Safari through South Africa’s Garden Route and game reserves


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There’s a reason why people say a trip to South Africa is like seeing the world in one country. It is such a culturally diverse and geographically rich country. When the opportunity presented itself to visit for the first time in 37 years, I jumped at it.

While it was partly an opportunity to reconnect with old friends made during my year as a Rotary Exchange Student, I have always wanted to travel down the famous Garden Route on the east coast. Continue reading


A breath of plein air


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I have always loved plein air style of paintings. These are paintings done quickly, in situ so to speak, capturing the moment the artist is viewing with confident, fast and few brush strokes. A wild sea, a bustling café, calves in a paddock, a cricket match in progress. They are why I love the Russian artists’ works so much. Like their short stories, by what I consider to be their great writers – Maxim Gorky. Well, Gorky was my favorite. Let’s stick with him.

Maxim Gorky

Maxim Gorky – his books My Childhood and My University are moving accounts of his life.

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Reel classics to consider


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What's eating Gilbert Grape

Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp with Juilette Lewis in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

I’ll be honest, I love watching good films; films that transport me to a different place. Films that, for a couple of hours, I am elsewhere; immersed in places, feelings and emotions that are outside my everyday existence. The overdue bills and family problems are all forgotten for that brief interlude. Continue reading

Painful printers


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I know I haven’t touched base with you for a while, even though there have been many issues I have wanted to highlight to readers: an exercise routine for a whole body wellness system you can do at any age that I stumbled upon while on a slow boat to China three years ago (I wrote this blog but my laptop was stolen (and not backed up) and I haven’t had a chance to rewrite it); money stolen from our wallet while going through the immigration control at Phuket airport in Thailand (the scanning machine area isn’t monitored by cameras so we couldn’t prove it); taking up tools to do some jobs at home – my tradie son left for work, so I bought my own and have become a trade mum. But this latest one I thought I’d just mention. Continue reading

Bustling Bangkok


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Bangkok is an extraordinary place of contrasts. Once through the state-of-the-art airport, you quickly hit the heat and smog- drenched world that is this famous central Asia city, the capital of Thailand. The airport staff are so efficient at processing large volumes of travellers that we were through customs and out in less than an hour and in a taxi where our memorable journey really began. Continue reading

Enjoy a credit -free Christmas


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I’ll be honest with you, I have a lot of trouble with Christmas presents. Picture the scene; the family of four teenage kids sit around the Christmas tree Christmas morning when dad hands out the presents; a pile of presents under the tree.

I can never get over the pile of presents that manage to accumulate under the tree in the days leading up to Christmas. I worry about how much our children have spent on presents. Will they be pleased with our selection? Will they have wanted more? Will they be disappointed but not want to show it? Will they have spent more than they can afford? Continue reading

One perfect day


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I’ll be honest with you, today I hoped to get the hedge around the tennis court in, but I wasn’t optimistic.

It was one of those perfect spring days; 28 degrees, not too hot, no wind, a stillness that allows the birds to sing. And they did.

The hedge trees, an upright but not too tall species of cypress, Thuja occidentalis had been sitting by the ornamental dam for weeks, and they were starting to get me down. Continue reading


Winter garden


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Old gum trees on the bush track.

I’ll be honest with you, I love the garden at Kanturk in winter. The parched grasses and gardens of summer – made worse by 12 years of drought – have given way over the pst two years to a lush vibrant garden in winter.

The first tee on the little golf course looks so lush in winter.

The bush walk looks so inviting, a stroll along it can be so invigorating.  Continue reading

Bali aches and gains

I’ll be honest with you, when we booked our first family holiday in some time, we were all very excited about our trip to Bali – one of the most popular holiday destinations for Australians at the moment. We were traveling with my sister and her family – 12 in total, four adults and our eight teenagers aged from 11 to 22.

We booked into a holiday house for 12 just off the main beach at Seminyak.

On the first morning, my husband and I went out for a stroll along the Esplanade (Jalan Pantai Legian). The sun was shining; the waves on the expanse of beach glorious. Motorbikes were lined up outside the cafes and the hawkers had started.


Hubby with the motor bikes.

“Transport? You want bracelets? You want belts? Bowls, hats or a seat on the beach?”

We were offered it all in abundance by sweet, polite Balinese with big smiles and cheerful eyes.

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I dream of genius


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I’ll be honest with you, when my sister Bridget invited me to the opening of her next exhibition at her Carlton gallery

Bridget McDonnell Gallery Carlton

I was pleased to be able to go. Living nearly an hour away, I rarely get to her openings, but this time I had an excuse, Mum needed a lift home from staying with my sister in Kyneton and the gallery was half way. Then, when my new you-beaut, whiz-bang Apple Macbook Pro died and was in need of fast action, it gave me the chance to call into the Chadstone Apple Store and get it fixed on the way. Continue reading