Thursday, December 30, 2010

A 'Yes' Year!

As I sit at my computer inhaling nail polish fumes (note-to-self, in future that is an outdoors task) I feel like this year has been pretty damn fine. It has been a year of starting tonnes of new things and saying 'yes' to every opportunity I have been offered. I started my PhD, this blog, my first sewing and knitting projects, as well as multiple teaching and research assistant jobs. I moved out with Ian and explored our new suburb (and have since moved again!). I started playing in a band again, swing dancing and riding a bike. It has been crazy busy! And amazing. But busy. So I have dubbed it the year of 'yes'. I said yes to everyone and everything, and felt the results - both good and bad. 

As we sit on the cusp of a new year, with resolutions and grand plans being made left, right and centre, I will make some of my very own. Next year, I intend to have a 'no' year . Or perhaps -  a year of finding balance. I find it really hard to say no to people, but it gets to a point where it is all a bit ridiculous (baking cookies at midnight after finishing work at 10pm and beginning again at 8am. Mad? Me? Never!). 

Next year is the middle year of my PhD. I have some incredible plans for research adventures and writing frenzies: Some serious archival detective work, 6 weeks in London libraries, and perhaps an overseas conference? It is all pretty exciting stuff! I can't wait! So with that... Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hello! And Merry Christmas/Happy holidays! I just got back from a lovely Christmas weekend with Ian's family. I never had Christmas as a child, so it is pretty exciting to be invited in to experience the festive season with Ian's family. It kind of feels like cheating, to get presents when it is not your birthday, but very fun cheating. 

 On Christmas eve we drove up the mountains, into the mist and the freezing cold.

 Then stopped at a picturesque little park for some outfit photos - I wore my 'christmas-wrapping-paper' dress and stole Ian's santa hat for the pictures (and the warmth!).

 I love this little gathered detail at the bust, making it into a sweet-heart neckline. I might have to try making a bodice like this some time.

We arrived to a beautiful tree and tonnes of incredible fruit that Ian's mum picked up on the Great North Road. The house smelt like a mixture of pine, mangos and peaches - yum!
 Christmas day we woke up and assembled for presents! We got Chester a chew toy - Ian helped him unwrap it and the poor darling got all tuckered out chasing it around the house. I recieved a whole bunch of things I have been wanting for a while -books etc - and a lovely scarf that will make an appearance in photos soon,
Then the feast!! Ian's dad barbequed a whole turkey, with a duck stuffing. It was pretty incredible!! 
Some afternoon knitting - and my Christmas outfit. I decided to go all out red and green. You have seen the kilt and silk cravat before here - the shirt is from china town markets aggeess ago.
 When we thought we could eat no more... there was fruit salad that looked like sparkling jewels in the crystal bowls. Then we popper our crackers, donned our hats and played Baldderdash into the night. Such a lovely relaxed Christmas - I hope yours was as well!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Train; the Conference; and the Flood

Last week I set off on the train down to Wagga Wagga to attend my first conference - the annual conference for the Australia & New Zealand History of Education Society (ANZHES). There is something lovely about long train trips - good views, knitting, books. I found an old copy of a UK Vogue at the newsagent at the Station, and read it practically cover to cover. It has some magnificent shoots that I will scan and share later this week.
 Some more picturesque country-side... a cup of train-coffee (delightful in its own icky way), and then...
Floods. I had read the news about flooding in Wagga, but the conference organiser had said it was all ok. I took this to mean the flooding wasn't that serious - WRONG! The trees in the photo above are normally at the edge of the river.
Heaps of poor farmers who has struggled through years of drought are now flooded. We passed so many barns and fields that are ruined.

The area the conference was held in was ok the day we arrived, but a couple of days in, it started to rain again. 
At the top of this photo is the river and the middle where the street signs are is the street outside the hotel. Luckily, it didn't get any deeper than this, and those big brick walls protected us. However, those trees that blew over cut off the power and the last 24 hours of the conference we went with no power. It seems rather fitting for an historical conference to have a dinner lit by candle light, and cooked on gas.

Luckily I gave my paper on the first day, with power and a PowerPoint presentation! I think it went well! I am working on writing it up now.

 The place we stayed is called the Riverine Club. It was the first school house in Wagga, built in 1881. It was later a gentleman's club with accommodation added. The building today is preserved in the state it was in the 1930s. The furniture is all original, the art is original prints and much of the crockery bears the original club insignia. It was pretty stunning to wander around this 19th century building by candle light and imagine what it would have been like a century ago.
 Most of the rooms opened out onto this veranda - with big open windows. When the storm came I was sitting on one of these chairs reading, and suddenly got splashed as the rain poured in.
I adore details like this. It is a vent on the outside of the old court house. How wonderful to take such delight in casting something so decorative? Practical and beautiful. 

Overall the conference went really well. Everyone I met was incredibly warm and generous. There were some really interesting talks- some really fascinating research! I've come back with new ideas and new energy. Now I just need to get writing!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another Dashing Chap

Albert G J Sykes... featured in the 1899 New South Wales Educational Gazette for winning a handwriting competition. What a charming young man.

And of course the winning sample below. It is a bit hard to imagine doing business like this today!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Neighbour

Meet Josh. (Hi Josh!!) He is the bestest neighbourhood cat I could wish for. He is beautiful and so friendly and pretty cheeky too! I took this photo while we were making dinner. Josh came along to say hello - but was told he wasn't allowed to come inside. So he sat on the mat, looking just a little bit dejected. But then every so often he would creep a sneaky paw over the threshold and flash a cheeky grin when he got caught. What a trickster.

*edit* I just asked Ian to read this and  check my grammar - and he cannot stopped saying "OOOhhhh noooo....hideous ugly creature... hehehe. It appears we may not all agree on just how amazingly awesome Josh is.

I am racing to get my conference paper ready for next week and have had no time (or brain-space) to post. But I have come across some pretty awesome things in the archives this week, so get ready for some rad history posting action.

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