Weeks! #34: planes, food, skates,bikes and tights

2014-08-18 16.43.42-2Another week, another flight. This time it was up to Sydney for the night.

2014-08-18 17.28.34And a gloomy day in Sydney it was. This was the view of the harbour from my hotel room window.

2014-08-18 19.19.42Part of my new expanded responsibilities are overseeing our contract for Skills Week – this was the NSW launch. It was great to see Jessica Martin who came to India with us last year in action as co host. Jessica won a silver medal at Wordskills in restaurant service and since has been offered amazing jobs in top tier restaurants all over the world. Markeeta Douglas who was in Sri Lanka with me a couple of months ago also gave an inspiring speech. I do enjoy seeing some of the outstanding people in the vocational education sector and the opportunities that their skills education have provided them.

2014-08-19 06.56.15-1Up ridiculously early and back to Canberra for a full day of work.

2014-08-19 11.04.22I met this disturbing thing at the hairdresser. Fortunately I didn’t look like that post visit.

2014-08-19 13.36.28I actually managed to cook dinner – one of the boys new favourites, my take on chicken tikka masala.

2014-08-19 18.39.21Sebastian and the magic cards.

2014-08-20 19.53.54Who wouldn’t love having the viola played to them by a tiger?

2014-08-20 19.56.46-1Work selfies.



We drank this one just because we could. It was delicious.

2014-08-21 18.36.54Having run out of Arthur Ransome, bedtime stories is now firmly focused on Joan Aiken. I am enjoying this one because it was written after I had stopped reading children’s fiction so it is all new to me too.

2014-08-21 20.29.57As I am now on hiatus from derby, time to launch back into riding. And it is a beautiful time of year for it.

Still stocking time of year though.

2014-08-22 09.36.19And hot chocolates.

2014-08-22 13.52.32Work is pretty flat out, so still leaving the office at sunset. It is just that sunset is a bit later now.

Friday night was another dumpling night with Paul and Chung Ling – I came home to find the boys covered in flour and helping out.

It was Zac’s final footy game for the year – last time to voraciously consume oranges, sing the team song and kick the footy to teammates.

We then had to rush to pick up Jude from skating…

2014-08-23 14.43.14…to be back in time for the football presentation.

2014-08-23 16.18.37It had rained in the meantime so the presentation had been moved inside. But the rain didn’t last.

2014-08-23 16.10.56The boys were then skating at a closed doors bout.

While it was great to watch the boys demonstrating their skills, it was a bit hard to watch the serious derby so soon after deciding to take a break. Made me want to be on my skates and bouting.

2014-08-23 18.36.41Jude’s footy coach this year was really awesome. We have been lucky at Ainslie because the coaches have all been great, but “Sporter” goes above and beyond – always encouraging and positive and with added extras such as writing the match report each week and providing special awards. His final touch for the year – he made each of the boys their own football card.

2014-08-23 20.09.07We finally got around to watching the Veronica Mars movie. James wasn’t necessarily going to watch, but he was on the couch before the title came up. It was wonderful and definitely makes one hope for more.

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Washing weather in a stockings household.

2014-08-24 12.20.59I went for another long ride which was lovely. Well, it was lovely for the first hour, then the final half hour started to get a bit tough. Have to work on that fitness. Here’s views of the fountain from opposite ends of the lake.

To complete our Sunday it was off to hear Commander Hadfield and friends talk about space. It was excellent. I still want to be an astronaut. Made me wonder whether I should have stuck to 11 year old me’s plan.


And what better way to top off some inspiration about space travel than with Chinese food?

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Weeks! #33: All’s well that ends well

2014-08-12 08.32.35Started the week walking to work and remembering how gorgeous Canberra can be, especially on a bright, nearly spring day.

2014-08-13 11.30.54Here I am, managing to look relaxed and reasonably happy to be back in the office.

One part of my job that I enjoy, and that I believe is very important, is mentoring. I currently work with three women, both older and younger than me, to provide support, ideas and, hopefully, some inspiration. I strongly believe that as a feminist and a woman who has managed to achieve a few things and be moderately successful I should try to help others to climb the ladder and even go past me. I have been lucky to have some great women offer me advice and support throughout my career (both at work and academically) and I think it is incredibly important to try and help other women, and to build networks of mutual benefit. Of course, if a man asked me to mentor him, I would be happy to do it, but I also think it is important that women build the ties and networks that men have always had. It is also an extra benefit when you can catch up with mentorees at a coffee sop – and I did that twice this week.

2014-08-13 21.00.14-1Argh! Not mini Cthulhu!

2014-08-14 18.22.18So this week got stressful quite quickly. I learnt, inadvertently, that I was going to be expected to retest for my orange star because I hadn’t quite made 50% of training for the period.  If you follow this blog, you’ll know that between sickness, travel and other commitments, it had been really tough in the last eight weeks. Apparently a rule that had been created for one purpose, was suddenly and unexpectedly being used in a different way. Not that there would have been much I could have done had I known it – I had only missed training when I was physically unable to go, either through extreme sickness or because I wasn’t in Canberra. Anyway I was upset by this – two and a half years of making training attendance apparently don’t count for anything if you make 40% in one cycle. I was also feeling frustrated with some of the politics and with some other decisions. And I couldn’t emotionally face doing another test. My confidence has been a bit battered this year and I hate those tests. It is funny – five hours of questioning by a Royal Commission I can take in my stride, but being tested on my derby skills…. I guess while I was President I should have thought about better ways of doing it – some people do well at single summative tests, but for others perhaps we could have instituted other approaches like progressive ticking off of competencies or something. And I still hate the 27 in 5 test (and can’t do it). Never in derby do you have to skate for five minutes at top speed so I really don’t know what derby skill it is supposed to test. Anyway, given all this, it was surprisingly easy to make the decision to have an indefinite sabbatical. Made me sad, but I figured it was the best thing for the moment. Finding myself dragging myself to training, being frustrated and upset is not the part of derby that I enjoy, and it was starting to outweigh the fun quite heavily. I thought about staying on to line up manage, but I realised it would be too upsetting to see everyone skating and not particpate. So sabbatical it is. And it left me pretty tired and wrung out by the end of the week.

2014-08-15 08.29.11Went to see Jude and Seb’s pop up STEM Festival displays on Friday. Here is Jude and the seed experiment.

Sebastian and his partner had won the engineering challenge – creating a “boat” which could hold the most weight. I believe theirs took three kilos.

2014-08-15 18.37.21The boys have been good helpers in the kitchen for a long time, but since James broke his collar bone that has stepped up another notch. Jude and Zac have become excellent salad makers, and sometimes in the morning I get up and find that they have completely organised their breakfast – including chopped up carrots and all. It is amazing how much easier it makes life.

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With everything that had been happening this week, Friday night called for a g&t-sparkling red double.

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Been trying to find more time to read (other than just on planes). Reading this was helping with that. I was actually surprised how closely the book and the series were for this season, with a few obvious differences. I guess it is easier to leave a character out for an entire “season” in a book than it is in tv you have to find something for them to do.

Saturday football with Zac. Sometimes I think they are in it for the oranges.

2014-08-16 21.36.40There are few better ways to spend a cold and gloomy Saturday afternoon than killing monsters.

And there can be no better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than being at a Hugh Hamilton lunch at the Boathouse with good wine, good food and good friends. If only the whole week had been like the last part of it!

Weeks! #29: Sri Lanka and sickness

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So on Monday morning I got on the lane I thought I was catching all along,even though I should already have been in Colombo. Oh well.

It all went smoothly and there was time for a massage and breakfast at the Qantas First Class Lounge.

2014-07-14 10.11.13And then a gin and tonic between flights in Bangkok.

2014-07-14 20.03.18The view from my hotel room was fabulous.

2014-07-15 08.27.58Although apparently I wasn’t supposed to photograph it.

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As I had to pack a three day program into two days, it was pretty busy. The main reason for my visit was to speak at a conference on vocational education and then I was fitting in a bunch of meetings when I had a free moment. I loved the campaign the Sri Lankans were developing to show people that skills study is a good option for young people.

We also got to see some spectacular dancing at the conference reception.

With me in Colombo were Melinda from one of the Industry Skills Councils, and Markeeta who was last year’s Aboriginal ad Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year. After the dinner, we went to a place they had spotted the day before (they caught the right plane) called the Ministry of Crab.

I ate the chilli crab which was delicious but hot hot hot.

2014-07-15 20.54.05-1 - CopyThe old Dutch Hospital complex where the restaurant was, was also home to a number of other restaurants and bars. We found one that served mojitos which helped to deal with the aftermath of too much chilli.2014-07-15 22.05.58-1The next day started with meetings, had conferencing interspersed with more meetings. I did have to leave the hotel for some of the meetings and got to see the sun sinking in the sky from the back of a hotel car.

2014-07-16 17.49.04 - CopyI was also pleased to fit in a quick swim – some time to float in the pool, listening to the sea and allow the stress to ebb away. At least a bit – and then the English school boy cricket team came and started doing synchronised jumps into the pool. On the upside, it was a big pool.

Free from official responsibilities, Melinda, Markeeta and I headed back to the Dutch Hospital for dinner and more mojitos.

The restaurant had super funky light-up menus.

And mojitos!

2014-07-16 22.08.20Here we are.

2014-07-16 22.01.46Then it was Thursday morning and time to fly home.

We had six hours in Bangkok. At the end of hour two, I started vomiting.  I did that regularly for the next four hours.

2014-07-17 17.18.51I can assure you that gastro and international flights are not a good mix. For the first time ever on an international flight I did not watch anything, eat anything or drink anything. I lay there and slept or tried to sleep. The Qantas staff were lovely and looked after me. I felt terrible.

Then arrived in Sydney and heard about MH17 before I was even off the plane and decided mine wasn’t the worst flight experience of the last 24 hours.

I couldn’t believe that there was a reporter waiting a international arrivals who asked me if I’d flown in from Malaysia. I couldn’t even.

Anyway, once I got back to Canberra, I spent the day in bed. I was supposed to be going to Sydney the next day to line up manage our final 5×5 game against S2D2 on Saturday, but there was no way I could stand for that long.

I did manage to sit at the football and watch Jude though.

The boys had a lego-a-thon over the weekend.

It was still very cold.

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And George was pretty relaxed.

2014-07-19 17.56.48-1By Sunday afternoon I was well enough to bake a banana cake.

2014-07-20 16.58.27-1And then, inescapably, work beckoned – I had to frock up and head to dinner at the Indian High Commissioner’s residence to welcome a delegation of Indians we were hosting for the next week. The gastro had gone at least, but a cold was emerging, but work…

2014-07-20 18.38.00

Weeks! #25: life in the fog

Bit of colour coordination for derby training and giving my Van Dieman Rollers t-short a bit of a skate.

2014-06-18 08.16.03The weather had truly turned cold and horrible. Lots and lots of fog.

2014-06-18 08.21.05Didn’t stop me riding to work with an attractive combination of Converse and fishnets.

2014-06-19 08.25.01Or walking, as rugged up as possible.

2014-06-18 09.22.54Trying to work through a lipstick decision-crisis.

2014-06-18 13.15.10Lunchtime pilates helps get through the day.

2014-06-18 17.15.55And post-work beer also helps.

2014-06-18 19.46.53Some Sherlocking-Cthlulu killing.

2014-06-19 14.09.48Catching up on work at the hairdresser. Honetly, it is the best place to get through my in-tray – no disturbances. This time though I even had to make my poor EA bring me things to sign and clear because we were at end of financial year crunch time.

2014-06-19 16.18.26Resulting hair was fabulous. Of course though, damp day and my hair meant the beautiful waves didn’t last too long.

2014-06-19 17.29.41George likes to stay up-to-date on the iPad playing.

2014-06-20 12.12.53Forgot my bike lock. At least my office is big enough for my bike to happily sit inside.

2014-06-21 10.09.01Another foggy morning.

2014-06-21 12.35.08Here I am, ready for Saturday sport.

2014-06-21 13.35.59Zacky got a player of the round award and, almost more importantly, a snake.

Skating Saturday!

2014-06-22 10.58.55Sunday I was supposed to be going to Wagga to scrim, but I felt too sick to even really get out of bed. George kept me company (so did Zac, but he was mostly off elsewhere in the house).

2014-06-22 13.12.36I did manage to drag myself out of bed briefly to walk to the shops and get some lunch foods. I didn’t mind when Zac wanted to play at the park. I needed the rest.

Weeks! #21: Sydney, sports, books and other literature

2014-05-19 09.20.21Up early on a Monday morning and off to Sydney to talk to migration agents. Fortunately it was not a super early flight.

The migration agents meet at Cockle Bay, so I had a chance to catch up on work at the Lindt cafe and enjoy some chocolately goodness before I had to speak.

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Nothing like a sunset over Botany Bay as you are about to fly home.

2014-05-19 18.39.03And who can object to a 2004 Rockford Cabernet Sauvignon?

2014-05-20 11.23.56SebastVarious stresses and tiredness lead to the need for caffeine and chocolate.

Our second high school open night – this time at Campbell High School. Jude came along too as he is only a year off high school contemplation himself. I liked the feel of Campbell – smaller than Lyneham and the principal seemed more dynamic plus there was a lot of engagement by students. We are lucky though because both are good schools and the boys will be in a good place whatever their choice. Sebastian and Jude’s very good friends Oscar and Ezra were also there so we did our own tour together.

2014-05-21 08.15.54Foggy autumn morning. I walked Jude and Zac to school in the fog, while James and Sebastian headed off to a day of schools’ hockey.

2014-05-21 19.38.58Both Jude and Zachary are doing enrichment writing this semester at school. Here is a poem from Zac, though he insists it isn’t a poem but sentences. But it feels like a poem to me.

2014-05-22 08.12.06Another early morning walk to school with Jude and Zac for Thursday choir. I think Jude still has some of his breakfast on his face.

I was back at Turner later in the morning for the 5/6 book awards. It was a lovely little event, and the award winners won beautiful hardback versions of classic children’s books. Jude was nominated in the category of Best Plot. Sebastian’s best friend Oscar won his class award – even before he won I loved to see how proud Sebastian was of his friend’s work, telling me he should read it. Each of the winners read a little of their “novella” and there was some really lovely writing. The ‘Turner Children’s Book Council” did very well.

Sebastian and Jude were off with the two Andrews for a Magic tournament Friday night, so it was an early dumpling dinner for us all.

Then I went to training. Which was hard work. But fun.

2014-05-23 20.54.35Saturday morning football. Jude scored the coach’s award for player of the round for his dogged persistence particularly in defence.

Then, off to Zac’s football…

And straight from there to junior derby training.

I didn’t have to catch up on any work, so in between watching the boys skate, I had some time for reading.

2014-05-24 15.36.25This was a lovely book which I think Lucy gave me for Christmas. I started reading it on Monday and finished while I was sick in bed on Sunday. Written in the form of a series of letters, it balanced romance and humour with some fairly dark history particularly of Guernsey during German occupation in World War II. I wouldn’t claim that it is a work of towering literary genius, but it is a completely engaging read with an interesting story and an insight to a corner of WWII history I knew almost nothing about. Definitely worth it.

2014-05-24 16.49.21After the day of almost non stop sporting action, it was time for a trusty g&t.

2014-05-24 18.25.12Sometimes I think George just really wishes he could handle a Wii controller himself.

2014-05-25 12.15.46Instead of going to training I stayed in bed because I was sick. George decided to join me. Later I slept for three hours on the couch, which was when I felt reassured that I wasn’t just being slack, I really was sick.

2014-05-25 22.40.12And because I finished my last book, I am now onto Century Rain, but this means I need Alastair Reynolds to write new books because I think this is the last of his novels I have to read.

Weeks! #20: just the usual

2014-05-12 08.31.59Sebastian has his new “Leadership class” ie “we’re in Grade 6” shirt. He’s getting so old!

2014-05-12 13.12.30Canberra continues to show its autumn colours.

2014-05-12 13.24.49Lunch with James at LSR is always a nice treat.

2014-05-13 13.57.11I took my shoes to Redpath to get repaired and discovered the perfect solution to my football wet feet. Aren’t they pretty?

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Wore my France Men’s Derby team t-shirt to training. Francophile derby! All my favourite things!

2014-05-15 08.18.12Zac decided he could go without his jumper. And without a long shirt. Or long pants. It was about two degrees.

2014-05-15 18.40.24When I met Natasha last week, I had a very belated birthday gift for Cordelia and a Darth Vader t-shirt for Conrad. This week I received lovely thank you notes.

2014-05-16 09.14.42My new blue toenails match my blue fishnets!

2014-05-16 17.39.58Sometimes, Zac is overcome by fits of uncontrollable laughter. Somewhat like his mother who was occasionally labelled a Giggle Pot in her extreme youth.

Football! We were on oranges duty which we didn’t realise until shortly before we left for footy, so there was a stop at the IGA and I cut them up at the ground.

It was a nice morning for it though. I wore my new football shoes which kept my feet dry, and enjoyed the sunshine.

2014-05-17 11.14.56Collected on the walk back by Team Minkey, we headed to LSR 23 for brunch or early lunch or something.

It was then back to Reid for Zac’s game. Sunshine and sausage.

2014-05-17 12.01.32George did not make himself popular by making himself at home on my velvet jacket.

Then off to junior derby where I caught up with work while watching. Jude and Zac relaxed during Sebastian’s training session. It is great though to see the boys improve from week to week.

2014-05-17 17.33.27Time to open another birthday bottle of gin. This one was from Michelle and Steve. Delicious.

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D&D time with the old gang.

It was World Whisky Day, so took the chance to sample some of my Caol Ila.

2014-05-18 08.52.29To finsih the week: “I don’t know” Man! A superhero for the ages.

Weeks! #19: consumables, Melbourne, football

2014-05-05 13.20.42Started the week at Jamie’s Italian catching up with Mathew which was lovely. So was the tiramisu.

2014-05-05 17.45.43And in the evening a rather nice shiraz durif. Because we could. Also because we are starting to run low on quaffing wine.

2014-05-06 09.40.01Bacon sandwich, no egg, no sauce, no toast. Even though I only have one for breakfast once every couple of weeks, the women in the little cafe downstairs know exactly what I want when I come and order it.

2014-05-06 11.39.35Some more #yourtightsatwork. I love these ones which I bought over a year ago shopping in Brooklyn with Frederique; makes me think of her and Eric every time I wear them.

2014-05-06 13.29.14James and I had lunch at the Cupping Room. I can’t resist the Salted Caramel and Popcorn milkshake, even if I felt more than a little full at the end of it.

Sebastian is going to high school next year!! Eeek! How am I that old? [side note: when my parents were my age I had already finished university, so I am definitely that old and then some] Anyway it was off to Lyneham High School open night to check it out. Sebastian, true to form, was most interested in the gym, science labs and cooking area. I was super impressed with myself that I could recognise the chlorophyll extracting experiemnt after all these years. Although, I will admit that experiment is burned on my memory from year 10 as I remember everyone setting the lab on fire with methylated spirits while people took turns distracting Mrs Mayfield at the front of the classroom by getting her to show us the rocks which lit up under ultraviolet light (we were the top science class, mind you). Also, I think empires could rise and fall and yet To Kill A Mockingbird, Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies will still be on the year 10 English curriculum. Did anyone not study them at high school?

2014-05-07 06.17.14It was up early the next m0rning and off to the airport. Flights to Melbourne are frustrating – if you need to be anywhere  by 9.30am you really need to catch the 6.40am flight. Qantas and Virgin, I would so love you if you could introduce a 7.30am flight.

2014-05-07 08.34.00Melbourne from a taxi.

2014-05-07 09.33.18Because 6.40am flight I actually got to have breakfast before my conference day started.

2014-05-07 15.26.41It was a day about VET teachers and teaching. Given I have to talk about these things all over the world, good to stay up to date. Really interesting in the way social media can be used, but I always do worry about presentations which focus on “here is the cool techonology” rather than engaging with why and how the technology can contribute to or improve teaching outcomes. But always nice to spend a day learning. And thinking.

And after the conference, a visit to the Gin Palace…for gin.

2014-05-07 20.28.02I I actually really like Melbourne. As I wandered along Southbank I thought that I might indeed prefer Melbourne to Sydney. Different cities, different attractions, but I think I prefer Melbourne’s style.

2014-05-07 20.29.33The view from my hotel room the next morning didn’t hurt my Melbourne preference.

2014-05-08 07.36.12 2014-05-08 17.07.44I was speaking at E-Oz’s conference about Women in the Trades. Very pleased they asked me again because I do think it is important. It is fascinating that, while there have been significant advances in gender equity in traditionally male dominated professions – even engineering – women still represent something like 2% of all electrical apprentices. Vocationally trained occupations are still incredibly gendered – the traditional trades are significantly male dominated (except for hairdressers) while women are clustered in child care, aged care, retail and hospitality (but not chefs usually). The choice of traditionally gendered occupations have massive implications for wage potentials – those caring occupations are amongst the lowest paid while being an electrician or a plumber can lead to quite significant earnings. So it is great to have the opportunity to hear about approaches to overcoming these gaps, and to hear the wonderful stories of those who have. I really liked hearing from Maddie, a current electrical apprentice, about her experiences and her enthusiasm for what she is doing. it is a pity that more young woman don’t even realise these career paths are a possibility for them – and that not all jobs in the trades are dirty or dangerous; many are highly skilled technicians. Not that there is anything wrong with a bit of dirt and a bit of danger.

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In a magnificent coincidence that Natasha and I have been trying to make happen for over a year now, she happened to be in Melbourne at the same time. So she made sure we had nearby rooms and booked us a pedicure. I took a short break from my conference for feet indulgence and gossip.There is nothing like some solid Best Friend Time to debrief about the challenges of life. And to get blue toenails.

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The conference dinner included cocktails! It is funny how when you have worked with people and met at conferences and other things over years you really do develop friendships. Conference dinners are a nice place to catch up.

2014-05-08 18.05.08I had to get up early to fly back to work, so I watched the sun rise from the 28th floor of the Metropol. i couldn’t take a photos that captured how spectacular that was, but I tried.

2014-05-09 06.49.17I got a lovely surprise at work. But apparently I nearly spoiled it. I had popped up to see my wonderful boss Craig to tell him about our latest drama and I noticed that on his desk he had a bottle of the D’arenberg Peppermint Paddock sparkling chambourcin. I assumed he had it as a present for someone and I told him it was an excellent choice, one of my absolute favourites. About five minutes after we had our meeting, one of my friends who has an office near Craig came down and presented the bottle and note to me. It had not even occurred to me that it was actually a gift for me. It was a token of appreciation for my professional handling of my appearance at the Royal Commission. It doesn’t take much to feel appreciated, and this was certainly something that helped.

2014-05-09 16.35.32At the moment weekends are all about sport. Football, hockey, football, derby, derby, derby.

Friday night I watched Zac play his second game before heading off to my own derby training. Saturday morning was Jude’s footy – they had a whole pink thing going on because it was Mother’s Day.

Even though it wasn’t raining my feet got a bit wet. And I was happy to be at Reid, where there were sausages! Jude and Zac both have good c0aches this year. Jude’s coach and his wife, who is the team manager, are particularly organised and lovely – they make special awards for the players each week and include mini figures and footy cards of players from their favourite club. Jude has been designated the nickname Danger – it is his middle name, apparently – in homage to Patrick Dangerfield. Given Jude doesn’t watch a lot of AFL, it probably doesn’t mean as much to him as it might, but he still thinks his coach is wonderful. The football at Ainslie has always been great. The coaches that all three boys have had over the years have been lovely and the various cohorts of parents have been great – everyone claps the opposition, can be both fondly deprecating but also wildly proud of their kids, love and encourage the girls’ participation, know most of the kids in the team and cheer them equally. I must admit that I am not one for creating massive social engagement with other parents at sporting events, but I like the feel of the parents and the encouragement of the kids. There is something joyful about watching the players do something great and the genuine pleasure the parents get out of it. I feel really lucky that at football we really haven’t had to deal with ugly parent syndrome at all. And I have enormous thanks for the people who have put lots of time into coaching football and managing teams and giving my boys something to look forward to each week.

Jude and I walked home from football. Our street is so pretty at this time of year.

More sport! Junior derby time. I took my iPad and some work to catch up on while watching the boys improve their skating skills. They have started getting certificates for reaching various achievement levels in their skills.

2014-05-10 18.15.31I finished off my lovely bottle of Blackwoods. This will be a gin I invest in again.

Bronwen was in town from the coast, so she and Rachel joined us for dinner. Sebastian (with some help from his father) whipped up a delicious lemon tart.

2014-05-11 15.39.11Sunday was my turn on skates. Also, if you have read last week’s post, apparently you notice I am quite fond of these socks.

2014-05-11 19.39.17And to end the week in appropriate fabulousness, we watched Eurovision with the Andrews.  I was a little disappointed by the voting for France.