88, 89, 90!

It’s a training day at work today so I am able to get in a wee bit later than usual. Today Grandad turns 90! We had his birthday party last weekend and it was such a treat. The weather was perfect, a fair swack of extended family turned up which was great for a catch-up and of course there was food!

Lawrence Pryce Stephenson, born 29 Jan 1920.

Grandad is Grandad and for all that he is, I quite treasure the time I spend with him. We typically go to The Farm, once a week to visit and have dinner etc.

This was the cake.
The week before when we were up, Mum asked Grandad what sort of cake he wanted, his answer was a plain fruit cake with no icing and that is what we had. I of course couldn’t let it go undecorated though! We used to play with this fishing rod and fishes when we were younger and spending time at The Farm. Grandad is a fisherman, not so much at all in recent years unfortunately as it is hard for him to keep steady on his feet in a boat.

Just like we have done in the past for other milestone birthdays, Mum had taped together 90 party poppers in bunches of fives. With a slight breeze in the air, they looked fantastic when they popped.

90 Party Poppers! 90 Party Poppers! 90 Party Poppers! 90 Party Poppers! 90 Party Poppers! 90 Party Poppers! 90 Party Poppers!

Grandad with streamers all over him.
90 Party Poppers!


Max and Ian
Ian and Max

Jim – Such a Stephenson face!

Of course, whilst historically hailing from the Northern Rivers district we are a Bundy Ginger Beer family. πŸ˜€
Gaye and Wally

I can tell you all since Grandad does not read this blog. Today he is having a surprise party in the shed with all the workers. The workers all call him Poppy, which is just so different from Grandad. There will be a big BBQ lunch and who knows what else.

Happy Birthday Grandad.

Becoming a Granny at Brown Owls

Today I went to my first Brown Owls meeting and we crocheted granny squares πŸ˜€ I used the instructions out of the Meet me at Mike’s book. I did about 8/10 of the first square at the Brown Owls meeting today, and then did the rest whilst sitting beside Grandad’s hospital bed this evening until I ran out of yarn. I picked up the same yarn in three different colours and will need to go back and get some more. I plan on making a decent size rug out squares in the four colours.

The meeting was such a fantastic experience. Getting to meet a whole bunch of other crafty ladies, some whom I know a little bit through reading their blogs and others for whom I knew nothing and left knowing a little more. In addition to the crafting there was some fantastic baked treats that were on offer for snacks.

some photos πŸ˜€
most of the collective squares
Brown Owls Crochet

taking photos, Alischa from Bespoke Press, Steph from Bondville and Katie from Miss Kitty Boo Boo
Brown Owls Crochet

A little snippet of Melanie with some of the other girls in the background
Brown Owls Crochet

And here are my squares
Brown Owls Crochet

and a closer view
Brown Owls Crochet

Grandad is doing well, they did six skin grafts on his lower legs after removing the skin cancers and they removed another two which were just stitched up. He was moved to a different ward yesterday which is much nicer than his last one. It is soo handy living as close as I do to the Wesley, I can tuck out of home and less than five minutes later I am sitting beside Grandad in his room.

Fruit, Veg and Grandad

I was picked up from work this morning to take Grandad to hospital, a couple of hours later, Grandad was in the surgery waiting room waiting to go under for more skin grafts on his legs and I was back at work. I went back to the hospital a little ago to see him after he came out of surgery and he was safely tucked up in his hospital bed -> it is very handy living sort of semi across the back fence from the hospital he is staying at. It means I will be able to visit him each day after work. Don’t know how long he will be in there for yet but last time it was two weeks. So we shall see.

Last night, I picked up my first Food Connect box, I had ummed and ahhed about various fruit/veg boxes for a couple of months now but kept on coming back to Food Connect in that they seemed to provide not only a good value for money, but I liked the newsletter they supply to let you know what is happening with the farmers they use and the office.. Last week though I decided to give it a whirl and called the office, I spoke to a very friendly lady who answered my questions. I settled on the mini mixed box for 4 pick-ups over 8 weeks. This is what I got.

Food Connect Mini Box, Fortnight 1

I got 3 avocados, 5 bananas, 2 onions, 3 potatoes, 4 apples, 1 broccoli, 1 celery, a few leaves of silverbeet, a bag of snow peas, a punnet of sprouts, 6 tomatoes, 2 carrots, 5 mandarins and half a cabbage. I think that is all. I am pretty impressed with the swag of produce. It will be interesting to see how it suits me. I know just from my first box that it will force me to eat more fruit, eat a bigger variety of veg and mostly get me to use things I wouldn’t normally buy.

Last night for dinner I made a pot of lamb shanks with lentils, peas and tomatoes. I haven’t eaten many lentils over summer and I had forgotten how much I like them πŸ˜€ Dinner was yum.

Gatton and beyond

A few moons ago, Mum, Grandad and I took a trip out past Gatton, just to drive the roads and see what was around. It proved to be a great day for me taking photos with my then new to me 135mm f2 lens. Here are some of the photos

The first set were taken by the side of the road looking at a field of what had contained cabbages and broccoli. I just loved the colour and the patterns. The second series were taken at the Glen Rock recreation park, where we had lunch, a little walk, a read in the info shack and some photos. It was a relativity brisk day for September and at one stage I had a tea towel wrapped across my back to keep out the wind. The wattle was just gorgeous and I loved taking these photos. There was also this gorgeous field of long grass which has the most amazing seed tendrils.

20080906_1613920080906_1613520080906_1613320080906_1613020080906_1614120080906_1617120080906_1620220080906_16180_1617820080906_1615820080906_16187dew drops

The day ended with us having afternoon tea sitting on the footpath outside the Gatton craft shop as the parks were too windy, which was something we have done before but still quite a sight to see.

a missed chance

Mum and I went to The Farm today and just before Mum started cooking tea, my phone rang. “Hi Helen, it’s Leanne from SES, are you free tonight?” It broke my heart so much to say that I was up north so I couldn’t go out tonight. I so dearly wanted to say yes as it would have been my first activation and it would have been a storm activation at that and I would have gotten my oranges.

sigh. We have had one hell of a storm this evening though. We left Brisbane round 1545 ish and as we drove the view out the rear just got progressively darker. A while after we got to The Farm, it started blowing a gale and then it got darker again and the rain started. It rained, and it rained and it rained.

As we drove home there were branches down all over the place and traffic lights and street lights out all over the place as well. I thought about giving them a ring to see if it was too late to come down and join a crew but then I thought that I am fairly exhausted from a big weekend moving and I have 38 Navy kids enlisting at 0700 or 0730 in the morning, I need sleep!

I am now sitting in my room at Auchenflower and the rain stopped probably 10 minutes ago. The only sound now is the trains as they zip past and the various bug noises.

Oh well I have SES tomorrow night and I am sure I will hear all about what I missed out on (clearing gutters I bet)

Tweed Exploring

The other Friday, I took an early mark from road and headed south on the M1 to say hi to the Family and explore new roads, old roads and roads that don’t fit as either new or old.

Mum and Grandad had planned this trip to check out the new Pacific Highway and some of the new bypasses. Aunty Margaret joined in because she wanted to see some of the rellies and some of the areas that Grandad used to hang out as a young one. I went well because it meant a chance to drive on the Tugun bypass, hang out with Grandad and see the sights.

We drove down to Tweed Heads and had a lovely afternoon tea with Aunty Doris, enjoyed a stroll in the garden and the first of many catch-ups.
Aunty Doris

Then we popped in on Uncle Bob and Aunty Heather at Cudgen and admired a lovley scarf that one of their granddaughters who is an Army Nurse had brought back from the Middle East as well as general catch-up. Uncle Bob is very proud of the fact that he still drives the tractor for a couple of hours a day most days of the week. Once a farmer, always a farmer.

Then it was driving down to Brunswick Heads to stay the night. We had dinner at Dominic’s, the local Italian restaurant. We shared some zucchini flowers (something I had been wanting to try for ages) for an entrée which were delightful. I had Chilli Prawn Spaghetti for my main which was just the right combination of chilli and tomato. What really stood out for me was my dessert, the most delightful Panna Cotta, oh it was bliss. After enjoying a long dinner it was time to retire to our accommodation, The Brunswick Heads Chalet Motel.

Saturday morning arrived and it was time to pack the bags and drive up the road to New Brighton (where we actually would have liked to stay the night) for breakfast at the only cafe in town “Pippis” (if you are getting the idea that there is not much to this town you would be right). As we drove through Ocean Shores South into New Brighton, Grandad started pointing out places where he used to fish or picinic. One of the first things Grandad said when we walked into the cafe was to ask the man in charge if he knew of the ex-cop who used to run the cafe twenty odd years ago. The current owner didn’t know him though. After our breakfast, we did a little drive round the two or three streets of the township as Grandad pointed out places and Mum and Aunty Margaret remembered their time spent with Great Aunts/Uncles. Then we walked down to the Beach and oh what a glorious beach it was. To Grandad it is one of his favourite beaches and when he was younger him and his family spent many Sunday arvos their with a picnic lunch after church.

Shell hunting on Grandad's Beach

After we had our stay on the Beach, it was time to hit the road and keep on moving. On our way out of town Grandad pointed into the bush where a river was and said that when the tide and light was right, he and Armand would pick up Crabs as the tide retreated. As we passed near/over creeks, Grandad would pause and look into the water and comment that the water looked dead or not as full of life and flow that it had been in the 1920’s and 30’s when he spent every possible moment in this land.

Leaving New Brighton we headed to Billinudgel on the Billinudgel Rd, a winding dirt road which used to be the main road north. Granadad recalled driving this road with his Grandmother in a horse and sulky when a train roared past below, scaring the horse and taking them for a bit of a bolt. The first building you see coming down onto the Bilinudgel flats is the house that Aunty Lil used to live in. We took a drive up past it and Mum commented that the house was full of knooks and crannies. Margaret commented that it needed re-stumping.

After a drive round Bilinudgel, we went up to the the Pocket, another area which Grandad had spent time exploring in his youth, as the farm (Souldern – named after the village in Oxfordshire from where the Stephenson’s lived before emigrating to Australia) at Yelgun was on the other side of the mountain to the Pocket. He pointed out a creek that him and Uncle Albert once pulled a sugar bag of fish out of.
After a drive round the Pocket, we headed to Yelgun and up Browning Lane to the old farm. It had been a few years since we had last driven up the road to see the farm and in that time the road has deteriorated considerably. When we got up the house “Souldern”, we were greeted by a big barking mutt who didn’t want us to be there.

After taking some more photos we, headed up the highway a bit further to Crabbes Creek where Grandad went to primary school for a quick flying visit before heading up the road to Murwillumbah for lunch with Aunty Colleen.

Aunty Colleen is a legend.
Aunty Colleen

We had pumpkin soup for starters, then salad plates and last and very not least Aunty Colleen’s trifle. This is a trifle that well, they should probably ask to see your ID before you are served. Very good trifle.

We looked at photos. We talked about trips down to the Tweed and we talked about what everyone else is doing at the moment and Aunty Colleens impeding move down south to Gosford to be closer to her children. We collected quite a few photos to get copies of and one of the photos I picked up is of Grandmum, Grandad and Mum very pregnant with me from Uncle Armand’s funeral. It is now on my desk πŸ˜€

And we took a family photo.

Then we drove to the other side of Murwillumbah to see Aunty Ena and Uncle Wally and Ian. To look at more photos, talk more talk and eat some more! The first thing Aunty Ena said to me as I walked up the stairs that looking at my face I just look like, I had thought she was going to say Grandmum but instead she said no I had thought she was going to say Grandmum but instead she said Robin, one of Mum’s cousins. I know what I am going to look like at 40 and I know what I am going to look like at 80. Grandmum had three daughters and it is Mum who resembles her the most and since I am Mum’s only daughter well I would be the granddaughter who has the resemblance. That is the fun thing though.

Uncle Wally and Aunty Ena

We talked, we ate, we looked at photos and then it was time to head off, stopping at the house at the top of the main street where Grandad boarded through high school for a quick photo. Then it was the drive home and a trip to the Cod Father for tea. So a weekend of food not prepared by ourselves, driving the roads and lots of memories new and old.

And to close it off a photo of the Mandarin tree at Aunty Colleen’s.
Mandarin, eaten.