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Horseriding and Blueberries

I take my hat off to Mum’s who work full time and keep a house in some kind of order. I’ve been working 3 or 4 days a week for a few weeks and I’m already feeling like I’m drowning. Today is my first free day in a couple of weeks. Though I must say, I am really happy that I’m able to contribute to saving money now and paying some of the bills. I might even book myself into their hairdresser now that I have some money of my own – it’s way overdue.

The girls are both loving horseriding lessons and the horse they are learning with is so gentle and calm. I’m sure their gymnastics skills have helped them with their balance and core strength on the horse. It’s great to watch them learning something new and beaming with excitement. They look forward to every Monday now. We are hoping to go and watch one of their friends compete in a Gymkhana on the weekend and there’s a local Campdraft coming up soon so we’ll check that out as well.

Tabulam hosted their first Blueberry Festival a couple of weekends back and I was the official photographer as well as helping out with the CWA jam stall for the day. It was a long day and I was exhausted by the time I got home but it was a real success. There were market stalls, information stands, SES and RFS and a jumping castle to entertain the children. While we had a bit of drizzly rain to start the day, it fined up by lunchtime and it didn’t seem to stop people visiting and walking around the stalls. The CWA sold out of all its cakes, biscuits, jams, conserves and compotes with only a few scones left by the end of the day. My blueberry monte carlos were a hit as was the blueberry and banana bread I made. I’ll have to make double the amount for next year’s festival!

The new season harvest will be soon ready for picking and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of those delicious fresh blueberries.

Lucy competed in the District Cross Country carnival last week and came third so she made it onto the next level which is Zone to be held tomorrow in a town outside of Lismore. Apparently it’s a real cross country track with a big hill. Alice unfortunately dislocated her toe two days before the District carnival so couldn’t run. She should be okay to compete in the school Athletics carnival in June though which she’s happy about.

Casino Beef Week is on this week and there are celebrations in the town all week. The girls and I are looking forward to the street festival and markets on Saturday afternoon. We’ve heard they lay sawdust down on the main street and parade cows through town. It should be a fun afternoon with lots of activities and cattle competitions. It will be yet another ‘first’ for us. There have been so many new and exciting things for us to experience here.



A Quiet Life in the Country?

Why did I ever think I was going to have a quiet country life while living here? I should have known better. I have never been able to sit still and relax so I don’t know why things would be different. I have thrown myself into everything and anything I come across and have been so busy lately. Not that I’m complaining, I am really enjoying being busy.

I’ve been getting the odd casual day here and there as a Teacher’s Aide when one of the regular staff call in sick and that has been awesome. I love working with the students and helping them with whatever task they are doing. Any kind of work is difficult to find in a small country town so when I was asked to work on a more regular basis in the school office I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  I will be working every Tuesday and Friday and every second Wednesday in the office and the ladies have been so friendly and helpful teaching me the job.

The Tabulam Blueberry Festival is on Saturday and I’ve been busy baking for the CWA stall. I’ve baked Blueberry and Banana Breads to sell and today have been busy making 60 or so Blueberry Monte Carlos. Last week a journalist from one of the local papers came out and interviewed ‘Bluebelle’ our Festival mascot. I had a great morning with her taking photos around town with some of the local businesses. It sounds like it’s going to be a huge day with lots of market stalls, information stands and kids activities. Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us.

Talking about the weather, it has cooled down a lot during the nights and early mornings but the days have still be beautifully warm. It’s a really nice time of year, not too hot but not too cold either. It’s warm enough still to go for a swim in the river and we took the inflatables down late Sunday afternoon for a play. We spent a couple of hours playing in the water and the girls have made a ‘club house’ down in the trees where they make slingshots and just have a great time playing. It’s so good to hear them getting along and enjoying the outdoors.

Last week was Minnie’s first birthday and we celebrated with a special dog friendly cake for her and a new stuffed toy to play with. She’s certainly one spoiled dog. She loves going to the river and fetching sticks, though she’s still not good at bringing them back. She’s not afraid of the water and jumps straight in without hesitation.

We’ve been trying to arrange a horseriding lesson for a couple of weeks but every day we have planned, the weather turns on us and the lesson gets cancelled. We have our fingers crossed that tomorrow after school will go ahead. Lucy is so excited to ride a horse, she has friends here who have their own ponies and do Pony Club, Campdrafts and other competitions so she’s really keen to have a go too. She even wants me to buy her the lovely shirts and boots her friends wear.

I haven’t had a great deal of luck in photography competitions and don’t enter many as it gets expensive with entry fees and printing/framing etc. I decided to enter our local show though and was very happy to come away with two first place and two second place prizes. Though I did enter 15 photos!

I also decided to enter the Wyong Exposure Photographic Prize and was very excited to find out I am a finalist. They have chosen 145 images from around 700. I now have to get the photo printed, mounted and delivered to them before the cut-off date. It’s a shame I don’t live close by anymore so I won’t see it hanging in the gallery but I’m very happy to have it on show.

Now that mental image of my quiet country life of lying in a hammock on the verandah reading a book is a distant memory. I guess that’s the just my nature, never one to sit still long enough though I do enjoy a good book when I get time.

Holidays are Over

I must say I’ve completely dropped the ball when it comes to photography lately. I’ve rarely picked up my big camera and have been relying on terrible phone photos for convenience. I’m lacking in inspiration, motivation and anything else you can think of. I entered a photograph of Lucy in the Sydney Easter Show and was happy to see that my print had arrived safely via post but my work just doesn’t compare to the amazing place getters. Now I’m waiting for it’s return and hope it arrives safely back home. I’ll try my luck at the local show this weekend and see how I go.

We have returned from a whirlwind trip back to the Central Coast during the school holidays and had such a great time catching up with family and friends. It’s just a shame we don’t get the time to see everyone we would like. Minnie came with us and really loved the dog friendly beach and making lots of new doggy friends.

The girls and I went to the Easter Show and had a huge fun filled day with my sister and mum. We walked our feet off and saw everything from animal competitions to arts & crafts, wood chopping food displays and carnival rides. We even stayed for the evening entertainment and fireworks which was a real treat.

We arrived back home to peace and quiet again and settling back into the quiet life. We went back into Lismore on Saturday to do our grocery shopping and the City is still recovering for the devastating flood. There are still so many shops in town that aren’t open and who knows if they will ever open again.

The CWA ladies and I are busy organising the first Tabulam Blueberry Festival. It’s getting more and more interest and we’ve had to move all the market/information stalls to the oval for more room. I’ll be busy baking blueberry monte carlos and blueberry and banana bread for the event. I’ve also been asked to be the festival photographer so I better get my big camera out and start practising again. It’s going to be a great day and so good for the local community.

After the Flood

We’ve had lots of people asking if we were affected by the recent flood that devastated Lismore and other areas of Northern NSW. Lismore is one hour from us here and we visit every Saturday. We were so sad to see the footage of familiar streets and businesses so totally broken by the floodwater. It’s going to be a very long process to rebuild.

Thankfully, we weren’t affected by the floodwaters. The river behind us came up but not anywhere near our house. We had water views for a day and it was interesting to see how quickly it all receded on Saturday. The two roads to get to the girls’ school were flooded so we had a forced day off school on Friday. Not that the girls minded at all. Their friend came over to play for the day and we explored the rising river, did craft and played board games.

Saturday I usually go to Lismore to get groceries but as the City was closed, I thought I’d go to Casino. Thankfully a local told me that the supermarkets in Casino were bare from people panic buying and no supply trucks being able to get through so the girls and I took a lovely drive to Tenterfield instead. What a gorgeous town it is. We stopped at a coffee shop for morning tea and wandered the streets before getting our groceries. It’s a bit of a windy, long road but it was so nice for a change.

My photos this week are all from the phone, just snaps I took of the river while it was rising and the day after for comparison. To see the debris so high up in the trees was amazing to show how high the water actually got.

We are leaving tomorrow for a road trip back to the Central Coast for the school holidays. It’s going to be a very interesting car trip with Minnie. All five of us squashed into our car. We are starting to think it might be time to get a larger car or 4WD of some sort. There are so many areas around here that we’d love to explore if we had a vehicle that was more capable on rough roads. Our poor little Camry is getting a lot of wear and tear on the poor condition roads we drive on here.

Talking of bigger things, we’ve been so blessed to be renting this house in Tabulam. The rooms are enormous and we have so much more room than we had in our Bensville house. I can’t see how we are going to squeeze back into our old house and be comfortable. We might have to look at extending when we move back home. Or purchase a bigger house. There are so many things to think about.

Tonight is the last Swim Club for the season, the pool will close by the time we get back from holidays and won’t reopen until Term 4 when the weather warms up again.

The girls and I had a really exciting drive home after swim club a couple of weeks back. We saw our first Wedge Tailed Eagles. There were three of them feeding off a carcass and they were absolutely magnificent. They flew off as soon as they heard the car but I’m so grateful we got to see them.

I think I’ve rattled on enough for today. I’ll write again after our holiday.

Take care.

Taking Things for Granted

This past couple of weeks, I’ve realised how much I took for granted living in a built up area. Not just the obvious things like supermarkets, movies and after school activities but being able to get a pink slip for car rego at a mechanic that isn’t an hour’s drive away. Or having a skin check at the skin cancer clinic that isn’t a two hour drive away. There’s also the inconvenience of a daughter that needs to have a filling in her tooth but is so petrified of any dentist other than the one we used to see on the Central Coast. Thankfully, we will be back on the Coast in 2 weeks and have an appointment to get it fixed.

Small inconveniences that I had not really thought about prior to moving here. It’s not a huge deal, it just makes me realise how easy we had things back on the Coast. I do wish we could have a mobile skin cancer bus like the library book mobile that visits town every fortnight, or the mobile Breastscreen bus that visits a local town a few times a year. Surely there is need for a mobile skin cancer check with how serious melanoma is in Australia and these rural families that would be spending so much of their lives in the sun, with nowhere close to have tests done. Something to think about.

Lucy’s had a bit of an emotional week. I think the closer it gets to us heading back to the Central Coast for the school holidays, the more she realises she misses her friends back home. There have been a few tears at school but I keep reminding her that she is so lucky to have beautiful friends back home and new beautiful friends here at her new school. Double the friends! She’s really looking forward to going back to the Coast though and is counting down the days.

This week I submitted my final assignment for my course and have completed my 100 workplace hours at the school. It won’t be long now until I have a Certificate III in Education Support and will be a qualified Teacher’s Aide. I’ve been so lucky to have five days casual work this past fortnight and have gained so much experience with children with various needs and disabilities.

Tabulam is currently organising a Blueberry Festival to be held in May and I’ve joined the organising committee through my CWA friends. We had our first meeting today and it sounds like it’s going to be a great day with lots of local businesses joining to make it a real community event.

The blueberry season will be starting up again in the very near future. If you see ‘Mountain Blue’ blueberries in your local supermarket, you will know they are from our local farms in Tabulam. The farm will be employing 500 pickers this year from locals to backpackers and the town will start to buzz with foreign accents again. It’s so good for our community and local businesses. Linden is trying to convince me to rent out our spare room to a backpacker. He thinks it would be a great experience for the girls to learn another language. I’m thinking he just wants a sexy young French girl in the spare room!

Can you believe the temperature gauge hit 45 degrees again today? I thought Summer was over but far out it’s been hot again today. We have Tuesday afternoon ball sports today after school and this week it’s rugby. I hope it cools down a bit before 4pm. Alice is surprisingly really excited and played a bit at lunchtime yesterday with the School Chaplain who organises the games. She’s never had much experience in team sports but the Chaplain was telling me how good she was and she has real potential. I’m looking forward to watching them this afternoon.

Oh and how amazing is Lucy’s hair in these photos? I love their hair so much – the colour and curl. Just beautiful!! Though I’m biased I know.

March 28, 2017 - 3:27 pm

Joan Ryan - Just read your blog really interesting, can’t wait to see you all again soon.
Love the photo’s too

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