Meeting my blogging neighbour

image credit: Hubspot. The Gingerbread Gem.

image credit: Hubspot. The Gingerbread Gem.

In my last post I wrote about my real-life neighbours.

I also have virtual neighbours who I only know via a screen. But last night, I met one in real life; a blogger called Alana House – a pretty neighbourly surname now that I think about it!

Alana, a former weekly magazine editor, writes a brilliant blog called Housegoeshome. She started the blog in 2011 after leaving her workplace of 20 years, asking the question, “Is there life after work?” In the past year, Alana’s blog has documented her personal journey dealing with marriage separation, going back into the workplace again, adventures with her two young daughters, and setting up a new house. She blogs about the juggle of work and family, with plenty of hilarious posts that articulately capture the vagaries of modern life.

On top of all that, this former magazine editor loves to cook, often posting her recipes as well as a decent sprinkling of Hollywood gossip.

She also has an amazing talent for party-planning and puts the average party goody-bags and cakes out there to shame!

Alana via Housegoeshome exemplifies the above definition of “To blog”.

I had the pleasure of meeting Alana for the first time last night, after “meeting” her virtually through the comments section on her blog. As she mentions in her post, Exchanging war stories, our paths had crossed before but we’d never actually met until now. And it’s all thanks to the blogging neighbourhood.

Do visit Alana’s blog: housegoeshome.com

Image credit: [Hubspot] [The Gingerbread Gem]

My neighbours – my own personal TV soap opera

Who needs to watch mindless TV soaps when I have a life-size doll house opposite my block of flats, populated with the pantheon of our cul-de-sac?

I do like to spy on the neighbours. More like perving really. Well, the two god-like young men in the building opposite will appear on their balconies half-naked at various times of the day.

Exactly one year ago I wrote a post, More eye-candy neighbours in which I talked about the three flatmates in the apartment across the road. Two handsome, usually shirtless young men and a woman. I wondered about the relationship between them.

Well since that post some answers have been revealed. Handsome Shirtless Blond man (eye-candy1) moved upstairs to the 3rd floor unit, leaving Handsome Shirtless Dark-haired man (eye-candy2), and the cranky-looking woman together on the 2nd floor.

Since blond eye-candy has moved out, the woman appears much less cranky; maybe because she finally has the love-nest she always wanted with dark-haired eye-candy. I have since seen them walking down the street holding hands.

One day not long after blond eye-candy moved to the 3rd-floor flat, I noticed a young blonde woman emerging from the living room onto the 3rd-floor balcony. The next day she was there again. And the next. She lives there now.

Handsome Shirtless Blond man also makes regular balcony appearances, thank god; shaking out his towels, hanging out his washing, barbequeing a sausage. He emerges from the living-room doorway onto the balcony, like a god on the mountain-top, his tanned body and blond hair practically sparkling in the morning sun. When I catch a glimpse, I stop whatever I’m doing and watch him. He is a male Venus from a Bananarama song – let’s call him Zeus, the ancient Greek king of the gods. He’s got it, yeah baby he’s got it.

The dark-haired guy on the second-floor is like a second-tier god. More of a Poseidon, god of the sea.

If Handsome Shirtless Blond man is Zeus, then the guy in the street level flat is Hades, god of the underworld. Middle-aged, hairy and overweight, he sits on his ground floor balcony, smoking, coughing and hawking up things from sun-up till sun-down and beyond. When all is silent in the street I can still hear “Smoko” coughing and sometimes laughing ebulliently at 1am. He talks on the phone a lot.

I like my real-life doll house. It’s comforting to see the same people day after day, living their lives, engaging in their simple daily routines, without ever having to actually speak to them.

But our street’s annual “Neighbour Day” on Sunday wanted to change all that. Neighbour Day is an event supported by our local council and Relationships Australia. The goal is to foster a sense of community in your neighbourhood and encourage people to get out of their homes and spend time in a communal setting getting to know the people that live around you.

Great idea right? But alas, none of my living dolls/gods attended our “Neighbour Day”, a lovely gathering down the end of our street in the community garden.

Although we weren’t honoured with the presence of the Eye-Candies, or Hades, our local Mayor Toni Seltzer did come along and told the crowd that “tending gardens also tends our neighbourliness.” We are so lucky to have a great community garden where people can grow veggies but also just sit with a cup of tea and talk to the neighbours in a lovely communal space.

The usual suspects also attended…

Hello Neighbour!

Hello Neighbour!

Spider Boy who is really tween-age now, was stuck in a toddler swing for a while because mummy couldn’t undo the child-proof lock. Silly mummy. I had to call on one of the neighbours to figure it out for me.

IMG_3628

It was so lovely under the trees. Our community garden is in a little fenced-off area behind a local sports field.

IMG_3621

One of the neighbour’s daughter and son-in-law have their very own jumping castle for their two small children. They schlepped it all the way from another municipality to share with our neighbour kids.

IMG_3660

And someone else who works for a supermarket chain brought along this new variation of Coca-Cola. It’s “Green” Coke. Made with Stevia and with 35% less sugar, it tastes almost like “the real thing” and better than Diet Coke in my opinion. It will be on sale soon.

IMG_3641

And there was a bit of watering to finish off the afternoon.

Thanks Neighbours!

For more information on Neighbour Day go to neighbourday.org

More eye-candy neighbours

Kylie had eye-candy neighbours in 1987 and now, so do I!

Mike (Guy Pearce) and Scott (Jason Donovan) in Ramsay Street. Kylie had eye-candy neighbours in 1986 and now, so do I!

Photo: Rex/Fremantle Media

“There’s Eye Candy” said Mum, the way you’d say, “There’s the postman”, or “That’ll be the phone”, late on Friday afternoon when I was pottering about the sink area in front of the kitchen window.

I looked up and there he was – one of the guys who lives on the second floor of the block of flats opposite. We’re on the ground floor, so we literally look up to them.

One of the benefits of living in a no-through road full of flats, is that we can see lots of people from our windows (I’m talking to you, Angelina Jolie), and people-watching is fun. Everyone has to walk past our windows to go anywhere.

Since I’ve been back living at Mum’s place, I have particularly noticed the neighbours mentioned above.  Just as we’ve established that jogging is more fun with beer truffles, washing up is much less of a chore with a view of eye-candy neighbours out the kitchen window.
The residents of this apartment across the road are two guys in their late 20s. One is tall and dark, the other is tall and blond. The blond is slightly more tanned than the dark-haired guy.  We have officially dubbed them Eye Candy 1 and Eye Candy 2 (shirtless neighbours are better than Bananas in Pyjamas any day), but in reality we just refer to them interchangeably as “Eye Candy”.

They both walk around shirtless, six months of the year. They frequent their balcony, opposite our kitchen window, for barbecuing their dinner, hanging their washing, and just enjoying a drink. All shirtless, all the time, no matter the weather.

“It’s funny that they never wear shirts” Mum said. “Look, you can just see his underwear”, she went on. Yes, we could see the rim of his boxers over the top of his brick balcony wall. And he wears his boxers low, might I add.

“Don’t you just get the urge to wolf-whistle?” Mum went on.

“Yes,” I agreed, noting it was like living across the road from a Levi’s ad circa 1990. Remember the male model who strips off his Levi’s in the laundromat and waits for them to be washed, just wearing his boxers? It’s a bit like that. Except without the laundromat. And without the jeans, obvs.

I did a little practice wolf-whistle, just quietly, as I stood by the open kitchen window.
“Careful!” Mum hissed, “He might hear you!”
He didn’t hear me though. The two 20-something women who happened to be walking past at the time, heard me. They looked at me through the window. I looked away.
The Eye Candies have a female flatmate. She is always dressed in exercise gear. I don’t understand why she often looks cranky. She lives with the Eye Candies and she exercises – you’d think she’d smile more. I’ve seen her arrive home from somewhere at 10 or 11am on a weekday, carrying a sports bag or a backpack, often in an athletic-looking track-suit (as opposed to a slack-looking track, which is what any track-suit I wear looks like, which is why I never wear them) and often with wet hair. Is she in training for swimming events? Is she eating enough carbs?
Who are Eye Candy 1 and Eye Candy 2 (and cranky female flatmate). Are they three friends? Just flatmates? Is it a couple and their best friend?
What do they do for work? Sometimes I see the dark-haired one in a suit, but rarely. Maybe he wears it to job interviews. Are they uni students? They are often around during the day. Maybe they’re shift workers. The lights in their flat are usually out by 9.30pm. I think I recall seeing the blond one in a dark blue uniform once – maybe he’s a paramedic, or a police rescue guy. They would certainly look right at home on any police or medical TV drama.
Once or twice I’ve seen one or both of the guys out of context at the local shops,  and in that first instant, my heart skips a beat and there’s the recognition of “Oh, I know him! Is he on TV?” Before I realise it’s the eye-candy neighbour/s I’ve never spoken to.
I peer out of the windows like a bizarro Gladys Kravitz (the nosey neighbour) from Bewitched. Is this what I’ve become? Well at least I’m not as bad as Mrs Mangel from Neighbours. Eye Candies have just put up a full-length female nudie pic on their living room wall that I can see quite clearly from my living room all the way across the road.
At first I wondered how to reconcile the right of the Eye Candies to put up a poster in their living room, with my right not to have to explain a nudie pic to just-turned six-year-old Spider Boy. But I decided to get a grip. It’s not that bad – it’s a stylised illustration, the kind that were popular in the 80s. And besides, Spider Boy’s really too short to see out the window. Unless he’s climbing something.
Sometimes the universe likes to have a little laugh. On Saturday night when I  was burning the midnight oil on Pinterest, I heard music coming from someone’s apartment. Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing.  Great, so now my street has its own soundtrack. I went to the window and the Eye Candies’ apartment’s lights were all out (of course, it was way after 9.30pm).
My aunt came over yesterday. Eye Candy 1 (the dark-haired one) made an appearance on the balcony – shirtless of course. “Ohhhh, there’s Eye Candy” said Mum, predictably. What is it with mum and her eye candy? It’s not like she’s a sexagenarian anymore – she’s just turned 70 – but she still knows good eye candy when she sees it.
I raced over to get a better look. I then told my aunt the story of Eye Candy 1 and Eye Candy 2. “Allie I think it’s time you got onto Be Harmony or whatever it is they call it,” she said, referring to an internet dating site.
Mum later told me that as she walked my aunt to her car, they looked up to yet another apartment block to see yet another eye candy walking around shirtless in his apartment. “There’s more eye candy!”  exclaimed my aunt, who is older than my mother. This particular eye candy heard her, looked down at the pair of septuagenarians and beamed at them, apparently.
So to my neighbours I’ve never spoken to… Thank you for making the washing up just that little bit sweeter.
Do you ever watch your neighbours? Do you speak to them? Have your neighbours become good friends?

 

Beach house time-machine

045

I’ve just returned from a beach holiday in the land that time forgot. And I mean that in a good way.

My friends Lulu and Mr M had invited 5-year-old Spider boy and me to spend a few days with them and their 6-year-old son, the Magician, at a rented beach house at Bawley Point on the NSW south coast.

As soon as we pulled up to the weatherboard house on stilts I was instantly taken back to the south coast of my childhood, where my parents took us on beach holidays every year. Back then in the late 70s and 80s, it was a similar rented house in Narooma, a town a bit further south.

My sister and I, who were 8 and 3 when we first started going to Narooma, would play happily around the stilts under the house, pretending we were “Carol” and “Susie” who worked in a petrol station. When we went to the beach, we were “Coral” and “Crystal”, who were mermaids.

We would stay on the beach for hours, we would go to the circus that came to town every summer, we would have pink lemonade and fish and chips at the Whale restaurant. We would go to the newsagency/gift shop in town and buy shell-covered trinkets.

But back to the present day… This house was on stilts too, expect this one was way better. It had an upstairs deck with a perfect towel/cossie-drying fence, a bird-feeder, places to sit and a dart board.  From the the kitchen/dining area, a staircase led to a roomy mezzanine lounge area with views to the ocean, which was blue most of the time we were there. There were two bedrooms in the main part of the house, and a roomy granny flat/studio downstairs.

Mezzanine

Mezzanine for lounging

I love the simplicity of holiday shacks. I love that they are so obviously decorated for the purposes of; 1. invoking a beachy vibe, and 2. helping you relax. And every room was generously peppered with obligatory beach-house objet’s de kitsch. Like this…

Just what I need in my room.. 3 angry seagulls all in a row.

Just what I need in my room.. 3 angry seagulls all in a row. One with a missing beak.

And this…

Little toilet man-candle

Little toilet man-candle with love handles

088

Chillaxing is easy with 80s/90s artworks to rest your gaze upon.

And the icing on the beach house cake? The great variety of summer holiday entertainment! The book shelves were lined with trashy novels and video cassettes. Cassettes. There was a quoits set in the lounge, jigsaw puzzles and board games like Celebrity Heads. If only we had two weeks!

083

Are you calling me trashy?

069

We got to rewind to last century with this little collection.

082 - Copy

Haven’t seen this much fun since “Hey Hey It’s Saturday!”

Along with all this retro pop-cultural stimulation, I also loved the sound of waves crashing at night, the great variety of bird-calls in the morning, and the fresh, salty air. And I loved walking to the beach and not having to deal with cars and parking.

Lulu’s dad and his wife Ms B were staying in their place which was just at the end of the next beach along.  They would sometimes call in when they were out walking, or we would run into them on one of the three beaches in the area.

At Bawley Point, kids ride bikes on the road, some carrying surfboards, neighbours walk to each other’s homes for lunch, dinner, drinks on the deck. There are no fences, no gates. Kids of 8 or 9 sit on the nature strip and literally sell sea shells by the sea shore. And painted cicada shells.  People relax on their front decks in boardies and bikinis and look really… relaxed.

Fun on the deck: mind the darts!

Fun on the deck: mind the darts!

Bawley Point to me, was a combination of  the TV shows Puberty Blues (the 12-year-old long-haired grommets in wetsuits and general retro-vibe bit, not the panel-van and all they suggest bit), Neighbours (good Neighbours had become good-friends) and Home and Away (Hello, beach!).

Lulu’s dad grilled burgers for us on the back deck, the kids ran a few metres to the back of the next house along and jumped on their trampoline (cos that’s how they roll in this ‘hood). When we weren’t barbequeing, we cooked with this…

Analogue cooking machine circa 1980s.

Analogue cooking machine circa 1980s

We learnt how to play boules and I was relaxed enough to actually get myself into my swimmers and go into the surf! I even sunbaked for a few minutes.

Hiding the boules balls mid-game on the neighbours trampoline amused them no end

Hiding the boules balls mid-game on the neighbours trampoline amused them no end.

And there were millions of peaches…

Peaches for me.

Peaches for me

One afternoon, Lulu and I managed to escape to a winery. So there was millions of grapes too…

bought some wine

Tasted some wine. Bought some.

And at the vineyard, there was deer frolicking in a woodland glade. Seriously.

There was frolicking but they stopped as soon as I took the picture.

There was frolicking but they stopped to stare at me as soon as I took the picture.

The only things that pulled us out of 70s/80s-style living was the presence of our smartphones/tablets, and a DVD player. So don’t worry, just in case you thought there was too much retro-fun and outdoorsy stuff for the kids, they had plenty of screen time too.

For example: “Come on kids, how about a fun game of charades. Or what about quoits?”

“No! Hotel Transylvania!” (animated Adam Sandler movie)

And later… “Come on kids, do you want to play charades? What about quoits?

“No, Leps World!” (some game played on a smartphone/tablet).

Trying to get the kids to go to bed before 9pm the night before we had to be up early?

“Charades!” they excitedly suggested.

They will try anything to not go to bed.

Quoits anyone? Anyone?

Quoits anyone? Anyone?

It wasn't all outdoorsy-fun...

It wasn’t all outdoorsy-fun…

Since we didn’t watch the news while we were away, the only other thing that pulled us out of last century was an annoying, yet stressful episode of Grey’s Anatomy one night. What were we thinking? We could have been watching this…

It has surfing in it, so would've enhanced the holiday vibe

It has surfing in it, so would’ve enhanced our relaxed holiday vibe, right?

But at least we did get to watch this classic again…

071

A classic of my teen years

So here’s to beach holidays with a nostalgic feel – and the unbeatable combination of peaches, beaches, bird-calls and retro movies.

And a big thanks to Lulu, Mr M and family for a refreshing and fun holiday!

What are your favourite summer holiday memories?