2015 weeks! #47: things are getting Christmassy

2015-12-02 11.53.51So with the return from Greece and associated jet lag, my close friend the fizzy caffeinated beverage was a welcome feature of the early part of the week.

It was the Turner Christmas concert on Wednesday – fortunately this year it wasn’t washed out like last year. With Jude and Zachary both performing in separate choirs as well as their year groups, we felt we got our money’s worth.

For our Branch Christmas party we headed to the Arboretum for lunch in the cafe then soccer and lolling about in the gorgeous sunshine.

2015-12-03 20.45.18Some fighting the elder gods is required.

Took Jude and Sebastian to indoor hockey Friday night. Interesting to watch as it has a different rhythm to normal field hockey.

2015-12-05 09.56.49Took Zac to his cricket practice on Saturday morning. I was quite happy to sit in the shade and read my books while they ran around in the sun.

2015-12-05 12.17.02A trip with Jude and Sebastian to the cinema to see Catching Fire Part II. I really liked it and I particularly liked the number and variety of strong female characters. Nothing better than watching three women discussing military tactics while the men look on. I also wonder whether it even passed the reverse Bechdel test – there were very few occasions when men spoke to each other in a conversation that wasn’t about a woman. The boys also really loved it.

2015-12-05 14.47.57The boys treated themselves to ice cream afterwards.

It was then the boys’ derby training. Dividing time between catching up with work and watching them scrim.

2015-12-05 23.29.55Saturday was Dave’s 50th – a fun affair with heaps of champagne and the chance to see a bunch of faces from the past.

2015-12-06 11.26.52Sebastian volunteered to make pancakes for breakfast.

Sunday afternoon saw a scrim between the DHRs and the VCBs – as well as a mixed up black and white scrim. I was not required for line up duties so it was lovely to have a chance to just watch.

2015-12-06 18.43.16Finally I spent some time at a Christmas concert Jude and Zac were playing in organised by their music teacher. On the up side, they got to play in a mini orchestra which was excellent practice for them. On the downside, the surprise part of the event was that it was a Churches group choral event with sermons and everything. I was rather perturbed when they spoke about fighting to ensure that marriage remained between a man and woman – Zac told me after he was “appalled.” You sometimes forget there are people out there who think like that – not so much in the “Christian” spirit I would have thought.

2015 weeks! #46: …and then, Greece!

2015-11-23 08.43.38 - CopyMonday morning and it was nice to be back walking to school with Jude after a bit of time away. Not many mornings more of Jude and me walking to Turner together alone.

2015-11-23 11.29.21 - CopyAfter the last couple of weeks, the need for fizzy caffeinated beverages was high.

2015-11-23 19.06.20 - CopyMonday night dinner was with the Chinese embassy education officials. We got lobster sashimi and everything.

2015-11-24 08.41.15 - CopyAnother morning of walking to school – this time with both Zac and Jude.

2015-11-24 21.28.14 - CopyBy the end of the day I was in Sydney, on an Etihad A380, bound, eventually, f0r Thessaloniki. This is me as I boarded.

2015-11-25 14.10.51 - CopyAnd this is me in Athens, 20+ odd hours later. i must say though, Etihad are one of the best business class travel experiences, especially on the A380. Definitely a good choice.

You do get some interesting views from planes in between.

I was in Thessaloniki for a CEDEFOP conference on globalisation and vocational education. It was an excellent opportunity to talk about the kind of work we have been doing in Asia with Europe and to hear the European perspective on a number of the challenges we are facing. There are some different approaches and priorities – but it reinforced my view that we are doing some world-leading, exciting and necessary work.

2015-11-26 15.00.52 - CopyI did take some time to admire the new manicure I got at the Etihad lounge in Abu Dhabi though.


The perspective of Europe is really interesting as a region which already has free movement of people (though apparently only about 2% of Europeans are actually working abroad). Lots to consider in the work we are doing on recognition of qualifications.

We had a lovely conference dinner on Thursday night at a restaurant overlooking the harbour. Loved watching the boats go past.

2015-11-27 13.20.52 - Copy

My final #yourtightsatwork for the year from Thessaloniki.

2015-11-27 15.19.51 - CopyAfter we had officially finished on Friday we continued some collegial networking in town.

It really is beautiful as the sun starts to set.


And here is the White Tower from the 15th century (ish).

When we had asked the concierge at our hotel where the ruins were in town, he had simply replied “they are everywhere.” We found this to be not untrue. Above is the Arch of Galerius and rotunda and the Roman forum. We found these all in an hour or so of wandering the streets of Thessaloniki.

There were also some cute little Greek Orthodox churches…

2015-11-27 16.55.04 - Copysome urban art…

2015-11-27 16.53.11 - Copyother statues…

2015-11-27 16.58.39 - Copyand stores that sold a bewildering array of feta.

We were also pretty impressed by the number of stores selling religious icons.

We found a cute little restaurant for a local style meal before heading back to the hotel.

The next day I had free and hooked up with a couple of New Zealand colleagues who had organised a whole day trip. First stop, Pella.

Pella is where Alexander II (better known as Alexander the Great) had his capital for a period. There is an excellent museum which has all the artifacts from the archaeological site below. It is a fabulous set up. There is something really powerful about seeing the artifacts so close to where they were found. And it is a fabulously curated museum, I really liked it and completely recommend it.

We then went and looked at the site. Some of Pella’s fabulous mosaics are still in situ, and it was great to be able to see where the items in the museum had been found and how the town looked.

From there it was off to Vergina to where Phillip of Macedon was assassinated and buried. Here is a tiny little Christian worship spot nearby.

2015-11-28 14.06.27

Sadly, photos inside the burial mound and museum were note allowed, but I cannot encourage you enough to go and visit if you get the chance. This above is the mound – inside there is a museum which incorporates within it four tombs that have been excavated within the mound. The pieces from the tombs are amazing – especially from Phillip’s. I also felt like I had a real sense of the affection Alexander had for Phillip – not only did he give him a spectacular burial with huge treasures, but he also ensured there were pieces depicting him and his father hunting together and the like. Anyway, it is well worth it, and an even more acute case of seeing artifacts virtually in situ.

Back in Thessalonik were had more of a walk and discovered a little market.

We also found the Turkish baths and decided to have dinner in the square next to them.

In Greece, it was nearing Christmas too.

2015-11-28 18.33.48Sunday then was time to head home – flying, quick stopovers (though time for an airport lounge self-made negroni in Athens) and enough sleep to make it all tolerable.

2015 weeks! #45: awards and other sparkling things

2015-11-16 10.34.38Monday morning in Hobart. James dropped me off at the hotel which was to be my home for most of the week and went to MONA, while I went to work in these quite pleasant surroundings. It was Australian Training Awards week in Hobart – two days of judging, three nights of hosting dinners for judges, a day of functions with finalists and the Minister, the Awards themselves…and then a Ministerial Council meeting on Friday.

It was all in a lovely location though – everything was happening in and around Salamanca and the harbour.

2015-11-16 13.09.45I also got to enjoy the luminous local mineral water.

2015-11-17 19.11.46After an enjoyable, but long, day of judging School Based Apprentice of the Year, we had a lovely dinner at T42. The oysters were so fresh and delicious and everything else was lovely as well.

2015-11-18 16.24.18Wednesday involved a morning of judging International Training Provider of the Year and then a two hour video conference with the Minister and other senior staff and so it was then nice to have time for some chips and wine with Jasmin who had been judging an award as well.

2015-11-18 21.59.12Gratuitous selfie.

2015-11-19 10.37.59The venue for the Awards was really coming together – it was being held at Pier 1 and I walked past it all the time so I got to see it in its various stages of preparation.

On Thursday, the Minister came and met our Awards finalists and heard some of their feedback about their experiences in the training system. And there were compulsory photo shoots.

2015-11-19 13.39.21We then had rehearsal/demonstration of the Awards ceremony, getting everyone prepared for the real thing.

2015-11-19 17.56.36Frocked up and ready to go.

2015-11-19 18.05.49And it is time!

2015-11-19 18.19.17James was struggling with doing a tie, so had to recruit one of the finalists to do it for him.

2015-11-19 20.44.14It was important he looked neat for his role of Barrel Girl for the evening – I am sure it is a hazing technique for the section to make the newest recruit do all the handing over of awards and certificates on the night.

The night went well – I always love to see people get their awards and the value and importance of the vocational education sector recognised. As a judge you meet such passionate and impressive people – both the student finalists but also the employers and training providers and it is terrific to see such commitment.

2015-11-20 01.01.18-1Grant convinced me to go for drinks afterwards, but I managed to make the very sensible decision to go home not too late as I had a Ministerial Council meeting to manage the next day.

2015-11-20 09.51.50Look, I wasn’t feeling my absolute best the next morning.

2015-11-20 11.06.48Here are all the Ministers.

2015-11-20 16.03.59And then it was all over and it was drinks at the airport before the long trip home.

2015-11-20 18.50.31Saturday morning and back to regular life. Jude and I went and picked up Zac from a party.

2015-11-21 14.01.32While Sebastian and Zac were busy elsewhere, I took Jude to the skate park where his derby friends taught him to drop in. He did quite well for his first attempts.

2015-11-21 14.43.46Giant tiger prawns for dinner.

2015-11-21 17.41.36Jude and Zac lent a hand with the cooking.

Sunday I took Zac to sing at his Christmas concert for the Turner Trebles and other singing groups run by his conductor.

2015-11-22 16.00.08And here is my face when we reach the compulsory audience participation part of the concert. why can’t I just listen to them sing, why do I have to sing?

2015-11-22 15.57.20Meanwhile Jude was cooking up a feast with his interpretation of the Elk & Pea jerk chicken. It was super delicious.

2015 weeks! #44: other stuff then MEN IN PINK ON SKATES

2015-11-10 19.37.36Herbs and greenery ready for a Monday night dinner of rice paper rolls.

2015-11-11 09.14.39Luminous juice for a quick breakfast stop with James.

Hairdresser time out.

2015-11-11 12.13.33hairBeen feeling very borderline. With an incredibly busy weekend and week ahead, felt I needed to stock up on the drugs.

2015-11-11 20.48.54One of the boys stuck a toy-thing to the ceiling. This was an endless source of fascination for George.

2015-11-12 20.46.57Tired out the new version of Study in Emerald. Not entirely convinced…yet.

Time to fly – all the way to Hobart.

2015-11-13 09.47.34Finished this en route. Super fun read where I think the predictability was a deliberate part of the charm.

2015-11-13 16.15.12A trip to the Sandy Bay Coles allowed us to stock up on beverages for a weekend of roller derby – for us and for Copter who was arriving on a late flight.

2015-11-13 16.22.33Our first Air BnB experience was a delightful terrace in Sandy Bay. Extremely cute and a great location.

2015-11-14 07.28.58A fortifying breakfast is needed for the first day of the Australian Men’s Roller Derby Nationals.

Last year I was a spectator at Nationals as we came 7th in Australia. This year, after a lot of hard work by the team leading up to it, I was there as benchie and we were determined to come home 4th – or 5th at worst. we had a great first day – took it to last year’s champions, the Brawlers, and did all right; comprehensively beat the Tweed Valley Vikings and then took on BCR and beat them more effectively than we had expected. Coming second into the pool took us to the semi finals – and a minimum 4th! We all went home happy that night.

2015-11-14 19.56.36

There was time to smell the roses and eat burgers and feel good before day two.

2015-11-15 09.25.42And the upside of being in the semis was that we had time for a relaxed breakfast.

2015-11-15 11.14.58Our first game was against Vanguard – if we beat them we’d be in the grand final. They are an amazing team. Great discipline and teamwork and some brilliant individual players. We didn’t win, but we did ourselves proud – Vanguard were the only team in the country we hadn’t played at this point, so it was great to get the chance.  We had some great moments…maybe one day!

2015-11-15 12.50.40Cthulhu came out to watch HP Shovecraft play in the 5-6 play off versus Tweed. it was good to see BCR win that.

Then we played off versus the Brawlers for 3rd.  There were some moments during the game when I genuinely thought we could win – then a couple of jams let it slip away from us. But we didn’t expect to get third – fourth in the country was more than good enough for us. We’d achieved our team goal for the year, played well, improved and had fun and we were all super happy about it. The best thign too is that Carnage’s strength is its teamwork – that was what got us 4th.

Then it was all over except for the after party!