A little trip up to Katherine

Katherine is a small town in the Northern Territory of Australia. It’s located ‘just down the road’ from Darwin, that’s ‘just down the road’ by Australian outback standards, which can mean virtually any distance you can get to on a full tank of fuel.

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Missmas 2018

If you’ve read my last blog you’ll be aware that I’ve stolen a new word from Jonno and Jo-anne who write a great blog called Jwalking. They invented the word Missmas for their Family Christmas celebrations, which for various reasons, aren’t usually celebrated on Christmas day.


Checking out the camera

Must have been a good year

When we lived in Perth we always celebrated Christmas Day with our Perth family (all four of them).They celebrated Christmas with the other side of their family on Christmas Eve.  I’m sure it was always a bit exhausting for them, as it is for most people who have two sides of their family all wanting a share of their time during the festivities. Alice, Paul G and the two grandees always spread themselves around without complaint, but I’m sure it became easier for them when we hit the road back in 2014.

We’re no longer on the road and have re-settled approximately three hours south of where our daughter lives. They spend their Christmas day however they choose, and a day or two later come down this way. We get to have our family celebrations a little after the 25th December, which thanks to Jonno and Jo-Anne, will from now on be called our ‘Missmas’ celebrations.

First thing – drinks

We start off with drinks. This year Paul treated us all to pre-dinner cocktails. In case it gets confusing – There’s two Paul’s. My Paul who is just plain Paul, and Alice’s husband Paul G (Green).

Then onto the gift opening ceremony.

Grandson Josh and his girlfriend Amber

The gift opening ceremony complete –  onto the food

This years feast – our grazing table

We did justice to the grazing table with repeated visits to replenish plates over several hours. In between times we told the usual corny Christmas cracker jokes, and played a couple of new Christmas games.

The first game this year was one called, Fake News. Two news events are read out, one is real, the other fake, and the contestants have to choose which is the real news item.Then with replenished drinks we moved outside for a game of Jenga. What a great game that is. I think the photos will be self explanatory.

Paul looking for a possible loose block to dislodge safely from the stack

Successfully removed and added to the top

And finally the block that topples the tower – it seems to go in slow motion

Some people love Christmas, some people don’t. We’re lovers of Christmas and everything that goes with it. All of the Commercial and hedonistic practices, all of the glitzy and tacky decorating, all of the shopping for pressies and feasting….. Our house is always decorated as soon as we reasonably can, usually around the 1st December. Menus are decided, and the food lists made well in advance. Whether we celebrate Christmas, or Missmas together with our family, the effort put into preparing for the day is never to much trouble. That’s how it is in our household, and I know it’s the same at Alice’s place. Fortunately, the grandees are now young men, and guess what – they love Christmas too. How lucky are we! What’s Christmas like at your place?


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!

Introducing Raksha’s bass player – Clint Barrett

You may remember previous posts in relation to Perth’s up and coming band, Raksha, (our youngest grandson is one of the founding members). Several of the members of the band stayed with me early last year whilst they were competing in the Busselton Battle of the Bands competition. They won.

Topping the bill

Since the Busselton Battle of the Bands they’ve added several more accolades to their name. The competitions I’m aware of that they entered and won last year are:

Good Shepherd Battle of the Bands
Flyrite Band Comp
Pilerats Jamboree

Last year also saw the release of their first EP titled Emerald. They’re going from strength to strength on the Perth music scene, and are now topping the bills at some events.


The cover of their latest release, Feel it Again

Last week a new single was released, ‘Feel it again‘, which is now available on Spotify, iTunes and Google play. It’s good – I do hope you’ll have a listen. Shortly they’ll be releasing another single,my favourite of all their songs ‘Mindless Consumption’. And a further EP is due for release soon.

Tim from timgreenfilms.com.au considers himself lucky to have been asked to make a couple of videos of the band surrounding this latest release. There’s some footage in the videos on Tim Green’s site taken in the recording studio. The band clearly enjoyed the recording, and it’s worth taking a look to see some of the recording process…..

For this blog post on the band I’ve decided to predominantly focus on the Bass player, Clint Barrett.

Clint Barrett – the talented bass player from Raksha

Following a gig on the week-end Clint posted the following on social media,

“Yet again another gig that tops the lot. The view from the stage last night was simply incredible. Being able to see the smiling faces of friends in between the blinding phone torches, to the fist pumps and whistles……..

Then he goes on to state,

“A night I will always remember. Seriously I’m going to be doing this for as long as I possibly can! Nothing can ever beat the feeling of being on stage with these beautiful people.

Then Clint thanked all of Raksha’s supporters, and stated that, It’s changed his life!

So much enthusiasm from a such a dedicated and talented young musician was enough to inspire me to add my own praise and acknowledgments of this particular member of Raksha.

Playing to his audience

Clint started playing guitar at five, but Bass is his passion. He plays to his audience by experimenting with certain beats, and finds he can get the audience dancing in different ways. He also played sax for eight years, but admits to not having picked that up in a while. Myself, being a lover of jazz, hope to one day see Clint introducing a bit of Sax, or/and double bass to Raksha’s repertoire. Indeed, there’s already a little bit of jazz that often creeps into their songs.

He’s currently studying for his final year at Uni for a degree in Mechatronic Engineering. I believe that’s his fall back plan – Music is his first love.

Apart from studying for his degree, and giving his all to Raksha for rehearsals, gigs and recording time, Clint also plays in the Metro Big Band on the WA circuit. Additionally, he does some blues shows with a few of the oldies around Perth. Some of the names that have come up you may be familiar with: Roy Daniel and Ace Follington, (rhythm section – Dave Hole, Richard Clapton)…

The Metro Big Band consists of several honours graduates from the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). I believe that they, along with Clint on Bass, will shortly be doing an Ella Fitzgerald tribute night at the Ellington Jazz Club.

With the Metro Big Band

So, as you can see Clint is no numpty. He’s enough ‘smarts’ to be studying for his degree, and he plays a variety of instruments in a variety of styles. He plays well. He’s talented, and dedicated to his music, but as all successful musicians will attest, a bit of luck is also needed to hit the big time. I do hope that bit of luck comes Clint’s way.

I’ll be adding some more posts soon on Raksha. I’m not quite sure what their style is – they’ve entered and won competitions in all sorts of styles from folk to gozzy rock (whatever that is). They write all their own music and lyrics. They’re a talented bunch who sometimes include circus tricks in their performances (the band was originally formed by three members attending a circus school). Their lead singer, Amber Skates,  has a passion for musicals, and can include playing the lead of Maria in a Perth production of, The Sound of Music amongst her resume. Several of the members have been accepted into WAAPA, so their musical talent is by no means ‘garage only’ stuff.

I think they’re pretty good. I hope you’ll take the time to have a listen to their latest release, Feel it Again, by Raksha on spotify, iTunes or google play. I know a lot of my readers are from an older generation, and Raksha’s style may not be to your liking – in which case I hope you’ll introduce your youngsters to them. Let me know what you, or they think?


The meeting of the cousins, first cousins once removed, second cousins etc

The silly season is over for 2017.

Our little Summer House was bursting at the seams as the year drew to a close. Our three bedrooms were full. The garage was turned into a makeshift fourth bedroom, we had a tent for two in the side garden, and two swags in the back garden. Including ourselves, we had twelve people staying here during the peak, which may not sound a lot. In a small, apartment sized house though believe me when I say, it was definitely a full, full house.

Luka and Emma’s accommodation


The first arrivals from the UK were the Moase Clan patriarch and matriarch – Margaret and Geoff, (Margaret is Paul’s first cousin). Next to arrive were the Aussie branch of the Moase clan. Christopher, (Paul’s first cousin once removed) with Clare and their two children, Luka and Emma, who, if my research is correct, are Paul’s cousins twice removed.

Christmas day…….

The pressies were opened

The table beautifully decorated by Margaret

The Figgy Pudding was devoured

And after Christmas dinner the obligatory charade games.

Luka acting out the fourth word

Clare acting out her bit

Then came Emma…..

And Geoff’s not so silent attempts had us all in stitches

Boxing day and the rest of the family guests started to arrive. Firstly, Alice and Paul (Green), and shortly after, number 1 grandson Tim. Number 2 grandson, Josh, couldn’t make it till the next day – (he, along with the rest of his band, Raksha,  were concluding the recording of their second EP)

With us all together, the beach seemed the obvious place for a big family day. So, with canoes, a beach shelter, chairs and a beach game loaded into the cars we headed down to Sandy Bay.

A beautiful day for a family get together

The Green family males

Alice and Josh

It was whilst we were out to dinner one night that Clare made the mistake of asking what relationship everyone was. Clare doesn’t know me well enough yet to know that such an enquiry will result in yours truly (me) researching the topic to find out. It’s very complicated…….

Alice and Christopher are (if I have this right) second cousins. Tim and Josh are, I think, third cousins to Luka and Emma. Luka and Emma are cousins twice removed to Paul (Riley), and Tim and Josh are cousins twice removed to Margaret. And if you understand all that, you’re doing damned well……

I think I speak for us all when I say we all had a wonderful time. Everyone pitched in and did their bit to help. It’s the first time the two younger generations have met, and they all seemed to enjoy getting to know each other, and seemed to get on well enough. I’m sure it won’t be the last time they get together (especially now they have had their place in the family tree explained to them….)

Tim and Josh doing their share of the washing up

The conclusion to 2017 – a hectic pleasure!


Christmas is coming……

And if you know the rest of that little nursery rhyme, then our little house is shortly to become the goose! Yes, very soon our house will be ‘getting fat’, in fact bursting at the seams almost,  as family arrive from near and far. By the evening of Boxing Day our little ‘Summer House’ will be almost set for a re-name. I’m thinking, ‘The Tardis’ will be perhaps be more appropriate. At least while this festive season is in progress anyway.

The first of our guests, Margaret and Geoff, arrived from the UK to join us for the Christmas festivities on the 9th December. So, if you’re wondering why I’ve been a little quiet over the past couple of weeks, it’s just that I’ve been otherwise occupied with our guests. They are occupying one of our two guest rooms.

Geoff doing the flag removal honours at our local big ball golf course

Margaret, and in case your wondering – no, she’s not taken up bee keeping, it’s a much needed fly-veil.

Christopher, Clare, Luka and Emma will be next to land. Flying in from Adelaide and arriving into Perth on the morning of Christmas Eve, they’ll be picking up a car at the airport and making their way down to Busselton. I should imagine they’ll be here by around mid-day.

Two of them will occupy the second spare bed-room, and the other two will either use our camping mattresses in the dining room, or in a quick put up tent at the side of the house. We’ll let them decide who’s sleeping where.

Next to arrive will be Alice, Paul, Tim and Josh. They’ll be arriving in the afternoon of Boxing Day. We had our caravan ear-marked for accommodation for Alice and Paul, but a change of circumstances means it’s no longer available. (Actually a last minute change of ownership – but more on that in a later post). So, at the eleventh hour we set up a bit of room within a room, in the garage. I’m not sure if you could really call it a room, more of an Arabian type boudoir!

We had replaced one of our spare beds a couple of months ago, and in anticipation of our Christmas festivities, we stored the replaced bed and had thought Tim or Josh would most likely have been using it. Instead, it’ll now be used by Alice and Paul, and Tim and Josh will be relegated to a camping mattress under canvas in the back garden.

There’s no way the living areas in our wee house will accommodate twelve, so we have everything crossed that the Weather Gods will favour us with fine weather and gentle breezes. All of our living and eating will be taking place under our patio in the back garden.

It’s going to be fun, fun, fun!! And I mean that absolutely literally. It’ll be like the Christmas festivities from my childhood, masses of people in a tiny house, all talking at once, lots of food, and hopefully lots of laughter. The Adelaide clan has not yet met the Green family clan (Alice and co), so it’s going to be a great opportunity for them all to get acquainted.

I’m sure it’s going to be a real pleasure – and will let you know how it all evolved in a couple of weeks. So watch this space….

Three Summers, starring Joshua Green and co-starring……..

What a great movie. Three Summers – an Australian romantic comedy written and directed by Ben Elton. The stars in the leading roles, Rebecca Breeds and Robert Shehan absolutely shone brightly. They were brilliant. Supported by Magda Szubanski, Michael Caton, John Waters, and debuting Joshua Green (as an extra – but as he’s my grandson, I thought his name deserved to be in the credits), the film couldn’t fail to impress.

It’s set over three years at a fictitious folk festival called Westival. Much of the filming was done at WA’s own real folk festival (Fairbridge), easily recognisable in the movie if you’ve ever attended the Fairbridge Festival.

For those of you who don’t know the history of Fairbridge, it was once used as a home for some of England’s, ‘stolen generation’. This little bit of history comes into play in the movie, with Michael Caton being a grandfather attending the festival with his granddaughter. Michael’s character, originally from England, clearly has some troublesome memories from his childhood years spent at Fairbridge.

The film, whilst being a lighthearted romantic comedy, still manages to embrace the diversity of modern Australia. Touching on the stolen generation, and juxtaposing this story against such things as today’s detention centres for asylum seekers, and Aboriginal rights and past injustices, the movie manages to be just a little thought provoking whilst at the same time providing a good laugh.

The movie’s funny, and guaranteed to give you that, feel good feeling that one gets at the end of a good romantic comedy. If you’re not keen on some of the issues it subtly raises, please don’t let that stop you from seeing a good movie. Honestly, it’s not in your face!

So, that’s a bit about the movie. Now a bit about Josh Green’s debut. Some of you may remember Josh (grandson number 2) and his group, Raksha, won a young song writer’s competion a few years ago at the Fairbridge Folk Festival. The band has attended for a slot on the program a few times since, I believe. They camp out at the festival, and as well as their slot on the program, they manage to do a bit of busking throughout the day. And here I need to digress a bit to Raksha’s roots. The founding members of group came together when they were all attending a circus school and realised they had something else in common beside juggling and acrobatics – music. Sometimes when they busk, I gather they do so as Raksha the group, and sometimes they busk doing some of their circus acts, and sometimes they combine both.

Josh juggling with fire sticks

During the filming of Three Summers, they were busking, with Josh doing a bit of juggling. They were asked if they wanted to be extras in a film and, of course, they said yes. Apparently, they didn’t even know which film they were to be in, so when the film aired, I believe it was all a bit of a surprise.

Grandson number 1, Tim Green was in Busselton earlier this year when his own short film, Bodhi, aired during the Busselton Film Festival. Having his own film in the festival meant Tim saw the previews of the other films in the festival, including, Three Summers. He had no idea he would see his brother in it. When he spied Josh juggling during the movie, he apparently couldn’t contain his excitement as he loudly proclaimed, “that’s my brother”.

I must admit, even though Josh was only on the screen for a few seconds, and of course, his name doesn’t get a mention in the credits, it was still very exciting to see him on the big screen in a full theatre of movie goers.

Tim is now 22, and Josh nearly 21. Both work part time to support themselves while giving their ‘dream careers’ a good and fair shot. It’s early days yet, so, their success in their chosen fields, (music for Josh, and film for Tim) is still a considerable way from being a realised (or not). Seeing my two grandson’s pursuing their life desires, giving it their all, and not selling out for the security of a ‘second choice job’ at this early stage of their lives – what a pleasure!

A tribute to mum

This week the local supermarket had pork forequarter cutlets on special for $3 a kg. How cheap is that! Would you know how to cook pork forequarter cutlets? I’ve never cooked them before, but thanks to lessons learned from my mum, I didn’t have any difficulty in working out a way to cook them that made them both tender, and tasty.

Have you heard the saying, ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’? Well, as far as cooking went, my mum could do almost exactly that. She could take the humblest of ingredients, and turn them into a very palatable, nutritious meal. In fact, my mum was pretty darned amazing at a lot of things that involved living on ‘the smell of an oily rag’ – another saying mum was fond of.

I knew mum’s  story while she lived, but I never appreciated it then. I had to grow a little myself before I could appreciate, and feel proud of how she dealt with what life threw at her, and how her difficult life helped shape me.

One thing mum appears to have passed on to most of her children is the ability to take a few cheap, basic ingredients and turn them into a decent meal. Most times, we don’t have to look up a recipe,  it’s as if we we’ve been born knowing what to do with a tough cut of meat, or how to get some flavour and nutrition out of a knuckle joint that most people would discard. Perhaps we were born to it, after all, we come from good old fashioned Comfort stock. Gladys Comfort was our mum, and this is her story.

Mums story:


Mum’s parents emigrated to Christchurch, New Zealand, early in their married life. I know very little about my grandparents apart from that they were £10 poms, and I know one of them was born in Old Kent Road.  I noticed that on either a birth or death certificate at some stage.

Mum was one of nine children, a twin, and all but one of her siblings were girls. Her twin sister was tall, slim and dark. Mum was short, chubby and fair. I gather there was a considerable amount of jealousy as they grew up, with Aunty Dorry being the popular, good looking one of the two – or at least that’s how mum saw it. Her confidence and self esteem remained low throughout her life.

My oldest brother Lindsay (now deceased) arrived in 1945, the last year of the 2nd world war. Mum wasn’t married, and I gather his biological father was an American sailor.

The war ended, leaving a shortage of men. A short, chubby woman with an illegitimate child had limited options. I’d like to be able to say mum beat the odds, and found a loving relationship in spite of her circumstances. But mums story isn’t the happy ever after fairy tale life that happens in Catherine Cookson novels.

Mum did marry. A ‘shell shocked’ farmer from the isolated west coast of NZs South Island needed a housekeeper, and mum needed a husband. A win/win for them both – or was it a lose/lose. I’ll never know. I gather they had little love for each other. Never-the-less, five children followed within the next 8 – 9 years. I was the youngest of their union.

Mum was widowed when I was only a few months old. A second marriage followed. Id like to say this one came about from undying love, but again – no such fairy tale. My step-father was certainly no prince, nor a knight in shining armour. He was a drunk, and mum was a lonely widow with six young children. I gather the shame of the illegitimate child had left a lasting legacy, and mums siblings offered little in the way of friendship or support after she was widowed. I gather friends were also nowhere to be seen. There was no birth control in 1956, and – well I guess you can work out the circumstances that prompted this next marriage. My younger sister arrived considerably less than nine months after the marriage took place.

I think there were government created opportunities at the time to get people into their own houses. By the time I was five, mum and my stepfather, Roy, had moved into a newly built three bedroomed, one bathroomed house. Along with the house came automatic life insurance that would ensure the mortgage was paid off in the event of death. All that was needed was for the insurance papers to be signed and returned. They never were.

Roy, died two years later. Mum now had seven young children, a new house on a 1/4 acre block, and a huge mortgage.

The world had moved on after the 2nd world war, and the general population was starting to become comparatively affluent. People that had been living frugally since the Great Depression no longer needed to be so thrifty. A move away from ‘real food’ was beginning. Packaged, and tinned foods were hitting the market, making housewive’s lives easier. However, these new foods cost more money than a widow with seven hungry mouths to feed could afford. Mum continued to cook the way her mother before her had cooked during the Great Depession.

And that’s why when I was growing up and my friends were eating a lot of modern meals based on packaged or canned goods, I was eating meals based on fresh vegetables picked from mums home grown vegetable garden.   We always had some sort of animal protein, usually in the form of mutton, mince, offal, or in some cases just a soup bone.

We ate well. These are some of the things I grew up eating but my friends did not:

Lambs hearts, with liver and onions (I loved the hearts, but hated the liver. I love it now)

pigs head brawn

pressed tongue

pigs hocks (used as a base for a hearty soup)

baked rice puddings (no carnation canned rice pudding for us)

sago puddings

bread ‘n butter pudding (something most housewives were happy to move away from).

A lot of women would have turned to drink in circumstances as difficult as mum found herself in. I rarely saw mum touch a drop. Instead she put her energy and love into her garden, and her children. She sewed our dresses, and knitted our jumpers. She stitched warm, woollen, patchwork quilts for our beds, and she planted and tended a massive vegetable garden to put fresh greens on our plates. She kept chooks for eggs, and she killed and plucked chickens for our Christmas dinner. And when all that was done, she planted flowers, lots and lots of flowers.

When I stayed over at friend’s houses, it was clear our humble, crowded house lacked the nice carpets and modern furniture most people were enjoying. However, that wasn’t what I noticed most. What stood out to me mostly were their bland meals, and their garden, or should I say lack of a garden.

Mum wasn’t academic, and offered little encouragement for education. It took me many years to realise she taught us non-academic things, things that have mattered to mankind over and above anything academic since the year dot. Survival! Should there ever be a total collapse to the world as we know it, it’s the life skills that mum taught me that will help me and mine survive.

She wasn’t demonstrative either. I was never welcomed home with a hug or a kiss, Her welcome, although not in the manner of physical contact, was there, clearly evident for all to see. Her welcome came in the form of pretty, scented flowers surrounding our house and the smell of something cooking in the oven. A kiss on the cheek at bedtime was never forthcoming. Her love instead shone brightly from the multi coloured, warm, woollen, patchwork quilt under which I snuggled at night.

You were no academic mum, that’s for sure, but you taught us well.  I wished I could have told you that in your living years, mum –  I’m so very, very proud to say I come from ‘Good old Comfort’ stock!