Goodies!

A few weeks ago I entered a competition on Instagram run by Notemaker and Dymocks to win a copy of Goodwood, the debut novel of Australian singer-wongwriter Holly Throsby and a new Two-Go Notebook by Moleskine. All I had to do was tell them what new hobby or skill I’d like to learn this spring.

Well that was easy – I’d just started my 30 days of cryptic crosswords challenge, so that’s what I said.

I entered and forgot all about it – and was very excited when Notemaker contacted me to tell me I’d won! I then had to decide what colour notebook I wanted – there are four colours: raspberry/green, light blue/pink, blue/yellow and ash/raspberry. They all looked lovely and I couldn’t decide, so I asked Kramstable to choose for me. He chose the raspberry.

My prizes have arrived!

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I haven’t started reading Goodwood yet, but it looks like a novel I’ll really enjoy. Anything described as “a little bit Twin Peaks and a little bit Picnic at Hanging Rock” (Hannah Richell, Australian Women’s Weekly) is going to get me interested. I’m guessing the town of Goodwood, where the story is set, is not the Hobart suburb of Goodwood! It’s next on my reading list and I’ll be sure to do a write-up when I’ve read it.

The little notebook is lovely, and I’m not sure what I’ll use it for yet. I like the normal Moleskine books because they are slightly narrower than an A5 book (21 x 13 cm) and I find them very comfortable to use. The Two-Gos are smaller still, 11.5 x 18 cm, so basically the same width as my Midori Travelers Notebook, and about 4 cm shorter.

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Because it’s the same width as the Midori, it sits nicely on top of it (see ^^^) and has  given me the idea of using this book as a catch-all/journal to carry round with my Midori, which I’m using as a diary next year. (The technicalities of how I’m using my Midori are beyond this post and require a degree of initiation into the Cult of Midori to appreciate.)

The Two-Go has a lovely contrasting colour inside the front and back covers.

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And doesn’t the green go nicely with my pretty new Lamy pen? (Yes it does.)

The final interesting feature is that the pages are plain on one side and lined on the other, which means you could (if you were learning to draw, for example) do some drawing practice on one side and take notes on the other. If that was your thing.

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The book has 144 pages and two bookmarks, as well as the back pocket that most Moleskine notebooks have. The cover is hard canvas, so it has a lovely textured feel.

Time will tell whether this is the journal solution I’ve been looking for, but I really like the look of this notebook, so all I’ll have to do is get over the fear of the blank page and write in it!

Thank you Dymocks and Notemaker for your very generous prizes. I was thrilled to receive them.

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Counting and running as I go

Counting and running as I go
New Norfolk, Australia

New Norfolk, Australia


In February 1979, our family packed up my father’s baby-spew green Datsun 180B (apparently the actual name of this shade is Datsun Spring Lime. Who knew.) and embarked on the biggest adventure of my life up to that point.

(Thank you Wikipedia for the image of the car.)

Our destination: Adelaide, where my father would be spending the whole year at university, and we were going with him for a two-week holiday before he packed us on the train to Melbourne (from where we’d catch a plane home) and headed off to campus life.

The trip would take us two days, and all I can remember of the planning stage was that my mother kept telling us how hot it was going to be (the 180B had the classic 480 aircon), and we saved up all our spare change so we could buy ice creams on the way. I seem to recall that Golden Gaytimes were quite the thing back then.

We’d booked a self-contained beachside unit across the road from West Beach near Glenelg. For some reason, I still have some of the paperwork and tickets from this trip, and according to the internet, the units are still there – or if it’s not the same ones, they have the same name, Sea Vista.

We travelled over on the Empress of Australia. I don’t remember much about this, or even the drive. We took the inland route rather than the Great Ocean Road, and we stopped overnight on the first day in Mount Gambier. I can remember the stunning Blue Lake we saw while we were there. I can also remember we went via the Coorong on the second day, which was exciting for me because the movie Storm Boy was filmed there, and I wondered if the kid who had been in the movie would be there and if we’d meet him. (Not surprisingly, he wasn’t and we didn’t.)

My memories are fairly hazy of the trip, but I know we went to the zoo and a marine centre, we took the tram, we went in some pedal boats on the River Torrens, we bought lollies at Darrell Lea, and we spent most mornings on the beach. Lil Sis and I befriended a cat, which inspired us (in our father’s absence) to wear our mother down about getting a cat once we were home. I can also remember quite vividly Lil Sis ‘barking’ back at a dog that barked at us, and it being completely bewildered by this.

The reason for this wander down memory lane is that in 2002 Slabs and I thought we’d do a similar trip on our honeymoon, but take the Great Ocean Road, as neither of us had been there. For reasons related to the Ansett collapse it never happened, and we did something completely different. But we always wanted to drive the Great Ocean Road, and after we fulfilled our New Zealand dream last year, we decided this would be the year.

We’re doing the trip in July rather than the September school holidays because it’s winter, so we’re hoping it will be less busy because everyone will be in Queensland to escape the cold. (Right?) We’ll have a couple of days in Bacchus Marsh first with Slabs’ family before we set off. This will include a trip to Sovereign Hill, where I vaguely remember going as part of a school trip to Victoria in primary school. (I’m yet to figure out how this happened, because I don’t know anyone before or since who has had a primary school trip to the mainland, and it seems now that school trips, at least in primary school, are pretty much things of the past. Ahhh, Camp Clayton, Port Sorell, you are the stuff dreams are made of.)

Post Great Ocean Road, we’ll go through some of the places we passed through when I was a child, so it will be interesting to see if I remember any of them. I doubt it, and expect they will have changed a lot. I have vivid memories of the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier, but suspect this is because I have one of those old off-centre square photos from the old camera (with the 126 film cartridge) I took with me, rather than an actual memory of the lake.

Today’s packing day. I’m giving my trusty Midori a break and trying out a different travel journal for this trip. That’s the one on the blog title. It’s by Mark’s, and must be the first journal I’ve ever bought that has instructions on how to use it (in Japanese). Kramstable will also be keeping a travel journal, and making a video of our trip. He’s decided not to do a travel blog this trip, so it’s all up to me.

Journalling challenge 

This week I’m participating in a journaling challenge set by the people at Asian Efficiency.

There’s a journal prompt, which is “what did I learn today?” and each day there is a challenge to help you to incorporate journaling into your daily routine.   (oh hi bad grammar)

Day 3’s challenge is to write down why journaling is important to you. This was going to be a short entry, but it somehow turned into a blog post.

Why?I’ve kept a journal on and off since I was 9 or 10 years old. I don’t know why I started. Maybe I was inspired by Anne Frank’s diary. I can remember how she called her diary Kitty, and so my first journals had a name too (which I’m not going to reveal here because that would be embarrassing.)

There have been times I’ve done it more or less every day. There have been times where there have been gaps of several months. But I’ve always come back to it.

Up until July 2005 I kept a paper journal and I’d stick stuff in it. Ticket stubs, brochures, little bits and pieces that I gathered. I have a box full of those dating back to the 1980s.

In July 2005 I started my first digital journal, documenting what was supposed to be my journey to weight loss and health. Somewhat unexpectedly, six months in it became a pregnancy journal, and I wanted to record everything about my experience because this wasn’t something I ever planned to repeat.

The pregnancy journal morphed into a day to day account of my life as a new mother, my struggles with breastfeeding, my attempts to process a birth experience that had left me angry, upset and unfulfilled.
And I just kept going. Everything he said, everything he did I recorded because I never wanted to forget anything. Children change and grow so quickly. Before you know it your baby is walking, talking, at school, reading, writing, and learning swear words. Where does that time go?

I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to record as much as I can about both my life and his. In recent years my Twitter feed has become part of it. My daily ramblings about the little things that are my life right now.

One reason for doing this is that I take a lot of photos and my journal records the stories behind a lot of them so that when I come to do a scrapbook page or Project Life spread I (theoretically) know what the photo is about and what to write.

So the two are linked. Two forms of memory keeping. (I can add in a third, movies, which is another level altogether.)

And it comes back to why? Why do I take excessive quantities of photos? Why do I keep a huge journal? Why do I scrapbook? What’s the point?

This question has come at an interesting time, because it’s at least the third time this week I’ve read something that has stressed the importance of finding your “why?”. You are, so the story goes, more likely to achieve your goals if you know why you want to achieve them. You’re more likely to stick to your desired habits if you know why you want to behave like that.

So I journal, take photos, scrapbook so I can have a record of my life. But why? Why do I want a record? Will it matter in 10 years time that I drank coffee after lunch yesterday and got really jittery? Will I care that Juniordwarf wrecked the box of cards he just bought?

In the big picture no, but if I ever want to look back and know what my life was like on a daily basis in 2015, know what the little things were that were a big deal at the time, I’ll be able to do that. A photo of a building that I see every day before it’s demolished and the streetscape changes forever. A tweet about something Juniordwarf said that made me laugh. An entry about how much I enjoyed a dinner or a concert. Little moments that make up my life.

It’s a record for me to look back on, to remember what Juniordwarf was like, things that were once important to me, things I did, places I went, what my life used to be like.

Perhaps I’ll never read it again. Maybe some day Juniordwarf will read it and it will help him to understand me, and even himself, better. His world might be very different to how it is now, so he’ll be able to get a feel for what his life was like in the 2010s. I wish I had a more complete record of life in the 1970s. If nothing else, I’d have evidence to call bullshit on those Facebook posts that say how much better life was in the 70s because our mothers smoked when they were pregnant, no one wore bike helmets and we all played in the traffic until dinner time.

Maybe he’ll never read it either. But it will be there.

My journal also acknowledges the hard times, and can help me to see how far I’ve come (or that I haven’t moved on). Sometimes it just helps to write out how I’m feeling about something to process it and work out what to do next.

Taking it further I think a journal could help me to identify patterns that keep me stuck and to record my progress in making changes I want to make. Maybe even to help keep me accountable to myself.
So the why is twofold. To keep a record, basically for the sake of having those memories preserved for myself (and my family if they want them). And as an outlet for learning, reflecting, taking stock, processing, exploring, creating, expressing gratitude.

And because I just love to write.

The family history trail – Part 2

The family history trail – Part 2
Gillingham, United Kingdom

Gillingham, United Kingdom


I mentioned that our Dad served in the Royal Engineers a few years after the end of World War II. His father had also served with them and had been posted overseas during the war.

One of the places we wanted to see while we were in England was the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham, Kent (not to be confused with Gillingham, Dorset – they seem to be pronounced differently – maybe this is so people know which one you’re talking about. Gillingham is about an hour train ride from London Victoria Station.

The history of the Corps of the Royal Engineers (RE) can be traced back over 900 years, but the Corps of Engineers was officially founded in 1716. Our father was a sapper – that is a builder of a sap. Sapping was the name given to the process of digging trenches in a zig-zap pattern at progressively deeper levels.

According to his journals, he was conscripted in 1950, after the end of World War II and underwent his training at 3 Training Unit in Cove. We found a picture of that facility from 1960 in the museum.

It was a really interesting place to visit. We didn’t expect to find anything about our father in there, but it was nice to see some photos of areas he would have been in during his service.

I got some information from one of the area’s visitor centres before we left and they said there wasn’t much to see or do in Gillingham. This turned out to be the case, so we got back on the train and headed back towards Rochester. This is another really old town, like Salisbury, with a beautiful Cathedral and a real Castle.

We had to see this! It was a short walk from the station through the beautiful old street to Rochester Castle. The original castle is believed to have been built by William the Conqueror. The new stone castle was built after a siege, by Bishop Gundulf, who had also built the White Tower in the Tower of London.

It was a fascinating place and we heard about the construction and use of the castle, and the story of the great siege of 1215. The rebels had taken the south eastern tower, so the King had ordered wooden props be fired with the fat of 40 pigs that were too fat for eating, and the whole tower and parts of the walls were brought down. The rebels hung on for a few days more before surrendering due to starvation.

The tower was rebuilt several years later in a rounded, rather than square design. This was our first visit to a castle. Very exciting!

And there was a pub right outside it. Who could ask for more? After a couple of ales, we made our way back through the old street, passing Eastgate House, which is “Westgate” in Charles Dickens’ novel Pickwick Papers and “the Nun’s House” in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

We returned to London on the train accompanied by some people who sounded like they’d been given a leave pass from the kids to go out for the night and were going to make the most of it. We then had an exciting adventure on the tube when the train got to our station and the doors didn’t open and we were trapped on the train!

We got off at the next station and had dinner on the way back to the hotel. It was a good day.

project life 2014

So around about this time every year I have these grand plans about how I’m going to keep my photos, memorabilia and memories for the year. This generally involves some kind of Project Life album.

I start off with all guns blazing, I get very excited about new products, I blog about it regularly  and then by about February, I’ve found I’ve had too much to do, the blog posts stop and I start to get behind on my album.

I did pretty well in 2013. I didn’t blog a lot, but I kept fairly well up to date (and by that I mean no more than three months behind at a time) and, as of today, I really only have to sort, edit and print photos from December and from Juniordwarf’s birthday in September.

In 2013 I tried a digital approach, where I didn’t use an official Project Life kit. Instead I used my own digital supplies for titles, backgrounds and journalling and I did a lot of journalling directly onto the photos. It meant a lot of time on the computer, but then once the photos and journalling was done, there was no writing and everything slotted neatly into the album.

For 2014 I’ve decided to go back to a paper kit. It took me months to decide which one to get. I thought I was going to get the Rain edition, which is lovely tones of olive, purple and blue, but I kept thinking it might be a bit monochromatic for a whole year.

Having said that, the approach many people seem to take is to mix up different kits throughout the year rather than stick to one kit.  Also the mini packs of themed cards that were released earlier this year mean that you can slot in layouts about various themes (such as school, summer, dad, soccer etc) and use cards that specifically relate to that theme rather than using the more generic core kits.

But I wanted one main kit to use during the year as I have done in previous years. In a last minute flash of enthusiasm I ended up deciding on the Sunshine edition, which I now have in my hot little hands, ready to go for the year.

This edition is designed by Elsie & Emma of the A Beautiful Mess blog, which is a lovely crafty/lifestyle blog.

Here’s a quick peek at what it looks like (I ended up getting the matching album, patterned paper and the 6×4 coloured cardstock as well as some blank journal cards):

ImageAnd inside the box:

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The title page of the album (for now – these are the recommended title cards for the first page, but I usually change my first page layout during the year, add photos and try to make it a more consistent-looking spread).

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And I love the matching dividers. I like how they don’t come pre-printed with the months on them now. They have labels so you can divide your album up in any way you want – which is going to be very useful for the approach I’m planning.

ImageSo that’s it for now. I’m trying to find people who will be using the Sunshine edition this year, so if that’s you, please let me know. If this year is anything like previous years, I expect I’ll be needing inspiration and a support group as the year goes on.

P365 – Day 315 – eleven

Yeah I know, time is a human construct, and it isn’t really 2011 anyway because a few years got skipped over a few centuries ago, and it’s just a normal day and a normal minute, and who really cares because the same time will happen in 24 different time zones of the course of the day, twice if you don’t use 24 hour time.
But even so, I think 11.11 on 11.11.11 is kind of cool.
I heard about the 11eleven project from Lil Sis.
 Its aim is to get everyone recording, tweeting, blogging, telling stories, making movies, taking photos . . . all on the same day. From everyone’s contributions, the organisers are going to create a photo book, a documentary and a music collection. There were 11 suggested themes to get you started, but really they said to record

anything that gives us an insight into your world and your perspective…..what do you want us to know about your life on planet earth?


In one sense, I guess it really doesn’t matter which day it is – the point is that everyone’s doing it at the same time. But 11.11.11 is as good a day as any, right?
My plan was to do something I’d wanted to do for a while – that is to take a photo on the hour every hour for the whole day. No matter what I was doing, I’d have to stop for a couple of seconds and take a picture (there might have been a couple of activities I’d possibly have excluded from that).
Since 11.11 is a Friday, I thought it would be a really good day for this project, since there’d be school dropoffs, work, a possible walk in the park, school pickups, scrapbooking night, a couple of beers when I got home . . . a pretty varied day.
But no, I had to get sick didn’t I? So I was at home all day thinking how incredibly boring my ‘day in the life of’ project was going to be.
I didn’t much feel like being creative either, so I decided that, in the spirit of my iPhone Project 365, I’d do the whole day’s photos on my phone.
So, while it’s not really what I wanted to do, here is 11.11.11 (#11ElevenLive) through my eyes. (I used Instagram for all photos except the 11:11 photo and the same filter – Earlybird – on each photo. I’m not sure why. Consistency seemed like a good idea at the time, but I don’t know if it really works for all of the photos.)
0600 – the first thing I saw when I woke up

0700 – loungeroom mess and ABC News 24

0800  – coffee

0900 – my day as seen through my phone

1000 – cold & flu herbal tea

1100 – Lest We Forget. A minute’s silence

11:11 on 11.11.11

12:00 – playing around with our holiday photos

1300 – dragging myself out to get supplies

1400 – a movie I haven’t seen for years

1500 – still watching the movie

1600 – the family arrives home with the mail and my
scrapbooking/journal goodies have arrived

1700 – bringing the washing in that’s been out since Tuesday

1800 – flicking through the yoga magazine I bought
while I was out. I really want to do this.

1900 – evening sky

2000 – a quick trip to my little bit of the garden.
I can’t wait until I transform it into my little piece of paradise
2100 – blogging about 11/11/11
I suppose if I had to fit this set of photos into any of the project’s 11 topics (which I don’t think you have to) it would be ‘routine’ – or  the disruption thereof. That’s what happens when you get sick.
There was also the option to blog about “How do I wish the world will be in 100 years”, but being at a low creative ebb, I haven’t given that topic very much thought. It’s an interesting challenge though.
Anyway, potentially I have two more photos to take tonight to round off 11.11.11. If I stay awake long enough, I’ll take them and post them.
If not, goodnight 🙂

Later

Still here …

2200 – I love that he came home from school with a
remembrance poppy today

2300 – a full moon and a very bright star

2311 – the 11:11 screen shot I missed this morning