A year in the life 2016 #291: Sydney in the morning, Estimates in the afternoon

Over the bridge in Sydney in the morning for a meeting before heading back to Canberra and Parliament House for a long night at Senate Estimates.


A year in the life 2016 #264: from here to there

Another spectacular view flying into Sydney, this time on my way to a much longer flight – to Peru via Chile.

I had time for my favourite travelling thing – breakfast and mimosa at the Sydney First Class Lounge.

Then a very long flight. And crossing the dateline made it a very long day also.

But once I arrived in Lima and got to my hotel, I learned that Peru is a big foodie place, and managed to stay up to try out the restaurant at the hotel.

This was not the last ceviche – the very traditional Lima dish – I would encounter. Not by a long way!

A year in the life 2016 #257: a long day

So I really began the day waiting for the Minister who was giving a speech at the conference. Still didn’t see the beach.

Assistant Minister Andrews came and met Departmental staff  working on our booth at the conference…

Then she met, chatted to, and had her photo taken with a bunch of people .  Then she left. I had another side meeting before I got to head to the airport.

I finally saw the beach- from the sky.

And Sydney as looking mighty fine from the sky.

At home, we headed out to see Sebastian play in his hockey grand final under the rising moon. And they won!

Sebastian and I then headed off to Bateau Bay on a road trip – and I got to transit through Sydney or a second time that day. Originally the plan had been that Sebastian and James would head off – they were both supposed to be playing roller derby. However, with broken ribs, he definitely wasn’t getting on skates, and we figured two four hour drives probably wasn’t ideal either. So Sebastian headed off, stopping at the traditional stopping place and, after singing loudly to some bad music, made it to our hotel at The Entrance just after midnight.

Sebastian was wowed by the motel features and the decor.

I loved the brown towels and the fact we could high five each other while in bed. But mostly I was pleased to see my bed and go to sleep.

2015 weeks! #11: birthday, planes and jelly things

2015-03-23 06.58.07A surreal sight to begin the week as I fly out of a foggy Canberra morning to Sydney.

2015-03-23 12.19.17We had a day with folk from Vietnam and the Philippines to kick off our big capacity building program – helping to increase capacity in the area of industry engagement in skills development and the development of occupational standards. It was a great day and I’m looking forward to seeing how the project develops.

2015-03-23 14.45.20We got to do it from my favourite meeting room in Sydney.

The early morning meant I needed the help of fizzy caffeinated beverages and chocolate to maintain my focus for the day though.

2015-03-23 17.29.46We had an official dinner, so stayed the night in Sydney – here is the compulsory hotel window view.

I managed to get some exercise in at the pool up on the 15th floor or so. Great view while swimming.

2015-03-23 18.43.53Then one has to be enormously grateful for flattering hotel bathroom lighting at times.

2015-03-24 12.35.42Home again Tuesday, sitting in the back row of the plane. Since switching departments the travel system still hasn’t connected my frequent flier number to my bookings and so I am ending up in all sorts of odd spots on the planes.

2015-03-24 19.47.44Tuesday night scrim night!

Wednesday was my birthday, so James and I went out for breakfast together to the Cupping Room which is handily close to my new building.

2015-03-25 10.52.59The other James in my life, my friend and EA, had lovely birthday flowers for me when I actually got to work.

2015-03-25 11.23.06I also deployed my excellent new notebook that Jasmin had given me.

2015-03-25 11.27.28Zac used his fabulous new jewellery making skills (with much support and labour from Jackie) to produce an excellent birthday gift for me.

For my birthday dinner we went to Red Chilli the Sichuan hot pot restaurant in Civic and ate hot pot. It was a lot of fun.

2015-03-25 19.47.23We followed it up with dessert at Mr Frugii where the boys had a long chat about icecream flavours with the icecream maker.

2015-03-25 22.44.19

George came and sat on me to say happy birthday.

2015-03-26 18.38.25Natasha sent me a wonderful box full of fun things for my birthday.

2015-03-28 10.29.26And my mother sent me Bad Feminist to my delight.

Andrew gave me a new Arkham Horror expansion so we tried that out Thursday night and actually managed to defeat Shug Nigguroth in a straight up battle.

2015-03-27 06.38.07Friday was another dawn flight in the back row – this time to Melbourne for a day at the airport. Federalism keeps the Tullamarine Parkroyal in business I am sure.

2015-03-27 07.45.44It was actually cold enough to be the first #yourtightsatwork day for the year.

2015-03-27 12.31.46 HDRAnd I wore another birthday present – my lovely earrings from Rachel.

Saturday night was Dishonour Rollers Team Bonding night at Terror’s house. There were jelly shots and jelly beans and derby strategy talks and then the night ended with vast amounts of alcohol being drunk in the pool after midnight.

On Sunday morning, Jude, Zac, Zac’s best friend Sienna and I joined Shelby, Jo and Jo’s grandmother for some Mary Poppins action. It was well done and rather fun. I thought they did a particularly fine job with the staging of “Supercalifragilistic”. We had icecreams had half time and enjoyed it all a lot.

Afterwards the kids and I wandered up to the new LSR Manhattan and had after-show treats.

2015-03-29 16.51.43Went to assist at DHR training in the afternoon (and was very relieved that there were enough people there I didn’t need to get on skates). The way everyone worked, you couldn’t tell there had been excessive alcohol consumption the night before.

2015-03-29 18.32.05I was pleased to have a civilised hair of the dog post training though.

2015-03-29 20.37.56And then there was a lot of eating and World Cup final watching to end the week.

Weeks! #47: more planes, more cities, more work, more derby

2014-11-17 05.21.55Waking up ridiculously early in Ipswich to this hotel window view in order to catch my 7.30am flight back to Canberra and an afternoon of back-to-back meetings.

2014-11-17 09.48.48I managed to scrub up all right despite the early start, and the crazy nature of the last week. Hooray for lipstick.

2014-11-17 10.59.00Being allowed to keep our phones on on planes now means lots of chances for in-flight photos. Here we are taking off out of Sydney.

2014-11-18 08.52.14In excellent timing, Jude’s end of year concert was before school on Tuesday morning. He played the Game of Thrones theme music which is has been practicing (somewhat) diligently most of the year.

2014-11-18 10.47.52-1Then it was a brief meeting in the office, before heading back to the airport and onto another plane, off to Adelaide.

2014-11-18 12.54.42Here’s my set up at the Business Lounge in Melbourne between planes. I thought back to those first times when I travelled for work – no phone, no ability to log on to email. Perhaps we actually got to relax while travelling then. Although I also do remember once having to fax things from a Qantas Club back to the office and hope that they arrived safely.

2014-11-18 14.18.54Wide brown land between Melbourne and Adelaide.

2014-11-19 09.19.37

We were in Adelaide for the Training Awards and I was spending all day Wednesday judging the Australian Apprentice of the Year award. One of my staff saved me from myself with a gigantic can of fizzy caffeinated beverage.

2014-11-19 18.13.49-1I felt pretty wrecked at the end of a full day of judging with all the tireds and a scratchy throat. But it is wonderful listening to the stories of the finalists and seeing what they have achieved. And there is something particularly wonderful about seeing the results of the system I have spent eight years working to improve. Vocational training, like other forms of education, does open doors and help people achieve some quite amazing things.

2014-11-19 16.58.21The view from my 18th floor room window at the Intercontinental was pretty impressive.

The walk along the Torrens at night is equally lovely. We had dinner at Jolley’s so got to admire it as we walked back to the hotel. It was funny spending so much time in this locale with it all redone and made lovely. I had spent so much time in the area over the course of my life – I worked from time to time at Adelaide Oval when I was still at school, and then spent four years at uni just along the way while also working at the Adelaide Casino. The footbridge would have made it a lot easier to get from my sometime sneaky parking spot near Adelaide Oval to the Casino, and it was certainly never so beautiful to look at around there at night.

2014-11-20 14.09.12Had a meeting at SA TAFE in Light Square on Thursday after I had had a lovely lunch with the parentals. Some student art work.

2014-11-20 15.53.28I was super excited to find this in the bottle shop. My favourite RTD to date.

2014-11-20 19.30.44We went across the road to Parlamento for dinner. Part of my role for the week was hosting dinners for the judges while my team was off managing all the finalists. A pleasant duty!

Friday was spent across the road at the Playford for a meeting with other state officials. I loved the art deco grandeur of the hotel.

2014-11-21 18.07.53Then it was time to frock up for the big night – the Australian Training Awards.

2014-11-21 18.17.36These were last year’s individual student winners who had been with us during the week as judges – they sit on the panel for the award they won. They were good value with great stories. Patrick was on the Apprentice of the Year award panel with me – he’s 23 and now owns the business where he did his boiler-making apprenticeship. Joel was one of the young students we sent to China for the APEC Skills Camp and Markeeta went to Sri Lanka with me earlier in the year. Kate and Ashlee also have great stories. This is just before they were ready to hand over their titles to the new winners.

The Awards night went well – I did all my duties and then all the networking and then just could have a few drinks. And time to catch up with Melinda and take some selfies.

2014-11-22 00.03.53Saturday morning there was time to breakfast with Lucy, Rowan, Sam, Tracey and of course the small girls. Lovely to have a chance to catch up. I’m not sure Emilie was as convinced – apparently she was disappointed I didn’t have the boys with me.

Then it was back on a plane and off to my sixth city in the fortnight.

Made it in time to see Sebastian (SeaBash) and Jude (Beathoven) play against each other.

The boys had a great time and acquitted themselves well.

James was reffing so we stuck around to watch the Blue Mountains be narrowly defeated in the very final jams by the Empire, S2D2’s B team.

2014-11-22 19.15.18-1Next day we had a bit of time to hang out in Sydney.

2014-11-23 10.38.30First it was breakfast in Redfern where the boys bonded with the wait staff over Star Wars and roller derby. They also got special breakfast mocktails.

2014-11-23 11.07.07As it was going to be 39 degrees or so, we decided some time at the Powerhouse was an excellent idea. I was a bit disturbed when Sebastian had no idea what a Walkman was.

When then headed over the other Sydney bridge…

2014-11-23 14.31.11…to Luna Park.

The boys engaged in challenging each other to go on the scary rides. In the end, Sebastian dragged Jude onto the vertical drop ride of doom so as not to be outdone by Zac and then they held hands in fear while it dropped. Zac went on the Wild Mouse (for SAers, Mad Mouse) eight times while I recovered from my one time experience (I am clearly too old for Wild Mouses).  Much fun was had. Jude got a temporary tattoo.

2014-11-23 16.37.02Then it was time to head inside the Big Top and watch some derby.

2014-11-23 17.39.35It was great to see the DHRs beat the Brawling Barbelles and then to watch some great derby in the SRDL grand final.

And then it was time to drive home. Goodbye Luna Park, hello long road back to Canberra. But at least I was going home to sleep in my own bed.

2014-11-23 21.05.33

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

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.

2014-05-19 17.12.34

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.