Archive for December, 2008


And It’s Out With The Old

31 December 2008

So it’s New Years Eve 2008.  And I live in the city that celebrates this BIG TIME.  Sydney has become known as THE city to come to if you want to see the New Year in with a very big bang.  About 1.5 million people gather around the harbour on New Years Eve.

So what are we doing?  Driving a couple of hours up the coast out of Sydney to spend the night with friends.  We’ll still see some of the fireworks from their balcony (and of course there’s the television).  I did one year struggle through the crowds and sit out on the harbour for 3 hours waiting for the fireworks but I don’t think I’ll do it again.  Stunning they may have been but it’s a big party time and, as much as I like a party, I don’t drink and I got a bit bored.  (And I can always look at the picture at the top of my blog)

I’ve noticed this year that everywhere I go, and on television, people are wishing me a “Happy and Safe New Year”.  A few people have wished us a “Safe Christmas”.  Has this time of year become particularly unsafe?  Is it any safer or more unsafe than it’s been in the past?    Is this new, or is it that I’ve only just noticed it?

Anyway, wherever my friends are in the world (including those who chose to spend it in that other big New Years Eve party city – Edinburgh), I hope you all have a very Happy New Year.



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A Real Woman

28 December 2008

Am I a Real Woman?  What is a Real Woman? 

I was born female, I’m still female,  But is this enough?

All around, I see references to Real Women.  Shops that advertise “Clothes for Real Women” – that seems to be a euphemism for larger women (apparently as an Aussie/Brit size 12, I’m not ‘real’). 

Magazine articles about women who’ve lost their ability to have children and don’t feel like “Real Women” any more.  Am I not the real thing because I didn’t develop a maternal instinct and I’ve been sterilised? 

Films for Real Women.  Bridget Jones’ Diary didn’t ring any chords with me at all.  I can’t remember the last time I cried watching a film and a book advertised as “Chick Lit” would go straight back on the shelf.

I don’t even like shopping, for Heaven’s sake.  One of the pleasures of being rich would be for someone to do the hard work for me and just bring me suitable clothes to try on at home. 

I fancy men.  But a number of my good friends are lesbian.  Aren’t they Real Women?  They seem real enough to me.

It’s very confusing.  I don’t know what I am.  I suppose I’m just ME. 



‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

24 December 2008

I’ve decked the halls (Well, the Christmas tree is up but the lights don’t work, as one of the bulbs has blown.  Can’t find replacements in Sydney)

I’ve stuffed the turkey (Actually I’ve checked that we have enough prawns for Christmas dinner, probably served with salad or as a curry)

I’ve stirred the pudding (No, not really.  A friend, who was once head of the kitchens for the biggest women’s magazine in Australia, made me a pudding as a Christmas present.  I just have to re-heat it)

I’ve wrapped the presents (One present, that is.  In the run up to Christmas I only have David to buy for.  And the shopping centres here provide gift wrapping for $1 a parcel, as a donation to charity.  So I took advantage of that for the other 2 gifts I’ve bought him.  Presents for all my family in England are left there when I visit in September).   

So we’re all set then.  Breakfast with neighbours, open our presents (we’ve got packages from England as well as our gifts to each other) and probably potter around, until 3pm when David has to go out for nearly 5 hours.  He’s a presenter on a classical music station and he’s rostered for Christmas Day.  Then dinner when he gets back.  And I’m cooking!  A rare occurrence in our household.

So the news for those of you in colder climates:  No, we don’t go to the beach.  No, we don’t eat turkey.  And no, it won’t be boiling hot.  The forecast is for fine, sunny and 25C (about 77F).    

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas.  I’m going to.


Wrapping With Love

22 December 2008

Until I came to Sydney, knitting was a solitary occupation and it’s still only when I’m by myself that I really manage to get much knitting done.  But, boy, knitting is great way to make friends.  We may only manage to get a few rows knitted, or sew on a couple of buttons, but meeting up with other knitters around Sydney and talking about everything under the sun (no, we don’t talk about knitting all the time) has brought so many terrific people into my life.  Really good friends of all ages and backgrounds.

I’ve been to a number of groups around town, meeting in cafes, pubs and yarn shops.  Most of the knitters are very experienced and some of them produce stunning work that I can only dream of. 

But the group that has really impressed me recently meets in my local library.  It was formed by the librarians to knit for Wraps With Love.  No beautifully original handiwork here – just garter stitch squares for blankets which are distributed all over the world.   A lot of the women (unfortunately there are no men in this group) are new knitters – and I mean ‘new’.  They’ve learned to cast on, knit and cast off.  And they painstakingly produce squares for blankets.  There are enough experienced knitters in the group to help and encourage, and a lot of the women are going to become ‘knitters’, I’m sure of it.

Just to make things even more difficult, a number of these new knitters don’t have English as their first language.  They come from India, Sri Lanka and all over S.E. Asia.  They’re learning to knit, they’re speaking English and they’re making friends in their local community.  AND of course they’re producing warm blankets for those in need.   

The blankets we knit consist of 28 x 10″ squares.  The group has produced more than 20 blankets in the last few months.  That’s a lot of knitting, a lot of sewing and a lot of wool.  And here’s the rub.  They’re quite short of wool at the moment so I’m hoping that some of the other lovely knitters I know around Sydney may have some they’d like to throw into the pot.  8 ply (double knitting) wool.  Any colour, any amounts.

Please leave a message here if you have some leftovers you’d be willing to donate.  If you know me from any of the groups I go to, you could get it to me that way.  Or if you’re near Epping, you can just drop it into the library at any time (the librarians act as custodians of the stash).  And, if you’re really bored one evening, you could knit a 10″ garter stitch square and donate that as well!  (I know I’m pushing my luck a bit there!)

It would be helping a great group of women. As well, of course, as providing much needed warmth for people all over the world – at the last count I think Wrap With Love has distributed something like 28,000 blankets.


“There’s None So Blind As Them That Cannot See”

14 December 2008

I’ve never been really sure what that means but my grandmother used to say it, and it seems appropriate today.

By the age of 6, I was wearing glasses and I then progressed to contact lens, which I’ve worn for over 40 years (very advanced technology at the time).  For the last 10 years, I’ve also had to wear reading glasses for computer/reading/knitting.  My eyesight is dreadful. (For those interested in these things, it’s -9.5 in one eye and -11 in the other) 

In September I went for my usual eye-test; once again my eye-sight had deteriorated and I got a new pair of lens.  Wonderful!  Not only was everything so clear again, but I’d got my night vision back. 

But about 2 weeks ago, I noticed that everything was NOT so clear.  I had problems reading shop and street signs, and a few nights ago had to wear my reading glasses to read sub-titles on the TV screen.  I was VERY worried.  I couldn’t believe that it could have got so much worse in only 3 months. 

The other night, I fell asleep telling myself that I MUST make an appointment the next day with my optician, though I was quite frightened about what she might find.  Then I had a flash of inspiration.

The next morning, I found that if I put the LEFT contact lens in the LEFT eye, and the RIGHT contact lens in the RIGHT eye – and not the other way round as I’d apparently been wearing them for the last two weeks – my eyesight was restored to perfection. 

So it wasn’t my eyesight that had degenerated; it was my brain cells.   



9 December 2008

World Wide Knit In Public Day has now become a big event around the world – groups of knitters getting together in the Summer sunshine to enjoy each other’s company and hopefully to encourage others to participate.

Well, it’s in the Summer sunshine if you live in the Northern Hemisphere.  For us down here, sitting outside the Opera House overlooking the harbour on a Winter’s afternoon can be a little wet and windy. This year we moved the event to a cafe (inside) at Darling Harbour – much more cosy and the city’s biggest annual craft fair was taking place next door.

Anyway the knitters of Sydney decided that it would be a good idea if we had a SUMMER meet-up – Harbour, Opera House, Sunshine.  A perfect combination.

It’s next Sunday (14th) at 2pm at the Sidewalk Cafe.  So if you knit, and are in Sydney (or if you don’t knit but would like to join us anyway and even think about learning) do come along. 

And if you’d like to join in our Secret Santa bring along a wrapped knitting-related present ($5 – $10) and we’ll organise a swap.  That’s NOT compulsory so don’t let it stop you dropping in. 

And while you’re at it, you should put WWKIP day in your diary for next year.  Saturday 13th June.  I’ll post more details nearer the time.

Web-Goddess organised it last year and I think everyone agreed she did a really great job (she even got a mention and photos in one of the UK knitting magazines).  Well, I’m organising the next one and I’ll do my best to keep the standard she set. 

Watch This Space!


*Sydney Knit In Public



Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat

6 December 2008

O.J. Simpson has been given a lengthy sentence for his part in a robbery at gunpoint in Las Vegas a year or so ago.

He was found guilty of all these charges:

* Conspiracy to commit a crime
* Conspiracy to kidnap
* Conspiracy to commit robbery
* Two counts of first degree kidnapping
* Burglary in possession of a deadly weapon
* Two counts of armed robbery
* Two counts of assault with a deadly weapon
* Two counts of coercion with use of a deadly weapon
Now there ARE times when the lay person may be a little confused by the law.  If a shop assistant gives you too much change, and you keep it, is that illegal?  Or just immoral? 
BUT even the most legally ignorant among us would have little problem understanding that taking a loaded gun to someone else’s hotel room and pointing it at them is by itself AGAINST THE LAW.
What sort of circles does this man move in?

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I’ve Got A Winner!

4 December 2008

Judith, my sister in England, won a small prize from me for posting the 500th comment since I’d started this blog last year.  So she announced that she’d provide a prize for the 600th comment – a goodie bag from Yorkshire.  I think she’s enjoyed looking around for items and has had it all ready to go for a couple of weeks. 

But nearly complete silence in the comments department for the last week or so.  (Note to self:  must lift my game)   I even thought of writing something REALLY controversial to stir you all up but that felt like cheating.  I write about what I want to write about at the time.  Sometimes boring to other people, sometimes a little controversial. 

Anyway, we eventually made it to the 600th comment and in the next day or so, a package will be winging its way from Harrogate to Sydney to the home of Mary-Helen.  

And it couldn’t have gone to a more worthy person (though I’m not sure she’d like me to call her ‘worthy’).  She was one of my first knitting friends in Sydney and “pimped” my blog on the day it went live.  Through her I’ve made lots of other friends.  She’s bright, funny, kind and (I’m sorry, M-H, but I have to say it ) blunt.  And that’s what I like about her.  In fact, she could have come from Yorkshire herself – definitely “calling a spade a spade” sort of person. 

Do let me see what’s in the parcel when you get it.






Let’s Call A Spade A Spade

1 December 2008

My family comes from Yorkshire which is a County in England known for its blunt speaking.  They call a spade a spade (unless of course it’s a bl**dy shovel).  That may be why I particularly dislike euphemisms, 

I was reminded of this when reading so many stories lately of children being bullied at school, some to the point where they’ve committed suicide.  But when you read the details, they tell a different story.   Being waylaid on your way home and beaten up by groups of older boys is NOT bullying.  Calling it bullying implies that this is childlike behaviour, unacceptable of course and sometimes very disturbing, but it’s used as a form of control over another child.  Beating the shit out of a child is at the very least assault.

Then we have “execution” as in “the terrorist executed one of the hostages”.  No – he murdered him.

And passed away/passed on/passed over.  What’s wrong with “died”?  

The American Government has come up with a whole new load of euphemisms which are quite breathtaking in their audacity, the worst probably being “rendition”.  This apparently means to forcibly remove people from one country, take them to another country outside the jurisdiction of the American legal system and torture them.  But I suppose they couldn’t say that, could they?