Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Category: Little Adventures (Page 1 of 2)

Little Adventures #14. Mt Buller etc. May 2022.

Many many years ago I bought into a time-share. I used to call it my second-biggest mistake, but now I’m not so sure that it was. (A mistake, I mean.)

I was attracted to this timeshare because of its relative flexibility. It uses points and has about 20 or so properties across Australia, New Zealand and Bali. You can use your points to reserve holidays across any of the properties – as long as they have the vacancies for when you want them, of course.

Mum and Dad have a couple of timeshares in Bali, but these are the old-style ones where you are only able to go to the same property at the same week/s each year. That doesn’t suit me. I want to be free to see new things.

I bought into it back in 2006, just after I took the boys to Bali. I wanted to take them on more trips away and I thought it would force me to do that. I also had the VERY long-term thought that one day… having the points and properties available would allow me to give the boys accommodation for honeymoons to help save them money.

I’ve now found an unexpected benefit. When I bought into the timeshare, I bought into a level that allowed me to use a 3BR apartment for a week each year. I needed the space with the 4 boys. Now that I’m travelling on my own, those 5,000 points a year can be broken up into many more trips. If I feel like being luxurious, a 1BR space is more than ample. A studio apartment is perfectly fine if I want to squeeze more value from the points.

Last week I was THRILLED to be able to book David27 and Izzy’s honeymoon accommodation in New Zealand. I play the long game in a lot of things and so it was incredibly satisfying to have a plan come together.

But when I was on the site, I saw that I had just under 5,000 points that needed using up before June 30 this year.

Yikes! With all of the lockdowns last year, it completely slipped my mind that this could happen. I grabbed a calculator and a calendar, logged onto the website and started reviewing my options.

So far I’ve booked a week in Manly Beach in Sydney at the end of June. Then I thought, ‘What am I doing this coming weekend?’ Nothing on the calendar… so I looked at what was available within driving distance. The Sebel Pinnacle Valley resort at the foot of Mt Buller had a 1 bedder free.

So off I went.

I arrived after dark on the first night, as I picked up a CRT day at school. I brought food (of course – the restaurant on-site is expensive), so I had a relaxed night in front of the tv and rolled into a bed I didn’t have to share with Poppy and Jeff.

The next morning I was woken by kookaburras. I was enchanted. I know I’m in the country when I hear this!

After a leisurely breakfast, I decided to go for a walk around the lake. The air, being up so high in the mountains, was cold and crisp, but it’s not snow season yet so it was pleasant. (Snow. Ugh. So uncivilised!)

As I was walking I heard the kookaburras again, along with lots of magpie song. We have maggies at home, but their song is beautiful. Here’s a clip for overseas people who might not have heard it:

I’m a bit cross with this photo because the kangaroos were far closer than it appears. Anyway, here are some kangaroos!

I finished the lake circuit and headed back, where I saw this:

Remember last year when I collected 9 garbage bags full of leaves for the veggie garden? I had a few garbage bags in the car so I helpfully unblocked the drain.

A short time later I was in the car and driving down the driveway. I decided I’d turn right once I hit the main road. I had a vague idea I’d explore a little country town or something.

I had no idea that the next stop was Mt Buller.

The road is pretty much a one-lane-each-way all the way up the mountain for about 20 kms. I imagine that it’d be pretty frustrating during snow season, but I was literally the only car on the road. I zipped up there, really enjoying the drive with no slow coach in front of me spoiling it.

Same on the way back.

Along the way there were some pretty spots:

When I reached the Mt Buller resort, I decided that I’d park the car somewhere and walk to the summit, then come back and grab some lunch. The place was pretty much a ghost town. There were a few people around, but mostly, I had the place to myself.

I found a track to the top and set off.

It was a cold morning and rain clouds were gathering. I didn’t bring a coat but I figured that I’d be fine with just a jumper. The track was clearly marked, but steep. At first I was walking fast but then it occurred to my mighty mind that I wasn’t racing anyone, so I took my time.

I don’t know if anyone else read the Silver Brumby books when they were a kid? I loved them. As I was walking, I was wondering if maybe there were brumbies hanging around on the mountains.

The chairlifts looked almost sculptural, hanging motionless.

I kept walking. This mountain track kept going up. And up. And up.

At one stage I was thinking about turning back. The clouds were coming closer and I was getting out of breath. But then I saw these signs… taunting me…

I knew I had to keep going. No building was going to taunt me and get away with it!

But as I kept walking higher, the clouds descended. I was so very close to the top, but when I looked around all I could see was this:

And this:

However, soon I had to call it a day. The clouds descended and I couldn’t see more than a few metres in any direction. I was so close to the summit, but I wouldn’t see anything if I got there.

I decided that close enough was good enough – no point busting a gut if I couldn’t see anything when I got there – and walked back down, starting to think about lunch.

To my chagrin, as I was walking down I was passed by a car.

You mean I could’ve driven all the way up??!?

Anyway, I made it back to the car and drove around, looking for a cafe.

My plan seemed like it was about to come undone. NOTHING seemed to be open! The one time I decided to treat myself to a meal and this happens!

Fortunately, I asked a workman and he pointed to two places. One was nearby, the other was up quite a steep hill.

LOL. As if I’d be walking up another steep hill anytime soon!

Imagine this place in a couple of weeks time in the snow season, once the snow has started to fall. A Saturday lunchtime. I’m sure the place would be full.

I ordered my meal and settled down with my book.

I really liked this quote. Just thought I’d share.

The pear and rocket salad was delicious!

After I had lunch, I wandered around the place on the way back to my car.

There was absolutely no one around.

There didn’t seem to be anything left to see here, so I jumped back in the car and headed down the mountain again.

My original plan was to see what was around in Merrijig, the closest little town to my resort, but there’s no actual town, just a couple of pubs. I kept going and hit the next town, Mansfield.

As I was driving through, I saw this cute little cellar door for Ros Ritchie wines. I’ve never heard of them, but the thought of a little wine tasting on a nippy autumn afternoon sounded Just The Thing, so I went in. Sip some wines, buy a bottle to be polite, read my book while I’m doing it.

The joint was jumping. They had a bus tour out the back, with 50 people tasting the wines. There were 2 parties going on and some couples enjoying wine and cheese platters.

The young guy running the tastings sat me by the fire and then gave me a menu.

“All the tastings are free,” he said, which surprised me a bit. Last year when I went to the wineries in South Australia with Jenna’s parents, there was a charge per head to do wine tasting. He asked if I wanted to start with a sparkling wine, but when I said that i still have 8 bottles left over from David28 and Izzy’s engagement party, we started with a white.

This guy was so good at his job. He was racing around looking after everyone inside, but whenever he came back with the next wine for me to try, he’s stay and have a chat about the flavours and aromas. I didn’t feel neglected at all. In fact, it was entertaining watching him keep all those plates spinning! When I got home I sent an email to the winery, commending his work.

I walked out with 5 bottles. It was very nice wine.

It was getting close to 5 PM, so I headed back to the resort. I had a voucher for a free drink at the restaurant, so I settled in beside the open fire with a cheeky shiraz and my book. The autumn colours were able to be seen from every window and it was too early for the dinner rush. I enjoyed the vibe until my iPad ran out of batter and my book died. Home to my room and a ‘Big Bang Theory’ marathon.

I had a plan for the next day to drop in at the Healesville Sanctuary on the way home, but I think I’m the sort of traveller that once the car is pointed towards home, I just want to get there. Is anyone else like that? I saw the turn-off to Healesville but took the turning for Melbourne.

This was a very peaceful, relaxing break. As much as I love my house, it was lovely to get out and see mountains, trees, cows and kangaroos instead of suburbia.

Plus there’s not too many driveways that look like this where I live – ESPECIALLY with the best footie team!

I’ve popped the wine I bought at the winery away. Later in the year, I think it’ll be cool to open a bottle and remember my little getaway.

Dad joke of the day:

To the person who stole my place in the queue – I’m after you now.

Little Adventures #13: Cranbourne Botanical Park. April 2022.

Remember last year, when people from our pasts reconnected on Facebook because we were all in lockdown and had lots of time on our hands? After things eased up, I went on quite a few reunion lunches and coffees.

On one of these, I heard how a school friend’s husband was working at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens. I’d vaguely heard about this place before, but when Blogless Sandy mentioned that her walking group had been there and really enjoyed it, I decided to use it for my latest Little Adventure.

(Basically, when I retired I decided to take a Little Adventure once a month. I’ll go somewhere/do something that I never have before. What’s the point of freedom if you don’t explore a little?)

When I got there I made straight for the lookout, which was perched on the highest part of the whole area. Here I found a map of the place. I decided to save the top part for a further Little Adventure sometime in the future and to hang a right just after the Perched Swamp and walk along the bottom part of the property.

That’ll be enough for one morning!

So I set off. The track was on a gentle incline. One thing I really didn’t like about this place is that they didn’t allow dogs, so the little woofs had to stay at home. But further up the trail I spotted two labradors. Turns out they were Assistance dogs being trained.

I didn’t want to muck up their training so I held back while they went up the lookout tower first. While they were there I saw this sign underneath:

Phew! Thank goodness there wasn’t a cloud in the sky!

I climbed the steps to the top of the lookout and surveyed my surroundings. The assistance dogs were disappearing down the hill.

I don’t know what’s causing the sparkle on the horizon, but it looked pretty.

It was a bit of a shock to read that on a clear day I could see both Port Philip and Westernport bays from here. Despite having lived here for 6 years, I haven’t yet made the adjustment to realising that I’m far nearer the Peninsula than the city.

Anyway, after a long look around, I set off down the track.

Isn’t this lovely? It’s a little door under the fence so that echidnas can move through.

To be honest, most of the walk wasn’t that exciting, view-wise. This was the usual ‘vista’… fairly boring scrub. But the air was fresh and pure and all I could hear was birdsong and my feet crunching on the gravel.

That wasn’t so hard to take.

Then I got to the turnoff to the Perched Swamp and went down the path. I found this bit really interesting.

If you read the sign, it turns out that this patch of land is like a teacup suspended between the dunes. Water seeps in and it turns into a swamp. Hence the name – the swamp is perched, suspended (in a way) between the dunes.

This hasn’t been filled since 2001, which goes to show how dry this area is. The photo on the sign shows a vastly different view than the one I was seeing.

Two wallabies were having a snack to the right.

If the sign wasn’t there, you’d never dream that you were looking at swampland.

That’s the edge of the ‘teacup.’

A little further along the main track, I saw the sign that told me to diverge and take the road less travelled* to the wetlands.

*Just a little nod to the literature buffs.

Looks inviting, doesn’t it?

All this time I was walking along, totally alone (as I thought), just enjoying the day. I was walking in a shady part of the track, totally alone (as I thought) when I saw a tree with bright green moss on it.

Still walking, I suddenly stopped dead and lifted my phone to take the shot when something moved. For a split second I froze. A woman walking alone NEVER likes unexpected movements near her.

Then I saw…

And something else moved…

They were so close to me! I was so rapt. What an absolute gift.

If I hadn’t have stopped unexpectedly to take that photo and scared the living daylights out of them for a split second, I never would have known they were there.

Here’s the tree with the moss, by the way. Just in case you were wondering.

Considerably buoyed by my wallaby encounter, I set off again. The track turned sandy and then I found the lake.

I walked off the track to get closer, trying to avoid stepping on the wallaby poo that seemed to be everywhere.

Then I saw a duck!

It was even better when she turned out to have ducklings. I stayed there for a while, just enjoying the vibe, then I set off again. My next goal was to get back to the car park.

That quilt isn’t going to make itself.

This part of the walk seemed to go on FOREVER. I was glad I brought my hat as it got quite sunny. I saw a couple of Mums with prams in this section, and I caught a glimpse of the assistance dogs a long way behind me.

Look! Some more duck-like things!

They were a brilliant shade of blue, though it’s only on the left-hand one in this photo that you can get an idea.

I kept walking.

I had no choice…

It was a long track with not much to look at. Fortunately, I had my thoughts to keep me company. I find myself very interesting.

Before you label me as egotistical – just imagine if I didn’t find my thoughts interesting. How awful would that be? You can never escape yourself. You’re always with you, so you may as well enjoy it.

This was quite interesting. When I was walking up towards it I couldn’t make out what these strange little boxes were. Nesting boxes for endangered birds?? Turns out it was far more scientific.

Started wondering if dinosaurs lived in the bush as well as wallabies.

The track had curved and we were back in the trees again. Surely I was getting closer?

I’m a busy woman. I have things to do at home.

Plus, look at how close those trees grew together. Crazy.

There’s no real reason for this shot. I just liked the colours.

Success!!!!

This was a long walk for me because I’m very unfit, but it was easy. The paths are well maintained and there’s no way you could stray off them and get lost.

When I was talking to Blogless Sandy about it, she mentioned that I’d apparently chosen the most untouched part of the garden to explore. This means that when I next choose to go back, I’ll be wandering around a more planned part, which showcases Australian plants.

Should be good.

All in all, I enjoyed this Little Adventure. It’s nice to think that in these modern times there’s some land so close to the city where for a split second wallabies and humans can scare the living daylights out of each other.

Good times.

Little Adventures #12: McClelland Sculpture Park. March 2022.

It’s an absolute bonus when I can bring the Little Woofs with me on a Little Adventure! This month’s Little Adventure was extremely close to home – it only took about 10 minutes to drive there. I’ve been here 6 years and have never taken the time to go and have a look, but yesterday was the day!

Now that I’ve decided to pick up a few days’ CRTing, I woke up Monday and thought, “What if I get work for the rest of March and miss out on my Little Adventure? I knew I had this day free, and though the siren call of the quilt with literally 5,000 pieces was calling, I decided to throw Poppy, Jeff and Scout into the car and go and see this park.

The McClelland Sculpture Park is set on 8 hectares of bushland. It also has an indoor gallery, but because I had the Little Woofs with me, I didn’t bother to go into that. There was plenty to see in the grounds alone.

We wandered around, with only a couple of other people that we saw from a distance.

The photos I’m showing are only a small sample of what’s there – these were the ones I liked the most.

This one is probably my favourite. I rounded a curve in a path and there it was. It’s fabulous.

I don’t know if you can tell in this photo, but the rocks aren’t sitting on the ground.

They’re suspended. So beautiful.

I took a photo of this because it reminded me of the Buddhist burial ground we saw in North Korea.

See? Obviously they’re not exactly the same but there’s a definite similarity. I took this on my walk when I was totally alone on the side of a mountain in the middle of North Korea.

Life offers some surprising things sometimes, doesn’t it?

I wish this came with a soundtrack, because this piece emits sounds.

The sculpture park has a boundary with a busy road, so at first there’s a constant hum of traffic as you wander through.

But as you meander further into the property and the bush surrounds you, the traffic noise fades and all you can hear are birds.

The Little Woofs loved it. So many smells! Kangaroos, wallabies, foxes… you name it, they were sniffing it.

There’s a nice blend of abstract and more naturalistic sculptures.

There are peaceful paths wending through the property, with artwork popping up, sometimes when you least expect it.

This one was tucked in a little glade.

This one reminded me of the Eureka Tower in the city.

See? Practically identical!

They’ve popped this poor guy on an island. Here’s a close-up:

This was a very time-efficient Little Adventure. All up, it took just a couple of hours from go to whoa.

I’m very sure we didn’t see everything that was on offer, but that only means that we’ll have to come back again.

Dad joke of the day:

I used to have a job cutting holes for trapdoors in theatres.

It was a stage I was going through.

Little Adventures #11: Heronswood. February 2022.

Last week my sister Kate rang and asked if she could spend the morning with me, as her car was being serviced and she couldn’t get a ‘loaner’ car. Of course, I made room in my hectic schedule (heh heh).

“We could go and grab a coffee and maybe take a walk around K-Mart,” she said.

Dear God in heaven. Does she not know me at all?!?

I decided to whisk her away to grab a coffee in a place that was far more interesting than sitting in a mall or on a city street. I hardly ever buy coffee when I’m out, but for her, it’s one of life’s pleasures. So we drove to Dromana, to the gardens of Heronswood.

Heronswood is one of the gardens that Diggers operates. It’s perched on a cliff overlooking the sea, with both ornamental and working vegetable gardens and orchards. They specialise in heirloom plants, which means that you can save the seeds from plants you grow and then use the seeds next year.

I’ve been a member for a while now. I don’t mind supporting them because I think they do really important work. Seeds should be able to be saved.

Lots of different sunflowers were planted around one of the veggie patches. Look at the bees in the middle of this one!

Along with the huge gardens, there were also little ideas like this planted around. I still think most succulents are ugly, but over time I’m warming to some. I thought these ones looked nice.

As we wandered around we came across this citrus orchard. The huge terracotta pots have rosemary planted all around them.

Here’s a close-up. I like the way the pots are positioned not in straight lines, but so they look appealing from the steps above.

We liked this espalier – it’s so well-established that the support wires have been taken off and the branches stand outstretched on their own.

The gardens are full of little outdoor ‘rooms’ like this.

Here’s Kate heading to the café for that much-anticipated coffee.

We stopped at the nursery on the way out and I bought some Evening Primrose plants for my hanging baskets. According to the gardeners, this plant is “as tough as nails” so let’s hope they’re correct. Four of the hanging baskets are in full sun all day and the petunias all curled up and died.

I was happy with this Little Adventure. It was only a short one, but it was by far more memorable than a gallop around K-Mart!

Dad joke of the day:

There’s a new music band called 999MB.

So far, no gig yet.

Little Adventures #10: Miss Marple’s Tearoom. January 2022.

Cute café.

I know I said in my last post that I’d be devoting my days to reading the latest Outlander novel, Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone, but I knew that I was rapidly running out of month. I decided to wait until the kids went back to school on the last day of January and take myself off to Miss Marple’s Tearoom in Sassafrass.

If you’ve never been there, it’s worth clicking on the link and watching the video. It gives a really good feel for the place.

Quaint interior.

I know that the Little Adventures are meant to be places that I haven’t been to before, but Miss Marple’s almost qualifies. I’ve only been here once and that was when I was in my twenties.

I never forgot the scones, though.

Monster scones.

Look at the insane height of these things! I put the teaspoon in there for perspective. I remembered how filling they were, even from decades ago, so after I finished yoga this morning I didn’t eat breakfast. I thought I’d better treat this Devonshire tea as a brunch.

Devonshire tea. But with coffee.

I was starving by the time I sat down – at a table by the window; how delightful! – but I still couldn’t finish them.

So yummy though.

Page 469. Halfway there!

Even though I only needed one seat, I wasn’t there alone. I brought Claire and Jamie Fraser with me. I’m halfway through and I’m loving it.

But ohhh… I’m so very glad that I was born in an age that has discovered electricity. ‘Women’s work’ back then was hard work.

Red lillies in a vase.

The tearoom itself is full of pleasing little details, such as fresh flowers on every table.

Row of teapots above a doorway.

There’s also a row of fat teapots running around the room over the top of the doorways. The music playing was utterly in keeping with the whole vibe of the place, being old WWII songs.

The whole place was charming.

I thought of it as January’s Little Adventure because 2 people on Facebook went there. Both are completely unrelated – one was an ex-student and the other was an old school friend. It was a SIGN!

Outdoor art gallery.

After I’d finished my brunch and waddled out, I took a brief walk up the main drag, visiting a nursery and a couple of art galleries/gift shops. I would’ve liked to walk a little further afield, but I had in the back of my mind that this was Ryan27’s first day at his first job as a myotherapist, so I wanted to be back in time to wish him good luck and see him off.

It was a beautiful day for a drive into the Dandenongs. It was even more beautiful to think that if I hadn’t have found the FI/RE concept, instead of being out in the fresh air and sunshine, I’d be stuffed into a classroom with 28 kids, an air purifier and we’d all be wearing masks.

You know, I’m quite liking this retirement thing.

Dad joke of the day:

Joke.

Strictly speaking, not really a dad joke, but gee it made me laugh!

Little Adventures #9: The most hilarious Little Adventure of them all! December 2021.

The last Little Adventure for the year was a very special one. My son Evan25 and his friend have written and performed in a show. Long term readers of this blog might remember when he went off to study an acting degree in Ballarat, when I wrote a post about what my second-generation FIRE kid has learned about money.

Long term readers of the Frogblog would know that Evan25 was that really interested 11-year-old bobbing around reading over my shoulder as I typed the very first post back in September 2007.

Now, 14 years later, I was travelling into the Melbourne CBD to see his first show. I snuck into the Tuesday night show on my own (and had a lovely long debrief with Evan25 the next morning) and I’d also got together around 15 people, family and friends, to see their closing night.

There’s a special kind of joy that comes from seeing your adult child doing the work that they love. Especially if that child is actually good at what they’re doing. Thankfully, their show was excellent. So very, very funny.

His girlfriend Jenna’s parents flew over from Adelaide on the weekend just to see the show. Both of my boys who are partnered up have been fully embraced into their girlfriends’ families, which is a beautiful thing to see. Jenna’s Dad said to me after the show, “At one point I was laughing so hard I got dizzy!”

The following photo gives the synopsis of the show:

As Evan25 said to us on the day we were all finally able to get together after the lockdowns, “It’s just two silly boys on stage. It’s not going to change anyone’s life.”

I said, “That sounds exactly what we all need right now!”

There was one act where there was a jaded female butcher running through her wares, making lots of food jokes. This was Evan25 in an apron, with a shower cap on his head, miming sucking a ciggie. Then, in the middle of it, I hear, “$18.45 a kilo??? Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.'”

The first thing I asked him the next day was, “Did I hear an Edgar Allen Poe joke in there???”

He laughed. He said, “When we were writing it Will didn’t want to keep that joke – he said it wasn’t funny and he didn’t get it. I said, ‘Trust me – my Mum’s going to LOVE it!’ I kept that joke just for you.”

He also had the $18.45 price there because ‘The Raven’ was published in 1845. “It’s just a little joke in there for me – no one will ever notice it but I know it’s there.”

He also played a character called Tim, who is a battered-around-the-edges sweet transvestite. Turns out that my boy can really rock a pair of 5″ heels and has a tuck to die for. He has long legs and they look surprisingly good in fishnet stockings. The audience laughed so hard each night when he emerged from behind the curtain in that outfit – I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud. 🙂

Usually, I bang on about being frugal, but this Little Adventure was the priciest one yet. Performers don’t make a lot of money from ticket sales – the venue takes the lion’s share. Where the people who actually produce the show make their money is from the merch. So, of course, I bought one of everything.

But that’s why frugality is so terrific. I save money on things I don’t care about so that I can spend on the things that are important to me, such as supporting my son and his friend.

The very best thing about seeing the show again on Saturday night was watching my family and best friend really see what Evan25 can do. They know him as the funny guy at family gatherings, cracking wordplay puns and one-liners, but they got to see him in all his glory. It was very special as a Mum to bask in their amazed joy at just how funny he is.

Dad joke of the day:

Did I tell you about the time I fell in love during a backflip? I was heels over head. 

Little Adventures #8: Enough is Enough. November 2021 catch-up.

Hooray! Live theatre is back in Melbourne! Next month my son will be performing in a play that he and his mare wrote together, which I already know will be hilarious, and his girlfriend will also be performing in a musical the following week. So I’ll be Kulture Vultured by Christmas, which is just the way I like it.

As a warm-up, on Sunday I popped along to see this play, Enough is Enough. It was sponsored by my local council and the price was definitely right. (The ticket was free.) It was held in a new-to-me venue a couple of suburbs over, which definitely makes it eligible for the catch-up Little Adventure I needed. (I missed October, due to lockdowns and putting my back out.)

Let’s hope we are never again in a spot where my Little Adventure for that month was taking a walk on the other side of the bridge. Oof. I’m all for living a quiet life but that was ridiculous.

Anyway, back to the play. The blurb said that it was about gambling and was written by an award-winning local playwright called Kieran Carroll, with Tim Costello talking afterwards. Sounds like a worthy way to spend a Sunday afternoon, doesn’t it?

Interestingly, it was worth it, but not because the play itself was fantastic. It was ok, but what really stood out was the talk that Tim Costello gave at the end of it.

One of the things he said was, “We all know how the rest of the world feels about America and its gun culture. We all think they’re crazy. But what we don’t realise in Australia is that the rest of the world regards our gambling culture in exactly the same way… they think we’re crazy.”

Apparently Australia has around 75% of the world’s pokies, and they’re all in local pubs and clubs on every street corner, except for Perth. In WA, all the pokies are at the casino, which is how the rest of the world does it. I’d never thought about it before, because I’m definitely not a gambler, but having the pokies all through the suburbs makes it very easy for a gambling habit to creep up on people. The accessibility is too easy.

Anyway, he spoke for about 10 minutes or so and it was very interesting. Afterwards, I jumped back on the train and took a look at the new stations and was home in time for dinner.

Home-made pizza… mmm mmmm!

Dad joke of the day:

I used to work in a shoe recycling shop. It was sole destroying. 

Little Adventures #7: The Archibald Prize. Nov 2021.

One thing the Little Adventures thing has taught me – don’t leave it too late in the month to go off and do/see something new. We were coming out of lockdown in late October, so I bided my time, thinking I’d sneak October’s Little Adventure in just as things were opening up again. But then Jeffrey put his back out. As I was getting out of the car at the vet’s, I turned to speak to him and I put MY back out. We both hobbled in together and I had to ask a vet nurse to lift him back into the car when it was time to go home. Thank goodness Ryan26 is a remedial masseuse! It took a week for my back to get better and by then November had well and truly rolled around.

Monday morning was a good one. I was sitting on the couch with a coffee, little woofs asleep beside me, when 2 ads came up on Facebook. I know, normally it’s just annoying when that happens, but one ad was for a play the local council was supporting… (ticket price was free – my favourite price, so I snapped one up) … and the other one was for a gallery in Sale, which was showing the Archibald Prize paintings.

The Archibald Prize is a portrait competition that has been going for 100 years. The subjects are preferred to be notable Australians in some way and have had to have had at least one in-person sitting with the artist. It’s WAY famous.

Sale is MILES away. It’s buried deep in the Gippsland countryside and it’d take 2.5 hours to drive there. I know because I googled it. But… what if I went to see the exhibition on a weekday, just because I can? Also, the tickets are $17, so that’s definitely affordable.

Because of covid, they’re limiting the number of people who can go into the gallery at any one time, so I had to scroll through a few days to find a time that would work. So Thursday morning at 11:45 it was.

I left with plenty of time to get there, which was just as well. If I ever see another sign saying “Road Works – detour” I won’t be responsible for the consequences. Got there with seconds to spare!

The following photos are the portraits that I particularly liked. Some have the info card in the same frame, others don’t. There’s interesting stuff on those cards – well worth zooming in to see what they say. 🙂

The first thing I saw when I walked into the entrance foyer was a school group. How many times have I followed a school group around the National Gallery in St Kilda Road? But one thing I know from having done this for so long… if you discreetly attach yourself to the group, the guides tell you a lot more about the paintings than you’d otherwise know.

I loved the shirt on this guy and I liked the story behind the painting, too.

This was the first painting I saw and I loved it. The man gently protecting and nurturing his inner creative person is so great.

It’s not just the fact that we have the same hairdo! I like that this is a reflection from her window – see the bottom left corner?

This is the card that goes with the painting at the top of this post. It was the winner of the whole competition. Honestly… not one I would’ve picked, but I guess the symbolism of it being of a 100-year-old man and the competition was also in its 100th year was hard to beat.

This portrait of Kate Ceberano was right next to the winner. This painting won the Packing Room Prize. This is when the people who unpack all of the paintings as they arrive vote as to which one they like the best. It seems like a bit of a poisoned chalice – to date, no one who has won the Packing Room prize has gone on to win the Archibald.

I think it’s stunning.

This portrait of Rachel Griffiths is the size of an iPad. It was painted using a brush with only one bristle. I can’t imagine how long it would’ve taken to finish this painting with so much detail in it.

I liked this one because her face is so interesting. I could easily imagine her wearing a medieval bonnet or something. There’s something timeless about her face.

I absolutely loved this one. The sea was incredible, as was the story behind it. Over the past year, who hasn’t had moments when they’ve wanted to wrap themselves up in their favourite blanket – or quilt – and take a break? I also like how, if you look past the tumultuous water to the right, you can see that things will eventually become calm again.

How could I not like this one, considering I’m reading my 115th book of the year?

Such a brave young woman.

The play of light from the fire was extraordinary. The more I looked at this, the more was revealed.

This was the portrait I chose as my “people’s choice” award… though, thinking back… if I had my time over I might’ve gone with the sea one. But even so, it’s a wonderful painting. The light! It almost glows.

How cleverly is this done? So muted, yet so perfect?

And finally, this one made me laugh.

Then in the gallery just outside where the Archibald exhibition was, I saw this one. Oh My God! I LOVE it. In real life, it’s much darker than this. You could look at it all day and see new things emerging. I’ve put this here so I don’t forget.

After I’d finished, I bought some lunch from the adjoining café and took it outside to eat by the river. There were too many people without masks inside as they were eating and drinking. It might be ok for the Gippslanders, but it was a little bit much for this Melbournian to see without feeling weird.

Then, on the way home I went to a nursery and bought a couple of plants and a terracotta pot for the front yard, then popped into a quilting shop at Rosedale and bought a couple of things. We’ve been asked to spend our money in the regional areas so I did my bit. Then home I went!

Ryan26 had a couple of friends around so he cooked dinner and made strawberry daiquiris – all in all, not a bad day!

Who knows? Maybe because I missed October I should go on another Little Adventure this month, just to even things up? We’ll see…

Dad joke of the day:

What do you call a fat psychic?

A four-chin teller. 

Little Adventures #6- The Frugal Friday way! Sept 2021.

Melbourne’s still in lockdown. Yet September still needs a Little Adventure. Actually, Wednesday’s earthquake might have covered that, except I only jiggled around on my front verandah while the house swayed behind me and the earth was noisy. I didn’t actually go anywhere.

Mum and Dad live a fair way away, but when the travel bubbles were widened last weekend it meant that our bubbles crossed over into one suburb. So we agreed to meet up for a little walk along the beach at Mordy.

Mum suggested we meet at the Yacht Club. I’ve never been.

*gasp!* Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again.

My Little Adventure for September was saved.

After months of lockdown it was so strange to see so many people out and about. When we started to turn off Nepean highway onto Beach rd, Ryan26 gasped, “Look at all the people!” They were everywhere. Most were wearing masks, thankfully, but there’s always a few who think that the laws of basic biology don’t apply to them.

We arrived before Mum and Dad so we went down towards the beach to look for them.

The first thing I noticed was that the sand here is much more golden than on our Backyard Beach.

You also can’t see Melbourne from here. There’s a jutting out bit of land in the way.

After a little while, Ryan26 saw Mum and Dad making their way towards us through the crowd. I’ve never seen so many people having picnics in my life! (For those not in Melbourne, having a picnic is one of the few ways people from different households can see each other at the moment.)

There’s a concrete path by the beach that runs all the way from the city down to Mordialloc (I think.) We didn’t even consider going down on the sand, mainly because Mum, while she’s so much better on her feet than she was a year ago, is still not totally back to normal with her balance. We stuck to level, stable ground.

We were trying to remember when the last time we saw each other in person was, but we couldn’t decide. It’s been months, though.

After a little while, I saw a spare bench and we sat down. Mum was laughing at all of the seagulls congregating around that family. A little while later 3 kids from there started running along the beach, followed by a crowd of gulls. One of the girls was squealing in delighted terror while a boy kept throwing chips behind them to keep the gulls coming.

The foreshore was stacked with tea tree, with bees thrumming everywhere. I really love the flowers and would definitely have a tea tree in my front yard to help bring the bees, but I’m worried it might grow too ugly and scraggly.

Decisions, decisions.

There were also a couple of volleyball courts set up.

Nice.

We turned and started slowly walking back the way we came. The place was full of family groups enjoying the sun, people walking their dogs and friends walking side by side, busily catching up on the goss. It was a real people-watchers’ delight.

Just to demonstrate that bureaucracy is the same the world over, here is a directive painted on the path.

And right beside it…

… is a drinking fountain for humans with a doggy bowl down the bottom. Talk about mixed messaging!

We didn’t bring the Little Woofs with us.

On the way back to our cars, Mum pointed and said, “Ooo! Look at the banksia flower!”

I don’t know if it’s a banksia or not, but it looked spectacular in the bright sunlight against the dark pub.

All up, this month’s Little Adventure cost us a bit of time, a smidge of petrol and that was it. Today’s weather is very grey and moody, with rain expected later on. It’s been nice to write about this day drenched in sunshine and good humour.

Everyone was happy, wherever we looked.

If there’s one thing that living through the world’s longest lockdown has taught people, it’s that there’s beauty in the simple things.

Little Adventures #4 – The other side of the bridge. August 2021

Suburban path over bridge.

With only one more day to go before August finishes, I knew I had to think quickly to tick off this month’s Little Adventure. We’re still in strict lockdown in Melbourne, so I could only travel within 5kms of The Best House in Melbourne. Where could I go?

Then it dawned on me. The little woofs and I have walked along the river many times. But… was there a track that went under the bridge and kept going? I decided that we should explore. I drove to the top of the bridge, then we jumped out of the car to do just that.

Fork in the path.

Look at this! My memory hadn’t deceived me. Flushed with the spirit of adventure, we set off under the bridge.

River under bridge.

As we walked under one set of traffic, the sound of running water was pretty loud.

Then there was a set of footsteps behind me. A guy in a tracksuit was walking near us. he kept back on our left, then suddenly walked quickly forward to veer off towards the river off the path.

Hole in wire fence.

Then I heard the jangling of a wire fence. He’d jumped through this hole so he could walk beside the river. Meanwhile, like law-abiding citizens, we kept walking on the gravel park, with a chain-link fence between us and the river.

End of wire fence.

Until, no more than 20 steps later, the fence ended. Made me wonder what the point of jumping through the hole in the fence was.

Grass and trees.

On my right was this view.

Low building on the other riverbank.

On our left. This is a water sports centre, I think.

Deserted gravel path.

The sun was out and the wind was blowing. This side of the bridge path was pretty well deserted. I kept looking back to keep tabs on the tracksuited guy. He’d stopped on the riverbank opposite the water sports place and was doing some sort of callisthenics. I didn’t want him to sneak up on us unawares… I’ve listened to too many episodes of Casefile! Better be safe than sorry; it’s not as if I’m walking with guard dogs, after all.

Bent tree with yellow flowers underneath.

I thought this tree was pretty.

Sparkling water.

The sunshine was making the river sparkle. It was all very quiet and serene.

Poppy and the path.

Judging by the tyre tracks in the gravel, walkers aren’t the only people who use this path.

Then, just as I was trying to get the little woofs to stay still so I could get a decent photo… WHOOSH!

Bike, path and dog.

We were overtaken.

Bridge and river.

After around half an hour we turned to head back to the car. This bridge is a lot lower than I ever realised when I was driving over it.

Jeff beside the path.

There are signs warning of possible flooding on the path, which isn’t surprising as you can see how close it is to the level of the river. This is Jeff giving a happy look back. He loves his walks.

River.

And there’s the river leading back towards home.

I’m pleased I snuck this Little Adventure in – just in the nick of time.

I wonder what else I’ll discover within 5kms of home while lockdown exists?

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