56 Things About Me

Published last year but updated for now…

It’s my 56th birthday on Sunday so I figured that called for 56 things about me…and more pics of me than you’ll ever see again in a single post…probably…

Here goes… 

Last year’s birthday selfie

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 6 years ago. It’s home.

2. My husband and I have been together for 34 years and married for nearly 29. He’s still my favourite person to travel life with. And yes, that’s my natural hair colour in the pics below.

3. We have one daughter – she’s almost 25 and a paediatric occupational therapist. She lives in Hervey Bay a few hours north of us.

4. We also have a dog – a 14-year-old cocker spaniel who is my fur baby and constant companion. 

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. I have long, thick curly hair and get dreadlocks in the summer. I like my curls and hardly ever straighten my hair. I do, however keep it a little shorter than in the pic below these days.

Somewhere on the Cook Strait

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. I never wear shoes at home or in the yard – unless I’m gardening. Nor do I wear heels anymore…ever.

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 prior to treating me.

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 (and my dodgy ankle) 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, look for shades of grey as opposed to the black and white in most situations, and can change my mind (or my focus) quicker than … things that have very little focus.

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. I finally got to see them (as Abbatars) last year in London. Best. Night. Ever.

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. They didn’t look as good on me as they did on Andrew Ridgley.

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 the passion of opera.

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.

off to a wig party

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.

On my 25th birthday in Singapore

33. I’ve travelled extensively in South-East Asia (for both work and play), have done a 21-day Trafalgar bus tour through Europe, a cruise of the South Pacific and the fjords of Norway, and 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 in New Zealand. I’ve done road trips on both islands, and have lost count of the number of times I’ve visited Wellington and Queenstown.

35. I’ve done two long-distance hikes in NZ – both out of Queenstown: The Routeburn Track and The Milford Track. If I ever get this dodgy ankle right I’d like to do Holyford Track and either the Abel Tasman or The Queen Charlotte 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), and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. I saw the Northern Lights in Norway, have been in a helicopter across Mt Cook (NZ), and on a joy flight in an open-air 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 trouble maintaining focus and these days write everything down to stay on track.

42. I’m a much better starter than I am a finisher – finishing leaves a vacuum that requires a new project to fill.

43. 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…

at the Scottish border

44. 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. 

45. 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.

46. The dish that reminds me most of my childhood is my mother’s goulash.

47. 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.

48. 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.

49. 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.

50. 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 prefer neat ie no ice, no mixer. Gin gives me headaches.

51. 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.

52. 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. I’ve come second on a few occasions, but no one remembers that.

53. If I was on Mastermind, my special subject would be Midsomer Murders: The Tom Barnaby years.

54. 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.

55. I struggle with the “not good enoughs” and a vague sort of anxiety more often than I let on.

56. I’m happy to travel anywhere on my own but panic when I’m behind the wheel on the highway. I am, however, an excellent passenger.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

62 thoughts

  1. Hi Jo – loved all these facts about you (I knew some and others were new to me). I’m also a pop tragic with a song (ABBA or otherwise) for every occasion (much to my husband’s “delight”). My first pop concert was Sherbet and I still have a soft spot for their songs. And my first overseas trip was to Singapore too – still a favourite travel destination (lots to do and it’s nice and clean!) Happy Birthday – enjoy those 50’s while you can! xx

      1. It’s funny – I thought both the above comparisons yet again when I re-read this today. My memory is getting closer to goldfish status as I get older – I blame it completely on my newly discovered aphantasia!

  2. Wish you a happy birthday with lots of blessings!
    I enjoyed reading this post knowing these unknown 55 things. Glad to know that your first overseas trip was to Singapore (and a few more trips). It is the same with me and now I reside in Singapore where my life was changed.
    And, You also have a beautiful smile. 🙂
    Have a great day!
    Visiting via #WeekendCoffeeShare

  3. Happy birthday Jo – I absolutely love this post! I’m another black tea drinker, no soda, but love wine and dark chocolate. I turn 55 later this year so might copy your idea of sharing 55 things about me if I feel brave enough! Have a fab birthday

    1. You should do a 55 things post. At first it seems overwhelming but before long you’re having to choose what to leave in! Thanks for dropping by.

  4. Jo, you have had a full and colorful life, to say the least. Your curls are awesome. Love that pic where they are flying in the breeze. We share a few overlaps, but the one place we part completely is having that special place in the brain for song lyrics. Happy Birthday! The best is yet to come!

  5. Happy Birthday Jo. I knew some of this, learned a few new things, smiled at many. My sister loved the Bay City Rollers but I doubt she still has their album. I’m not a big music buff but recall loving Elton John, Harry Chapin, John Denver. You really struck some memories! I adore your number 55… first time I’ve heard that way to describe the glass half full/empty!

  6. Happy birthday, Jo! I feel from reading this post that we could possibly be friends in real life. And I may have to steal your post idea for when my 63rd birthday comes up in July…oops, well there goes that friendship possibility…LOL! 😉


  7. Happy birthday! I don’t understand how people can swim and not get their hair wet– even if I intend to do that I only last a few minutes before I dunk my head under as well. I love being in the water. What a fun post and I loved seeing all these pictures of you.

  8. Happy birthday Jo and what a delightful read and a great idea which i may just borrow for my 65th birthday which is in August. Your hair is gorgeous as is your heart and soul. I love vegemite and cheese and it must be on white bread with butter, Midsommer Murders and travelling – no wonder we are friends. Wishing you a fabulous year ahead full of love and laughter. xx

  9. Happy birthday, Jo! I love your list of 55 things and your beautiful smile in all your photos. You’re also an accomplished writer in spite of your busy work and family schedules. Wishing you a happy birthday celebration and a fabulous year ahead. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

    1. I did a happy dance when Jacinda made the announcement the other day. June 28 – Queenstown here I come – and my bestie is booked to come to us in July.

  10. Hi Jo, I hope you had a great birthday. I loved reading your 55 things and getting to know you better. I was envious of your thongs. I have one pair and they are boring compared to yours. I must remember to get myself a pair of Qld thongs when I’m up there. You look so different with dark hair. I wouldn’t have recognised you. I’m with you on the cheese slice and vegemite sandwiches. I grew up on them and still love them.

  11. Happy Birthday! 🎊I read your blog after a long time and stumbled upon this post. It’s like I know you but I don’t. Nicely crafted. ☺️

  12. Happy Birthday! I could not love this post anymore – I knew a few of these but you continue to surprise me 🙂 As an eternal optimist, I have high hopes for your belated birthday dumplings! Hope your day was as fabulous as you!

  13. Happy Birthday Jo….I’m a lover of the island state of Singapore too (spent several years there back in the 1960s plus loads of visits since then) and also get swimmer’s hair ( loath caps and back stroke = wet hair!)
    Lovethat smile….you could definitely take Denyse on in that dept😊
    Take care
    Cathy – #lifethismonth

  14. Happy birthday Jo, what a great way to celebrate and give us the gifts of getting to know you more. That photo of you with your hair blowing in the wind is stunning! Oh the Bay City Roller – be still my beating heart! All your photos are great and you are a lovely fun person. Your smile shines bright 🙂

  15. So much there. I didn’t realise you’d only just moved there. When did you start blogging? Or WHERE did you start blogging? Why don’t I remember you not being there? (Might be more to do with my memory more than anything).
    We all swear too much, but what is too much really?
    I love curly hair – as someone with dead straight hair, I don’t understand why ANYONE would straighten their hair (I’m constantly twisting it up to try and get some waves in mine)
    Love the Ref story. Pink – is that where Pinko communist comes from? I’m probably more burgundy, smoked salmon socialist – too bad for my husband I do the books, as I keep turning down the accountant’s suggestions to minimize tax that seem dubious to me….I like pop but only contemporary but I do like folk, so we cross over there. And i agree on the song lyrics. Weird how you remember them all.
    Babi Guling. Not thought of that for ages! Yum!
    Happy birthdfay to you. Hope it was fabulous!

    1. I started blogging when I still lived in Sydney, but didn’t do much linking etc until after we moved up here. Hope your week has been great.

  16. Happy birthday! I loved all of these things about you. I have naturally wavy/curly hair and don’t straighten it either. I used to when it was shorter, but no more. I like it curly. We have a few other similarities. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful things.

  17. Hi Jo – I loved reading the 55 things about you. Some I know, some I didn’t but all were fun and fabulous like you. I think I said Happy Birthday on your FB page but Happy Birthday again!

  18. LOVED reading this and getting to know much more about you. I love that you know exactly what you love and what you do. And that you feel most at home where you live now. Sweet!! Or should I say…Not too sweet… Thank you so much for linking up your blog post for the FIRST #LifeThisMonth Link Up on Denyse Whelan Blogs. I do hope you return for the next one: Monday 11 April 2022. Warm wishes,Denyse.

  19. Happy Birthday, Jo,
    I enjoyed reading this post and learning more about you apart from your undesirable taste in music 😉 (ABBA). Funny, I’ve had a list for my birthday in my draft folder since January. Have fun🎉

  20. I hate to leave a comment because you have 56 comments!! But I must drop in and say happy birthday and we are soul sisters. Numbers 9 to 12 are like so me! Plus # 40 because baking is the best but then you lost me on #45! Yikes that’s quite the sandwich. I will stick to peanut butter and honey for a favourite sandwich. I really enjoyed the facts and how fun you made them. Bernie

    1. Lol re the comments… that’s just because it was first published last year. As for vegemite and cheese, well, what can I say? I had it every day when I was at school…

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