That was 2011

Well, here it is, the end of 2011 and I have written NOTHING on this site. It would be a shame to let 2011 slip by without mentioning some of the main events – especially as it was quite an eventful year.

At the beginning of the year, we celebrated my sister Relle’s special birthday, with a cruise on the Brisbane River. It just happened to be one of the wettest days ever.

Cruise  Brisbane R

The next day, the river was closed because of flooding. The day after that the whole city was closed. It was the biggest flood since 1974. A lot of people suffered from flood damage. We were OK here. The worst that my place suffered was mildew from the constant rain.

The highlight of my year was the trip that Relle and I took in April and early May. There is so much to tell, and I intend to eventually write a full account of our adventures. Here is just a quick summary.

We spent a week in London, doing all the touristy things like cathedrals and castles.

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The parks were full of spring flowers.

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Then we hired a car and travelled across the bottom part of England, from Canterbury in Kent –

canterbury

To Lands End in Cornwall.

landsend

We visited some of the places where our ancestors had lived. One of them was Goudhurst.

goudhurst

Some of the country roads were not much wider than one car, but that didn’t stop oncoming cars from trying to pass. We had a few hair raising experiences.

narrowrd

Next, we had a few days in Paris.

parisbridge

eiffeltower

Then Amsterdam.

amsterdam

Relle had been determined to get out of England before the Royal Wedding so we would avoid all the fuss. Now we found we had arrived in Amsterdam just in time for the celebrations of Queen Beatrix’s birthday. It was a crazy day. Everyone wore orange and partied in the streets. And Canals.

canal_jam

It was fun – but we were glad to get out before one of those bikes ran us down. No pedestrian is safe!

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Next, we went on a wonderful 8 day Rhine River Cruise, sailing from Amsterdam to Basel, with a different place to explore each day.

vikingcruise

lorelei

marksburg

After the cruise, we spent a couple of days in Lucerne.

lucerne

We rode the Funicular railway to the top of Mt Pilatus.

pilatus

And went back down by cable car.

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Our last stop was Venice.

venice

venicebridge

We had a ride  in a gondola.

gondola

Finally, we came home to our pussies, who had been  well cared for by house sitters. We had missed them very much.

The rest of my year has followed its usual pattern, except for an addition to our family. My niece Shea had the most adorable baby boy in June. Sorry, no photos of him. His parents don’t want him displayed on the intenet, but I can tell you he is a beautiful baby with dark curly hair and smiles most of the time.

And now it is almost 2012. So I wish you all a Happy New Year!

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On the street

October Street Stall

We are back on the street! The past few months were too cold for street stalls (the winter howls down the main street of our local shopping centre in winter) but now that the weather is warmer our World Vision Club has ventured back on the street. Our last Street Stall was mostly books and bric-a-brac, which sold well. Plants went well too.

I was glad to see the Birthday cards I had made from recycled cards were selling well.  Fluff had helped me when I made them.

fluffcards-s

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Pet sitter

Nearly all my family were away for a while this month. Joel & Frances & kids went to New Zealand for a couple of weeks. They toured around the South Island with friends in a camper van. At the same time, my sisters Relle, Jan & nephew Callum were in New Zealand  – in the North Island. Both groups had planned their trips, not knowing the others were going! Meanwhile, my other son Ben went to New Zealand to work in Wellington for a few months. Talk about coincidence!

Of course this meant that I have been busy living in 3 different houses, trying to keep all the pets happy. Not Ben’s – Agnieszka is still in Sydney looking after their 2 cats, but I spent most mornings with Joel & Frances’ cat Alex &  Flloyd the cockatiel.

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Alex

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Flloyd

Then there were the magpies that came every afternoon for a handout while the neighhbours dog Charlie supervised.

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Charlie with magpies

The evenings, I spent at Relle’s place with Digby and Mrowdy, her abyssinian cats.

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Digby

Digby was very cuddly, but Mrowdy was a bit aloof.

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and the rest of the time I spent with my own cats, Ollie & Fluff.

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Ollie

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Fluff

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Fill a Bag

It is 33 years since our World Vision Club started holding  jumble sales  twice every month.  Over the past years must have sold mountains of second hand clothes, books, bric-a-brac and plants.

A couple of months ago, we were notified that the hall where we hold our sales will be closed for at least a year for rennovations and we had to have everything out by the end of June.

We’ve been making the most of it during the past month, holding jumble sales every week. Last week we had a final 2 day “Fill a Bag for $4 ” sale. Our ad in the local paper and posters around the local district worked. The hall was packed with eager bargain hunters.

jumblesale

jumblesale

This is a photo from the previous week. We were too busy and crowded to take one last week.

We have always suspected that a one legged thief has been taking one shoe. We were never sure, because there was always the possibilty that the missing shoe might turn up amongst all the stuff – but now I’m sure someone takes them. Last Friday I paired up all the shoes and put them on the table out the front. By mid-morning, one brown shoe and one sandal was missing. There were customers wanting both pairs, if  only we could find the missing shoe. We hunted high  & low, but they didn’t turn up, not even when everything was cleared away and our store room emptied out at the end. And its always the left shoe that is missing! The woman who wanted the sandals insisted on taking the odd one with her in case we ever found its mate.

“Who would take one shoe?” asked the  women who wanted the brown pair.

“Well, the lady with the sandal did!” I replied.

When we finished on Friday, a man from St Vinnies came in a van and took away what was left.

Everyone asked “Where will you go now?”  There’s really nowhere we can hold jumble  sales in our area.  There a a few local halls we could hire, but they are not near where people do their shopping, so it  wouldn’t be worthwhile.

“We’ll go on the street,” I tell them. We have salvaged a lot of the books, and some of the better bric-a-brac and clothes. We can sell them on street stalls. But it was no use keeping all the other stuff. It would be too messy on a street stall and there is no where to store it.

We’ll keep going as long as we can.

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Cats in Containers

The days are getting colder and the cats like to find a warm spot to curl up in. Fluff  selected a basket while Ollie opted for a shoe box.

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Relle’s cats, Digby and Mrowdy have found that the old terrarium makes a good sleeping place.

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They look like a Yin Yan symbol, don’t they?

Digby has a habit of pushing his backside into your face when he is settling on your lap. I thought Relle was referring to this the other night when we were watching TV together at her place. She had set out some nibblies on the coffee table. Digby jumped up on my lap, & Relle said, “Now don’t put your nose in the nuts!”

Relle doesn’t usually talk like that, I thought, then I glanced at the bowl on the coffee table and said, “Oh….. those nuts!!”

I hadn’t realised she was talking to Digby!

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The news in brief

The past few months have been busy. We spent several weeks sorting all Mum’s stuff & preparing the house to be put on the market. Everything looks clean and tidy.
kitchen

No buyers yet, but there’s no hurry. We held a few garage sales, and will probably have one or two more when the house is sold. You meet some interesting people and hear some funny stories at a garage sale, like the woman who said she has a neighbour who dances naked in front of the open window & another one told us her aunt used to have stuffed animals & dolls all over her spare bed, & when her pet pekinese dogs died she had them stuffed & put on the bed……

Our World Vision Club held a couple of street stalls. (In addition to our regular jumble sales.) We had book stall, and then an Easter stall.
bookstall

Ben came up from Sydney for a week. The time went very quickly. Miles and Hayley were thrilled when he took them out on his boat. Hayley was so tired when she got home, she didn’t have time to undress before she went to sleep.
hayleytired

Miles broke his arm at school, just before his 12th birthday. Hayley helped me make him a birthday cake.
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The following week, my nephew Callum also broke his arm! When they got together at Easter, Miles and Callum found they were still able to play soccer.
1armsoccer

Relle was away last weekend and I fed her two crazy abyssinian cats. They are very spoilt and do whatever they like.
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Cats on sink

Cats on sink

Ollie and Fluff are getting on well, as long as Fluff doesn’t get too close to Ollie.
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Welcome Back

All the normal activities have started up again after the long Christmas break. The kids went back to school at the end of last January and last week Miles’ class (Grade 7) went on a school camp.

We were back at our World Vision Jumble sale last Friday. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard. It was hot muggy day and the electric fans were not working properly. People kept bringing in more things for us to sell. There seemed to more coming in than there was going out. We were flat out all morning, sorting, pricing, selling – and then it all had to be packed away afterwards. By the time we had finished, we were exhausted and dripping with perspiration. I was looking forward to going home for a good rest.

That’s when my mobile phone rang. It was Joel.

“Can you pick up the kids from school?” he asked. “Frances doesn’t have the car today – I had to take it to work.”

I barely had time to rush home first, unload the car, have a quick shower & gobble a sandwich.
I picked up Frances & drove to the school.

“Park at the back,” she said. “That’s where the bus will come in from the camp.”

“Oh, I didn’t realise it was today that Miles is coming back from camp!”

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The bus arrived with all the campers just as the school bell rang. They all looked weary, but had evidently had a good time.

Hayley came down from her Grade 3 room. When she saw Miles, she ran and joyously threw herself on top of him.

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On the way home, Hayley said to me, “It was paradise with Miles away all week.”

“You were pleased to see him back,” I reminded her.

“I was just trying to flatten him,” she said.

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New Year Resolutions

 Well, so far I’ve carried out one of my New Year resolutions – to go for a walk every day.

 This morning I discovered my car battery was flat. It wasn’t going anywhere! I hadn’t closed one of the doors properly last time. Luckily, where I had to go was in easy walking distance, so I was able to carry out my mission and got my walk in as well.

 Joel came to the rescue later, as usual.

 “Why do you keep leaving the door open?” he asked. (It’s at least 2 years since it last happened.) 

Well,” I retorted, “I just drove in and thought, ‘Lets not close the door properly.’” 

He squeezed himself between the car and the garage wall.

It would help if you didn’t park so close to the wall.”

 “I have trouble getting this car in,” I explained. “It’s wider than my old car and the mirrors stick out further.”

 “Of course, you didn’t think to back out and try again!”

 I didn’t tell him how many times I had tried! Most days I can drive straight in, but sometimes it just won’t line up. My neighbours must be greatly entertained watching me drive back and forth in the driveway before I can get through the door.

Anyway, Joel put my car on a charger for a few hours, then took it for a run to charge the battery. When he brought it back, he backed in, so all I have to do tomorrow is drive straight out.

I must remember to get in on the right side.

 Oh dear, now I’ve broken my next resolution – to go to bed earlier!

 

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It’s becoming Annual

Well, I stayed true to my pattern this year – one entry in 365 days! And I’ll have to hurry up if I am to get this done by midnight.

It has been a tough year. The toughest thing was losing my mother last month. She’d had a heart operation and was doing well, but then she got a Golden Staph infection. She would have been 88 next week. She wasn’t just my mother, she was my best friend.

I have adopted Mum’s beautiful cat, Fluff. She is settling in well and helps to fill another gap – Oscar went to pussy heaven recently. Ollie and Fluff are tolerating one other very well as long as they keep a respectful distance between them.

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fluff09

We had a nice Christmas, even though it was our first without Mum. As usual, I went round early to see Hayley & Miles open their presents. They loved the gingerbread house I took them.

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gingerbread09

Then I went with Relle to Lea & David’s place. This year we had a Secret Santa. Everyone took a gift that cost less than $20 and it had to be a game. It made Christmas shopping much easier. After we had opened our presents, we spent the afternoon & evening playing the games. It’s just as well there were no near neighbours, because we got very rowdy playing “Billionaire!”

It rained all the way home. We have had some heavy rain in past week. Its the best Christmas present of all, after the worst drought in 100 years.

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Alpha and Omega – the first and the last

Can you believe it, my last entry was on the first day of the year – and now it is the last day. Where did those other 365 days go? (That’s right, 365 – it was Leap Year, remember!) I had intended to update at least monthly, but somehow, it just didn’t happen. Ah, well, let’s get this one in before the year ends in a few hours and make a fresh start in the New Year.

I’m still in that unreal post-Christmas limbo state, where its hard to know what day of the week it is. Christmas never seems to fall on a particular day, it’s just Christmas Day – and all the days of the following week are out of whack. The heat doesn’t help.The last few days have been very hot and humid and I don’t feel like doing anything.

But it was quite pleasant last week and we had a comfortable Christmas. Ben & Agnieszka came up from Sydney for a couple of days. We all went to Lea & David’s place for Christmas Day. It was a nice relaxing day. No one got their leg stuck in the back of their chair this year like Hayley did last year, but I must confess I did something just as stupid at the Minglers Break Up a couple of weeks ago. I had taken off my shoes because I was hot, then somehow I managed to put the leg of my chair on my big toe – then I sat on the chair! Not a good idea.

I suppose I’ll have a think about New Years Resolutions. I usually make the same ones each year – something along the lines of going to bed earlier and getting up earlier, spend less time playing Spider Solitaire etc. They never last more than a few days, so they are still fresh the following year. Is it worth it? I think so. I always think of this lovely quote:

“If Thou hast broken a vow, tie a knot on it to make it hold together again. It is a spiritual thrift, and no unbecoming baseness, to piece and join thy neglected promises with fresh ones. So shall thy vow in effect be not broken when new mended: and remain the same, though not by one entire continuation, yet by a constant successive renovation.” Thomas Fuller 1608 – 1661

I’ll leave you with that thought. I’m off to play Spider Solitaire – and my latest addiction, Flea Round Up.

Happy New Year!

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