All posts by jenniferalisonlockhart

70th birthday

I had the best 70th birthday ever.

I was lucky to be able to travel to Japan 10 days before I turned 70. 

What a great trip it was. So many beautiful things to see and do. 

The autumn leaves were displaying their brilliant colours and the weather was close to perfect.

Never in my wildest dreams did that I think I would ever be able to travel overseas again, let alone to Japan

However, the opportunity arose and it was with great excitement that I packed my gear, organised my trip and off I went.

The lesser known islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu are places not to be missed. The people, the food and the culture are amazing.

The pristine natural springs, the towering mountains, the shinto shrines ,buddhist temples and the super friendly , helpful people of Japan make a visit to this country a wonderful experience.

To wander slowly about the many little towns and villages is indeed a pleasure. One feels quite safe, even a woman alone. There does not seem to be any sign of muggers or pickpockets.

There were no homeless people seen , at least not where I went. Maybe in the big cities there are, but it just does not seem to be a place where people are homeless. 

The streets and countryside are free from any litter. Drivers have manners and adults and children all wait patiently in line in shops and at attractions.

Hotel staff are at the visitors  beck and call. Bowing with respect to every guest who enters their hotel. Beds are laid out for sleeping, bags carried to the rooms , smiling faces with no expectations of anything more than a thank you.

The food. Wow, the food is amazing. Every chef in every little cafe or bar will go out of their way to please the diner. 

Foods such as Ramen, fish prepared every way imaginable, pork, chicken, beef veges in all shapes and form. A gastromical delight.

I cannot believe how much food I consumed, but did not feel over full or bloated. It is all very natural, no preservatives at all and freshly prepared.

Sure, there are MacDonalds and KFC but why would anyone want to go there when all this other food is available.

My favourite meal was Ramen. This soup like meal has an amazing depth of flavour. I really need to learn how to make it. Full of soupy goodness, with nododles and some kind of meat, whether it be seafood, chicken or pork, does not matter. All were delicious. All left me wanting more. 

Another favourite were the Yakatori dishes. Deep fried chicken  other meat or just vegetables in a light crispy batter .. Truly amazing.

I had a misguided idea that all I would be eating was sushi and sashimi. How wrong I was.

Ice cream, in many different flavours, lingonberry, roasted green tea, matcha, mango or just plain milky were equally is good as any I have ever tasted.

Yes, Japan is an amazing place. 

I actually turned 70 halfway between Haneda and Sydney. The airline staff knew it was my birthday and I was given a nice roomy seat in an exit aisle as a business class upgrade was not available due to a fully booked flight. 

The cabin crew, two rather nice young men brought me champagne in a proper glass and also a set of Qantas pyjamas.

What a birthday to remember.!

Hot Springs

On a recent  trip to Japan I was excited to be going to places that had Onsen, or Hot Springs.

Actually, before arriving in Japan I was sure that I would be partaking in more than one dip in a hot spring 

Onsen water is believed to have a multitude of healing properties, since time began, and is packed full of minerals that are thought to be good for your skin, circulation and general health. Onsen baths can be  made from materials such as cypress wood, marble and granite , and are often situated in areas of outstanding natural beauty or attached to lovely traditional inns. They can be absolutely beautiful. 

I packed my swimwear and towel in readiness for the experience.

A dip in the onsen is  supposed to be very good for all matter of complaints. It eases  painful joints, makes the skin soft and silky and relieves stress amongst other things.

 Ask any Japanese person what is their favourite thing about Japan and they’ll most likely say onsen . 

For such a well-loved pastime, onsen are also probably the scariest part of Japanese culture for most foreigners.

I read up on the rules of public bathing.

First and foremost, no clothing, swimwear or anything like it is to be worn in the onsen.

At this revelation I was taken aback. I, of the larger variety of women, naked in public?

 It was almost too much to comprehend.

I immediately doubted my confidence to appear before others in my skin only. 

One plus was that women and men had separate onsen. This calmed me down a little bit. At least no men would be present.

How would the super slender Japanese women cope with a whale like creature in the midst of their onsen?

The next rule is that everyone must have a shower before entering an onsen.

This is to protect the pristine waters from any contamination. No soap or shampoo can be used. Save that for the shower  beforehand.

Every onsen has a row of showers around the edges. Soap and shampoo are provided as well. A small stool is there to be used whilst showering as it is considered bad manners to stand and shower. One must also be careful not to splash the person showering next to you.

At the  onsen, you will be provided with a small and a large towel. Also a basket in which to place your clothing.

The large towel is for drying yourself and should be left in the changing room along with your clothes. The small towel is for washing and can be taken into the bathing area. You can take your small towel into the bath with you  but you mustn’t let it go in the water. Most people sit it on their head whilst bathing.

The small towel is also used to discreetly cover ones privates whilst walking from the shower to the bathing pool. I doubted it would cover much of my body. A bit akin to a postage stamp on a letter.

The more I  read the more I was filled with dread.

If you have long hair, wrap your hair in a small towel, as even if you’ve just washed your hair under the shower  you should take care to make sure that it doesn’t go in the bath water. No one wants to see hair floating around them.

In fact, even if you don’t have any hair you should refrain from putting your head underwater, it is just not considered to be hygienic.

Tattoos are a no no.

 Persons with tattoos are best to bathe in a private indoor onsen.

 Excessive noise and alcohol are also banned in public onsen

Armed with all this information, I decided I would give it a go .

The best time would be around 4am as not many people in the area at that time.

I woke just before 4 and gathered my courage. Just as I was about to leave my room, an earthquake struck. The building shook and rattled for several minutes. Surely this was a sign that the gods were warning me not to show my nakedness to anyone else.

That was it. 

The decision was out of my hands.

I never did experience the onsen.

Golliwogs

Golliwogs are here to stay.

Love them or leave them.

 Some say they are racist. 

I have to disagree.

 There is nothing racist about a golliwog.

Gollies are cute little creatures who bear no resemblance at all to any human. 

They are just cute little dolls. 

Gollies have been around for many many years.

I had one when I was a small child. 

I loved it.

I also loved Gilbert Golly from the Noddy Books. Another favourite book was The 3 Golliwogs.

At no time , before now, have Gollies ever been likened to any human race. 

Why people are up in arms about them is beyond my comprehension.

How can anyone say these cuties are offensive?

Offensive to who?

I have many friends and family members who are indigenous persons. Not one of them is offended by, or thinks Gollies are racist.

This (Racist) way of thinking is all in the warped minds of the minority . 

This minority needs  to get a grip on life.

Does this minority also feel that Barbie Dolls are offensive?

If not, why not?

Barbie Dolls are big busted, blonde bimbos. 

One look at myself and I could qualify as such.

Am I offended? 

No!

What about the Black (am I even allowed to say that word) Cabbage Patch Dolls. They look like an actual human. They are the image of a  bubba of African descent.

They would be more likely to be considered Racist than the humble ,loveable Golly. But, no, no one ever complains about them.

I make Gollies. I actually sew them up and sell them to people who do not have a warped mind.

These people love them, just as they would love any other doll.

I was thinking that maybe it is more the word “Golliwog” that offends some people. 

I really don’t see why it should, but it is worth a thought.

Maybe if they were called something different. Some thing like Mammy Dolls. Or Pappy Dolls.

Maybe just Dollies would be better in the minds of some.

I listed my gollies on a craft site just recently.

Out of one hundred comments, only two accused me of being Racist.

Not a very large percentage is it?

 Perhaps it is just another case of Minority Rules.

From Wikipedia.

“A dominant minority, also called elite dominance is a minority group that has overwhelming political, economic, or cultural dominance in a country, despite representing a small fraction of the overall population (a demographic minority). Dominant minorities are also known as alien elites if they are recent immigrants.” 

A da y in the life of an 18 year old

A day in the life of my 18 year old grandson is very much different to when my own boys were 18.

When my own three were 18, they had all moved out of home to either work or go to University.They did their own washing, helped with the housework and took turns at cooking the evening meal any time they came home. They had been doing these chores since they turned 12. They are now in their mid 30 ‘s.and still do so whenever they come to visit.

At present I am looking after my two grandsons aged 14 and 18 whilst their parents take a well earned rest. I love these boys dearly but their daily routine, especially the 18 year old, leaves a bit to be desired.

Granted, he gets himself out of bed each morning without any help from me. Spends half an hour under the shower, how could showering take so long I ask myself. Next task is getting dressed. Then another half an hour in the bathroom combing, gelling, moussing and styling the hair and god knows what else. Thank goodness he is not a girl.

Next up is breakfast. He does make his own. Literally, a litre bowl of porridge, 4 eggs on toast and a litre size mug of protein shake.

He tells me it is for building muscle. I would have thought the mega bowl of porridge and the 4 eggs would have been sufficient for that.

Mind you, he is very slim and not overly tall. Perhaps he does need such a breakfast to build him up, who am I to think otherwise.

Of course the kitchen looks like a tornado has passed through when he has finished his breakfast.

No amount of encouraging will see him cleaning up after himself. That Is not an option according to the lad.

Whilst this is happening, and in amongst the tornado style mess from 18 year old, I prepare the 14 year olds breakfast because he doesn’t know how to even turn the toaster on, let alone place a slice of bread in it.

14 year olds breakfast is a bit more normal.

One package of Up and Go and 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter.

When I suggested that I could teach him how to make toast a look of sheer horror came over his face. He assured me he would be “right” not knowing this simple task.

They both headed off to school after a bit of banter about what clothing would need to be washed that day.

Talking about clothing. Oh my goodness!. 18 year old dumps at least 4 changes in the laundry every day. There is the school uniform. The after school clothes, gym clothes, after gym clothes, going out socialising clothes, pyjamas. A look of disbelief on the little cherubs face when I suggest he could possibly wear some clothes again without washing them as he had only had them on for a couple of hours.

Oh no, that would never do,

I ask if he would like me to show him how to use the washing machine, he tells me he doesn’t have time to learn that as he has to rush off to the gym, after he has more protein drinks of course. These ones are different, he says ,as they are specifically for pre gym. The powder all looks the same to me.

I have to add that before each clothing change he goes through the hourly shower and preening routine plus a quick mega bowl of porridge and another protein shake and any leftover meat in the fridge.

I estimate he has at least five meals a day. Last one at around midnight when he cooks up several chicken breasts for when the munchies strike.

I cook an enormous quantity of dinner for the boys. Most of it consumed at the table, very rarely a crumb left.

Poor dogs do not get any scraps .

I suppose it is good that there is no wastage but I cannot believe how anyone could eat so much.

My daughter left me $600 to buy more food. That amount would keep me and several others overfed for more than a month I told her.

Just take it she said, you will not have any change left, after the 10 days.

She was right.

18 year olds. You just have to love them.

First Cruise

My first Cruise

My first experience with cruising was in 1963. Dad decided it would be a good thing to do after years of going to the beach during Christmas holidays.

The ship was the Italian liner “Aurelia”. A small ship by today’s standards but none the less very exciting for my younger brother and sister and myself.

We left Station Pier, Melbourne, and then headed for Tasmania. First stop Burnie, where we disembarked and travelled to Russell Falls and also other places along the way. I can’ t remember the names of them, I was only 15 , but the beauty of Russell Falls remains forever in my mind.

Next stop was Hobart and a day trip to Port Arthur was enjoyed by us all. I remember stopping at a roadside stall and buying huge strawberries. By the time we returned to the ship the strawberries had been consumed. On the dock at Hobart , I met a nice young man and snuck him onto the ship for a look. Back then security was not an issue and non travellers could come aboard until sailing time.

I remained in contact with this young lad for several years after our chance meeting. After a few years letters were fewer as we both moved on to different things.

Next up was four days at sea. There were heaps of great activities onboard. Swimming, deck quoits, bingo for the oldies a lots of new people to meet. I remember Dad even having a beer , something he never did at home.

The food on offer was like nothing I had ever seen. Huge tables, absolutely groaning under the weight of the food. The waiters were all Italian and I was rather smitten by our personal waiter. Although I was a bit shy,country girl you know, I still managed a smile and a wink of the eye. I wonder how many other young girls did the same.. Tony,was his name, he made sure I had the best food. I was hoping my Parents did not notice my interest in him. At 15 I was forbidden to have a boyfriend. In my naivety I imagined living a luxurious life withTony. Truth be known he was most probably married but that did not enter my mind back then.

We arrived in Auckland NZ, a country that blew my mind away. Travelling through the beautiful green countryside to Rotorua,seeing the bubbling mud and then onto Waitomo Caves to experience the glow worms and their wonderful fairy light appearance. Along the way some magnificent Green and Blue Lakes.

Onto Picton and a day trip to Russell. The gardens here were magnificent. The mountains enormous, although New Zealanders called them hills. To me they were mountains. Another couple of days sailing and we entered Milford Sound. What an amazing and beautiful place. Totally unspoilt. Pristine waters and towering mountains.

What a wonderful place.

All too soon we were heading back to Australia.

The last four days were spent enjoying the deck spots, swimming and sending secret smiles to Tony.

The Cruise was an extraordinary experience for me, it was the start of my travelling life. I couldn’t wait to go on another one.

The next year I did , but that is another story.

Calista, I found that old photo of me at Rotorua but it is a bit blurry

No worries Calista 😀
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The Full Monty

I see The Full Monty is coming back to our screens on Tuesday Night.

No offence to Shane Jacobsen, John Wood, Tod, Loti and others, but they have reached an age and size where keeping their clothes on would be a much better option than baring all.

Spare the vision of thousands of viewers please.

The younger blokes who are in are just show ponies looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

Last night, whilst sitting around a campfire for a Caravan Park Happy Hour, I put the question out there to all the women present.

Is this a good thing, and is the message they claim to be pushing going to in any way have an impact on their husbands?

The answer was a resounding NO, but most of the women said they would watch it for the laughs they would get out of it.

Whoever thought of getting a bunch of (mostly old) blokes to strip off to bring attention to Prostate Cancer needs to take a good hard look at themselves.

It is TACKY.

I think it is all about ratings because while the TV channel concerned is promoting the show, not one word has been said about bringing awareness to Prostate Cancer.

They say, “you won’t believe who we have got for you this year”.

Has there been any proof of more men getting their prostates

checked because of this show?

I doubt it.

Would it be seen to be acceptable for a bunch of overweight wrinkly old women, stripped down and showing their boobs to advertise Breast Cancer awareness?

I think not, we advertise breast cancer awareness in a much classier way.

I cannot see how the Full Monty is going to encourage the average Joe to check his prostate.

The men at happy hour all agreed the show is for Tossers.

Why not create something that will stay within a man’s memory.

Blokes are different to women, they will ignore ignore ignore until their bodies are screaming at them and they can ignore no more.

A man and his phone and a man with and his car keys are rarely apart.

Why not create an epic reminder on his key ring or phone case.

Wives could buy these items for their nearest and dearest as sure as hell no man would buy them.

Advertise PC on coasters in pubs, that way the message may eventually sink in .

Men need all the help they can get to be made aware, but I doubt the Full Monty is going to be any help at all.

Mulberry Jam

Back in 1968, I was a young married woman trying my best to be the kind of wife my Mother and Grandmother were.

Husband and I had just moved into a lovely home with a white picket fence, the house I had always dreamed of. There was a huge mulberry tree in the backyard. It was covered in big juicy mulberries just begging to be picked.

My only experience with mulberries had been in Grandmas tree.

Us kids used to climb it and paint each other purple, as well as feasting on the sweet fruit. The purple took days to fade off our skin but Grandma never scolded us. She just laughed and called us purple people eaters.

Getting back to my own mulberry tree, husband did not like to waste anything so demanded I pick the mulberries before the birds ate them, and to make things out of them.

I was just 19 and not much of a cook so I rang Grandma and asked her what I could do with the fruit. There was no google back then, not like these days.

Make mulberry jam, she told me. It is easy. Just boil up the mulberries until they are soft, then add sugar and lemon juice and boil until setting point is reached.

Sounded easy to me.

First lot I boiled bubbled up and went all over the stovetop. I was in a panic. What of hubby came home and saw the mess. He would not be happy.

I found a box of rags and proceeded to clean it all up. I was covered from head to toe with purple goo. Must have needed a bigger pot.

Eventually I got it all cleaned up, but I still looked a mess. Nothing for it but to put a long sleeved shirt on to cover the purple blobs all over my arms.

Try again, this time in a huge pot. Could barely see the mulberries in the bottom of it, but I was confident it would not boil over.

I boiled the poor fruits to within an inch of their lives, then added sugar. No measurement, just tipped it in. Next I added lemon juice. Probably a cup full would do it I thought.

After an hour or so the jam still looked the consistency of water. I added more lemon juice, and more sugar to counteract the tartness of the lemon. By this stage it was probably more like lemon marmalade than mulberry jam.

I boiled and boiled. Then it started to look a bit thicker. Must be done I thought to myself.

I poured the mixture into clean jars and left it to cool. I have to say I was feeling mighty pleased with my efforts.

Hubby came home and admired the jars of jam.

He immediately wanted to try it. I buttered some nice fresh bread , opened a jar of jam and attempted to get a spoonful out. Darn, the spoon would not go into the jam. It was set like concrete. I made the spoon hot in the hope it would slice through the jam. No such luck.

I told hubby he better try and get it out of the jar, it seemed a little firm.

Again, no luck. Hubby got the carving knife and stabbed at the solid mass. Success! Removing the knife and blob of jam proved rather difficult. It was the consistency of nougat. Mulberry flavoured nougat.

I quite liked the taste, hubby was not impressed and told me off for ruining good berries.

Needless to say, I never attempted jam making again. Nor did I stay in the marriage for any length of time.

Japans Toilets

The first time I visited a public toilet in Japan was a real eye opening experience.

First of all, I had to remove my shoes and slip my feet into an appropriate sized pair of “toilet” slippers.

Whilst not all public toilets require this to be done, most do. It is considered bad hygiene if one enters a toilet wearing outside shoes.

In fact the slipper thing does not end with toilets. In most hotels footwear must be removed and the appropriate slippers used. There are slippers for toilets, slippers for lounging in the hotel room, and slippers for going down to the dining room or to the onsen.

Once I was familiar with these rules, it was time to learn how to actually use the high tech toilets.

One could be forgiven for thinking the obligatory 2 day course may have to be taken in order to learn what the various buttons on the wall of the cubicle are for.

Most of the toilets I went into had the instructions in Japanese so there was no point in me reading them.

I was not familiar with the Japanese language and had no guide with me at the time.

One thing I noticed and knew immediately what it was for, was a cute little kiddy seat attached to the wall. What a great idea for Mums to place their little ones in whilst using the toilet.

Getting back to actually using the button system there was nothing else to do but press each button separately and see what happened.

On approaching the toilet bowl, the lid automatically lifted up giving me quite a fright.

Recovering my demeanour I decided so sit down and try the buttons.

First button resulted in a wonderful warm stream of water shooting out onto the front area of my bottom. After the initial shock, it was quite refreshing.

I tried the next button, same thing almost, just angled towards the nether regions. No need for toilet paper here. What a great idea.

There was also an air dryer and one with the sound of running water and music.. Maybe that was for those who needed a little encouragement to pee.

Actually I was wrong thinking that, I later found out that it was to muffle the sounds of poop dropping into the bowl. Very thoughtful indeed.

No one likes to hear others dropping one into the water right?

Yet another feature is the lights and diagram on the toilet block showing which cubicles are vacant. Another great feature I thought.

Some of the toilet blocks even had showers. Not showers as we know them, but kind of like oversized hand basins that one lounges in. Lying fully naked, in plain view of everyone who walks in, would be somewhat daunting so I did not try them.

The toilets , I have to say, are immaculate and super super clean. Even the ones in small towns and at railway stations, spotless.

Australia could do well by adopting these kinds of public toilets, bar the open showers. I would draw the line at them.

Go Fund Me

I have noticed recently that there has been a fair amount of discussion about Go Fund Me sites.
The purpose of these sites and the use of them, seems to have lost direction . It is all getting out of hand. That is my opinion anyway.

While there is a need for fundraising and helping those who are suffering extreme hardship I do not believe that it should be used to pay peoples fines.

In cases where families have lost loved ones, homes and all their worldly possessions, then it is great that a crowd funding site such as Go Fund Me can be facilitated to help. Most people are only too pleased to donate to such a worthy cause, myself included.

But, and there is a big but, to ask for donations to pay ones bills is not right. A large number of people are struggling with day to day costs. A fine is an extra burden but a fine is a preventable thing.

If people would adhere to the law, then a fine would not be forthcoming.
A recent case about a man being fined for dropping off books outside closed charity comes to mind. This man read the signs advising that a fine would be issued if items were illegally dumped. He chose to ignore the warnings. He must have thought it did not apply to him.
Well mate, it applies to everyone.
Now a Go Fund Me account has been set up for others to pay his fine. That is not right.
The said man has a business down the road from the charity. He could have dropped the books off during opening hours.

Pretty soon anyone who receives a parking or speeding fine will be crowdfunding so others will pay their fine. Where will it all end?

I know of sportspeople who use Go Fund Me to raise money so as to enable them to travel overseas. Again, I do not agree with this. By all means run a cake stall or raffle to raise funds. Just don’t expect manna from heaven, so to speak.

I was raised to believe that one has to pay their own way.
We are all responsible for our debts and need to arrange to pay them, without asking for help.

I was raised to respect the law or face the consequences.

I was not raised to expect others to pay for my.mistakes.

Accidents and other misfortunes are a different kettle of fish. I gladly donate to those worthy causes.

Scones versus biscuits

Who does not love a scone? Almost all of us love them with lashings of fresh thick cream and thick tasty jam.

Biscuits, on the other hand an American staple and eaten in quite different ways to our humble scone.

The other day I found myself thinking about the two tasty treats, each has its own peculiarity but how different are they really.

Scones quite often contain eggs in the mix.

Biscuits never have egg.

Scones also have sugar added and are generally sweeter than biscuits, although, not always.

Biscuits rarely have sugar added.

Scones can also be heavier in texture , almost cake like, whilst biscuits are light and fluffy.

There is more liquid in a scone mixture than in a biscuit mix.

Both are usually round in shape but on occasion scones are triangular.

Scones are Scottish in origin and often contain dried fruit or mashed veg, for example, pumpkin scones. Lady Flo Bjelke Petersen was the best pumpkin scone maker in Australia, so the story goes, but whoever said that obviously did not taste my pumpkin scones.

There are many recipes for scones. The Scottish recipes almost always includes egg in the mix. The scones are kneaded for quite a while then cut into rounds or triangles and cooked in a very hot oven. The quicker the better, so my Grandma used to say.

Some people make scones that are more akin to golf balls or house bricks and quite possibly they need to use the fail safe lemonade and cream recipe to have better success.

Biscuits, on the other hand, are thought to have originated in the southern United States of America, they never contain fruit. Oh no, that would be disastrous seeing as they are usually served covered in gravy. Not the kind of lovely brown gravy us Aussies are used to, but a thick grey/ white type of gravy that does not look the least bit appealing, well not to me anyway.

Biscuits are made using shredded cold butter, salt and of course buttermilk. The mix is made up quickly, kneaded minimally then folded in three , kneaded a little more, folded in three again, a bit like making flaky pastry, and then cut into rounds. The butter is quite visible and gives the finished biscuit a lovely flaky texture. I really like biscuits, just not with gravy. I actually make them at home and put jam and cream on them. Yummo.

I really like scones as well, and do not have a favourite so I cook scones one week and biscuits the next. Both though are way better if eaten with a nice hot tea or coffee . And lashings of cream and jam.