Normally on the 2nd week of the month I’d post a Writer’s Digest. Not this month though. It’s my 55th birthday today and as my word of the year is me, I figured that called for 55 things about me…and more pics of me than you’ll ever see again in a single post…probably…
1.I was born in Sydney and have spent most of my adult life there but moved around country NSW as a kid, living in Merriwa (Hunter Valley), Bombala (near the Victorian border), and Springwood and Faulconbridge (in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney). I’ve also lived in Canberra – where I met my husband. We moved to the Sunshine Coast of Southeast Queensland 5 years ago. Even though my birth family is still in Sydney, for the first time in my life I feel at home here.
2. My husband and I have been together for 33 years and married for nearly 28. He’s still my favourite person to travel with. We have one daughter – she’s a paediatric occupational therapist and lives in Hervey Bay a few hours north of us.
3. We also have a dog – a 13-year-old cocker spaniel who is my fur baby and constant companion.
4. The only sport I’ve ever been any good at has been swimming. When I’m in the water I’m in my element. On land I feel clumsy and ungrounded.
5. I can’t swim without getting my hair wet – I’m either all in or out – and I swim most days between September and March.
6. I have long, thick curly hair and get dreadlocks in the summer. I like my curls and hardly ever straighten my hair.
7. I need glasses for long-distance but only wear them when I’m driving or to watch TV – this means I spend most of my life in a blur, but this really doesn’t worry me. I don’t need glasses to read. Yet.
8. I dislike shopping (especially in malls) and only buy clothes when things are really falling apart, or I have a special occasion and can’t get out of shopping.
9. I have a collection of thongs (the ones you wear on your feet) for all occasions. You probably call them flip flops or jandals. I never wear heels.
10. I never wear shoes at home or in the yard – unless I’m gardening.
11. I swear too much.
12. I should wear make-up more often.
13. The only bone I’ve broken is one in my back – in a fall from a horse when I was a teenager. I got straight back on and didn’t know it had been broken until an x-ray years later. I rode a lot and fell off a lot in those days.
14. I have the sort of scoliosis in my back that my chiropractor had only seen in textbooks before.
15. While I manage my back pain with plenty of walking, I’m at the age where I should be losing at least 20kgs to help it out.
16. Growing up, I always wanted to be a writer. When I grow up, I want to be a full-time author.
17. My (not so) secret ambition is to be an extra on Midsomer Murders.
18. I have a degree from Sydney University in Economics, majoring in political science and agricultural economics.
19. I can’t stand “ists” or “ism’s”, am slow to judge, and look for the shades of grey as opposed to the black and white in most situations. There’s
always usually a middle ground and another side to the story. Over the last couple of years though, my faith in that theory has definitely been tested.
20. I have a scar just above my left knee from where a cow stuck her horn into my leg. She ruined my favourite jeans.
21. My first job was in an ice cream shop.
22. My first real job was as a graduate trainee at a bank in Canberra. I lasted 12 years and met my husband there.
23. At 18, in 1985, I was a rugby league referee – apparently, the first woman to use her ticket for anything other than coaching. The old guard was not impressed and my exam – where I had to sit in front of the referee’s board and answer questions – took 3 times as long as that of the men. They were trying to trip me up, which only made me more determined.
24. The first album I bought was Bay City Roller’s Once Upon A Star in 1975. I still have it.
25. I truly believe there’s an ABBA song for all of life’s situations.
26. I was in the flute band in Merriwa and reckon I could still play Scotland The Brave. I learnt the piano when I was a teenager and used to smash out the old Boomtown Rats song “I Don’t Like Mondays”, the beginning of “The Entertainer”, and theme songs from TV shows like Hill St Blues.
27. The first concert I went to was Wham – it must have been 1984 or 1985. I remember Andrew Ridgley wearing this amazing long tartan coat on stage. Inspired, I made myself some tartan pants.
28. I’m a pop music tragic – the daggier the better – and firmly believe there’s a special place in your brain used purely for the storage of song lyrics. I also love classical music, Celtic music, and even some folk-style music.
29. I’m quite rebellious at heart and prone to self sabotage on the grounds of an unwillingness to conform. That’ll show ’em. My mother would say it’s cutting my nose off to spite my face.
30. Politically I’m pink, ie left of centre, and environmentally I’m lime green – but love my air-conditioning too much to be completely green.
31. I’m ridiculously trusting and, when hurt, forgive easily – but if you hurt anyone I love it’s a different story.
32. My ears are pierced, and I have 1 tattoo – a koru – on my hip. It was my 40th birthday present to myself. It’s the Kiwi symbol for growth, harmony, and new beginnings.
32. My first overseas trip was to Singapore – I was 22. My first overseas trip with Grant was also to Singapore. In fact, I had my 25th birthday there. Yes, that is my natural hair colour in the pic below.
33. I’ve travelled extensively in South-East Asia (for both work and play), have done a 21-day Trafalgar bus tour through Europe (lowering the average age on the bus by 20 years), a cruise of the South Pacific, road trips through the UK and France, but have only been to the US once – visiting New York in February 2010.
34. If I had to live anywhere else in the world it would be New Zealand. My bestie lives in New Zealand and up until the pandemic I’d travel there at least once a year.
35. I’ve done 2 long-distance hikes in NZ – both out of Queenstown: The Routeburn Track and The Milford Track.
36. My favourite Australian city is Melbourne, and the only Australian state (or territory) I haven’t travelled to is Northern Territory. One day I’ll get there.
37. Travel inspires my writing – and my cooking.
38. I write in my journal every day – they’re very boring journals.
39. I’ve had some fabulous experiences like hot air ballooning (Hunter Valley), zip-lining (Queenstown), jet-boating (NZ), paragliding (Penang), snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, been in a helicopter across Mt Cook (NZ), and on a joy flight in a vintage tiger moth (Sunny Coast). I’ve never jumped out of a plane and have no inclination to do so.
40. Baking relaxes me. There’s something about following the process that calms my mind when it’s jumping all over the place.
41. I have terrible trouble maintaining focus and these days write everything down to stay on track.
42. I’m a much better starter than I am finisher – finishing leaves a vacuum that requires a new project to fill.
43. I firmly believe song lyrics are saved in a separate part of the brain that isn’t used for anything else.
44. My mantras are:
- How hard can it be? and
- It is what it is…
I also believe that butter – and bacon – make everything better… but that’s a belief rather than a mantra…
45. The first thing I ever learnt to cook would have been scones. The other dish I cooked a lot as a kid was self-saucing chocolate pudding.
46. My favourite comfort food sandwich (and guilty pleasure) is vegemite and (plastic-wrapped sliced) cheese on white bread with proper butter. It’s the only time I eat either processed cheese or white bread.
47. The dish that reminds me most of childhood is my mother’s goulash.
48. Despite baking as much as I do, I rarely eat anything with added sugar. I don’t even like birthday cake. I do, however, enjoy a square or two of dark chocolate.
49. I’m a sucker for good bread and cheese – even though as I get older my tummy is less tolerant of both. That doesn’t stop me.
50. I’ve tried lots of different foods – some weird and some just eeeeuw. Like offal, that’s eeeeuw. Because my husband is Scottish, I’ve prepared haggis for him – what can I say? It was the early days. The weirdest thing I’ve eaten was deep-fried rice paddy eels in a market in Gianyar, Bali. The guide said they tasted like bacon. They didn’t.
51. I prefer black tea to coffee and I’m ridiculously snobby about my tea. I don’t drink soft drinks (or sodas), but I do love wine (possibly too much) – and whisky, which I drink neat.
52. My desert island dish would be Babi Guling – that wonderful pork dish from Bali. Hainanese Chicken rice and Mooloolaba prawns would be close behind. And dumplings. Especially xiao long bao.
53. Other than for my scones when I was 13 or 14 at Bombala Show and swimming races at about the same age, I’ve never won anything – whether it be a contest of skill or chance.
54. If I was on Mastermind, my special subject would be Midsomer Murders: The Tom Barnaby years.
55. I’m an eternal optimist and love nothing more than the possibility of possibility. My glass isn’t half full or half empty – I’ve enjoyed what I’ve had and now there’s room for more.