All Posts By Robin

Fishing with my Dad

 

When I was around 9 years old, my family packed up and went off for a couple of weeks to Bateman’s Bay on the south coast of New South Wales for our summer holidays. We’d rented an old cottage across from the bay. We being my mother, father, & 1 year old sister, Jane.

 

We immediately enjoyed the holiday with a morning trip to the beach & walks to the local shops with ice creams each afternoon. Every afternoon while Mum and I sat on the veranda with a book and Jane was taking a nap, Dad went off fishing. He often came back with a couple of bream or snapper that we enjoyed for dinner.

 

At the end of the first week, Jane was sick with a fever. Mum was frantic and took her to the local doctor. He gave her some medicine but she didn’t get any better in a day or so. It was decided that Mum and Jane would fly back to Sydney to the Children’s hospital. Dad and I stayed behind as we had paid for three weeks at the holiday cottage.

 

We put Mum and Jane on the small plane and Dad and I went back to he cottage. After lunch, he suggested that I come fishing with him. I was so excited. This was something that Mum wouldn’t approve, which it made it even more exciting.

 

Dad and I walked to a local wharf on the bay. Dad fixed me up with a fishing line and showed me how to put the bait on the hook. After about an hour, nothing had taken the bait and I was getting a bit bored but I didn’t say anything. Then, all of sudden, there was fish on my line. Dad helped me bring it in. A big snapper about 500 grams! That was it – every afternoon, I couldn’t wait to get to the wharf. Some days we got a few small ones, my Dad insisted we threw back, some days we got a few which we enjoyed for dinner and there were a couple of days we got some & managed to freeze to take home with us.

 

When we got home, I couldn’t wait to tell Mum and my friends about my fishing “expertise”. But somehow after that, we never went on fishing holidays again. My parents bought a small holiday house on a beach and beach fishing wasn’t the same.

 

Whenever I see people sitting on wharves dropping in their lines, I wish I could join them.

When is a Circle not a Circle

When we lived in Japan, I decided to send my three year old daughter, Lulu, to a local preschool just down the road. An American neighbor had sent her daughter there and said it was good for her child as there was no one who spoke English so her daughter learnt Japanese quickly.

 

I went down to the school with my daughter and an Aussie friend who spoke Japanese. We were treated really nicely and the Principal said that Lulu would have to have a entrance exam before being enrolled.

 

I was a bit concerned about what a three year old could be examined on, but arranged to bring Lulu along the following week when one of the teacher’s daughter who spoke English could conduct the exam.

 

While the exam was being conducted, I nervously waited at the back of the classroom, worried that Lulu wouldn’t pass. But, it was fairly basic with difference-sized beakers given to her to put them order of size and colour. And then, there was one saying what colour each block was. I was really relieved when I was told that she came through with flying colours and she could start the following week and  I arranged to get her uniform at a local store.

 

A week later we set off with Lulu dressed in her navy skirt, white shirt and a navy jacket and beret. She look gorgeous and stood out with her blonde curls.

 

When she got home from school, I asked what had done. She quickly answered “We drew circles”. That was it. As the week went by, I got the same answer each day and wondered exactly what she was doing. She was happy to go off each day and seemed to make some little friends.

 

On Friday, she come running in with her school work. “Look at my circle”, she proudly brought me her work.

 

The beautiful drawing of the Japanese flag went up on the fridge. And Lulu spent almost two years there and was soon chattering away to her school friends in Japanese.

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Whats Happening in the Media

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I’ve spent my life surrounded by journalists. My mother was a journalist in the 1930s – on papers very few people remember or know about – Smith’s Weekly and the Labor Daily. She used to tell me great stories about her experiences. Later I married a journalist, Paul Dougherty who spent his working life in newspapers.

 

In the next generation, three of my children, Sarah, Bridget and Lulu have worked or are working in the media. I have dabbled in and out of media jobs through my life.

 

What hurts me most now is terrible situation in the media in Australia. Many of my friends are either losing their jobs or are being pushed into working fewer hours for the same jobs.

 

The sad thing it seems the only reason is money. The owners are looking at ways to come out on top. Advertising is down. Sales are down. I understand that but many of the people who work in the media are still doing a good job and some have been working in the same companies for many years. Putting in the extras hours when necessary to get their newspapers or magazines out in time. Often working long hours when a big story breaks or when a celebrity gets married at inconvenient time overseas and they need to get the photos in before the opposition. It was all part of the loyalty and trust.

 

But where is the loyalty now. These media companies have plenty of money to see them through the bad times. At least that is what used to happen.

 

Cutting back wages and expecting staff to work fewer days to do the same jobs; others are being given redundancies; making do with less staff – it doesn’t help to make a good product. The readers will leave and then what happens?

 

I know it is happening in other industries and I feel for these people too.

 

But I feel sad when I hear the talk about what is happening to the people I care for.

 

A Letter From the Queen

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Children growing up today hardly know what a stamp is. Even the middle aged very rarely go into the local post office and buy some stamps to mail letters.

 

Growing up the western suburbs of Sydney, I knew there was a huge world out there but it seemed to be unobtainable. My way of connecting with it was through letters and the stamps on them.

 

One of my most memorable letters created a great deal of celebration in our street and even the postman was excited

 

The new Queen Elizabeth was coming to Australia. The first visit of a reigning monarch ever. I thought it might be good to write to her and tell her how pleased I was. I didn’t really expect to hear from her but about six weeks later, there was lots of whistling from the postman and he personally came to the door.

 

“There is a letter for Robin from Buckingham Place.” he excitedly told my mother.

 

There was this beautiful cream envelope with the Queen crest in red with BUCKINHAM PALACE on the back. Practically the whole street was out by this time all wondering why I was getting this letter. I explained that I had written to the Queen and she was nicely replying to me. I didn’t tell them it was a nice note from the Queen’s secretary but it didn’t matter; I was excited that I got the letter.

I got quite excited by this new idea for getting interesting letter. I started writing to all the heads of states but no luck there. They didn’t write back. No worry, I would try something else to increase my stamp collection.

 

I dragged out my mother’s large Webster’s Dictionary, which had an atlas in the front with all the maps of the world and a separate one of each of the American States. I would pour over it and find interesting city names and write to the Principal of the High School somewhere in the United States asking if there was someone who collected stamps and would like to write to me.

 

Occasionally I would write to places in Europe to add to my pen friends.

 

This worked really well and my friends in all parts of the world increased and certainly brightened up our postman’s life with all these interesting letters arriving. My pocket money went to sending these letters off each week and it did help my stamp collecting.

 

As I got older and other activities took over my life, the number of pen friends grew smaller but two remained until after I finished school. One was a boy from Stoney Brook, New York and the other a girl from Sweden. I often wonder where they are if they occasionally see a letter with an Australian stamp and think of me.

 

I recently found out that Australia post sell stamps to Pensioners at a discount. I went up and applied for my discounted stamps. Now I am wondering who I should write to.

 

 

Fifty Years of Sgt Peppers

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Over the past week the radio and TV have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beetles amazing Sgt Peppers recording. Can it be 50 years?

 

Fifty years ago, I was travelling from Sydney to Hong Kong to meet my husband who had taken a job there. I was travelling with my (then) three children Sarah, Bridget and Suzi. Things were not good in Hong Kong with bombs being deposited randomly throughout the city by the Communist Chinese and this was my first time to leave Australia.

 

Although I was in my twenties, I felt like an old married woman. But I was looking forward to spending five weeks on a small passenger ship called the Aramac. We would get there via Brisbane, Japan, and Taiwan. We only had 100 passengers and a load of wool to unload in Japan.

 

A couple of nights into the trip, some of the officers who had joined the passengers for the evening entertainment, asked me and a couple of other younger women to join them for a drink. The children were tucked in bed being looked after by the cabin steward.

 

When the entertainment finished the officers suggested the guests join them in the Officer’s Mess. Feeling rather pleased to meet some of the passengers and the officers, I went along.

 

The Mess was virtually one room with a small bar and a few chairs and record player. As we got to know one another, one of the officers put on a new record – Sgt Peppers. Although I knew the Beetles songs, this was new and dfferent. It was exciting and made me feel young again

 

Each night, the assortment of passengers joined the officers after dinner and then off to the Officer’s Mess – and Sgt Peppers. There were probably other records played but it was “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, “With a little Help from my Friends”, “When I’m Sixty Four”, and all the other songs that I remember.

 

Listening to I being played today, brings me back to those weeks on the Aramac. It gave me back my youth and the start of a new life.

 

It can’t be fifty year. Sometimes, I still feel young.

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My Friend Robyn

By Posted on 144 Comments2min read672 views

 

Recently, I lost my friend, Robyn. She died in Bali after a suffering a very bad stroke. Although she had had a rather bad time recently with a few problems, they seemed under control, and I was looking forward to seeing her on my next trip.

 

I first met Robyn when we were both in our late teens. Robyn shared a flat in Kings Cross with her cousin Jennifer, her friend Ellen and Ellen’s brother Paul. They were all from Casino in the North Coast of NSW. I met Paul, who was a journalist on the Sydney “Sun” newspaper, at a city bar and we starting dating.  In those days their flat in Tusculum Street was always a busy with Paul’s friends popping (particularly his male friends to meet the attractive and young women living with Paul).

 

Later Paul and I married and we moved away from Sydney. Robyn married dashing advertising guy, (Dick) and moved. My sister in law Ellen kept in touch with Robyn and kept me in informed about her life (and vice versa). We occasionally met up for drinks or dinner when were both in Sydney.

 

When I retired about ten years ago I moved to Bali to live with my daughter Sarah. She told me Robyn had just moved there to be near her daughter Hannah and grandsons Silas and Otis. We met up and we just took off as though it was only months not years that we had been apart.

 

We met up at the various social spots for drinks and talks regularly and shared many of the same friends. We also shared many of the same memories of those days in King Cross and caught up with the years since.

 

Although it might be a few weeks between seeing one another, almost daily around nine o’clock we were on the phone together. There was always some gossip to impart or a chat about our daughters, our problems of getting older or maybe the latest things that were happening.

 

After our chats (which could last up to an hour or so on some occasions), Sarah would always ask me what ever we had to talk about. But we enjoyed these chats and never ran out of something to talk about. I am now back living in Sydney and Robyn has been in Bali, we have been on Email or phone calls to keep up.

 

I really miss her and there will be a large part of me always wishing she was around.

 

 

Three Little Models

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Suzi, Sarah & Bridget

My three daughters, like many little girls wanted to be models. When we were living in Hong Kong, they got their chance to star. They were invited to do a photo shoot for Lane Crawford, the leading department store.

The girls, Suzi, Sarah and Bridget, thought all their Christmases had come when they were offered US$100 (remember this was the sixties) for the job done at the Hilton Hong Kong Hotel pool area.

The shoot took a few very boring hours to do. During the afternoon most of the money was consumed with endless Shirley Temple cocktails and a hamburger or two. Afterwards, they reasoned that modelling was not going to make them a fortune and it was hard work– and they didn’t even get to keep the swimming costumes. But they could show off the advert and tell their friends about their short career as models.

When they were older they did have short careers doing some modelling  but later on went off to other careers.

Sarah is a journalist and writer in Bali. Bridget has just finished a PhD and lives in Wollongong. Suzi has had a career as an actor and has lately been on the TV as “Cheryl” in “Home and Away” and a major part in the “Kettering Incident” on Foxtel.

Royal Easter Show – 70 years on

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This week I went to the Royal Easter Show with my daughter Lulu. We always get on well at the show as we generally like the same things.

As I wandered around the show surrounded by the young and old all enjoying the sights, I reflected on my years going to the Show.

I remembered my early years at the show – in those days it was at Moore Park in the Eastern Suburbs. It was in my pre teen days and I always went by my maternal grandmother. Gran and I would get up early, have breakfast and then off. She lived in Bondi Junction, is it was a short bus ride to the Show.

We often got there extra early, lining up to be one of the first in the gates. We enjoyed all the usual sights, the exhibits marveling at the huge displays of country fruit and vegetables. We enjoyed the prize winning crafts – the most amazing handmade embroidery and hand knitted sweaters and clothes. And then there were the prize cats and all the other animals.

Lunch was at the Country Women’s Association tent – a cup of tea and home made scones with jam and cream. I remember telling one of the ladies how much better their tea was. She replied that “it was the friendship that went into the pot” that made it so good. I have always remembered that and still love a cuppa at the CWA tent. We used to finish the day watching the ring events in the evening. I have to say these days the fresh oysters and a sample of a prize winning Sauvignon Blanc are more my style.

This year Lulu and I watched the dogs herding all the sheep into their stalls. We enjoyed looking at all the beautiful Alpacas. I am hoping the Alpaca wool I bought gets made into the beanie. Maybe wishful thinking. but I still enjoy sitting down and watching the Women’s Weekly cooking demonstrations. Maybe, once again wishful thinking. But, the chicken and broccoli bake did look good!

I miss the cupid dolls on the stick in their pretty dresses and wonder what little girls go home with to remind them of their day at the show. It’s probably been 70 years since I started going to the Show. I have missed many years in between but it I still enjoy it and the memories that it brings.

Sisters

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Sisters.  Many of us have one or more sisters.  Some have sisters and brothers.  Our relationship with our siblings go from very good to very bad and all the points in between.

 

I have one sister, Jane.  No brothers.  Jane is nearly eight years younger than me.  In our childhood, we didn’t have much of a relationship.  I wasn’t the older sister than doted on my baby sister. In fact I really don’t remember much about those early years with Jane.  Admittedly, we didn’t spend much time together.  When I was eight, I was off to boarding school.  I never really figured out why but I enjoyed boarding school.  My mother took me out of boarding school when I was around ten.  I spent a year or so at home and then I spent a couple of years living with my grandparents.

 

During this time I only have one vivid memory of Jane.  We had visited family friends who had a child about Jane’s age. The young friend had a toy piano which Jane really coveted.  After we left Mum said that Santa Clause would bring her one.  When Christmas came Mum searched high and low for a toy piano with no luck so she decided a small dinky bike would do.  Jane woke up and saw the dinky at the bottom of the bed and excitedly cried out “Look at my piano”.  It took us many weeks to convince her it wasn’t a piano.

 

When High School started I was back home and my school life and my school friends took over my life.  Jane was caught up with ballet classes and Irish dancing.

 

By the time Jane started High School I was working and dating and a new chapter in my life started.  I got married at 21.  Jane was a bridesmaid at my wedding.  From the tales I have heard since she enjoyed herself with my husband’s teenage siblings. 

 

Over the next twenty years we only caught up now and again.  Both travelled overseas and we never seemed to be at home together.  Mum wrote me all the news about Jane and then about her marriage to John.

 

When I was forty, my marriage broke up and I came back to Sydney to live with my youngest daughter Lulu.  Paul and the other girls stayed in New York.

 

Jane, at this stage was living on the north shore with her husband and baby daughter, Lizzie.  I spent a lot of time there enjoying Jane’s company and the pleasant suburban lifestyle.  Neighbors dropping in with their children.  Friday night “happy hours” for the women and the kids.

 

I would mostly sleep over and was always woken up in the early morning by three year old Lizzie.

 

Jane had another daughter, Jess shortly after I arrived.  I remember calling on her in hospital the morning after Jess was born.  I sneaked into her room and we shared a bottle of champagne at 11am in the morning.

 

During the next ten years there were lots of bonding and making up for lost time.  The kids were growing up and my daughters came back from overseas.  The family was devastated when John left Jane.  I was at work when Jane called.  It was too hard to believe.  But life goes on.

 

Now we are both over 70, Jane is important in my life.  We have just been on a holiday in Jane’s unit in the Gold Coast.  We spent most of the time together.  Having trips to the shopping malls, evening meals at nice restaurant.  Jane spent a few hours at the beach or pool, improving her perfect tan.  Me in her flat enjoying the views and the perfect peace.  Evenings were spent working out what DVD to watch.  It often took so long that when we finally settled on one, it was too late to start watching it.

 

It is so nice to have this relationship. It is interesting as Jane and I are quite different.  We try not to talk about politics or religion or immigration.  But there is plenty to talk about without having to get into difficult subjects.  We mostly get on together and hardly a day goes by without a phone call.

 

I am so happy I have a sister.

 

 

Sarah’s Dog Fifi

Maybe some of you have seen my daughter Sarah’s beautiful dog Fifi. I must tell you the background about Sarah’s dog.

When we were in living in Hong Kong, Sarah was about ten years old. A friend of mine was leaving her job as an assistant at the Canadian Embassy. She had a much loved white miniature poodle called Kimberley. Her replacement was a macho guy who didn’t think a little white poodle would do much for his reputation so asked her to find it another home.

 

“Please Mum, please”, said the ten year old Sarah.

 

‘I’ve always wanted a dog”, she pleaded.

I am not really a dog person but with pleading and a back up from her sisters, I gave in.

 

Kimberley was a rather cute dog and soon adapted to our two story terrace house in Happy Valley. Our amah was not too happy as the dog tended to enjoy biting her ankles. The other person who wasn’t happy was Sarah’s father. When he came home late at night (a reasonably constant situation), the dog was extremely vocal and generally let the whole house know. Good dog.

 

The household soon got used to the dog and Kimberly was Sarah’s constant companion. One day on a walk to the shop a young Chinese boy came up to her and demanded the dog. I am not sure exactly what happened but he took the dog and Sarah came home in tears.

 

We called the local police. A couple of hours later two  policemen turned up. I explained the situation and the older one said he wanted to ask Sarah some questions.

 

“What did the boy look like”, he asked. Sarah hesitated. To be a little helpful, the policeman tried to help. ‘”Was he dark or fair – just roughly “ the policeman said.

 

Sarah looked at him earnestly “Yes. Roughly.” Rather put off by this, the policeman took another tack. “Did he say something.”

 

“Yes”, said Sarah “He said it was for his sister”.

Just then, two year old Lulu decided to join the conversation and came forward and managed to knock over the policeman’s Coca cola. A slight delay in the proceedings while we tried to clean up the policeman’s white trousers.

 

He left soon after and said he would investigate the matter.

A couple of days later there was a knock at the door. I answered it and there was a teenage boy with Kimberly. He handed me the dog and a note and quickly ran off.

I read his note which said – I’ll try and remember – “Ï wanted the dog for my sister who used to see it when the girl took it for a walk. I just wanted to please her but I think that it was wrong to take the dog. I am sorry”

 

He ran off quickly.

 

We left Hong Kong a year later and “loaned” Kimberley to a friend.

I promised Sarah I would get her another poodle “one of these days”.

 

Time went on and then one day at a fundraising lunch in Bali, poodle breeder, Lizzie Love, came up the dais and announced that she had donated one of her puppies for auction. Rusty coloured delightful dog called Fifi was brought up with her beautiful father – an elegant white poodle. Sarah ran off and  picked up Fifi. They looked like they belonged together. I kept my promise and Sarah got her poodle. Admittedly, it took me forty years to get it for her.