Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Today was the first day of the holidays and the first day of Husband going away for a week to the Big Smoke.  He is off to Sydney to take part in a series of lectures at New College, and rather than zip back up and down everyday they are putting him up for the week.  We decided that, since he wasn't required until dinnertime, that we would take him down and spend the day together exploring a bit more of Sydney.  New College is part of the University of New South Wales and is very close to Bondi so we thought we would head there for lunch and go from there.  My parents had been to Bondi a number of years ago, before we came here, and reported back that they had been distinctly under-whelmed by the most famous beach in Australia, so I wasn't expecting too much.  My first thought was that it was a bit like Portrush where my Mother grew up in N.Ireland!  It is much more commercial than our beaches in Newcastle and to be honest I'll take Merewether any day, but we did like it and had fun.

We had lunch in a great pizzeria "Papa Giovannis".  The owner was delighted by all the children and wanted to know were they all ours?   Were we Catholic?  If not why did we have so many?   Why didn't we stop after the girl?  Were we having more?  Were we mad? and so on!  John chatted to his son for ages about Italian football and the kids were given samples of all the different gelato that they make!  If you're ever in Bondi, tell them the crazy Irish/Scottish football-mad family with all the kids sent you!  The pizzas were great and the kids meals were fantastic.

We took our coffees and gelati to the beach and the usual running/jumping/racing competitions ensued.

It didn't take long before Smallest got soaked!  Thankfully there were spare hoodies, warm sunshine and kind Big Brothers.

I do love exploring Sydney.  While I like living in a much smaller city I get a real buzz whenever I see all the skyscrapers, I love the busy streets and all the quirky shops and the unique characters in the different suburbs.  If we had had longer I would have loved to have a walk  or visit other less well-known parts like Bronte and Coogee - another time.

Miss Meg and I will be back in Sydney on Saturday for Mary Poppins so maybe we'll try and fit in a bit more exploring without all the boys.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grandmother's Rings

I just came across Cheryl's Blog which is joining a "See What Jewellery You Are Wearing" Blog Hop here.  Now I'm not so into jewellery and don't wear much but it was the first two entries that attracted me, both to do with Grandmother's rings.  The only jewellery I wear are my wedding and engagement rings, my Grandmother's engagement ring and a silver bangle known as "the-bangle-I-bought-for-myself-on-honeymoon-as-my-new-husband-was-too-tight-to-buy-it-for-me-bangle". He doesn't really like that story and wishes he had bought it as I have worn it nearly every day for 19 years!

My extensive collection of jewellery!

When we got married we were both students and very poor!  My engagement ring came from one of those discount jewellers with big red and yellow stickers everywhere, was second hand and cost 225 pounds (Aussie keyboard - no pound sign!). The hallmark said 1917, if I remember correctly (it is no longer there as the ring was so worn the band snapped and had to be replaced!), and is of the style where the setting is larger than the stone, none the less, I love it and would never swap it as it reminds me of where we have been and of what is truly important in life (ooh, nearly made myself a wee bit teary there!).  

 My engagement ring

When it came to getting a wedding ring, we had no money left but I did have a big, chunky signet ring given to me by my Paternal Grandmother some years previously with my initials on it.  It had belonged to an aunt of hers from a wealthy Edinburgh family who also shared our initials.  Since my parents were at the other end of the country from my chosen university I would sometimes jump on the train to Glasgow and then head to Largs to spend a weekend with my Grandmother.  It was on one of these occasions that I asked her if I could have the ring melted down and made into my wedding ring.  She was delighted and I was relieved as she could be quite forceful in her opinions!  

My wedding ring

When we were little, my brother and I always favoured our maternal Grandmother as she was more your typical, cuddly Granny, but as I got older I learned to respect and love this indomitable lady.  I was very fortunate to spend a week with her a few days before she died in 1996.  During that week she told me that I was to have her engagement ring but, to cut a long story short, my Dad decided it should go to my Mother so that he could see it and be reminded of his Mother.  The day before we left for Australia, 12 years later, I had a substantial amount of money in Tesco vouchers (how I miss them!!)  to spend in Goldsmiths.  Mother was with me to help me choose but I didn't like the watches, I didn't like the rings and I wouldn't have worn anything else.  Mother took me to one side and told me that she had been planning to give me my Grandmother's ring before we left as she thought I needed at least one piece of jewellery that was appropriate for my husband's new position!!  Might also have had something to do with my comments over the years about whether or not she was enjoying MY ring...!  Happily we had seen a really pretty ring with 7 diamonds in the shape of a flower that we thought would remind her of the 7 of us every time she wore it so my vouchers were well spent and everyone was happy.  

Granny's ring

Apparently the ring isn't actually my Grandmother's engagement ring but we don't really know what happened to her original.  We found her original wedding ring, a tiny gold band, but I will always remember the beautiful scalloped ring that she wore.  I now have them both but her fingers must have been tiny as I can't wear either of them any more. 

Granny's original wedding ring.  You can see the initials for Joseph Thom Carrick - Sarah Colvin

The wedding ring I remember her wearing

Her teeny rings compared to my chunky one!

Hopefully one day my own daughter will appreciate these rings and their history, but currently she refuses point blank to wear any of the beautiful silver bangles I have bought for her, prefering to wear bits of wool that she has finger knitted instead!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


At last I have some pics of the first finished Granny Square blanket.

This one was done in a variegated wool which reduces the need for sewing in endless ends - crafty!  I do like the way the colours change as it goes round.

 I'm thinking it should be called the Wimbledon Blanket as the colours are perfect and by the time Wimbledon comes around again, we'll be needing it!

It is a lovely, soft, chunky wool, hooked with a 7mm hook, approx 42 rounds and finished off with 4 rounds of sc.  I actually ran out of wool and had to call around to track down 3 more balls.

Daughter is delighted.

A wee bit more sport...

Before I show you my blanket - tomorrow, I promise - there has been more sport!

Yesterday was the Infant's School Sports Carnival.  It is a tiny school so the sports day is a real family affair.              Miss Meg had the honour of carrying Green House's flag with her friend and had a great time in the races.

Robert got to join in the 3 years and under race which he won, then had a go with the 4 and 5's too!

John came 1st in the Dad's Egg and Spoon Race and I managed 4th - I know, I let the whole family down!

After a sausage sizzle for lunch, we raced off to watch Jonathan play his last football match of the year in the final against another local school and some of his Jaffas team mates!  It was hard not to cheer for boys I've been cheering for all year!  They won 1-0 so he has had a clean sweep.  They made it back to school in time to be congratulated at the Sport Assembly.

I have to congratulate No2 and No3 on their tennis achievements this term.  The Term 3 Comp ended today so I made sure I had my camera for some action and any presentations.

Joseph had his matches first, playing doubles with his pal.  He had to leave a birthday party to go so wasn't best pleased!  They have had the odd success and, considering their age and it being their first comp, I think they can be pleased with themselves.

They were both given Encouragement Awards which meant being able to choose a wee prize - they both chose racquet dampeners ("because they're cool") and got a big round of applause.

Jonathan had his matches later on.  He and his friend have played doubles together for a while now.  It is very handy that Tom now lives literally at the end of our garden and his neighbours have a court that the boys can play on whenever they like.  

This term they were put up a division and both complained as they like to win, however despite their protests they were undefeated in the matches they played, but had to forfeit one week when they were both ill.  Despite some "cheating" from the girls they played today, they won their matches and their division!

Richard teasing them for not wanting to be put up!

Looks like they will be going up another division next term.

So I think that is all the sport for a wee while, we have managed to dissuade Joseph from playing cricket this year, football is finished so just more tennis next term.  I might need to see if Tom's mum and I can have a hit on the neighbour's court too...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Acceptance Speech!

I found out this week that 2 other lovely Bloggers have given me awards.  These awards are passed around as a way of sharing the bloggy love so I was very touched.

The first award was the Versatile Blogger Award which was passed on by Faith at http://faithymay.blogspot.com/,

and the second was the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award passed on by my lovely university friend, Emma, from http://emmavarnam.co.uk/.  In accepting the awards the idea is to link back to the person who gave the award, share 7 facts about yourself and then pass the award on to 15 other blogs.

1.  My middle name is Jayne.  With a Y.  For no other reason than that my parents thought it went well with Sandra.
2.  In order to explain my "Anglicised Scottish-ness"  I was born in Motherwell, spent the first 4 years of my life in Campbelltown (think Mull of Kintyre), moved to Southampton for 10 years then Ringwood, on the edge of the New Forest for a few more until I headed back North to Uni at Aberdeen.  Hubby and I did our PhD and PGCE respectively in Cambridge then back to Edinburgh (and Dalgety Bay in Fife) asap!  We emigrated to Newcastle, NSW nearly 3 years ago, where Husband is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University.
3.  I have no idea where we will be in 5 years time!
4.  I asked Meg to think of a fact to help me and she said "You're nice and you're lovely"!  I'll pay her later.
5.  I'm a tea drinker but always have a Latte when I'm out as I resent paying $4 for hot water and a tea-bag.
6.  Although I love my parents dearly, I miss my brother more than anyone else (I'm safe from a ribbing as I'm quite sure he never reads this!).
7.  I am an appalling housewife and would rather go for a walk at the beach than tidy the house.

There, that wasn't too painful!

Now as for passing on the awards it is very hard to choose so here goes in no particular order... they can choose to pass on or ignore!  Some are to do with crochet, some parenting, some eco-life-style inspiration, one takes beautiful pictures of Scotland, and one is travelling Australia in a caravan.  Please enjoy browsing and I take no responsibility if you become hooked!

1.  Pieceful
2.  Peacock Blue
3.  The Green Dragonfly
4.  Coco Rose Diaries
5.  Mama of 2 Boys
6.  Cozy Things
7.  Foxs Lane
8.  Blue Teacups
9.  The Baynhams
11.  Sketch
12.  Brave New Me
13.  tales from cuckoo land
14.  Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?
15.  Joyce Lives Here

ps if the light is cooperative for taking photos tomorrow, I hope to have a Granny Square ta-dahhh!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sporting Success!

It has been a busy sporting week for us, despite cold, flu and lurgy.  Last Monday (nothing like news hot off the press!) No1 Boy took part in the Newcastle Zone Football (soccer) Gala Day with a number of other schools from the local area.  They played short matches between 9am and 2.30pm and won the final!  I managed to watch some of it even though I had 3 at home feeling rubbish.  I dragged them out to get some fresh air and sunshine, support their Big Brother and we caught the final and presentations.

Bit of fancy footwork

He was absolutely delighted to be the first member of the family to have won a winners medal in Football since we got here.

No2 Boy had already won the Minor League with his team and had the Major League Finals on Saturday morning.  Last year they were pipped to the Minor League in the last match and lost the Major League Final in the last 30secs of the match to the same team, so there was huge pressure for all of us!  It was a great match and thankfully they won 5-2.

I loved how this Kookaburra was not in the least bit phased by the football flying towards him!

Celebrating their win.

Receiving his medal and trophy.

Happy Boy!

In the hope that they would indeed win, I had baked cupcakes in their team colours with their shirt numbers for our Celebration/Commiseration BBQ.  Since they are the Jaffas, they obviously had to be choc-orange cakes and I used a fab Women's Weekly recipe which also included almond meal - yummm!

They tasted a whole heap better than they looked!

Next weekend we are looking forward to tennis finals for Nos 2and 3 so I'll keep you posted!

Friday, September 2, 2011

What's in a name?

I have been thinking about names this week, for one reason and another, that I may or may not share with you at some point!  I started off this blog wanting to keep a small amount of anonymity and decided not to share the names of my kids.  I've been interested to see how others refer to their family members.  Some are happy to share names while others use ages, some have plenty of photos, others have none.  Being in Australia, I'm also intrigued by how names are shortened/lengthened/adapted.

Based on my musings this week, I thought that I might just share their names afterall.

No1 Boy (or Biggest Boy) is called Archie.  He was named after my maternal grandfather, who I loved dearly as a child, even though we didn't see him very often.  He was in a long line of Archies, although he was properly an Archibald, and didn't have any sons of his own to pass the name on to.  My Archie went through a phase when he was about 3 of wanting to be Archibald as he thought his name was too short in magnets on the fridge!  We also liked the fact that according to one baby name book, Archie was first used in East Anglia and then became a popular name in Scotland - our Archie was born in East Anglia and then moved to Scotland - how perfect?  At the moment he has decided that it really isn't a very cool name and wishes we had called him something different.  His middle name is John which covers his Dad and both of our Dad's - imaginative!

No2 Boy is Jonathan.  Named because it was my favourite boys name but also my brother's name.  His middle name is Thomas for Husband's maternal grandfather.  I think it's a good solid name, however I think I am probably the only person who actually uses his full name!  When he started Play Group in Scotland at age 2years and 10 months, he met his best friend, Nathan.  They thought it was fantastic to have such similar names although right from the start Nathan always referred to Jonathan as 'Jon'.  Despite being born in Scotland both of Nathan's parents are from London so imagine it said with a London accent!  Since being in Australia he has been anything from 'Jon', to 'Jonny' to 'Jonno'.  I particularly like how the guys at tennis actually correct me when I say his name - "Oh, you mean JONNO!" !!!

No3 Boy is Joseph after my paternal grandfather, another lovely man who called me his wee princess - if only he'd seen the tomboy I was...!  His middle name is David as a tribute to John's wee brother that he never knew as he died after only a few days.  Regularly referred to as 'Jofus' by most kids, he decided he would be called 'Joe' once his wee sister could speak and decreed it to be so.  This lasted until he went to school and learnt to spell and write his name.  He now has phases and we always have to check.  I tend to play safe and stick with Joseph.  To be honest he gets 'Monkey Boy' more than anything else...

Miss M is in fact Meg, short for Margaret.  She was named after my mother, her mother, her mother etc, etc.  For some reason my mother decided to break with tradition and named me for her sister.  She was always going to be Meg rather than Margaret as it is a bit of a mouthful and fairly old-fashioned.  Again though, where we lived in Scotland was closely associated with St Margaret so nicely fitting.  Her middle name Hannah is a reference to John's maternal Viking roots!  Along with Meg, she gets Peg and Peggy and occasionally Margaret (mostly from Grandpa!).  She loved that despite being the youngest and smallest in her Kinder class, her teacher, the wonderful Mrs B, called her 'Megatron'!

Smallest Boy has a very grand, Scottish name - Robert Alexander.  As a friend's mother pointed out, named after 2 great Scottish kings.  As you can imagine, using family names meant that we had pretty much run out by this point!  My aunt has done a great deal of research on my Mum's side of the family and did come across a few Robert's, some fairly scandalous stories to go with them too.  However, this is really a wee family joke based on my Dad's family tracing themselves back to Robert the Bruce, who again with the local connection, is buried in Dunfermline Abbey.  The Alexander is a lame attempt to have my name in the mix somewhere.  It took us quite a while to name him, and the aforementioned Nathan had suggested "Bob" (a la Blackadder) within a couple of hours which we had dismissed, however it didn't take long at all until he was indeed 'Bob-the-Baby'!  As those of you who know the child will be aware, this is no longer acceptable and you are likely to be told "My not Bob, my 'Obert" in no uncertain terms.  I'm sure at some point he will get Bob again or more likely 'Robbo' if we stay Down Under!

You might be thinking that John didn't seem to have much input in their names, but due to all his suggestions being based on Star Wars I eventually banned him.

I love the fact that all their names reference someone special, someone to be inspired by and to look up to.  It will be interesting to see what they name their kids in time.  Joseph says his will be called "Pass", "Shoot", and "Score".

Have a great weekend!