Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The day after

Tues Dec 26th

Well, Christmas is over for another year. We have a couple of family get togethers later in the week, but at last I can relax. I actually feel like a limp dishcloth, even though we had a pretty quiet Christmas Day. I think the last 2 weeks of school, then organising the staff dinner, then Christmas has been a bit too much.

We were only 4 for lunch - Don, our daughter Jo and my brother Fran, but we had fun. Mark (son) came home after his stint at the restaurant and helped cook a wonderful dinner for us - after he had cooked 100 lunches for other people. We had a hilarious night eating, drinking and playing a game Mark was given - Smart Ass.

A highlight of the day was talking to and seeing our Sydney family on the computer. Don was given a webcam for Christmas and we were able to link up. Not quite like seeing them in person, but better than just a phone call.

Santa was kind to me this year - and my family was just brilliant. We had such fun opening each gift, small or large. We are not much into birthday presents, but we do love Christmas and I got some wonderful, thoughtful gifts.

I am a member of a small quilting group affectionately known as The Cows. We have been friends for ages now, though before we got together quite by chance, we hardly knew each other - only as names on emails. This year we exchanged small gifts and I had a lovely time opening my eleven parcels on Sunday night. Lots of beautiful quilting fabrics and other little gifts tossed in. Here is a photo of my selection.

I must really thank each and every one of The Cows. Their friendship over the years has been an important part of my life. They are a wonderful group of friends.

Liz Needle

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

Sun Dec 24th

It's Christmas Eve, but a very different one for us - just the two of us and my brother who is over from Canberra. My son is working, we will have Jo with us tomorrow, but Mandy will be in Sydney with her delightful family. So, a very quiet Christmas for us, but none the less a happy family one. At times like this I remember how much my mother was involved with Christmas at Lenswood and how very much I miss her - every day.

The tree is up and all the gifts are under it. As much as I love it, I do sometimes think of how much we spend on Christmas and how many people are living is circumstances where they never get the chance to enjoy even the small pleasures that we take for granted. How lucky we are living in Australia where it is safe and for most of us, very comfortable. I guess Christmas is the time to count our blessings and try to do something to help others.

I walked around the garden this evening watching the many little birds enjoying the bird baths and the flowers. a garden is great for the soul - my sanity in times of stress and a reminder of how beautiful the world can and should be.

The rain has freshened up the plants and none more so than the hydrangeas. They are coping surprisingly well this year, given the lack of water and the fact that last year they were sheltered by an enormous old mulberry tree which sadly came down last summer. Instead of giving up the ghost when the hot spell came, they have thrived with the extra sunshine and this year have produced an abundance of flowers in a variety of beautiful shades.

Lace caps - one of my favourites .

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. A day of Peace on earth - how wonderful that would be. Have a wonderful day with your loved ones and spend a moment thinking about those people who will not be able to share the love and fun you are having.

Liz Needle

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Staff Dinner

Sat Dec 23rd

On Thursday we had our school staff dinner at our place. This is the third year we have done it this way and everyone loves it. My son Mark is a chef and he loves the challenge of producing a dinner for up to 20 at home. Luckily I have a well equipped kitchen!!

We have had a very dry year, but would you believe the weather forecast for Thursday was a deluge - between 20 and 40mm. American readers, 25mm is an inch in your measurement. We always have the dinner outside because it is beautiful in December on our front lawn. We do not have the room inside to seat 20 people. So we were in a quandary and had several contingency plans in mind. 1. Clear the house of furniture or 2. Have it on the veranda.

We opted for the veranda and set up three tables - I have three sets of everything we needed. Don and I had a heated discussion about how we would set up the tables - his plan required 4 tables - and I have only 3 of everything. I won. As long as the weather was coming from the back of the house(south-west), we would be OK. Everyone arrived, admired the tables and stood around with nibbles and drinks. Just as we were about to sit down, the wind blew up - from the north and down came the rain. The outside row of chairs was drenched.

We hurriedly swung the tables around against the wall - the way Don originally suggested - dragged in an old wooden outdoor table, found a white table cloth, picked a bunch of hydrangeas which went into a jar and reset the 4th table.

After that things went swimmingly and no-one actually got wet. Food was brilliant, company fantastic anf the wine delicious. Anmd my garden adored the rain which was slow and steady all night and the next day - 27mm in all.

]The only thing that went wrong that night were the cheap cabndles I had bought from Ikea. Check out the photo. Now I have to figure a way to get all that wax out of my red tablecloths!!

Tables set up before the rain fell down.

Disastrous candles. Next time I'll buy decent ones. Not so sure about the tablecloths, though. You can't actually see all the wax in this photo, but it was everywhere by the end of the night.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone.
Liz Needle

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More Christmas things

Strange things are happening. Hopefully one of my readers can tell me how to fix them. My profile is not appearing where it should - at least when I looked just now.

More Christmas pictures (I hope)

Well, that worked. If I don't have time to write again before Christmas, have a wonderful day everyone with lots of family cheer and a load of love.


Christmas Things

Wed Dec 20th

Wow! Nearly three weeks since I posted. But at last holidays are here and hopefully I will have time to do my own thing - like my blog. Funny, I always have so much planned for the holidays and I rarely get past the first couple of things on my list. I seem to get so much more done when I am under pressure. Still, I have these plans.

We had a lovely family day yesterday. Mandy sent Don's present over early so we could use it for Christmas. It was a cute little web cam. Finally got it set up - my poor old computer is not used to all this modern technology I keep loading it up with. We skyped away for a couple of fun sessions with the little ones - such excitement. Erinn (nearly 3) wasn't quite sure what was going on. These weird adults peering at her from the computer and talking to her as well.

After that we set up the tree and put out the Christmas stuff. I love this time of the year and my adult children always make it such fun. We always have to have a tree that touches the ceiling (and we have 12 foot ceilings). This one doesn't quite because I cut the dead tip off - and was soundly scolded. Decorations go up in a certain way and each of us has particular things we put on the tree. Woe betide anyone who takes the wrong decoration! Some of them date back 30 plus years, though quite a few of the older ones have succumbed to age and moths.

This years tree is a very bushy one. Lots of branches to hang things on. What a pity the littlies will be in Sydney and won't see it. Still, we'll be able to show them with the webcam.

The next photos are of my collection of angels and Santas. I love the Heartwood Creek Christmas stuff as you can see from the santa collection.

Well it looks like the old blogger is playing up again. Won't let me upload any more photos this session. I'll have to do the rest separately.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Holiday Countdown

Friday Dec 1st

Only two more weeks to go before we break up for the school holidays - well, until the kids break up. I still have to go back for a few days because I have not officially racked up my 37 hours of professional development training. Is there another industry in this world that demands that its employees do 37 hours T&D in their own time and at their own expense? If we don't do the time, then we have to go back to school after the kids have gone to make up the time. Its a bit like naughty children staying back after school to catch up on work not finished in class!

I know we get longer holidays and our working day is shorter etc etc and all those other things that teachers get criticised for, but they don't take into account all the extra hours we do................... Nuff said. I'll get off my hobby horse.

Had an easy day today - my Year 7s went off to their new high schools for a transition day and as there were only 8 Year 6s left, I was able to farm them out and go to town for a couple of urgent appointments and to get some shopping done for the school. Back to the grind stone on Monday. We (my class and I) have the school year book to finish, I have reports to write and the Year 7 graduation and a Disco to organise. No rest for the wicked.

Cleaning out my computer desk last night, I found a CD of quilt photos, so I will add a few more to my blog. Some of these are pretty early ones I made, so don't be too ctitical.

This is my "Newbie Star" Quilt, so called because it was the result of a block swap amongst mwmbwers of the Southern Cross Quilters who had never participated in a block swap before. The photo doesn't do it justice. The border is actually a nice country green.

"Daiseez" is a pretty quilt I made for a school raffle. It is made in 30s fabrics and from a Jan Mullen pattern. The family that won it were so pleased that each of them took it in turn to have it on his/her bed.

Well, it looks like the dear old Blog has decided that two photos are my limit for the night. More next time.

Have a great weekend.

Liz Needle

Monday, November 27, 2006

Aquatics things

November 27th

Each December my Year 6/7 class attends an Aquatics Camp at Murray Bridge. They spend 3 brilliant days learning the skills of canoeing, kayaking, sailing, rowing, small boat handling, kneeboarding, wind surfing and water skiing.

The setting is superb, the instructors top class and the kids have a ball. Here are some photos of this years aquatics.

Some of the girls kitted up ready for canoeing and kayaking.

"We didn't mean to capsize, Mrs N."

Hmm. Pull the other one, it plays Jingle Bells, boys.

Getting ready to go - I mean row!

The wind surfers. Their first lesson. Nervous stuff.

The Year 7 kids posing for the camera. A rare sight. They usually disappear when they see me with a camera, but don't seem to mind a video cam.

Liz Needle

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Later that Night...............

November 25th still...........

No, I will not give up. I will show you some more quilt photos - tonight!! I have decided!!

Yeah!! It worked - for at least one quilt. This is not a great photo, but it will show you something of this quilt - another favourite - that I made for my elder daughter, Jo. I made one block at a SA Quilters Guild Encounter, just to learn a new machine applique technique from Sandra Edwards, Jo fell in love with the block, so I promised to make more blocks and turn them into a quilt for her. Of course she has a queen size bed, hasn't she? This was the largest quilt I have ever made. The print is a lovely pink and green Hoffmann one.

Finally for tonight, this is a quilt I made that is to be published in a book by SA quilter Pam Holland. The original quilt from which this was made, is called 1776 Revisited (well, it has a longer name, but we all know it by its shorter name) and it was the top quilt at the Houston Quilt Show (and a few other quilt shows) several years ago. Since then Pam has written a book about her quilt and my quilt will appear in that book. How exciting!

Liz Needle

Two Weeks later

Saturday November 25th

Is it really that long since I wrote. I doubt there will be anyone still clicking onto this blog!

So much seems to have been happening - well, I seem to have been ever busy - but nothing much has been achieved. We, my class and I, had a very successful aquatics camp - and I even had a chance to get out in a kayak for an hour. First time for a few years and my shoulders really felt it the next day. These annual camps are the highlight of the year for my kids - they learn so much in three days and it is a joy to see their excitement in mastering new skills, gaining self confidence and learning to work and play together. And to think our state government, in its infinite wisdom, is planning to cut funding for aquatics activities!
On the one hand they constantly urge teachers to encourage and promote increased physical activity amongst young people, then on the other they refuse to fund programs that really do enthuse kids to be active and to enjoy physical activity. Beats me!!

I thought I had some photos of happy campers, but that will have to wait until next time.

What else have I been doing. Certainly no quilting. Quilters block has set in. I did find some lovely bright fabric on the Free Spirit website and a pattern that I fell in love with, so I spent ages chasing up the fabrics I needed and ordering them online. I did look in Aussie shops, but couldn't find it, I promise. So, all this week parcels have been arriving at the post office. I am sure they think its my birthday or else that I am plotting something. So, I have a project for these holidays. It's something right out of my comfort zone, so it will be a challenge. Now that the fabric has arrived, I'm not even sure that I am going to like it, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

I realise that I have never put a photo of any of my quilts on this blog. How strange, considering that it takes up a lot of my spare time, so here goes. A few photos just to prove that I do actually quilt.

This first quilt is one of my favourites - and one I have kept for myself. It was a BOM designed by SA quilter Susan Murphy, who was coincidentally my very first - and best - quilt teacher. This one is called "Celebrate the Harvest" It is machine appliqued and pieced. Over the last couple of years I have made several machine appliqued quilts and really enjoy them.

Well, it would appear that there will be no more photos tonight - at least not in this blog. Quite often I try to upload photos, the first one or two work and then the rest don't. Everything seems to be going along fine, but the photos just don't appear, even though Blogger tells me they are 'done'. Does anyone else have this problem, I wonder? Maybe there is a quota and I go beyond that?

No matter, tomorrow is another day, as they say. Oh these hackneyed cliches. Forgive me. It is late.

Liz Needle

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Weather and things

Saturday November 11th

It seems an age since I updated my blog, so my apologies to any readers who have been waiting patiently. I haven't really had much to say.

At the moment it is trying to rain. We are currently going through a very dry spell - so much so that Adelaide and most country areas have been put on water restrictions for the first time in many years. We are lucky , I guess, because other areas of Australia have been on water restrictions for several years and now it is our turn. At the moment we are allowed to hand water and to use sprinklers at night three times a week, but that also may change soon. Meanwhile I get up at all hours of the night in an effort to keep the garden alive.

Heartbreaking to think that this garden in which I have sweated and laboured and which our family has enjoyed for over 30 years may slowly die. A pity that our governments are so short sighted that although they knew that this would eventually come to pass, have done nothing to solve the problem of lack of water in Australia.

We have been promised rain this weekend and indeed it has been threatening to rain here all day. Cloudy and humid, then the sky darkens, a wind blows up and the first drops splat down with the promise of a good downpour - then stop!! And so the build up starts again.

Maybe later tonight, maybe tomorrow, maybe never. We live in hope.

Liz Needle

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Back to School

Wednesday Nov 1st

Last Sunday Don and I went to a Back to School day for his old primary school - a small Adelaide Hills School. We'd been to one a few years back and had enjoyed it, so off we went again. Don found lots of old mates and had a great time talking about old escapades, cricket games and football tussles.
I even came across a number of kids I had taught when I was teaching at the local high school and who had also attended this primary school. I get a lot of satisfaction out of meeting old students and hearing about their lives since school. Some of them have made outstanding contributions to their communities and others have achieved great academic heights. And there are those who have made good lives for themselves and their families without fanfare and glory. I feel very honoured that I have in some small way been able to contribute to their lives.

The photos below are from the reunion.

Don, Paul and Mark. Three of the 6 Needle boys

Needles and Pins

And last, but not least, Don with his best friend from nearly 60 years ago. They only catch up on rare occasions as George lives in Queensland, but nothing changes!!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"The roses that bloom in the Spring, tra-la"

Tuesday Oct 31st

Halloween tonight. Fortunately we don't celebrate it in Australia, so there is no fear of witches knocking on my front door asking for treats. It helps to be living some kilometres away from the nearest kids as well.

Had a very pleasant weekend - lovely weather and plenty of gardening done. The roses are coming out and the garden is taking on a soft, ethereal look. One of my passions is growing heritage roses, so the garden is full of pinks, ranging from the softest, almost white to lovely deep burgundy shades, interspersed with soft creams, apricots and yellows. None of the bright moderns for me. I love the muted shades, the delicious fragrances and the old forms in all their variety.

Don hasn't cut the lawns for a while, so it looks a bit scruffy, but you can get an idea of some of the roses. The rose below is one of my real favourites. it is called "Cornelia" and is quite delightful.

This 'blog' stuff is still a mystery to me. I think I have all the photos perfectly arranged on my page while I am creating the post, but when I come to publish it, everything seems to move around somehow. There are still many things I need to teach myself about 'blogging'.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cute is for Kids

Thursday October 16th

Had to laugh today. My kids are currently writing the articles for the school year book. This particular activity is the major part of their English program this term. They write most of the articles, take photos, help with class pages from the younger classes, print, collate and bind the books, collect orders, handle sales and distribution - the lot. And all with me just checking that they are on the right track and providing proofreading and quality assurance. Its great fun, the kids love doing it and take great pride in their achievement at the end of the project.

Two of the kids had to research all the changes that had occurred in the school this year, write an article and take photos. This was the most important change/innovation they could think of.

The new soap dispensers in the toilets have been welcomed with great joy!! And there is only a small pool of liquid soap on the floor each day!!

SRC have been campaigning for these for some time now. They rated even higher as important changes than the new basketball court!

No accounting for kids, is there?

The garden continues to welcome Spring as the roses and late spring bulbs and perennials start bursting into bloom. The watsonias are looking their best at the moment.

Funny, because I am really not a pink oerson and never have been, but I love pink in the garden.

We have just planted a lime and a fig. We didn't think limes would grow up here, but the nursery man told us that with this rootstock they would do well. He has always given us sound advice, so we will give it a try.
We also discovered from him that the reason why our olive tree gets no fruit (well, only one olive last year) is that we need another for cross pollination. Now why weren't we told that when we bought it. maybe because there are so many feral olive trees in the Adelaide Hills that he thought we would have no hassles. So we have bought a mate for our Kalamata and they are currently snuggled up together, hopefully 'doing it'.

And it looks like the pistachio trees have 'done it' because there are tiny pistachios on the tree. Funny because we couldn't find any flowers on the male tree. Very discreet. Fingers crossed. I love pistachios!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Thursday Oct 19th

Remember my good intentions of a while ago and my horribly messy sewing room. Don was convinced that I would never get it tidied - and for quite a while I was having similar thoughts. Well, have a look at it now! Just lovely. Now I'll be able to get in there and do some sewing - when I can find a spare minute. This photo actually only shows one of 3 walls that have stuff stored, stacked and packed.

In the process of cleaning and tidying, I found so many UFOs (unfinished objects) that I had forgotten about from quilt tops, to blocks, cushions, doll and teddy kits, cross stitch, smocking, scrapbooking and so on and on and on............................. I have enough to last me well into my dotage just from things that need finishing off.

And as for the fabric I have forgotten about. I had better not say too much about that as it represents a lot of dollars. Lucky I have such an easy going husband!

Spring, true to it's traditions has also brought a new member to our extended family. We are great aunt and uncle to another cute little girl - Matilda. Congratulations to Matilda and her proud parents, big brother and grandparents. Isn't she the cutest chubby bub?

She brings the total so far for this generation to 2 grandchildren (both girls), 9 great nieces and 4 great nephews. The girl tradition continues. Don's father was the only surviving male in his family, so he did the right thing and had 6 boys to keep the family name going. Those 6 boys produced 9 girls and 5 boys and now this new lot is predominently girls as well. Weird !


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

School is In!!

Wednesday October 18th

Cheerful faces greeted me Monday morning, though none of them would admit being happy to be back at school - including me. There weren't even any moans when I mentioned maths and fractions. In fact today some of them even said that they were enjoying fractions!! I can't remember feeling that way when I was at school!

Term 4 is always an eventful one. The Year 7s are beginning to feel that they are ready for high school and learning tends to take a back seat. This is not helped by the fact that there is so much happening this term. We have a school concert to prepare for, an Aquatics Camp to organise, a school year book to write and publish, Jump Rope for Heart to fundraise for and of course the Year 7 Graduation to look forward to. Heady stuff for 13 year olds! But we will get through it all and even get some schoolwork done. There may be a few hiccups, arguments, dramas, tantrums, but also a lot of fun, laughter and a few tears at the end.

And Spring is really here. The garden is beginning to look lovely. Baby birds are hatching out and we laugh at the fledgelings trying to fly. The warm dry winter has been wonderful for the irises which are looking stunning and the roses should also make a wonderful show in a week or two.

My favourite iris

We still have a fair bit of weeding, tidying, mulching and fertilising to do, but it is coming together and there are some really pretty spots around the garden. I really love this rhododendron behind the birdbath.

Just behind this rhododendron is a lovely pink Dogwood that is just finishing. It has taken years because the soil here is clay, but it has finally taken off and this year it was a picture.

We often sit on the veranda in the evenings and watch the small birds playing in the birdbath. The tiny brown female wrens flirt outrageously with the little blue males and use the birdbath as their courting place. The boys are very splendid, but I love the little girls, so cheeky and pert in their soft brown attire.
Liz Needle

Friday, October 13, 2006

Good intentions

October 14th

I had really good intentions this holiday of spring cleaning the whole house - top to bottom. When Don retired in April, I let the house cleaner go as he said he would take over. Of course he tries, but it's a male sort of try and so the house really does need a good scrub and polish.
I started off well and gave our bedroom a thorough going over from top to bottom. Even went through wardrobes and drawers and threw out a load of old stuff - no, I kept Don. Its amazing how much one accumulates - I am sure I did the same thing in January . Then I did the bathroom - well I do that thoroughly once a week anyway.
Next room - the sewing room. I decided that it not only needed cleaning, but it needed a total reorganisation. Off to Cheap as Chips I trotted, coming home laden with plastic conatiners of all sizes. I really did throw out some stuff, but it seems that I really need everything in that room. Now that I've started putting it tidily in plastic tubs, I seem to have even less room to use. Crammed into spaces untidily seems to take up far less room. So 4 days later the room is even messier than when I started and I just don't know where to put those conatiners I have filled. I think what I really need are shelves all around the room to hold the tubs, but then where will I put my cedar chest of drawers and the old pigeon holes that came from the old Islington Railway station, and my bookshelves and the sewing cabinet.
Have a look and see what I mean.

Where do I go to next? Will the room stay like this forever? How am I ever going to get in there to sew? Will it be done by Christmas so my brother can sleep here? And what you see is only a small part of the whole!!!

Watch this space for the next exciting episode of Good Intentions!!



Friday October 13th

Wow! I didn't realise until I added the date that today is Friday 13th. It's always been lucky for me because I was born on the 13th, although not of October.
It seems that writing blogs is becoming the in thing - at least among my friends. I read other blogs and wish that I could sound as funny, interesting, original as they are, but I'm not, so you'll just have to put up with my ordinary accounts of a quite ordinary life.

This week I have spent a lot of time in the garden and slowly it is beginning to look its pretty spring self. The roses are about to burst into flower and the spring perennials are already adding colour to the greenery. I have arum lilies growing wild all along the creek. I always get a giggle out of this because I see them for sale in flash florist shops and they cost an arm and a leg. A bit like the Waratahs. They sell for $7 each - our bush must have been worth a small fortune this year!

Irises in the garden

Looking towards the dam with arum lilies in the background

Today we had lunch with Jo and helped her mulch up rose prunings with Don's new whizz-bang muncher. Her garden is looking lovely although the few days of hot weather have knocked it around far more than they did our garden. She's in a warmer and drier area than we are. Still, she has some pretty spots as evidenced by the little ground cover here.

Reading through my blog, one might get the impression that I am a very one-sided person who only gardens. Not so. It's just that I started this in the holidays and that is when I do most of my gardening. I had every intention of quilting these holidays, but it just didn't work out. Maybe next time I get to this blog , I'll just write about quilts. Now, unless you are a quilter that may well put you to sleep, dear readers.

Back to school on Monday - before then I have a mountain of marking I have bee putting off and a term program to write. There truly is no rest for the wicked.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weekend in Clare

October 8th

It's over a week since I have written anything - so much for the enthusiastic start. My only excuse is that I am on holidays and have been very busy gardening and spring cleaning.

Don and I have just come back from a wonderful weekend away. We spent it at a town in the mid-north of our state - Clare - a town which is the centre of a thriving wine area. Old friends of ours have a property there and we stayed with them. There were eight of us in all - all old friends from Teachers' College days and although we haven't seen much of each other for years, it was a relaxed and comfortable time - almost like we had been seeing each other regularly for the last 40 years. We laughed, reminisced, ate great food, drank good wine and generally had a wonderful time.

The house we stayed in is amazing. It is about 100 years old and the property has been in the same family for well over 100 years. There are about 300 acres of it now, but originally it was somewhat larger. It was a farm property and the family consisted of 8 children - 2 boys and 6 girls and their parents. Five of the girls were unmarried and stayed on the property helping to run the farm. They spent the mornings working on the farm and the afternoons doing ladylike things like painting, embroidery, crocheting, tatting and reading. Never an idle minute.

One of my friends is the great grand daughter of the founder of the family and she and her brother and sister and their partners now own the property and run a small vineyard in their spare time.

The amazing thing about all this is that the family have kept every thing they ever owned, from farm receipts, to invoices, to letters, postcards, photos, books, handwork, tools, utensils, furniture, cushions, paintings, knickknacks - everything! Nothing was ever disposed of - not even receipts for furniture that was purchased when the house was built.. Now the current generation have carefully and lovingly restored and catalogued every item, have researched the family history, compiled photo albums, letter collections etc. The whole house looks as if the 5 daughters have simply stepped out for a moment. It is a time warp of farm life for the last 100 years. It isn't museum, do not touch stuff. The family visits every weekend and lives there in the holidays. It is all very functional and comfortable and the most fascinating place I have ever stayed in.

I would just love the chance to get my hands on the garden and create a setting for the house - but then I guess that would be unrealistic as farmers in those times did not usually have much time for the garden. But there are wonderful old outbuildings and fruit trees and shrubs that are part of the history of the property.

Unfortunately this time I did not take photos - I was too busy exploring and examining everything, but next time I will take some snaps of this amazing old property.

Liz Needle

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mintabie photos

I find the mysteries of blogging totally unfathomable. I think I have done the right thing, but nothing seems to have worked, then somehow like magic, at the push of a button, it appears. At times I think that I publish anything is sheer good luck, but at other times, when it works, I decide that I am a computing genius.
Here are some photos that should have been included in the Mintabie blog, but somehow missed out. I hope I haven't doubled up, but then again, does it really matter. his blog is mainly for my enjoyment. I hope in the process that you get some pleasure from it too.


September 29th

Day 1 of the holidays is almost over - very quietly, without fireworks. Mark has gone off to a new job at Mount Lofty Summit Restaurant and Don and I have spent a quiet and peaceful Saturday at home together.

I thought I would tell you a bit about the trip to Mintabie I mentioned earlier in the blog.

Our school is involved in an interschool partnership called "Bushband SA". The history of Bushband is long and involved, but briefly it is the brainchild of a previous principal of mine and it involves children from different schools going on trips together and performing in a variety of places in Australia. Since I have been involved we have travelled to Tasmania (twice), Broken Hill, Frances Folk Festival in the south-east of SA and to Fleurieu Peninsula in SA. This year, because our founder has moved to Port Augusta in the far north of South Australia, we had an outback adventure and we took out choir and dance group to Mintabie. Mintabie is a very small opal mining community in the very far north of the state - real outback country, where the rainfall for the year has been 25mm.

I'm not sure of the population of Mintabie - I don't think anyone knows the population - but it is a fascinating outback town. Opal mining here is done in open cut mines using heavy machinery. The country is generally very flat and covered in low scrub - lots of red sand. The higher land where the opals are found seem to be white rocky stuff- I knew I should have listened more carefully. None of the miners let on how well or how poorly they are doing from their mines, but they seem to stay on for quite a while and the ones we spoke to also admitted that they had land and property elsewhere - for their retirement.

Our kids performed in the local pub(hotel) to a very appreciative audience, some of whom remembered a previous Bushband trip 10 years before. Our drummer in fact was so popular that he was given $10 by an admirer for his efforts. Heady stuff for a 12 year old. Some of our girls did a Maori dance and one of the highlights of the evening occurred when a member of the audience, herself a Maori, joined the kids in one of the dances.

To backtrack a little, I should tell you a bit about the whole concept. Bushband SA gets together children from different schools - in this case my school, a conservative relatively middle class country school, a school from the northern suburbs of Adelaide (Elizabeth), definitely a disadvantaged area, and kids from a school in Whyalla, a country/industrial city in the north of the state - kids from a very low socoi-economic area. We travelled allin all 3600kms north through the outback of South Australia, performing at schools and seeing a different world.

Many of the children had never seen the outback of our state so it was a huge learning experience for them, particularly having to go without showers because of the drought conditions, seeing very little green, just bare dirt and low shrubs and travelling huge distances without seeing anything except more of the same.

Saturday September 30th

We visited Port Augusta and then moved on to Woomera. This town was built by the Australian government and the Americans in the 1950s as a rocket testing area and it is still kept in excellent condition, though the population is minimal. Rumour has it that the rocket range is to be re-opened and the town re-populated. While we were there we were tasken on a tour of what was a spy establishment for the US. From the road you can see what looks like a huge white golf ball alongside a very large salt lake. As you get closer - and drive through 6 security gates and several high fences with barbed wire rolls in between, you see a number of huge buildings - all deserted. The spy station was disbanded in 1996 (I think). Inside the 'golf ball' is a huge satellite dish which was used to 'spy' on other countries. The golf ball was built around it purportedly so that stray spy planes could not see which way the satellite dish was pointing. Tue? I don't know, but fascinating.

We also spent time at Coober Pedy which is another opal mining town - this time underground mining and indeed living. We visited a number of underground shops and a very luxurious underground house. Sadly the mining industry there is winding down and tourism seems to be the only thing keeping the town going.

The trip was a huge success and the kids voted it as the best Bushband trip yet. Below is a photo of the state floral emblem Sturt's Desert Pea which we found growing in a garden at Mintabie.



Friday, September 29, 2006

Holidays at last!

September 29th

The last day of term. Rejoice!! This term has been so full and busy. We've had sports days, a school trip to Mintabie in the far north of the state, the 40 Hour Famine, First Aid training, a Charities Day fundraising day, tree planting in the conservation park nearby, writing applications for grants and the usual teaching stuff on top of that!

I was really proud of my class this term. They decided as a class to do the 40 hour dfamine - they only had to do a modified version. They went foodless from lunchtime one day to lunchtime the next, with a school sleepover (well not really 'sleep') in between. They had a cup of plain boiled rice for breakfast and fruit juice and barley sugar in between. BUT, they had a lot of fun and between the 22 of them, they raised $1500. Not bad!

This week the whole school (90 kids) ran a Charities Day between recess and lunch, where they organised stalls and activities to raise funds to support several charities. The activities included Trash and Treasure, pancakes, popcorn and fruit salad, Guess the Lollies jar, Tunnel of Horror, quoits, a quiz, a Disco, a Spider drink stall and face painting. They organised it all themselves with minimal help and they had a wonderful time, raising $450.

Now I can relax and get on with my holiday plans - spring cleaning, weeding and planting in the garden, quilting, reading, getting my hair cut, lunching with friends, a weekend away with Don, spending time with my eldest daughter, shopping, finding someone to build me a granny flat - did I say I was going to have a rest??

Next term promises to be just as hectic, so I have to replenish my energy and do 'my thing' for a while.

Liz needle