Mother Who Works

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The MJs non-event

Do you remember our find raising group the MJs? A selection of like minded friends hell bent on putting the FUN back into FUNdraising as well as minimising the out goings and maximising the dollars that actually get to the cause. Now there's an idea!

We're called the MJs because we all have middle names that start with 'M' or 'J' - Jane, Joy, Mary - that kind of 1960's thing. Well, we did have until Sally joined... but we're overlooking that.

Anyhoo, our next FUNdraiser is now open and I need your help!

We're hoping to raise $20,000 for Avalon Centre which provides second hand clothes, shoes, bedding and toiletries to the homeless as well as supporting other disadvantaged and disenfranchised individuals  - those from a refugee background, those with a disability, the lonely... anyone is need. They're a great cause.

So, what event, we wondered? We've had a trivia night, a cake stall, an indigenous do, a vintage clothing sale.... and then a friend's suggestion a couple of years ago popped back into my head - a non-event! That's right - an event you don't have to go to - perfect!

For those of you in Melbourne, you'll know what winter is like - long and bleak. So you start off, buying a ticket for an event and as the day draw closer, enthusiasm tends to wane as the beckon of the couch and an open fire becomes stronger. Why fight it, we thought?

Here's our promotional video.

That's why our next event is a non-event. That's right - an event we're asking you NOT to attend. 

We're not spending a dime on a venue, extravagant entertainment, a sit down dinner and wines of questionable quality - 100% of all monies received is going to the cause. We are so 'on mission'!!

As mentioned, (about 3 times..) we're hoping to raise $20,000 - we're up to about $4k and have a deadline of June 27th - eek!!!

Tickets are $130 and entitles the purchaser to a tax-deductible receipt, a discount on an eat-in, take away or delivered pizza from Firestone Pizza (472 - 486 Waverley Road, Malvern East) on the night (June 27th - it's a Tuesday BTW...)  and a warm fuzzy feeling!

And how can you stop me nagging? Yes - buy a ticket!!!

In addition, you can 'purchase' much needed items like sleeping bags, socks, underwear, runners and beanies - and yes, you'll get a tax-deductible receipt for those too.

Here's the TryBooking link so you can take action. 

With thanks and love!! MWWx and the MJs

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Kangaroo Island Part II

Back to the island.

Know that there are often long drives on unsealed roads between attractions. In hindsight, moving accommodation as you progress around the island is probably a better option that our plonking in the one spot.

Various friends and family had given us the hot tips but pretty sure we covered it all.

  • Pelican feeding at Kingscote - very funny and informative


  • Cape Willoughby Light House - again, an informative, friendly worth while tour - and bonus, not far from Dudley Wines!
  • Clifford's Honey Farm - long way to go but the honey ice cream was delicious
  • Stoke's Beach - where you walk through what feels like a secret passage through the rocks to get it - quite magical (Also where you get the great food at the Rockpool Cafe)
  • Seals at Seal Bay - the tour is expensive but it also supports conservation so fair enough

  • Flinders Chase National Park (below) - windy as all get out, but with rock formations like we'd never seen 
  • Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary was one of those rural parks run by people who are dedicated to animal conservation and welfare - friendly and happy to have a chat - a great stop


  • Island Pure Sheep Dairy, We arrived just before closing time at 4pm and didn't we know it! In spite of buying 3 cheeses and a gorgeous wooden tray, the staff grumbled that it has been such a long day (they opened at 10...) and weren't that welcoming which was a bit off putting
  • Admiral's Arch (below) was spectacular. Watching the seals in the incredibly rough water and over the rocks was mesmerising. The surf is huge - and they just love bouncing around in what we mere mortals would find terrifying. This may have been the highlight of the trip. It's so good.

  • KIS - Kangaroo Island Spirits, a small distillery where you can taste their gins, vodkas and other offerings. We had trouble getting their attention because it was one of the staff's birthday and they were more interested in presenting a specially labelled bottle of something to her than serving us... We did persist and they had some great products, buying a bottle of their SLAP vodka with Samphire (a salty succulent that's prevalent on the island), Lime and Pepper
So all in all, lots to do and see, some great food (and sadly, some not so great) and a successful trip.

When we got back to Robe, we discovered I had a cracked wheel rim so had to travel back to Melbourne on the space-saver wheel at 80km... seems my car is cursed here!! You might recall the drama when the keys got locked in it - also at Robe.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Kangaroo Island - Part 1

After Christmas in Robe, we took the opportunity while in South Australia to pop over to Kangaroo Island for a few days.

Now I'm not sure about you, but I think I've read far too much in Gourmet Traveller about this place so in truth, it didn't quite live up to expectation.

Most of the magazine hype is focused on Southern Ocean Lodge - but as accommodation there starts at $1200 a night per person, with a minimum 2 night stay, even though we only had Sass, that wasn't happening! (Yes - that's a starting price for 3 in the cheapest room of $7,200!!)

Southern Ocean Lodge

We did try for lunch. We pulled up at the fancy locked gates on the gravel road and Geoff pressed the intercom. Here's how that brief conversation went:
Welcome to Southern Ocean Lodge, you're speaking with Jess.
Hello Jess, my name's Geoff and I was just wondering if you're serving lunch today?
Yes we are, but only to in-house guests. Thank you. (Clunk)


That aside, I was still expecting a Tasmania/New Zealand-esque food experience - where you pretty much can't go wrong where ever you go. Not the case. Here's my TripAdvisor review of breakfast on day one.

Because we'd booked late, choices were limited and we ended up in a very dated but totally adequate 2 bedroom cabin. The highlight was the managers; a gorgeous middle-aged, heavily tattooed  and pieced hippy couple who'd recently moved down from Queensland to take over. They were lovely! Friendly and chatty and knowledgeable about the local bird life. I commented to one that I couldn't get a decent coffee anywhere. so there was a real business opportunity.
There are lots of business opportunities around here, she responded sagely.

Now that I've got that all off my chest, there are many great things on KI. The Oyster Bar at American River is fabulous - the oysters are some of the best I've ever eaten. Avoid the crush in the tiny shop and buy them take away, then sneak over to the cafe across the road and buy a glass of something chilled to go with, sit on the habour and enjoy- an absolute highlight. (Just know it's only open from 11am-3pm which isn't that convenient... like a lot of things on KI).

I'm holding the wine - and Sass the oyster (my nails aren't that chipped!!)

Dudley Wine is also brilliant. Their Porky Flat Shiraz has become a fav. The gourmet pizza was very tasty and the views stunning.

The mixed platter at  the Rockpool Cafe, Stokes Bay was expensive at about $30 (most of KI is - we figured they have a limited season to earn a living so didn't begrudge the prices) but delivered - fresh, crisp and although all fried, not at all greasy or heavy. Included prawns, scallops, calamari and local white fish.

And finally, the platter we threw together ourselves on the balcony of our cabin.

Food done, next time - the sights!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Why we didn't win gold

Okay - so we came 16th in the whole wide world and we got to the end with all crew members still in the boat so as far as we're concerned, we are winners!!!

True, the only qualification for the World Masters Games is being old enough. In fact, the oldest competitor, a 101 year old woman from India did the 100 metre sprint in just 1:14 and got a PB in the shot put today with a throw of 2.1 metres. Go her, we all say.

And yes, there were only 18 in our competition, but there were some mitigating circumstances that make the 28 second gap between us and the gold medalists seem, frankly, pretty bloody impressive!

Here we go:

  • My cracked rib probably didn't help (but drugs and strapping did!)
  • We trained with a 'bow-side rigged boat' only to arrive and discover the 'stern-side rigged boats' from the hire pool couldn't be re-rigged. Eek! That meant that the order we sat in the boat wasn't as trained - I was meant to stroke but Sal L had to step in - and she did a sterling job BTW!
  • There wasn't a cox available from the pool for training. Poor Sal L's cousin happened to be there to watch so we threw her in the cox seat and she  did her best as we zig-zagged our way up the course. Not overly encouraging.
  • We haven't been rowing that long. Women in our division we met at the car hire place announced they'd been rowing together for 15 years - we've spent 5 months mastering a sweep boat - including a break over Christmas/New Year and accomodating various hair appointments
  • The competition is pretty stiff. Where do you think all those Olympians, World, National and State champions go to row when their career has finished? The World Masters Games!!

What did work for us:
  • Glorious weather. I'd seriously imagined howling winds, waves and rain coming in sideways. It was gorgeously sunny and still. 
  • A team of excellent coaches back at the Hawthorn Rowing Club in Melbourne who managed to get us this far - mostly Ben but also Emma, Jade, Nikki and Luciano
  • An amazingly positive team dynamic and a can do attitude
  • Alcohol. Unlike some athletes, we chose to keep our drinking steady rather than abstain. As one member said, stopping now could send our bodies into shock - and we couldn't be having that
  • A random cox from the pool - a 16 year old student from Auckland called Camille - she was seriously awesome
  • Our team manager Andrew, who's been driving us around (although he did try to run me over in the hire car before the race - that's another story!) and pouring the gin and tonics - bless!
  • Our gold jackets! They've started so many conversations.
So although we didn't win, we feel like winners. Three of us still have running events to complete but we're already 'International Athletes!'

If we can hang in there long enough, we may get gold in about 20 years time.

Monday, April 24, 2017


No - not the rowing - that's later today.

This happened on Friday night just as I was packing to leave.

My mobile was ringing and it was the vet, so Sass answered. After a short period of confusion, she said, Hang on, I'll put Mum on.

Hi, we have Gary here....

Gary was perfectly fine. As it transpired, a couple had spotted him - probably right outside our house - and recognised the collar I'd left on him since he was last boarding at the vet. I can only imagine they have pets who go there as it's a generic hospital-type tag with no reason to connect it. It looks like this.

Anyway, for some reason, they supposed Gary had escaped said vet, so got him in their car and drove him there.

I can imagine that short drive wasn't pleasant. Gary hates the car and yowls the entire way - but when I take him, he's trapped in a cat carrier - and I assume on this trip he was free ranging.

Arriving at the vet, the receptionist  bought into the escape story pandemonium and panic ensued; staff were informed, cages were checked and heads counted.... nope, no-one missing.

Booking were finally referred to and yep - Gary wasn't meant to be there.


I have no idea if the well meaning couple were still on the premises - I almost hope not. Whoops.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bad timing

So we've arrived in New Zealand and are now ensconced in our abode in Cambridge as the excitement builds for The World Masters Games, 2017.

We've already met quite a few competitors - I think our matching gold bomber jackets were the give away! - and there's a real camaraderie among the crowd.

The crew in the Qantas Lounge at about 5am this morning.


I fell off my bike on Easter Monday and it wasn't pretty. We'd literally just ridden into the city and had a late lunch before I was due to be picked up for rowing training when it happened. As so often the case, we'd arrived home and as I pulled into the lane way, I turned to see where Geoff and Sass were and lost my balance. With my feet stuck in my stupid pedal straps (in truth, they're great when you're riding because you can pull up as well as push down) the whole event switched into slow motion as I fell hard and flat onto the concrete.

The trap - as opposed to the strap.

I lay there, winded, trying to work out which bits of me hurt most. I'd grazed a knee and an elbow. I copped a decent bruise on one leg - but the real damage was landing on the side of my chest. It's probably what winded me and it really hurt.

Being committed, I went off to rowing and it was sore but didn't seem aggravated so that was good.

And here we are, five days and a another hard training session later and, at certain angles or movements, it's still really, really bad. It wakes me up when I move my sleep and aches in the morning.

I think I may have cracked a rib.

Having already postponed one procedure to be here in New Zealand (more about that one later), there was no way I was going to the doctor to possibly have it confirmed and risk being told not to row.

Neurofen is my new best friend.

So we just need to get through training tomorrow and the race on Monday and we're done!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Couch model

If there was a major in couch modelling, Elle would be topping the class.

What is it about the career of the couch model that she finds so alluring? I'm not even sure it's that well paid.

She's certainly practiced enough and if the '10,000 hour to become an expert' rule applies, she might just be there. (Right up with her other area of expertise - lip syncing).

Here's the original. (I popped a library track over it to block out Sass yelling from the hallway after I'd sat in front of the telly, missed it twice and finally got it! It's a bit bouncy because Eleanor is laughing that I finally hit record and Sass is squawking in the background. Excellent.

Anyway, it matches them up a bit so you can enjoy the similarity. Here's Elle.

Slightly disturbingly, Sass has also started doing the 'couch model'.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Row your boat

I rowed at school and college in boats where we all had one oar and someone to steer (the cox).

When Elle had a shot at rowing in Year 10, the mothers were invited to have a go. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

That was a few years ago - so in the interim, I've been lucky enough to join an existing crew and got back to paddling! But wasn't I surprised when I was handed two oars!! That's a 'quad four'.

But never mind all that.

The point is, we're a little bit competitive so decided to row in the World Masters in New Zealand. In fact, in just a couple of weeks time.

Once registered, we discovered there was no event for a coxed quad four so were forced to tackle the one-oared 'sweep'. It's slower and a lot harder to balance - but after 5 months of blood, sweat and giggles, we've achieved adequacy. So much so, we actually won a medal yesterday!

Yes - I am holding a gin & tonic - they just 'go' with rowing!

We did commit to spending as much time in wine bars as we did on the water - but the water is winning. We'll do our best to rectify that in New Zealand.

We've spent a good amount of time planning our team outfits, including this stunning gold luxe bomber jacket. That should intimidate the competition! Hopefully it won't be our only gold.

I'll let you know how we go!

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Remember how I love an authentic item?  (BTW, I got the chunk of million-year old Himalayan salt and Japanese grater (below) for Christmas!! I suspect it's the same salt that comes in the natty 'Salt AND Pepper' than members of this family are so fond of for its apparent 'convenience' that comes in a disposable grinder from Aldi... but that's not the point. That just doesn't look as lovely adorning the table - does it?

Anyway, the olive wood cutlery has become the current bone of contention. Geoff is down-right refusing to keep hand washing it. The word 'ridiculous' has been tossed around - a lot.

Almost a year to the day, I was at work, minding my own business, doing my thing, trying to earn a crust and I got this very narky text from Eleanor:

So Geoff is just putting it straight into the dishwasher.

Occasionally, I fish it out, wash it, dry it and pop it away  - but that's not sustainable.

And as Geoff does do a lot of cleaning up of the kitchen, nor am I prepared to forgo that for the sake of some forks.

I'm thinking I may have to concede defeat. It seems to be surviving - so far.

Monday, April 3, 2017


I love a club! Not the sporty kind (although I am a member of one of those) the kind that has lovely services and amenities or gets you into the 'members' area.

I think it's an age thing. Just a year or two ago, I don't think I belonged to any clubs. Now, I'm a member of the RACV Club (Royal Automotive Club of Victoria - not a typo, Club membership is diffent to being a member of the RACV), the MCC (Melbourne Cricket Club), the VRC (Victorian Racing Club) and the Qantas Club.

For those who may not be local, the first is about accessing lovely club resorts and country clubs about the place at excellent prices. So far we've sampled Healesville, Inverloch and the City Club and are heading down to Torquay next week. Even for a couple of nights, the serene atmosphere, friendly service and bit of luxury is very restorative. I highly recommend it! (I don't get paid for this endorsement in cash or contra - sadly!!)

The MCC is to rock up to the footy and be in the Members area  - I have zero interest in cricket (and patchy interest in footy, truth be known) but have waited almost 20 years for my nomination to come up. It's apparently the longest membership wait in the world. Geoff was so indignant with it all, that when his arrived, he refused to take it up. I did point out the MCC couldn't care less and his silent protest would go unnoted. In fairness, membership isn't cheap and he also didn't think he'd use it - fair enough. I haven't used mine so far ...

The VCR is simply to access the members areas at the races. And who doesn't love the races? You may recall my blog about it in November last year.

Finally, the Qantas Club. Here's a shot from Wednesday afternoon this week on my way back from Sydney. Nothing like a DIY toasted ham sandwich and a glass of bubbles after running a four and a half hour workshop! Purely medicinal of course!

And lastly, the Hawthorn Rowing Club... but more about that in my next post.

So - do you belong to any clubs?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What's in a number?

On a boarding pass, not much as it so happens.

Flying to Sydney the other week, I had row 63 - yes - 63!! How could that be? I'll tell you how with three more numbers - 747. Seriously, by the time you've wended your way down the aisle you feel like you should already be at your domestic destination.

A week later, it was off to Canberra and my mobile check-in gave me row 18. Up the front, I assumed - until I had to approach the aircraft by walking across the tarmac and noticed it had propellers. I didn't think they still used planes like that on intercity routes.... apparently they do and row 18, BTW, is way up the back.

I was sharing all this mystery with a colleague in Canberra who said he always nominates a seat at the very back as on his last 10 trips, he's had a spare seat next to him 8 times - which he rightly points out is better than being in business class.

I'm also surprised by how many people know the type/model of plane they're getting on before they arrive!! I have no idea even when I see it. If I want to check, I have to look at the Safety Card where it says what it is across the top. My classification is usually big, small or medium.

Anyway, off t Sydney this arvo - row 29 - so I'll know when I get on where that is!

From this.....

... to this.

PS Apologies I've been AWOL - I promise to lift my game!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


I heard a confronting interview on the radio recently; a speaker who is paid to evangelise at large commercial organisations, that parenthood isn't what it's cracked up to be.

Yes. Really.

As someone who's given birth to four precious pups, this was an insult to the very thing that I feel defines me. Yes, I work and do other stuff, but in my heart, I am a mother. What do you mean it's not the not fulfilling thing you can do in life?

I assumed it was some kind of crazy corporate propaganda to keep the troops focused on the work and discourage them from the distraction of procreation (the outcome, not the act!).

To check I didn't dream this, here's a link to an article from The Guardian that pretty much puts forward the same argument.

In essence, the guy I heard on the radio didn't deny the elation and sheer joy at the moment of birth, but pretty much paints a picture of it all being downhill from there.

Your fantasy of parenthood never materialises as you discover your offspring has sleeping issues or feeding issues, developmental issues, learning or social issues - or all of them! They become teenagers and worry the hell out of you, not to mention their misalignment with your hygiene standards. On and on it goes. In addition, there's the drain on your emotions, energy, time and finances that prevents you from travelling the world in the lap of luxury, staying at exquisite hotels, eating at divine restaurants and drinking fabulous wines whilst wearing drop-dead gorgeous attire. I'm starting to think these people have a point.

My beautiful babes.
It's often been rumoured that parenthood is a conspiracy. That those with kids persistently encourage their peers to have a baby because heck, let's face it, why on earth should they be free and easy while you're knee-deep in small kids??

What is has highlighted for me is, that although I love being a mother, there is a very viable alternative - and it's a pretty darn good one!

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