2015 weeks! #5: Malaysia and the weekend

2015-02-09 07.07.37Dawn from my hotel room window. The conference I was in Malaysia to attend was in Putrajaya, an administrative city created essentially ten years or so ago for the public servants when government efficiency was dropping because everyone was stuck in traffic going between meetings.

2015-02-09 11.08.29I was at the East Asia Summit TVET Provider Network conference – I was speaking and/or chairing in every session, including giving the keynote address. And either side of the conference I had to co-chair the governing council meeting. It was a fairly intense two days.

Fortunately the hotel had a pool and dinner wasn’t until 8pm so I got some time to relax.

At the official dinner we got our special table serving of Malaysian food and, because this is Malaysia, there was no wine but some luminous fruit drinks instead.

We were entertained by singing and some Malaysian dancers and, of course, for the audience participation part of the evening I got nominated to dance. I was very tempted to decline because I was feeling a tad exhausted. However, I got up – the things I do for Australia.

2015-02-10 18.45.26I went for a walk to the nearby mall once the conference was over and met a lovely mall cat.

2015-02-11 09.10.14Couldn’t resist capturing a picture of the hotel’s awesome carpet.

2015-02-11 11.01.06The next day was meetings with the Malaysian government and our own High Commission. We started off in Putrajaya.

On the way from Putrajaya into Kuala Lumpur, over driver took us the scenic way and we got to take photos of the pink mosque, the spectacular Department of the Prime Minister and various other things.

The Australian High Commission is literally across the road from the Petronas Towers so we got a chance to see this particularly famous KL landmark.

It had been 25ish years since I had been to KL, so not a surprise that it has changed. It did seem to be a very advanced city – very few motorbikes compared to a lot of other Asian cities and in fact far closer to Seoul than Hanoi when thinking about cities I have visited recently. And a lot of construction still going on.

2015-02-11 12.44.16We had lunch at Bank Negara, the central bank of Malaysia, and talked to them about skills development. I got to have laksa, so did my bit for Malaysian food consumption.

2015-02-12 09.53.38And then it was home again.

2015-02-12 16.15.32I helped Zac with the cooking of cupcakes which was a very long process.

2015-02-12 20.03.09I was impressed at my ability to play a completely new game, Thurn and Taxis, on Thursday night despite very little sleep on the flight home Wednesday night.

2015-02-13 13.09.29 Then into work Friday and my last chance to look at this view because it was moving day.

2015-02-13 13.17.24Fortunately my stuff had been packed for me by the lovely James (my EA).

Friday night, despite threatening clouds, the rain did not disrupt Zac’s cricket match.

2015-02-13 17.35.50I kept up my cricketing duties by going to see Sebastian play Saturday morning. He got out for one and has declared me a jinx and I may not be allowed to attend his games again.

Usual Saturday afternoon watching the boys on skates and catching up with some work.

2015-02-14 15.09.56-1Saturday night we decided Chinese was the go and went to Spicy Ginger for dinner.

2015-02-14 18.46.18After a quiet Sunday, we had the gang over for dinner.

Zac wrote us all poems which was lovely even if some were a touch bleak.

2015-02-15 19.58.50

Weeks! #41: of bakeries, blood moon, brisbane and bikes (oh and other stuff)

2014-10-06 11.22.28Another week beginning with a road trip. This time, all five of us were in the car and we were heading home to Canberra. Sebastian didn’t enjoy the hilly bits in the Macedon Ranges and there were a number of vomit-stops before we got to the freeway.

2014-10-06 12.49.50We stopped at the Beechworth Bakery though for lunch. I have been wanting to visit for a number of years since I saw its somewhat renowned boss Tom O’Toole speak some years ago about training. It talked about how training people had added value to his business and helped him expand and he said something which I have often quoted and never forgotten: “People say to me, what if you train people and they leave? I answer them by saying, what if I don’t train them, and they stay?” It is always great to see people who understand how training staff helps their business. And the pies were good too.

2014-10-07 09.25.16First day back at work and guess what? I’m on a plane. Not the plane pictured above, but off to Brisbane for the day.

2014-10-07 12.09.25Hello Brisbane.

Then back on another plane home.

2014-10-07 19.19.57-2Sometimes you just need a glass of wine.

2014-10-07 19.48.07I finally managed to be in Canberra and available to play with my Branch soccer team. Of course, it is really hard not to shoulder check¬† – soccer’s OK with that, right?

2014-10-08 12.15.09All the boys got new cricket gear ready for the season – Zachary’s first. His cricket gloves are so tiny.

2014-10-08 18.10.34It was Blood Moon night so there was compulsory viewing, including with the two telescopes the boys own.

2014-10-08 21.23.31The weather has been turning increasingly beautiful so I am figuring there are not many #yourtightsatwork days left for the year.

2014-10-09 07.56.41

The boys, still on school holidays, spent Thursday with Ga and Katie, so we went and joined them for dinner for Katie’s last night in Canberra. All hands on deck for the helping out. The boys were also pretty sad to say goodbe to Katie who was heading off to Sydney for a couple of days before returning to London.

2014-10-09 20.52.05 2014-10-09 20.57.51-1Friday was moving day in the office. Fortunately, others had done most of my packing.

2014-10-10 11.37.14Escaping from work early meant I could catch up with the boys for pub afternoon tea.

Saturday we were off to Skate Nation for some eight wheel action. Zac managed to go lowest on the limbo.

And when you have the ingredients, why not enjoy a cocktail? The Bombay Amber is perfect for a negroni.

Meanwhile, Jude discovered the ultimate in multi-tasking – knocking in his cricket bat while watching Minecraft videos.

2014-10-11 16.45.38-1Dinner – a lovely piece of Jonai Farms pork shoulder and some equally excellent wine.

Sunday and Sebastian and I did a monster visit to the supermarket.

2014-10-12 12.22.46I also helped Zac on his bike. He has ridden a little bit but just needed some final concentrated attention and help. Didn’t take long.

2014-10-12 16.28.42Look, it is excellent that the boys help with hanging clothes on the line, but sometimes the results do make me wince slightly.

2014-10-12 17.30.07Finally, some baking with Jude – peanut butter cookies.

2014-10-12 17.50.45

Weeks! #31: busy then Hobart

2014-07-28 16.59.33Back to work with lots to do. It is the way of sickness.

2014-07-29 21.30.20Even though I was still not close to fully healthy again, I made it out to training.

2014-07-30 09.39.03Wednesday I got a chance to have that thinking time – the US Embassy was hosting a “round table” on innovation at Questacon which I was invited to. Interesting to hear about things that are happening in industry and science and collaboration.

2014-07-30 17.30.55Still leaving work after dark.

2014-07-30 18.03.58-1Very pleased to receive another delivery of exciting tights.

2014-07-30 19.33.43Zac and Jude brought home school photos. Zac’s featured his typical Zac look of mild disdain.

2014-07-30 18.49.07-1Schnitzel night. Zac has decided to choose salad over fries in some advanced sign of maturity now with his schnitzels.

Some Arkham Horror for Wednesday night.

On Thursday it was up to Melbourne and back for a day at the airport Parkroyal. Haven’t done that for a while. This is what being back in the Commonwealth-state relationship space does to one. Did get to fly on my new favourite planes, the Qantas 717s though.

2014-07-31 20.08.30Reluctant to be caught in his onesie.

2014-08-01 08.34.52-2Friday was a chance to walk the boys to school.

2014-08-01 14.10.23I hosted a lunch on Friday for the four vocational students and the one teacher we sent to China earlier this year for an APEC youth camp. They then gave a talk afterwards about their experiences. They are all such impressive young people with great stories. For most of them, this had been their first trip out of the country – and it is a long way to China from Mildura or Burnie. Anyway, it is always nice to see soemthing really direct and positive come our of your work and also to see exactly why we do want to try and make the vocational education sector the best it can be – and to help other countries to build their own sectors.

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Since James’ injury, in particular, Jude and Zachary have really stepped it up in the kitchen and are enormously helpful when making dinner and so forth. They are the salad making specialists, and it can be hilarious to hear Jude bossing Zac around like a chef would a kitchen hand. All three of them also do a lot of the preparation of their lunches now, and their breakfasts and somehow we get out of the hosue so much faster in the mornings.

Saturday morning footy – Jude gets player of the round. And a snake.

Fritha came over to hang out for a while, and we got to see her brothers on the way through.

Zac also had his friend Sienna over. They seemed to spend most of the afternoon fighting it out in the backyard.

2014-08-02 16.31.47 2014-08-02 16.31.53Except at afternoon tea time.

2014-08-03 07.06.52The next morning Sebastian and I were up early and onto the plane and off to Hobart for his Primary School Hockey Championships.

It was a lovely afternoon in Hobart, so we did some wandering about.

2014-08-03 12.59.32With inevitable fish and chips for lunch.

Sebastian was also quite impressed to see the Aurora Australis in port, and, to continue the Antarctic theme, we went to the Douglas Mawson Hut museum.

There is no slacking off while on holiday with Sebastian, so after a little break in the afternoon, we went for another walk.

Then it was dinner and bed and ready for an early start for the first game of the tournament on Monday!

Weeks! #18: the cold sets in

2014-04-28 08.48.22-2The boys headed back to school for term 2. The cold term.

2014-04-29 11.34.00Mum and Dad sent me some lovely earrings for my birthday which they had acquired on the South American extravaganza. Didn’t stop me being jealous of their epic journey.

2014-04-29 17.25.06We

With the colder, darker months upon us I am seeing more of the funny plastic spikes in all their multicoloured glory as I regularly head home after dark. Also prompted me to buy a new super bright bike light for riding home.

2014-04-29 19.49.55Back at training. It gets slightly harder in winter when it often seems colder in our training venue than outside. But on the upside, things don’t get quite so sweaty.

2014-04-30 13.53.57I think Tine, my EA, was deliberately trying to tempt me with all my favourite mini Easter eggs. Except the Turkish Delight ones; those are erk.

2014-04-30 14.06.53At an SES training course. I had to exercise all my restraint here.

2014-04-30 18.17.20Schnitzel night at Edgars. Always a family favourite.

2014-05-01 08.07.30First morning of frost on the car windscreen.

We got to school early on Thursday morning. I hung out with Sebastian and Zachary for a little bit while Jude headed off to choir. Zac’s started 15 minutes later.

2014-05-01 11.15.31Hairdresser visit. I was feeling a bit poorly, so I went for green tea rather than the usual hot chocolate.

2014-05-01 13.20.46New hair looked good, but I still felt bad so took it home to bed.

2014-05-01 14.48.00Some trees have turned to autumn colours completely.

2014-05-02 08.41.16Others are still hanging on to their summer leaves.

2014-05-01 13.34.44When you aren’t feeling great, bread which is still slightly warm from baking and cheese helps cheer you up.

2014-05-01 13.56.48-1I wasn’t the only one to visit the hairdresser – the boys went too. And after a couple of years of long hair, Jude decided to go the radical chop. He looks so much younger with the hair short.

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Zac had his first official footy game on Friday night.

2014-05-02 17.43.31Fortunately it was just across the road at Ainslie, so despite having spent the day on the couch, I wrapped up warm to go and see him play. I had forgotten how adorably chaotic and hopeless under 8 footy is. Very cute.

Jude had football in the rain on Saturday. My boots didn’t cope that well with the wet.

Jude played well and managed a great goal which bounced and dribbled at the end across the line. He got Goal of the Round for that.

I was playing derby that night and the boys were restarting their junior derby classes, so there was some skate maintenance time.

2014-05-03 11.25.53Then the boys got on wheels – fortunately this was inside out of the rain.

2014-05-03 14.17.20Our derby game went well – I will blog about it separately. Here I am looking a bit tired out after the game.

2014-05-03 19.58.44Sunday was a day for quieter activities. Well, at least for me and Jude and Zac. Sebastian had to go and play hockey.

2014-05-04 12.53.38And when your back and ankle hurt from post game injury, what better way to finish the week than a g&t.

2014-05-04 17.06.58

Weeks! #9: keeping sane, thinking happy

2014-02-24 07.05.24Ah, the serenity of beginning the week with an early morning ride around the lake when the balloons are aloft. There wasn’t a lot of other serenity in the week, having come back to a completely packed diary which included things that were inherently not fun – like an interview with lawyers from the Royal Commission into Home Insulation and Senate Estimates, but when one is out, riding along the lake shore, looking at the sunrise and the balloons, it is possible to ignore all that for a while. Sadly, a short while.

2014-02-24 13.01.04Did manage to find time in the week to have lunch with James at LSR. Another moment of sanity and peace.

2014-02-25 11.00.53Tea and cheesecake were welcome additions to one morning.

2014-02-25 14.46.23And I got to use my new stamp.

2014-02-25 21.30.19Training is another chance to get away from it all and think about something else. Even if I do need new socks.

2014-02-26 11.37.04When times get tough, sometimes the tough resort to thickshakes and hot dogs for lunch.

2014-02-26 18.14.54Or post work gins.

2014-02-26 13.37.32We had some visitors from China during the week, so I went to lunch with them. Good food and thinking about international collaboration are always good things.

2014-02-27 15.02.16

When things feel bad, it is hard not to feel better when considering the wonderful three small people in my life. And especially when they give me hugs.

I also love to watch them playing happily with their Lego.

or when they interact with other smaller people, and the pleasure they get from it.

2014-03-01 16.01.31and of course, watching them skate makes me happy even if I am jealous of Sebastian’s awesome skills.

2014-03-01 19.51.28Becoming someone else for an evening and doing what they do is another way to think differently.

Weeks! #2: exercise, food and alcohol

2014-01-06 17.41.24So Monday afternoon we put the boys on a plane to Adelaide for a week. Fun for them, and a different sort of lifestyle for us for a week. Started with James and I heading to the pub for burgers and beers for dinner.

2014-01-07 07.42.04With no one but myself to organise in the mornings, I didn’t have to get up super early to go riding. I decided it was a good time to re-institute morning bike rides.

2014-01-07 11.56.44My first red folder of the year turned up at work – this week work started to more resemble normality.

2014-01-07 14.18.26One of my Directors brought me back a present from his trip to Japan. I was most chuffed.

2014-01-07 12.16.54James and I headed out to lunch at his new favourite locale.

2014-01-07 18.41.06After work, it was our first derby ExComm meeting for the year.

2014-01-07 19.28.11I came home to lovely steak with lovely lovely wine. And a lovely James.

2014-01-08 12.47.03Wednesday lunchtime Jasmin and I took advantage of the pleasant weather and quieter office to go for an hour long walk down to the lake and back.

2014-01-08 18.33.17Wednesday night it was my second derby meeting for the year – getting together with the new team support crew to talk about the year ahead. With beer.

2014-01-09 07.51.36Another early morning ride Thursday – this time I pushed myself a bit harder and rode a bit further and went a lot faster than I had on Tuesday. Hopefully I can continue to improve.

2014-01-09 10.59.17Here is my first selfie in my contribution to the 365 Feminist Selfie project. In the office, You might be seeing more of these across the year.

2014-01-09 18.06.47More beer! James came and met me for a post work beer and then we grabbed laksas for dinner. Going out is a lot cheaper, and somewhat logistically simpler when you are minus children.

2014-01-10 14.29.28There was a request on Twitter for geeky office photos – here is my computer with River Song and policy humour and fortune cookie predictions.

2014-01-10 17.54.58Friday evening we caught up with Steve for drinks and dinner. I didn’t feel in a beer mood, so went for something less predictable.

George spent some time on Saturday attempting to defeat the Dark Side.

2014-01-11 09.59.25James and I went down to the lake for a skate. This was not an entire success. My shins really hurt getting back on skates initially, and then my brain freaked out when we went to go over a bridge. My brain still suffers from a lack of belief about my skating ability and a fear of catastrophic injury. Anyway, we skating the foreshore for an hour and I skated 7ish km so it wasn’t all bad. I guess it is just a matter of continuing to work on the outdoor skating and trying again.

After some tasks at the hardware store, James and I rode into Braddon for lunch at Autolyse. Very delicious.

We then rode over to see Michelle and Steve and (almost more importantly) the twins who had come home the previous day! Tasman even woke up so we got to see eyes for the first time. Hamish slumbered happily through much handling.

2014-01-11 17.59.36We ate in on Saturday – lobster, scallops, salmon. Delicious!

2014-01-12 14.20.56-1Training started back Sunday – it was incredibly hot and we sweated lots but it was excellent to be back into it. I did have to execute a super fast change afterwards…

2014-01-12 19.08.03And then it was off out to dinner at the Parlour Room for Andrew the younger’s birthday. Very pleasant – even if James and I drank a lot of water to rehydrate!

2014-01-12 19.08.23



The week that was…Week 52: not quite the last week of the year

The week began with a lunchtime visit to Turner Primary School for the end of year assembly and to see Sebastian get inducted as vice captain. There was quite a ceremony and Sebastian was definitely as proud as proud can be.

Backyard cricket season is truly upon us. There has been a lot of cricketing in the last couple of weeks.

2013-12-16 19.49.01Tuesday night we went and checked out Jamie’s Italian with Steve. Verdict was positive, and it is very kid-friendly.

Jasmin did a fabulous job or organising the giving tree at work – and everyone in the building did a fine job of donating presents.

2013-12-18 13.50.41Wednesday night, Sebastian went off to the yr5-6 end-of-year disco taking a box of Wookie Cookies he had made for supper with him.

2013-12-18 21.41.18We played Ascension instead.

2013-12-19 08.12.07Thursday morning Zac and I had our last early walk to school together for the year.

2013-12-19 08.14.56Thursday night was martini night! We went to the Ox at Kingston and took full advantage of their extensive gin list before heading to Penny University for dinner. It was good to catch up with Dave, see Caroline who I hadn’t seen since Delhi, see Anna for the first time in ages as well as Rachel, Jasmin, Young Andrew and Steve. A very enjoyable night.

On Friday we had morning tea to bid farewell to my wonderful ex-EA Krystal (now working for my boss) who is about to have a baby.

2013-12-20 10.52.08Here is a random Jude picture – school’s out!

2013-12-20 18.19.50James had been to the market so we got some lovely seafood for dinner.

2013-12-20 18.40.26Saturday morning was some casual skating at ANU.

2013-12-21 11.10.04And then it was an afternoon of Friend-mas! We ate lovely food including blinis and scallops, turkey breast and roast pork and a huge selection of desserts. It was an extremely pleasant way to spend Saturday late afternoon and evening.

It was super hot on Sunday, so it was a good day for the boys to try out their slip and slide.

George wasn’t entirely amused.

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And I was most happy with my book and a beer.

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The week that was…week 51: still sick, still busy but Christmas is coming

2013-12-09 11.56.56Whether it was trying to derby or just that my illness decided to enter a new phase, I felt absolutely terrible Monday morning and so ended up in bed for the day. Sebastian was also ill, so he took the couch while I stayed mostly in bed. With George of course.

2013-12-09 17.05.35In better news, our raspberries are being quite generous this year.

Fit enough to be walking to school again with the boys. Family walking together.

Wednesday was school concert night. It was actually better than usual this year. Zachary sang in the junior choir as well as with his class. The years 5-6 did a great compilation of songs from their years of school – the year sixes dancing with their kinder buddies for the Umbrella song made me positively teary. Also the Nelson Mandela tribute song. Maybe I am just getting soft and emotional in my old age.

2013-12-12 19.09.47On Thursday we went to Steve’s house for a BBQ. Seeing this on the fridge made me think of Jill.

Friday was our branch Christmas party. There was lots of fighting with water pistols and blowing of bubbles. I dominated on the pinball for quite some time, but then was at risk of having to give up being Branch Head when one of the guys got a gigantic hihg score. In the end, he decided it would be too hard to train me to do his job, so he’d stay where he was.

On Saturday it was Christmas afternoon tea at Jackie’s with Sarah and Simon and Imogen and Ryan. Sebastian had stayed over night at Jackie’s after she’d taken him to the cricket, and he helped her make cupcakes and shortbread. It was lovely to see them and have all the cousins play together.

2013-12-14 22.26.25Time for a bit of D&D in the evening – this is with the group (although some new members and some who have departed) that facilitated James and I originally meeting 18 or so years ago. Still going!

Sunday morning I went and got a tree and the boys helped decorate it. Yay, Christmas!

2013-12-15 19.42.05Zac constructing Lego Star Wars Advent calendar entries.

2013-12-15 17.08.46 2013-12-15 17.30.22We had our last training for the year on Sunday – it was more of a party and a free skate. Jude managed to get nearly as pink as the inside of his helmet.

2013-12-15 20.24.16I got a laminated poster of our posters for the year to say thanks for being line up manager. We are looking forward to another big year next year!

The week that was…Week 50: back, sick and busy

2013-12-02 14.11.39

We had one last day of meetings in Delhi, with government and the like, formulating plans for further collaboration. Once that was done, it was briefly back to the hotel before heading to the airport.

2013-12-02 16.36.12We managed to have a drink or two in the bar with some fellow Australian skills types, but had to stop – there was an election in Delhi and for that reason no alcohol was to be sold for 24 hours. We discovered that it was the same in the bar at the Singapore Airlines Lounge, and we weren’t even allowed alcohol on the plane until it was airborne – no welcome champagne.

2013-12-02 19.07.00Anyway, it was goodbye Delhi after a productive and busy week – with a little bit of fun added in.

2013-12-03 19.26.42Arrived into Sydney in time for sunset and got home to find I’d been missed.

2013-12-03 22.15.08A sore throat which I had carried all the way back on the flights turned into a raging respiratory infection so Wednesday was antibiotics and bed. George likes it when you spend a day at home.

2013-12-04 14.22.02Did manage to stagger to Ainslie for schnitzel night. Jude and Zac wore their new Indian shirts.

We have the Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar again this year.

2013-12-04 18.55.42Games night! The boys got to play a new game Paul had bought – “Walk the Plank” before the adults got down to some Arkham Asylum.

Thursday I was back at work and, in addition to catching up with everything, we had a delegation from Korea (including some of the people I knew from Korea – in particular, the delegation leader). Given we have always had such good hospitality in Korea, we took them to Water’s Edge for dinner. Food was fabulous, and it is a great location for visitors.

More staff gifts of food.

2013-12-06 10.45.23And here we are with the Korean delegation after a day of meetings on Friday.

2013-12-06 16.57.32Zachary took it upon himself to teach me Walk the Plank on Friday night.

2013-12-06 20.22.15Saturday morning involved a tennis tournament. Not just any tennis tournament, but Evan’s genius invention – the Wooden Racquet Tournament where players were required to dress in whites and use wooden racquets – found or purchased in op shops. Naturally, as a 60s-70s style tennis event there was Pimms and gin and much food. I didn’t manage to play given my ongoing respiratory troubles, but am looking forward to doing so next time as this will now become a regular Canberra sporting and social fixture.

Sebastian and James in the meantime went and skated around the lake and then skated up to Reid where we were.

2013-12-07 12.44.20And Zac managed to save a strawberry from the Pimms.

2013-12-07 13.32.33Here’s some more George.

2013-12-07 15.05.28Saturday night we took to boys out to the Elk and Pea to celebrate the fact that Sebastian had been voted school vice captain on Monday.

Sunday was Paul’s 60th birthday, so we were at Craig and Fiona’s for a BBQ lunch. If it looks familiar, yes, that is where we used to live.

It was then time for derby training. I really wanted to get back on skates after nearly two weeks and I did, but I limped through training and had to sit out because clearly my lungs were not quite up to it yet.

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The week that was…week 16: autumn holidays

2013-04-15 17.46.46

Walking at home after work now that daylight savings has finished and the days are shorter gives me a chance to admire the beautiful autumn skies.

I also did some admiring of the mornings and the changing leaf colours when I got back on my bike for a couple of early morning rides.

2013-04-18 07.01.22 2013-04-15 07.38.40With autumn comes the colder weather and a chance to get back into stockings. Here are the fabulous ones I bought in Brooklyn.

2013-04-17 10.06.11 Although one can look a little ridiculous when riding a bike in fishnets.

2013-04-18 17.50.58

We played some D&D – here is a fight in the Ghirad-alley (get it, OK, don’t worry…)

2013-04-17 21.32.29

With school holidays come school holiday activities – I hired a court at ANU to take the boys skating.

The next day we went to the National Gallery for a production put on by the Canberra Youth Theatre called 35 17 South. It involved using a tablet or phone to follow a story and find your own way through the adventure. A story from the future, there was interaction with actors, puzzles, tasks, orienteering and games. It was a lot of fun РZachary and I worked together while Jude and Sebastian made up the other team. We managed to come in ahead despite losing our progress at one point.  This was the first time Canberra Youth Theatre had done something of the sort, and while there were a few things that could be tweaked or improved for next time, over all it was really good.

It is hard to keep Sebastian away from the cooking – he bought himself a second hand recipe book of desserts, and whipped up a fabulous chocolate cake on Sunday.

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