About Chris Riley

Eclectic in all things.....

Walkers who lunch – celebrating the royal wedding

We couldn’t let the wedding of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry go past without our own event to help them celebrate. Jill, one of the, ‘walkers who lunch’ opened her house for a ‘ladies only’ gala event.

The royal couple

The invitations to our party included a dress code – recycled wedding attire. It could be your own wedding dress, your own mother of the bride outfit, your own bridesmaids gown, or a recycled retro wedding outfit, including of course any posh wedding guests garments. I love an excuse to play dress up for a party. It builds the anticipation for the actual event over how ever long it takes to find and get one’s outfit ready. In my case for this event, that took several weeks.

The build up to the wedding had most of us either trying on things from our own wardrobes or trunks, seeing what we could borrow, or hunting through charity shops, or retro recycling shops for something suitable to wear.

12 September 1982

I chose the charity shops, and was lucky enough to find a wedding dress that had some elements similar to my own wedding dress from 1982, (I haven’t still got my original dress, nor would it fit me anyway). The charity shop dress was made of the same butter cream satin (used as a lining in my original dress), and the bodice was adorned with pearl beading, as was mine. Importantly, it wasn’t size 10. In fact it was probably around a size 20. I could have worn it as is, and said I’d lost weight – that would have been fun, or alter it to fit. I chose the later.


From the outside it passed (just). The inside would have had the original owner mortified with the lining ripped out, and seams taken in with 5 inch seams, not cut, not neatened – just whizzed in on the machine. Taking the heavily beaded bodice in on the machine wasn’t feasible, so that was roughly tacked in. With the help of a couple of safety pins it held together.

I’d enlisted Paul to play to Chauffeur for myself a few others. Our event was to kick at 5.30pm, two hours prior to Meghan and Harry’s. Linda and Dianne were dropped off at our place at 4.30pm for a quick glass of champagne and a couple of photos prior to leaving to pick up Beth.

Linda still fits her blue wedding dress from 1982, Dianne chose a bridal negligee from a charity shop

After picking up Beth, we drove by Brian and Kayes so as we could travel in convoy. Brian and Kaye will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next year. Can you believe it – she still fits into her wedding gown (and didn’t have let out the seams).

Kaye – still as gorgeous and petite as she was almost 50 years ago

Then on to the party.

Jill, our gorgeous hostess chose a hired, retro outfit – fit for a queen

A group photo of the early arrivals

Sadly, Paul left before the rest of women arrived – so apologies to the ladies who missed out being included in this group photo. I’m disappointed not to have slipped my own little camera in so as to have been able to take a bigger group photo once all the guests arrived.

We watched the wedding whilst sipping champagne, kindly poured by Jill’s partner John who appeared at intervals from an adjoining area, dressed suitably to play butler to us for the evening. Canapes` were passed around, followed by smoked salmon, and Coronation Chicken (a royal dish first created for the Queens coronation) with an asparagus salad.

We watched the wedding live on TV.  Those poor wedding guests who had to contain their looks of boredom, annoyance or amusement as the infamous sermon was delivered by American preacher, Michael Bruce Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the world watching them all. Who will ever forget that speech – to say it stole the show is an understatement…… I just wish it was in a nice way. Anyway it was certainly memorable. Hellalujah!

Elton Johns face captured by the cameras says it all

At first we laughed, then we jeered, and finally we yelled at him (on the TV) to get off – and still he went on, and on, and on…… I’m sure if we’d had some rotten tomatoes we may have flung a few his way, as I’m sure would some of the actual wedding guests (at least in our minds anyway).

Finally he finished, the ceremony finished, and we finished off our own royal dinner with the most delicious cakes, home made chocolates, and tea served in fine bone china regency cups.

It was a wonderful evening, full of love and laughter. It was a pleasure to celebrate the wedding of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry in our little corner of the world, with our gorgeous hostess, Jill, and with the ‘the walkers who lunch’.

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Wasting time

House renovations are progressing, not to schedule of course, but we’re nearing completion.

Four days for the initial part of the kitchen stretched to two weeks. The floor, that was scheduled for between the two kitchen stages had to be postponed, as did the second part of the kitchen.

4 days dragged into 2 weeks with kitchen completely out of working order

We’ve been doing a lot of camp style cooking in the garage whilst the kitchen’s been out of order. Fortunately, being campers, we’ve managed to roll with the delays reasonably well. The delays weren’t that unexpected, as anyone who has undertaken renovations will attest to – they rarely, if ever go to schedule.

The kitchen has now been operational for almost a week between stages, and today the floor’s being prepped for the laying of the planks. The second stage of the kitchen (the splashback) is now scheduled for next Monday.  Fingers crossed!

Drawers, cupboards, dishwasher and benches fitted – floor and splash backs still to go

With tradesmen coming and going through the days and weeks, there’s been many days that we’ve virtually been confined to the back yard on puppy minding duties. We can’t really leave Tilly in the back garden, shut out of the house with strangers indoors, and expect him not to bark persistently. It’s also been one of those renovations where one of us at least has needed to be on hand for any queries that arise as the work progresses.

Only a few days more now…..

With time on my hands you’d think I’d be well up to date with all my reading, gardening and blogging. Not so.  As is often the case when one is out of sorts with usual routine, and with too much time available to do required tasks, I’ve been stretching things out to fill up my day. The result is I get to the end of the day and there’s a multitude of things I could have done, and haven’t.

Instead I’ve succumbed to a virtual reality home staging website. In it, I’m given a painted bare shell of a room, and have to furnish it.

A bare room awaiting furnishings

All of the rooms are judged by fellow participants and scored. The highest score available is a 5 (I’ve come close, but not there yet), but anything scoring more than a 4 wins virtual prizes (more furnishings and furniture to add to my available stock). The more rooms you enter, the more furniture stock you receive as prizes for future rooms, and as you progress, you go up in stages unlocking extras, like table decorations, pot plants, and wall art to add to your future rooms.

One of my early rooms when I had very little available to me in the way in art work or pot plants

Of course, the people who have attained the higher levels have more items at their fingertips. I’m up to level 10 now, and I think it goes up to around level 40. It’s good fun, if you have time to waste. Have I been wasting to much time on it – you betcha!

A more recent entry – with bowls of lemons and a bank of artwork accumulating now to choose from, higher scores are possible

Anyone who knows me well will know I love buying and selling houses. Goodness, we’ve bought and sold more than anyone I know…. I love staging the house, the declutter, the strategically placed pot plants, the quick visit to a the local cheap homewares shop for a couple of the latest trend items to add to the house, the last minute big bunch of fresh, scented lilies for the table – Paul’s not so enamoured with it all, but I love it. To have found a virtual reality home staging website ap – I’m hooked.

Do you have any internet big time wasters?

And as a post script – I just received my first 5

Mr Tilly gets a bath

Getting a bit long and scruffy

We’ve been home grooming Tills with scissors but now that his adult coat is coming through, he’s going to need clippers to keep his fleecy coat under control.

We’ve purchased clippers, but as yet haven’t tried them out on him. Instead we hired a professional dog groomer to come to the house and get him started, while we carefully watched.

Auntie Bec, his groomer (professional name, not our aunty), is to be marvelled at. Tilly doesn’t like his bath, doesn’t like the hair dryer, doesn’t like his nails being clipped, and has an intense hatred of the brush. Like most parents, he has us treating him with kid gloves and trying to ease him into it. He’s ten months old now, and guess what – it isn’t happening! Yes, he has wrapped around his little fleecy paw.

Compliant, but not happy

Not happy with the hair dryer either – but again, compliant

He hardly puts a foot wrong though for Auntie Bec, and when he does, she stands back and tells him firmly to “stop”. And guess what, he does – he struggles for a minute or two, then with a visible sigh of resignation he becomes like putty in her hand.

All clean, clipped and brushed – now just the nails to go

We should get one more professional grooming in before we head north for a few months. Then we’ll be on our own with the clippers, trying to imitate firm Auntie Bec – what do you think will be our chances???

Lot 80

When we arrived to live in Busselton approximately 18mths ago our neighbours to be, Kaye and Brian, introduced themselves. I’m so pleased they did. Not only have they both become great friends, Kaye also introduced me to a women’s walking group, and through the walking group I’ve made some fantastic friends and acquaintances.

We meet in the car park of a local beach cafe two mornings a week, walk for an hour along the beach path, and follow up with a coffee. There’s usually at least eight women, but sometimes the numbers can be up around 20. Everyone walks at their own pace, so there’s never any pressure to keep up with the leaders. We walk, we chat, we coffee – and chat some more. It usually takes about an hour around the coffee table before we’ve put the world to rights and can head on home to get about our daily business.

Putting the world to rights after our morning walk

Once a month we lunch together, with the people having birthdays that month choosing the place. Being at the head of the Margaret River wine region, there’s no shortage of cafes and wineries to choose from. The choice for April was, Lot 80.

Lunching at Lot 80

Lot 80 is located north of Dunsborough at Eagle Bay (54 Sheens Road). Turn left onto Sheens Road off the Meelup Beach Road. There’s a small section of dirt road, but definitely ok for two wheel drive. They are open from 11am – 5pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Friday – Sunday from 11am – 7.30pm.

They have a good wine list, and a selection of tap beers and ciders. However, I believe they’re really making a name for themselves with their selection of gins. They have a whole room dedicated to, ‘Gin Master classes’ and gin tastings, with close to 200 gins to choose from. As well as gins from all around the globe, they have around 15 tonics to select from. The gin tastings cost $25 per person, with five Australian gins, and four international gins to sample.

My favourite – Sangria was on the specials board

The food menu was just the right size. I get nervous if menus are to large – not only do I have trouble choosing, but I also wonder how a restaurant can keep the ingredients of an extensive menu fresh and still keep the prices within reason.  Everyone seemed happy with their selection, and most tried to chose small meals or entrees to save room for desert.

The fish ‘n chips looked pretty good

I chose the trio of Vegan dips – Peas, mint and crispy lychee; almond & vanilla sweet potato; and spiced hummus; served with Turkish bread ($18). Both the hummus and the sweet potato dips were good, but that green minty pea dip – well that was really good! And the Turkish bread – I would have thought Turkish bread was pretty much the same everywhere, but this was extra special. Soft and fluffy on the inside with a crispy, salted, lightly oiled crust served nice and warm and toasted. I know I said we tried to order small,  but with six big pieces of Turkish bread, there was no way I was going to have room for desert if I finished my meal. Much as I hate to waste food, I had heard the deserts couldn’t be forfeited. So, what was I to do……Gee we waste a lot of food in the Western world!

The sticky date pudding was worth saving room for (but isn’t it almost always). I wished I’d taken a photo of it as it had a rather unique shape as far as sticky date puddings go, causing a few giggles from the ladies nearby. I’ll leave you to imagine the shape, I don’t think you’ll need me to describe it further……

I was very happy with this months choice of restaurant. Good food and good company – what a pleasure!

 

Keep the home fires burning

The fire bans have finished for the year. We don’t have an inside fire so we’ve acquired an outside fire pit – perfect to sit around for our finger food Friday nights.

Paul wanted to wait until dark – I was to impatient

As darkness fell the flames came to life

As the flames took hold a hose came over the fence – Our friend and neighbour had seen the smoke and decided he’d better come to the rescue…… LOL! Now Brian’s starting to get a bit of reputation with flames and fire (or perhaps he’s always had it) – so rather than risk him completely dousing our flames, we thought he and Kaye had better come over to share a glass of red and soak up the ambience with us.  Anyway, what’s better than sitting around a fire pit in your back yard? Having friends sitting around it with you of course!

On a recent camping trip Brian took some amazing photos of flames through a glass of red wine. Paul copied….  I couldn’t post these next two photos without acknowledging the inspiration.

A photo inspired by our friend and neighbour, Brian Love

A glass or two of red, and Casper came to visit – can you see him?

We had our sausage sizzle, then we toasted marshmallows to celebrate the first fire in our new fire pit. There’s an art to getting a marshmallow toasted perfectly. Sometimes I hold them to close to the flames and set them on fire. And sometimes I get them to perfect only to wait a second to long – and they drop off the fork into the fire. But when they’re just right, all crispy on the outside and warm and gooey in the middle…… Yum!!

Twirling marshmallows on the end of a toasting fork

I’m definitely more a summer person than a winter person, but when I sit in front of glowing fire I start to have my doubts. Each season definitely has it’s place.

Cold weather pleasures

 

Birthday celebrations in the forest

Our friends, Kaye, Brian, and Ken, as well as Paul and I, have all recently had, or are shortly going to have our birthdays. Additionally, Beth is going to be celebrating a milestone birthday in September whilst we’ll be away.  What better way to celebrate birthdays that fall in autumn (and spring) than to share a picnic amidst the tall trees of our favourite Boranup Forest.We found a lovely private spot in the campground with a fire pit still warm from the previous occupants. It didn’t take Brian long to find some twigs and get the fire burning again. There’s a fabulous wood heap provided only a short walk away, so once the twigs were flaming away, a few logs were added. Although it wasn’t cold, the day was overcast so the fire added the perfect touch.

We all shared the catering bringing a share of the picnic fare – Hot beef rolls with coleslaw, a glass or two of wine, and coffee or tea with cupcakes for after.

After lunch the walk track beckoned. A quick stop at a local tavern for a drink on the way home topped off a perfect day. Good friends, Boranup Forest, a shared meal, a couple of drinks and birthdays to celebrate – what a pleasure!

Pioneering spirit

I’m sure anyone who enjoys a bit of camping must have a bit of pioneer spirit in them. I think I have. Renovations that would turn many into princesses seeking short term, alternative accommodation will see me embracing the challenge of getting back to basics, and managing as best I can.

Many years ago we had slate laid through all the living areas in our house. At the same time we were having new carpets laid in the bedrooms, and new skirting boards throughout. We couldn’t access the house through any of the external doors for over a week. We moved all the beds out under the pergola, and prayed it wouldn’t rain. We moved the fridge outdoors under cover, and cooked nightly on the barbecue. Our camp sink came in handy for washing the dishes,  and we climbed through a window to access the toilet and shower.

Kelvin was in his early teens, and Alice around ten. We lived like that for close on two weeks. It was a great bonding experience, and we all loved it.

Our current kitchen and ensuite are undergoing a bit of an overhaul. The kitchen’s completely out of action, our ensuite only has the vanity unit undergoing changes.

The gutted kitchen

New kitchen equipment is stored in lounge

For this renovation we’ve set the garage up with a couple of spare tables to double as storage shelves and preparation benches.

I bet our pioneering ancestors would have loved a microwave

Our laundry trough is our washing up sink. Most things from the kitchen are packed into boxes, and we only have enough things out to get by with. I imagine what we’re managing with though is most likely still considerably more than our poor forefathers would have had. Our microwave is certainly getting good use.

The laundry trough makes a great kitchen sink

By Monday of next week the kitchen should be ready for the sink and dishwasher to be plumbed in. Tuesday should see the kitchen operational, but not complete. The splashback can’t be ordered until this afternoon when a few things are in place to allow for measurements. It should all be complete by 9th May.

But there’s more…..We’ll have time to get things packed back into their rightful place in the kitchen, and then preparation for the new living area floors will begin. That’s going to mean moving all the living room and dining room room furniture as well as the fridge into the garage. We’ll have a few nights when we won’t be able to sit in the lounge with the heating on, nor will we be able to watch TV. Just like our great, great grandparents, we’ll have the choice of lighting a fire pit in our back yard and watching the flames dance as darkness sets in, or we can have early nights with a good book. Fire bans have finished now, so I rather fancy getting the fire pit out! It’ll be just like camping – only in our own back yard, and with our bed to snuggle into when the day is done.