Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Family Weekend Away in Nowra

On the weekend my family went to stay in an old house in Nowra, called Illowra.
It has been a tradition to go away together for a few nights every two years. In the past we've stayed at Leura, Katoomba, the Royal National Park, and Avoca Beach.

With nine adults and seven children (some of them almost adults!) in the family, it's hard to find accommodation that fits us. But Mum and Dad found yet another great property, this one with about 9 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms plus three living areas.

As well as some period features inside, there was a beautiful garden outside 

.. plus a tennis court, pool and spa
(a shame the weather was too cold for swimming!)

We spent hours a lot of time in the conservatory, reading, crocheting, playing various instruments, and using phones and ipads, each to his own.  I never quite made it onto the tennis court, but played a game of table tennis and went for quite a few walks.

Laura enjoyed her reading, and using her book to simultaneously avoid the camera and create this weird effect.

Illowra homestead heritage house: Illowra @ Berry/Nowra in Berry

Dad and I spent some time comparing this 1906 photo to the house now, to see what alterations have been done over the years. We thought the original upstairs must have been very dark with just those small windows on the south side of the house, and one window on the north side. The upstairs rooms now have skylight windows in the roof. A lot of the verandahs have been enclosed to create more space indoors. I wonder how many people lived in the home in its original state?

The house was close to Shoalhaven River, so we adults took a few lovely walks across the bridge and along the shore, while the kids lounged around watching TV. Silly them.

 It was so peaceful, and the weather was perfect.

It was a relaxing weekend, and nice to hang out together, and we are grateful to Mum and Dad for hosting us all.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

19 for Lunch

In recent months I've been very focused on decluttering this house of ours. 
I printed out the charts from Rachel's 2015 in 2015 Challenge in January, and so far I've ticked off 1300 items that have left the house! Some of those were from our "outbuildings" - our workshop and garden shed, but the bulk of them were items from indoors. There have been numerous trips to the op shop, the kerb, and the bin, and I've sold some things on ebay and the local facebook buy, sell and trade group. With each item ticked off, I know I'm making space to do all sorts of things more easily.

There's still a lot more stuff that I could let go of, and hopefully I will in future, but for now I've reached a level where it's possible to keep the living room tidy - at last!

Our living room is an open living space, encompassing kitchen, dining, living, laundry overflow (piles of laundry, not water!) and access to the backdoor/bathroom/stairs. In wet weather you might find clothes hanging on clotheshorses, too. Until this week, Emily has done all her homework and study at the dining table. It's a busy room with a lot going on. 

On Saturday, I cleared out every single thing that wasn't a piece of furniture, and put it in the study or craftroom. Since I've decluttered so much, there wasn't much to pick up, and the other rooms had more space to store things temporarily.  We rearranged the furniture (did I mention we had 4 sofas in the living room? That story for another post) and added some trestle tables and chairs.

Voila! Seating for 19 people!

We celebrated Mum's birthday with most of our extended family, and I managed to seat them all! No "kids table", no picnic on the floor, no dinners on laps. no kids disappearing upstairs. All those things are fine, but this time I wanted all of us together for once, for a sit-down lunch and a game afterwards. We all squeezed in and ate baked potatoes with toppings, then some paleo desserts and birthday cake. Then we tested our wits with  a Family Feud style game and gave presents. 

I had planned to fold up the tables after lunch and sit on the sofas, but that seemed too complicated when the time came, so we stayed at the tables. 

]The only problem was before dinner, it was a bit crowded, standing around for drinks. I had hoped people might use this corner of the room where we "stored" two of the sofas, but, no. Oh well.

After our visitors left, I organised some more stuff, so there wasn't much at all to put back in the living room - a basket of crochet yarns, a basket of library books ... and Emily has started studying upstairs so the dining table is staying clear. When I crashed with a cold for two days from Sunday afternoon, I could sit and enjoy our new serene and open space. All so worth it!

Sunday, May 3, 2015


On Monday we headed out to explore some of Forster's other beaches and headlands again.
We love Pebbly Beach, and spent some time searching for special pebbles. I collected some stripey pebbles and snail shells, and we found a smiley rock, also. 

Then we walked around the headland, stopping at lookouts along the way and looking down at the rocks below. Over the years people have attached engraved padlocks at the lookouts, it was interesting to read the engravings. Laura did some more gymnastics, making the most of the spectacular background for some instragram pics. I loved the arched pathways between the lookouts, so green with a glimpse of sunshine at the end of the tunnel.

The weather wasn't great, so after some shopping we headed home for the afternoon.

That night the sun set peacefully, with just a touch of gold.
Just your average, everyday totally beautiful lakeside serenity.
Mosquito count: annoyingly high.

Beach afternoon

One of the reasons we went back to Forster again this April was the beaches.
So many beautiful beaches, and a few extra degrees of warmth than in Sydney.
Once again, we were oh so fortunate with the weather.

Elizabeth Beach at Pacific Palms is one of our favourites. After a slow Sunday morning (but one which included a morning walk for me), we headed there after lunch. Later than we intended, but in time to get in some swimming before the early evening set in.

I usually have a bit of a paddle, and then get out and read.
This day I was reading One.Life by Scot McKnight, a great read.
This holiday I discovered that I love running on beaches, at the water's edge.
Over the week I increased my distance. Loved it.
Laura thinks beaches were created solely for her to practice her gymnastics, it seems.

After the beach it was home in time for the sunset (a bit disappointing that day, clouds had come up while we were at the beach) and more reading, videos and lazing around. This year we girls watched Wives & Daughters. (Last year was North & South, I guess we just like a bit of Gaskell with our sand and surf)

So endeth the second day.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


As the rain buckets down here in Sydney, I am enjoying looking at the photos I took three weeks ago this evening, at Green Point by Lake Wallis. We had a wonderfully relaxing week, with lots of reading, walking, thinking, beaches, shopping and watching videos. 

It was a week of summery weather after a chilly week at home. We arrived home in time for plenty of rain and some big storms, and it's still raining on and off, two weeks later. Life has been busy, I'm so glad we were able to take a week to relax.  Just looking at the photos helps me to slow down a little, and remember what I was reading and learning, and how much I was enjoying exercising and eating healthy foods, and how we didn't need so much stuff to have a great time. 

Why can't life always be like that??