Monday, 24 January 2011

Grandma Gertrude–Gone Peacefully

It was her time

I spent the most peaceful few hours with Grandma, just holding her hand, yesterday, occasionally talking to her.  She couldn’t hear me or see me but she could sense me and would often squeeze my hand.

She passed away a few hours ago (Sunday, 6pm, London & Leeds time).  I’ll be returning to Leeds to spend more time with Granddad and help him, and to spend time with my Dad is who thankfully and magically flying in from Melbourne, arriving Tuesday.  Posting will be light (to non-existent) for a bit.

Don’t be sad for me.  She’s been reunited with her children, her sisters, her parents and many other loved ones. 

It was her time.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Grandma Gertrude

I'm tired, my brain is tired and the computer I'm on only has IE6*. So I'm joining the ranks of list lovers and sharing a randomish list of things about my Grandma. It was either that or a list about expected positive exposure and credit value adjustments.

Seemingly random thoughts about my Grandma for you though**:

  • My Grandma is 97. She's really really old. I don't think about it that much but every so often I here someone else mention their grandma's and I'm shocked at how young theirs are. How old are yours (if they are still around - I'm lucky, both of my maternal grandparents are alive still). I also know of people older than her that seem younger, if that makes sense. I think she gave up a while ago and is just waiting for her body to give up.

  • It doesn't matter that I write this because she doesn't know who I am. She thinks I'm Lulu's daughter. Granddad and I don't know who Lulu is. I do take it as a compliment though, because everyone says she only has her long-term memory and doesn't remember recent events. I like that she thinks my birth (>29 years ago) is recent. Means I'm young still, right?

  • I deal with sad things with humour. I don't laugh at funerals but I do think I often think the wrong thing at the wrong time. I'm sarcastic and have a dry sense of humour. It's not always great. I would provide some examples but then you might all just begin to hate me. Maybe another time I will. If you are someone I know IRL, you will already know this anyway.

  • I spoke to my Dad this morning. He'd screened an earlier call (about Grandma) because he was sitting centre court at the Aus Open. Hello Dad - since when did you go to the tennis? When home, I tended to go 2-3 time each Australian open, never with Dad because he didn't like tennis. I'm not watching it this year because it makes me a little bit homesick. Melbourne really really rocks. Whilst it doesn't have the obvious icons like Sydney, it is a fantastic place.

  • My Grandma's name is Gertrude. Not a day goes by that I don't love my parents that little bit more for not naming me after her. Or my paternal Nan (Muriel Nancy anyone??). Good job parents - I don't always love my name but I sure do prefer it to those alternatives.

  • I'm going to Leeds tomorrow. To see my Grandma. And my Granddad. Shall I tell her you all said hello? I wonder how long it would take to explain to her why Lulu's daughter has a blog and what a blog is. Maybe it's best I just let her retell me the story of her wedding day and the café she went to in the Swiss Alps one day in 1968 to get a coffee. They're the two stories she tells me every time I see her.

* Do you have any idea how much I don't like this? It is missing so many of the conveniences of chrome (and I'm assuming just about every other browser out there) and makes sharing pics really hard. So I'm not.  There are some pics of her here though.

**Grandma's pretty poorly. I'm going to say what may be my goodbyes tomorrow. Might not be though. Who knows. She's been poorly in the past.  I'm not sure what my preferred outcome is, she's very old and very uncomfortable but she's my Grandma.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Wildlife Photographer of the Year - 2010

Last Sunday afternoon was spent at London’s Natural History Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.  The museum is housed in one of my favourite buildings but I really only visit it annually for this exhibition.

The main hall inside the museum.  All the exhibitions are off to the sides. 
 The outside is amazing too, I just didn't get any snaps for some reason.

The exhibition is one I look forward to every year (and yeah, I go with the same person each time where we spend the time comparing this years entrants to prior years).  There are awards for the following categories:
  • Behaviour: Birds
  • Behaviour: Mammals
  • Behaviour: All Other Animals
  • The Underwater World
  • Animal Portraits
  • In Praise of Plants and Fungi
  • Urban Wildlife
  • Wild Places
  • Animals in their Environment
  • Nature in Black and White
  • Creative Visions of Nature
  • Endangered Wildlife
  • One Earth
  • 10 years and under
  • 11-14 years
  • 15-17 years
So whilst all the photos are amazing in some way (stunning, technical, narrative etc), there are always favourites.  It’s hard to pick just one (there were too many to choose from) but here’s the one I took home with me (in 33p postcard form, as pictured below – click through the caption to see the original image).

My least favourite photos tend to be ones showing animals eating each other (yes, I realise this is how the food chain works but I don’t feel the need to see it) and ones showing the effect of humans on many habitats (again, yes, I realise this is a problem, but the pics make me sad and I don’t want to be sad on a Sunday).

If you are in London, I’d suggest you get along - it's on until March 11.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Ten on a Tuesday - 63

More questions directly from Chelsea over at Roots and Rings.

1. What’s your favourite colour to paint your nails?
I would have answered clear and I guess that’s what I use the most but my favourite at the moment is opaque gray (Minsk by Mavala is a current fave).  Toes should be a hot pinky read.

2. Do you like to sneeze?
No but I would rather sneeze and get it over with than a constant feeling of needing to sneeze.

3. How often do you fill up your car with gas?
N/A – carless.

4. Were you named after anyone?
Not that I know of.

5. Have you made any good recipes lately?
A few good ones from Appetite for Reduction. And some basic pasta sauce (I’m trying to eat better and spend less so I’m stepping away from the comfort of jars)with tinned cherry tomatoes, chilli, thyme, oregano, onions, mushrooms and fresh basil.

6. What’s an easy money-saving tip that you use regularly?
I’m really bad at saving money so I’m the wrong person to ask.  Hopefully if you ask me again in 365 days, I’ll have one for you.  I will say that it isn’t to cut out the morning coffee (that cup of milk fills me up all morning and some of the arvo – so whilst I still have lunch, I don’t snack during the morning or afternoon. £2 well spent).

7. Would you rather have a sore throat or an ear ache?
Neither is ideal but I guess a sore throat.  Legit reason for ice-cream right?

8. Do you have any scars? What are they from?
Yep – three on my knee from surgery, one on each elbow from childhood scrapes, a acne divot and one on my right hand from a falling blind.

9. What are you “known for” in your circle of friends/family?
Not sure – you guys tell me?  Probably moving away?

10. How do you like to eat your pancakes?
I’m not too fussed – as long as there is no banana or bacon near them, I’ll probably love them?  I have crepes with red peppers, spinach, mushrooms and cheese most Fridays so I guess that? 

I liked this random hotchpotch list of questions – thanks Chelsea!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Appetite for Reduction–the cookbook

I’ve just recently (as in Friday) got this cookbook:

Appetite for Reduction (by Isa Chndra Moskowitz).  I ordered it online after Anna (Door Sixteen) tweeted about it. She then followed it up with a blog post moments after I had received mine in the mail.  Styled like the Guns and Roses Appetite for Destruction cover and being vegan*, it was always going to be something I liked.

So far, I’ve only made one dish (Pasta Con Broccoli) but I think we’re going to get along just fine, this book and I.  It’s a friendly cook book as well.  By this I mean:

  • There are plenty of tips and descriptions of various ingredients you may not have come across before, as well as suggested alternatives
  • There are plenty of categories of food – at the end of most recipes, Isa suggests other sides/meals which would compliment whatever recipe you have just made.
  • It’s a really well organised book.  As well as the great table of contents page and the traditional index, there is also an index of recipes by icon (ie. gluten free, soy free, recipes with downtime & recipes under 30 minutes)
  • It’s full of healthy and nutritious recipes (true story, the only other cookbooks I have with me in the UK are for cookies, cakes and desserts).
  • I’m really looking forward to working through this book.  There is so much in there I want to try and I’m keen to up my vegie intake.  I’m now off to do an online shop to update my spice cabinet**.

Any cookbooks you are lusting over?

* I’m not a vegan, nor do I intend on becoming one.  I just knew I wanted to eat healthier this year and have been sadly lacking inspiration when it comes to cooking dinners for some time now.  I think this book will inspire me and get me eating healthier.  There are many sides there that I will pair with other non-vegan meals.

** The recipes on first glance don’t take a lot of ingredients so the normal person wouldn’t need to run out and buy loads.  It’s just that my herb and spice cabined currently consists of salt and pepper.  There are a feww more things than this needed.

Friday, 14 January 2011


Or wellies
or rain boots
or whatever.

We've had a decent whack of snow already this year (and I'm hoping there is more to come) so I think I need to invest in som.  I’ll need them for a music festival later in the year.  So let’s have a looksee out there and see what we can see see see. 

There are so many places selling them but I’m going to keep this search to Amazon (all pics from Amazon and each pic is a link to its listing).

In the “no, thanks, not for me, ever” category we have:

Cauliflower is for eating, not wearing.
A heel, seriously?
Fake ed hardy styling? seriously? {not that real would be any better!}

In the “yes please, size 41 category” we have

I think the last two pairs are my favourite but I might keep looking for a bit longer. Notice how the ones I like are kind of dull?  Maybe I need something a little jazzier? 

Do you have gumboots?  (or what do you call them?).  Any you are lusting after?

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Ten on a Tuesday - 62

Questions via Chelsea from Molly.

1. Is there a band/artist that you HATE?

No, not really. I have pretty diverse music taste, but am also terrible with names of songs/artists so if I don't like a song, I probably couldn't tell you who it was by. For the longest time I didn't want to like Black Eyed Peas but I do actually (and I'm not sure why I was so against liking them for so long!  Their song Ring-a-ling cracks me right up.)

2. What do you do when you get a gift that you do not like? How do you react?
I would like to think graciously. I don't get a great number of presents (yeah, living on the other side of the world to most of my present givers has its disadvantages) and I'm pretty easily pleased.

3. How is your work office/cubicle decorated?
Sparsely. The only decorations are a chilli plant & forget-me-nots growing in a tin and a really bad Etihad Airways desk calendar. The forget me not seeds and tins were an Alzheimer's charity fundraiser and then my colleagues planted the chilli seeds from a local Mexican restaurant in the tin when I was holidays and they were "looking after" my plant. I got the really bad desk calendar when Eithad came to our offices as a promo. It doesn't have nice pics of the destinations they fly to, rather pictures of their different seats, their different check in desks and their different aeroplane food. That's not hot.

{chilli plant on my desk wrapping it's way around a chopstick stake.  You can just see a hint of forget-me-not towards the lower right).  You can also just see the bottom corner of my calendar in the background.  The white text (and subsequent smaller text you can't read after it) reads:  They like a warmer welcome.  Our premium check-in at Abu Dhabi International Airport.  Inspiring, I tells ya}

4. Do you use all of your vacation every year?
I'm a contractor so I don't get any (in the sense that if I don't work, I don't get paid) but I can take time off. When I started they said to try and keep my leave in line with permanent employees which means 5 - 6 weeks a year. Last year I took 5.

5. Did you have a real or fake Christmas tree?
None. We did have a Christmas tree shaped candle though (which I guess fits into the "fake" category).

6. If you could have anything for dinner tonight, what would it be?
I'm not overly hungry at the moment so I'm not sure. Maybe garlic bread and soup? (because I know that is what is in my fridge when I get home?)

7. Do you bite your fingernails?
Nope. I use to as a kid but I haven't for about 20 years. No idea what made me stop.

8. How many cups of coffee do you drink each day?
2+. One at home. One circa 10.30 with my coffee club and then variable there after.

9. Do you have a nervous tick?
I usually fidget with my necklace.

10. How often do you vacuum?
Every few weeks or so (it's only our bedrooms that have carpet) but more frequently than my housemates (but that's another topic).

More movies

 This weekend I briefly left the house to catch a few movies.  Love and Other Drugs on Saturday with an old friend.  127 Hours on Sunday with my housemate and his brother.

Love 127

Love and Other Drugs was perfect for our mood.  We’d done a touch of shopping, had a lovely lunch, stocked up on some Aussie sweets and settled in to watch Jake.  Naked Jake.  Fantastic naked Jake.  Fantastic Naked Jake aside, the movie was enjoyable.  It’s not mind blowing or anything new but I enjoyed it.  Worth seeing with the girls.

127 Hours is Danny Boyle’s (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) latest movie and is based on Aron Rolston’s book – Between and Rock and Hard Place.   It details the 127 hours he spent with his arm trapped whilst canyoning through to him self-amputating it.  It’s not always an enjoyable watch and at times I had to look away but it is a great story and well worth seeing.  I think I’ll add Aron’s book to my reading list.

Did you catch any flicks?  I don’t tend to see many (any) in Summer but I overload in Winter.  Next up is hopefully The Kings Speech (sold out last night).  Then Black Swan and Never Let Me Go when they are released here.

Update - I just ordered Between and Rock and Hard Place  - I 'll report back once I've read it.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The best question from a friend

On the strangest postcard.  One of my best friends, two of my former housemates are getting married.  On December 18th this year, on their twelfth anniversary. 


And I get to be her Best Woman (or Bridesmaid).  I can’t wait! 

Word of warning about asking people important questions on postcards (that have to cross the globe) – you often have to wait (and wait) for an answer!

Any hot tips on how to be the best bridesmaid?  From afar? (I’ll only be getting back to Australia the week before the wedding. But I do get to stay for Christmas!!!)

*I’ve known this for a little while and this card came whilst I was in Russia – it just show’s how far behind I am on some posts!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Ten on a Tuesday - 61

The first Tuesday of the new year, my first Ten on a Tuesday for a bit.  Questions, as always, have come via Chelsea over at Roots and Rings.  Thanks Erin (Erin B. Inspired) for them

I think this post would be awesome with some photos but that just won’t be happening today.

1. What type of home do you currently reside in? (house, apartment, etc.)
A refurbed Victorian flat. It’s a sharehouse (shareflat?) that I share with two others.

2. If you could completely redecorate one room in your home, what room would you pick, why, and what would you do to it?
The bathroom.  Our landlord has a few flats in this block (there is 6 per building) and one by one he’s done them up.  In doing so, he’s rejigged the bathroom taking out the vanity and the bath, leaving us with a pedestal basin and just a shower.  So I want the bath back and would prefer a vanity for the storage (we previously all had our own draw and it just makes things look cleaner etc.).

3. What is your favourite place to gain inspiration for your home decor style?
I guess blogs? I follow a few design blogs but less and less as time goes by.  Because I’m renting 1 room in a fully furnished flat, there isn’t a lot I need to do.  That, and I’m not keen on big purchases that I can’t easily ship home because one day, I’ll be back in Australia.

4. What is your favourite piece of decor in your home?
My picture wall I think.  It’s black and white travel photography, mostly mine, and it’s coming along nicely.

5. What do you want visitors to feel when they visit your home? Do you think your home gives off that feeling?
Relaxed, welcome, comfortable.  I’d like to think it does.  Most of my visitors are repeat visitors so I guess that helps?

6. Describe your home in one word and explain why you chose that word.
Relaxing.  I’m a homebody and I love my room.  And I have pretty decent housemates.  I often choose staying in just because I like being here.

7. What are some predominant colours or patterns in your home?
Greige.  The walls are all a beigey grey colour (actually called Portland Stone, pictured below), white trim (including the 2 feet above the picture rail) and the furniture is all oak (as are the floors).  I like the wall colour – it’s a great neutral but the wood is a bit much I think, especially in the kitchen/lounge. It's not as yellowy on the walls as the below swatch might suggest.

8. What is your favourite room in your home and why?
My bedroom.  It’s large.  It’s mine.  Shared decision making in the rest of the house but my room really is my sanctuary. I’ll often sprawl on my bed and read or watch dvds.  I tend to hang in here a fair bit when I’m home.  The door is usually open so my housemates come and go, chatting as they please – they know I’m in love with my room and not being anti social.

9. Do you take a hands-on or DIY approach to projects around your home or do you enlist or hire help?
Not really relevant as I’ve never done much but I guess I enlist help?  Our landlord is very hands on – if a light bulb blows, he sends someone around to replace it (which I know sounds bad but we have super super high ceilings and nothing to reach them on!)

10. Where is your favourite place to shop for home furnishings?
I don’t think I’ve really got a favourite?  Pictures frames are mostly from Ikea and Wilkinsons.  I think if I was in the UK long long term, I’d do some damage at Habitat?

At the movies: Catfish & others

Catfish.  Have you seen it? Heard about it?  Strange strange movie.  Captivating movie.

I hadn’t heard of it until yesterday afternoon when a friend messaged asking if I wanted to go see it.  I had nothing planned and it fitted in with my style of late* so I grabbed another mate and went along.  I did read the imdb summary which is more than D got.  But wow.  So many questions.  I’ve done a bit of googling on it since and I just keep thinking of more questions.  I must say that the lead, Nev, is hot (hot hot hot).

It’s billed as a reality thriller and is about people you meet online not always being who they say they are.  It’s most unlike any movie I’ve seen before.  Beyond that, there isn’t a lot I can say without giving it away.
*My style of late has consisted of a lot of dvds.  Since Christmas day, I’ve seen the following (one was at the cinema).  Some were seen for the first time, some were seen for the 48th billion time.  Some were great and some were…uh, less great?  I think Waiting was one of my favourites that I hadn’t seen before. 
Did you watch any flicks over the break?  Any recommendations for me?

Burn after readingClerks iicluelessDid you hear about the morgansEmpire recordsIndia JonesKnocked upLate Night ShoppingLove actuallyMonty Python and the holy grailMonty python's life of brianMonty python's the meaning of lifeReality BitesRun fatboy runSocial networkUnited states of leylandWaitingWhip itWho framed roger rabbitZoolander
*all pictures are from IMDB and are links to the respective film.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Welcome 2011

Thanks 2010 you were lovely, but I'm going home with 2011...*

I feel ready for 2011 but not really ready to say goodbye to 2010.  There’s so much I left unfinished, and unsaid.  I’ve had a mad bad case of writers block this last week or so.  It being a new year, I’ve been wondering if I should just move on.  Or if I do my best to finish reviewing 2010 a bit better.  Things like my Russian trip, Project 365, Reverb, other thoughts on the year gone.

Whilst I continue to toss and turn (figuratively), I’ll wish you a Happy New Year. Hope it’s a good one…

(How did you celebrate? Mine was pretty quiet but lovely – a few drinks with friends and then some fireworks along the Thames)

Sun beginning to set, Boxing Day 2010, Hove, UK

*A friend’s facebook status from early Saturday morning.  There were many to do with NYE but this was absolutely my favourite.