TODAY I met up with my lovely friend Lou who insists on living in a land far, far away and who I only get to see far too infrequently.

We had a great time catching up, chatting, hearing each other’s news, when the discussion inevitably turned to men.  Lou is newly single and I am forever single (feels like) and so of course we discussed what potential there is out there for a young and gorgeous gal (Lou) and a slightly older but still (hopefully) attractive gal (me).

I was telling Lou about a chap I recently went out with, who I had to re-schedule a date with due to falling ill.  After a couple of texts, the communication ground to a halt and I never heard from him again.  I told Lou that I wasn’t even that attracted to him but it annoyed me just the same.

“So why did you go out with him” Lou sensibly asked. “Because I thought he might be my Harry” I responded and she immediately knew what I meant.  Sex and the City.

For those of you asleep during the early noughties, Charlotte, the pretty, pleasant, perennially single girl on SATC, constantly on the look out for a husband, finally met her and married her dream man.  Alas he turned out not to be the full package (pardon the pun) and so she went through a divorce and hey presto, her divorce lawyer was the short, bald, and let’s face it, not that physically attractive man who turned out to be her real dream fella.

Lou felt that Sex and The City and particularly that story line, has added yet more confusion to the already fraught minefield of dating.  She quite rightly pointed out that now all girls think that the guy they are least attracted to, might just be their Harry.  This is true!!  How many of you single types out there have agreed to more dates that you should have just in case?  How many of you have been bitterly disappointed?  How many decent, but not quite right fellas have been left baffled when you abruptly ended things knowing that it was going no-where?

Sex and the City did a number on a lot of us.  At the end of the series, Carrie gets her man, and lives happily every after, proving once and for all that someone who breaks you heart, treats you like crap and runs rings around you for years will in fact eventually realize that you are the one for him.  Except that we all know that doesn’t happen in real life.  Oh and as an aside can I just say that Big was a tool and I’d have married Aiden in a heartbeat.  But I digress.

I think Lou was right when she said what we single girls should do is look for a man we are compatible with and go from there.  You might not be perfect for each other but at least with some compatibility you might be able to exist on common ground.

We all know the story of the girl who almost lost the great guy because she didn’t think he was attractive enough, we all know the story of the girl who got the heartbreaker to commit, we all know the story of the booty call which turned into a marriage made in heaven.  But we also know those stories are almost always a fantasy and that in real life, you have to get out there, date the fellas you like, hope one likes you back and the rest is something you just have to work on and hope for the best.



THIS MONTH I will have been divorced for as long as I was married.  It’s a strange milestone to meet and not one that I ever thought I would include in my life time.  When I got married I honestly thought it would be for life.  I married because for the first time in a relationship with a man, I couldn’t imagine not having him in my life for ever.  I truly believed we would be together for the rest of our lives.  We’d get married, have children, bring them up together, and then hang out together after the kids left home.  We’d enjoy our grandchildren eventually and still be madly in love in our eighties.  Oh how wrong I was.

There are many things that lead to the demise of my marriage, infidelity being one of them.  I know there are many arguments against monogamy, that humans aren’t designed for it and that there are bound to be attractions to others along the way but for me, being cheated on was gut wrenching.  There were other things of course, there always are and so 9 years in, it was over.

I was left on my own, the blame placed squarely at my feet (despite my never straying).  I had two little girls to bring up and I was pretty scared.  I felt very alone and I didn’t know how I was going to survive.  Those first few months were awful and try as I might I couldn’t get over the separation and pending divorce.  It was at this time I learned that there are some things you just have to go through.  You can’t skate over it, you can’t skirt around it, you just have to go through it.

Relying heavily on my family and forcing myself to make new friends I began to think of a life that was very different to the one I had planned.  I managed to survive the yawning chasm left behind when my children went away every second weekend.  I started to do things with friends and a year later I was divorced and I felt relieved to be so.

I enrolled in a university course and started to make more new friends.  My children started school, one after the next and suddenly I was finished my course and donning a cap and gown and graduating.  Then I had a job and was working in my new career which I loved and still love.  I discovered on line communities and met some amazing women, one of whom got me writing again.  I started dating and laughing and enjoying life again in a way I hadn’t in a very long time.  I realised how lonely I had been whilst I was married and how I could be alone and be fulfilled now I was single again.

I made some amazing friends, younger and older and I learned many new things.  I fell in serious like with someone who broke my heart just a little bit and yet I was okay and moved on.  I got a promotion and moved into a new house in a new area and started meeting new people who have enhanced my life in so many ways.

And so this month, I reached a milestone I never thought I would and I’m okay with that, more than okay, I’m happy in a life I didn’t plan but I feel lucky to have.  A strange milestone indeed.

Dating in Mountainland

LAST NIGHT I tried speed dating for the first time.  It will also be the last time.  Please allow me to explain why.

After a considerable break from dating, I decided that I wanted to get back in the game again.   Since I work in a female dominated industry and most of the school parents I associate with are firmly married, I thought I might try something different, so my recently single friend Beau and I signed up for speed dating.  From the outset we discussed the unlikelihood of meeting someone fabulous in this sort of scenario so our expectations were reasonable and at the very least, we thought we’d have a fun night out.  Turns out, even these expectations were too high!

We got frocked up Beau and I.  Beau’s a lovely girl, attractive and smart as well as being great company.  We were in high spirits as we left, our earrings sparkling, and our feet groaning in our impossibly high, going out heels.  I had visited my beauty therapist earlier in the day for a bit of detailing and Beau went with a spray tan.. you know, just to liven things up a bit.

We arrived at the venue and therein our concerns began.  The advertisement promised a fun night of drinks and canapés, with men well within our age group in a setting conducive to a good night out.  Apparently, whoever had written this ad was somewhat liberal with the description of the venue.  Walking in we wondered if we were in the right place.  Rather than a “sophisticated setting” we found ourselves in a dingy looking nightclub where it was literally impossible to find a section of carpet that didn’t have pieces of discarded chewing gum mashed into the floor.  The whole place had been decorated, and I use this term lightly, with black and orange streamers and that awful fake spider web stuff.  Presumably preparing for Halloween.  It looked like the sort of place a bunch of 19 year olds might end up when they want the night to continue but nothing else is open.  We sighed and stepped over the threshold.

Bouncing towards us came a girl who could not have been more than 18.  She was wearing the tightest jeans I’ve ever seen and a little crop top.  On her feet were white shoes with clear heels.  I’m actually not kidding.  She breathily announced that she was our hostess for the evening and that she’d mistakenly thought it was a Halloween dress up night, and she’d come as a “60’s flower child”.  Cue eye rolls from Beau and I.

We look around the room and it was immediately apparent that women outnumbered men.  Can I just say here that as someone who has been single for some years now, I have attended at a few outings which catered for “singles”.  At each of these outings I usually meet an attractive, intelligent, pleasant woman.  I’m bound to, because there are always a number of them.  The men are always in a lesser number, are lesser in height and almost non-existent in communication skills.

Last evening was no different.  Beau and I got chatting to a fantastic women who has been in the game for a while and seemed a seasoned player.  She described herself as a “serious dater” and had lots of great stories to tell.  Alas just as conversation was getting enjoyable we were whisked away to our tables.  The chaps were to go from table to table after 8 minutes of friendly chatting and the women sat waiting for each new fellow to sit opposite her.  Oh, and we had a score card to fill in.

One chap mentioned to me that he thought 8 minutes was barely enough time to enjoy a conversation with someone new whereas I was screaming “ding ding ding” in my head almost immediately he sat down.

Unfortunately, Flower Child sometimes let us go over the 8 minutes as she was struggling to juggle hosting the event and texting at the same time.

After meeting guy who told me I shouldn’t drink too much (I was drinking mineral water), guy who complained about his ex number 1, guy who complained about his ex number 2 and guy with some fairly significant breath issues (it’s not that hard you know, pop a mint for god’s sake) the bell rang for us to enjoy some food and mingle.

I feel like “canapés” was too strong a word for what was served up.  Around a dirty looking central table we were served oven warmed spring rolls, cold curly fries and what appeared to be chicken nuggets.   This is what you get for $60 a head.  Oh, I shouldn’t forget the free “champagne” (which I’m pretty sure was a $6 bottle of wine shoved through a Soda Stream).  Thankfully this flowed freely all night.  It had to, alcohol was the only way anyone was going to survive this nightmare.

It was at “half time” that we decided to take our leave.  We informed Flower Child that we’d had a phone call and we had to leave early.  FC looked stricken and enquired of Beau as to whether the venue had been up to par.  Beau, the coward, said that I’d be better placed to answer that question.

And so we bailed.  Away from the sticky tables, away from the men who were devoid of both height and social skills, away from Flower Child who clearly had no idea and unfortunately away from the $60 we each paid for the privilege!

Whilst I won’t try speed dating again, I am still going to get out there and meet people.  I like the company of men and you have to be in it to win it.. right?

A Delightful Baker

NOT FAR from where I live, there is a small bank of shops.  All of them are independently owned and operated and everyone is friendly and welcoming when you go in.  There’s a dress shop, a newsagent, a butchers.. but my absolute favourite is the bakery.

The bakery is quite tiny and often very crowded, especially on a Saturday morning.  Whilst the produce is super fresh and baked daily, I think the reason people keep coming back is because of the proprietor. I know that’s certainly it for me.  The bakery is run by an amazing Cambodian woman, easily the friendliest, nicest person I’ve ever met.  She’s there from before 6 in the morning and doesn’t close up until 6 at night.  It’s always warm and welcoming in the shop and we love it in there.

The proprietor has a welcoming hello for everyone who goes into her shop and she  pretty much calls everyone “darling”.  She let’s me practice my French with her, her accent is flawless, mine is appalling.  She calls me gorgeous everytime I go in there and once she told me I was very beautiful and photogenic.  She does not believe I am Australian, instead insisting that I must have European blood somewhere in my family to look the way I do.  She may be right about the European blood, but I think perhaps her eyesight has become slightly impaired after starting work so early each morning because, I’m not being modest but believe me when I tell you, I’m not quite the beauty she proclaims.

I’ve been frequenting this establishment since I moved here seven months ago.  The bakery lady (as the kids call her) knows that we only eat wholemeal bread and she only makes this on weekdays, so she reminds me to stock up!  Recently she pointed out that she’d never met my husband.  I smiled and told her I’m not married.  She seemed baffled.  “I’m divorced” I clarified.  She looked stricken!  I had to reassure her that it’s been nearly nine years and I am perfectly happy.  I had to repeat this twice before she smiled uncertainly and said okay.  I would have gone on to tell her that being divorced has seen me go to university, get two degrees, get a job that I love and make a whole new raft of friends I’d never have found if I’d stayed married.  But my 10 year old daughter was with me so I’ll think I’ll save that information for another time.

Not only is this woman generous with her kindness she is also generous with her produce.  There have been times when I’ve raced in close to closing time only to have her slip an extra bun in with my purchases.  Last night when we dropped in she gave us three iced pink cupcakes (see above, so very delicious), half a dozen wholemeal rolls and two huge wedges of lamington cake.   Ms 10 was thrilled!  I was taken aback.  For this huge amount of food I paid the princely sum of just $2.  When I protested it was too much, she flapped her hand at me and said she would only be throwing it out anyway, so I may as well take it.

I just love this new little community of mine and even though there are definitely drawbacks as there are any place, I feel so lucky to have been able to move here and meet people like this.  The unending positivity and pleasantness of the local baker never fails to put me in a good mood and hopefully that’s something I can pass on to others who cross my path each day.

Garage Sales

I DO love me a garage sale and there are plenty in the mountains to indulge in.  Many years ago when I lived in the UK, I would spend Saturdays attending at car boot sales.  A wonderful shopping mecca where tons of people gather in a large field and sell all kinds of stuff out of their cars.  I was a tad bereft when I couldn’t find anything similar happening on a regular basis when I came back to Australia until I stumbled upon a local garage sale.  I was delighted.  Heaps of what at first appears to be junk but which can often turn out to be a fabulous find.

Every week the local newspaper advertises garage sales and I set about dragging two protesting children around to as many as I fancy.  Both kids inevitably pipe down when they find something for themselves which then allows me to really have a thorough search.  Even better, I’ve found a friend here in the mountains who loves garage sales as much as I do and we invariably cross paths on a Saturday, each of us able to tell the other where to find the good stuff.

About 6 years ago I got this Royal Albert set for a fiver.  I recently found it selling on the internet for $250 for the set.  Not a bad profit!  I have no intention of selling it but I feel like a got a bargain and that’s what really counts.

Pottering around a couple of weeks ago I came across this silver tea set.  It isn’t real silver of course but I thought it was pretty.

And then on Saturday, the people across the road were having a sale.  I found a large sideboard/display hutch that I kind of fancied but at $40 I felt it was overpriced.  My garage sale philosophy is $10 and under!  Some may call me tight, I prefer the term thrifty.  I decided to leave it and went home.  At about 2pm I got a knock on the door and it was the neighbour saying she didn’t sell the sideboard and I could have it free of charge if I wanted!  They even carried it across the road for me!

I know it’s deeply unattractive right now but once I paint it antique white and change the knobs it will be just right.  For the brilliant price of absolutely nothing, including delivery this is my best bargain so far!

Watch this space for the re-vamped version of my latest buy.

Produce of One’s Own

SINCE MOVING to the mountains I am embracing all manner of new adventures.  Which means that even though, as I’ve said before, I am not a gardener, I am determined to have my own veggie patch.

Today Ms 10 and I set about to make it happen.  Ms 13, too cool for school, decided on briefly watching from the sidelines before retiring inside with a book, so it was just two of us toiling away in the back yard.  I am lucky enough to have a very large backyard, however, it is quite uneven and there are large trees everywhere so choosing an appropriate spot took a bit of deliberation.  We ended up choosing a sunny spot up against the neighbour’s fence.  We dug for what seemed like hours (approximately 20 minutes) and were making no headway.  We were trying to stake out the edges of the garden bed, but kept hitting rocks.  At this point, our neighbour came strolling over to inform me that I was digging directly above a concrete manhole approximately 2 feet down and I had better move my plot.  Much disappointment and sighing from me, but we moved over a few feet and began in earnest.  It was hard work.  The ground was unyielding but we persevered.

Early on in our quest, it looked like this:

But we ploughed on (pun intended) and by the end of the day, we had this:

I understand kind reader, that you may be horrified by what seems like very little work done indeed, but it was no mean feat I can tell you.  Thus far, we have cleared a patch and marked it out.  Our next step is to build up the sides and start adding dirt.  I feel like I should line the base with newspaper or something?  But to be perfectly honest, I have barely any knowledge at all of planting a veggie patch and yet, I will not be deterred.  I’m anticipating a lush patch of fabulousness, a place I can meander to basket in hand and pluck fresh ripe produce for that evening’s meal.

That is the beauty of a new start.  Everything feels just a tad adventurous and my motto is becoming “well, why not?”  Watch this space, I intend to blatantly show off anything and everything edible emerging from my garden!

Camellia – A Postscript

CAME HOME FROM work to carnarge!  Dog had brutally torn camellia cutting from it’s pot and had strewn it across the back porch.  It had been carefully placed under the eaves in order to protect it from the morning frost, but I had not thought to protect it from the dog who apparently thought it was some sort of toy I had placed there for her amusement.  The one and only flower had been ripped directly off the stalk, said stalk is no where to be seen, but there was a pathetic little stick thing nearby.

The dog was immediately chastised and looked briefly confused, then even more briefly ashamed, then went about the evening ritual of behaving as though she has never been fed.

Stuck what little of the stalk (stick thing) I could find back in the pot, and now I’m hoping for the best.  I realise I may have to put rather a bit more work into it than this but am feeling somewhat disheartened by the massacre that took place whilst I toiled away at work.

I will be heading to the garden centre as soon as humanly possible to purchase root (or rooting) powder in the hope of saving my cuttings!  Dog will be banished to the aptly named dog house to think about what she has done.



I AM NOT a gardener.  Never have been.  But something has happened to me since moving to the mountains… I want a lovely garden!  I’m sure it’s something to do with finally having my own patch to play with, but I am finding myself drawn to growing pretty things outside which will give me the opportunity to put pretty things in vases inside.

I did not grow the above Camellia but I sure do want to.  I have one bush out the front which is beginning to show some colour and let me tell you, I’m pretty excited about it.  So keen am I to fill my garden with these gorgeous flowers that I obtained some cuttings of a white and a pink camellia recently and I am determined to grow them into lush colourful bushes.  Now when I say obtained, I mean there is a house we walk past when out strolling which had an abundance of branches hanging over the fence, which I took to mean they were to share with passers by.  So I helped myself.  Honestly, they were huge, you couldn’t even notice I had taken one tiny little pice and I like to think the owner can feel warm in the knowledge that he/she is sharing the love, camellia style.

Anyway, I’ve had my cuttings in a jar of water for a week and I’m about to plant them.  I know not what I am doing.  A website I consulted stated that to grow from seeds they can take up to six years.  Six years!! I then consulted my mother, an avid gardener who confirmed this to be true.  Growing from a cutting is supposed to be somewhat less taxing but one must put the cutting in dirt and hope it will root, as in, roots will form.. hopefully.

So here I go on yet another mountain adventure.  I first started looking to move here in the Spring of last year and the gardens were so spectacular, so full of amazing colour that it took my breath away.  I am hoping for the same effect in Chez Shaw this coming Spring.

As I mentioned, I am new to this and really have no idea what I’m doing so any helpful green finger type tips will be gratefully received.

Love Thy Neighbour

WHEN I first moved into my new house in the mountains I received three Christmas cards from various people welcoming me and my girls to the street.  Since then, I’ve come to be on “drop in for a cuppa” terms with my immediate neighbour on the left and speaking term with several others.  I know that my neighbours on the right have a baby who refuses to sleep, and a very nasty tom cat who unfortunately is still in possession of all of his manly parts which means he likes to beat the living daylights out of my much older cat.  I know that a few doors down Walt lives with his wife Bett and their dog Bella.  Walt and Bett’s eldest daughter is going to uni this year to study midwifery.  I’ve met Chris who is Walt’s partner in business.  They drive tow trucks around the area and when I had a flat tyre they both came to the rescue and gave me the name of an independent tyre repair place in the area saying “…just tell ‘em you know Walt and Chris”.  I did just that and got a very reasonable price on a new tyre.

I’ve met Pam from across the road and I’m on waving terms with her husband Barry.  Pam saw me struggling to saw through the tangled branches of overgrown trees in my front yard today and she hot footed it across the street to loan me a sturdy, slightly vicious looking hand saw that went through those branches like a hot knife through butter.  I found out that she has several grandchildren at the same schools that my girls attend and that a couple of years ago a large gum tree dropped its branches in the middle of the night wiping out their back room.

I love this about my newly adopted home town.  I haven’t found the neighbours to be intrusive at all but when they chat, they give out plenty of information.  My children and I have been so welcomed since we arrived here and it makes a nice change.  Not to say that I didn’t have a wonderful neighbour back in the inner west but she was only one I was truly friendly with.  There were smiles and nods from the others from time to time but nothing more than that.

I’ve been slowly doing bits and pieces to my house. I am also in the final stretch of my post graduate studies so my renovations and re-decorations are coming along at something of a snail’s pace.  Over the past couple of weekends I have had a burst of energy hence my crazed cutting back today.  Last weekend I bought some solar lights for the garden and dotted them about the place.  At night they twinkle like fairy lights and this has not gone unnoticed by the neighbours.  I’ve had a couple of appreciative comments and this makes me feel like I am actually getting somewhere with putting my stamp on the place. 

I’ve no doubt that if I had a wild party (ha ha) or painted front of the house hot pink the neighbours may not be too thrilled and I’m sure the shine may wear off a bit as time goes by but for now, I’m basking in the warmth and pleasantness of my new mountains neighbours.


I HAVE finally finished doing up the sideboard I picked up at a second hand shop in Blackheath.  I am really pleased with the finish and whilst nobody will ever pay me to do up their furniture, I’m happy with the job I did!

I picked up this Royal Albert bone china at a garage sale a few years ago for $5.  I think it looks great on the new sideboard!

I changed the old and unattractive knobs for these pretty glass ones.  Sparkly!