Destination Relaxation. THE best holiday house in Sussex Inlet


I’ll cut to the chase.  I’ve just spent a long weekend in Sussex Inlet on the south coast of New South Wales.  I went there with my other half and two lots of friends, six adults in all.  My friend made a booking online and I didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t expecting anything too swish to be honest.  However from the moment we stepped into the house we were blown away by the accommodation.  It turned out to be the most gorgeous holiday home I’ve ever stayed in.  And here’s why.  Take 90 seconds to see for yourself and then read on:

The property is owned by the two Terrys – Terry and Terry, a husband and wife team. The warmth of the welcome is evident the moment we step into the house.  The two Terrys showed us around and told us where we could find everything we needed, what restaurants were worth a visit and all the activities we could enjoy over the weekend.  The property, Terry’s Waterfront Retreat, is a five bedroom house which includes three Queen sized bedrooms all with ensuites.  As well as the formal dining room, there is a spacious kitchen diner, enclosed sunroom with dining table and outside patio dining in the bbq area next to the pool.


I got the impression one of the Terrys might have come from an Interior Design background because every room in the house was simply a pleasure to relax in and had a beautiful creative thread running throughout the house.


Leave your stresses at the door and chillax.  Board games supplied – we enjoyed the game Mid-Life Crisis which is very apt given the name of this blog!  There is also an ample supply of DVDs for visitors to enjoy.


We slept so soundly in this bed – no early starts for us on this weekend away.


Did I mention the pool which is surrounded by lush vegetation?



Once you’ve had a dip, there is a little nook where you can enjoy a coffee or drink nestled in the surrounding vegetation.

path to pool

The property is situated right on the Inlet with the back garden leading down to a private jetty.  We found a mother and baby Roo there relaxing in the sunshine.


Once the roos had moved on I managed to get a piccie of the jetty and the crystal clear waters of the inlet.


 You can swim, fish, hire a boat or use the canoe which is free for visitors to use during their stay.

IMG_20150309_103117The dining area in the enclosed sunroom – lovely for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  We spent a lot of time chowing down at this table – and why wouldn’t you?!

How often do holiday lets get a big thumbs up and a five star rating and I’ve only just seen this.  If you need to unwind and get away from the frenetic pace of city life.  I couldn’t think of a nicer place to stay.


But finally before you do that, I almost don’t want to tell you this.  Terry and Terry are looking to sell this property as we found out this weekend.  The property includes all furniture and bookings up until the end of the year.  I really hope the new owners keep it as holiday accommodation so we can go there again and again.  It’s only 3 hours from Sydney or Melbourne.  So if you or anyone you know is in the market for an investment property, or holiday retreat, then this property is what dreams are made of. It comes fully furnished so all you have to do is walk in and put your feet up or dive into that refreshing pool.


Go on – treat yourself.

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Aspergers Syndrome – putting together the pieces



A little while back, I found the message below scrawled on the wall inside a toilet cubicle in the womens’ bathrooms.


“I found out I probably have Aspergers.

Now I’m going through all the existential crap I went through in my teens, including writing on bathroom walls.

And the real kicker is, I’m not even that brilliant at anything.

 All of the broken bits and none of the good bits”

None of the good bits.

Asberger Syndrome is a condition which sits under the umbrella of Autism spectrum disorders.  People with Asbergers typically experience difficulties in communicating and developing social relationships, tend to lack empathy and may also appear physically clumsy.  They often have repetitive behaviours or interests and preoccupation with particular routines or rituals.  In other words, they’re quirky individuals, perhaps obviously so, to other kids growing up around them.

Perhaps for a person with Asbergers the ‘good bits’ might be, that one day, you are the one of the ones on the inside looking out, not the one on the outside looking in.

Asbergers is different from other developmental disorders on the spectrum because early development and language is normal, so it is not uncommon to be diagnosed later in life or in adulthood.  Children with Asbergers find it hard to ‘fit in’ but may at the same time be gifted in other ways.  Think child prodigies, brilliant mathematicians or kids who get university degrees in quantum physics before they even hit puberty. I’m thinking of my own eccentric uncle who although extremely intelligent, has little common sense and a complete inability to self-censor.  The family dynamics are never boring.  But he’s also extremely funny.  At least he thinks so…..

Several years back I read John Elder Robison‘s book Look me in the Eye which is his account of his life as a person with Asbergers.  He had a hard time growing up because he was different from other kids.  Other kids were cruel and he found it difficult to make friends.  He had a lonely childhood.  Despite that he learned how to behave and what to say and how to read circumstances so he said the right thing at the right time, even though he may not have felt it.  In his book John says “As I got older, I found myself in trouble more and more for saying things that were true, but that people didn’t want to hear”.  Despite that he eventually learned to play the game, survived his childhood and moved on to greatness.  At the age of 13 John dropped out of school and spent all of his time at the university where his parents worked and emmersed himself in the study of electronics.

John went on to have an extraordinary career in the music business, designing and hand making exploding guitars for the band KISS.  There was nothing he couldn’t fix, build or design if it contained electronic circuitry.  He later went into the car business repairing vehicles which others said were unrepairable and eventually expanded his business to employ 12 people. John is bright, creative and has a very fulfilling and rewarding life, eventually marrying and having children.

He was officially diagnosed with Asbergers in his forties when a friend handed him a book called ‘Asbergers Syndrome’ by Tony Attwood.  John devoured the book and says “Just reading those pages was a tremendous relief.  All my life I felt like a fraud…but the book told a different story.  I was normal, for what I am”. Finally, in his forties, John realised he was not alone and there are others like him.  In knowing that and understanding that, he finally found a sense of peace, acceptance and identity. Now he helps others.  John talks about the socially crippling aspects of Autism and the complexity and diversity of the spectrum and what we need to do to fix it.

To the person who wrote the message I would say this.  Getting the diagnosis must be a shock.  But perhaps it can also be the key to unlocking who you really are and to finding those ‘good bits’.  They are in there for sure.  The ‘what’ has been answered. And although the ‘why’ may never be, at least you can now see the road ahead and can take the first steps on the journey to your true self.  Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.  And in doing so will start to put the ‘broken bits’ into a pattern in your life which you might quite like.

You can do it.

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the problem with Tony Abbott (according to my mum)

Trust me image:

Trust me

My mum doesn’t think Tony Abbott should lose his job in next week’s leadership spill. She thinks it’s wrong for a leader to be ousted in the way we’ve seen in the past.   But she thinks he will for one very simple reason and that is whenever he steps up to the podium to make a policy announcement or give a speech; the Australian public rolls their eyes and switches over to another channel.  “he says every single thing twice and I havn’t got all day for him to get to the point”.


Tony Abbott has, and has always had, a communication problem.  In Tony’s case, it is the messenger as much as the message which has rapidly turned the electorate against him.  So when Luke Simpkins said voters had ‘stopped listening’, he was right on the money.  And my mum agrees.


For Abbott’s staff, there are simply not enough cupboards to bundle the Prime Minister into every time he says or does something idiotic, to get him out of the path of an electorate ready to lynch him.


In the relentless frenzy of the 24 hour media cycle and with voters chipping in on social media, it’s a challenge for any politician to be heard.  Thus the adoption across politics of the ‘three word slogan’. Three word slogans work in Opposition because you’re not the main event. All you have to do in opposition is keep up the pot-shots at those opposite.  Tony Abbott was very effective at this.  He’s been less effective at being the Prime Minister.


Voters are familiar with Tony’s tried and tested mantras ‘stopping the boats’ …’debt and deficit’ of ‘no new taxes’ (remember that one).  But the devil is in the detail and the devil was missing in action prior to the election.  Voters are mature enough to understand that paying down debt will require revenue raising either through tax increases or by cutting funding elsewhere.  If you explain the why and the how, particularly to low income earners, you should be able to sell the message but that process has to start years out and there’s the rub.  Short-term politics i.e. getting elected, hamstrings long-term policy planning.


So when the Liberals sprung the Medicare co-payment on voters and got a two fingered salute in return, they then imposed it on doctors via the back door. Has this government heard of stakeholder engagement – cutting the medical profession out of the picture from the get-go was amateurish in the extreme. The electorate does not like strong-arm tactics and they don’t like being treated like idiots.


And any commitments the government has delivered on become irrelevant to voters when they’ve stopped listening to you because you have a credibility problem.  The government has ticked both boxes of late.


Tony Abbott has spoken lately about his status as Captain and more importantly of being a ‘good captain‘.  Captains, in whatever realm, are not infallible. However when they’re in the top job, they should have a clear line of sight out to the horizon to prevent the ship from disappearing into the abyss.  In Abbott’s case he has persistently steered them towards it.  He just can’t help himself.


Abbott was relentless in his pursuit of Julia Gillard and in calling her a liar. But Abbott has lied repeatedly to the Australian people.  Gillard’s only ‘lie’ was solely due to having to compromise as the result of a hung-parliament so she did not lie, she negotiated and had always stated she would price Carbon.   Abbott however, deliberately withheld his government’s true intentions prior to the election and has broken promises on many others.  His latest Captain’s Pick has been the final nail in the coffin of his credibility with the electorate.  His decision to award Prince Philip a knighthood has exposed Abbott for who he really is – an ultra conservative, backward looking, boot-licking royalist.  His choice was completely unfathomable to ordinary Australians.

The Liberals are now in permanent damage control and require a full-time pooper scooper running around after him. Peta Credlin must be a saint.


His own party are now calling time on his prime-ministership with a leadership spill imminent. The time for pretending is over.  If they don’t get rid of him now, Abbott will be the albatross around their necks all the way to the next election.   And they know it.  Death by a thousand cuts.  But their hope of installing an alternative candidate, one who is more palatable to the electorate, may well put them back in business and back in office at the next election.  And ultimately that’s the end game.


The last word goes to my mum who says “he wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t open his mouth but once he has done, I wish he hadn’t bothered.”

Quite, the PMO might want to keep the gaffer tape handy.


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the new guy


ladies, please form an orderly queue

ladies, please form an orderly queue

Last week at work our team welcomed our new boss.  There has been much chatter over the last six weeks about what he might be like.  Whether we think he will cope with the job and the swapping of any bits of gossip we have managed to get hold of.  Oh and not forgetting the usual snooping on Linked-in, Facebook and Google thanks to the Internet.

So on Monday he arrived.  A strapping colossus of a man.  A man who takes up space.  The kind of man who has to watch he doesn’t smack his head on the door frame when entering any room.  The kind of man you can’t help but notice.  The kind of man, regardless of whether you are partnered or single, compels you to do a double-take.  So what’s going on here?

Well over the last few years our all girl team has also had two female bosses. Perfectly competent, likable, inclusive.  All of that stuff.  But also in their own ways, quite girly. Women-only offices over time, eventually seem to spiral into gossipy cliques.  In a nutshell, we get sick of each other.  So a great big boy taking his place at the heart of the team has seriously changed the dynamic.

It’s only been a week but I feel like I’m trapped in a harem of women all vying for the attention of the alpha-male.  The office mouse strode in mid-week sporting a perfect red lipstick pout, a clear departure from her usual neutral tones.  The waft of perfume being re-applied throughout the day is unmistakable.  Even the office matriarch has been seen giggling like a schoolgirl and fluttering her eyelashes in his direction.

I’m just waiting for someone to up the ante by sucking on a lollipop in his presence.


What is it about the arrival of a man in a mostly female team which triggers this change in behaviour?   A study conducted by Jon Maner and James McNulty suggests that women can literally smell the competition from another woman which in turn drives up their testosterone levels.  Beforehand there was no competition as such because we had a female boss.  But the arrival of a gargantuan man has changed all that.  In addition, a study from Professor Townsend from Syracuse University reinforces the notion that women are hardwired to be attracted to powerful men.  We just can’t help ourselves it seems. But what, my friends, are we competing for?   Well influence of course – the currency of office politics.

The obvious ingratiation tactics from the pack in order to place themselves on the radar of the new guy is certainly amusing.  A week long seduction strategy.  Minus the sex of course.  He’s only a man. But he’s a colossus of a man, who for the moment at least, has us all eating out of his hand.

I guess he should and we should, enjoy the honeymoon because as sure as night follows day, it is unlikely to last.   The scales will fall from our eyes, the pedestal be replaced with a step and we will all wake up to ourselves.

And I say hallelujah to that!

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Maccas – the great social leveler


Ahhhhh life on the road.  If it’s Christmas, it’s the annual road-trip to far flung, or not so far flung, family and friends.    The loading up of the family vehicle usually entails games and gadgets for the kids, water obviously – this is Australia.  And snacks, lots and lots of snacks to keep everyone satisfied and contented for the long haul trip.


However, wherever you may be headed, one thing’s for sure, it is very very difficult to bypass a trip to the Golden Arches.  The mecca that is a McDonalds restaurant. Even if you’re not hungry.  And usually especially if you’re not hungry.  It’s just an opportunity to stop and stretch the legs and body and to escape being cooped up like a chicken for around twenty minutes.  The mental equivalent of standing under a long hot shower.  Right?


Well maybe.  What I love about McDonalds is that it is the ultimate social leveller.  I don’t care how many degrees you’ve got, what high-falluting job you have and whether your pile is in Vaucluse or Point Piper.  Chances are at some point on the road-trip you will have no choice but to enter between the hallowed Arches and have a dining experience of a different kind.  This holidays was no exception.


Invariably there is someone who looks as though they’d rather not be there.  Whose body language says it all; elbows and forearms pressed together across their chest with hands locked under their chin.  A look of mild distress on their faces with the voice in their head screaming “I don’t belong here”.


I have been that person and I’m not even a vegetarian.  But the point is, that we do belong here, because McDonalds whole ethos and their story is about putting their customers first and constantly adapting and changing their menus in response to customer demand.  You’d have to be hard-pressed not to find a few things on the menu these days which are pretty yummy.  I have to confess to really enjoying McDonalds coffee.  And their mini mint slices.  And I’m a recent convert to their Crunchy Noodle Crispy Chicken salad.  And how addictive are the fries?  The Group is the ultimate Darwinian survivor evolving to ensure everyone feels they belong.  If you’re normal, there is something on the menu for you.  And if you’re a food fascist or food neurotic or if you have food allergies or intolerances, then rest assured, there is something on the menu for you too.


But just so we’re clear – I’m not from Macca’s PR department.


But each holidays and at least once a month if I’ve had ‘one of those days’ and don’t have the mental energy to cook, off to Maccas I go.  Only now I inwardly chuckle as I survey the throngs of my fellow diners as we shuffle towards the front counter.  Old, young, affluent, not.  Whether we’re dressed in Aarmani or a Big W t-shirt and shorts. When we’re standing in the queue at Maccas with chips trodden into the soles of our shoes and greasy fingermarks on every visible surface, on some level we love the ritual, the familiarity and the unavoidable pleasure of reaching the holy grail.


Maccas: the ultimate social leveler and I say Hallelujah to that!


Make mine an Apple Pie to take away…..

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gorgeous Gayana: enriching Canberra’s community

a labor of love

a labor of love

If you think these flowers are beautiful then you’d be right.  But what’s more beautiful is the story behind them.

Today I met Gayana Wijewickrema, a beautifully cute fifteen year old and her gorgeous sisters at Canberra’s Living Green Festival. Gayana has Downs Syndrome and is the inspiration behind the family’s fledgling flower business GGs Flowers.


flowers 8

Gayana and her mother Geetha design and create floral arrangements with a business focus on providing people with disabilities with employment opportunities. GG’s ethos of ‘flowers with a purpose’ is what distinguishes them from other florists. The business is not driven by profit, rather they are motivated by providing full and meaningful life opportunities for their daughter and for others with a disability.

Downs Syndrome is a genetic chromosomal disorder resulting in babies being born with an extra chromosome, 47 rather than the usual 46.  It is a lifelong condition which means children such as Gayana may have some health and developmental challenges as well as intellectual disabilities.  The extent of those challenges varies from person to person.

flowers 3

Downs Syndrome Australia says that “To be a part of a community you have to be in it”.  It is something most of us never even have to think about.  Sadly people with disabilities are generally under-represented in the workplace and in our communities.

GG’s are challenging the paradigm by putting Gayana at the heart of the family business and her local community.  We are all richer for it.  I hope Canberrans looking for floral arrangements will support the company ethos of ‘flowers with a purpose’ and get behind this local family.  Their prices are reasonable, the service personal and the love and commitment plain to see in every stunning arrangement.   With young Gayana at the heart of every bunch.


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the Australian Hypocrites Party – taking a sledgehammer to democracy

too scary for you?  you should be - I vote

Scared of me? You should be. I vote

This country has learned nothing from its sorry past.

From its treatment and disregard for its first people, Aboriginal Australians to the enshrined racism of the White Australia Policy, the targeting and demonising of particular groups continues.  Now it is the turn of Muslim women.


The Australian Liberal Party says it believes in ‘the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples’. Well clearly that is not the case for Australian Muslim woman. Muslim women waking up in Australia today don’t have the right to sit in the public gallery in Canberra, the heart of our democracy, in clothing of their choosing.  A Liberal government is denying them that freedom.


We learn today that our Liberal government will compel women who wear the burqua in Parliament House to be seated separately from the general public behind glass screening.  Like animals in a zoo. What an utter disgrace.  It’s hard to believe a Liberal government whose central ideology is freedom of the individual, has introduced this appallingly racist, sexist and divisive move.  Why?


I have never seen a burqua worn in this country, only the niqab, chador and hijab.  But even if I had, my question is, so what? Since when, has what a woman chooses to wear, resulted in a democratically elected government, deciding she must be physically segregated because of it?  In this case supposedly on the grounds of national security.  I love the colour pink.  Am I safe in pink or will this government soon making a ruling on that?


I understand the need for comprehensive security measures at Parliament House – no one is arguing with that.  However women coming to Parliament House wearing a head covering or veil, and having lifted the veil and presented their photo ID to security for verification will still be segregated.  What message does that send?


If this is a democracy then the model is broken and Liberal decision-makers are the ones with the sledgehammer.


Muslim Women are such an easy target to package up and sell to a tabloid reading public whipped up by an ever hysterical, ratings driven media.  I feel sorry for our Muslim sisters.  My tutor at university is a Muslim woman who wears a hijab.  She is intelligent, vibrant, funny, very good at her job and absolutely beautiful.  She is the only hope I have of passing Statistics.  And this beautiful women will not be allowed to sit next to me in the public gallery at Parliament House because of an item of clothing.


Women in veils or head coverings are people – wives, mothers, employers, employees, team mates, sisters, workers.  And voters.  And I damn well hope they all vote ‘no’ to the Liberal Party at the next election for taking this country back to the dark ages and for adopting a form of apartheid.  It cannot come soon enough.


The decision made by our government today is shameful and the eyes of the world are watching. What they will see is a country not yet grown up enough to be accepting of cultural differences, not yet willing to accept those differences without judgement, not quite ready to actively practice tolerance.


But of course to endlessly preach it, while talking about secularism and freedom and rights of the individual.


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