Tuesday, November 30, 2010


As a volunteer with my local council, I help at the Visitors Information Centre for my area.  We are ready when visitors come in to the centre to help them out with brochures and information regarding accommodation or attractions in the area.  As part of the volunteer team, every two months we are taken on a familiarisation tour to inspect many of the different venues and places of interest in the area known as The Hills and Hawkesbury.

Last week we had a full day and visited four different places - at three of them we were treated to either morning or afternoon tea and lunch. It was fabulous.

We went by coach to an out of the way place named Ebenezer.  It is situated high up on a hill overlooking the Parramatta River and it was here that a stone church was built by Scottish settlers in 1809. Fifteen pioneer families who settled in the area made a huge contribution to the development of the colony in this area in those early days. Now 200 years is not that old when thinking of history but for Australia, it was only 30 years after the first settlers arrived.  There were others built around that time around the Sydney area but this is now Australia's oldest surviving church and was the first non-conformist then Presbyterian church in Australia.

Ebenezer means ‘The Lord has helped us all the way’ or ‘Stone of Help’ and is referenced in 1 Samuel 7 and verse 12.

The church began a school in 1810 and pioneered education in the colony. It is the oldest extant school building in Australia.

After sailing for 90 days to get to such a strange place, I wondered what their reactions must have been on arrival in this harsh environment. But hard as it was, they never forgot the Lord who had kept them safe. After worshiping in the open air for 5 years, the work on the church commenced. It was indeed a privilege and an honour to sit on one of those very hard wooden pews and reflect on those families who had worked so hard and sacrificed so much coming to a new country to start a new life for themselves and their families. 

What a very special contribution they made and one that we were able to reflect on during our visit to this beautiful little stone church tucked away amongst the gum trees. 


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The roses are a picture

Blame it on the wet year we've had, the fertiliser, or just good fortune, but the roses have been magnificent since they began their blooming a few weeks ago.  I never get tired of looking at them - or taking pics of them for that matter.  Each one so different in colour and shape and yet each of them reminds me of Jesus, Rose of Sharon!  Beautiful Saviour! Wonderful Lord!


Aotearoa (NZ - Land of the Long White cloud)


Diana Princess of Wales

Julia's Rose

Just Joey


Shocking Blue bud

Shocking Blue in the rain

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas baking

This morning dawned blessedly cool compared to the past three! With day time temperatures around 33C and night time inside still around 27C it was a relief to be able to open the doors and windows and let some coolness in.

Since today promised to be the coolest for the next week, and since I had put the Christmas cake dried fruit to soak in brandy last week, I decided it might be a good day to bake.  I had just put a loaf of banana bread into the oven when a phone call announced that young grandie L5 wanted to visit. Of course his mum was pleased to take the opportunity to do her weekly grocery shop at the supermarket as well so knowing that I was not going to be able to 'entertain' too much with the process of cake making in hand, decided the best thing to do was get some gingerbread dough on the way as well. 

Had just taken the banana bread out of the oven and put the Christmas cake in when young L arrived.  Excited at the prospect of making his own gingerbread men, he got started right away. He kneaded and rolled and cut his way through a stack and we baked three trays full.  Once cool enough, the finishing touches were made with white icing.  By the time mum arrived back to collect him, a large container was filled for her to take home and freeze. Of course L needed to carry out a taste test and reported that they were certainly yummy! 

Banana bread, Christmas cake and gingerbread shapes all baked beautifully. A successful morning indeed.  We made precious memories today. Thankyou L for being part of that special time together!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas craft chit chat

For the past couple of weeks I've been slowly getting my Christmas cards made. This year I've used a Cuttlebug Christmas tree embossing folder and a cute little Magnolia stamp.  Now for the best part - writing inside them and sending them off. 

Has been a hot day here in old Sydney town.  Got to 32 degrees with brilliant sun. Not even a sign of storm clouds in the sky - but I won't hold my breath as they are predicted for Monday.

As long as it cools off a little, I will bake my Christmas cake though so I'm really hoping for another few days of clouds and rain.  I'm really late in making it this year as normally it would be baked in October however being away then, it didn't get done.

With the sunshine predicted for the next couple of days, I got out into the garden this morning with the spray bottle of weed killer and spent a couple of hours finding those that had sprung up in the past few weeks.  The past two Saturday's DH has done a great job and pulled out heaps of them which had grown down one side of our boundary.  I just followed up today to try to avoid them springing up again too quickly. 

Tomorrow the two littlest grandies are coming for lunch. They have swimming lessons in the morning so their mum will bring them here when they've finished.  They love to get here especially when 'Grumps' is home from work.

Till next time - blessings! 

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Searching for friends

Over the past few years I've done a good deal of searching for old friends and was reminded again of this today when reading one of my favourite blogs here - what a feeling of achievement when someone long thought 'lost' is tracked down.

When in New Zealand recently I met up with someone I had known in primary school, but at the age of around 10 years she was moved to another school and we lost contact.  We 'found' each other about 12 months ago through one of the 'friend' websites where we had both registered with our old school.  That meeting prompted us to both try to 'find' another mutual friend from those early years.  With a little digging, and contact with her brother, I managed to get a phone number for her.  It was a thrill to talk and catch up on marriages, children, careers, grandchildren.  Now our mutual friend has also 'caught up' and because both live in the same city, they plan to meet soon to get to know each other all over again. 

How good it is to know that we can never be separated from our Heavenly Father, not by time, nor distance nor any other circumstance.  In fact even if we tried to move from him, he would still faithfully be by our side, just waiting for us to 'make contact' again. 

Thank you Abba Father for Mercy and Grace...

Mercy - I don't get what I deserve

Grace - I get what I don't deserve


Sunday, November 07, 2010

It did go away - the rain I mean

It was a very shaky start to the day - from my kitchen window all I could see was fog - thick fog - not usual for early November - but I guess I felt I couldn't lose anything by pinning the washing out on the line. (For those 'northern' friends, if you didn't know, we 'down under' peg out wet clothes out on a clothes line to dry in the sun and breeze, not in the clothes dryer).  I'd managed to get some washing almost dry yesterday by hanging it over the airing rack inside, but there's nothing like bringing it in off the line smelling so - kind of 'sunny'!

So I trudged out over the very wet grass and in the coolness of 13 degrees, put it on the line.  I guess I was hoping that when the fog lifted, there'd be a bit of a flapping breeze enough to dry it.  We set off for church - the weather still not looking hopeful, but by the time we left again for home, the sun had come out and it was looking really good - in fact, brilliant. 

A light lunch over, I took my WIP with me and sank into our lovely outdoor chair and breathed in the beautiful sunny afternoon.  I could almost feel my skin taking in big gulps of the warmth.  So many days of dull, cool, damp! It was great to feel that Spring might almost have decided to visit.  It's less than a month till our 'down under' Summer officially begins, but I'm not holding my breath even though today is forecast to be warm and dry, as the weather people are predicting rain and even storms before the end of the week again.  Perhaps the long range forecaster was correct after all and we'll be still 'soaking it up' until at least December.

Anyway I'm grateful for the sunny afternoon I spent working on my Daisy Girl - I might even do it again today - it's looking promising!


Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (brunsfelsia) in bloom at present

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Rain, rain, go away

A rainy, foggy Sunday morning. Everything feels damp. I'd like to think that soon we will dry out and get a little sunshine here, but the forecast says more to come!

My vegies are getting waterlogged and won't grow without sunshine so things aren't looking good in my little garden.  The potatoes are just coming in to flower but with no sunshine or bees I fear we may lose the lot after about 10 weeks of growing!

A load of washing finished and I thought I'd be tempted to pin it on the line and just 'hope for the best' with a few possible dry spells during the day enough to dry it but it's not looking positive.

Despite the 'big wet,' the birds begin their early morning twittering and busy themselves seeking out tidbits for their young.  The butcher bird family I've discovered to now be six.  In the bottle brush tree close to the house yesterday, four young sat waiting for parents to bring food.  They are amazing! Baby spied a (rather large) grasshopper and flew down and grabbed it. Back on the branch it tried to shovel it into it's mouth sideways. 'No, no, baby - that's not the way to do it!' I sensed mother saying.  She neatly took the bug, 'mangled' it in her beak and neatly turned it around so that head first, it fitted right into baby's open mouth.  After a couple of huge gulps, it was gone!  Amazing to watch these small creatures who, despite the patience they show, are also quick to admonish when babies step out of line!

Thank you God for this your day, and for the freedom we have to worship you! I'm off to do that right now.


Rainbow Lorikeets feeding after the rain

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Down memory lane

My recent time in New Zealand was spent in the area I went to primary school. So much has changed, older houses being pulled down and flash new ones being built.  All those years ago when I attended the old school, not too many families had large incomes - we were pretty much on the same economic level - mostly low!  A few kids from the wealthy areas did start off at the local school but often were removed as they got to age about 10 and put to a 'private school' where fees were high and special uniforms and even hats were worn. In some cases, gloves were an essential part of the uniform for the girls.

Well it so happens that my Mum's new unit is right behind the old school. I either drove past or walked through it a fair few times in the 6 weeks I was there. I was rather surprised and yet pleased that it really hadn't changed much at all.  Even the old stone wall which curves around one side of the playing area was still there. It was a popular spot for us to play marbles and we would either line up our (very) new plastic 'allies' along the wall - 3 in a row and 3 feet back the kids had to stand to take a shot at them - or 5 in a row and 5 feet back and so on.  Or the boys would draw chalk circles and place a marble in the centre and from the outside ring, others would flick a marble between their thumb and first finger and try to make a strike.

Mum always gave us kids sandwiches for our lunch, invariably filled with squashed bananas.  You know how they brown over after a few hours?  My leather school bag really smelled of bananas most of the time and for many years now I've not been able to eat the blessed things because of the memory of that school bag. How silly is that?

The small building at the gate was always known as the 'murder house' and we kids lived in fear and trembling when our names were called for us to go visit the dental nurse.  I hated sitting in that chair with all its contraptions hanging off the sides but the thing I dreaded more was the old drill which was operated by a pedal on the floor which drove a kind of belt around a couple of little wheels which in turn made the drill whizz around at a fast pace.  I hated the feeling of the warmth of the drill on my tooth enamel and the intense pain when it hit a nerve.  Oh I feel shudders just thinking about it now.  If you were very lucky indeed, as an older pupil you might just be chosen to be the nurse helper for a day - I'm so pleased I never was chosen for that.

I did get to be morning tea monitor though. At age 12 our last year of primary school the girls always felt they were something special to be chosen to make morning tea for the teachers in the staff room.  It was the only two storied part of the school and we monitors were always looked up to by the other kids. Not quite sure why when I think of it now, but perhaps it was because we got to miss class for 15 minutes or so before the recess bell went.

At recess we would file out of class and get to take a 1/2 pint bottle of milk out of the crate which would have been left at the door.  Another thing I really didn't like - having been delivered quite early in the morning,  the milk by this time was quite warm with a thick layer of cream which had risen to the top of the bottle.  When I look back on it now, we were fairly fortunate to have it provided for us.

A walk down memory lane is a good thing to do and many times when I think back on those times I wonder how today's kids would fare, given the same kind of conditions we had growing up.  So many gadgets and gidgets available to us today make living so much easier but I'm grateful for memories of those times - and grateful for that simple way of life.

I'd better bring myself back to the present!


Boat sheds still survive  not far from where I lived as a child 60 years ago - Orakei, Auckland New Zealand