Monthly Archives: December 2016

‘ . . . for the times they are a-changin’.’ Bob Dylan.

‘Come gather ’round people wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown
and accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone — if your time to you is worth savin’,
then you better start swimmin’, or you’ll sink like a stone for the times they are a-changin’.’

Bob Dylan recorded those lyrics in 1964—fifty two years ago.  I was five.  Noticing changes around me (or at least the sort of changes Bob was referring to) was not really at the top of my agenda.  But re-reading those words now it is almost like ‘Well—der—way to state the bloody obvious!’

changesComing as we are to the beginning of yet another new year it is probably a good time to take stock, and think about where we might be going, or what we might be doing, in the months ahead.  I am not a fan of New Year celebrations (in truth, they make me a little melancholy) and I rarely make ‘resolutions’ (and I never keep them when I do) but the approach of another new year does always make me more aware of changes that have happened, and continue to happen, in the world around me . . .

From a universal perspective at least, change is the only constant—it is happening all around us, every day, and, seemingly with total disregard for our hopes, needs or desires.

lightningSo what are the rules?  How should we deal with unexpected, and often unwanted, changes to our everyday lives?  I guess it depends on the kind of change you experience doesn’t it?  If you are the one trying to initiate the change—like expanding your social life, or travelling more, or trying to get fit—it’s great.  If, however, the changes all seem to be beyond your contol—your relationship is failing, you are losing your job, are experiencing health serious issues or the government has moved the goalposts again just when you thought you were getting out from under—not so much!

ventMost of us are, quite naturally, concerned with our own everyday existence—and so we should be.  I am no different.   I have embraced some unexpected changes in my own personal world over the years—but I have also raged (really raged) against some too.  I can’t tell you how much time I wasted eating lots of chocolate frogs, drinking lots of wine and grumbling very loudly to anyone who would listen about the unfairness of a certain situation or a door that had just been slammed in my face ( . . . not that eating chocolate frogs and drinking lots of wine is a complete waste of time of course, but you get my drift . . . )

hiding_7_tnbThankfully I am a tad brighter than I sometimes appear and eventually it did dawn on me that once I had eaten all the chocolate, drunk all the wine and my friends and colleagues had started hiding behind the furniture when they saw me coming, that nothing much had been achieved except me making myself extremely unhappy, extremely fat, and, no doubt, extremely unpopular, and I decided to ‘suck it up’ and started looking for a way to move forward.

(Most self-help gurus would no doubt rephrase that into something more shiny-happy, like ‘release the past’, ‘think positive thoughts’ or ‘embrace changes as opportunities for growth’.   Whatever . . . )

All I know is, for me at least, the moment I actually stopped staring at that firmly closed door (or at least stopped physically trying to break it down) was also the moment I finally started noticing the tiny cracks open in the windows around me.  Perhaps change, even unlooked for, isn’t always bad.  Maybe that door was closed for good reason.

open-doorSo anyway—before I start sounding any more like Jedi Master Yoda (‘May the Force be with you’)—here’s hoping that any changes that come into your life in 2017 are ultimately all for the good . . . and if you feel they aren’t, start looking around for ways to deal with them.  Look for those open doors and windows—and for the people who will help you get through them.    Because, bless them, they are out there . . .

Happy New Year.  See you all in 2017.   🙂


Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?’ W. Clement Stone.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I may be showing my age here (ahem) but I do actually remember a time (once upon a dim, dark past) when a ‘liquid lunch’ meant somewhat more than a cup-a-soup or a protein shake . . .

Unfortunately these days (actually, thinking back, and from what I can recall, that should probably read ‘fortunately’) two glasses of wine at lunch time now and I start to feel an all-encompassing need to go lie down and have a bit of a nanna-nap . . .

Happily, I am on holiday at the moment and can do just that. 🙂

I hope you all have had  . . .  and are still having . . . . a lovely holiday break . . .



Posted by on December 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and receipts for all major purchases.’ Bridger Winegar.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

itsoverIt’s done . . . the last of my Christmas shopping . . .

Pressies are wrapped, tagged and ready to be distributed (please don’t let me have forgotten anyone because I really don’t think I could face having to go back to the shops again today . . . )  The fridge is full of yummy food and drink (‘we elves like to stick to the four main food groups’) and I can’t think of a single thing I still have to do.  Sigh.  I might even go and have a little nap . . .

Christmas I am ready for you.  Bring it on . . .


From my family to yours—have a happy and safe Christmas everyone.


Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘Who needs snowflakes when you have seashells . . .’ Unknown.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

dogtellyI had the telly on a lot last weekend.  I admit, most of the time I wasn’t even watching it, it was just background noise. But every now and then, when I needed a break, I’d stop what I was doing, go make a cup of tea and settle myself onto the couch and ‘drop in’ to watching whatever was on at that moment.

christmassnoopyThis time of year, of course, it’s pretty much Christmas movie after Christmas movie.  Many of them I have seen before (some of them I can even recite the dialogue . . . )  and most are fun to watch again (although, even at this time of year I can only digest so much sugar . . . ) but it still strikes me every year how seriously weird it is to be watching Christmas movies where everything is all over ice and snow, everyone is rugged up in coats, scarves and boots—and I am dressed in a sun-frock and have all the doors and windows open hoping to catch even the slightest of breezes . . .

lucy-snowI am not complaining.  At all.  I spent a number of Christmasses in Europe (albeit many years ago now) and although I have very fond memories of them I honestly do not miss that kind of cold.  It looks all very lovely and romantic on chocolate boxes and yuletide cards and in Christmas movies, but the day to day getting about and living in it is a whole different story.  So, weird as it feels sometimes, I am quite content to watch those kind of Christmasses from afar.

But to my friends and family overseas who do enjoy a cold and frosty Christmasgo for it!  Eat, Drink and be Merry!  (You can fill me in on the details later . . . )  

The girls and I are thinking of you all . . . and sending warm (literally) and sandy hugs across the miles . . .


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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘It’s like deja-vu, all over again.’ Yogi Berra.

holidayWell—that’s it.  Today ends my last full week of work for another year. I will be in the office on Monday and Tuesday next week but, hopefully, just ‘tidying up’.  (Actually, I take that back.  If you are a work colleague reading this and have just remembered something you need to forward to me for completion before the Christmas break—I am absolutely, positively NOT going to be in the office next Monday and Tuesday.)   On Wednesday I will be joining the rest of my College colleagues at our Staff Christmas Lunch (we’re going back to Oasis as we had such a good time there last year) and then I am on holiday.  Woo Hoo!

frognothingSince people found out I am going to be away from the office for the next three weeks (that is worth saying again—three weeks!) I have constantly been quizzed on where will I be going, what will I be doing, what plans do I have for my time off?  Well, I am here to tell you people—I have one plan, and one plan only.  I plan to be flat out busy doing nothing . . .

Does this sound all very familiar?

Well it is.  It is exactly what I did this time last year, and it worked so well for me then that I have decided to do it all over again.  I know from experience that the time will go by in a flash and before I know it I will be back in the office, head down, bum up and starting all over again . . .

peppermintpattyTime is a weird thing isn’t it?  It is an oft-observed phenomenon that time seemed to pass much more slowly when we were younger.  When we were kids each hour spent indoors in the classroom seemed to double in length as the day stretched on; the term between Christmas and Easter holidays was excruciatingly drawn out, and we hung out for birthdays which never seemed to come around often enough.

kids-summerOn the plus side, summer holidays (when we finally got to them) stretched out in an endless stream of hot days spent outside, trips to the beach, eating ice-lolls and watermelon, and (in my case) getting horrific sunburn and sand in places it just really wasn’t meant to be.  (To be fair, people with school-aged children probably still feel that summer holidays are endless—but for totally different reasons.)  Tempus fugit.  Now it seems to me that Christmas and Easter may as well be the same festivity for the space we get between them, holidays are still fun but are over in the blink of an eye—
and, well, don’t get me started on how often birthdays come around!

I wonder why the passage of time seems to pass so differently at various stages of our lives?

ageingOne theory is that each unit of time that you live through is only a small portion of your total experience, so, for example, for a one year old child, one year is, literally, a lifetime.  To a ten year old, a year is one tenth of their total experience, and so their ‘clock’ has really just begun to move.  For those who are 70, 80 or 90, one year is nearer to 1% of their total life experience and so the shorter time that is left races ahead and the past stretches out far behind.  Or, perhaps it all has to do with ‘anticipation’ and ‘retrospection’ . . .

ladydrinkWhy time passes the way it does doesn’t really matter though, does it (and reading up on the psychological, philosophical or physical theories on time can just about do your head in. . . )  so I am just going to accept it for what it is.

I am going to take this time to relax and recharge.  I am not going to feel pressured into thinking I should be doing something . . . anything . . .  with my precious time off.

Feel free to join me—we’ll find a quiet spot, open a bottle and put our feet up . . .


Posted by on December 16, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘It takes one tree to make 10,000 matches, but one match to burn 10,000 trees.’ Unknown.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

Well folks . . . Christmas is coming . . . which means so are the summer storms, sweltering heat, and bushfires . . .

Be careful.  Be vigilant.  Be safe . . .


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Posted by on December 13, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘Don’t give me books for Christmas; I already have a book.’ Jean Harlow.

15days“Only 15 Sleeps to Christmas” the sign outside one of our local shops shrieked at me as I walked past today.  Oh good grief!  That means I should probably have posted the family’s gifts off to England weeks ago.  Now they might get them in time for Easter next year (if they’re lucky).  Sigh.

candy-caneIt’s no good . . . I really do have to ‘get with the programme’.  It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about how quickly Christmas is closing in on me, because I have.  (How could anyone not—with the constant bombardment of Christmas shopping and food catalogues, bouncing elves and those incessant Jingle-Bell ditties which have been playing in every supermarket and boutique since early November . . . how those poor shop assistants do not go into complete meltdown and start poking candy canes into customers’ eyes long before Christmas Day arrives is beyond me . . . )

listHowever . . . as I was saying . . . I have (honestly) been giving some thought to the holiday season—albeit possibly only in the deep, dark recesses of my mind—and I do distinctly remember thinking about putting a Christmas List together way back in September . . . and then again in October . . .  and then reminding myself again in November that Christmas wasn’t all that far away . . .

What I try to do, of course, is buy potential Christmas gifts for friends and family throughout the year, wherever and whenever I see them—because I want to choose something a person will really, really like, rather than a last minute rushed ‘Oh my gosh this will do’ sort of present.  So when I see the perfect gift I buy it, put it aside, and by the time Christmas comes around I am then (hopefully) well ahead of the game. This makes perfect sense to me.

elephant-never-forgets2What doesn’t make so much sense, however, is that I always seem to pack these lovely purchases away and store them ‘somewhere safe’—and then promptly forget all about them!  Not only that, but when I do eventually come across them again (often after Christmas is long gone) I have usually forgotten who I bought them for in the first place, because, apparently, I also think my memory is good enough not to warrant the attachment of a quick post-it note with a name on it . . .

15 days.  Mmmmmm.  That’s okay.  I can do this.  There’s still plenty of time left to get everything done.  All I need is a plan . . .

mary_chris_mess_1500905So—from this weekend I am going to make a determined effort to ‘get into the spirit’ of it all.  I am going to drag out my Christmas decorations (kicking and screaming from their dusty boxes) and shooz up the house.  The girls will love that.  (Oh Oh. Thinking of the girls has just made me remember—Cinder is coming to stay this weekend.  Remember Cinder—the now six-month old cavoodle puppy who stayed with us back in September? She is a darling girl but there is such a thing as tempting fate.  A boisterous puppy, tinsel, and sparkly balls?  I mean . . .  what could possibly go wrong . . . )

I am also going to scour the house for buried treasures as there are bound to be all sorts of surprises hidden in the unlikeliest of places.  I might even score a couple of nice little pressies for myself . . . you know . . .  if earlier purchases are no longer needed, or inappropriate, or might look better on me . . .

christmas-foodThen I am going to finalise my ‘List’ (after I have started it of course).  I’ll wrap and tag what I found during my treasure hunt, decide on what I still need to buy (online shopping here I come) and then . . . if we are talking about getting into the Christmas Spirit—I might just have to finish the weekend off with a nice bottle of something red, along with an assortment of Christmas yummies (which I have been studiously avoiding until now but which really do need to be taste-tested before I could possibly send them out as gifts . . . I’m a good friend like that . . . )  

stressAnd then it will be Monday.

12 sleeps to Christmas.

No worries.

I have a plan.

She’ll be right . . .


Posted by on December 9, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.’ Steven Wright.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . . 

fishingApparently there are no longer any fish to be caught in the Camden Haven River—at least, according to every fisherman I have spoken to over the past week . . .

‘Nothing down there’ . . . ‘fished out’ . . . ‘wasting my time’ . . .

And yet they continue to sit there . . . hour after hour . . . day after day . . . week after week . . .



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Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘My name is Arsenio. That’s a very unique name for a black man. In Greek, it means Leroy.’ Arsenio Hall.

I have been thinking about names a lot this week.  Why?  I am not really sure.  I don’t recall thinking about people’s names all that much before—aside perhaps from the usual eye-rolling on reading the latest celebrity-baby-name revelation in the latest gossip rag . . . (Aha—I think I may have just answered my own question . . . )sally1

I have always been quite happy with my own name and never wished it to be anything else.  (‘Sally’ is a diminutive of the more traditional ‘Sarah’.)  It is a fairly ordinary name (compared to some) and you wouldn’t think it liable to upset anyone unduly—unless, possibly, you live in Morocco.  Apparently, in Morocco your child’s name must reflect ‘Moroccan identity’, so although you may legally name your baby ‘Sara’ (the Arabic version), you may not name her ‘Sarah’ (the Hebrew version).

whatnameThat’s okay.  As my birth certificate actually states my name to be ‘Sally’ rather than ‘Sarah’, this may, hopefully, be enough to keep me out of trouble should I ever decide to visit Morocco, but it also makes me wonder—if a name as simple as Sarah can be deemed illegal in a country because of the letter ‘h’, how are some of this generation’s children, many of whom have, shall we say, increasingly ‘interesting’ personal monikers, ever going to be able to go out and about travelling the world without causing some sort of major international incident?

And I am not only talking about celebrity baby name choices either.  (Admit it—you thought of a couple of those right away too didn’t you?) Well, it seems there are plenty of ordinary people out there who are ready, willing and (seemingly) able to give their children the most extraordinary and bizarre names imaginable.

icelandMost countries do have laws in place about what you may or may not call your children, and some are stricter than others.  In Germany, you must be able to tell the gender of the child by the first name, and the name chosen must not be negatively affect the well being of the child. In Iceland the name must only contain letters in the Icelandic alphabet, and must fit grammatically with the language (so no Caroline or Christine as there is no letter ‘c’ in Icelandic.)  Denmark has a list of 7,000 pre-approved baby names.  If parents want a name that is not on that list they must get special permission from their local church and then it must be reviewed by government officials.

bensonNew Zealand also requires parents to run prospective names by the government.  Its naming rules are similar to those of Australia but recent applications received by their authorities seem just a tad more ‘out there’.  Over the last few years New Zealand has repeatedly rejected applications for people to name their children Lucifer, Christ, Mafia No Fear, 4Real and Anal. (Seriously.)  However, in spite of rejecting those names, in 2008 the same authorities made international headlines when they allowed a set of twins to be named ‘Benson’ and ‘Hedges’ and also agreed to the name ‘Number 16 Bus Shelter’ . . .  (I really feel that I should comment on this, but honestly, speechless . . . )

uniqueAlthough I am not a parent (to any two legged children at least) I do understand that some parents might want their child’s name to be special or unique, and I think that is a lovely idea.  I am also not entirely averse to being a bit imaginative or creative with spelling choices (and you might have to be if you live in Morocco or Iceland), but, in all seriousness, one would hope that any parent might give at least a moment’s thought to the fact that said child will have to go through a significant portion of his life having to bear that nameat least until they are old enough to throw themselves upon the mercy of the courts to have it changed.

So, anyone out there in the position of thinking of naming a child, I have only one thing more to say.  Enjoy the process!   Have fun.  Be original . . . be innovative . . . be creative . . .  and, please . . . be kind.

And spare a thought for the eight year old girl who was removed into care because her parents refused her appeals to have her name changed from ‘Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii’.  I kid you not . . .


Posted by on December 2, 2016 in Uncategorized


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