Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympic Fever

I promise I won't do this often but I am doing it now - Cross-posting from my Geniaus blog as the content of this post is really not genealogy but personal history.
Having watched the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games this morning I have been taking a trip down memory lane to September 2000 and the wonderful Games in Sydney.

At the ten year anniversary of the Games I shared on this blog some of my Games memories. I'll repost these as since 2010 when I posted them I have dredged up a few more blog followers. The posts on this blog may be few and far between over the next couple of weeks as I get my four yearly dose of Olympic Fever.

Ten years ago - 13 September 2000

I have just been reminded on a current affairs program that ten years ago was a special time in Sydney. In September 2000 our city hosted the Olympics.  It was a magical time in our beautiful city, there were crowds everywhere but the atmosphere was one of bonhomie.

At that time I was a teacher at MLC School in Burwood and had volunteered months before to chaperone a group of our students who would be performing in the opening and closing ceremonies of the games. Together with the students I gave up  a number of weekends and evenings to attend rehearsals at venues around Sydney including an abandoned airfield at Schofields.

I had in 1999 entered the lottery to buy tickets for the sporting events. After the ballot we found ourselves several thousand dollars poorer but armed with tickets to athletics, hockey, water polo, wrestling, kayaking, table tennis, tennis amd more. The tickets were shared amongst members of the family ; we had what would today be called a staycation. Our youngest daughter had been lucky enough to get, through university, a paid position with SOBO at the Tennis Centre.

Mr Geniaus, Mate and Hornsby Mayor at Pennant Hills Torch Relay Function
On this day 13th September 2000 I have written in my diary "to MLC to collect Opening Ceremony tickets". As a volunteer I was given two tickets to the Dress Rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony.  Following that I attended a local Torch Relay Function "to Torch relay celebration at Pennant Hills.  It's hot and dusty and we can't see a thing from the VIP area!!"

I had also managed to procure a couple of extra Dress Rehearsal tickets so with Mr Geniaus and a couple of our offspring we set off by train "to Opening Ceremony Dress Rehearsal at Stadium Australia."

I recorded my impressions of the Olympics in a series of posts on a listserv to which I belonged. In the coming days, as Australia remembers, I will repost these on my Geniaus blog.
From a listserv post in 2000:

"Last night I joined 100,000 or so lucky Australians to witness the culmination of the kids' efforts when I attended the Final Dress Rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony. The only bit we missed out on was the lighting of the cauldron otherwise it was as it will be on Friday. It was awesome - the atmosphere in the stadium was electric - the patriotism displayed by the audience was something that, to date, I've only witnessed in the U.S. and our MLC girls and the other thousands of performers did a magnificent job."

Ten years ago - 16 September 2000

From my listserv post in 2000:

"I just went to the supermarket to buy food for our picnics at the Olympics (I'll be at an event every day) and as the food at Olympic Park is outrageously expensive I'm packing sandwiches, drinks and snacks. While I was in the supermarket I met an American lady (guess why she's in Sydney?) who wanted to buy tinned pumpkin - her Aussie male companions were trying to tell her that one cannot buy this in Oz but it needed this Aussie Mum to convince her that it's not available. What would she use tinned pumpkin for - is it for pumpkin pie? Our varieties of pumpkin are different over here - we serve pumpkin as a vegetable (yummy with roast meat) and I always give visiting Americans pumpkin soup.
Did you see Nikki Webster, the little 13 year old star, in the Opening Ceremony?  Guess who used to be her librarian? Me.  Nikki, who is now in Year 7 at a private Performing Arts School - McDonald College which is even closer to Olympic Park than my school MLC, was a student at MLC in Years 4 and 5.  She left MLC as McDonald College was more able to satisfy her special needs.  She was and still is a sweet little girl with a lovely Mum. Nikki has recently performed in professional performances of Les Miserables and The Sound of Music in Sydney.  I saw her in both these shows and was so proud to say that I know Nikki.  I had a tear in my eye when I saw her fly to the sky at last Wednesday's final dress rehearsal - it was such a shock.  I've been to umpteen rehearsals for "Southern Skies" (the segment in whch she sang) but as the kids rehearsed to a tape I didn't know Nikki was the star until Wednesday.
Bright and early for the hockey

Must go to watch the swimming on the TV - husband and kids have gone to the hockey - I'm pleased that I can stay home and watch the Thorpedo swim."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Grandparents' Day

The excitement of a five year old as he proudly shows examples of his schoolwork made a two hour trip up the freeway to another city worthwhile.

Today Mr Geniaus and I travelled north for grandparents' day at the school three of our grandchildren attend. The eldest grandchild is in the Middle School and we were unable to visit her class due to a clash with the grandparents' picnic at the Junior School Campus.

It was a glorious, sunny winter's day so conditions for a picnic were perfect. As we sat around chatting before the children joined us I mentioned to my daughter that it didn't look like a school playground, it resembled a senior citizen's convention. As the children came tumbling  out of their classrooms the playground became alive. We had a great time talking with children's parents, filling empty small stomachs and watching the kids at play with their mates.

Classroom visits were on the agenda after lunch. In the 4th grade classroom we helped our grandson work on an assignment on cockroaches. I learnt a few new facts including that cockroaches can live  for a week without a head.

Learning about cockroaches in Year 4

In the kindergarten room I looked at the stories written by our five year old, played Word Bingo with some other children and grandparents and looked at work samples.
Reading stories in Kindergarten

We even found a story about Mr Geniaus

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kid Friendly

Lamb shanks on a wintry Sunday - Yummmmm
When there are lots of little kids in the family it is difficult to find an eating establishment that is kid friendly, has attractive surroundings and good food. For our last family meal out on Sunday the Ball brigade (including 7 under 7s) headed to the newly renovated Hotel Pennant Hills.

There is a great indoor playground for the kids, the kids are given an activity pack when their meals are ordered and the food is rather scrumptious. The needs of three generations are well served at this venue.
Kids' Playground

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Culture vulture

I had an excursion to Sydney's CBD yesterday where I caught up with some schoolfriends for a movie and lunch. As my friends know more about movies than I do they choose what we will see.

Yesterday they chose a Danish film "A Royal Affair" that we saw at The Dendy Opera Quays and the film was a stunner. The acting was fantastic, the music just right, there was romance, intrigue and a bit of gore. Based on the true story of the English Princess, Caroline Mathilde, who was sent to marry  the mad Danish King Christian VII although it had subtitles this film held my interest from go to woe. I would highly recommend seeing this film. Now I want to learn more about this period in history. 

After lunch and an interlude at the State Library I met up with my husband for dinner and an Irish play "The Seafarer" at The Darlinghurst Theatre. Although I did not enjoy this play as much as the morning film I enjoyed it. Wikipedia tells us "It is set on Christmas Eve in Baldoyle, a coastal suburb north ofDublin city. The play centers on James "Sharky" Harkin, an alcoholic who has recently returned to live with his blind, aging brother, Richard Harkin. As Sharky attempts to stay off the bottle during the holidays, he contends with the hard-drinking, irascible Richard and his own haunted conscience."

The acting was convincing, the characters interesting, there were many funny lines and the ending was quite a surprise. This is the third play I have seen at  The Darlinghurst Theatre ; they have all been different, the similarity being that I have enjoyed each of them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Remembering a Dear Friend

Two years ago I lost a very dear friend. 

She talked a lot, she was mischevious, she was a good listener, she was loving, caring and loyal.

 I miss you, Dianne Sue Dwyer,  1950-2010.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hotel Loyalty

I love travel; this year I have already spent about 11 weeks away from home and have plans for another 9 weeks of travel later in the year. Having purchased international airfares I am already committed to being away from home for 11 weeks in the first half of 2013. Thus I have plans for at least another 20 weeks travel in the next ten months when I will need a bed.

I am a member of several hotel loyalty schemes. Depending on which part of the world I find myself in I will often choose to stay in a hotel belonging to a group with a loyalty scheme but I always look for hotels from one or two groups ahead of the others for just one reason - their points don't expire. This email I got from Accor this morning reminded me why their hotels are not my first choice:

For the next two months I intend to stay at home so will not be taking advantage of Accor's threat reminder. The points I earned for stays at their wonderful airport hotels in Bangkok and Heathrow will go to waste. That's a shame; I was considering spending a couple of nights at the Heathrow property when I am in the UK later in the year. A few more nights in Accor properties would enable me to have some points to redeem for a free night and act as a catalyst for Accor loyalty on my part..

The Hilton group falls into the same category as Accor. One loses points if they are not redeemed within a certain time frame. Luckily my Hilton points don't disappear until December and I have enough for a one night stay that I have booked for October.

I am a member of Accor, Carlson, Hilton and Intercontinental Hotels (ICH) Group schemes plus a few others I have joined to get 'on the spot' perks.

My first choice when booking is the ICH Group because, as well as being able to accrue points that have no time limit for redemption, they offer certain perks (which differ at each property) to members. I have received goodie bags, a free drink in the bar, free internet access, a cocktail reception with the manager, an upgrade to the Club floor, bottled water and bonus points. My second choice is the Carlson Group whose points also don't expire.

I should have thought that an independent traveller like me who spends more than 1/3 of the year  on the road would be the sort of person that hotel loyalty schemes would want to woo.

But I guess that I am just a small fish in a big sea of corporate travellers.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


There is one thing that brightens the winter gloom here in Sydney. It is my collection of camellias that bloom throughout our cool months.  We have nearly 40 camellias, some are in pots, some are very small, a couple are several metres tall, some have lush foliage but no blooms, some are groaning under the weight of buds, some are late bloomers and some early. 

These plants require little care as they are drought resistant (in our garden it's survival of the fittest) and they are one of the few plants that our plague of wild rabbits don't find tasty.

I just took a toddle around the garden to say hello to my pretty plants.

A dainty potted plant
White as snow
Another potted plant on our back terrace
Pretty in pink
One of the few blooms on a young plant
Taken from below - the blooms on this tree are so high
One of the last blooms on this early bloomer
A huge plant - around 3-4 metres tall
A bloom on the huge tree

Monday, July 9, 2012

Don't leave it too late, Possums

It cost a motza but I wouldn't have missed the opportunity to see Barry Humphries Farewell production "Eat, Pray, Laugh".

Although I have seen more than half a dozen of Humphries' productions and can often guess what his next quip will be I love coming back for more. In "Eat, Pray, Love" trotted out three of his characters - Sir Les Patterson, Sandy Stone and Dame Edna Everidge. My only complaint is that Edna did not hand out as may gladdies as she has done previously and I missed out.

The show only has a few more nights in Sydney before it moves on to other states but there are tickets available. If you have never seen one of Barry's shows then your education in Australian culture is sorely lacking; you only have a short time to fill this gap (unless this farewell tour is so successful that Barry stages another).

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tiresome Twaddle

Included in the long list of things that annoy me on Facebook are those pictorial posts displaying dogs, cats, food and inspirational messages. I have promised myself that I will not burden share these with my followers. Unfortunately for you, my readers, I will make no such promise for this blog.

So, be warned, from time to time I will be posting some of these on the pages of jillballau because amongst that tiresome twaddle I sometimes find things that resonate with my opinions or tickle my funny bone.

My friend in genealogy, Sharn White, recently posted this image on Facebook and I like it.

Hopefully my grandchildren are learning about punctuation from their teachers or they may be facing a meal of tough, old bird.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


When I was a child my Aunty Lil and Uncle Tom who had chooks down their backyard called the eggs they laid cackleberries. As I was and still am a fan of any sort of berry I love that term.

Fast forward 50+ years and Mr Geniaus and I have a chicken coop on our property. Here are some of the lovely cackleberries he collected this morning.

Fresh from the coop

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Three Sisters

Last week I was entertaining an overseas guest. As the weather was favourable in Sydney I decided to take her for a trip to see our beautiful Blue Mountains.

Hawkesbury River and Valley from Yellomundee Regional Park en route to the Blue Mountains
Our first stop at the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum was a success as my guest was partial to galleries and had fond memories of reading Lindsay's The Magic Pudding with her children when they were young.

As we drove through Leura and headed towards Echo Point and the Three Sisters the temperature dropped. When we hopped out of the car my companion decided that it was a good idea to wear the extra warm jacket I had packed in case...  (as a Mum I have a commitment to 'in case' packing). As we approached the viewing area we were faced by a surreal scene; we could not see the deep floor of the valley below and could barely glimpse the sheer sandstone cliffs on the other side of the valley. We agreed that the view was stunning even if we couldn't see much.

The Invisible Valley
"Never mind" I said, "let's go and see the Three Sisters".  We wandered the few hundred feet towards the vantage point for viewing the Three Sisters and this is what we saw -
The Three Sisters 
Thankfully my friend has a penchant for souvenir shops and tacky treasures so we repaired to the adjacent gift shop where she boosted the Australian economy by buying a stash of goodies to take home (perhaps it was the Chinese economy she supported).

Wonder of wonders, when we emerged from that Aladdin's Cave, the Three Sisters had overcome their shyness and could be seen through the mist.

The Sisters come out of hiding
The gods were smiling on us as we drove up Katoomba's main street to have a late lunch at The Paragon Cafe; we scored a parking spot right out the front. The meal we were served was as good as the parking spot we had out front.

Art Deco decor at The Paragon
Sweet things at The Paragon
 The sun finally reappeared for our drive home down the mountains.


Do I really need another Blog? Am I suffering from Blogarrhoea?

I don't need another blog but active blogs Geniaus and Android Genealogy are targetted towards my friends in genealogy. Sometimes I'd like to post about my travels, the books I've read, the things that bug me and the performances I've seen. Sometimes I'd just like to share a photo that doesn't fit in with the theme of my Men at Work blog. I don't want to clog up my genimates blog feeds with off topic posts that could be regarded as spam.  

When I am travelling I publish a few photos and updates to Facebook and when something tickles my fancy I write about it there too. Aggregating these Facebook items in one stream is not easy. 

Recently I have been following and enjoying Jackie van Bergen's new blog, Jax TraxAs a genealogist I see the value of leaving a personal blog like Jackie's as a resource for future generations. Jackie's blog has been the catalyst for my decision to pollute the blogisphere with yet another blog.

Look out blogisphere here comes jillballau.
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