A year in the life 2016 #324: rainbows and dramatic skies

Pokē hunting across the lake also gives the opportunity to take in the visually spectacular nature of Canberra in stormy weather.

Nothing like sunset and threatening skies to make Canberra look amazing.


2015 weeks! #31: views from the 40th floor and other glamourous places

I started the week with three days in Melbourne, staying on the 40th floor of the Sofitel. The views were spectacular.

On my second night in Melbourne I had no official functions so was lucky enough to catch up with Jess, who has recently relocated. We began at the Gin Palace…


…then moved on to the exceptional deliciousness (and large serves) of Ombre.

2015-08-12 08.21.13I was still feeling full the next morning when I caught up with Melanie aka Scary for breakfast, so hipster crumpets did me.

2015-08-12 11.01.09I was in Melbourne for the ABAC (APEC Business Advisory Council) forum to talk about our international work. I enjoyed the discussions in the Connectivity Working Group, particularly about the oysters who are connected to the internet.

2015-08-12 17.24.13I managed to finish the wonderful SevenEves shortly after I got home. It is a fabulous book, I loved it, even if occasionally Neal Stephenson got overly explainy about things in the way that he does. It is definitely worth it.

2015-08-13 11.03.55Time for some red fishnets.

2015-08-13 11.37.23I spent much of Thursday at Parliament House, most of it at the Roundtable on International Education. There were lots of people there with whom to catch up, and it was lovely to finally meet another one of my internet friends in real life for the first time.

2015-08-13 17.14.27There was a bit of back and forth across Commonwealth Bridge as I went up to Parliament House for a second time on the same day. Been a regular up there when it is sitting time.

2015-08-13 19.32.41Jude and Zac have been doing some practice together and are starting to get much better at playing duets. Well, sometimes they do playing horribly out of step with each other, but when they do hit it, it is great.

2015-08-13 19.55.35New Arkham Horror expansion, new fun times. And we won which was outstanding.

Sebastian has been playing indoor cricket with his usual cricket team on Friday nights. Usually James takes him, but I did my first time this week. I truly didn’t understand what was happening at all, but Sebastian’s team won.

2015-08-15 08.56.46Here’s Jude making breakfast for himself before hockey and waiting for the toast to cook. He was really enjoying this book.

Jude and I walked in to ANU for hockey and where they won, and then headed past this creek-side art on the way back home via Lonsdale Street.

2015-08-15 11.23.34We stopped at LSR. Jude had recently tried some coffee gelato and really liked it, so he wanted to try coffee (decaf version). I suggested that a mocha might perhaps be a better option. Jude discovered that coffee is really strong and really bitter. I think he might be reverting to hot chocolates for a while.

We hadn’t done a big supermarket shop for a while, so Jude and Zac and I did a mammoth one. I think we will be fine if the zombocalypse happens soon.

2015-08-15 17.19.20The days are definitely getting longer.

2015-08-15 17.24.47Jude went a did a bit of busking late Saturday afternoon. On our first attempt, we found that his spot had been taken by a younger girl with a violin. We came back an hour later and he spent 40 minutes. He picked a good time – I had thought he had done well last time with a haul of $4oish, but this time he made over $60 in 40 minutes.

2015-08-15 17.45.57On Sunday I decided that despite my various injuries, I should rouse myself from my sloth and go for a ride. So I did 24 km of lake.

George is funny sometimes. He doesn’t get to come into our room at night, but our bed and its afternoon sun is one of his favourite spots. I’m pretty sure this look means “I thought we had a deal, yours at night, mine in the afternoon.”

2015-08-16 14.09.10

Weeks #51: pre Christmas fun and surprises

2014-12-15 07.15.53Started the week with the peaceful scene of Lake Burley Griffin as seen from a bike. Lovely morning for it.

2014-12-15 19.09.512014-12-15 19.10.27Jude and Sebastian got into some cooking for their end-of-year celebrations at school.

2014-12-16 13.08.47Had our fifth and final visit by a Korean delegation for the year. They still give the best gifts.

2014-12-16 15.41.36-1Work was definitely getting into the Christmas spirit.

2014-12-16 21.58.17Went to Capital Carnage training Tuesday night. This was me looking a bit dishevelled afterwards.

2014-12-17 08.21.44Wednesday was a big last day: the last school day for the year, Sebastian’s last day at primary school, Zac’s last day in junior primary and the last time all three of them will be at the same school together.  Sad but exciting – another phase in our lives opens up and new things will happen. They aren’t really my little boys any more.

2014-12-17 20.49.07In Board Game Land this week it was time for some Powergrid – the Korean version which I don’t think I have played before. Was just beaten by James.

2014-12-18 10.33.39Started to see next year taking shape.

2014-12-18 14.45.22Lovely present from some of my staff (with added champagne). I think they know me.

2014-12-19 08.08.34Friday was another lake ride to start the day. Trying to get back into the rhythm of consistent exercise.

Saturday lunch was a pre Christmas celebration with Sarah and Simon and the kids and Jackie and John. Lots of opportunities for baby Isaac cuddles.

2014-12-20 15.33.37Felt rather exhausted Saturday afternoon. Coming to the end of what has been a long and stressful year, I guess it is now surprise if energy stores get depleted. Tried to nap but my brain was too busy with the thinking about all the things that still needed doing before heading to Adelaide, so this pick-me-up had suffice.

2014-12-20 18.42.26Canberra looked spectacular as we walked into town.

We stopped for dinner at the Hamlet – the pop up cluster of food vans in Lonsdale Street.

2014-12-20 20.17.45-1Then we bumped into Sean, Helen and Alice, so there was a compulsory merry-go-round ride.

And then for some fun under the Christmas lights.

2014-12-21 14.51.03On Sunday the boys’ cooking skills were out again as Jude and Zac prepared salads for our pre Christmas friends dinner.

2014-12-21 14.51.17Presents were wrapped.

2014-12-21 14.36.09And then the news of the Ministerial reshuffle came out and the shock news that I was moving Ministers and departments. Not what you want a few days before Christmas.

Anyway, some Christmas fun times were had…

…then I had to head into work for a while. Once I got back, things headed towards this very quickly…

2014-12-21 22.13.58-1And I had a whole different Monday to which to look forward!

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.

2014-08-23 20.50.57-1

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?

2014-08-24 19.56.50-2

Canberra 100: A Very Big Day

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On Canberra Day we headed down to the lake to celebrate Canberra’s 100th birthday. The lake is a great location for such an event, with so much space there could be thousands of people there and not feel crowded. Of course, that did mean it took a bit to get around. The boys quite enjoyed catching the free buses though.

various 32Our first stop was Kings Park – we walked down from the Carillion, bumping into some of my derby comrades on skates giving out fliers. I was impressed at the obstacle avoidance with so many people around. We then came to Habitat where the boys made words that said something about Canberra to them and stuck them up.

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We then caught a bus around to the other side of the lake after a wander through the multicultural enclave and met up with Steve and Michelle and Fritha.

various 45They went off to see some giants Ants in action, while James and I went and met Dave and Caroline to use the Bubbly Bar tickets that James had won.

various 47The Bubbly Bar is a wonderful invention. Nothing like sitting by the lake drinking champagne, eating tasty morsels and watchign the lovely view. In the Taratory has suggested we need a Bubbly Bar every year, and I am inclined to agree, with a few upgrades. The most disappointing aspect was that you could not buy a second drink. With a 45 minute sitting on a hot summer day, the one glass of champagne didn’t go very far. But the food was good and the special Centenary Champagne was pretty good too. Hence why another one would have made it perfect.

The difficulty in buying drinks did persist as we attempted to get a beer to drink as we walked around to the other side of the lake. Sadly the quality beer from the Wig and Pen was running out, so we had to result to Pure Blondes.

We also considered catching the ferry, but the line was enormous and in the end we walked around faster, even with the beer hunt. I think more than one ferry operating would have been a good call.

various 51We headed back to Regatta Point and met up with Steve, Shell, Fritha and the boys and were in time to hear the Falling Joys, who were great. Zac certainly got into it. James headed off with Sebastian to buy some food for the boys – and that was the last we saw of him for nearly an hour. Again, the catering didn’t quite live up to the needs – when he got there, James got the last  hotdogs and it was only half past seven.  Carolyn also fruitlessly searched for an alcohol distribution venue, with no success and some word that there were none North of the lake. If so, this was a bit of a fail on behalf of the organisers.

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various 58As the sun set The Church then played – like Falling Joys a Canberra band originally, and they also were excellent. So natsukashii to hear their songs – takes one right back to school.

It was a lovely night too.

various 62We then heard the Symphony for Canberra which I can’t say is my favourite piece of classical music – a bit too dirgey actually – while the buildings around the late lit up with their words. Words and letters were something of a theme for the day.

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And then it was time for the fireworks. These were actually excellent. Slow start but built to a fantastic “aaaw” inspiring end.

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It was then time for us to take the boys home. It was a good day, but would have been improved with better catering!


The week that was…week 7: busy

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It was an extremely busy week, both work-wise and socially and pretty much hard to catch one’s breath. But I still managed one early morning ride at least. The lake in the morning is so beautiful, and I love the balloons. One day I will go up in one! Did I say I love balloons?

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One of the many things that added to the busy-ness of the week was the visit by the German Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Integration. I did a presentation for her on our approach to skills assessments for migrants, something Germany is dealing with now as they recongise the importance of skilled migration for their economic growth. That all went beautifully. The night before, I was invited to the German Embassy for a welcoming function for the Minister, and in literally my first sentence to a German I cast strong doubt on my diplomatic credentials by mentioning the War. Yes. Well, the German diplomat asked me how long my organisation had been around and I pointed out that we administered an Act which had been in place since 1946 to assist with the re-intergration of soldiers after…. well, you get the picture. No diplomatic incident was caused, though in my head I could see John Cleese goosestepping…

2013-02-15 14.20.15I finally got around to replacing the sunglasses I lost before Christmas after the combined nagging of James and Krystal my EA (I hate it when they gang up on me). Not that they weren’t right… Anyway, the downside of kerataconus is that all the larger size sunglasses won’t tolerate the curvature I need for my coke-bottle bottom lenses. Sigh. Anyway, because my insurance was paying for the replacement glasses, I could salve my disappointment by choosing some ultra expensive Chanel frames. Looking forward to delivery soon.

001Despite the busy (or perhaps part of the cause of the busy) there was D&D Wednesday night, enhanced by the use of as many portable electronic devices as possible of course.

2013-02-16 10.54.47 2013-02-16 11.16.25The weekend of non-stop action began with Fritha’s second birthday party. Happy birthday Fritha! Andrew and I were a little afraid of the birds though. You may recall my phobia about ducks.

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The other particularly fun moment of social interaction was the visit from Helen, Sean and Alice with snickerdoodles. when Helen and Sean had been minding the boys one night and watching some movie, snickerdoodles had been mentioned, so Helen promised to make them for the boys. They were very well received!


A year in the life…day 194: sunrise makes everything pretty


After a month or so of no morning rides – travel, work, illness, tiredness, extreme cold and a touch of laziness have kept me off the bike before breakfast – today I dragged myself out of bed early in an attempt to revive the fitness regime. At first I thought it was a bit of a gloomy, overcast morning, but as I arrived at the lake the light of the rising sun was beginning to hit it and make everything beautiful.