2015 weeks! #42: constant motion

2015-10-29 08.46.52Managed to get some walking to school in – this time with Zac.

2015-10-29 15.17.59A busy day of running about all over town. Had a half hour between things so managed to do work while refreshmenting.

2015-10-29 18.53.22This is what my hair looks like when I have put my bike helmet on and off about four times during the day.

2015-10-29 19.46.28Dinner at the Elk & Pea. Jude took the opportunity to go and chat with the chef to compare notes on the almond sauce that goes with the jerk chicken. Jude made his own version while I was in Manila, and the sauce wasn’t quite right, so he needed to compare ingredients and approach.

2015-10-30 15.29.13It is full spring at the moment. Flowers everywhere.

Friday night cricket with Jude. And my laptop briefly to finish a few work things. And a lovely sunset.

2015-10-31 12.16.34

Saturday it was Turner fete and Zacky singing in the Trebles. I think maybe the performance was a bit high concept for a fete, but lovely singing at any rate.

2015-10-31 19.47.03George selfie time.

2015-11-01 16.11.45After a few weeks of trying to line up a time, Zac got to skype with Sienna his best friend who has moved to Jakarta. Small children are weird to watch talk to each other.

2015-11-01 19.25.15Flew to Adelaide Sunday night. But not actually back to the 1970s.

2015-11-01 19.55.09The beach at night – I was staying with Natasha so saw the last of the sunset.

2015-11-01 22.28.47On the flight over I finished this. Strange and thoughtful. I thought the lead character was a bit of an idiot at times, but then I think you are supposed to.

2015 weeks! #37: successes and food

2015-09-21 08.20.29 - CopyIt is Monday morning – that must mean walking to school with Jude!

2015-09-21 17.55.17 - CopyEvening falls.

2015-09-21 17.59.50 - CopyAnd I can’t resist a good cloud photo.

Out for dinner Monday night – we had visitors from the Philippines and Vietnam on our big capacity building project, so it was official dinner and welcome time.

2015-09-22 08.45.07 - CopyTuesday morning and walking to school with Zac.

2015-09-22 18.06.58 - CopyTuesday night was the junior hockey presentation for Sebastian and Jude. The end of another successful hockey year.

2015-09-22 20.40.09 - CopySebastian also did well in computational thinking – only 30 or 40 kids in Australia scored higher on the test.

2015-09-23 13.13.47 - CopyIced chocolate season is upon us.

2015-09-24 13.28.27 - CopyLovely lunch with Mathew to which he brought me a bottle of one of my most favourite gins, recently procured on a trip to Kangaroo Island…

2015-09-24 15.21.39 - CopyA good hair day.

2015-09-24 16.37.14 - CopyWe got back to our main D&D adventure (and chocolate) after some break.

2015-09-24 22.40.35 - Copy

Time for further blonding at the hairdresser.

2015-09-25 17.07.09 - CopyAnd a quick Friday afternoon beer with James.

2015-09-25 18.06.42 - CopyThe boys had to do a 27 laps in 5 minutes test to allow them to play full contact in an upcoming tournament – Sebastian got 28+ first go, Jude 26. Jude came back on Sunday and managed 27 which is super impressive.

Sebastian got his braces and expander put on during the week. He had been somewhat (understandably) grumpy since then. But by Friday he was feeling good enough to give creme brulees and his new torch a whirl. They were very good, though his custard needs to be slightly firmer in parts.

Zac did some more jewellery making on the weekend. He really does enjoy it. Meanwhile, the rest of the household was off playing Magic.

2015-09-26 12.09.43Some yarn bombing in Civic.

2015-09-26 13.01.07We met up with the rest of the family + others for post-Magic lunch.

2015-09-26 13.36.03It was then getting ready for my next overseas trip – checking through the foreign currency tin.

2015-09-26 18.33.46We tried out the new book shop-restaurant, Muse with friends Saturday night. I think the bookshop part was slightly better than the restaurant, but my short rib and blackbean sausage roll was pretty tasty. I also bought a few books…

Sunday morning I said goodbye to the blossoms..

2015-09-27 06.17.48

..it was off to Manila.

Manila is so full of people.  A walk to the shopping mall also revealed a bunch of people all excited about some pop act we had no idea who they were.2015-09-27 19.45.10But the view from the rooftop restaurant was lovely.

2015-09-27 20.08.47

2015 weeks! #23: what happens when it rains all week

2015-06-15 12.56.28My right arm, well, elbow has been troubling me for a while, and has gotten a lot worse recently. So much so that my physio sent me off for an ultrasound and, if necessary, steroid injection. Apparently two injections were needed – in addition to tendonopathy I also had tears to my elbow tendon, it was super inflamed and the nerve was thickened. It is fascinating to watch the needle go in on the ultrasound – distracted me from the accompanying pain. The rest of the week I was resting my arm essentially in the hope I’ll be able to get back to using it properly again soon.

2015-06-16 15.06.23A day for fun stockings though.

2015-06-16 17.42.22Natasha and I got a chance for quick drinks between meetings and flights and so forth. We always make the most of these squeezed in opportunities.

2015-06-17 06.10.18Off to Brisbane for a presentation to an Indian delegation.

2015-06-17 08.46.22We were talking skills and the resource sector and links between India and Australia.

2015-06-17 11.17.07 HDRAnd it was a gloomy day for it.

2015-06-17 12.48.13On the theme of things Indian, I finished the Indian chick-lit novel I had picked up at the airport in Delhi last year. It was very entertaining and readable and I enjoyed it enormously. Also quite political.

2015-06-17 20.55.24The weather was awful this week, raining for days. I put my footy shoes on for walking in the rain because the ground was so wet.

2015-06-18 08.58.56One of the fun parts of meetings in Parliament House is getting to wander through the basement – so much quicker than having to go through the public entrance.

2015-06-18 15.33.06As I said, it was raining almost all week.

2015-06-18 16.18.29Another day trip, this time to Melbourne.

2015-06-19 06.08.35I can’t remember whether these were sunsets or sunrises as travelling…

Back at home, Jude was helping prepare fish for dinner.

2015-06-19 18.22.26-1Saturday morning and time for Jude’s hockey.

2015-06-20 11.14.39It was then off to Jude and Zac’s music recital – both played very well.

Lovely Saturday night dinner commencing with home made salmon gravlax.

2015-06-20 18.41.21After webber roasted pork and beef in the middle, we finished with caramel dumplings.

2015-06-20 20.15.44And some Eldritch Horror.

2015-06-20 21.32.34Sunday and Sebastian and I got our baking on and made spinach and feta tarts. Yum.

2015-06-21 14.34.34

Weeks #6: interrupting the week with Thailand

2015-02-16 07.53.11Zachary has moved it up a notch with his choir activities by starting in the Turner Trebles this year, which means he has to be at school on a Monday morning at 8am. An early start to the week.

2015-02-16 08.10.29

I moved in to my new office. Even though I don’t have my own direct window to the outside, I can see Black Mountain Tower from my desk, so it is not too bad at all.

2015-02-16 09.07.04Went out and bought myself some baht for the trip to Thailand.

2015-02-17 19.53.10Tuesday night Jude and Zac and I went for a walk while James and Sebastian went to scrim. We were all disappointed to discover that Mr Frugii is closed by 8pm on Tuesdays, but we did enjoy our walk nonetheless.

2015-02-18 06.15.50Up early and off to Thailand. I was going to talk to Australian development aid people from the South Asian region about skills and skill development, with a couple of meetings of the side.

2015-02-18 08.49.47Got in a visit to the Qantas First Class Lounge in Sydney for a spot of breakfast.

2015-02-18 17.13.33Hotel window view – our hotel was somewhat away from the heart of Bangkok.

2015-02-18 18.03.55This is how you recover from a 9 hour flight. Sadly I didn’t get another chance to swim while I was there, but it was certainly refreshing after all the pool time.

2015-02-18 20.27.21Ate at a restaurant just down the street with one of my DFAT colleagues – cheap and good.

2015-02-18 20.31.24In interesting facts I learnt while in Bangkok, Red Bull originated in Thailand as a tonic drunk by taxi drivers to keep them awake and is considered pretty low class (see top of the fridge). When Europeans bought it and licensed if that added the fizzy aspect. I still prefer my caffeinated beverage fizzy.

2015-02-18 20.34.58Night scene outside the 7-11.

2015-02-19 08.25.52I did very much like the hot pinkness of the taxis in Bangkok. It has been more than twenty years since I was last in Bangkok and I remember the absolute traffic gridlock there was then. I was pleasantly surprised by how much better the traffic is now in Bangkok – between the Sky Train and the new road infrastructure it has improved significantly. It was also Chinese New Year which apparently took a number of cars of the road also.

While I was mostly in town to talk to the development folk, I also took the time to have a couple of side meetings. This is the view from the offices of the Thailand Professional Qualifications Institute.

Evidence of Chinese New Year. I celebrated by eating some form of dumpling at pretty much every meal while in Bangkok, including breakfast.

My friend Sarah is currently acting Deputy Head of the Australian Embassy, so after an official work meeting, she and I headed out for dinner at an enormously cool restaurant near the Embassy called the Namsaah Bottling Trust. Excellent food and a brilliant negroni. And lovely to spend some time catching up.

2015-02-19 21.36.10After a wander around the night market I caught the Sky Train home – very convenient and easy.

2015-02-21 13.16.19While away I finished Wolf Hall. As an avid Tudor history fan I really enjoyed it. The writing is terrifically layered and Cromwell is a fascinating character.

2015-02-20 16.45.45Hotel lunch smorgasbords – the bane of portion control. Hey, I deserved dessert after three hours of talking about skills.

Then it was back to the airport and time to fly home.

2015-02-20 18.33.02Goodbye Thailand!

2015-02-21 02.39.54Sunrise from the plane.

2015-02-21 12.42.30Back to regularly scheduled Canberra life – off the plane, shower, pick Sebastian up from cricket, collect the rest of the family from other cricket and lunch at LSR.

2015-02-21 15.45.06Then off with the boys to junior derby training.

2015-02-21 15.12.53In a big week of reading, I also finished Laurinda. Very readable and fascinating to see things from such a different perspective.

2015-02-22 12.45.12Sunday morning rode with Jude and Zac up to Campbell High School where they were spending the day playing chess.

2015-02-22 16.28.26Back at home I helped Sebastian with his Japanese homework which involved photographing Japanese things. Made me very natsukashii – I think we are going to have to find time to visit Tokyo this year.

2015-02-22 13.52.27To end the weekend, Sebastian helped prepare sashimi and other tuna delights. How nice to be home (even if no dumplings for breakfast).

2015-02-22 17.36.21

2015 weeks! #3: injury and recovery (and lots of codeine)

2015-01-20 17.49.27So after a couple of weeks of getting myself focused on regular exercise and getting ready for the start of derby training, I pushed myself too hard early Monday morning and managed to do some disc damage to my lower back. I knew I’d hurt it, but I think my muscles and everything were so warmed and stretched after my cardio session (yes, what was I thinking) that it really wasn’t until the end of Monday I realised just how badly injured I was. Tuesday was physio, doctor and codeine, codeine, codeine. And working from home, although having a red hot go at resting in between emails. I tell you, skipping with a rope is clearly the wrong thing to do.

2015-01-19 22.17.51George quite liked hanging out with, or on top of, the convalescing.

2015-01-20 17.43.13

When having back problems, it is important to remember that gin is an excellent muscle relaxant.

2015-01-21 10.48.09So look, I know that going to work when I am actually injured is not an excellent idea and I know I should really just rest and all of that – but I also am in the middle of extra responsibilities and super busy times and it is amazing how much you can cope with on fizzy caffeinated beverages and super doses of codeine. Nonetheless, at times, it was clear that my resilience was rather lower when in severe pain than it is at other times.

2015-01-21 19.14.55

On Wednesday night I gritted my teeth through the pain and we played Sebastian’s D&D version of The Hunger Games. He’d had a bit of a shitty day through no fault of his own, and had done a huge amount of work on the scenario, so we spent some time playing it. He’d done a pretty good job, although there was a lot of focus on food gathering (which I guess would probably be a thing).

2015-01-21 23.45.28At least having to spend some time lying down and resting meant I did get to finish The Peripheral. I really enjoyed it – it reminded me a lot of Virtual Light, but most subtle and clever. Very easy to read and great story with some interesting political and social commentary (as always with Gibson).

2015-01-22 10.06.24Then there was the question of what, of these and other books, to read next (I chose Wolf Hall for a change of pace).

2015-01-22 12.23.31Still school holidays for the boys, and Jude took some time out with lego.

2015-01-22 17.31.19Gin, still a great muscle relaxant.

2015-01-23 11.02.43After being a little less than my most robust on Thursday at work, one of my lovely team, Wendy, brought me flowers on Friday. It is lovely that I have a team who pitches in when needed and without fuss – while I was a bit delicate, they were all willing to pick up extra things and make sure that everything kept running smoothly. With the change in Minister, there have been a few times where one area has had a huge unexpected workload, and other teams have jumped in to help. I’m really proud of my Branch and the way that they are supportive and can pull together and will find solutions that will suit everyone rather than just themselves.

2015-01-24 13.44.41There has been quite a lot of backyard cricket these holidays. The boys will pop outside for a quick round quite regularly.

2015-01-24 13.46.39

While at the Bont International, I had ordered some customised Bonts. The only problem – the sales dude forgot to write down my size. So when James got his shiny new skates, he also sent me through several pairs to size myself. Of course, the worst thing was that for most of the week I couldn’t bend over to try them on. By Saturday I was able.

2015-01-24 18.23.04My back was repaired enough by Saturday to make laksa. Delicious, delicious laksa.

While James was at training on Sunday, I took the boys to Casaurina Sands where we enjoyed some river swimming. It was quite a lovely day, and quite a strong flowing river.

2015-01-25 18.03.08Some more resting after our river adventures, finding Wolf Hall very enjoyable (and comparing the perspectives with those from the Tudors!).

2015-01-25 20.55.32To end the week, games, cheese and roller derby gossip. A most excellent combination with excellent people.

Weeks! #43: grand finals and other distractions

2014-10-20 10.30.53One of my first tasks for the week was to write a reference for one of the people I have been working with from Korea who was applying for a job at a university. Because it was to Koreans, I got to use my name stamp for the first time.

2014-10-21 19.42.40Boys computerating – because we see a fair bit of that.

2014-10-22 17.28.47I went for an extended fifty minute ride on the way home from work – had meant to do it in the morning, but alarm fails meant I hadn’t gotten up in time. It was the reverse of the ride I normally do in the mornings -going in a different direction it is funny how much the perspective and the view changes.

The boys are now regularly walking to school by themselves – and they even have a neighbour from around the corner who joins them from time to time. It is great because it saves us time in the mornings and it is good for their independence. But I do miss the conversations and observations and the gentle start to the day. Anyway, on Thursdays when Jude and Zac head off early to choir, I am still generally walking with them. Good excuse for it once a week anyway.

2014-10-23 13.15.49Happened to be passing and all pink! I no longer get to see my favourite piece of public art in Canberra every day now that we have moved offices to the other side of Civic. But I still love it.

2014-10-23 14.31.39This is the substitute now – the view from my office window. And here is a storm rolling in.

2014-10-23 17.00.15I missed most of the storm action though because we had to head up to Parliament House for Senate Estimates. Which was running horribly late and I ate way too many of these.

2014-10-24 14.09.44The rabbits of Canberra have become very populous and very bold – they don’t every scurry away anymore when you pass them just a metre away. Well, at least we’ll have something to eat come the Zombie Apocalypse.

Stunning Friday night sunset.

Saturday morning Sebastian, Jude and James were at cricket. Zac and I decided to have brunch at Edgar’s.

2014-10-25 15.09.14Saturday afternoon and it was off to the Canberra Roller Derby League grandfinal. James and I donned our men’s world cup t-shirts for the occasion.

Jude and Sebastian skated in a mini bout before the main games started. They both did well but Jude’s team beat Seb’s.

2014-10-25 15.57.07Sebastian got his toe-stops signed by Bambi von Smash’er – she nearly borrowed them for the game.

2014-10-25 16.01.26-1Zac partook of the wound face-painting as is his wont.

The two games were both pretty exciting and in the end the Surly Griffins had the best walls and managed to take out the grand final.

2014-10-25 20.26.58Jude was delighted to meet Bambi after the game – his very favourite player – and have his photo taken with her. Another thing I love about roller derby is how my boys have a number of women who they admire for their sporting prowess and they enjoy watching women play sport. It crosses over to sports like hockey as well – the boys watch the women play as avidly as they watch the men.

Quiet Sunday – there was a lot of reading going on.

Weeks! #39: all sorts of fun things

Fun start to the week with a visit to the Chinese Embassy for Chinese National Day celebrations.

It was followed in the evening by an invitation to see the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra play. I tool Jude, viola specialist, along with me. We went out to dinner first and then Jude got to experience the Diplomatic Cocktail Party before we got to listen to the music. He was blown away by the first piece Рa Chinese  piece using the pipa. it was indeed awesome. I think he enjoyed the chance to see musicians in action. It was a lovely night together.

Tuesday night I had a date with Sebastian – well, he and I went to his hockey presentation night. He got a medal for being a representative player and, even better, got to hang out with Martin.

2014-09-24 20.59.34Lunch.

2014-09-25 08.24.06Due to rain, walking Zac to choir was replaced with driving him. Jude was sick so stayed at home.

2014-09-25 08.31.50Despite the rain, spring was clearly upon us.

2014-09-25 09.08.10It was then off to the airport and off to Adelaide.

It is quite odd to go to Adelaide and stay at a hotel, but it happens sometimes. This time I was there for the Ministerial Council meeting, and was at the office printing papers til 8pm, at a pre meeting dinner until 10.30am and then at the venue to prepare at 7.30am, so the hotel was by far the best option. So here is my hotel room view.

2014-09-26 06.54.50After the Ministerial Council meeting was all over, I moved into the second phase of my stay. Sebastian had flown over by himself earlier in the day and been picked up by Mum and Dad. He was in town for the junior roller derby nationals and Team Australia trials. They had a BBQ at the beach to kick off the fun, so I picked up Sebastian and we headed off.

2014-09-26 17.56.03Here’s the group photo from the BBQ.

Sebastian was pretty keen to take the opportunity to enjoy the beach, even if the water was a bit cold.

As we were already at the beach, we headed off to see Natasha and family. Conrad convinced Sebastian to play Question Time with him, while Cordelia just wanted hugs.

2014-09-27 09.40.27Saturday morning Mum and I took Sebastian to the derby clinic – I was more than a bit jealous when I saw the clinic line up.

I got to watch Sebastian being coached by Godjilla and Skate Pilgrim and Rogue N Josh before Mum had to take me to the airport, leaving Sebastian to do his thing. I had to fly to get back for the big celebration….

Jackie’s surprise 60th, including with a surprise visit from Katie.

The next morning James was up before I was awake and off to see Sebastian skate in bouts. Jude, Zachary, George and I had a very lazy Sunday.

2014-09-28 14.39.58I did get an armed escort to the shops.

Then it was time to open some gin and try out some tonic.

Clearly attracted by the smell of gin, Tess and Frank popped over for a g&t or three and stayed for homemade pizza with the boys and me. A lovely end to a week…except when Frank struggled to get over the hiccups.

2014-09-28 19.00.08