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!

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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:

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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!

 

 

 

 

On the road again

After five nights in Perth catching up with family and friends, we’re once again back to living ‘The Life of Riley on Wheels’. And let me tell you, it feels pretty damned good.

Firstly, the five days and nights in Perth. We arrived at our favourite Perth caravan park, Karrinyup Waters around lunch time on Saturday. Time to set up and a quick retail trip before Alice called around for a coffee.

One of two lakes at Karrinyup Waters Caravan Park.

The next morning we enjoyed a pleasant walk with Alice and Tim. Up the beach path from Ocean Reef to Burns Beach, a takeaway coffee (in house dining was to busy to even contemplate), and back again to Ocean Reef. With the coffee, approximately 2 hours, without coffee, not much more than an hour – the Burns Beach Cafe gets very busy on Sunday mornings.

Sunday Night we went with the family to a cafe in Northbridge as Josh had a gig there. The lead singer, Amber, was ill. Never mind, the band managed and compensated quite well without her, even though we could clearly see they missed her as the front person. Most songs went off without a hitch. We took photos of the band, but sadly the stage wasn’t lit well enough so none are good enough to post.

Tim and his dad

Alice and her dad.

Monday, Paul’s birthday – a much needed hair appointment for me, then a visit to friends in the afternoon.

Tuesday, lunch out with friends to celebrate Bob’s 65th birthday, and retirement. We stayed the night at Bob and Di’s, along with Marina and Terry. A lovely night was had by all, drinking, eating and playing cards. We had a good laugh, as we always do. We play an assortment of card games, Pontoon, Brag, various forms of poker, and our own made up version of something that I believe is called Acey Ducey, Shoot the Pot or In-betweens..

It’s an hilarious game, but lethal. This is how our version is played.

Each of us put a dollar’s worth of poker chips in the middle to form a pot.

The first dealer is nominated and shuffles the deck. Two cards are dealt face up to the person to the dealer’s left. That person then has to place a bet against the pot that the next card dealt will fall in-between the two cards already dealt. If an Ace is dealt the player can call it high or low. The wider the gap between the cards the higher the bet is likely to be. This, I believe,  is the basic In-betweens game.

In our version though we’ve added a couple of variations. The first is that should the first two cards not allow for a card to fall in-between, e.g. two threes, or a two and three, then the player nominates that the third card will either be higher or lower than the two cards dealt. Instances when two Kings, or two twos, or a two and three, or a King and Ace (with the Ace nominated as low), most cards dealt will win. Most people will bet whatever remains in the pot.

This is where the game becomes lethal (and often hilarious – thank goodness we all have a sense of humour). In our version we have a penalty should one of the first two cards be repeated with the third card dealt – double the bet must be added to the pot.

So, this is how the first round may go:

1st player is dealt an Ace and a two and nominates the Ace as high. The only possible losing cards will be another Ace or another two. There’s six dollars in the pot, so the player bets the full pot – and is hit with another Ace. He loses $12 and the pot now holds $18.

2nd player is dealt a three and Jack, and bets $2 against the pot. A four turns up so he takes $2 out of the middle reducing the middle to $16.

3rd player is dealt a two and three. She nominates any Aces dealt will be high, which means she can only be beaten by another two or a three. With the odds stacked heavily in her favour she bets $10. A three turns up. Amidst much laughter (and cussing) she adds another $20 to the pot. It now holds $36 and the first round hasn’t even finished.

You may think the odds of this happening would be fairly rare. Let me assure you, it happens often. I’ve seen a pot increase from $6 to over $100 before two rounds are completed. Fortunately, we’re all very good friends and try to ensure none of us gets completely fleeced – we always try and leave some in the pot for any big losers to try to recoup their loses. It’s rare for any of us to end up losing more than $20 over a whole night, and we don’t play often. There’s not many places we could be entertained for so long, with so many laughs for $20 or less a person.

The dealer continues through the pack placing all played cards upside against the unplayed cards. Once through the pack the deal passes to the next player. Should the pot be completely won, all players again replenish it with another dollars worth of chips each. Once the deal passes to the last player the play continues until the pot is completely emptied. It’s a game I’d recommend only with caring friends – without a care factor it could be easy to lose the shirt off your back. With caring friends it’s fast game, and a laugh a minute.

Yesterday, our last day we enjoyed a walk through Bold Park with Alice. Bold park is a very bushy park that feels like you’re miles from civilisation, yet it’s smack bang in the middle of Perth’s expensive Western Suburbs. A wonderfully maintained track, good hills to get our heart rates up, and the occasional glorious city view peeping through the trees – it’s a gorgeous place. Then Josh met us afterwards at Clancy’s Fish pub, overlooking City Beach – good food, tasty tap beers, and a view to die for,  a lovely last day in Perth for a while.

City views from Bold Park.

And today – it’s good-bye to Perth and for approximately five months. We’re now approximately three hours north of Perth at a free camp on the banks of Lake Indoon (near Eneabba). There’s flushing toilets, hot showers, and good shelter overlooking the lake for happy hour. And as it’s now just gone five, the shelter beckons….. It’s good to be back on the road. What a pleasure!

Pelicans landing on Lake Indoon.

Eyes open, smile.

It’s difficult to get reasonable group photos, don’t you think. Firstly you have to overcome everyone’s reasons as to why they don’t want their photo taken, “I hate posed photos”, “I don’t feel like smiling today”, “I don’t like having my photo taken”, “I feel dreadful today”, “Do we have too”!, I’m sure you’ve all heard similar objections.

Today, a simple plea did it. Everyone agreed, albeit reluctantly.

Next, how to get everyone to have their eyes open at the same time. How often is an otherwise perfect group photo spoiled by one person who had their eyes closed (usually that’s me). Today I asked everyone to open their eyes on the count of three. It worked, sometimes to well. But with a bit of cropping I think I’ve managed to get some reasonable photos of us all – and all eyes are open.

Alice, Paul, Tim and Josh

Sometimes the click of the camera comes to soon after the call to ‘open eyes’. I promise Josh isn’t psycho!

Eyes wide open…

Alice and Paul

All of us.

Josh, Clint and Ethan

A day with Alice, Paul G, Tim, Josh and two of Josh’s friends. A shared alfresco lunch in the back garden, gorgeous mild sunshine – and a rare chance to snap some family photos.  What a pleasure!

Raksha at the Beer Farm

Easter – the crowds have arrived and Busselton and the surrounding areas have virtually doubled in population for at least a few days. The beaches are packed, as are the wineries and micro-breweries.

Raksha (grandson Josh’s band) have been down here for the week-end to record a single, and to play a gig at the Beer Farm. Alice, Paul, Tim and Josh are down here camping nearby, along with all the other members of Raksha, and some of their families and friends – quite a crowd.

We firstly caught up with the family at a local beach yesterday (minus Josh – who was busy at the recording studio).

Tim’s first time on a paddle board – he made it look so easy.

Paul had a go in one of the boys canoes, and also checked out another canoe being used for fishing. I think a similar fishing canoe has been added to his ‘wish list’ – perhaps when we return next spring from our upcoming caravan trip.

Alice and Paul enjoying life on the water

Amazingly clear water.

Today we all met up again at the Beer Farm for Raksha’s gig. Paul (Riley) was enthralled at how much the band have improved since he last heard them. He was in the UK in January when the band stayed here with me rehearsing for the Busselton Battle of the Bands, so didn’t have the pleasure of becoming familiar with some of their current sounds. They’re certainly growing in professionalism, and their repertoire is becoming quite diversified. I don’t think they stick strictly to any particular style of music. There’s touches of Indi Rock, Indi Folk, Reggae, Jazz, and apparently they also throw in some Psychedelic Rock (whatever that is), or so I’m told. I don’t have much of an ear for recognition of any particular music type. I only know what I like, and having become familiar with quite a lot of Raksha’s songs,  I’m quite liking what I hear.

Getting in the zone.

Clint on base, Josh on guitar and vocals, Amber on vocals.

It’s hard to get a clear photo with the all of the members of the band in it. The one below was about the best I could manage that included all of the six members together on stage. Apologies Ethan – your face is hidden behind all those lovely curls.

Ethan on Keyboard, Jarrod on drums and Connor on guitar.

They only play their own original tracks. I tend to think that’s a bit of a shame when playing to an audience completely new to their sounds. Something familiar played well will always get ears tuned in the right direction immediately, whereas unfamiliar sounds always takes considerably longer to imprint into peoples consciousness. My thoughts are that if the first song is familiar and then another familiar song is thrown in every three or four songs when playing to a new audience it’ll get the crowds attention earlier, and keep their interest long enough for the band to showcase their own sounds. When it comes down to it though, I guess it’s not about achieving fame and fortune,  it’s about a group of young people together having some fun. They’re certainly having a ball. It brings them a lot of pleasure to stay true to their own original material – so I guess why not.

There was quite a crowd there. Getting served for drinks required considerable patience. The meals queue was even worse. Paul queued for the best part of 20 minutes to place a meal order only to be told as he was nearing the front of the queue to come back in half an hour as they’d run of meal buzzers. We decided going without lunch would be easier than returning to queue again later. Fortunately, Alice and Paul G had ordered to much and took pity on us with a basket of chips.

The following photo of our friends Kay and Brian Love with their daughter and three lovely grandchildren took me back a few years. I can remember many, many family photos with Tim and Josh in them when they were a similar age to Mitch with the same finger pose…. Must be a boy thing!

Three generations of our friends, The Love Family, lending their support.

Tim – lost in the music

Connor’s family

Tim with Clint and Jarod after the gig

I didn’t manage to pin Alice, Paul G, Tim and Josh down altogether for a family photo – perhaps tomorrow when they come here for dinner. I know both Alice and Tim aren’t fond of posing in front of a camera so fingers crossed they’ll all be feeling up to humouring me…. Watch this space.

Easter – and family

Easter’s almost here. School holidays have started, which means son-in-law, Paul is now on holidays. Alice has also taken leave, and along with grandsons Tim and Josh they will be heading for Busselton/Dunsborough in the middle if this week to camp for a the better part of a week.

You may remember Josh won the Busselton Battle of the Bands earlier this year. As part of the prize, Raksha won a recording, and a paid gig at The Beer Farm, a local micro brewery. The gig is to be on Easter Saturday.

Alice, Paul and the boys are bringing their tent and their dogs down to a local caravan park for four or five nights. The rest of the band and their families are also camping there, so I imagine it’s going to be full on. Hopefully, they’ll be able to snaffle some time away to share a meal with us here, but I imagine it’s going to be rather hectic at the camp ground, so it may not be that easy. We’ll see how it goes, and go with the flow….

I am hoping to grab some time with Tim to pick his brains for some help with my blog. I’m having all sorts of problems with posts not staying in order, side bars disappearing, and categories becoming chaotic. It’s all in a bit of a mess, so I really, really need Tims help to get it back on track. So, watch this space for some family photos coming soon I hope, and hopefully, a much improved blog layout.

Raksha – 2017 winners of Busselton Battle of the Bands

I survived the week-end, and so did the band.

They put a lot of effort into rehearsing, even writing a new song for the finals on Sunday. It must have paid off because their performance was brilliant, and they took out first place.

Garage rehearsals.

Garage rehearsals.

Ethan on keyboard

Ethan on keyboard

Jarrod on drums.

Jarrod on drums.

Patrick and Josh on guitar

Patrick and Josh on guitar

Time out - Patrick giving the unicycle a go.

Time out – Patrick giving the unicycle a go.

And Josh showing everyone how it's done - he's multi talented that grandson of mine.

And Josh showing everyone how it’s done – he’s multi talented that grandson of mine.

I can’t usually say I enjoy the band’s performances. I don’t think that’s a reflection on them, but rather on me. Paul, who has a more versatile taste in music usually enjoys their sound. I’m still a bit stuck back with the mellow tones of Simon and Garfunkel. Psychedelic Pop rock is just a tad out of my spectrum. However, even I was blown away by their performance on Sunday night. I enjoyed it!

They were polished, and played to the audience. For Friday night’s heats they played four of their more ‘out there’ songs (my description would be screechy). However, they realised they had a better chance with this audience if they mellowed it down with some contrasting songs to show their versatility. It paid off. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy their performance, the judges did too.

Raksha in the finals.

Raksha in the finals.

They won $250, a $500 recording contract, and a gig at one of the local breweries. I’m not sure when the gig will be, or if it’ll be a paid gig, but they’ll enjoy it no matter what.

So, a great result.

The four boys who stayed with me the whole week-end were brilliant, and four was a pleasant and tolerable number in my little house. When the other two arrived, with a third (boyfriend of singer) in tow, the dynamics changed somewhat, and it tended to become a bit much. But we all survived it, and without any major dramas. I still haven’t caught up with all the laundering of bedding and towels yet though.

So, would I offer up accommodation again – yes, but with a difference. If there’s a next time, my original offer will be the only thing on offer. That is, bring their own air mattress, camp bed or swag, bedding and towel and they will be welcome to bunk down in the garage and use the little bathroom that links to it. Band practice, because they were very good, and very considerate with the volume, that’s a yes, but not three days of it. And definitely band members only. No boyfriends, (or girlfriends). If their lovers want to come with them – ‘rent a room’.

I would still supply some meals for them, but would also set up the barbecue and make sure our little drinks fridge in the garage had space for them to provide some meals for themselves as well.

Alice (Josh’s mum, and my daughter) intended to come down on Monday sometime so as to spend Tuesday, the day of her granddads funeral with me. However, with the band getting into the finals, Alice came a day earlier on the Sunday. So I had an extra person as well, but being another fully matured adult, Alice balanced out the dynamics somewhat.

After the boys went home on Monday afternoon, Alice and I shared some rare ‘girlie time’ together, having a look around the Busselton shops, and then happy hour at nearby Stilts restaurant.

The following day, we played some games of crib in honour of Glyn, then went to a local winery for lunch where we drank a toast to dad/granddad.

Alice looking stunning in a blue dress colour co-ordinated with the blue Hydrangea

Alice looking stunning in a blue dress colour co-ordinated with the blue Hydrangea

Beautiful Hydrangea at Aravina Winery Estate - beautiful meal too.

Beautiful Hydrangea at Aravina Winery Estate – beautiful meal too.

I’ve spent today getting the house back into shape. Paul is now on his way home, so tomorrow I’ll be driving up to Perth to meet him We’ll spend the night at Alice’s celebrating Josh’s 20th birthday, then home again on Friday.

So, having the band stay here and practice here, – a mixture of pleasure, and ‘how did this happen’. Certainly a pleasure to have time with Josh to get to know him and some of the people important to him in his life at the moment.

The band winning – what a pleasure!

Sharing some rare mother/daughter time with Alice – what a pleasure!

And Paul’s on his way home. It’s been a hard three weeks, for me, but much more so for Paul. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it’ll be to see him again. Can’t wait.