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.

Pie Maker Frenzy

Thirty years ago I bought a pie making machine , it was made by Breville and one could cook two pies at a time. From memory , it cost me $10. As I had 3 young boys at the time, that pie maker was used daily. I made pies, pies and more pies. All wholesome and healthy. I used the finest ingredients and made my own pastry. After the lads left home, the poor pie maker was put in a back corner of the pantry, where it has been sitting idle for the past 20 odd years.

Fast forward to 2019 and there is an absolute pie maker frenzy.

People are crying because they cannot buy one. Stores are out of stock. Oh dear, what a disaster.

Calm down everyone. Pie Makers are not new. They have been around for decades.

As with most appliances , savvy folk are using them for more than one thing. It seems to me that everything has to be able to function in a multitude of ways.

Take this latest pie making craze. There are websites and chat forums advising us on just what one can do with these marvellous machines.

There are photos of everything imaginable, things that were made using the humble pie maker

Goodness me, cupcakes in a pie maker? Who on earth would want to cook cupcakes in batches of 2. Really?

Get real folks. Cupcakes are meant to be cooked by the dozen. Can you imagine a family of 6 all waiting patiently for the next 2 to be cooked?

Bacon and eggs in the pie maker. Again not practical unless for just one or at a stretch two people.

Just yesterday I saw a recipe for vanilla slice, yep, cooked in the pie maker. I read through the process involved and came to the conclusion that I could cook 2 slabs of vanilla slice in the oven taking the same time as I could make 2 small vanilla slice pies in a pie maker.

There are many weird and wonderful recipes floating about.

How about scones, once again, who would only cook 2 at a time. The process is more time consuming than making them in the oven. There is no turning them over halfway through cooking in the oven. In the pie maker it is recommended to turn them over halfway through cooking.

2 scones at a time, no way.

There are others, obviously not domestic goddesses, who lament over the left over bits of pastry, the bits left after those beautiful perfect circles have been cut out of a sheet of bought puff pastry. What a dilemma one poor lass was in. Well sweetie, just roll those little pieces together and flatten them out. Voila, you can make another circle. Who’d of thunk!

Enough about pie makers though. I think my old one will stay in the pantry. Or maybe, I could give it to some poor soul who desperately needs it.

1000 Bananas

What to do with 1000 plus bananas.

This was a problem I recently encountered.

House sitting a property in Queensland ,recently I had access to no fewer than 4 huge bunches of bananas. Each bunch averaging 280 to 300 glorious bananas, thus making a tally of well over 1000 of the delicious treats.

I love bananas, or should I say, I used to love bananas.

Not so much now though. There is definitely a limit on how many of these fruits can be consumed in a month.

First bunch, I would have a couple of fresh bananas each day. After a week I needed to vary the way in which I consumed them. So began the quest to find interesting and tasty ways to prepare the little suckers.

Banana Cake came to mind.

Feverishly I started whipping up banana cakes. I gave them to all the neighbours, and any family who came to visit. I was onto a good thing, or so I thought. I soon noticed that the neighbours seemed to be avoiding me. I wondered why.

A kindly woman next door politely told me they were done with banana cake. As delicious as it was, they would probably never eat one again. Overkill, in a big way.

Oh well, maybe I could try Banoffee Pie. I mean to say, everyone loves Banoffee Pie don’t they?

Well yes,they do, but not more than one a week so I discovered.

Time to change tack again, Banana Muffins. These were winners, for a short while anyway.

A friend in the USA sent me a recipe for Banana Cream Pie. How delicious this was. The neighbours and family thought so too. For a while. They soon tired of my offerings.

They did not even want fresh bananas, they were all bananared out. I would have to look further afield to get rid of my tasty delights.

There was a Home, just up the road, that housed disabled adults. I would take them some treats as well as some fresh bananas.

The staff were thrilled when I landed there with a box full of cakes, muffins and fresh bananas. The residents were equally as thrilled. They thought it was Christmas. I was so happy to be able to share the produce with them all.

They never tired of my offerings. Every few days I would take more up to them.

‘Oh look” they would say. ” Here comes that banana lady”.

Gradually the bunches diminished, they became cakes, muffins and pies. They fed the grateful and whilst it was quite expensive for me to buy all the ingredients to do my baking, it was also a pleasure to be able to do something worthwhile and nothing was wasted.

Train ride in Indonesia


There is much more to Indonesia than Bali.

Most people head for Bali to soak up the sun and frolic in the ocean,but I believe a trip through the interior up to Jakarta is well worth it.

It is a distance of 1154 kilometres, and you will see some beautiful countryside.

I started my trip in Bali, stopped overnight in a hotel. Next morning I caught a taxi to the bus station in Denpasar and caught a bus to Gilimanuk, cost of bus was around AUD $4 and took around 4 hours travelling over some very hilly country.

I overnighted in Gilimanuk cost AUD $23. The hotel was quite pleasant and very clean.

From Gillimanuk to Banyuwangi was the next leg of the journey and required a ferry ride. The ferries left often, about every half hour , 24 hours a day. They take around 50 minutes to reach Banyuwangi. There is a cafe selling coffee and noodles as well as other snacks so one does not go hungry.

The ferry moors at Ketapang which is right next to Banyuwangi. The volcano Ijen can be seen as the ferry arrives. Tours of the active volcano can be arranged and it is well worth doing a tour. A stay at the Ketapang Indah Hotel is a must if exploring this region is on your list.

The train Banyuwangi Train Station is only about 150 metres from the ferry terminal so an easy walk.

There are two trains daily from Banyuwangi to Surabaya. One leaves in the morning and arrives mid afternoon, the other leaves at night. I took the morning train as I wanted to see as much as possible on the journey through Java.

Passports must be shown before a train ticket is issued. The passport has to be shown at the other end of the journey as well.

There are two class sections on the train. 1st class, at a cost of AUD $10.50 or 2nd class at a cost of AUD $7.50.

The train was wonderful, excellent seats, very clean with helpful staff. Each seat has an electrical plug for charging phones etc.

The only downfall was the squat toilet, only because my old knees are a bit stiff for squatting. But I managed and all was well.

Food and drinks are brought around frequently, it is fresh and tasty. Arriving in Surabaya mid afternoon gave plenty of time to find a hotel in which to stay for a few nights.

Next leg was to catch the train from Surabaya to Jakarta. This trip was a lot longer than the previous leg and the 1st class was around AUD $40. Well worth paying for 1st class as the trip takes around 10 hours so comfy seats are a must.

The seats have a fold out table so eating any food is a comfortable experience.Also has electrical outlets for charging phones etc. Wifi is available in almost every area of Indonesia.

The trip itself, I enjoyed. Passing through fields and little villages, along the seaside for a while and finally arriving in Jakarta.

Travelling this way requires a little patience and flexibility but is so much nicer than just hopping on a plane and seeing very little. Faster by plane, yes, but on holidays , who is in a hurry?

All in all a very pleasant trip and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Emu Logic

Whilst Caravan Park sitting at Tooraweenah, NSW, I had to pleasure of meeting the Sunrise weather crew. In fact, the crew stayed in Cabins at the park.

There were 5 crew members including James Tobin, the Weatherman.

All great people and they absolutely loved the scones, jam and cream that welcomed them on arrival.

The weather segment was broadcast from Emu Logic, the emu farm just out of Tooraweenah.

The farm is a very interesting placethe has all manner of emu based products for sale.As well as hundreds of live Emu running about.

Almost all of the residents of Toora rose early on the Sunday morning and made their way out to the park.

The local Lions club were c⁷ooking breakfast, there was a mobile coffee van and lots of excitement for all.

Breakfast was great. Bacon and egg sandwiches as well as Emu rissoles.

These were delicious. Who,d of thought Emu could taste so good.

The coffee washed it all down and then the broadcast began.

Some folk lined up to be on TV while others, like myself, stood back and watched the proceedings. JT was in fine form. Geeing everyone up, cracking jokes and even eating a rissole whilst on camera.

In the sheds was an array of local arts and crafts.

The Piliga Pottery had some marvellous works of art. Narrabri Air Museum a great display of WW2 photos and information. A local ceramics person exibited wonderfully colouful mugs , I bought a couple, and of course all the various Emu products.

The TV coverage was good for the area as it brought awareness of the terrible drought conditions that are happening, not just in Toora but statewide.

snippets of my life as it is and how it was