Tuesday, December 22, 2020



The above title could be the theme for 2020, but don’t despair...it has been said often, and will continue being said...”good things come to those who wait”.  

Vladimir and Estragon (that’s “Estragon” not “estrogen”), the two main characters in Samuel Beckett’s play, “Waiting for Godot”, waited for Godot to arrive, but Godot failed to do so. He didn’t even send a note of apology.  

Most of us, I’m sure, are waiting for 2020 to hurry up and come to an end, and for 2021 to arrive.  If there is a light at the end of what seems to be an endless tunnel, it’s the hope 2021 will be a better year.  We’ve been waiting and waiting for something to brighten and lighten the scene...for something good to happen. 

Around the next corner it could be...maybe accompanied by Godot...maybe not....

Even if it is difficult to find, there is a bridge over troubled waters. To reach the other side we just have to walk across the bridge, carefully taking one step at a time.  Unlike that legendary chicken we keep hearing about, we’ll know why we crossed the bridge. Don’t walk too close to the guard rail, though. If you do, you might fall into the troubled waters.  Remember your freestyle stroke if you fall. Promptly start swimming. Either that, or flip onto your back...float and go with the flow.  You’ll end up hitting the bank somewhere along the way. I don’t mean the Westpac, NBA, ANZ etc.

A loud, long collective sigh is needed.  People everywhere throughout the world deserve a break.

By a ‘break’ I don’t mean a vacation. 

To quote a joke...”I told my luggage we weren’t going on a holiday this Festive Season...now I have emotional baggage.

All I want for Christmas is...no, not my two front teeth....I’ve already got those...they are portable. What I want for Christmas is peace, goodwill, commonsense, consideration, thoughtfulness and happiness to sweep the world like an out of control pandemic extinguishing negativity, nastiness, selfishness, prejudice and hate.  No vaccine required.

Once again I thank everyone who shared his/her smiles and kindness with me throughout 2020.  I could list names, but there isn’t enough room to list every name. In truth, I don’t know everyone’s name, but I do know the generosity of spirit and the thoughtfulness shown by many is sincerely appreciated.  Good folk live up here on our mountain.

The IGA crew who are always friendly and good-humoured continued to make my shopping expeditions pleasant experiences.  They are to be commended, as are Gavin, Jan, Brooke, Shannon, Michelle and Barbara at the newsagency.  We are fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people in local businesses of various kinds...thank you.  Special thanks, also, to Barry, who went above and beyond; and to Russell who, very generously reached out and lent me his ear one day in an IGA aisle.  (I returned his ear, in case you’re wondering).  Also, I thank Jimmy and Morven who always make me happy when I see them.

Thanks to postman Michael, and the couriers, Jay and the other cheerful gentleman, whose name I must get one of these days. Without fail, they catch me when I’m immaculately presented at my most fashionable, stylish best, with not a hair out of place.   *cough*

I hope everybody’s Christmas stockings are filled to overflowing with love, good health, fun and happiness.

When 2021 arrives, it’ll be like Godot finally decided to turn up!  

Stay safe.  Be cool...be kind...be sensitive to the situations and feelings of others. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  May only good come a-knocking...open your heart, and let it in....


Christmas Prawn Salad: Cook 300g penne pasta al dente. Refresh under cold water; drain. Dressing; whisk together 2/3c sour cream, 1-1/2tbs tomato sauce, 1tbs lemon juice and 3tsp Worcestershire sauce in bowl. Arrange cold pasta, 1kg cooked, peeled, deveined prawns, tails intact, 1 halved, thinly sliced Lebanese cucumber, 1 thinly sliced avocado, 60g baby leaf salad mix,1 bunch finely chopped chives, 1/4c small mint leaves and 2tbs coarsely chopped dill on a platter; season. Drizzle over dressing; scatter with extra dill; serve with lemon wedges.

Mango-Blueberry Christmas Trifle: Peel and slice 2 mangoes. Wash and drain 2 punnets blueberries. Into serving bowl place a layer of sponge cake or panettone slices. Sprinkle over some Marsala or sherry.  Have 500ml of vanilla custard on hand. Spread a layer of custard, then fruits over sponge. Continue layers; finish with fruit; reserving some for the top.  Chill several hours or overnight. Before serving, cover fruit with 150ml whipped cream.  





Friday, December 18, 2020



  Orchid Beach, Hinchinbrook Island

Christmas afternoon...Hinchinbrook Is. My late brother Graham wearing silly glasses part of the Christmas stockings fun items.  Beside him is Bronnie, another of my resort staff.. Cooling off after a large lunch. and the earlier escapades! 

Grumman Mallard Amphibian Seaplane

de-Havilland Beaver Seaplane...(Both seaplanes owned and operated by Air Whitsunday flew to and from the island.



My memory bank is in over-drive at this time of the year, reflecting on times past; about family and friends no longer here. Alone in my memories of them, I am.

Alone am I in memories of good times shared...but not lonely....

Christmas Day, 1986, at the resort on Hinchinbrook Island quickly approached. 

The Cape Richards resort was booked to the limit. My staff members, some of whom were experiencing their first Christmas away from their families, held mixed emotions. Excited with the prospect of spending Christmas on an island, they were also sad at not being around the Christmas tree exchanging presents with their loved ones. 

Sensing their feelings, I warned the guests ahead of the day that once Christmas lunch was over in the restaurant it was then to be my staff's 'time' as the staff, too, must be able to enjoy Christmas Day.

The guests were very understanding.  

A long table was set out on the large deck surrounding the pool in eager anticipation for the staff luncheon, and ensuing afternoon celebrations.


As decreed, the guests had arrived promptly at 11.30am to begin the celebrations.  They were to dine in the restaurant, not out on the deck.

A huge feast of hot and cold delights, including a mountain of fresh seafood such as oysters, prawns, crabs and fish...was on offer.

After bouncing back from our Christmas Eve celebrations that had carried on into the wee small hours of Christmas morning, the guests, my staff and I were ready for a hectic (for my staff and me), but fun (for us and the guests) day.

I had ‘nominated’ David, my head chef to be Santa Claus.

To those of you who may not be aware...Hinchinbrook Island is in tropical North Queensland. The weather in December (summer) is hot, and humid, as it always is at this time of the year.   December, 1986 was no different.

David was not a slim young man by any shape or form, but he had a sense of madness and humour as large as his body. Willingly he accepted my decree without putting up a fight.

I had great fun dressing David in a Santa's costume (which from memory I’d hired from a store in Ingham, on the mainland)...cushions were added to his already bulky frame.

I'd organised small gifts for the guests, some of whom were children, excited not only at the prospect of Santa, but also excited to spend Christmas on a tropical island.

My now late brother, Graham, was a member of my staff at the time. For once, he had to obey me as I was his 'boss'!  (Just kidding).

Graham volunteered to be Santa's Helper.  Some help he turned out to be!

A huge laundry sack/bag was loaded up with presents.

Graham appeared on the scene with a ladder to enable Santa to climb upon the rather expansive roof of the restaurant/bar/kitchen.

Of course, this all occurred in the heat of the midday sun!

What do they say about "Mad dogs and Englishmen"?  We were neither, but we were insane Aussies!

David aka Santa, in all his glory ran around the roof, "Ho-Ho-Ho-ing" all the way, much to the delight of our guests...children and adults alike.  

Among my guests was a Japanese family, who had flown in from Tokyo to spend Christmas at the resort.  I bet they've never forgotten the sight of Santa upon the roof in the heat of an Aussie summer!

The time arrived for Santa to descend from the roof to begin distributing the presents to the guests gathered together on the deck surrounding the pool.  Cold drinks in hand, they were enjoying Santa and his Helper’s antics.  

Both David and Graham were putting on an award-wining act...no rehearsals required.

Enjoying the limelight, the two comedians were in their element.

Santa's Helper, ladder under his arm, was at one end of the building, propping the ladder against the guttering to enable Santa to climb down, except every time Santa's Helper was on one side of the building, Santa was on the opposite side. They just couldn't synchronise their movements and positions.  Their coordination was sadly lacking!

The back and forth, and round-about from one side of the building to another, went on for many minutes.

As time went by, the guests’ laughter grew louder, and Santa's face grew redder from, not only the heat of the day, but from his bulky attire. The colour of his face matched the colour of Santa’s outfit.

Those of us watching the hilarious antics had tears running down our faces, pains in our stomachs from laughing as we gasped for air!

Finally, Santa, still on the roof, and his Helper standing below, connected where the radio mast stood aloft on the roof above my office.  Against the wall were a number of gas bottles that serviced the restaurant kitchen.  It was there the two performers finally linked up!

As Santa began his descent, he dropped the sack full of presents. Naturally, it landed on the head of my brother...a perfect finale to the impromptu production.

Eventually, the presents were distributed with much ado.  Santa insisted on asking each guest, young and old, if he/she had been good during the year.

Champagne corks popped and the liquid amber flowed freely.

The fun continued throughout lunch. I've never seen such happy guests.  Everyone was in a joyful mood.

I'll always remember, in particular, the Japanese family. I'm sure they'd never experienced anything like it before, nor would they have since.

Prior to that wonderful day, Christmas Eve had been full of good cheer and much gaiety as the staff and guests mingled around the bar before and after dinner.

David, my chef, who was a character much loved by staff and guests alike was in full form, regaling stories to everyone within earshot.

At around 2.30am Christmas morning, he jumped up, letting go of an apt expletive or three, stating he had forgotten to put the whole suckling pig in the oven! The cooking process was to be long and slow, so all systems were immediately on "GO!"

Christmas lunch was to be an elaborate buffet complete with the traditional fare, accompanied by an abundance of fresh seafood, as described above

As the revellers meandered their merry ways back to their cabins, David and I were left to keep watch on the forgotten pig roasting away in the oven!

I managed to slip in about an hour's nap before rising, showering, dressing and racing back to the restaurant.

I had told my two chefs I would prepare all the salads, freeing them to attend to all other preparations.

With the adrenaline flowing at high speed, I gave no thought to my lack of sleep, and the previous late night's indulgences.

Once Santa’s rooftop escapade had come to a crashing, but hilarious end, lunch was a major success.

Around 2.30 pm, once sated, like drowsy satisfied goannas, they drifted off to wherever they could find a welcoming bed, palm tree, or shady she-oak to digest their gigantic meal.

The fun commenced for us after the last guests left. 

With no opportunity to visit stores on the mainland, I'd decided the best Christmas presents I could give my staff was a bottle of their favourite alcoholic beverage. I gift-wrapped a couple of cartons full of Scotch, rum, bourbon, gin, vodka, and whatever else took their fancies. 

I'd commandeered the skipper of the contracted island boat, the “Reef Venture” to purchase Christmas stockings. One stocking filled with party treats was for each member of my staff.

Once the resort guests had left, we all gathered around the decorated table out on the deck, and settled in for a fun afternoon.

My staff presented me with a beautiful set of crystal Scotch glasses along with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black with which to christen them.

Poppers and slime, funny eye glasses, plastic rings and all such goodies from the Christmas stockings soon made a fine mess of our surroundings. The pool was too inviting and we couldn't refuse its offer. We all ended up in the pool, splashing, talking and laughing.

It had been a wonderful Christmas afternoon for us...so wonderful, in fact, dusk had long fallen. We had forgotten all about our guests....

Fortunately, having eaten so much of the delicious feast offered at lunchtime, they arrived late, some not at all, for dinner...which was a re-arrangement of the luncheon fare.

Everyone had had their fill, and more, earlier so they had little appetite at dinner.  Soon sleepily, though happy, the guests wandered back to their respective cabins leaving my staff and me to clean up, and get rid of the debri as we reminisced over a wonderful day spent together as a 'family'.

Ahhh...the halcyon days of island life!

Monday, December 07, 2020





My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”  Most people recognise this quote from the much-loved movie, “Forrest Gump”. 

Lately, I’ve been a grump.  There’ve been times I’ve not been able to see the forest for the trees. 

Mrs. Gump, I do understand your point about life being similar to a box of Cadbury’s Favourites variety pack.  Life isn’t always a picnic.  Often it’s a rocky road full of twists.  When life crumbles, it’s ripe for a boost.  It’s a delight to dream...to help ginger it up a bit!

This year has been a wizz fizz one filled with all sorts of sticky, testing periods.  It’s been a real clinker.  Often drowning in a bounty of distressing, sometimes frustrating moments, we wish lifesavers were at our beck and call. 

I imagine you’d not be a fan if I added my tales to the long list of 2020’s antics.

 Life can also be described as being like a bag of mixed lollies consisting of soft, hard, sweet and sour, coming in every shape and size under the sun.

This may appear to be a lot of humbug, but believe me, cobbers, life trundles along like a wagon wheel.  Life is filled with smarties, freckles, killer pythons, sneaky snakes, frogs, witchetty grubs, fads, gummies and bullets.  Life consists of more flavours than Allen’s Party Mix.  It has more colours than a rainbow. Life is as complex as the Milky Way. 

Many reach out for a few sherbets to help deal with it.

Stop blowing raspberries! I know I waffle on worse than Polly.  Life on Mars wouldn’t be as interesting as life on earth, I am sure.  It’s enough to make one tingle.

 It might surprise you to learn, even though I love watching movies, I don’t roll Jaffas down the aisle.  Because I do my viewing within these four, humble walls, if I rolled Jaffas it’d me who’d have to pick them up. Where’s the fun in that?  My two furry kit cats would chase the Jaffas around the room believing it was a great game created especially for them!

The Rascal Flatts sing “Life is a Highway”...the lyrics of which include...”Sometimes you bend and sometimes you stand...Sometimes you turn your back to the wind...”

 Into each life some rain must fall; into each heart some tears must fall. That’s life.  You can’t always get what you want. You can’t have it all. You have to give a little...take a little.  Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.  Times, they are a-changin’.  Put a little love in your heart. Everybody hurts. Don’t stop believing...don’t worry, be happy.  Be humble and kind; keep your head up; dream, baby, dream.  Show respect.  Whatever is burdening you...let it go.  To everything...turn, turn, turn...there is a season...turn. turn, turn....and a time to every purpose...

Hey, Jube...I mean Jude....you may snicker...I know my pearls of wisdom are a mixed bag, and make me sound like a flake.  That’s okay...we can’t all be heroes.

I admit to nicking them....the “pearls”, not the lollies.

By golly!  I paid for the lollies. I’m not fudging! Check with the lass at IGA’s checkout.  She’ll vouch for me! 

I’ve said previously that the lock-down didn’t affect my every day by-choice reclusive lifestyle, but after my above nonsensical ramblings I know you’re thinking I should be locked up.  You could be right. 

However, the lads in white jackets have to catch me first!  It’s time for me to twirl and skittle!  Run, Lee!  Run!

Fruit Jelly Squares: Line baking dish with wrap. Soak 6 gelatine leaves in cold water for 5mins. In saucepan, mix 1/2c fresh fruit juice (e.g. cherry, grape, orange) with 1/2c water and 1tbs lemon juice. Stir in 2-3tbs sugar; bring to boil; reduce heat. Thoroughly squeeze the gelatine leaves; one by one, dissolve in juice-mixture; don’t boil. Pour jelly-mix into dish; set in fridge 6-7hrs. Cut into cubes. (For easier slicing, spread cutter/knife with some oil).  With a pastry brush, coat jelly with a thin layer of oil; toss in sugar (optional).

Rocky Road: Line 10x20cm loaf tin with baking paper. Cut 1/3c Allen’s raspberry jellies and 3/4c packed marshmallows (15 medium) in half. Cut 5 small shortbread biscuits to small bite size pieces. Finely chop 200g milk chocolate and 50g dark chocolate; combine in bowl. Melt and stir until just melted.  Don’t over-heat.  Add chopped lollies. shortbread and 1/4c peanuts to chocolate; mix well; tip into tin. Chill 2hrs to set firm. Cut into slices.

Black Cherry Jubes: Puree 400g tinned black cherries; strain puree for a smooth liquid. Place half of puree into small heavy-based saucepan with 3c white sugar. Heat gently; stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil; boil rapidly 5mins. Use wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals sticking to inside of saucepan above syrup.  Place remaining puree in small bowl; mix in 3tbs powdered gelatine. It’ll thicken quickly into a solid mass. When syrup has boiled for 5mins, remove from heat; add gelatine mix; stir until totally dissolved. Lightly grease 8x8 inch tray with oil spray. Pour mixture into tray; chill 3-4hrs. Set mixture will be springy and stretchy and pull away from edge cleanly. Sprinkle chopping board generously with caster sugar; carefully turn mixture out onto board. Sprinkle more sugar over top; rub in so it’s all coated. Use a lightly greased knife to cut into squares; coat each in sugar; air dry for a few hours or overnight. 


PS...My apologies to my Northern Hemisphere readers....some of you may not be familiar with the names of our Aussie lollies/candy and chocolates, which I've woven into my above sweet tale!