds constantly fly overhead, clouds seem bolder and more livelier; smells more intoxicating. There’s a sweetness to the air from the fragrant garden that has taken time to nurture. Sometimes the town seems almost empty on an evening walk past the Post office, The Mapleton Tavern and the Lilyponds lake and parklands. I always greet the dog walkers, the locals stop and chat, but generally it is very quiet.

Now family commitments see me in Brisbane regularly helping with the grandchildren or visiting girlfriends. The highway often teems with traffic drawing me into a more chaotic but cultural world. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly new buildings, apartments and shops go up. It takes time and patience to muddle through the streets of traffic lights and scores of shoppers, seeing myself back in the suburbs where life rolls on madly.

My actions in the suburbs are fast and furious, anxious yet satisfying. Staying at people’s houses, visiting schools for drop off and pick up, library visits, meeting for coffee, walks in the city, play in the parks. There’s a complexity of the train, bus travel, city cat meandering and the banks of the Brisbane river. Naturally the pulse is throbbing.

These 2 contrasting pictures are my life’s story. Indeed I am blessed to experience both worlds. The squeals of children in the playground chasing dogs and the gentle heartbeat of ¬†country life with its tender embrace.

In order to manage the 2 lifestyles, organisation is the key. The downside is the thinking of what I need to pack, the several trips to the car with the gear and coming back a level of happy exhaustion. To help with the organisation, I write lists, puts things aside ( like birthday gifts/ toys) pack early and text my kids in advance. My calendar is simply reduced to words like BRISBANE or HOME.

The drive to and from these split worlds is my time of reflection. At times it’s emotional, joyful, transformative, renewing. It’s a time I make promises to myself, break promises or re-motivate myself. I am never bored. Despite the pull of 2 contrasting worlds, I am thankful that my world is flavoured by chaos and calm; natural beauty and buildings.

Each time I travel south, I take a little less, become more casual in my approach  and have no expectations. Coming home I cherish the slower snail pace combined with the teaching tricks and tools of my working life.

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