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About my dad- i remember when

4 September 2020

As Father’s Day approaches I got thinking about My Dad – I remember when. I write of some of the things My Dad did for me or I remember about him.

A lasting early memory of My Dad is of him putting the clips on his trouser legs to stop them getting caught on the chain on his bike and taking off to work riding his seemingly large bike. He was always generous with rides for us kids on the boys’ bike bar too.

My parents both worked hard all their lives to try and get ahead financially.  My Dad worked  at the Post Office during the day and at night he worked at a coal yard hand filling sacks with coal, loading them on to trucks and then delivering around town. Later on he changed his second job to a chicken farm which was a little easier on his lungs.

Dad Came Out to Play

During the summer he didn’t have as much work at the coal yard so if he was home from work at the Post Office while it was still daylight he would come out to the playground next door where the neighbourhood kids all played and join in, especially with softball. He was a mean hitter able to hit both left and right handed and would change it up during an innings. I learnt to do the same and was not popular with school mates when I started doing it. The fielders had to adjust each time I took a strike!  I don’t recall any other Dads coming out to play.

I didn’t need help with homework very often but if I did I knew it was Dad for English and Mum for maths, although both were pretty good at either.  Dad had the most beautiful handwriting, quite common amongst those of his age where emphasis was put on quality presentation of work. I remember he was secretary of the primary school PTA for a while and the minutes were all handwritten so neatly.

Dad proud of war service

When we were kids some of us in the neighbourhood would put on concerts for our parents, usually held at our place as Mum and Dad didn’t seem to mind if we moved things around the garage or backyard and made stages etc.  Dad was in the navy during the Second World War so still had his hat. It attracted me to do my version of the Sailors Hornpipe (wearing his hat) at these concerts, when I wasn’t trying to do ballet or recite poems!

My dad was proud but humble of his war service and so he should have been. He was one of many young men who somehow managed to change their birth certificates to gain entry to the forces while still under the age limit.

Dad willingly went in the parents team at school sports, swimming or athletics. He was good too. Often it would be during his lunch break from work. He was tall and lean, never having put on weight after coming home from the war with malaria.

My Dad loved a beer, or two

My Dad loved a beer or two or three and made sure he had his share!  He often embarrassed Mum, and us kids as we got older, at family celebrations as he over imbibed and became annoying. As he burst into ridiculous songs, try dancing with everyone, he was happy but annoying. However he usually redeemed himself by leading the dishwashing in the kitchen amongst the aunties.

When my sister and I learnt to drive my Dad insisted on us learning how to change a tyre and how to check oil and water – before we could drive anywhere. Lessons well learnt and which we were grateful for in years to come.  If he had any other mechanical knowledge he would have taught us that too but he didn’t have!  We had also been taught to fix bike punctures years before. We needed that for Brownies badges.

My Dad – I remember when made mean scones. Crunchy, big and delicious.  We loved them but Mum used to tell him off for making them like that as that was not what a “proper” scone should be like.  We loved Sundays when Dad made them.

To this day I insist on having eggs for breakfast every day because when we were at school we were not allowed out the door without having eggs for breakfast. Dad’s rules. Didn’t matter if they were poached, fried or scrambled – so long as we had them. They were considered a “decent breakfast” to go to school on. Mum was given her cup of tea and two pieces of toast with marmalade in bed every morning before getting up to go to work.  She wasn’t covered by the rules.

Dad would eat anything

My Dad grew up during tough times and learnt to eat anything. He liked tripe, tongues, brains, sweetbreads, liver, kidneys. He seemed to consider some of them treats. I can assure you Mum did not! She stopped at liver and kidneys, thank goodness for that!  Dad happily cooked the others for himself with no interest from us kids either.

The gardens were big when we were kids. Dad didn’t mind keeping the lawns and garden tidy, with help from the rest of us.  He was in charge of pruning the shrubs, trees and hedges. Sometimes I reckon Mum regretted reminding him to do them. He would get out with the bush cutters, no fancy ones in those days, just hand ones with no power. He would lop all bushes, roses and all,  evenly across not far from the base. There would be no shaping, no careful selection of which branches to take off, not even much regard to the time of year. The shorter the better, the longer it would be before he had to do them again.  Imagine the horror when this was discovered. However everyone just had to wait a few weeks and they were sprouting green leaves again and slowly taking shape.

My Dad – I remember when he was loving, kind, annoying, stubborn, intelligent, funny, loyal, hard working. I haven’t written everything about him – just a taste. There will be more in my book!

How would you describe your Dad?

Comment below


Some Covid 19 restrictions lifted

17 May 2020
Back in the pool

It is 6.59a.m. on Saturday 16 May, 2020  as we step out of the lift on the 12th floor.  Restrictions have been lifted.

We are heading to the open air swimming pools at our apartment building. We are the only people there. Not surprising with the air temperature at just 16 degrees. We have been unable to use these facilities  since March 31 due to Australian Government regulations regarding Covid 19.

Prior to these restrictions we used the swimming pool every day at least once, sometimes twice. So when the ban came along we were devastated. The swimming, exercising, stretching, floating in the pool keeps our active if somewhat ageing bodies comfortable.

The wait……..

We had been sitting in our apartment for at least an hour watching the clock and waiting for this moment. I mumbled about whether my swimsuit would still fit me as, like many, I have gained some kilos over the lockdown. It has been a case of “out of sight, out of mind” with regard to that! It was a relief to find it does still fit. Also to my dismay I liked the look of it for a change.

The Body Corporate Committee issued instructions for safety hygiene when using the Level 12 facilities. Everything we touch must be cleaned. Therefore we have the disinfectant spray and cloth packed ready. We must wipe the lift buttons, the handrail up the steps, the gate latch, the handrail to get into the pool. Well we might not need to wipe all those rails if our core strength is still there and we can do the steps without holding on.

Hot or cold?

We usually get in the main swimming pool, rather than the hot pool, regardless of the air temperature. This morning we kept our options open. I had talked about the desire to just “be” in the hot pool and feel the heat on my stiff and sore back and shoulders.

One look at the swimming pool with the cool wind rippling across it and my normally “tough” partner is first into the hot pool followed closely by me.  It isn’t hot but warm enough to bring some comfort.  We drift down in the water ensuring shoulders are covered, slowly moving arms and legs to feel like we are exercising. It was bliss despite the not so hot water. Ahh we have missed this. We sit in the chilly morning air soaking up the surroundings. We have a fabulous view of the sea, the mountains, the sky. This is the number one reason we bought in this complex and finally we had our pools back. Thank goodness Queenslanders have behaved and we have been given some treats back with restrictions lifted.

Thirty minutes later we left the pool trying to touch as few objects as possible. The cleaning process is simple but necessary. Will everyone do it?


visitors are welcome – so long as they leave

6 April 2020

Visitors are welcome in most homes.  Although that has changed with Covid-19 present hopefully we will return to old ways eventually.

Many of us like to invite people for a meal, a few drinks or cup of tea or coffee. Not a thought is given to how long they might stay. 

However, how often do you find your visitors stay beyond a suitable time. They leave you clock watching, nodding off to sleep, pacing up and down the room or even doing the housework ready for a quick takeoff in the morning.

Traditionally it is rude to suggest your visitors leave. No one wants to “upset” friends or family.  So here are some tactics we have experienced or have heard about from others.

Time for Pills

Many of us are blessed with excellent health.  Others are not so lucky and have several medications to take daily. They suddenly remember they have to take pills before bed and jump up and start sorting them out. For those of us who are healthy the sight of someone not so fortunate sorting all their pills and medicines for the next scheduled dose is not a sight we enjoy.  It crosses the mind they must rattle as they go upstairs to bed.  A quick reminder goes through the head “must keep myself healthy”. So, you see, it can be enough to send visitors on their way!

Be careful of this tactic if the visitor is also on medication. You could find another lengthy conversation about the benefits of each medication.  Bed will seem a long way away.

Chinese say “like more tea?”

It is well known the Chinese people love a cup of tea. If offered tea in a traditional Chinese family home it will be in small cups. Everyone’s cups will be filled and refilled as conversation carries on.  Eventually, according to a Chinese Tea Master I once met, if the person asks if you want more tea it means it is time for you to go home. If he wants you to stay he will just keep serving more tea without asking!  He has probably been given the look by his wife that dinner is ready or time to do something else.  Believe it or not…well that’s what a Chinese guy told us.

The issue with this of course is that if the person doesn’t understand Chinese custom. They may take it to mean they are welcome to stay longer. You could try “would you like another drink before you leave?” there is an assumption you are leaving, although no time when!

If only it was simple.

Best be going then

We all have little sayings we are known for amongst friends. Sometimes they are humorous, sometimes annoying and other times just confusing.

Some young people I know often chuckle about a saying they hear from someone close to them. Initially it was confusing.  Then it was humorous. This host says “Well best be going then”.  The first time they heard it they wondered where she was going given they were at her place.  Soon they realized it was them who “best be going”.   There is a rather charming and old-fashioned sound to it, don’t you think?  Yet, somehow, no need to explain why it is best you get going – once you realise it is you who is going

Close windows

We used to own a café. It was in an old house with verandah and an outside courtyard. Most customers sat in the courtyard enjoying the fresh air and garden like surroundings. Usually in a café you see or hear the staff clearing out food cabinets, wiping down benches, bringing in Signs. Obviously they are going to close soon.

However our customers didn’t always notice what the time was from their relaxed garden seating. They could talk for hours and hours. We liked to be flexible. If we had enough tasks to be done we would let them be. We would clear their tables of dishes, wipe all the tables and chairs around them, close the gates, empty the rubbish, turn off the water feature.

Eventually it would get too much for my partner. Much to my disgust he would walk round closing the verandah windows with such force they couldn’t help but be surprised by the sound outside. Inevitably the lovely customers would come inside to say good bye and ask “what time do you close?”  or “You will be looking forward to finishing for the day”.  How did they know?

How to avoid the hassle

  1. Don’t invite people to visit
  2. Tell the visitors you can only hang out until a certain time most nights before falling asleep on the couch
  3. When inviting visitors over make them aware of a time limit due to other commitments
  4. As time marches on say sweetly to your visitors you have loved having them and could you arrange another time to meet up to carry on with your socialising.
  5. Yawn excessively
  6. Be honest – say you can’t stay awake any longer, it has been a long day. Or explain you have some work to get done before the morning or next visitor or before going to work.

Good Luck


busker NEV – never too old to busk

9 March 2020

Have you ever stopped and talked with a busker?

There is something about the sound of buskers, no matter what age or genre of music. They add to the occasion as you wander around market stalls or shopping malls.

One such person is Nev Lerch who has been busking at the Caloundra Street Fair on Sundays for almost two years. He also busks at the Twilight Markets on The Esplanade on Friday nights monthly.

You can’t beat the old tunes

Familiar old tunes of yesteryear ring out from the accordion he is playing, usually in the shade. Memories come rushing back of family parties and sing-a-longs to the rousing Irish tunes. These, in particular, played on a piano by one of many musically talented relatives.  It reminds me of my father grabbing one of us, any female close by, and twirling us around the room. Never mind he wasn’t a particularly good dancer after a few drinks!

For my partner Tama it is the likes of Pearly Shells which causes him to reminisce about the guitar playing with singing with his extended family.  It reminds him of the sea he loves so much.

 Who can resist the rhythm of that tune anyway? Picture the ukulele playing Cook Islanders or in Hawaii with the women doing the most beautiful hula dancing.

Early starts soon forgotten

Yesterday we stopped and talked to Nev.   First, he told us he started lessons on the accordion 17 years ago. Nev is 81.  When he retired he decided to go into about six different Aged Persons Homes and play for them.  He observed the elderly loved the music.  Nowadays he limits himself to the street busking and one “Home”.

He has thought about giving it up especially when the alarm goes early on Sunday mornings to get him up in time for the Street Fair. However, he says once he is here he forgets the early start. He loves it too much to give up yet.

By the look of his accordion case on the ground in front of him lots of others enjoy his street performance too. He has a pile of coins and notes blowing in the wind.  Above all else, he deserves some reward for the atmosphere he helps create.

He loves a chat with passersby. By the way, have you ever asked a busker their story? Make their day and ask them.


COffee Beans are just part of it

20 February 2020

There is much more to coffee than the coffee beans. Finding the right milk can add huge value and pleasure to the coffee beans. I never dreamt I would be a coffee a day person. Nor did I think the type of milk in my coffee would be such a big discussion point.  

 It was well on in my life before I even started to drink coffee. Not that I didn’t like the flavour of coffee. I have always loved a good coffee sponge roll.

I preferred a baby chino

When I went out for coffee with friends I used to ask for a cappuccino with plenty of froth and chocolate. Some baristas would ask if I wanted a child’s “fluffy” or baby chino as they are known these days.  I would say “yes, that’s it as I don’t really like coffee. I am just being sociable.”

On top of that the words latte, flat white, long black terrified me. I had no idea what they were.  I also needed milk well disguised to be able to stomach it.

Once I realized my body and my mind had minor intolerance to cow’s milk I started experimenting with other milks.

As I was trying to find a way to join the coffee brigade my milk discovery journey was purely about my taste preferences.  Occasionally I would consider health benefits. Rarely did I consider the type of coffee beans being served. However key priority was to figure out a way to drink coffee. It seemed like the sociable thing to do.

So many different ways to take your coffee

I had grown up with a mother who drunk tea only. My father also drunk strong black tea but liked very strong black coffee with a good shake of salt. Admittedly this was in the 1960s where instant coffee was the main way to take your coffee!  Apparently the salt neutralizes the bitterness and acidity. It may have needed it more then.  I digress.

Now I know there are so many different ways to have your coffee.  Cappuccino, mochaccino, latte, flat white, macchiato, long black are some. You can add flavours like vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, chocolate.  I counted out straight black as it was just too strong to stomach.

I am a sucker for chocolate. Therefore, it seemed something with chocolate added was going to help disguise the coffee and milk. At last I had some options. Next, we had to sort out the milk.

I tried skim milk, lactose free milk, soy milk………

Maybe the fat/ cream on top of full cream was the issue. Therefore I tried skim milk. So I would ask for a skim milk cappucino with chocolate rather than cinnamon and if possible some marshmallows. I would have to say this quietly as it seemed weird having skim/skinny milk but having chocolate and marshmallow. Not exactly a good diet tactic. Anyway, I found I was leaving half the cup of coffee. That was a waste and I was dissatisfied. What could I try next?

Next, I tried SOY Milk.  I found the different brands were quite different in taste. One café I would like it, just, then another café it would taste foul. It depended on the brand of milk. So that didn’t work for me. I didn’t persevere.

The thought of lactose free milk didn’t appeal to me as it still seemed like milk.  No further discussion (in the mind that is) on that.

Special dispensation for milk

I had never liked milk from childhood. Furthermore, I don’t recall ever having it at home as a child.  We were forced to drink milo in the school hall at lunch time during the winter.  Also had to try and drink warm bottles of milk in the summer. When I went to boarding school I had to get special dispensation not to eat the many milky desserts on offer. I used to sit at the table dry reaching as the spoon approached my mouth. Call it a mind thing but that’s how it goes.

I fell upon Coconut milk while running our own café and used it in baking as well as coffee. It is very acceptable in a coffee and very tasty in an iced chocolate or milkshake.  It can be difficult to froth up. That’s my second choice just now for coffee and first choice for smoothies.

Is it gluten free

Oat milk is a vegan alternative to dairy and suitable for those with nut allergies.

Most Oats are gluten free but not always processed in a gluten free environment so I steer clear of oat milk despite its other apparent health benefits. I ordered one for my partner recently and between us we decided we could manage that if no other milks were available.  It certainly didn’t spoil the coffee.

Nut milks with coffee beans

Nut milks are so popular you are unlikely to find a café without at least one type.

The most common one they reel off is almond.

Even though I like to eat almonds the smell of almond milk puts me off my coffee.  The flavor detracts from the coffee itself. 

We had several people buying almond coffees in our café. We would ask them their reason for having it. I don’t recall anyone saying it was because of the flavor. They generally had it because of a dairy allergy or intolerance.

Macadamia – the Queen of Nuts

Our first taste of Macadamia Milk was at a tea and coffee festival expo in Melbourne. It was very pleasant to drink even on its own. Soon after this we had enquiries from regular customers for this milk in their coffees. So, we started recommending Macadamia Milk. I am yet to come across anyone who has not liked it once they tried it. You would expect it to be the younger generations to go for newer trends but we even had an 85 year old regular who made the change from lactose free milk.

Macadamia nuts are a popular treat here in Australia.  Macadamia milk is smooth and no strong flavor so the coffee which I am now quite fond of, and chocolate if having a mocha, are able to come through.  I have become a very big fan of Macadamia milk.  Although a Macadamia coffee is usually a little more expensive than others it is well worth it.

It is slightly creamy. An experienced barista is able to froth it and make a delicious mochaccino easy to drink.

I add a marshmallow as a treat and to slightly sweeten it although it doesn’t need that.

Seen at local cafe.
Photo credit: @classicespressobar

Now I may be addicted to coffee……….

Finally, I have found the perfect milk for my coffee.

MILKLAB have done a good job with this milk.

We walk to our favourite café every day and I have a small maca mocha.

However, after 3 years running our own cafe  and making my own maca mocha each day I am fussy. Well, I can identify places I prefer to buy my coffee from. It could be the coffee beans they use or it could be the way they steam the milk.   Believe it or not a lot of things go into making a good coffee.

It has to be made with love to the individual drinker’s liking. An exceptional barista discovers what that is!  That will get them repeat business. Don’t be afraid to give your barista feedback about the coffees you have from them.

What’s your preference for milk, coffee beans?

What type of milk do you like in your coffee? What impact do coffee beans being served have on your choice?